A Woman to Know: Ennigaldi-Nanna
The House of Enigadda-Nanna, my daughter, Entu priestess of Sin, I built new. — King Nabonidus
Ennigaldi-Nanna, an ancient Babylonian princess and high priestess, built what many consider to be the first museum. Her 6th century BCE collection had all the trappings of a modern-day Met: special cases for artifacts, catalogues of objects and (most critically) labels for the items on display.
Raised in the palace with her archeology-loving father, King Nabonidus, Ennigaldi-Nanna learned early on to appreciate the history of precious objects. Nabonidus appointed her as a high priestess of Sin (this isn't as scandalous as it sounds — Sin is just a moon goddess, which is still rad). She and her father set aside a special room in her temple for sacred antiquities. There, the two would inscribe clay drums with the details of the artifact, perhaps, some historians think, even going on their own archaeological digs outside the city of Ur (pictured above).
In 1925, the archaeologist Leonard Woolley discovered Ennigaldi-Nanna's mini museum, partially preserved beneath 2,000 years of dust and sand. Because of the priestess's careful labels, Woolley was able to peruse the historic collection, just as she and her father had intended.
Add to your library list:
House Most High: The Temples of Ancient Mesopotamia (Andrew R. George)
Uppity Women of Ancient Times (Vicki León)
Labels, digital included, assume new importance at museums (The New York Times)
Bel Shalti Nanna (The Brooklyn Museum)
Having It All in 6th Century Mesopotamia (The Toast)
The world's oldest museums (European Museums Network)
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