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RELIGION IN ANCIENT MESOPOTAMIA
RELIGION IN ANCIENT MESOPOTAMIA
1. GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION
2. HISTORICAL REFERENCES
3. COSMOGONIA
4. THE PANTHEON
5. CUNEIFORM WRITING
6. TEMPLES - ZIGGURAT
1. GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION
-The teritory between Tigru si Eufrat
-Cradle of civilization - first literate societies have
developed here
-There is not a political entity named like this and not
even well defined boundaries
-It is a conventional name given by Greek historians
- Very fertile area and coveted by all people
2. Historical References
Empires and Civilisations which succeeded in the area
Sumerian Civilisation
Sumero-Akkadian Empire
BABYLONIAN EMPIRE
Hammurabi’s Code - 1780 BC
Assyrian Empire
World’s Babylonian Map
Babylonian
map
includes
some of the most important
Mesopotamian
cities
and
regions. It has been made
around the year 600 BC and
comes from the city Sippar.
It is a very unusual type of
map, different than the ones
we are accustomed with; the
map is more interested in
areas that are believed to exist
mystery behind the sea where
lived the gods, heroes,
animals and monsters.
Today’s territory of
Iraq and Syria
3. COSMOGONIA
At the beginning of time on earth were only gods and
goddesses. They had to farm and work hard for their food
Each god and goddess had a specific task that had to do. Some
digging and cultivating land, others brought water for watering
crops.
The work was hard and they were not happy. Therefore, they
met to discuss how to reduce work
They went for advice to Enki, who was wise. Enki was asleep
in his under water house.
Enki suggested to make other creatures in order to serve them
working the land. In this way, the life of gods and goddesses
would have been much easier.
Gods and goddesses considered Enki's plan a very
good solution. Enki took clay from his under water
house and he used it to create people.
He breathed life into his figurines but made them mortal.
Only gods and goddesses are immortal.
People were put to work in the fields. As servants of the gods
and goddesses, they had to provide them food and drink
People were taking water from rivers and wet areas that were
dry. They dug the earth and planted different crops.
Working hard, people gave life to the earth and the gods
who gave life to humans were happy.
4. THE PANTHEON
Gods,
Goddesses,
Demons
and
Monsters
Mesopotamians scribes conceived long lists of gods.
There were many gods, responsible of every single aspect
of life, from rivers and mountains to making the daily
bread. Each city-state had its own supreme god, founder
and patron, who conveyed the king's power.
The following list contains the names of the most
important gods, goddesses, demons and monsters, using
their Akkadian and Sumerian names.
The Creation Triad:
Anu, Ea, Elil
Anu (An)
Sacred
Number:
60
Anu was the Sky God. He
was the supreme ruler of all
gods. Mesopotamian legends
render the story about the
creation of World. These
legends tell that the sky has
become Anu’s house.
Anu controlled the shooting
stars.
He
was
also
responsible for the Bull of
Heaven on earth that could be
sent to avenge the gods.
Although he is an important
god
there
isn’t
any
representation of him.
Ea (Enki)
Sacred number: 40
He is the God of fresh
waters called ‘apsu’. He is a
God of wisdom, agriculture,
construction, arts and magic.
He appears as a man
surrounded by flowing water.
He saves humanity from the
flood.
Ellil (Enlil)
Sacred
number:
50
Ellil is the God of Air, the son of
Anu and Ki, Goddess of Earth.
He is so strong that other gods
can not even look at him.
His city is Nippur.
Here he receives gifts from the
kings throughout Mesopotamia.
Ellil guards 'tablets of destiny',
which are some cuneiform
tablets of fate in which he
writes everything on earth.
Ninhursag is The Gods
Mother.
“High Mistress and
mother of all living beings
"appears in the early
Mesopotamian mythology,
but soon disappears.
Adad (Ishkur)
Sacred number: 6
Adad is the god of
storms. It is usually
represented wearing a
shiny fork, symbolizing
the power over the forces
of nature. Adad's wife
was the goddess Shala.
cosmic triad:
Shamash (Utu)
Shamash, Sin, Ishtar
Sacred number: 20
Shamash was the God of the
Sun, of Truth and Justice
worshiped in the city of Uruk.
He holds a knife with nicked
blade and cut his way through
the mountains at dawn.
Sin (Nanna)
Sin is the Moon
God, the master of
destiny. As a month
is usually 30 days,
its sacred number
is 30.
