Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

Hausos – goddess of the dawn

Posted by Fredsvenn on June 28, 2015

One of the most important goddesses of reconstructed Proto-Indo-European religion is the personification of dawn as a beautiful young woman. Her name is reconstructed as Hausōs (PIE *h₂ewsṓs- or *h₂ausōs-, an s-stem), besides numerous epithets.

The name *h₂ewsṓs is derived from a root *h₂wes / *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-.

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 (reflected in the Rigveda as Indra, in Greek mythology as Dionysus and Cronus).

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.

The name indicates that the goddess was imagined as a beautiful nubile woman, who also had aspects of a love goddess. As a consequence, the love goddess aspect was separated from the personification of dawn in a number of traditions, including Roman Venus vs. Aurora, and Greek Aphrodite vs. Eos. The Italic goddess Mater Matuta “Mother Morning” has been connected to Aurora by Roman authors (Lucretius, Priscianus).

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. Most notably, it is the central myth of the Rigveda, a collection of hymns surrounding the Soma rituals dedicated to Indra in the new year celebrations of the early Indo-Aryans.

Aratta is a land that appears in Sumerian myths surrounding Enmerkar and Lugalbanda, two early and possibly mythical kings of Uruk also mentioned on the Sumerian king list.

Aratta is described in Sumerian literature as a fabulously wealthy place full of gold, silver, lapis lazuli and other precious materials, as well as the artisans to craft them. It is remote and difficult to reach, home to the goddess Inana, who transfers her allegiance from Aratta to Uruk, but is conquered by Enmerkar of Uruk.

The name is connected to the Indo-European root Ar- meaning “assemble/create” which is vastly used in names of or regarding the Sun, light, or fire, found in Ararat, Aryan, Arta etc. The names Armen and Arman, feminine Arminé, are common given names by Armenians. Armin is also a Persian given name, and is an ancient Zoroastrian given name, meaning Guardian of Aryan Land. Armin meanings in Urdu & English is Dweller Of The Garden Of Eden.

Urartu (Assyrian: māt Urarṭu; Babylonian: Urashtu), corresponding to the biblical Kingdom of Ararat or Kingdom of Van (Urartian: Biai, Biainili) was an Iron Age kingdom centred on Lake Van in the Armenian Highlands. Scholars believe that Urartu is an Akkadian variation of Ararat of the Old Testament. Indeed, Mount Ararat is located in ancient Urartian territory, approximately 120 km north of its former capital.

It has been suggested by early 20th century Armenologists that Old Persian Armina and the Greek Armenoi are continuations of an Assyrian toponym Armânum or Armanî. There are certain Bronze Age records identified with the toponym in both Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources.

The land of Arme-Shupria/Armani-Subartu was a Hurrian-speaking kingdom, known from Assyrian sources beginning in the 13th century BC, located in the Armenian Highland, to the southwest of Lake Van, bordering on Ararat proper. Scholars have linked the district in the area called Arme or Armani, to the name Armenia.

It is mentioned in Bronze Age literature from the 3rd millennium BC. The name also appears as Subari in the Amarna letters, and, in the form Šbr, in Ugarit.Subartu was apparently a polity in Northern Mesopotamia, at the upper Tigris.

Some scholars suggest that Subartu is an early name for Assyria proper on the Tigris and westward, although there are various other theories placing it sometimes a little farther to the east and/or north. Its precise location has not been identified.

From the point of view of the Akkadian Empire, Subartu marked the northern geographical horizon, just as Martu, Elam and Sumer marked “west”, “east” and “south”, respectively. The Sumerian mythological epic Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta lists the countries where the “languages are confused” as Subartu, Hamazi, Sumer, Uri-ki (Akkad), and the Martu land (the Amorites). Similarly, the earliest references to the “four quarters” by the kings of Akkad name Subartu as one of these quarters around Akkad, along with Martu, Elam, and Sumer.

Subartu may have been in the general sphere of influence of the Hurrians. There are various alternate theories associating the ancient Subartu with one or more modern cultures found in the region, including Armenian or Kurdish tribes. Together with Armani-Subartu (Hurri-Mitanni), Hayasa-Azzi and other populations of the region such as the Nairi fell under Urartian (Kingdom of Ararat) rule in the 9th century BC, and their descendants, according to most scholars, later contributed to the ethnogenesis of the Armenians.

