Šala (goddess)

Consort of the storm god Adad, probably of non-Mesopotamian origin.


Cylinder seal TT  showing a king facing a goddess. A smaller, nude goddess stands between them. The inscription reads "Adad, Šala". The cylinder seal is at the British Museum (BM 102551). © The Trustees of the British Museum.

Šala's primary role was as Adad's spouse, through which she was also believed to have power over crop fertility. The Standard Babylonian astronomical text Mul-Apin equates the constellation "The Furrow" (Virgo) with "Šala, the ear of grain" (Mul-Apin, Tablet I line 52). The brightest star in Virgo is still known today as Spica (L. "ear of grain").

Divine Genealogy and Syncretisms

Šala's genealogy is unclear. In god lists she is equated with Medimša (the traditional wife of Iškur) and four other Sumerian goddesses (Schwemer 2006-08: 566). During the second millennium Šala was syncretised with Šalaš, wife of Dagan.

Cult Places

Šala was venerated with Adad at major Babylonian and Assyrian centres from the second millennium onwards (Schwemer 2006-08: 567). In Assyria a sanctuary é-dur-kù at Karkara [~/images/Karkar.jpg] is ascribed to her.

Time Periods Attested

Šala first appears in the Old Babylonian period, when Adad rose to prominence in Babylonia. An inscription of Sin-šarru-iškun, the last king of Assyria, invokes her as "the powerful wife of Adad", who "safeguards the life of the people" (KAV 171: 17, 19). Although never very important, Šala was still honoured during the late first millennium. In Seleucid Uruk she and Adad were invoked in colophons to protect scholarly texts (Eg. AfO 14 Taf. VI; TCL 6, 10) and her statue participated in the New Year festival (TCL 6, 39, obv. 20).


Šala has been identified, although not conclusively, with a nude goddess who appears with the storm god on Akkadian cylinder seals, often holding lightning bolts or surrounded by rain. On a Middle Babylonian kudurru TT  her symbol is an ear of grain.

Name and Spellings

The name Šala (with a long vowel in the first syllable) has no clear Akkadian or other Semitic etymology. The name may derive from the Hurrian šāla, 'daughter' (Schwemer 2001b: 407-8).

Written forms:
dša-la, dšá-la, dša-a-la
Normalised form:

Šala in Online Corpora

References and Further Reading

Kathryn Stevens

Kathryn Stevens, 'Šala (goddess)', Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses, Oracc and the UK Higher Education Academy, 2013 [http://oracc.museum.upenn.edu/amgg/listofdeities/ala/]

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