Cradle of Civilization

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Archive for June 5th, 2017

Posted by Fredsvenn on June 5, 2017

Dyēus (also *Dyḗus Phtḗr) is believed to have been the chief deity in the religious traditions of the prehistoric Proto-Indo-European societies. Part of a larger pantheon, he was the god of the daylit sky, and his position may have mirrored the position of the patriarch or monarch in society. In his aspect as a father god, his consort would have been Pltwih Méhter, “earth mother”.

The Luwians originally worshipped the old Proto-Indo-European Sun god Tiwaz. Tiwaz was the descendant of the male Sun god of the Indo-European religion, Dyeus, who was superseded among the Hittites by the Hattian Sun goddess of Arinna.

In Bronze Age texts, Tiwaz is often referred to as “Father” and once as “Great Tiwaz”, and invoked along with the “Father gods”. His Bronze Age epithet, “Tiwaz of the Oath”, indicates that he was an oath-god.

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. The Sun god of Heaven was identified with the Hurrian solar deity, Šimige (de).

While Tiwaz (and the related Palaic god Tiyaz) retained a promenant role in the pantheon, the Hittite cognate deity, Šiwat (de) was largely eclipsed by the Sun goddess of Arinna, becoming a god of the day, especially the day of death.

The Sun goddess of the Earth (Hittite: taknaš dUTU, Luwian: tiyamaššiš Tiwaz) was the Hittite goddess of the underworld. Her Hurrian equivalent was Allani (de) and her Sumerian/Akkadian equivalent was Ereshkigal, both of which had a marked influence on the Hittite goddess from an early date. In the Neo-Hittite period, the Hattian underworld god, Lelwani was also syncretised with her.

In the Hittite and Hurrian religions the Sun goddess of the Earth played an important role in the death cult and was understood to be the ruler of the world of the dead. For the Luwians there is a Bronze Age source which refers to the “Sun god of the Earth” (cuneiform Luwian: tiyamašši- dU-za): “If he is alive, may Tiwaz release him, if he is dead, may the Sun god of the Earth release him”.

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.

An (Sumerian: AN, from an “sky, heaven”; Akkadian: ANU, Anu‹m›) is the earliest attested sky-father deity. In Sumerian, the designation “An” was used interchangeably with “the heavens” so that in some cases it is doubtful whether, under the term, the god An or the heavens is being denoted.

The doctrine once established remained an inherent part of the Babylonian-Assyrian religion and led to the more or less complete disassociation of the three gods constituting the triad from their original local limitations.

An intermediate step between Anu viewed as the local deity of Uruk, Enlil as the god of Nippur, and Ea as the god of Eridu is represented by the prominence which each one of the centres associated with the three deities in question must have acquired, and which led to each one absorbing the qualities of other gods so as to give them a controlling position in an organized pantheon.

In the astral theology of Babylonia and Assyria, Anu, Enlil, and Ea became the three zones of the ecliptic, the northern, middle and southern zone respectively.

In Sumerian religion, he was also “King of the Gods”, “Lord of the Constellations, Spirits and Demons”, and “Supreme Ruler of the Kingdom of Heaven”, where Anu himself wandered the highest Heavenly Regions.

He was believed to have the power to judge those who had committed crimes, and to have created the stars as soldiers to destroy the wicked. His attribute was the Royal Tiara. His attendant and vizier was the god Ilabrat.

Ilabrat appears on the clay tablets which contain the legend of “Adapa and the food of life” which seems to explain the origin of death. Adapa, who has earned wisdom but not eternal life, is a son of and temple priest for Ea (Enki) in Eridu, and performs rituals with bread and water.

While Adapa is fishing in a calm sea, suddenly the South Wind rises up and overturns his boat, throwing him into the water. This reference to the ‘South Wind’ may refer to Ninlil, wife of Enlil, who was identified as goddess of the South Wind.

Adapa is enraged, and proceeds to break the ‘wings’ of the South Wind, so for seven days she can not blow the freshness of the sea on the warm earth. Adapa is summoned before the court of Anu in the heavens, and his father Ea advises him not to eat or drink anything placed before him, because he fears that this will be the food and water of death.

Anu, however, is impressed with Adapa and instead offers him the food and water of (eternal) life. However, Adapa follows the advice of Ea, and politely refuses to take any food or drink. This food and water of life offered by Anu would have made Adapa and his descendants immortal.