In the old Armenian Nairi/Nayiri (Na-a-a ri = Nayiri or Nairi) means the land of the water. Egyptian sources call Mitanni “nhrn”, which is usually pronounced as Naharin/Naharina  from the Assyro-Akkadian word for “river”, cf. Aram-Naharaim. According to one rabbinical Jewish tradition, the birthplace of Abraham (Ur) was also situated in Aram-Naharaim.

The Mitanni kingdom, another name given to Armenia, was referred to as the Maryannu, Nahrin or Mitanni by the Egyptians, the Hurri by the Hittites, and the Hanigalbat by the Assyrians. The different names seem to have referred to the same kingdom and were used interchangeably, according to Michael C. Astour.

The ethnicity of the people of Mitanni is difficult to ascertain. A treatise on the training of chariot horses by Kikkuli contains a number of Indo-Aryan glosses. Kammenhuber (1968) suggested that this vocabulary was derived from the still undivided Indo-Iranian language, but Mayrhofer (1974) has shown that specifically Indo-Aryan features are present.

The names of the Mitanni aristocracy frequently are of Indo-Aryan origin, but it is specifically their deities which show Indo-Aryan roots (Mitra, Varuna, Indra, Nasatya), though some think that they are more immediately related to the Kassites.

The first extant record of Indo-Aryan Mitra, in the form mi-it-ra-, is in the inscribed peace treaty of c. 1400 BC between Hittites and the Hurrian kingdom of the Mitanni in the area southeast of Lake Van in Asia Minor. There Mitra appears together with four other Indo-Aryan divinities as witnesses and keepers of the pact.

In Zoroastrianism, Mithra is a member of the trinity of ahuras, protectors of asha/arta, “truth” or “[that which is] right”. Mithra’s standard appellation is “of wide pastures” suggesting omnipresence. Mithra is “truth-speaking, … with a thousand ears, … with ten thousand eyes, high, with full knowledge, strong, sleepless, and ever awake.” As preserver of covenants, Mithra is also protector and keeper of all aspects of interpersonal relationships, such as friendship and love.

Related to his position as protector of truth, Mithra is a judge (ratu), ensuring that individuals who break promises or are not righteous (artavan) are not admitted to paradise. As also in Indo-Iranian tradition, Mithra is associated with (the divinity of) the sun but originally distinct from it. Mithra is closely associated with the feminine yazata Aredvi Sura Anahita, the hypostasis of knowledge.

The Mitanni warriors were called marya. Maryannu is an ancient word for the caste of chariot-mounted hereditary warrior nobility which existed in many of the societies of the Middle East during the Bronze Age. The term is attested in the Amarna letters written by Haapi. Robert Drews writes that the name ‘maryannu’ although plural takes the singular ‘marya’, which in Sanskrit means young warrior, and attaches a Hurrian suffix.

At the beginning of the Late Bronze Age most would have spoken either Hurrian or Aryan but by the end of the 14th century most of the Levant maryannu had Semitic names. Pharaoh Thutmose III of Egypt mention in the 33rd year of his reign (1446 BC) as the people of Ermenen, and says in their land “heaven rests upon its four pillars”.

The common people’s language, the Hurrian language, is neither Indo-European nor Semitic, but Proto-Indo-European. Hurrian is related to Urartian, the language of Urartu, both belonging to the Hurro-Urartian language family. A Hurrian passage in the Amarna letters – usually composed in Akkadian, the lingua franca of the day – indicates that the royal family of Mitanni was by then speaking Hurrian as well.

In the Hebrew Bible, the prophet Abraham is stated to have originally been from “Ur of the Chaldees” (Ur Kaśdim); if this city is to be identified with the ancient Sumerian city state of Ur, it would be within what would many centuries later become the Chaldean homeland south of the Euphrates, although it must be pointed out that the Chaldeans certainly did not exist in Mesopotamia (or anywhere else in historical record) at the time that Abraham is believed to have existed (circa 1800-1700 BC), arriving some eight or nine hundred years later. This fact casts serious doubt on the chronological accuracy and historicity of the Abrahamic story.

