Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

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  • The Fertile Crescent

    The Fertile Crescent is a term for an old fertile area north, east and west of the Arabian Desert in Southwest Asia. The Mesopotamian valley and the Nile valley fall under this term even though the mountain zone around Mesopotamia is the natural zone for the transition in a historical sense.

    As a result of a number of unique geographical factors the Fertile Crescent have an impressive history of early human agricultural activity and culture. Besides the numerous archaeological sites with remains of skeletons and cultural relics the area is known primarily for its excavation sites linked to agricultural origins and development of the Neolithic era.

    It was here, in the forested mountain slopes of the periphery of this area, that agriculture originated in an ecologically restricted environment. The western zone and areas around the upper Euphrates gave growth to the first known Neolithic farming communities with small, round houses , also referred to as Pre Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) cultures, which dates to just after 10,000 BC and include areas such as Jericho, the world’s oldest city.

    During the subsequent PPNB from 9000 BC these communities developed into larger villages with farming and animal husbandry as the main source of livelihood, with settlement in the two-story, rectangular house. Man now entered in symbiosis with grain and livestock species, with no opportunity to return to hunter – gatherer societies.

    The area west and north of the plains of the Euphrates and Tigris also saw the emergence of early complex societies in the much later Bronze Age (about 4000 BC). There is evidence of written culture and early state formation in this northern steppe area, although the written formation of the states relatively quickly shifted its center of gravity into the Mesopotamian valley and developed there. The area is therefore in very many writers been named “The Cradle of Civilization.”

    The area has experienced a series of upheavals and new formation of states. When Turkey was formed in the aftermath of the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians perpetrated by the Young Turks during the First World War it is estimated that two-thirds to three-quarters of all Armenians and Assyrians in the region died, and the Pontic Greeks was pushed to Greece.

    Israel was created out of the Ottoman Empire and the conquering of the Palestinian terretories. The existence of large Arab nation states from the Maghreb to the Levant has since represented a potential threat to Israel which should be neutralised when opportunities arise.

    This line of thinking was at the heart of David Ben Gurion’s policies in the 1950s which sought to exacerbate tensions between Christians and Muslims in the Lebanon for the fruits of acquiring regional influence by the dismembering the country and the possible acquisition of additional territory.

    The Christians are now being systematically targeted for genocide in Syria according to Vatican and other sources with contacts on the ground among the besieged Christian community.

    According to reports by the Vatican’s Fides News Agency collected by the Centre for the Study of Interventionism, the US-backed Free Syrian Army rebels and ever more radical spin-off factions are sacking Christian churches, shooting Christians dead in the street, broadcasting ultimatums that all Christians must be cleansed from the rebel-held villages, and even shooting priests.

    It is now time that the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians is being recognized, that the Israeli occupation, settlements and violence against the Palestinians stop, and that the various minorities in the area start to live their lifes in peace – without violence and threats from majority populations, or from the West, and then specificially from the US.

    War in the Fertile Crescent
    https://aratta.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/war-in-the-fertile-crescent

    Everyone is free to use the text on this blog as they want. There is no copyright etc. This because knowledge is more important than rules and regulations.

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The Seven (Sibitti or Sebetti) gods

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on May 4, 2019

Bilderesultat for zodiac

Bilderesultat for gemini

Gemini is the third astrological sign in the zodiac, originating from the constellation of Gemini. Under the tropical zodiac, the sun transits this sign between about May 21 and June 21. Gemini is represented by the twins Castor and Pollux, known as the Dioscuri.

lamassu  mesopotamia

The statue here represents Janus, the god of beginnings. The Romans depicted Janus with two heads, one looking forward Stock Photo

Isimud (also Isinu; Usmû; Usumu (Akkadian)) is a minor god, the messenger of the god Enki, in Sumerian mythology. In ancient Sumerian artwork, Isimud is easily identifiable because he is always depicted with two faces facing in opposite directions in a way that is similar to the ancient Roman god Janus.

Ishara is an ancient pre-Hurrian and perhaps pre-Semitic deity of unknown origin from northern modern Syria. She first appeared as one of the chief goddesses of Ebla in the mid 3rd millennium, and by the end of the 3rd millennium, she had temples in Nippur, Sippar, Kish, Harbidum, Larsa, and Urum. Her name appears as an element in theophoric names in Mesopotamia in the later 3rd millennium (Akkad period).

The etymology of Ishara is unknown. Ishara first appears in the pre-Sargonic texts from Ebla and then as a goddess of love in Old Akkadian potency-incantations.  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 then incorporated to the Hurrian pantheon. She was worshipped with Teshub and Simegi at Alakh, and also at Ugarit, Emar and Chagar Bazar. She then entered the Hittite pantheon and had her main shrine in Kizzuwatna. Ishara is the Hittite word for “treaty, binding promise”, also personified as a goddess of the oath.

As a goddess, Ishara could inflict severe bodily penalties to oathbreakers, in particular ascites. In this context, she came to be seen as a “goddess of medicine” whose pity was invoked in case of illness. There was even a verb, isharis- “to be afflicted by the illness of Ishara”.

In Hurrian and Semitic traditions, Išḫara is a love goddess, often identified with Ishtar. She was invoked to heal the sick. In Alalah, her name was written with the Akkadogram IŠTAR plus a phonetic complement -ra, as IŠTAR-ra. 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”. 

She was associated with the underworld. Her astrological embodiment is the constellation Scorpio and she is called the mother of the “Seven” or the “Seven Gods” (“the Seven Stars”; Sumerian Iminbi; Akkadian Sebittu), minor war gods in Babylonian and Akkadian tradition whose power could be marshalled beneficently against demons and their influence by the means of magical incantations and depiction. 

The Seven gods are known from a range of Akkadian incantation texts: their demonic names vary, but their number, seven, is invariable. They are the children of the god Anu, the sons of heaven and earth, and follow the god Erra, whose name means “scorched (earth),” into battle.

The Seven gods are “champions without peer”, and have been called “personified weapons”. They are each assigned a destructive destiny by Anu. They are in differing traditions of good and evil influence. For ‘7’ being the first prime number after ‘5’, (easily represented by the 5-fingered human hand, (with šu as the cuneiform for the “hand”).

The cuneiform šu sign is a common, multi-use syllabic and alphabetic sign for šu, š, and u; it has a subsidiary usage for syllabic qat; it also has a majuscule-(capital letter) sumerogram usage for ŠU, for Akkadian language “qātu”, the word for “hand”. The human hand is the shape of cuneiform character šu, and thus the origin of its creation (late 4th millennium BC, or early 3rd millennium BC).