The Akkadians inherited An as the god of heavens from the Sumerian as Anu-, and in Akkadian cuneiform, the DINGIR character may refer either to Anum or to the Akkadian word for god, ilu-, and consequently had two phonetic values an and il. Hittite cuneiform as adapted from the Old Assyrian kept the an value but abandoned il.

Enlil (Sumerian: dEN.LÍL, “Lord of the Storm”) is the god of wind, air, earth, and storms. It was the name of a chief deity listed and written about in Sumerian religion, and later in Akkadian (Assyrian and Babylonian), Hittite, Canaanite, and other Mesopotamian clay and stone tablets. Enlil was assimilated to the north “Pole of the Ecliptic”. His sacred number name was 50.

When Enlil rose to equal or surpass An in authority, the functions of the two deities came to some extent to overlap. An was also sometimes equated with Amurru, and, in Seleucid Uruk, with Enmešara and Dumuzi.

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. Recent discoveries reconfirm him as an annual life-death-rebirth deity.

Enmesarra, or Enmešarra, in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology is an underworld god of the law. Described as a Sun god, protector of flocks and vegetation, and therefore he has been equated with Nergal. On the other hand, he has been described as an ancestor of Enlil, and it has been claimed that Enlil slew him.

Nergal seems to be in part a solar deity, sometimes identified with Shamash, but only representative of a certain phase of the sun. Portrayed in hymns and myths as a god of war and pestilence, Nergal seems to represent the sun of noontime and of the summer solstice that brings destruction, high summer being the dead season in the Mesopotamian annual cycle. He has also been called “the king of sunset”.

Shamash (Akkadian: Šamaš dUD) was the solar deity in ancient Semitic religion, corresponding to the Sumerian god Utu. Shamash was also the god of justice in Babylonia and Assyria.

Both in early and in late inscriptions Shamash is designated as the “offspring of Nannar”; i.e. of the Moon-god, and in an enumeration of the pantheon, Sin generally takes precedence of Shamash.

According to the 1911 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica the Shamash cults at Sippar and Larsa so overshadowed local Sun-deities elsewhere as to lead to an absorption of the minor deities by the predominating one. In the wake of such syncretism Shamash was usually viewed as the Sun-god in general.

In the systematized pantheon these minor Sun-gods become attendants that do his service. Such are Bunene, spoken of as his chariot driver and whose consort is Atgi-makh, Kettu (“justice”) and Mesharu (“right”), who were then introduced as attendants of Shamash.

Other Sun-deities such as Ninurta and Nergal, the patron deities of other important centers, retained their independent existences as certain phases of the Sun, with Ninurta becoming the Sun-god of the morning and spring time and Nergal the Sun-god of the noon and the summer solstice.

Over time Nergal developed from a war god to a god of the underworld. In the mythology, this occurred when Enlil and Ninlil gave him the underworld. In this capacity he has associated with him a goddess Allatu or Ereshkigal, though at one time Allatu may have functioned as the sole mistress of Aralu, ruling in her own person. In some texts the god Ninazu is the son of Nergal and Allatu/Ereshkigal.

Because he was a god of fire, the desert, and the Underworld and also a god from ancient paganism, later Christian writers sometimes identified Nergal as a demon and even identified him with Satan. According to Collin de Plancy and Johann Weyer, Nergal was depicted as the chief of Hell’s “secret police”, and worked as “an honorary spy in the service of Beelzebub”.

A nearly complete 108-line poem describes Enlil’s invention of the mattock, a key agricultural pick, hoe, ax, or digging tool of the Sumerians. In the poem, Enlil conjures the pickax into existence and decrees its fate.

The pickax is described as gloriously beautiful; it is made of pure gold and has a head carved from lapis lazuli. Enlil gives the tool over to the humans, who use it to built cities, subjugate their people, and pull up weeds. Enlil was believed to aid in the growth of plants.

As Enlil was placed in command by An, the god of the heavens, he held sway over the other gods, who were assigned tasks by his sukkal, or attendant, and would travel to Nippur to draw in his power. He is thus seen as the model for kingship. Among the titles accorded to him are “King (of) Lands”, “King (of) Heaven and Earth”, “Father of the Gods”, and “Lord (of the) Command”.

The Sumerian creation myth holds that, originally, there was only Nammu, the primeval sea. Then, Nammu gave birth to An, the sky, and Ki, the earth, who gave birth to Enlil. Enlil separated An from Ki and carried off the earth as his domain, while An carried off the sky.