Şanlıurfa, often simply known as Urfa in daily language (Arabic Ar-Ruhā, Armenian Uṙha, Kurdish Riha, Syriac Urhoy, in ancient times Edessa, is a city in south-eastern Turkey, and the capital of Şanlıurfa Province. The city has been known by many names in history: Uṙha in Armenian, Urhai in Syriac, Ar-Ruhā in Arabic and Ορρα, Orrha in Greek.

The history of Şanlıurfa is recorded from the 4th century BC, but may date back at least to 9000 BC, when there is ample evidence for the surrounding sites at Duru, Harran and Nevali Cori. Within the further area of the city are three neolithic sites known: Göbekli Tepe, Gürcütepe and the city itself, where the life-sized limestone “Urfa statue” was found during an excavation in Balıklıgöl. The city was one of several in the upper Euphrates-Tigris basin, the fertile crescent where agriculture began.

According to Jewish and Muslim tradition, Urfa is Ur Kasdim, the hometown of Abraham. This identification was disputed by Leonard Woolley, the excavator of the Sumerian city of Ur in 1927 and scholars remain divided on the issue. Urfa is also one of several cities that have traditions associated with Job.

In 1914 Urfa was estimated to have 75,000 inhabitants: 45,000 Muslims, 25,000 Armenians and 5,000 Syriac/Assyrian Christians. There was also a Jewish presence in the town. During the First World War, Urfa was a site of the Armenian and Assyrian Genocides, beginning in August 1915. By the end of the war, the entire Christian population had been killed, had fled, or was in hiding.

On the other hand, Scholars such as Carl Ferdinand Friedrich Lehmann-Haupt (1910) believed that the people of Urartu called themselves Khaldini after their god Khaldi. His shrine was at Ardini (likely from Armenian Artin, meaning “sun rising” or to “awake”), also known as Muṣaṣir (Assyrian Mu-ṣa-ṣir and variants, including Mutsatsir, Akkadian for Exit of the Serpent/Snake ). He is portrayed as a man with or without a beard, standing on a lion. His wife was the goddess Arubani.

Chaldea, from Ancient Greek: Chaldaia; Akkadian: māt Kaldu/Kašdu; Hebrew: Kaśdim; Aramaic: Kaldo), also spelled Chaldaea, was a small Semitic nation which emerged between the late 10th and early 9th century BC, surviving until the mid 6th century BC, after which it disappeared, and the Chaldean tribes were absorbed into the native population of Babylonia. It was located in the marshy land of the far south eastern corner of Mesopotamia, and briefly came to rule Babylon.

The short-lived 11th dynasty of the Kings of Babylon (6th century BC) is conventionally known to historians as the Chaldean Dynasty, although the last ruler, Nabonidus and his son and regent Belshazzar, were known to be from Assyria. Though belonging to the same West Semitic ethnic group, and migrating from the same Levantine regions as the earlier arriving Arameans, they are to be differentiated from them; and the Assyrian king Sennacherib, for example, is careful in his inscriptions to distinguish them.

Arameans was a Northwest Semitic people who originated in what is now present-day western, southern and central Syria (Biblical Aram) during the Late Bronze Age and the Iron Age. There are limited mention of Arameans in Mesopotamian inscriptions supplemented by a few later descriptive situations associated with Rebekah from Aram-Naharaim in the book of Genesis in the Bible, which lists Aram, the son of Shem, and grandson of Noah, as their forbear.

Shattiwaza became king of Mitanni, but after Suppililiuma had taken Carchemish and the land west of the Euphrates, that were governed by his son Piyashshili, Mitanni was restricted to the Khabur River and Balikh River valleys, and became more and more dependent on their allies in Hattarsus. Some scholars speak of a Hittite puppet kingdom, a buffer-state against the powerful Assyria.

Assyria under Ashur-uballit I began to infringe on Mitanni as well. Its vassal state of Nuzi east of the Tigris was conquered and destroyed. According to the Hittitologist Trevor R. Bryce, Mitanni (or Hanigalbat as it was known) was permanently lost to Assyria during the reign of Mursili III of the Hittites, who was defeated by the Assyrians in the process. Its loss was a major blow to Hittite prestige in the ancient world and undermined the young king’s authority over his kingdom.

