Today is International Women’s Day, a time to honor the struggles of women around the world and celebrate women’s achievements across time. This week on social media, we have been highlighting the important contributions of women in Iraq.
Now, we would like to introduce you to one of Iraq’s most celebrated women — the first human whose name was recorded along with her writing.
Her name was Enheduanna.
She lived more than 4,200 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia. She was a poet, a priestess, and an Akkadian princess. She hailed from the Sumerian city-state of Ur, birthplace of the written word, stringed instruments, the Prophet Abraham, and one of the world’s earliest civilizations.
Enheduanna was the first person known to have ever signed her name to her writings, which included evocative prayers, incantations, and even first-person narratives.
The art historian Janet Roberts writes, “Enheduanna represented a strong and creative personality, an educated woman, and one who fulfilled diverse roles in a complex society, not unlike women’s aspirations today.”
On this International Women’s Day, in solidarity with every woman who has ever had to endure the senseless violence of war and whose strength we need more than ever, we would like to share these words of Enheduanna:
Lament to the Spirit of War
You hack everything down in battle….
God of War, with your fierce wings
you slice away the land and charge
disguised as a raging storm,
growl as a roaring hurricane,
yell like a tempest yells,
thunder, rage, roar, and drum,
expel evil winds!
Men falter at your approaching footsteps.
On your lyre of despair, tortured dirges scream.
Like a fiery monster you fill the land with poison.
As thunder you growl over the earth,
trees and bushes collapse before you.
You are blood rushing down a mountain,
Spirit of hate, greed and anger,
dominator of heaven and earth!
Your fire wafts over our land,
riding on a beast,
with indomitable commands,
you decide all fate.
You triumph over all our rites.
Who can explain why you go on so?
More than 4,000 years later, we are still asking the same question.
Today, we remember Enheduanna and her lament of war as we imagine a world where the rights and achievements of all of humanity are equally recognized.