The scribal usage of a sign allows for any of the 4 vowels (no vowel ‘o’ in Akkadian), a, e, i, u to be interchangeable; thus a usage for syllabic qat could conceivably be used for the following (k can replace ‘q’, and d can replace ‘t’): q, a, or t; also ka, qa, ad, at. (The “š” (shibilant s) is also interchangeable with the other two esses, “s”, and “ṣ”, for “šu”!) The šu sign has a common usage in the Amarna letters and the Epic of Gilgamesh.

Nergal

The Seven gods are sometimes evoked (as “Seven and seven”) with yet another group of seven deities who may be the children of Enmeshara, an underworld god of the law in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology. Enmeshara has been described as an ancestor of Enlil, and it has been claimed that Enlil slew him.

Enmeshara is described as a Sun god, protector of flocks and vegetation, and therefore he has been equated with Nergal, a deity that was worshipped throughout ancient Mesopotamia with the main seat of his worship at Cuthah represented by the mound of Tell-Ibrahim.

Nergal developed over time from being 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.

Nergal seems to be in part a solar deity, sometimes identified with Shamash, but only representative of a certain phase of the sun. He 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”.

Nergal is in hymns and myths portrayed as a god of war and pestilence. As god of the plague, he was invoked during the “plague years” during the reign of the Hittite king Suppiluliuma, when this disease spread from Egypt.

In the late Babylonian astral-theological system Nergal is related to the planet Mars. As a fiery god of destruction and war, Nergal doubtless seemed an appropriate choice for the red planet, and he was equated by the Greeks to the war-god Ares (Latin Mars)—hence the current name of the planet.

Amongst the Hurrians and later Hittites Nergal was known as Aplu, a name derived from the Akkadian Apal Enlil, (Apal being the construct state of Aplu) meaning “the son of Enlil”. Aplu may be related with Apaliunas who is considered to be the Hittite reflex of *Apeljōn, an early form of the name Apollo.

Erra

Other names for Nergal are Erra or Irra and Sibitti or Seven. Erra (sometimes called Irra) is an Akkadian plague god known from an ‘epos’ of the eighth century BC. Erra is the god of mayhem and pestilence who is responsible for periods of political confusion.

The Epic of the plague-god Erra, a politico-religious composition from the time of Nabu-apla-iddina (ca. 887-855), which endeavors to provide a theological explanation for the resurgence of Babylonia following years of paralysis, begins its tale of distress with the reign of Adad-apla-iddina.

Adad-apla-iddina, meaning the storm god “Adad has given me an heir”, was the 8th king of the 2nd Dynasty of Isin and the 4th Dynasty of Babylon and ruled 1067–1046 BC. He was a contemporary of the Assyrian King Aššur-bêl-kala and his reign was a golden age for scholarship. His reign was celebrated in the first millennium BCE as a golden age for scholarship and he appears twice in the Uruk List of Sages and Scholars alongside Šaggil-kīnam-ubbib and Esagil-kin-apli.

The broken obelisk of Aššur-bêl-kala relates that the Assyrians raided Babylonia, early in his reign. The god Erra, whose name means “scorched (earth),” is accompanied by Išum, “fire,” and disease-causing demons called Sibitti. In the epic that is given the modern title Erra, the writer Kabti-ilani-Marduk, a descendant, he says, of Dabibi, presents himself in a colophon following the text as simply the transcriber of a visionary dream in which Erra himself revealed the text.

The poem opens with an invocation. The god Erra is sleeping fitfully with his consort (identified with Mamītum and not with the mother goddess Mami) but is roused by his advisor Išum and the Seven (Sibitti or Sebetti).

The Sibitti call on Erra to lead the destruction of mankind. Išum tries to mollify Erra’s wakened violence, to no avail. Foreign peoples invade Babylonia, but are struck down by plague. Even Marduk, the patron of Babylon, relinquishes his throne to Erra for a time.

Tablets II and III are occupied with a debate between Erra and Išum. The world is turned upside down: righteous and unrighteous are killed alike. Erra orders Išum to complete the work by defeating Babylon’s enemies. Then the god withdraws to his own seat in Emeslam with the terrifying Seven, and mankind is saved. A propitiatory prayer ends the work.

The poem must have been central to Babylonian culture: at least thirty-six copies have been recovered from five first-millennium sites—Assur, Babylon, Nineveh, Sultantepe and Ur—more, even, as the assyriologist and historian of religions Luigi Giovanni Cagni points out, than have been recovered of the Epic of Gilgamesh.

The text appears to some readers to be a mythologisation of historic turmoil in Mesopotamia, though scholars disagree as to the historic events that inspired the poem: the poet exclaims (tablet IV:3) “You changed out of your divinity and made yourself like a man.”

The Erra text soon assumed magical functions. Parts of the text were inscribed on amulets employed for exorcism and as a prophylactic against the plague. It has been equated with with the Seven Against Thebes, widely assumed by Hellenists to have had a historical basis.

The seven sages

Apkallu

In ancient Mesopotamian myth and legends there are stories about very curious looking beings known as the Apkallu (Akkadian) and Abgal (Sumerian), terms that are found in cuneiform inscriptions that in general mean either “wise” or “sage.” They were Antediluvian demi-gods and sages created by God Enki to impart knowledge to people.

For the Sumerians these creatures were called the Ab.gal “big fish.” These fish-man hybrids, occasionally depicted with bird heads are a symbol of ancient wisdom. They are associated with human wisdom and often referred to in scholarly literature as the Seven Sages.

Sometimes the sages are associated with a specific primeval king. After the deluge further sages and kings are listed. Post-deluge, the sages are considered human, and in some texts are distinguished by being referred to as Ummanu (“craftsman”), not Apkallu.

The seven sages are also mentioned in the Epic of Erra (aka ‘Song of Erra’, or ‘Erra and Ishum’); here again they are referenced as paradu-Fish. In this text is described how after the Flood, Marduk banished them back to Abzu. The epic contains several clever etymological wordplays on the names of apkallu, both textual and phonetic.

Once the apkallu are banished, Marduk’s phrasing becomes rhetorical (left): Finally Erra persuades Marduk to leave his temple and fetch back the apkallu from their banishment, reassuring that he will keep order whilst Marduk is away.

However, chaos breaks out; though some of the text is missing it seems that the subsequent outcome was that instead, earthly ummanus are given the task of cleansing Marduk’s shrine. It can be understood by this that the mythological role of the apkallu was to aid the god (Marduk) in keeping creation stable by maintenance of Marduk’s idol.