In the time of Ashur-nirari III (ca. 1200 BC, the beginning Bronze Age collapse), the Phrygians and others invaded and destroyed the Hittite Empire, already weakened by defeats against Assyria. Some parts of Assyrian ruled Hanilgalbat was temporarily lost to the Phrygians also, however the Assyrians defeated the Phrygians and regained these colonies. The Hurrians still held Katmuhu and Paphu. In the transitional period to the Early Iron Age, Mitanni was settled by invading Semitic Aramaean tribes.

Within a few centuries of the fall of Washshukanni to Assyria, Mitanni became fully Assyrianized and linguistically Aramaized, and use of the Hurrian language began to be discouraged throughout the Neo-Assyrian Empire. However, Urartean, a dialect closely related to Hurrian seems to have survived in the new state of Urartu, in the mountainous areas to the north. In the 10th to 9th century BC inscriptions of Adad-nirari II and Shalmaneser III, Hanigalbat is still used as a geographical term.

The toponym A-ra-mu appears in an inscription at Ebla listing geographical names, and the term Armi, which is the Eblaite term for nearby Idlib (modern Aleppo), occurs frequently in the Ebla tablets (c. 2300 BC).

One of the annals of Naram-Sin of Akkad (c. 2250 BC) mentions that he captured “Dubul, the ensí of A-ra-me” (Arame is seemingly a genitive form), in the course of a campaign against Simurrum in the northern mountains. Other early references to a place or people of “Aram” have appeared at the archives of Mari (c. 1900 BC) and at Ugarit (c. 1300 BC).

There is little agreement concerning what, if any, relationship there was between these places, or if the Aramu were actually Arameans; the earliest undisputed mention of Arameans as a people appears in the inscriptions of Tiglath Pileser I (c. 1100 BC).

Nomadic pastoralists have long played a prominent role in the history and economy of the Middle East, but their numbers seem to vary according to climatic conditions and the force of neighbouring states inducing permanent settlement. The period of the Late Bronze Age seems to have coincided with increasing aridity, which weakened neighbouring states and induced transhumance pastoralists to spend longer and longer periods with their flocks.

Urban settlements in the Levant diminished in size, until eventually fully nomadic pastoralist lifestyles came to dominate much of the region. These highly mobile, competitive tribesmen with their sudden raids continually threatened long-distance trade and interfered with the collection of taxes and tribute. In the early 13th century BC, much of Israel came under Aramean rule for eight years according to the Biblical Book of Judges, until Othniel defeated the forces led by Chushan-Rishathaim, the King of Aram-Naharaim. Other entities mentioned in the Hebrew Bible include Aram Damascus and Aram Rehob.

The Arameans appear to be one of the Ahlamû. Ahlamû appears to be a generic term for a new wave of Semitic wanderers and nomads who appeared during the 13th century BC across the Near East and Egypt. The term appears equivalent to the Egyptian term Shasu (Shsw = wanderer), who replaced the outlaw ‘Apiru (cuneiform SA.GAZ) as the major source of instability in the Egyptian Levantine empire from the reign of Tutankhamun onwards, although the Shasu in relation to Egypt are generally believed to be Canaanite Semites.

They are first mentioned in the el-Amarna letters alluding to the Kassite king of Babylon. The presence of the Ahlamû are also attested during the Middle Assyrian Empire (1365-1020 BC), which ruled the lands in which the Ahlau arose, in Nippur and even at Dilmun (modern Bahrain).

Shalmaneser I (1274-1245 BC) of Assyria is recorded as having defeated Shattuara, King of the Mitanni and his Hittite and Ahlamû mercenaries. In the following century, the Ahlamû cut the road from Babylon to Hattusas, and Tukulti-Ninurta I (1244-1208 BC) of Assyria conquered Mari, Hanigalbat and Rapiqum on the Euphrates and “the mountain of the Ahlamû”, apparently the region of Jebel Bishri in northern Syria.

For the first time, an inscription of Tiglath-Pileser I (1115-1077 BC) refers to subjugating the “Ahlamû-Aramaeans” (Ahlame Armaia) and shortly after, the Ahlamû rapidly disappear from Assyrian annals, to be replaced by the Aramaeans (Aramu, Arimi).

