When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Sources

Priestess And Slaves: A 4,000-Year History Of Love Songs

You may know torch songs from Rihanna, but what about Enheduanna? In ancient Mesopotamia, she wrote the very first love songs, holding back very little. Watch her burn ...

Playing the lyre
Playing the lyre
Nic Ulmi

GENEVA — She was known as Enheduanna. Remember that name. A Sumerian priestess living in Ur, in Mesopotamia, in 2,300 BC, she’s the first known writer of love songs. Some actually identify her as history's first songwriter of any genre.

Her existence was discovered thanks to a disk — made out of alabaster, not vinyl — unearthed from the Iraqi soil by British archeologist Leonard Wooley, in 1927. The finding revealed the name of the woman, and her function of devotion to the cult of the goddess Inanna.

This is how music historian Ted Gioia begins his latest book Love Songs, The Hidden History, a study that reveals many surprises and paradoxes.

Other excavations were necessary to discover the works supposedly left behind by Enheduanna, engraved on calcite tablets, and it wasn’t until 1968 that somebody dared to publish a translation. That was because these compositions were made to accompany the “sacred marriage” ceremony, during which the king of Ur would sleep with the Sumerian goddess Inanna (or rather her incarnation) to secure his society’s prosperity.

Keep reading... Show less
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!

"Er ..."

YouTube screenshot

May 21-22

  • A liberated Ukrainian village
  • Long COVID limbo
  • TikToker under fire
  • … and much more.
Keep reading... Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch Video Show less
MOST READ