This text appears to have a completely different role for the apkallu from that given in the lists of sages and kings — essentially, Kvanvig proposes that the pre-deluge king-sage list was retroactively inserted onto a Sumerian king list, so to combine the historical record with the flood legend. In doing so it creates an pre-flood origin story for the Sumerian kings.

Lugal-irra and Meslamta-ea

Nergal’s chief temple at Cuthah bore the name Meslam, from which the god receives the designation of Meslamtaeda or Meslamtaea, “the one that rises up from Meslam”. The name Meslamtaeda/Meslamtaea indeed is found as early as the list of gods from Fara while the name Nergal only begins to appear in the Akkadian period.

In Babylonian astronomy, the stars Castor and Pollux were known as the Great Twins. The Twins were regarded as minor gods and were called Meshlamtaea and Lugalirra, meaning respectively “The One who has arisen from the Underworld” and the “Mighty King”. Both names can be understood as titles of Nergal, the major Babylonian god of plague and pestilence, who was king of the Underworld.

In ancient Mesopotamian religion, Lugal-irra and Meslamta-ea are a set of twin gods who were worshipped in the village of Kisiga, located in northern Babylonia. They were regarded as guardians of doorways and they may have originally been envisioned as a set of twins guarding the gates of the Underworld, who chopped the dead into pieces as they passed through the gates.

During the Neo-Assyrian period, small depictions of them would be buried at entrances, with Lugal-irra always on the left and Meslamta-ea always on the right. They are identical and are shown wearing horned caps and each holding an axe and a mace. They are identified with the constellation Gemini, which is named after them.

Those of the Sebitti were formed with a qulmû, an ax, in their right hand and a dagger in their left. Other models that were fashioned included dogs, ugallus, various gods (e.g. Meslamtae’a) and monsters, all invoked with the purpose to further the cause that “the evil one and the enemy will be put to flight.”

Gemini

Gemini is the third astrological sign in the zodiac, originating from the constellation of Gemini. Gemini lies between Taurus to the west and Cancer to the east, with Auriga and Lynx to the north and Monoceros and Canis Minor to the south.

Under the tropical zodiac, the sun transits this sign between about May 21 and June 21. Its name is Latin for “twins,” and it is associated with the twins Castor and Pollux, known as the Dioscuri in Greek mythology.

In Greek mythology, Gemini was associated with the myth of Castor and Pollux, the children of Leda and Argonauts both. Pollux was the son of Zeus, who seduced Leda, while Castor was the son of Tyndareus, king of Sparta and Leda’s husband.

Castor and Pollux were also mythologically associated with St. Elmo’s fire in their role as the protectors of sailors. When Castor died, because he was mortal, Pollux begged his father Zeus to give Castor immortality, and he did, by uniting them together in the heavens.

Solar mythology

According to Macrobius who cites Nigidius Figulus and Cicero, Janus and Jana (Diana) are a pair of divinities, worshipped as Apollo or the sun and moon, whence Janus received sacrifices before all the others, because through him is apparent the way of access to the desired deity.

A similar solar interpretation has been offered by A. Audin who interprets the god as the issue of a long process of development, starting with the Sumeric cultures, from the two solar pillars located on the eastern side of temples, each of them marking the direction of the rising sun at the dates of the two solstices: the southeastern corresponding to the Winter and the northeastern to the Summer solstice.

These two pillars would be at the origin of the theology of the divine twins, one of whom is mortal (related to the NE pillar, as confining with the region where the sun does not shine) and the other is immortal (related to the SE pillar and the region where the sun always shines). Later these iconographic models evolved in the Middle East and Egypt into a single column representing two torsos and finally a single body with two heads looking at opposite directions.

Isimud (also Isinu; Usmû; Usumu in Akkadian) is a minor god, the messenger of the god Enki, in Sumerian mythology. He plays a similar role to Ninshubur, Inanna’s sukkal. Isimud also appears in the myth of Enki and Ninhursag, in which he acts as Enki’s messenger and emissary.

In ancient Sumerian artwork, Isimud is easily identifiable because he is always depicted with two faces facing in opposite directions in a way that is similar to the ancient Roman god Janus, the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways,[1] passages, and endings.

Ishum and Papsukkal

Ishum is a minor god in Akkadian mythology, the brother of Shamash and an attendant of Erra. He may have been a god of fire and, according to texts, led the gods in war as a herald but was nonetheless generally regarded as benevolent. Ishum is known particularly from the Babylonian legend of Erra and Ishum.

He developed from the Sumerian figure of Endursaga, the herald god in the Sumerian mythology. He leads the pantheon, particularly in times of conflict. In Akkadian times he becomes Ishum. The Akkadians associated the god Papsukkal, the messenger god and gatekeeper for the rest of the pantheon in the Akkadian pantheon, with a lamassu and the god Išum with shedu.

Papsukkal was syncretized with Ninshubur, the sukkal or second-in-command of the goddess Inanna in Sumerian mythology. Her name means “Queen of the East” in ancient Sumerian. Much like Iris or Hermes in later Greek mythology, Ninshubur served as a messenger to the other gods.

Lamassu

A lamassu (Cuneiform: an.kal; Sumerian: dlammař; Akkadian: lamassu; sometimes called a lamassus) is an Assyrian protective deity, often depicted as having a human head, the body of a bull or a lion, and bird wings. In art, lamassu were depicted as hybrids, with bodies of either winged bulls or lions and heads of human males.

In some writings, it is portrayed to represent a female deity. A less frequently used name is shedu (Cuneiform: an.kal×bad; Sumerian: dalad; Akkadian, šēdu), which refers to the male counterpart of a lamassu. Female lamassu were called “apsasû”.

The lamassu and shedu were household protective spirits of the common Babylonian people, becoming associated later as royal protectors, and were placed as sentinels at entrances. In Hittite, the Sumerian form dlamma is used both as a name for the so-called “tutelary deity”, identified in certain later texts with Inara, and a title given to similar protective gods.

To protect houses, the lamassu were engraved in clay tablets, which were then buried under the door’s threshold. They were often placed as a pair at the entrance of palaces. At the entrance of cities, they were sculpted in colossal size, and placed as a pair, one at each side of the door of the city, that generally had doors in the surrounding wall, each one looking towards one of the cardinal points.