This indicates that the Arameans had risen to dominance amongst the nomads, however it is possible that the two peoples had nothing in common, but operated in the same area. By the late 12th century BC the Arameans were firmly established in Syria, however they were conquered into the Middle Assyrian Empire, as had been the Amorites and Ahlamu before them.

The Middle Assyrian Empire, which had dominated the Near East and Asia Minor since the first half of the 14th century BC, began to shrink rapidly after the death of Ashur-bel-kala its last great ruler in 1056 BC, and the Assyrian withdrawal allowed the Arameans to gain independence and take firm control of what is today Syria during the late 11th century BC. It is from this point that Syria was called Aramea.

The Chaldeans originally spoke a West Semitic language similar to Aramaic, however they eventually adopted the Babylonian dialect of Akkadian, the same East Semitic language, save for slight peculiarities in sound and in characters, as Assyrian Akkadian.

When the Babylonian Empire was absorbed into the Persian Achaemenid Empire, the name “Chaldean” completely lost its meaning in reference a particular ethnicity, and came to be applied only to a socioeconomic class of astrologers and astronomers.

The actual Chaldean tribe had long ago became Akkadianized, adopting Assyro-Babylonian culture, religion, language and customs, blending into the majority native population, and they eventually wholly disappeared as a distinct race of people, much as other fellow preceding migrant peoples, such as the Amorites, Kassites, Suteans and Arameans of Babylonia had also done.

Mesopotamian religion refers to the religious beliefs and practices followed by the Sumerian and East Semitic Akkadian, Assyrian, Babylonian and later migrant Arameans and Chaldeans, living in Mesopotamia (a region encompassing modern Iraq, Kuwait, southeast Turkey and northeast Syria) that dominated the region for a period of 4200 years from the fourth millennium BCE throughout Mesopotamia to approximately the 10th century CE in Assyria.

In the early 6th century BC, the Urartian Kingdom was replaced by the Armenian Orontid dynasty. In the trilingual Behistun inscription, carved in 521 or 520 BC by the order of Darius the Great of Persia, the country referred to as Urartu in Assyrian is called Arminiya in Old Persian and Harminuia in Elamite.

Asha is the Avestan language term (corresponding to Vedic language ṛta) for a concept of cardinal importance to Zoroastrian theology and doctrine. In the moral sphere, aša/arta represents what has been called “the decisive confessional concept of Zoroastrianism.” The opposite of Avestan aša is druj, “lie.”

Ishara (išḫara) is the Hittite word for “treaty, binding promise”, also personified as a goddess of the oath. Her astrological embodiment is the constellation Scorpio and she is called the mother of the Sebitti (the Seven Stars).

In Hurrian and Semitic traditions, Išḫara is a love goddess, often identified with Ishtar. She is identified as Ishwara in Sanskrit. Ishara was also worshipped within the Hurrian pantheon. She was worshipped with Teshub and Simegi at Alakh, and also at Ugarit, Emar and Chagar Bazar. She was associated with the underworld.

Her cult was of considerable importance in Ebla from the mid 3rd millennium, and by the end of the 3rd millennium. The Hurrian cult of Ishara as a love goddess also spread to Syria. Ishara was well known in Syria from the third millennium BC. While she was considered to belong to the entourage of Ishtar, she was invoked to heal the sick (Lebrun).

The word is attested as a loanword in the Assyrian Kültepe texts from the 19th century BC, and is as such the earliest attestation of a word of any Indo-European language. The name is from a PIE root *sh2ei “to bind (also magically)”, also in Greek himas “strap” and Old Norse / Old High German seil “rope”.

Possibly also cognate is soul, and Welsh Gwen-hwyfar (Irish Find-abair, from Proto-Celtic *windo-seibaro- “white ghost”, from a meaning “enchanted” of the extended root *sh2ei-bh-). ishar (or eshar), oblique ishan-, the Hittite for “blood” is probably derived from the same root, maybe from a notion of “bond” between blood-relations (c.f. Sanskrit bandhu). The verb ishiya “to bind, fetter”, “to oblige” is directly cognate to Sanskrit syati or Russian shyot with similar meanings.

The Indo-European etymology of the theonym has been called into question, since the goddess appears from as early as the mid 3rd millennium as one of the chief goddesses of Ebla, and her name appears as an element in theophoric names in Mesopotamia in the later 3rd millennium (Akkad period), and into the first (Assyria), as in Tukulti-apil-esharra (i.e., Tiglath-Pileser).

