Who are the Apkallu?
The Apkallu were initially said to be the seven sages that were created by the god Enki to bring wisdom and magick to humankind. It is also said that “Apkallu“ is the term that is used for the pre-flood sages while “Ummanu” is a term that is used for the post-flood sages that were more closely associated with humankind.
With this said, the Apkallu grew more in number and it was also a title used by kings and human sages alike as a way to demonstrate to the people that they were ever-wise and blessed by the gods. Another interesting tidbit to add is that the Apkallu were considered to be genii (djinn) that are in the flying class of the species.
How were these beings depicted?
The Apkallu are commonly viewed to appear as half-fish and half-man. This depiction is probably the most common due to their connections to Enki and the Abzu. However, aside from this appearance there are two others that exist.
In their secondary depiction, they are known to have the head and wings of a eagle and have the body of a man. Through my own speculation, I believe that this depiction exists due to the eagle being one of the lesser known sacred animals of Enki.
In the last depiction, the Apkallu are known to have the body of a human, the wings of a eagle, were adorned with horned crowns, and are occasionally depicted as having the skin of a fish. This depiction is more mysterious but I would say that this form is probably inspired by the other two with more human-like features.