In Sumerian religion, Ninlil (DNIN.LÍL”lady of the open field” or “Lady of the Wind”), also called Sud, in Assyrian called Mulliltu, is the consort goddess of Enlil. She lived in Dilmun with her family.

In a myth variously entitled by Samuel Noah Kramer as “The Deeds and Exploits of Ninurta” and later Ninurta Myth Lugal-e by Thorkild Jacobsen, Hursag is described as a mound of stones constructed by Ninurta after his defeat of a demon called Asag.

Ninurta’s mother Ninlil visits the location after this great victory. In return for her love and loyalty, Ninurta gives Ninlil the hursag as a gift. Her name is consequentially changed from Ninlil to Ninhursag or the “mistress of the Hursag”.

Hursag (ḪUR.SAĜ) is a Sumerian term variously translated as meaning “mountain”, “hill”, “foothills” or “piedmont”. Thorkild Jacobsen extrapolated the translation in his later career to mean literally, “head of the valleys”. The hursag is described in a clear cultural myth as a high wall, levee, dam or floodbank, used to restrain the excess mountain waters and floods caused by the melting snow and spring rain.

The hursag is constructed with Ninurta’s skills in irrigation engineering and employed to improve the agriculture of the surrounding lands, farms and gardens where the water had previously been wasted.

The cosmogenic myth common in Sumer was that of the hieros gamos, a sacred marriage where divine principles in the form of dualistic opposites came together as male and female to give birth to the cosmos.

In the epic Enki and Ninhursag, Enki, as lord of Ab or fresh water (also the Sumerian word for semen), is living with his wife in the paradise of Dilmun. Dilmun had no water and Enki heard the cries of its Goddess, Ninsikil, and orders the sun-God Utu to bring fresh water from the Earth for Dilmun.

The subsequent tale, with similarities to the Biblical story of the forbidden fruit, repeats the story of how fresh water brings life to a barren land. Enki succumbs to temptation, and attempts seduction of Uttu. Upset about Enki’s reputation, Uttu consults Ninhursag, who, upset at the promiscuous wayward nature of her spouse, advises Uttu to avoid the riverbanks, the places likely to be affected by flooding, the home of Enki.

In another version of this myth Ninhursag takes Enki’s semen from Uttu’s womb and plants it in the earth where eight plants rapidly germinate. Despite warnings, Enki consumes the fruits. Consuming his own semen, he falls pregnant (ill with swellings).

The gods are at a loss to know what to do, chagrinned they “sit in the dust”. As Enki lacks a womb with which to give birth, he seems to be dying with swellings. The fox then asks Enlil King of the Gods, “If I bring Ninhursag before thee, what shall be my reward?” Ninhursag’s sacred fox then fetches the goddess.

Ninhursag relents and takes Enki’s Ab (water, or semen) into her body, and gives birth to gods of healing of each part of the body. The last one, Ninti (Lady Rib), is also a pun on Lady Life, a title of Ninhursag herself. The story thus symbolically reflects the way in which life is brought forth through the addition of water to the land, and once it grows, water is required to bring plants to fruit. It also counsels balance and responsibility, nothing to excess.

Ninti, 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 (חוה), 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.

The myth of “Enlil and Ninlil” discusses when Enlil was a young god, he was banished from Ekur in Nippur, home of the gods, to Kur, the underworld for seducing a goddess named Ninlil.

Ninlil followed him to the underworld where she bore his first child, the moon god Sin (Sumerian Nanna/Suen). After fathering three more underworld-deities (substitutes for Sin), Enlil was allowed to return to the Ekur.

Enlil impregnated her disguised as the gatekeeper, where upon she gave birth to their son Nergal, god of death. In some texts Ninlil is also the mother of Ninurta, the heroic god who slew Asag the demon with his mace, Sharur.

After her death, she became the goddess of the wind, like Enlil. She may be the Goddess of the South Wind referred to in the story of Adapa, as her husband Enlil was associated with northerly winter storms.

As “Lady Wind” she may be associated with the figure of the Akkadian demon “Lil-itu”, thought to have been the origin of the Hebrew Lilith legend. In the Sumerian version of the flood story, the causes of the flood are unclear due to the fact that portion of the tablet recording the beginning of the story has been destroyed.

Somehow, a mortal known as Ziusudra manages to survive the flood, likely through the help of the god Enki, although the exact nature of how he survives is unclear due to the relevant portion of the tablet being destroyed.

