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Gods, Goddesses, Demons and Monsters The people of Mesopotamia believed that their world was controlled by gods and goddesses, demons and monsters. There were hundreds of gods who were responsible for everything in the world, from rivers and trees to making bread and pottery. Each city was protected by its own special god or goddess and their family. Large temples were built in the centre of the city for these gods to live in. Priests looked after the gods with special rituals. There were also smaller temples throughout the city where ordinary people could make offerings. Demons were created by the gods with human bodies and animal or bird heads. They could be either evil or good. Monsters were a mixture of animals and birds. The Mesopotamian scribes compiled long lists of their gods. There were hundreds of gods who were responsible for every thing in the world, from rivers and mountains to making bread or pottery. The gods were known by different names depending on whether the scribes wrote Sumerian or Akkadian. The following list of the most important gods, goddesses, demons and monsters uses their Akkadian names with their Sumerian names in brackets. Adad (Ishkur) Adad is the god of storms. He is usually shown carrying a lighting fork, symbolising his power over the storm forces of nature. The Babylonian and Assyrian god Adad was known to the Sumerians as Ishkur, and is often shown with a liondragon or bull. Adad's wife was the goddess Shala. Ea (Enki) Ea is the god of the fresh waters known as 'apsu' on which the Earth floats. He is a god of wisdom, farming, building, magic and arts and crafts. Ea appears as a bearded man surrounded by flowing water. Ea is attended by a god with two faces called Usmu (Isimud). Ea's symbols are the goat-fish and a sceptre with a ram's head. Many Mesopotamian myths emphasise the fun-loving and mischievous nature of Ea. One Sumerian myth is called 'Inanna and Enki' (the Sumerian names for Ishtar and Ea). In the beginning of this story, Enki controls the 'me' which are the rules of the universe. One day, Enki and Inanna get drunk and she tricks him into giving her the 'me'. When Enki realises that he has given the 'me' away, he tries to recover then from Inanna. But Inanna takes the 'me' back to her city. It is too late for Enki to get them back. Ishtar (Inanna) Ishtar is the morning and evening star (the planet we call Venus), and the goddess of love and war. She is shown as a woman standing on a lion, generally holding several weapons. Ishtar was sometimes thought to be the daughter of the moon god Sin. Since the lunar month usually has 30 days, Sin's sacred number is 30. As Ishtar was Sin's daughter, her sacred number is 15. Sin (Nanna) Sin is the moon god. His symbols are the crescent moon, the bull, and a tripod (which may be a lampstand). Sin had a beard made of lapis lazuli and he rides on a winged bull. The lunar month usually has 30 days, so Sin's sacred number is 30. Human-Headed Bulls Human-headed bulls are protective creatures. They are found decorating objects dating mainly from around 3000-1800 B.C. and later are replaced by the lamassu guardian figures. Bull of Heaven The Bull of Heaven is the constellation we call Taurus. He is controlled by the sky god Anu. The Bull of Heaven appears in the Epic of Gilgamesh. After Gilgamesh upsets the goddess Ishtar, she convinces her father Anu to send the Bull of Heaven to earth to destroy the crops and kill people. However, Gilgamesh and Enkidu kill the Bull of Heaven. The gods are angry that the Bull of Heaven has been killed. As punishment for killing the bull Enkidu falls ill and dies. Queen of the Night Hundreds of gods, goddesses and demons are known from ancient Mesopotamia. For many of them, we can match a name with a picture. However, there are some where we either have a picture and no name, or a name and no picture. This means that it is sometimes difficult to identify a god, goddess or demon. The 'Queen of the Night' wears a headdress and carries the rod and ring symbols. She also has drooping wings and bird-like feet. She is shown standing on top of two lions, with an owl on either side. The identity of the 'Queen of the Night' shown on the object below is a mystery. We know she is a goddess because of her horned crown and the symbols she holds in her hands. However, there are several goddesses that she could be. Some experts believe that she is Ishtar, the goddess of love and war. But drooping wings were associated with the Underworld. She could be Ereshkigal, the goddess of the Underworld. However, we do not know exactly what Ereshkigal looked like. The 'Queen of the Night' could also be Lilitu, who is associated with owls. Lilitu is not a goddess, she is a demoness who made it difficult for women to have children. Lilitu appears in the Bible as Lilith. Although we do not know exactly who she is, we have called her the 'Queen of the Night' because of her drooping wings, the owls on either side of her and because the background of the plaque was once black.