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.

Ushas, Sanskrit for “dawn”, is a Vedic deity, and consequently a Hindu deity as well. Sanskrit uṣas is an s-stem, i.e. the genitive case is uṣásas. It is from PIE *h₂ausos-, cognate to Greek Eos and Latin Aurora.

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.

In the “family books” of the Rig Veda, Ushas is the divine daughter—a divó duhitâ —of Dyaus Pita (“Sky Father”). This is taken literally in the traditional genealogies of Hindu mythology.

In one recent Hindu interpretation, Sri Aurobindo in his Secret of the Veda, described Ushas as “the medium of the awakening, the activity and the growth of the other gods; she is the first condition of the Vedic realisation. By her increasing illumination the whole nature of man is clarified; through her [mankind] arrives at the Truth, through her he enjoys [Truth’s] beatitude.”

Ishvara is a concept in Hinduism, with a wide range of meanings that depends of the era and the school of Hinduism. In ancient texts of Indian philosophy, Ishvara means supreme soul, Brahman (Highest Reality), ruler, king or husband depending on the context. In medieval era texts, Ishvara means God, Supreme Being, personal god, or special Self depending on the school of Hinduism.

In Shaivism, Ishvara is synonymous with “Shiva”, as the “Supreme lord over other Gods” in the pluralistic sense, or as an Ishta-deva in pluralistic thought. In Vaishnavism, it is synonymous with Vishnu. In traditional Bhakti movements, Ishvara is one or more deities of an individual’s preference from Hinduism’s polytheistic canon of deities. In modern sectarian movements such as Arya Samaj and Brahmoism, Ishvara takes the form of a monotheistic God. In Yoga school of Hinduism, it is any “personal deity” or “spiritual inspiration”. In Advaita Vedanta school, Ishvara is a monistic Universal Absolute that connects and is the Oneness in everyone and everything.

The root of the word Ishvara comes from īś- (ईश, Ish) which means “capable of” and “owner, ruler, chief of”, ultimately cognate with English own (Germanic *aigana-, PIE *aik-). The second part of the word Ishvara is vara which means depending on context, “best, excellent, beautiful”, “choice, wish, blessing, boon, gift”, and “suitor, lover, one who solicits a girl in marriage”. The composite word, Ishvara literally means “owner of best, beautiful”, “ruler of choices, blessings, boons”, or “chief of suitor, lover”.

As a concept, Ishvara in ancient and medieval Sanskrit texts, variously means God, Supreme Being, Supreme Soul, lord, king or ruler, rich or wealthy man, god of love, deity Shiva, one of the Rudras, prince, husband and the number eleven.

The word Īśvara never appears in Rigveda. However, the verb īś- does appear in Rig veda, where the context suggests that the meaning of it is “capable of, able to”. It is absent in Samaveda, is rare is Atharvaveda, appears in Samhitas of Yajurveda. The contextual meaning, however as the ancient Indian grammarian Pāṇini explains, is neither god nor supreme being.

The word Īśvara appears in numerous ancient Dharmasutras. However, Patrick Olivelle states that there Ishvara does not mean God, but means Vedas. Deshpande states that Ishvara in Dharmasutras could alternatively mean king, with the context literally asserting that “the Dharmasutras are as important as Ishvara (the king) on matters of public importance”.

In Saivite traditions of Hinduism, the term is used as part of the compound “Maheshvara” (“great lord”) as a name for Shiva. In Mahayana Buddhism it is used as part of the compound “Avalokiteśvara” (“lord who hears the cries of the world”), the name of a bodhisattva revered for her compassion. When referring to divine as female, particularly in Shaktism, the feminine Īśvarī is sometimes used.

Ishtar is the East Semitic Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, war, and sex. She is the counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna, and is the cognate for the Northwest Semitic Aramean goddess Astarte.

Ishtar was the goddess of love, war, fertility, and sexuality. Ishtar was the daughter of Anu. Besides the lions on her gate, her symbol is an eight-pointed star. In the Babylonian pantheon, she “was the divine personification of the planet Venus”. Her cult may have involved sacred prostitution, though this is debatable. Guirand referred to her holy city Uruk as the “town of the sacred courtesans” and to her as the “courtesan of the gods”.