The tablet begins in the middle of the description of the flood. The flood lasts for seven days and seven nights before it subsides. Then, Utu, the god of the Sun, emerges. Ziusudra opens a window in the side of the boat and falls down prostrate before the god. Next, he sacrifices an ox and a sheep in honor of Utu.

Unfortunately, at this point, the text breaks off again. When it picks back up, Enlil and An are in the midst of declaring Ziusudra immortal as an honor for having managed to survive the flood. The remaining portion of the tablet after this point is destroyed.

In the later Babylonian version of the flood story, Enlil actually causes the flood, seeking to annihilate every living thing on earth because the humans make too much noise. In this version of the story, the hero is Utnapishtim, who is warned ahead of time by Ea, the Babylonian equivalent of Enki, that the flood is coming.

Aquarius is a constellation of the zodiac, situated between Capricornus and Pisces. Its name is Latin for “water-carrier” or “cup-carrier”, and its symbol is a representation of water. Aquarius is one of the oldest of the recognized constellations along the zodiac (the Sun’s apparent path).

Aquarius is identified as GU.LA “The Great One” in the Babylonian star catalogues and represents the god Ea himself, who is commonly depicted holding an overflowing vase. The Babylonian star-figure appears on entitlement stones and cylinder seals from the second millennium. It contained the winter solstice in the Early Bronze Age.

In Old Babylonian astronomy, Ea was the ruler of the southernmost quarter of the Sun’s path, the “Way of Ea”, corresponding to the period of 45 days on either side of winter solstice. Aquarius was also associated with the destructive floods that the Babylonians regularly experienced, and thus was negatively connoted.

In Ancient Egypt astronomy, Aquarius was associated with the annual flood of the Nile; the banks were said to flood when Aquarius put his jar into the river, beginning spring.

In the Greek tradition, the constellation came to be represented simply as a single vase from which a stream poured down to Piscis Austrinus. The name in the Hindu zodiac is likewise kumbha “water-pitcher”.

In Greek mythology, Aquarius is sometimes associated with Deucalion, the son of Prometheus who built a ship with his wife Pyrrha to survive an imminent flood. They sailed for nine days before washing ashore on Mount Parnassus.

In 1928, at the Conference of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in Leiden, the Netherlands, the edges of the 88 official constellations became defined in astronomical terms.

The edge established between Pisces and Aquarius locates the beginning of the Aquarian Age around the year 2600. The Age of Aquarius begins when vernal equinox point moves out of constellation Pisces and into Aquarius.

Despite this prominence, the Age of Aquarius will not dawn until the year 2597, as an astrological age does not begin until the Sun is in a particular constellation on the vernal equinox.

Capricornus is one of the constellations of the zodiac. Its name is Latin for “horned goat” or “goat horn” or “having horns like a goat’s”, and it is commonly represented in the form of a sea-goat: a mythical creature that is half goat, half fish.

The constellation is located in an area of sky called the Sea or the Water, consisting of many water-related constellations such as Aquarius, Pisces and Eridanus. It is the smallest constellation in the zodiac.

Despite its faintness, Capricornus has one of the oldest mythological associations, having been consistently represented as a hybrid of a goat and a fish since the Middle Bronze Age. First attested in depictions on a cylinder-seal from around the 21st century BC, it was explicitly recorded in the Babylonian star catalogues as MULSUḪUR.MAŠ “The Goat-Fish” before 1000 BC.

The constellation was a symbol of the god Ea and in the Early Bronze Age marked the winter solstice. The constellation Capricornus marked the winter solstice in the Early Bronze Age, for the Sun was in it when winter began until 130 BC.

In Greek mythology, the constellation is sometimes identified as Amalthea, the goat that suckled the infant Zeus after his mother, Rhea, saved him from being devoured by his father, Cronos.

The goat’s broken horn was transformed into the cornucopia or horn of plenty. Capricornus is also sometimes identified as Pan, the god with a goat’s head, who saved himself from the monster Typhon by giving himself a fish’s tail and diving into a river.

Due to the precession of the equinoxes the December solstice no longer takes place while the sun is in the constellation Capricornus, as it did until 130 BCE, but the astrological sign called Capricorn begins with the solstice. The solstice now takes place when the Sun is in the constellation (not the sign) of Sagittarius.
 
The sun’s most southerly position, which is attained at the northern hemisphere’s winter solstice, is now called the Tropic of Capricorn, a term which also applies to the line on the Earth at which the sun is directly overhead at noon on that solstice. The Sun is now in Capricorn from late January through mid-February.

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