People were not permitted into the ancient temples. It was the role of the priestesses and priests to represent the citizens to the goddesses and gods.
Religion was a huge part of the culture. Citizens were obliged to honor the Divine. They would come to the temple or Ziggurat with offerings and leave them in designated areas outside. It was the priestesses who would carry these offerings into the place of worship and present them to the deities.
There was an inner sanctum of the temple, or one or more rooms, where statues of the gods and goddesses were housed and honored. Ancient clergy would perform rituals and offer prayers.
Enheduanna explains this sacred process, The Exaltation of Inanna: "You asked me to enter the holy cloister, The Giparu, and I went inside, I the high priestess, Enheduanna! I carried the ritual basket and sang Your praise."
It also came under Endheduanna's purview to write hymns to and about the temples, and in honor of the Divine being that the temple was dedicated to. She seems to also personify the temples in some of the 42 temple hymns that are attributed to her.
In her groundbreaking book, Princess, Priestess, Poet: The Sumerian Temple Hymns of Enheduanna," author Betty De Shong Meador offers her translations of this unique collection.
Here is a brief excerpt from "Temple Hymn 26: The Zabalam Temple of Inanna."
"Oh house, wrapped in beams of light,
Wearing shiny stone jewels
Wakening great awe
Sanctuary of pure Innana
(Where) divine powers, the true me, spread wide."
© Betty De Shong Meador
Enheduanna held an important position as one who wrote temple hymns as well as performed rituals in these holy places.