The ancient Jewish people were influenced by the iconography of Assyrian culture. The prophet Ezekiel wrote about a fantastic being made up of aspects of a human being, a lion, an eagle and a bull. Later, in the early Christian period, the four Gospels were ascribed to each of these components. When it was depicted in art, this image was called the Tetramorph.

Lamassu represent the zodiacs, parent-stars, or constellations. They are depicted as protective deities because they encompass all life within them. In the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, they are depicted as physical deities as well, which is where the lammasu iconography originates, these deities could be microcosms of their microcosmic zodiac, parent-star, or constellation.

Although lamassu had a different iconography and portrayal in the culture of Sumer, the terms “lamassu”, “alad”, and “shedu” evolved throughout the Assyro-Akkadian culture from the Sumerian culture to denote the Assyrian-winged-man-bull symbol and statues during the Neo-Assyrian Empire.

Standard iconography pictured Nergal as a lion, and boundary-stone monuments symbolise him with a mace surmounted by the head of a lion. In Assyro-Babylonian ecclesiastical art the great lion-headed colossi serving as guardians to the temples and palaces seem to symbolise Nergal, just as the bull-headed colossi probably typify Ninurta.

Anu

Anu or An is the divine personification of the sky, supreme God, and ancestor of all the deities in ancient Mesopotamian religion. Anu was believed to be the utmost power, the supreme source of all authority, for the other gods and for all mortal rulers, and he is described in one text as the one “who contains the entire universe”.

Though Anu was the supreme God, he was rarely worshipped, and, by the time that written records began, the most important cult was devoted to his son Enlil. Anu was rarely worshipped, and veneration was instead devoted to his son Enlil, but, throughout Mesopotamian history, the highest deity in the pantheon was always said to possess the anûtu, meaning “Heavenly power”.

Anu’s primary role in myths is as the ancestor of the Anunnaki, which means “offspring of Anu. Although it is sometimes unclear which deities were considered members of the Anunnaki, the group probably included the “seven gods who decree”: Anu, Enlil, Enki, Ninhursag, Nanna, Utu, and Inanna.

The Annunaki was “the major deities of Sumerian religion, the most prominent of these deities being Enlil, god of the air. According to legends, heaven and earth were once inseparable until Enlil was born; Enlil cleaved heaven and earth in two. An carried away heaven. Ki, in company with Enlil, took the earth.

Some authorities question whether Ki was regarded as a deity since there is no evidence of a cult and the name appears only in a limited number of Sumerian creation texts. She has been identified with the Sumerian mother goddess Ninhursag and can originally has been the same figure.

Cuneiform KI is the sign for “earth”. It is also read as GI, GUNNI (=KI.NE) “hearth”, KARAŠ (=KI.KAL.BAD) “encampment, army”, KISLAḪ (=KI.UD) “threshing floor”, and SUR (=KI.GAG). In Akkadian orthography, it functions as a determiner for toponyms and has the syllabic values gi, ge, qi, and qe.

Anu’s consort in the earliest Sumerian texts is the Earth goddess Uraš, but she is later the goddess Ki and, in Babylonian and Akkadian texts, the goddess Antu (from Sumerian An), whose name is a feminine form of Anu. However, Uras may only have been another name for Antum, Anu’s wife. The name Uras even became applied to Anu himself, and acquired the meaning “heaven”.

In ancient Hittite religion, Anu is a former ruler of the gods, who was overthrown by his son Kumarbi, who bit off his father’s genitals and gave birth to the storm god Teshub. Teshub overthrew Kumarbi, avenged Anu’s mutilation, and became the new king of the gods. This story was the later basis for the castration of Ouranos in Hesiod’s Theogony.

His primary cult center was the Eanna temple in the city of Uruk, but, by the Akkadian Period (c. 2334 – 2154 BC), his authority in Uruk had largely been ceded to the goddess Inanna, the Queen of Heaven.

The Amorite god Amurru or Martu (MAR.TU), sometimes described as a ‘shepherd’ or as a storm god, and as a son of the sky-god Anu, was sometimes equated with Anu. Later, during the Seleucid Empire (213 BC — 63 BC), Anu was identified with Enmešara and Dumuzid, later known by the alternate form Tammuz.

Tammuz is an ancient Mesopotamian god associated with shepherds, who was also the primary consort of the goddess Inanna (later known as Ishtar). In Sumerian mythology, Dumuzid’s sister was Geshtinanna, the ancient Sumerian goddess of agriculture, fertility, and dream interpretation, the so-called “heavenly grape-vine”.

In Inanna’s Descent into the Underworld, Dumuzid fails to mourn Inanna’s death and, when she returns from the Underworld, she allows the galla demons to drag him down to the Underworld as her replacement.

Inanna later regrets this decision and decrees that Dumuzid will spend half the year in the Underworld, but the other half of the year with her, while his sister Geshtinanna stays in the Underworld in his place, thus resulting in the cycle of the seasons.

Amurru

Amurru is sometimes called “lord of the mountain”, “He who dwells on the pure mountain” and “who inhabits the shining mountain”. It has been suggested that this Bêl Šadê might be the same as the Biblical ’Ēl Šaddāi who is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the “Priestly source” of narrative, according to the documentary hypothesis.

Bêl Šadê could also have become the fertility-god ‘Ba’al’, possibly adopted by the Canaanites, a rival and enemy of the Hebrew God YHWH, and famously combatted by the Hebrew prophet Elijah.

Amurru also has storm-god features. Like Adad, Amurru bears the epithet “thunderer”, and he is even called “hurler of the thunderbolt” and “Adad of the delug”. Yet his iconography is distinct from that of Adad, and he sometimes appears alongside Adad with a baton of power or throwstick, while Adad bears a conventional thunderbolt.

Amurru’s wife is usually the goddess Ašratum, generally considered identical with the Ugaritic goddess ʼAṯirat (Athirat), a mother goddess who appears in a number of ancient sources, who in northwest Semitic tradition and Hittite tradition appears as wife of the god Ēl.

El is a Northwest Semitic word meaning “god” or “deity”, or referring (as a proper name) to any one of multiple major ancient Near Eastern deities, which suggests that Amurru may indeed have been a variation of that god. A rarer form, ‘ila, represents the predicate form in Old Akkadian and in Amorite.

The word is derived from the Proto-Semitic archaic biliteral ʾ‑l, meaning “god”. Specific deities known as ʾEl or ʾIl include the supreme god of the ancient Canaanite religion and the supreme god of East Semitic speakers in Mesopotamia’s Early Dynastic Period.

