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The earliest known temple to be decorated with pilasters and recesses

Posted by Fredsvenn on December 22, 2013

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Tepe Gawra,  ancient Mesopotamian settlement east of the Tigris River near Nineveh and the modern city of Mosul, northwestern Iraq. It was excavated from 1931 to 1938 by archaeologists from the University of Pennsylvania.

Excavations at Tepe Gawri revealed 16 levels showing that the Tepe Gawra site was occupied from approximately 5000 BC to 1500 BC. They include the earliest known temple to be decorated with pilasters and recesses. The Gawra Period (3500–2900 BC) is named for the site.

The site, which apparently was continuously occupied from the Halaf Period (c. 5050–c. 4300 bc) to about the middle of the 2nd millennium bc, gave its name to the Gawra Period (c. 3500–c. 2900) of northern Mesopotamia. Prior to the Gawra Period, however, the site seems to have been influenced by the Ubaid culture (c. 5200–c. 3500) of southern Mesopotamia.

The pilaster is an architectural element in classical architecture used to give the appearance of a supporting column and to articulate an extent of wall, with only an ornamental function. In contrast, an engaged column or buttress can support the structure of a wall and roof above.

In discussing Leon Battista Alberti’s use of pilasters, which Alberti reintroduced into wall-architecture, Rudolf Wittkower wrote, “The pilaster is the logical transformation of the column for the decoration of a wall. It may be defined as a flattened column which has lost its three-dimensional and tactile value.”

A pilaster appears with a capital and entablature, also in “low-relief” or flattened against the wall.

Pilasters often appear on the sides of a door frame or window opening on the facade of a building, and are sometimes paired with columns or pillars set directly in front of them at some distance away from the wall, which support a roof structure above, such as a portico. These vertical elements can also be used to support a recessed archivolt around a doorway. The pilaster can be replaced by ornamental brackets supporting the entablature or a balcony over a doorway.

When a pilaster appears at the corner intersection of two walls it is known as a canton.

As with a column, a pilaster can have a plain or fluted surface to its profile and can be represented in the mode of any architectural style. During the Renaissance and Baroque architects used a range of pilaster forms. In the giant order pilasters appear as two-storeys tall, linking floors in a single unit.

The fashion of using this element from Ancient Greek and Roman architecture was adopted in the Italian Renaissance, gained wide popularity with Greek Revival architecture, and continues to be seen in some modern architecture.

Posted in Mesopotamia, Rarities | Leave a Comment »

A webside dedicated to Sumerian history, art and culture

Posted by Fredsvenn on December 21, 2013


A translation of Tablet #36 in the Library of Congress. The world’s first political satire, the first dark comedy and murder mystery. A literary masterpiece that was written by a Sumerian Shakespeare.

A webside dedicated to Sumerian history, art and culture

 

Posted in Mesopotamia, The Fertile Crescent | Leave a Comment »

Enki and the Making of Man

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 25, 2013

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Dagan

Enki

Enki

Enki Created Man – Eden Saga

After six generations of Gods, in the Babylonian “Enuma Elish”, in the seventh generation, (Akkadian “shapattu” or sabath), the younger Igigi Gods, the sons and daughters of Enlil and Ninlil, go on strike and refuse their duties of keeping the creation working. Abzu, God of fresh water, co-creator of the cosmos, threatens to destroy the world with his waters, and the Gods gather in terror.

Enki promises to help and puts Abzu to sleep, confining him in irrigation canals and places him in the Kur, beneath his city of Eridu. But then, with the universe still threatened, Tiamat, with the imprisonment of her husband and consort Abzu and at the prompting of her son and vizier Kingu, decides to take back the creation herself.

The Gods gather again in terror and turn to Enki for help, but Enki who harnessed Abzu, Tiamat’s consort, for irrigation refuses to get involved. The gods then seek help elsewhere, and the patriarchal Enlil, their father, God of Nippur, promises to solve the problem if they make him King of the Gods. In the Babylonian tale, Enlil’s role is taken by Marduk, Enki’s son, and in the Assyrian version it is Asshur.

