Ishara (išḫara) is an ancient deity of unknown origin from northern modern Syria. The goddess appears from as early as the mid 3rd millennium as one of the chief goddesses of Ebla, and by the end of the 3rd millennium, she had temples in Nippur, Sippar, Kish, Harbidum, Larsa, and Urum.
Ishara is a pre-Hurrian and perhaps pre-Semitic deity. She first appeared in the pre-Sargonic texts from Ebla and was incorporated to the Hurrian pantheon from which she found her way to the Hittite pantheon. She had her main shrine in Kizzuwatna. Ishara is the Hittite word for “treaty, binding promise”, also personified as a goddess of the oath.
In Hurrian and Semitic traditions, Išḫara is a love goddess, often identified with Ishtar, the Mesopotamian East Semitic (Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian) goddess of fertility, love, war, sex, and power. Ishtar is the counterpart to the earlier attested Sumerian Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of love, beauty, sexual desire, fertility, knowledge, wisdom, war, and combat, and the cognate for the later attested Northwest Semitic Aramean goddess Astarte, and the Armenian goddess Astghik.
Tammuz (Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D), “faithful or true son”) is a Sumerian god of food and vegetation, also worshiped in the later Mesopotamian states of Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia. He originated as a Sumerian shepherd-god, the consort of Inanna and, in his Akkadian form, the parallel consort of Ishtar.
The Levantine (“lord”) Adonis, who was drawn into the Greek pantheon, is considered to be another counterpart of Tammuz, son and consort. Inanna was associated with the eastern fish of the last of the zodiacal constellations, Pisces. Her consort Dumuzi was associated with the contiguous first constellation, Aries.
Variants of the name appear as Ašḫara (in a treaty of Naram-Sin of Akkad with Hita of Elam) and Ušḫara (in Ugarite texts). In Ebla, there were various logographic spellings involving the sign AMA “mother”. In Alalah, her name was written with the Akkadogram IŠTAR plus a phonetic complement -ra, as IŠTAR-ra.
In Mari she seems to have been very popular and many women were called after her. Her main epithet was belet rame, lady of love, which was also applied to Ishtar. In the Epic of Gilgamesh (Tablet II, col. v.28) it says: ‘For Ishara the bed is made’ and in Atra-hasis (I 301-304) she is called upon to bless the couple on the honeymoon.”
She was associated with the underworld. Her astrological embodiment is the constellation Scorpio and she is called the mother of the Sebitti (the Seven Stars). While she was considered to belong to the entourage of Ishtar, she was invoked to heal the sick (Lebrun). As a goddess, Ishara could inflict severe bodily penalties to oathbreakers, in particular ascites (see Hittite military oath).
Ama-gi is a Sumerian word. The word originates from the noun ama “mother” (sometimes with the enclitic dative case marker ar), and the present participle gi “return, restore, put back”, thus literally meaning “returning to mother”.
It has been translated as “freedom”, as well as “manumission”, “exemption from debts or obligations”, and “the restoration of persons and property to their original status” including the remission of debts. Other interpretations include a “reversion to a previous state” and release from debt, slavery, taxation or punishment. It is related to the Akkadian word anduraāru(m), meaning “freedom”, “exemption” and “release from (debt) slavery”.
Ma is a Sumerian word meaning “land” that in Sumerian mythology was also used to regard Primordial Land. The same name Ma is tied to the Earth, in Ma being referred to as “Mother of the mountain” – in this case, Kur (Mountain) the first dragon god. The underworld Kur is the void space between the primeval sea (Abzu) and the earth (Ma). Which seem a likely pairing for parentage, in a fuzzy set of records.
Ma was a local goddess at Comana in Phrygian Cappadocia and a Phrygian alternative name for Cybele. She has been interpreted as a “mother” goddess and compared to Cybele, but has also been compared to Syrian Enyo. Cybele (Phrygian: Matar Kubeleya “Kubeleyan Mother”, perhaps “Mountain Mother”) is an Anatolian mother goddess; she may have a possible precursor in the earliest neolithic at Çatalhöyük, where statues of obese women, sometimes sitting, have been found in excavations.
She is Phrygia’s only known goddess, and was probably its state deity. Her Phrygian cult was adopted and adapted by Greek colonists of Asia Minor and spread to mainland Greece and its more distant western colonies around the 6th century BC.