Asherah

Asherah is identified as the queen consort of the Sumerian god Anu, and Ugaritic El, the oldest deities of their respective pantheons, as well as Yahweh, the god of Israel and Judah. This role gave her a similarly high rank in the Ugaritic pantheon. Despite her association with Yahweh in extra-biblical sources, Deuteronomy 12 has Yahweh commanding the destruction of her shrines so as to maintain purity of his worship.

The name Dione, which like ‘Elat means “Goddess”, is clearly associated with Asherah in the Phoenician History of Sanchuniathon, because the same common epithet (‘Elat) of “the Goddess par excellence” was used to describe her at Ugarit. The Book of Jeremiah, written circa 628 BC, possibly refers to Asherah when it uses the title “Queen of Heaven” in Jeremiah 7:16-18 and Jeremiah 44:17-19, 25.

Sources from before 1200 BC almost always credit Athirat with her full title rabat ʾAṯirat yammi, “Lady Athirat of the Sea” or as more fully translated “she who treads on the sea”. This occurs 12 times in the Baʿal Epic alone.

The name is understood by various translators and commentators to be from the Ugaritic root ʾaṯr “stride”, cognate with the Hebrew root ʾšr, of the same meaning. There she appears to champion Yam, god of the sea, in his struggle with Ba’al.

Her other main divine epithet was qaniyatu ʾilhm which may be translated as “the creatrix of the Gods (Elohim)”. In those texts, Athirat is the consort of the god El; there is one reference to the 70 sons of Athirat, presumably the same as the 70 sons of El. She is also called Elat, “Goddess”, the feminine form of El (compare Allat) and Qodesh, “holiness”.

Athirat in Akkadian texts appears as Ashratum (or, Antu), the wife of Anu, the God of Heaven. In contrast, ʿAshtart is believed to be linked to the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar who is sometimes portrayed as the daughter of Anu while in Ugaritic myth, ʿAshtart is one of the daughters of El, the West Semitic counterpart of Anu. Among the Hittites this goddess appears as Asherdu(s) or Asertu(s), the consort of Elkunirsa (“El the Creator of Earth”) and mother of either 77 or 88 sons. 

Dingir

Dingir (usually transliterated DIĜIR, Sumerian pronunciation: [tiŋiɾ]) is a Sumerian word for “god.” Its cuneiform sign is most commonly employed as the determinative for religious names and related concepts, in which case it is not pronounced and is conventionally transliterated as a superscript “D” as in e.g. DInanna.

The cuneiform sign by itself was originally an ideogram for the Sumerian word an (“sky” or “heaven”); its use was then extended to a logogram for the word diĝir (“god” or goddess) and the supreme deity of the Sumerian pantheon An, and a phonogram for the syllable /an/.

Akkadian took over all these uses and added to them a logographic reading for the native ilum and from that a syllabic reading of /il/. In Hittite orthography, the syllabic value of the sign was again only an.

The concept of “divinity” in Sumerian is closely associated with the heavens, as is evident from the fact that the cuneiform sign doubles as the ideogram for “sky”, and that its original shape is the picture of a star. The original association of “divinity” is thus with “bright” or “shining” hierophanies in the sky.

Elamite mythology

Temples to the Seven were to be found in the Neo-Assyrian period in the capital cities of Dur-šarrukin (Khorsabad), Kalhu-Nimrud and Nineveh, illustrating their integration into Mesopotamian belief systems, although their origins were probably originally Elamite – they operate in tandem with their sister, the goddess Narudu, probably originally the Elamite female deity Narunte, who was associated with Inanna/Ishtar.

Narunte was a Elamite mother goddess who was worshiped in Susa. A statue depicting the goddesses shows her holding a goblet and palm leaf over her breast. This is thought to symbolize her role as a mother goddess and nourishing goddess. As a mother goddess, she may have been associated with the fertility of people and of the earth. ‘

The headdress depicted on the statue is made of three pairs of horns – a motif borrow from Sumer to show someone of high rank. Her dress is also a Sumerian influence. The statue also has lions decorating the armrests and two lions beneath her feat. Lions were a symbol of Inanna (Ishtar) – the Mesopotamian goddess of love, war, sex and beauty. Narudi was most likely also associated with Inanna’s attributes.

Due to her association with Ishushinak, a major god of Elam and a protector deity, Narudi may have been his consort. He had a temple at Susa which he shared with the god, Napirisha, who was the main god of Elam at one point. Napirisha was also referred to as “God of the Elamite Highlands”, and was most likely associated with mountains.

Little figures with wheels of lions sitting on a flat cart were found in Susa, near the temple of Ishushinak. These may have been offerings to the god or toys that children played with. As offers, this would associate Ishushinak with the lion – an animal symbolizing power and strength. The lion was a popular motif in Elam. However, the lion figures may also have been representative of the goddess Narundi.

Napirisha was the god of the primordial waters, life-giving waters, of the abyss. He is the start of all life. His symbol was the snake or serpent and over time he was associated with the Mesopotamian god, Enki. His consort is said to be Kiririsha. Together they had a son, Khutran (“overwhelmer”, who most likely was a god of war and soldiers.

Napirisha may have also been known as the god (d)GAL or “Great God. This would make him a supreme god or another name for Khumban, also known as Humban, who was the supreme god of the pantheon. At the same time, the idea that Napirisha is a god of his own is also very possible. He may have been a god to rule over the world and universe alongside Khumban.

Khumban was the god of the sky and compared to the Mesopotamian god, Anu. He may have also been called (d)GAl or Dingir.Gal – a name that means “Great God”.  Khumban, alongside Inshushinak and Nahundi, was frequently invoked to punish wrong-doings and enemies of Elam or the king. Khumban may have also been a god of the earth.

Khumban was either the consort of Kiririsha, who was known as “Lady of Liyan” and “The Great Goddess”, or Pinikir, who may have been another goddess or another name for Kiririsha. He may have been the consort of both goddesses depending on the location.

Pinikir was the mother goddess and the the supreme goddess of northern Elam. It seems like her connection to Kiririsha, who was a patron goddess of the southern parts of Elam alongside the gods Khumban and Inshushinak, comes from the fact that both are supreme goddesses.

As the supreme god of the pantheon, he was likely associated with both goddesses as power shifted from the north to the south. As power shifted south, it is thought that the patron goddess changed from Pinikir to Kiririsha.

As a mother goddess, Pinikir may have been associated with motherhood and fertility both of the land and of people. She is compared to the Babylonian goddess, Inanna (Ishtar). From this association, we can speculate that Pinikir (and Kiririsha) was a goddess of love, beauty, war and justice as well as the “Queen of heaven”.

