astronomer priestess of the Moon Goddess (circa 2354 BCE)

Hers is the first female name recorded in technical history. She was the daughter of Sargon (of Akkad) who established the Sargonian Dynasty in Babylon some 4000 or so years ago. He appointed her the chief astronomer priestess of the moon goddess of the city. Her name means 'ornament of heaven'; her birth name is unknown.

The sign for her name is

This was a position of great power and prestige. Only through the auspices of the high priestess could a leader achieve a legitimate claim to rule. We have no technical writings from her. We do have in translation forty-two of her poems. A bas-relief of her is at the University Museum in Philadelphia.

The home page shows the tablet of her most famous poem 'Exultation of Inanna'.

To put her into perspective, modern astronomy and mathematics follow an almost continuous line of effort from Sumeria forward to the present. It began there - with the priests and priestesses in Sumeria and Babylon. As early as 3000 BCE these sacred temples in Sumer were complex structures that directed every essential activity of life including trade, farming and crafts. The priests and priestesses established a network of observatories to monitor the movements of the stars. The calendar they created is still used to date certain religious events like Easter and Passover.

En Hedu'anna is last in the long line of women who followed the stars and the cycles of the Moon and whose names are lost to us. She is the first in a long line of women whose names we know - the women who thought, created and built for the past 4000 years.

One of her poems illustrates what she did...

The true woman who possesses exceeding wisdom,
She consults a tablet of lapis lazuli
She gives advice to all lands...
She measures off the heavens,
She places the measuring-cords on the earth.

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