One of the most important goddesses of reconstructed Proto-Indo-European religion is the personification of dawn as a beautiful young woman. The name *hewsṓs is derived from a root *hwes / *au̯es “to shine”, thus translating to “the shining one”. Both the English word east and the Latin auster “south” are from a root cognate adjective *aws-t(e)ro-. Also cognate is aurum “gold”, from *awso-.
Her name is reconstructed as Hausōs or Ausōs (PIE *hewsṓs- or *hausōs-, an s-stem), besides numerous epithets. Derivatives of *hewsṓs in the historical mythologies of Indo-European peoples include Indian Uṣas, Greek Ēōs, Latin Aurōra, and Baltic Aušra (“dawn”, c.f. Lithuanian Aušrinė). Germanic *Austrōn- is from an extended stem *hews-tro-.
The abduction and imprisonment of the dawn goddess, and her liberation by a heroic god slaying the dragon who imprisons her, is a central myth of Indo-European religion, reflected in numerous traditions. The name for “spring season”, *wes-r- is also from the same root. The dawn goddess was also the goddess of spring, involved in the mythology of the Indo-European new year, where the dawn goddess is liberated from imprisonment by a god.
Besides the name most amenable to reconstruction, *h₂ewsṓs, a number of epithets of the dawn goddess may be reconstructed with some certainty. Among these is *wenos- (also an s-stem), whence Sanskrit vanas “loveliness; desire”, used of Uṣas in the Rigveda, and the Latin name Venus and the Norse Vanir.
Ushas्, Sanskrit for “dawn”, is a Vedic deity, and consequently a Hindu deity as well. Ushas is an exalted goddess in the Rig Veda but less prominent in post-Rigvedic texts. She is often spoken of in the plural, “the Dawns.” She is portrayed as warding off evil spirits of the night, and as a beautifully adorned young woman riding in a golden chariot on her path across the sky. Due to her color she is often identified with the reddish cows, and both are released by Indra from the Vala cave at the beginning of time.
Sanskrit uṣas is an s-stem, i.e. the genitive case is uṣásas. Ushas is derived from the Proto-Indo-European goddess *h₂ausos-. Her cognates in other Indo-European pantheons include the Greek goddess Eos, the Germanic goddess Ēostre (source of the English word “Easter”), the Roman goddess Aurora, and the Lithuanian goddess Austrine.
Ēostre or Ostara (Old English: Ēastre, Northumbrian dialect Ēostre; Old High German: *Ôstara (reconstructed form)) is a Germanic goddess who, by way of the Germanic month bearing her name (Northumbrian: Ēosturmōnaþ; West Saxon: Ēastermōnaþ; Old High German: Ôstarmânoth ), is the namesake of the festival of Easter in some languages.
Ēostre is attested solely by Bede in his 8th-century work The Reckoning of Time, where Bede states that during Ēosturmōnaþ (the equivalent of April), pagan Anglo-Saxons had held feasts in Ēostre’s honor, but that this tradition had died out by his time, replaced by the Christian Paschal month, a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus.
By way of linguistic reconstruction, the matter of a goddess called *Austrō in the Proto-Germanic language has been examined in detail since the foundation of Germanic philology in the 19th century by scholar Jacob Grimm and others.
As the Germanic languages descend from Proto-Indo-European (PIE), historical linguists have traced the name to a Proto-Indo-European goddess of the dawn *H₂ewsṓs (→ *Ausṓs), from which descends the Common Germanic divinity from whom Ēostre and Ostara are held to descend.
Additionally, scholars have linked the goddess’s name to a variety of Germanic personal names, a series of location names (toponyms) in England, and, discovered in 1958, over 150 inscriptions from the 2nd century BCE referring to the matronae Austriahenae.
Theories connecting Ēostre with records of Germanic Easter customs, including hares and eggs, have been proposed. Particularly prior to the discovery of the matronae Austriahenae and further developments in Indo-European studies, debate has occurred among some scholars about whether or not the goddess was an invention of Bede. Ēostre and Ostara are sometimes referenced in modern popular culture and are venerated in some forms of Germanic neopaganism.
Aya (or Aja) in Akkadian mythology was a mother goddess, consort of the sun god Shamash. Aya is Akkadian for “dawn”, and by the Akkadian period she was firmly associated with the rising sun and with sexual love and youth. The Babylonians sometimes referred to her as kallatu (the bride), and as such she was known as the wife of Shamash.