Kiririsha was also refereed to as “The Divine Mother”. Being a goddess of the Elamite Kingdom, Kiririsha was probably a goddess of kings, kingship, and sovereign. As the “divine mother” should may have also been associated with motherhood, fertility (of people and the land) and the cosmos (heavenly stars).

As a goddess of the port, Liyan, she may have also been associated with fishing, trade and the sea. All of these associations are speculation however, as not much is known about the ancient Emalites. Kiririsha may have also been known by the name Pinikir.

The god Jabru was the god of the underworld and compared to the Akkadian god, Anu. Jabru is also regarded as the father of all of the gods of the Elamite pantheon.

Divination

The iconography of the Seven Gods is well-established by the Neo-Assyrian period, when they appear in royal palace reliefs. The Seven are depicted as wearing long, open robes and tall cylindrical headdresses with feathered tops and frontal rows of horns.

They carry both an axe and a knife, together with a bow and quiver these being the attributes attributed to the Seven when – on a more domestic level their protective figurines are to be placed at prescribed locations around a dwelling.

The work šēp lemutti ina bīt amēli parāsu (inscribed GÌR ḪUL-tim AŠ É LÚ TAR-si), “to block the entry of the enemy (‘foot of evil’) into someone’s house,” also referred to as ana nasāḫ šēp lemutti, “to expel the ‘foot of evil’,” is a first millennium BC Mesopotamian ritual text idiom.

It is well attested in the apodoses of divinations which provides the procedures to protect a house with magical defenses from demonic attack. Sickness, death, misfortune, and ominous occurrences in the house, were perceived to be the result of actions of the hordes of demons from the netherworld.

These involve the use of apotropaic figurines, whose god, apkallu, and monster alter-egos, are invoked by an incantation, and their interment in various parts of a private house. Archaeological excavation has uncovered many instances of small figurines buried in boxes in the foundations of structures such as palaces and domestic houses of the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian periods.

The purpose of the ritual is defined at the beginning as to overt evil from a house. It then prescribes the fashioning of the various wooden models of the seven apkallus, from seven Babylonian cities, with the faces and wings of birds, or their cloaks from the skin of a fish, their conjuration and distribution in five groups of seven around the building: at the head of the bed, the foundations of the house, the threshold of the chapel, the front of the door, behind the chair or throne, and the middle of the house in front of the chair or throne.

Their arrival at the first of the locations is addressed with an invocation followed by šiptu attunu ṣalmānu apkallu maṣṣari, “incantation: you are the statues of the apkallus, the watchers,” which was to recur at each of the subsequent locations. Other figurines were fashioned from clay. The text is known from four copies and also from excerpts included in other ritual texts, such as that known as KAR 298, a derivative work of a similar purpose.

Pleiades

Astronomically, the Seven were identified with the Pleiades, explaining the basis for their representation – by the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian periods, at the latest – with the symbol of seven dots or, on occasion, by seven stars.

The constellation Taurus (Latin for “the Bull”), one of the constellations of the zodiac, hosts two of the nearest open clusters to Earth, the Pleiades, also named the “Seven Sisters”, and the Hyades, both of which are visible to the naked eye.

The name “seven sisters” has been used for the Pleiades in the languages of many cultures, including indigenous groups of Australia, North America and Siberia. This suggests that the name may have a common ancient origin.

Taurus marked the point of vernal (spring) equinox in the Chalcolithic and the Early Bronze Age, from about 4000 BC to 1700 BC, after which it moved into the neighboring constellation Aries. The Pleiades were closest to the Sun at vernal equinox around the 23rd century BC.

Taurus is a large and prominent constellation in the northern hemisphere’s winter sky. It is one of the oldest constellations, dating back to at least the Early Bronze Age when it marked the location of the Sun during the spring equinox.

Its importance to the agricultural calendar influenced various bull figures in the mythologies of Ancient Sumer, Akkad, Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. A number of features exist that are of interest to astronomers.

The brightest member of this constellation is Aldebaran, designated α Tauri (Latinized to Alpha Tauri, abbreviated Alpha Tau, α Tau). Its name derives from al-dabarān, Arabic for “the follower”, probably from the fact that it follows the Pleiades during the nightly motion of the celestial sphere across the sky.

The same iconic representation of the Heavenly Bull was depicted in the Dendera zodiac, an Egyptian bas-relief carving in a ceiling that depicted the celestial hemisphere using a planisphere. In these ancient cultures, the orientation of the horns was portrayed as upward or backward. This differed from the later Greek depiction where the horns pointed forward.

To the Egyptians, the constellation Taurus was a sacred bull that was associated with the renewal of life in spring. When the spring equinox entered Taurus, the constellation would become covered by the Sun in the western sky as spring began. This “sacrifice” led to the renewal of the land.

The sculptured Dendera zodiac (or Denderah zodiac) is a widely known Egyptian bas-relief from the ceiling of the pronaos (or portico) of a chapel dedicated to Osiris in the Hathor temple at Dendera, containing images of Taurus (the bull) and the Libra (the scales).

The zodiac is a planisphere or map of the stars on a plane projection, showing the 12 constellations of the zodiacal band forming 36 decans of ten days each, and the planets. These decans are groups of first-magnitude stars. These were used in the ancient Egyptian calendar, which was based on lunar cycles of around 30 days and on the heliacal rising of the star Sothis (Sirius). 

The celestial arch is represented by a disc held up by four pillars of the sky in the form of women, between which are inserted falcon-headed spirits. On the first ring 36 spirits symbolize the 360 days of the Egyptian year.

Its representation of the zodiac in circular form is unique in ancient Egyptian art. More typical are the rectangular zodiacs which decorate the same temple’s pronaos. On an inner circle, one finds constellations, showing the signs of the zodiac. The Dendera zodiac as “a complete copy of the Mesopotamian zodiac”.

Some of these are represented in the same Greco-Roman iconographic forms as their familiar counterparts (e.g. the Ram, Taurus, Scorpio, and Capricorn, albeit most in odd orientations in comparison to the conventions of ancient Greece and later Arabic-Western developments), whilst others are shown in a more Egyptian form: Aquarius is represented as the flood god Hapy, holding two vases which gush water.

The Bull of Heaven

In early Mesopotamian art, the Bull of Heaven was closely associated with Inanna. One of the oldest depictions shows the bull standing before the goddess’ standard; since it has 3 stars depicted on its back (the cuneiform sign for “star-constellation”), there is good reason to regard this as the constellation later known as Taurus.