After dispatching Tiamat with the “arrows of his winds” down her throat (similar in some respects to how Elohim moves his breath (ruach) over the “face of the deep” or “Tehom”, in Genesis 1:2) and reconstructing the heavens with the arch of her ribs (i.e. her “life”), Enlil places her tail in the sky as the Milky Way, and her crying eyes become the source of the Tigris and Euphrates.

But there is still the problem of “who will keep the cosmos working”. Enki, who might have otherwise come to their aid, is lying in a deep sleep and fails to hear their cries. His mother Nammu (creatrix also of Abzu and Tiamat) “brings the tears of the gods” before Enki and says

Oh my son, arise from thy bed, from thy (slumber), work what is wise,
Fashion servants for the Gods, may they produce their (bread?).

Enki then advises that they create a servant of the Gods, humankind, out of clay and blood. Against Enki’s wish the Gods decide to slay Kingu, and Enki finally consents to use Kingu’s blood to make the first human, with whom Enki always later has a close relationship, the first of the seven sages, seven wise men or “Abgallu” (Ab = water, Gal = great, Lu = Man), also known as Adapa. Enki assembles a team of divinities to help him, creating a host of “good and princely fashioners”. He tells his mother

Oh my mother, the creature whose name thou has uttered, it exists,
Bind upon it the (will?) of the Gods;
Mix the heart of clay that is over the Abyss,
The good and princely fashioners will thicken the clay
Thou, do thou bring the limbs into existence;
Ninmah (the Earth-mother goddess (Ninhursag, his wife and consort) will work above thee
(Nintu?) (goddess of birth) will stand by thy fashioning;
Oh my mother, decree thou its (the new born’s) fate.

Adapa, the first man fashioned, later goes and acts as the advisor to the King of Eridu, when in the Sumerian Kinglist, the “Me” of “kingship descends on Eridu”.

Samuel Noah Kramer, believes that behind this myth of Enki’s confinement of Abzu lies an older one of the struggle between Enki and the Dragon Kur (the underworld).

Enki, later known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology, was originally patron god of the city of Eridu, but later the influence of his cult spread throughout Mesopotamia and to the Canaanites, Hittites and Hurrians.

Enki was the deity of crafts (gašam); mischief; water, seawater, lakewater (a, aba, ab), intelligence (gestú, literally “ear”) and creation (Nudimmud: nu, likeness, dim mud, make beer). He was associated with the southern band of constellations called stars of Ea, but also with the constellation AŠ-IKU, the Field (Square of Pegasus).

Beginning around the second millennium BCE, he was sometimes referred to in writing by the numeric ideogram for “40,” occasionally referred to as his “sacred number.” The planet Mercury, associated with Babylonian Nabu (the son of Marduk) was in Sumerian times, identified with Enki.

A large number of myths about Enki have been collected from many sites, stretching from Southern Iraq to the Levantine coast. He figures in the earliest extant cuneiform inscriptions throughout the region and was prominent from the third millennium down to Hellenistic times.

The exact meaning of his name is uncertain: the common translation is “Lord of the Earth”: the Sumerian en is translated as a title equivalent to “lord”; it was originally a title given to the High Priest; ki means “earth”; but there are theories that ki in this name has another origin, possibly kig of unknown meaning, or kur meaning “mound”. In Sumerian E-A means “the house of water”, and it has been suggested that this was originally the name for the shrine to the god at Eridu.

Enki was considered a god of life and replenishment, and was often depicted with two streams of water emanating from his shoulders, one the Tigris, the other the Euphrates. Alongside him were trees symbolising the female and male aspects of nature, each holding the female and male aspects of the ‘Life Essence’, which he, as apparent alchemist of the gods, would masterfully mix to create several beings that would live upon the face of the earth.

The main temple to Enki is called E-abzu, meaning “abzu temple” (also E-en-gur-a, meaning “house of the subterranean waters””), a ziggurat temple surrounded by Euphratean marshlands near the ancient Persian Gulf coastline at Eridu. He was the keeper of the divine powers called Me, the gifts of civilization. His image is a double-helix snake, or the Caduceus, very similar to the Rod of Asclepius used to symbolize medicine. He is often shown with the horned crown of divinity dressed in the skin of a carp.