By the Neo-Babylonian period at the latest (and possibly much earlier), Shamash and Aya were associated with a practice known as Hasadu, which is loosely translated as a “sacred marriage.” A room would be set aside with a bed, and on certain occasions the temple statues of Shamash and Aya would be brought together and laid on the bed to ceremonially renew their vows.
She developed from the Sumerian goddess Sherida, consort of Utu. Sherida is one of the oldest Mesopotamian gods, attested in inscriptions from pre-Sargonic times. As the Sumerian pantheon formalized, Utu became the primary sun god, and Sherida was syncretized into a subordinate role as an aspect of the sun alongside other less powerful solar deities (c.f. Ninurta) and took on the role of Utu’s consort.
The Sun goddess of Arinna is the chief goddess and wife of the weather god Tarḫunna in Hittite mythology. She protected the Hittite kingdom and was called the “Queen of all lands.” Her cult centre was the sacred city of Arinna.
In addition to the Sun goddess of Arinna, the Hittites also worshipped the Sun goddess of the Earth and the Sun god of Heaven, while the Luwians originally worshipped the old Proto-Indo-European Sun god Tiwaz. It appears that in the northern cultural sphere of the early Hittites, there was no male solar deity.
The Sun goddess of Arinna and the weather god Tarḫunna formed a pair and together they occupied the highest position in the Hittite state’s pantheon. The pair’s daughter is Mezulla, by whom they had the granddaughter Zintuḫi. Their other children were the Weather god of Nerik, the Weather god of Zippalanda, and the corn god Telipinu. The eagle served as her messenger.
In myths, she plays a minor role. A Hattian mythic fragment records the construction of her house in Liḫzina (de). Another myth fragment refers to her apple tree: An apple tree stands at a well and is covered all over with a blood-red colour. The Sun goddess of Arinna saw (it) and she decorated (it) with her shining wand. (KUB 28.6 Vs. I 10’-13’ = II 10’-13’).
The Sun goddess of Arinna was originally of Hattian origin and was worshipped by the Hattians at Eštan. One of her Hattian epithets was Wurunšemu (“Mother of the land”?).
From the Hittite Old Kingdom, she was the chief goddess of the Hittite state. The “Gods’ city” of Arinna was the site of the coronation of the first Hittite kings and one of the empire’s three holy cities. The Hattian name of the goddess was transcribed by the Hittites as Ištanu and Urunzimu.
They also invoked her as Arinitti (“The Arinnian”). The epithet “of Arinna” only appears during the Hittite Middle Kingdom, to distinguish the Sun goddess from the male Sun god of Heaven, who had been adopted by the Hittites from interaction with the Hurrians.
During the Hittite New Kingdom, she was identified with the Hurrian-Syrian goddess Ḫepat and the Hittite Queen Puduḫepa mentions her in her prayers using both names: Sun goddess of Arinna, my lady, queen of all lands! In the Land of Ḫatti, you ordained your name to be the “Sun goddess of Arinna”, but also in the land which you have made the land of the cedar, you ordained your name to be Hepat.
From the Hittite Old Kingdom, the Sun goddess of Arinna legitimised the authority of the king, in conjunction with the weather god Tarḫunna. The land belonged to the two deities and the established the king, who would refer to the Sun goddess as “Mother”. King Ḫattušili I would hold the Sun goddess in his lap. Several queens dedicated cultic solar discs to the Sun goddess in the city of Taḫurpa.
During the Hittite New Kingdom, the Sun goddess was said to watch over the king and his kingdom, with the king as her priest and the queen as her priestess. The Hittite king worshiped the Sun goddess with daily praters at sun set. The Hittite texts preserve many prayers to the Sun goddess of Arinna: the oldest is from Arnuwanda I, while the best known is the prayer of Queen Puduḫepa, cited above.
The most important temple of the Sun goddess was in the city of Arinna; there was another on the citadel of Ḫattuša. The goddess was depicted as a solar disc.In the city of Tarḫurpa, several such discs were venerated, which had been donated by the Hittite queens. King Ulmi-Teššup von Tarḫuntašša donated a Sun disc of gold, silver and copper to the goddess each year, along with a bull and three sheep. She was also often depicted as a woman and statuettes of a sitting goddess with a halo may also be depictions of her.
