The Sumerian war god. He also had authority over the spring flood and the thunderstorm, hence his relationship with Zu, the lion-headed storm bird. Ninurta may actually mean ‘Lord Plough’. Gradually his elemental attributes were replaced by an emphasis on bloody conflict, Ninurta becoming the archetype of the warrior king.
Mesopotamia was of course the scene of ceaseless warfare. The campaigns of Rimush, King of Akkad, give an idea of the scale of fighting in the twenty-fourth century bc. Having defeated his enemies and razed the walls of their cities, Rimush invariably conducted a wholesale massacre of prisoners–5,000 in Ur, 6,000 in Kawallu, and 9,000 in Umma are not exceptional figures.