In ancient Mesopotamian mythology, the Bull of Heaven is a mythical beast fought by the hero Gilgamesh. The story of the Bull of Heaven has two different versions: one recorded in an earlier Sumerian poem and a later version in the standard Akkadian Epic of Gilgamesh.

In the Sumerian poem, the Bull is sent to attack Gilgamesh by the goddess Inanna for reasons that are unclear. The more complete Akkadian account comes from Tablet VI of the Epic of Gilgamesh, in which Gilgamesh rejects the sexual advances of the goddess Ishtar, the East Semitic equivalent of Inanna, leading the enraged Ishtar to demand her father Anu for the Bull of Heaven, so that she may send it to attack Gilgamesh in Uruk.

Anu gives her the Bull and she sends it to attack Gilgamesh and his companion, the hero Enkidu, who slay the Bull together. After defeating the Bull, Enkidu hurls the Bull’s right thigh at Ishtar, taunting her. Enkidu tears off the bull’s hind part and hurls the quarters into the sky where they become the stars we know as Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.

Ursa Major (also known as the Great Bear) is a constellation in the northern sky, whose associated mythology likely dates back into prehistory. It is primarily known from the asterism of its main seven relatively bright stars comprising the “Big Dipper”, “the Wagon”, “Charles’s Wain” or “the Plough” (among others), with its stellar configuration mimicking the shape of the “Little Dipper”.

As many of its common names allude, its shape is said to resemble either a ladle, an agricultural plough or wagon; in the context of Ursa Major, they are commonly drawn to represent the hindquarters and tail of the Great Bear.

Ursa Major is visible throughout the year from most of the northern hemisphere, and appears circumpolar above the mid-northern latitudes. From southern temperate latitudes, the main asterism is invisible, but the southern parts of the constellation can still be viewed.

The general constellation outline often significantly features in numerous world cultures, and frequently is used as a symbol of the north. The asterism’s two brightest stars, named Dubhe and Merak (α Ursae Majoris and β Ursae Majoris), can be used as the navigational pointer towards the place of the current northern pole star, Polaris in Ursa Minor.

Ursa Minor (Latin: “Lesser Bear”, contrasting with Ursa Major), also known as the Little Bear, is a constellation in the Northern Sky. Like the Great Bear, the tail of the Little Bear may also be seen as the handle of a ladle, hence the North American name, Little Dipper: seven stars with four in its bowl like its partner the Big Dipper.

In the Babylonian star catalogues, Ursa Minor was known as Margiddaanna (“Wagon of Heaven”), also associated with the Earth mother goddess Damkina (“true wife”) or Damgalnuna (“great wife of the prince”), the consort of the god Enki. It is listed in the MUL.APIN catalogue, compiled around 1000 BC among the “Stars of Enlil”—that is, the northern sky.

Ninḫursaĝ, also known as Damgalnuna or Ninmah, was the ancient Sumerian mother goddess of the mountains, and one of the seven great deities of Sumer. She is principally a fertility goddess, and kings of Sumer were “nourished by Ninhursag’s milk”. She is the tutelary deity to several Sumerian leaders.

In creation texts, Ninmah (another name for Ninhursag) acts as a midwife whilst the mother goddess Nammu makes different kinds of human individuals from lumps of clay at a feast given by Enki to celebrate the creation of humankind. The mother goddess had many epithets including “womb goddess”, “midwife of the gods”, “mother of all children” and “mother of the gods”. In this role she is identified with Ki in the Enuma Elish.

Temple hymn sources identify her as the “true and great lady of heaven” (possibly in relation to her standing on the mountain). Sometimes her hair is depicted in an omega shape and at times she wears a horned head-dress and tiered skirt, often with bow cases at her shoulders. Frequently she carries a mace or baton surmounted by an omega motif or a derivation, sometimes accompanied by a lion cub on a leash.

The omega symbol is associated with the Egyptian cow goddess Hathor, and may represent a stylized womb. The symbol appears on very early imagery from Ancient Egypt. Hathor is at times depicted on a mountain, so it is likely that the two goddesses are connected.

According to Diogenes Laërtius, citing Callimachus, Thales of Miletus “measured the stars of the Wagon by which the Phoenicians sail”. Diogenes identifies these as the constellation of Ursa Minor, which for its reported use by the Phoenicians for navigation at sea were also named Phoinikē.

The tradition of naming the northern constellations “bears” appears to be genuinely Greek, although Homer refers to just a single “bear”. The original “bear” is thus Ursa Major, and Ursa Minor was admitted as second, or “Phoenician Bear” (Ursa Phoenicia, hence Phoenice) only later, according to Strabo due to a suggestion by Thales, who suggested it as a navigation aid to the Greeks, who had been navigating by Ursa Major.

In classical antiquity, the celestial pole was somewhat closer to Beta Ursae Minoris than to Alpha Ursae Minoris, and the entire constellation was taken to indicate the northern direction. Since the medieval period, it has become convenient to use Alpha Ursae Minoris (or “Polaris”) as the north star, even though it was still several degrees away from the celestial pole. Its New Latin name of stella polaris was coined only in the early modern period. The ancient name of the constellation is Cynosura. The origin of this name is unclear.

Because Ursa Minor consists of seven stars, the Latin word for “north” (i.e., where Polaris points) is septentrio, from septem (seven) and triones (oxen), from seven oxen driving a plough, which the seven stars also resemble. This name has also been attached to the main stars of Ursa Major.

The slaying of the Bull results in the gods condemning Enkidu to death, an event which catalyzes Gilgamesh’s fear for his own death, which drives the remaining portion of the epic. Some locate Gilgamesh as the neighboring constellation of Orion, facing Taurus as if in combat, while others identify him with the sun whose rising on the equinox vanquishes the constellation.

The Bull was identified with the constellation Taurus and the myth of its slaying may have held astronomical significance to the ancient Mesopotamians. Aspects of the story have been compared to later tales from the ancient Near East, including legends from Ugarit, the tale of Joseph in the Book of Genesis, and parts of the ancient Greek epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey.

In Babylonian astronomy, the constellation was listed in the MUL.APIN as GU.AN.NA, “The Bull of Heaven”. As this constellation marked the vernal equinox, it was also the first constellation in the Babylonian zodiac and they described it as “The Bull in Front”.

Alalu

The Akkadian name for the constellation Taurus was Alu. To the early Hebrews, Taurus was the first constellation in their zodiac and consequently it was represented by the first letter in their alphabet, Aleph.

