The month of mid-June to mid-July is called “Dumuzi (Tammuz).” This fourth month of the Babylonian year is named for the God of Fertility and Shepherds. With the advent of the hot, dry summer, Dumuzi goes to the Netherworld to live for six months. The months between June and September are the months that the Dead can roam among the living.
On the 18th day of this month, the statue of Istar (Dumuzi’s wife) is washed, and Dumuzi’s one is anointed in oil. Starting on the 25th day, people honored his death. On the “Day of the Striking,” Dumuzi’s statue is displayed. During “The Day of the Screaming,” people wailed for Him. On“The Day He is caught,” barley is burned and his statue is thrown out the main gate. (This refers to the Galla coming from the Underworld to fetch the God.) On the “Day of the Stall (where He was captured),” Dumuzi’s statue lies in state. At this time, a priest whispers prayers into the statue’s ears.
Meanwhile, in Sumer, the month is called “Su-numum” after the Akiti Su-numum (the Ploughing Festival). Ploughing has begun and will continue for four more months. This month is also referred to the “Month of the Barely Seed,” reflecting the preparation for the planting season. Stones and stubble are removed, and the rows are ploughed. Burnt offerings of fruit and oil are made to the plough. (Traditionally, the festival is started at the full moon after the summer solstice.)
Since Su-numun is also the onset of summer, there also rituals that focused on death and mourning. The first day of the month is “The Festival of the Canebrake (Apum).” (This was traditionally held on the new moon after the summer solstice.) “Canebrake” refers to the burial practice of wrapping the corpse in a shroud and laying it in the burial marshes. “In the reeds of Enki” refers to the canebrake receiving the body. Burial marshes were common. During the festival, it is customary to read laments such as “Lament over the Destruction of Ur” and “Lament over the Destruction of Ur and Sumer.” The “Time of the Great Wailing” commemorates when Ur was destroyed by the Elam and Sua peoples in 2004 BCE.