Today, there are many different kinds of aromatic substances used for incense. What kind of incense was used by the ancient Sumerians?

2 Answers 2


Sumerian word for incense is na-IZI (qutrēnu = incense) is to be read na-de3.

According to the book Kitchen Witchery: A Compendium of Oils, Unguents, Incense, Tinctures. By Marilyn F. Daniel (Pg- #53) and enenuru.proboards, it's consists of:

3 parts Cedar
2 parts Juniper 
2 parts Cypress 
2 parts Tamarisk

This incense was burned during magical rites, or when attuning with deities such as Inanna, Enlil, Marduk, or Tiamat.

For Shamash, sun god, incense offerings consisted of pure cedar (resin or shavings).

According to ordosacerdotalvstempli, Incense burner and with Charcoal, Frankincense was used as Base and Jasmine Perfume was added.

  • 1
    The first source looks quite proper, but I do wonder about the accuracy of Kitchen Witchery.
    – Joe
    Jun 3, 2013 at 19:02
  • enenuru.proboards.com/… mentions various authentic sources which has reference to Juniper and Cedar.
    – fortytwo
    Jun 3, 2013 at 19:14

In the book "Religion in Ancient Mesopotamia" by Jean Bottero on Pgs. 149-150 it states this about temple offerings:

Once the priestesses of Anu in Uruk are seated at the door of the Sanctuary, the officiant will mix wine and perfumed oil to make a libation to Anu, Antu, and all the gods of their entourage; and he will rub the mixture into the frame and panel of the aforementioned door. After which for a Fumugation he will garnish the golden incense burners

In the book "The Treasures of Darkness": A History of Mesopotamian Religion by Thorkild Jacobsen it is thus stated on Pg. 16:

The Temple of Nusku in Nippur was a "Temple laden with great awesome aura and angry nimbus"

Nimbus here follows the pattern of incense fumigations as offerings. it is reasonable to ascertain that the use of Incense was in the Sumerian, Babylonian, and Assyrian times utilized as offerings for the gods in whose temple the incense was being offered. According to the seven major gods with their entourages the names were usually correspondant with what we now term as Planets, Nanna the Moon, Samas or Utu the Sun, (D)Marduk' Jupiter etc. So various Celestial bodies represented as dingir- gods by the Urigallu Priests were attributed particualr perfumes (fumigatons) that corresponded and characterized the legends or myths, as well as utilized trees, bushes, shrubs, and plants and their resins extracted from them for their attributions to regions, seasons, and celestial seasons as well.

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