The Sumerian people formed one of the cradles of civilization, meaning they had many unique customs and beliefs that make them perfect for creative exploration. Following their unusual naming conventions is sure to enhance your storytelling!
Good Sumerian Names
Choosing a Sumerian name offers the opportunity to get really creative, as they were built using descriptors of everything from a person’s appearance to their relationship with particular gods. This means you can either choose a name based on the nature of a character you’ve already designed, or pick any of these options as a starting point for your creations.
Tila, the one who survived. After a great flood swept away most of her village, the nomads who found her unscathed among the wreckage knew this was the only suitable name for her.
Named for the profession he inherited from his father, Zurzur was a kind man who took to his role of caring for the town’s animals with enthusiasm.
Female Sumerian Names
While most Sumerian names were unisex, there are some which you may feel are more suited to your female characters than others. However, it’s important not to fall into stereotyping by only opting for the names which relate to appearance – there’s no reason why she can’t be named for her strengths and successes!
Burutur, meaning “little bird”, was a name chosen by the whole village. Not one citizen had failed to hear her melodious voice, ringing across the fields while she worked.
It was in the courts that Inimzida earnt her designation as one who speaks righteous words, standing up for justice where the men of her town would not.
Male Sumerian Names
The names listed here are also unisex, but many relate to activities that are more typically associated with men in the Sumerian era. Perhaps your character is a headstrong warrior, or a priest who has dedicated their life to service in a temple – choosing a name that reflects their path will ensure it’s authentic.
Niĝirzi had earned his designation as a trusty herald through years of faithful service to the King, never failing to deliver a message no matter how harsh the journey.
The strong legs which gave Ur-kiši-du-a his name supported him to the last hours of any battle, even as his companions fell to heat and exhaustion.
Sumerian Last Names
Sumerians did not use last names as we currently do, but many personal names included prefixes or suffixes which denote a person’s relationship with one of civilization’s many deities. Building a character’s name using these additions will add authentic color and depth to their story.
Iškur-gimu, meaning Iškur is my guide, dedicated his life to the god when his prayers for heavy rainfall were answered, ending the drought which threatened his family’s survival.
Designated as Dubhur-Ereškigal, the artist of the Queen of the Underworld, she took to her duties by showing her town the beauty in destruction and their own mortality.
I’ve loved learning about the unusual naming conventions of the Sumerias, they tell incredible stories before you even get to know a character! Which of these have you liked best? Let me know in the comments and please do share this article with other fans of ancient history.