The deer was sacred to the Sun goddess and Queen Puduḫepa promised to give her many deer in her prayers. Cultic vessels in the shape of a deer presumably ere used for worship of the Sun goddess. It is also believed that the golden deer statuettes from the Early Bronze Age, which were found in the middle of the Kızılırmak River and belong to the Hattian cultural period, ere associated with the cult of the Sun goddess.
The name Ištanu is the Hittite form of the Hattian name Eštan and refers to the Sun goddess of Arinna. Earlier scholarship understood Ištanu as the name of the male Sun god of the Heavens, but more recent scholarship has held that the name is only used to refer to the Sun goddess of Arinna. Volker Haas (de), however, still distinguishes between a male Ištanu representing the day-star and a female Wurunšemu who is the Sun goddess of Arinna and spends her nights in the underworld.
Istanu (Ištanu; from Hattic Estan, “Sun-god”) was the Hittite and Hattic god of the sun. In Luwian he was known as Tiwaz or Tijaz. He was a god of judgement, and was depicted bearing a winged sun on his crown or head-dress, and a crooked staff.
Týr is a Germanic god associated with law and heroic glory in Norse mythology, portrayed as one-handed. Corresponding names in other Germanic languages are Gothic Teiws, Old English Tīw and Old High German Ziu and Cyo, all from Proto-Germanic *Tīwaz. The Latinised name is rendered as Tius or Tio and also formally as Mars Thincsus.
In the late Icelandic Eddas, Týr is portrayed, alternately, as the son of Odin (Prose Edda) or of Hymir (Poetic Edda). It is assumed that Tîwaz was overtaken in popularity and in authority by both Odin and Thor at some point during the Migration Age, as Odin shares his role as God of war.
The origins of his name and his possible relationship to Tuisto suggest he was once considered the father of the gods and head of the pantheon, since his name is ultimately cognate to that of *Dyeus (cf. Dyaus), the reconstructed chief deity in Indo-European religion.
Distinguishing the various solar deities in the texts is difficult since most are simply written with the Sumerogram dUTU (Solar deity). As a result, the interpretation of the solar deities remains a subject of debate.
Utu (Akkadian rendition of Sumerian dUD “Sun”, Assyro-Babylonian Shamash “Sun”) is the Sun god in Sumerian mythology, the son of the moon god Nanna and the goddess Ningal, a goddess of reeds in the Sumerian mythology, daughter of Enki and Ningikurga and the consort of the moon god Nanna by whom she bore Utu the sun god, Inanna, and in some texts, Ishkur.
Utu is the god of the sun, justice, application of law, and the lord of truth. He is usually depicted as wearing a horned helmet and carrying a saw-edged weapon not unlike a pruning saw.
It is thought that every day, Utu emerges from a mountain in the east, symbolizing dawn, and travels either via chariot or boat across the Earth, returning to a hole in a mountain in the west, symbolizing sunset.
Every night, Utu descends into the underworld to decide the fate of the dead. He is also depicted as carrying a mace, and standing with one foot on a mountain. Its symbol is “sun rays from the shoulders, and or sun disk or a saw”.
The sun god is only modestly mentioned in Sumerian mythology with one of the notable exceptions being the Epic of Gilgamesh. In the myth, Gilgamesh seeks to establish his name with the assistance of Utu, because of his connection with the cedar mountain.
Gilgamesh and his father, Lugalbanda were kings of the first dynasty of Uruk, a lineage that Jeffrey H. Tigay suggested could be traced back to Utu himself. He further suggested that Lugalbanda’s association with the sun-god in the Old Babylonian version of the epic strengthened “the impression that at one point in the history of the tradition the sun-god was also invoked as an ancestor”.
Aya (or Aja) in Akkadian mythology was a mother goddess, consort of the sun god Shamash. She developed from the Sumerian goddess Sherida, consort of Utu.
Sherida is one of the oldest Mesopotamian gods, attested in inscriptions from pre-Sargonic times, her name (as “Aya”) was a popular personal name during the Ur III period (21st-20th century BCE), making her among the oldest Semitic deities known in the region.
As the Sumerian pantheon formalized, Utu became the primary sun god, and Sherida was syncretized into a subordinate role as an aspect of the sun alongside other less powerful solar deities (c.f. Ninurta) and took on the role of Utu’s consort.