Alalu is god in Hurrian mythology. He is considered to have housed the divine family, because he was a progenitor of the gods, and possibly the father of Earth. Scholars have pointed out the similarities between the Hurrian myth and the story from Greek mythology of Uranus, Cronus, and Zeus. 

Alalu was a primeval deity of the Hurrian mythology. After nine years of reign, Alalu was defeated by Anu. Alaluʻs son Kumarbi also defeated Anu, biting and swallowing his genitals, hence becoming pregnant of three gods, among which Teshub who eventually defeated him. Alalu fled to the underworld.

The name “Alalu” was borrowed from Semitic mythology and is a compound word made up of the Semitic definite article al and the Semitic deity Alû. The -u at the end of the word is an inflectional ending; thus, Alalu may also occur as Alali or Alala depending on the position of the word in the sentence. He was identified by the Greeks as Hypsistos. He was also called Alalus.

The 7-dot glyph

The 7-dot glyph, (or globes) are first known in Mittanian art, (Turkey, or ancient Anatolia), but is possibly older. The 7-dot glyph was at first six dots surrounding a central dot; later two rows of 3-dots ended with a 7th as the finial.

It appears in the iconography of cylinder seals, and later on reliefs, or other motifs. With origins on cylinder seals, its meanings may come from paleohistory back to the 4th millennium BC, or even further into the 6th to 5th millennium with the origins of Europe, or Catal Huyuk in Anatolia.

The Seven Hathors

In ancient Egypt, the idea of ‘7’ was associated with a person’s birth. At birth, the Seven Hathors determined the fates in an individual’s life. There is an Ancient Egyptian tale of when the hero of the story was born, the ‘Seven Hathors’ disguised as seven young women, appeared and announced his fate. They seemed to be linked with not only fortune telling, but to being questioners of the soul on its way to the Land of the West.

The goddess Hathor is associated with love, sexuality, motherhood and all things feminine. Predestination was a theme which  appeared in royal birth legends, as depicted in the temple of Hatshepsut, in which the god Amun impregnate the queen-mother with a child which is predestined for kingship. The Ancient Egyptians used many methods in spirit and magic to influence the fate they sort.

Like Meskhenet, another goddess who presided over birth, Hathor was connected with shai, the Egyptian concept of fate, particularly when she took the form of the Seven Hathors.  Repeating an utterance or action seven times gives it extra potency, and thus a seven-fold of goddesses will make it extra powerful.

The Seven Hathors were sometimes portrayed as a set of seven cows, accompanied by a minor sky and afterlife deity called the Bull of the West. Some of the depictions show them wearing a patterened “saddle-cloth,” a sun-disk, a double curved plume, and a menit necklace.

Tawaret

In Ancient Egyptian religion, Taweret (also spelled Taurt, Tuat, Taouris, Tuart, Ta-weret, Tawaret, Twert, Thoeris and Taueret, and in Greek Thouéris and Toeris) is the protective ancient Egyptian goddess of childbirth and fertility. The name “Taweret” means “she who is great” or simply “great one”, a common pacificatory address to dangerous deities.

The deity is typically depicted as a bipedal female hippopotamus with feline attributes, pendulous female human breasts, and the back of a Nile crocodile. She commonly bears the epithets “Lady of Heaven”, “Mistress of the Horizon”, “She Who Removes Water”, “Mistress of Pure Water”, and “Lady of the Birth House”.

In the New Kingdom Taweret’s image was frequently used to represent a northern constellation in zodiacs. This image is attested in several astronomical tomb paintings, including the Theban tombs of Tharwas (tomb 353), Hatshepsut’s famed advisor Senenmut (tomb 232), and the pharaoh Seti I (KV17) in the Valley of the Kings.

The image of this astral Taweret appears almost exclusively next to the Setian foreleg of a bull. The latter image represents the Big Dipper and is associated with the Egyptian god of chaos, Seth (Egyptian: stẖ; also transliterated Setesh, Sutekh, Setekh, or Suty), a god of chaos, the desert, storms, disorder, violence, and foreigners in ancient Egyptian religion.

The relationship between the two images is discussed in the Book of Day and Night (a cosmically focused mythological text from the Twentieth Dynasty, c. 1186–1069 BCE) as follows: “As to this foreleg of Seth, it is in the northern sky, tied down to two mooring posts of flint by a chain of gold. It is entrusted to Isis as a hippopotamus guarding it.”

Although the hippopotamus goddess is identified in this text as Isis, not Taweret, this phenomenon is not uncommon in later periods of Egyptian history. When assuming a protective role, powerful goddesses like Isis, Hathor, and Mut assumed the form of Taweret, effectively becoming a manifestation of this goddess.

Likewise, Taweret gradually absorbed qualities of these goddesses and is commonly seen wearing the Hathoric sun disc that is ichnographically associated with both Hathor and Isis. During the New Kingdom (c. 1550–1070 BCE), as she took on traits that originally belonged to Hathor, the preeminent goddess of earlier times, Isis came to be portrayed wearing Hathor’s headdress: a sun disk between the horns of a cow.

Boötes is a constellation in the northern sky, located between 0° and +60° declination, and 13 and 16 hours of right ascension on the celestial sphere. The name comes from the Greek Boōtēs, meaning “herdsman” or “plowman” (literally, “ox-driver”; from bous “cow”). It contains the fourth-brightest star in the night sky, the orange giant Arcturus.

In ancient Babylon, the stars of Boötes were known as SHU.PA. They were apparently depicted as the god Enlil, who was the leader of the Babylonian pantheon and special patron of farmers. Boötes may have been represented by the foreleg constellation in ancient Egypt. According to this interpretation, the constellation depicts the shape of an animal foreleg.

The name Boötes was first used by Homer in his Odyssey as a celestial reference point for navigation, described as “late-setting” or “slow to set”, translated as the “Plowman”. Exactly whom Boötes is supposed to represent in Greek mythology is not clear. According to one version, he was a son of Demeter, Philomenus, twin brother of Plutus, a plowman who drove the oxen in the constellation Ursa Major.

This is corroborated by the constellation’s name, which itself means “ox-driver” or “herdsman.” The ancient Greeks saw the asterism now called the “Big Dipper” or “Plough” as a cart with oxen. This influenced the name’s etymology, derived from the Greek for “noisy” or “ox-driver”. Another myth associated with Boötes relates that he invented the plow and was memorialized for his ingenuity as a constellation.

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