Like Ishtar, the Greek Aphrodite and the Aramean Northwestern Semitic Astarte were love goddesses. Donald A. Mackenzie, an early popularizer of mythology, draws a parallel between the love goddess Aphrodite and her “dying god” lover Adonis on one hand, and the love goddess Ishtar and her “dying god” lover Tammuz on the other. There are intriguing parallels in the Graeco-Roman myths of Orpheus and Persephone.

Some scholars have suggested that the myth of Adonis was derived in post-Homeric times by the Greeks indirectly from the Eastern Semites of Mesopotamia (Assyria and Babylonia), via the Aramean and Canaanite Western Semites, the Semitic title ‘Adon’, meaning ‘lord’, having been mistaken for a proper name. This theory, however, cannot be accepted without qualifications.

Joseph Campbell, a more recent scholar of comparative mythology, equates Ishtar, Inanna, and Aphrodite, and he draws a parallel between the Egyptian goddess Isis who nurses Horus, and the Assyrian-Babylonian goddess Ishtar who nurses the god Tammuz.

Osiris (alternatively Ausir, Asiri or Ausar, among other spellings), was an Egyptian god, usually identified as the god of the afterlife, the underworld and the dead. He was at times considered the oldest son of the earth god Geb, though other sources state his father is the sun-god Ra and the sky goddess Nut, as well as being brother and husband of Isis, with Horus being considered his posthumously begotten son.

Ashur (also, Assur, Aššur; written A-šur, also Aš-šùr, in Neo-Assyrian often shortened to Aš) is the head of the Assyrian pantheon. It is an East Semitic god, and the head of the Assyrian pantheon in Mesopotamian religion, worshipped mainly in the northern half of Mesopotamia, and parts of north-east Syria and south east Asia Minor which constituted old Assyria. He may have had a solar iconography.

Aššur was a deified form of the city of Assur, which dates from the mid 3rd millennium BC and was the capital of the Old Assyrian kingdom. As such, Ashur did not originally have a family, but as the cult came under southern Mesopotamian influence, he later came to be regarded as the Assyrian equivalent of Enlil, the chief god of Nippur.

Enlil was the most important god of the southern pantheon from the early 3rd millennium BC until Hammurabi founded an empire based in Babylon in the mid-18th century BC, after which Marduk replaced Enlil as the chief god in the south.

In the north, Ashur absorbed Enlil’s wife Ninlil (as the Assyrian goddess Mullissu) and his sons Ninurta and Zababa—this process began around the 14th century BC and continued down to the 7th century.

Assyria was also sometimes known as Subartu and Azuhinum prior to the rise of the city state of Ashur after which it was Aššūrāyu, and after its fall, from 605 BC through to the late 7th century AD variously as Athura and also referenced as Atouria according to Strabo, Syria (Greek), Assyria (Latin) and Assuristan.

In prehistoric times, the region that was to become known as Assyria (and Subartu) was home to a Neanderthal culture such as has been found at the Shanidar Cave. The earliest Neolithic sites in Assyria were the Jarmo culture c. 7100 BC and Tell Hassuna, the centre of the Hassuna culture, c. 6000 BC.

During the 3rd millennium BC, a very intimate cultural symbiosis developed between the Sumerians and the Semitic Akkadians throughout Mesopotamia, which included widespread bilingualism.

During this period, the Akkadian-speaking Semites of Mesopotamia came to rule an empire encompassing not only Mesopotamia itself but large swathes of Asia Minor, ancient Iran, Elam, the Arabian Peninsula, Canaan and Syria.

The influence of Sumerian (a language isolate, i.e. not related to any other language) on Akkadian (and vice versa) is evident in all areas, from lexical borrowing on a massive scale, to syntactic, morphological, and phonological convergence. This has prompted scholars to refer to Sumerian and Akkadian in the 3rd millennium BC as a sprachbund.

Akkadian gradually replaced Sumerian as the spoken language of Mesopotamia somewhere after the turn of the 3rd and the 2nd millennium BC (the exact dating being a matter of debate), but Sumerian continued to be used as a sacred, ceremonial, literary and scientific language in Mesopotamia until the 1st century AD.

