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Sumerian priestess. Source: Oleksandr / Adobe Stock.

Sumerian King Iddin-Dagan Copulated with a Priestess in a Public Annual Ritual

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In the annals of history, we have witnessed a myriad of unique, and at times, bizarre traditions that have defined civilizations and their leaders. One such tradition that stands tall in its peculiar characteristics is the well-documented ‘marital ritual’ of King Iddin-Dagan, who reigned in Isin (modern-day Iraq) around four millennia ago. This ritual involved public copulation with a priestess in front of the masses.

The enigmatic ritual, transcending mere symbolism, was rooted in the earnest belief of promoting fertility and securing a bountiful harvest through an elaborate ceremony that rivaled even the most extravagant of royal festivities seen in modern times. The ritual commenced with the meticulous preparation of the priestess, who would “bathe her loins,” not once but twice, followed by a soap bath to purify herself before the divine enactment.

In a performance brimming with mysticism and solemnity, the stage was set for Iddin-Dagan to assume the role of the Sumerian god Dumuzid, a deity associated with shepherds and fertility, juxtaposed with the priestess channeling the goddess Inanna, the deity of love, beauty, sex, and war, in a sacred theatrical display of divine copulation. A declaration of “O my holy thighs!” marked the initiation of the ritualistic intercourse, as the pair engaged in a reverential unison to please the heavens and ensure the fertility of the land.

The ‘marital ceremony’ was full of ritual and symbology. (swisshippo / Adobe Stock)

The ceremony was more than just a union of king and priestess; it was a massive public event comprising ten distinct segments, where the streets resonated with the rhythmic chants of parading male prostitutes, the grace of dancing ladies, and the relentless beats of drummers heralding the sacred proceedings.

A pivotal element of this historical ceremonial pageantry involved priests invoking divine blessing through self-inflicted sword wounds, a painful yet revered practice, painting a vivid tapestry of devotion and sacrifice in honor of Inanna. The grandiose ceremony culminated in a visual testimony of the king and priestess in sexual embrace, the final act of devotion designed to appease the goddess and ensure a prosperous year of rich harvests.

Top image: Sumerian priestess. Source: Oleksandr / Adobe Stock.

By Joanna Gillan



Disgusting. Immoral. Sinful. Debauched.

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Joanna Gillan is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. 

Joanna completed a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) degree in Australia and published research in the field of Educational Psychology. She has a rich and varied career, ranging from teaching... Read More

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