Considered the master shaper of the world, god of wisdom and of all magic, Enki was characterized as the lord of the Abzu (Apsu in Akkadian), the freshwater sea or groundwater located within the earth. In the later Babylonian epic Enûma Eliš, Abzu, the “begetter of the gods”, is inert and sleepy but finds his peace disturbed by the younger gods, so sets out to destroy them. His grandson Enki, chosen to represent the younger gods, puts a spell on Abzu “casting him into a deep sleep”, thereby confining him deep underground. Enki subsequently sets up his home “in the depths of the Abzu.” Enki thus takes on all of the functions of the Abzu, including his fertilising powers as lord of the waters and lord of semen.

Early royal inscriptions from the third millennium BCE mention “the reeds of Enki”. Reeds were an important local building material, used for baskets and containers, and collected outside the city walls, where the dead or sick were often carried. This links Enki to the Kur or underworld of Sumerian mythology. In another even older tradition, Nammu, the goddess of the primeval creative matter and the mother-goddess portrayed as having “given birth to the great gods,” was the mother of Enki, and as the watery creative force, was said to preexist Ea-Enki.

Benito states “With Enki it is an interesting change of gender symbolism, the fertilising agent is also water, Sumerian “a” or “Ab” which also means “semen”. In one evocative passage in a Sumerian hymn, Enki stands at the empty riverbeds and fills them with his ‘water'”. This may be a reference to Enki’s hieros gamos or sacred marriage with Ki/Ninhursag (the Earth) (see below).

His symbols included a goat and a fish, which later combined into a single beast, the goat Capricorn, recognised as the Zodiacal constellation Capricornus. He was accompanied by an attendant Isimud. He was also associated with the planet Mercury in the Sumerian astrological system.

Adapa, the first of the Mesopotamian seven sages, was a mythical figure who unknowingly refused the gift of immortality. He was a mortal man from a godly lineage, a son of Ea (Enki in Sumerian), the god of wisdom and of the ancient city of Eridu, who brought the arts of civilization to that city (from Dilmun, according to some versions).

Adapa broke the wings of Ninlil the South Wind, who had overturned his fishing boat, and was called to account before Anu. Ea, his patron god, warned him to apologize humbly for his actions, but not to partake of food or drink while he was in heaven, as it would be the food of death. Anu, impressed by Adapa’s sincerity, offered instead the food of immortality, but Adapa heeded Ea’s advice, refused, and thus missed the chance for immortality that would have been his.

The story is first attested in the Kassite period (14th century BCE), in fragmentary tablets from Tell el-Amarna, and from Assur, of the late second millennium BCE.

Adapa is often identified as advisor to the mythical first (antediluvian) king of Eridu, Alulim. In addition to his advisory duties, he served as a priest and exorcist, and upon his death took his place among the Seven Sages or Apkallū, sage.

The word Abgallu comes from Sumerian AB.GAL.LU (Ab=water, Gal=Great, Lu=Man), a reference to Adapa, the first sage’s association with water. The word survived into Nabatean times, around the time of Christ, as apkallum, used to describe the profession of a certain kind of priest.

Mesopotamian myth tells of seven antediluvian sages, who were sent by Ea, the wise god of Eridu, to bring the arts of civilisation to humankind. The first of these, Adapa, also known as Uan, the name given as Oannes by Berossus, introduced the practice of the correct rites of religious observance as priest of the E’Apsu temple, at Eridu.

The sages are described in Mesopotamian literature as ‘pure parādu-fish, probably carp, whose bones are found associated with the earliest shrine, and still kept as a holy duty in the precincts of Near Eastern mosques and monasteries. Adapa as a fisherman was iconographically portrayed as a fish-man composite.

Vague parallels can be drawn to the story of Genesis, where Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden of Eden by Yahweh, after they ate from the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thus gaining death. Parallels are also apparent (to an even greater degree) with the story of Persephone visiting Hades, who was warned to take nothing from that kingdom.

Oannes (Hovhannes in Armenian) was the name given by the Babylonian writer Berossus in the 3rd century BCE to a mythical being who taught mankind wisdom. Berossus describes Oannes as having the body of a fish but underneath the figure of a man. He is described as dwelling in the Persian Gulf, and rising out of the waters in the daytime and furnishing mankind instruction in writing, the arts and the various sciences.

