Papsukkal (god)

Papsukkal is an attendant deity serving higher gods (usually Anu) as minister.


Attendant deities such as Papsukkal were invoked to intercede with the higher gods and goddesses on behalf of human supplicants. They guarded access to higher gods, thus functioning as gate-keepers (see Beaulieu 1999: 96). The name of Papsukkal's Sumerian incarnation Ig-galla is translated as "the great doorleaf" (Kapelrud 1950: 152), which, according to Frankfort (1948: 35) refers--quite literally--to the door before a shrine. This would be in keeping with the role of attendant gods as controllers of access to higher deities.

Divine Genealogy and Syncretisms

A deity in his own right until the Old Babylonian period, Papsukkal is merged with Ninšubur, listed in the circle of Anu as his "grand vizier", though in the god list An = Anum he belongs to the circles of gods Nergal and Enki (Litke 1998: 25). The same god list mentions dpap-pap as the daughter of Ninšubur/Papsukkal (Litke 1998: 25). Black and Green (1998: 141-2) treat Ninšubur the god and Ninšubur the goddess, minister of Ištar, separately. However, the replacement of the latter in the Akkadian version of Ištar's Descent (Wiggermann 1998-2001f: 493), suggests that perhaps the two Ninšuburs may have been merged, or at least confused.

Cult Place(s)

Papsukkal/Ninšubur had temples in Akkil, Kiš [~/images/Kish.jpg] and Babylon [~/images/Babylon.jpg]; and two cult installations in the temple of his master Anu at Uruk [~/images/Uruk.jpg] (George 1993).

Time Periods Attested

In the Old Babylonian Period, Papsukkal is distinct from Ninšubur; the two are syncretised in the Kassite period. Papsukkal of the first millennium loses much of his importance but sees a sudden cultic revival in Uruk in the Hellenistic period (Wiggermann 1998-2001f: 492-3).


The iconography of Papsukkal/Ninšubur, as known from terracotta figurines of the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian periods, is of a standing male sporting a beard and a horned cap and holding a long staff (Black and Green 1998: 141). Such figurines were often found in temples of other deities, placed beneath cult statues (Ellis 1967), in keeping with the attendant role of the god.

Name and Spellings

Papsukkal's name is broken down as Sumerian pap = "oldest brother" and sukkal = "vizier" (Wiggermann 1998-2001f: 492).

Written forms:
dpap5-sukkal, dpa-ap-su-kal, dpa-ap-šu-kal
Normalised form:

Papsukkal in Online Corpora

Further Reading

Yaǧmur Heffron

Yaǧmur Heffron, 'Papsukkal (god)', Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses, Oracc and the UK Higher Education Academy, 2019 []

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