When the Semitic Akkadians moved into Mesopotamia, their pantheon became syncretized to the Sumerian. Inanna to Ishtar, Nanna to Sin, Utu to Shamash, etc. The minor Mesopotamian sun goddess Aya became syncretized into Sherida during this process.
The goddess Aya in this aspect appears to have had wide currency among Semitic peoples, as she is mentioned in god-lists in Ugarit and shows up in personal names in the Bible (Gen 36:24, 2 Sam 3:7, 1 Chr 7:28).
Aya is Akkadian for “dawn”, and by the Akkadian period she was firmly associated with the rising sun and with sexual love:173 and youth. The Babylonians sometimes referred to her as kallatu (the bride), and as such she was known as the wife of Shamash. In fact, she was worshiped as part of a separate-but-attached cult in Shamash’s e-babbar temples in Larsa and Sippar.
By the Neo-Babylonian period at the latest (and possibly much earlier), Shamash and Aya were associated with a practice known as Hasadu, which is loosely translated as a “sacred marriage.”
A room would be set aside with a bed, and on certain occasions the temple statues of Shamash and Aya would be brought together and laid on the bed to ceremonially renew their vows. This ceremony was also practiced by the cults of Marduk with Sarpanitum, Nabu with Tashmetum, and Anu with Antu.
Ḫepat, also transcribed, Khepat, was the mother goddess of the Hurrians, known as “the mother of all living”. She is also a Queen of the deities. Hebat is married to Teshub and is the mother of Sarruma and Alanzu, as well mother-in-law of the daughter of the dragon Illuyanka. The mother goddess is likely to have had a later counterpart in the Phrygian goddess Cybele.
Queen Kubaba may have been deified, becoming Hebat. Kubaba (in the Weidner or Esagila Chronicle; Sumerian: Kug-Bau) is the only queen on the Sumerian King List, which states she reigned for 100 years – roughly in the Early Dynastic III period (ca. 2500-2330 BC) of Sumerian history. In later times, she was worshipped as a goddess.
Her cult later spread and her name was adapted for the main goddess of the Hittite successor kingdoms in Anatolia. This deity later developed into the Phrygian matar kubileya (“mother Cybele”), who was depicted in petroglyphs and mentioned in accompanying inscriptions. The Phrygian goddess otherwise bears little resemblance to Kubaba, who – according to Herodotus – was a sovereign deity at Sardis.
Her Lydian name was Kuvav or Kufav which Ionian Greeks initially transcribed Kybêbê, rather than Kybele; Jan Bremmer notes in this context the 7th century Semonides of Amorgos, who calls one of her Hellene followers a kybêbos. Bremmer observes that in the following century she was further Hellenized by Hipponax, as “Kybêbê, daughter of Zeus”.
It is thought that Hebat may have had a Southern Mesopotamian origin, being the deification of Kubaba, the founder and first ruler of the Third Dynasty of Kish. The name may be transliterated in different versions – Khepat with the feminine ending -t is primarily the Syrian and Ugaritic version.
In the Hurrian language Ḫepa is the most likely pronunciation of the name of the goddess. In modern literature the sound /h/ in cuneiform sometimes is transliterated as kh. During Aramaean times Ḫepat also appears to have become identified with the goddess Hawwah, or Eve.
The Hittite sun goddess Arinniti was later assimilated with Hebat. A prayer of Queen Puduhepa makes this explicit: “To the Sun-goddess of Arinna, my lady, the mistress of the Hatti lands, the queen of Heaven and Earth. Sun-goddess of Arinna, thou art Queen of all countries! In the Hatti country thou bearest the name of the Sun-goddess of Arinna; but in the land which thou madest the cedar land thou bearest the name Hebat.”
Ḫepat was venerated all over the ancient Near East. Her name appears in many theophoric personal names. A king of Jerusalem mentioned in the Amarna letters was named Abdi-Heba, possibly meaning “Servant of Ḫepat”.
Ninti (Lady Rib), is also a pun on Lady Life. The title of Ninhursag, also means “the mother of all living”, and was a title given to the later Hurrian goddess Kheba. This is also the title given in the Bible to Eve, the Hebrew and Aramaic Ḥawwah, who was made from the rib of Adam, in a strange reflection of the Sumerian myth, in which Adam — not Enki — walks in the Garden of Paradise.