Istar (Inanna)
Sacred number: 15
Daughter of Sin, Moon
God, Ishtar is the
morning and evening
star (the planet we call
it Venus), the goddess
of love and war.
In Assyria she is the
Goddess of war. She is
represented as a
woman sitting on a lion
and with different
weapons in their hands.
Nergal is the Warrior God of
darkness world. He uses against
people fevers, plagues, fires
Gods protectors of the cities
Ashur
Ashur was the main
god of the Assyrians.
He was represented
as a man wore a
turban. He was also
the god of the first
capital of Assyrians,
called Ashur. He is
sometimes
represented riding a
dragon-snake.
Marduk
Marduk is the protector of
Babylon.
In babylonian mythology,
Marduk was called to fight
the army of demons of the
goddess Tiamat.
Amurru (Martu)
Amurru was The God of
migratory people. His
symbol was a gazelle and
a rod of a shepherd. It
became important when
migratory people called
Amorites moved to
Babylonia around 2100 BC
Nabu
Nabu was the god of scribes
and the patron of writing and
wisdom. During the Assyrian
and Neo-Babylonian period,
Nabu was associated with
agriculture and irrigation.
Ninurta
Ninurta is the god of
war.
Apkallu
He is the “wise man”. The babylonian tradition says that there
were 7 Apkallu who lived at the beginning of the world, before the
Flood. They were sent by the god Ea to teach the people about
wisdom.They were represented as people with wings.They had
bird heads but some wore fish skin, They protect people, and
sometimes hold a bucket and cone for purifying
The Bull-Man
Bull man is a demon. Is a man to the
waist and a bull below the waist. He
helps people to fight against evil and
chaos .
The bull of sky
The Bull of Sky is the
constellbation that we
call Taurus. It was
controlled by the sky god
Anu. He appears in Epic
of Gilgamesh.
The Bulls with human heads
Bulls with human heads are protective creatures decorating
objects dating around 3000-1800 BC
Lamashtu
Lamashtu is a demon who
prey unborn or newborn.
Is often represented sitting
on a donkey, feeding a pig
and a dog and keeping
snakes in their hands.
Pregnant women wear
amulets with Pazuzu, the
demon to protect them
from Lamashtu.
Lamassu was
a bull or lion
with human
head and
wings. It
defends
people from
forces of
chaos.
Pazuzu
Pazuzu is the demon that
protects humans from wounds
and evil. Has a human body
with legs and claws of an
eagle and the head of the
monster.
It is used mainly for protection
against evil goddess
Lamashtu.
Scorpion Man
Scorpion Man has head and
body of a man but from the waist
down is like a scorpion-tailed
bird.
He officiated the sun god Shamash and was a protective
god against demons.
5. The evolution of
cuneiform writing
icons
Head
bird
bull
tree
c.
3100
c.
2800
c.
2400
c. 600
6. TEMPLES- ZIGGURAT
5200 i.Hr.
5000
i.Hr.
4900 i.Hr.
Archaelogical excavations –
Eridu
Temples built on the platform
of older temples: civilisations
that succeeded
4000 BC
3600
BC
Eridu 4.000 BC
Temple – God’s House
Archaelogical excavations in Uruk – 3.200 BC
Ur 1850 – William Loftus measures Ur ziggurat and
recommends archaelogical researches in the area
In 1922 english archaelogist C. Leonard Woolley begins
the excavations
Ur ziggurat – at the end of the excavations
Sumerian period: Ur Ziggurat – built by king Ur-Nammu
(2.100 BC.)
In honor of the Moon God Sin (Nanna)
Ur Ziggurat
Between 555 - 539 BC. babylonian king Nabonidus
reconstructed the ziggurat adding new improvements.
Cuneiform inscription discovered in Ur which testify
this event from the king’s Nabonidus period
Today: Ur Ziggurat, reconstructed between 19601970 by the government of Irak
Ziggurat discovered near the old city of Babylon in honor of
the god Marduk - the god of city, called 'Etemenanki' (House /
platform Heaven and Earth) (Rough Kurigalzu sec.14 BC) considered to be the ruins of the legendary Tower of Babel
Babel Tower - Geneza 11, 1-5
BIBLIOGRAPHY
http://www.mesopotamia.co.uk/
Ancient History Sourcebook: Mesopotamia