During the Akkadian Empire (2334–2154 BC) the Assyrians, like all the Mesopotamian Semites (and also the Sumerians), became subject to the dynasty of the city state of Akkad, centered in central Mesopotamia.

The Akkadian Empire founded by Sargon the Great, claimed to encompass the surrounding “four quarters”. The region of Assyria, north of the seat of the empire in central Mesopotamia had also been known as Subartu by the Sumerians, and the name Azuhinum in Akkadian records also seems to refer to Assyria proper.

The cities of Assur (also spelled Ashur or Aššur) and Nineveh, together with a number of other towns and cities, existed since at least before the middle of the 3rd millennium BC (c. 2600 BC), although they appear to have been Sumerian-ruled administrative centres at this time, rather than independent states.

The city of Ashur, together with a number of other Assyrian cities, seem to have been established by 2600 BC, however it is likely that they were initially Sumerian dominated administrative centres. In c. the late 26th century BC, Eannatum of Lagash, then the dominant Sumerian ruler in Mesopotamia, mentions “smiting Subartu” (Subartu being the Sumerian name for Assyria). Similarly, in c. the early 25th century BC, Lugal-Anne-Mundu the king of the Sumerian state of Adab lists Subartu as paying tribute to him.

According to some Judaeo-Christian writers, the city of Ashur was founded by Ashur the son of Shem, who was deified by later generations as the city’s patron god. However, it is not among the cities said to have been founded by him in Genesis 10:11–12, and the far older Assyrian annals make no mention of the much later Judeo-Christian figures of Shem and Ashur.

Assyrian tradition lists an early Assyrian king named Ushpia as having dedicated the first temple to the god Ashur in the city in the 21st century BC. It is highly likely that the city was named in honour of its patron Assyrian god with the same name.

Assyria is named for its original capital, the ancient city of Aššur (a.k.a. Ashur) which dates to c. 2600 BC (located in what is now the Saladin Province of northern Iraq), originally one of a number of Akkadian city states in Mesopotamia.

The name Syria has since the Roman Empire’s era historically referred to the region of Syria. It is the Latinized from the original Indo-Anatolian and later Greek. Etymologically and historically, the name is accepted by majority mainstream academic opinion as having derived from Ασσυρία, Assuria/Assyria, from the Akkadian Aššur or Aššūrāyu, which is in fact located in Upper Mesopotamia (modern northern Iraq southeast Turkey and northeast Syria).

Majority mainstream scholarly opinion now strongly supports the already dominant position that ‘Syrian’ and Syriac indeed derived from ‘Assyrian’, and the 21st Century discovery of the Çineköy inscription seems to clearly confirm that Syria is ultimately derived from the Assyrian term.

Some 19th-century historians such as Ernest Renan had dismissed the etymological identity of the two toponyms. Various alternatives had been suggested, including derivation from Subartu (a term which most modern scholars in fact accept is itself an early name for Assyria, and which was located in northern Mesopotamia), the Hurrian toponym Śu-ri, or Ṣūr (the Phoenician name of Tyre). Syria is known as Ḫrw (Ḫuru, referring to the Hurrian occupants prior to the Aramaean invasion) in the Amarna Period Egypt, and as Ărām in Biblical Hebrew.

Majority and mainstream current academic opinion strongly favours that Syria originates from Assyria. A Hieroglyphic Luwian and Phoenician bilingual monumental inscription found in Çineköy, Turkey, (the Çineköy inscription) belonging to Urikki, vassal king of Que (i.e. Cilicia), dating to the eighth century BC, reference is made to the relationship between his kingdom and his Assyrian overlords. The Luwian inscription reads su-ra/i whereas the Phoenician translation reads ʾšr, i.e. ašur, which according to Robert Rollinger (2006) “settles the problem once and for all”.

Šauška or Shaushka (Hittite: Šauša, and later Šawuška) was a Hurrian goddess who was also adopted into the Hittite pantheon. She is known in detail because she became the patron goddess of the Hittite king Hattusili III (1420–1400 BC) following his marriage to Puduhepa, the daughter of the goddess’ high priest.

Shaushka is a goddess of fertility, war and healing. She is depicted in human form with wings, standing with a lion and accompanied by two attendants. She was considered equivalent to the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar and is sometimes identified using Ishtar’s name in Hittite cuneiform.

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