Utu (dUD 𒀭𒌓 "Sun"[1]), also known under the Akkadian name Shamash,[lower-alpha 1] was the ancient Mesopotamian sun god. He was believed to see everything that happened in the world every day, and was therefore responsible for justice and protection of travelers. As a divine judge, he could be associated with the underworld. Additionally, he could serve as the god of divination, typically alongside the weather god Adad. While he was universally regarded as one of the primary gods, he was particularly venerated in Sippar and Larsa.

Quick facts: Utu, Other names, Major cult center, Abode, P...
God of the sun and justice
Representation of Shamash from the Tablet of Shamash (c. 888 – 855 BC), showing him sitting on his throne dispensing justice while clutching a rod-and-ring symbol
Other namesShamash, Amna
Major cult centerSippar, Larsa
Symbolsaw, rays of light, solar disc, winged sun
MountSun chariot
Personal information
ParentsNanna and Ningal
ChildrenMamu, Kittum, Sisig, Zaqar, Šumugan, Ishum
Hurrian equivalentŠimige
Ugaritic equivalentShapash
Hittite equivalentSun goddess of Arinna, Sun goddess of the Earth, Sun god of Heaven
Luwian equivalentTiwat
Elamite equivalentNahhunte

The moon god Nanna (Sin) and his wife Ningal were regarded as his parents, while his twin sister was Inanna (Ishtar). Occasionally other goddesses, such as Manzat and Pinikir, could be regarded as his sisters too. The dawn goddess Aya (Sherida) was his wife, and multiple texts describe their daily reunions taking place on a mountain where the sun was believed to set. Among their children were Kittum, the personification of truth, dream deities such as Mamu, as well as the god Ishum. Utu's name could be used to write the names of many foreign solar deities logographically. The connection between him and the Hurrian solar god Shimige is particularly well attested, and the latter could be associated with Aya as well.

While no myths focusing on Utu are known, he often appears as an ally of other figures in both Sumerian and Akkadian compositions. According to narratives about Dumuzi's death, he helped protect him when the galla demons tried to drag him to the underworld. In various versions of the Epic of Gilgamesh and in earlier Gilgamesh myths, he helps this hero defeat the monstrous Humbaba. In the myth Inanna and An, he helps his sister acquire the temple Eanna. In How Grain Came to Sumer, he is invoked to advise Ninazu and Ninmada.

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