The name “Oannes” was once conjectured to be derived from that of the ancient Babylonian god Ea, but it is now known that the name is the Greek form of the Babylonian Uanna (or Uan) a name used for Adapa in texts from the Library of Ashurbanipal. The Assyrian texts attempt to connect the word to the Akkadian for a craftsman ummanu but this is merely a pun.

In Mesopotamian Religion (Sumerian, Assyrian, Akkadian and Babylonian), Tiamat is a chaos monster, a primordial goddess of the ocean, mating with Abzû (the god of fresh water) to produce younger gods.

It is suggested that there are two parts to the Tiamat mythos, the first in which Tiamat is ‘creatrix’, through a “Sacred marriage” between salt and fresh water, peacefully creating the cosmos through successive generations. In the second “Chaoskampf” Tiamat is considered the monstrous embodiment of primordial chaos.

Although there are no early precedents for it, some sources identify her with images of a sea serpent or dragon. In the Enûma Elish, the Babylonian epic of creation, she gives birth to the first generation of deities; she later makes war upon them and is killed by the storm-god Marduk. The heavens and the earth are formed from her divided body.

Tiamat was later known as Thalattē (as a variant of thalassa, the Greek word for “sea”) in the Hellenistic Babylonian Berossus’ first volume of universal history. It is thought that the name of Tiamat was dropped in secondary translations of the original religious texts (written in the East Semitic Akkadian language) because some Akkadian copyists of Enûma Elish substituted the ordinary word for “sea” for Tiamat, since the two names had become essentially the same, due to association.

Though Tiamat is often described by modern authors as a sea serpent or dragon, no ancient texts exist in which there is a clear association with those kinds of creatures, and the identification is debated.

The Enûma Elish specifically states that Tiamat did give birth to dragons and serpents, but they are included among a larger and more general list of monsters including scorpion men and merpeople, none of which imply that any of the children resemble the mother or are even limited to aquatic creatures.

In the Enûma Elish her physical description includes a tail, a thigh, “lower parts” (which shake together), a belly, an udder, ribs, a neck, a head, a skull, eyes, nostrils, a mouth, and lips. She has insides (possibly “entrails”), a heart, arteries, and blood.

Posted in Mesopotamia, Religion | Leave a Comment »

The God of Thunder

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 24, 2013

Hattusha Yazilikaya. A relief carving depicting God Teshub and King Tudhaliya IV from the rock cut chambers of Yazilikaya, Hattusha. Tudhaliya IV is believed to be the king who gave the chambers their final shape.

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The Sky God

List of sky deities

The sky has important religious significance. Most polytheistic religions have a deity or deities whose portfolio includes or is even limited to the sky or the heavens. While there are often multiple sky deities, sometimes this position is reserved for a deity who is conceived as reigning over the others, or at least is one of the most powerful.

When the main sky deity was seen as feminine, she often held the title of the “Queen of Heaven.” Ancient sky goddesses who held the title “Queen of Heaven” included Isis, Astarte, Ishtar, and Inanna. (The title was later applied to the Virgin Mary, along with various other features and attributes of ancient pagan goddesses.)

Another common conception is that of a complementary polarity between Earth and sky that may be ascribed genders as a mated pair. In some religions this takes the form of a Sky father and an Earth mother, while in other religions the mated couple are a sky goddess and an earth god. (For example, Nut and Geb in ancient Egypt.) In still other religions, there is a main pair of deities who rule the sky as husband and wife (for example, Zeus and Hera in ancient Greece), while a different pair of deities (e.g., Hades and Persephone) rule the Earth and/or chthonic realms.

Along similar lines, some scholars of religion hold that Jehovah or Yahweh, the monotheistic deity of the Jewish bible, originally had a wife who was most likely the sky goddess Asherah. In some contemporary religions, the divine pair of sky deities are known as the “Heavenly Father” and the “Heavenly Mother.”

The God of Thunder

List of thunder gods

Polytheistic peoples of many cultures have postulated a Thunder God, the personification or source of the forces of thunder and lightning; a lightning god does not have a typical depiction, and will vary based on the culture.

Sumer and the Semitic forms

Enlil 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. The name is perhaps pronounced and sometimes rendered in translations as Ellil in later Akkadian, Hittite, and Canaanite literature. In later Akkadian, Enlil is the son of Anshar and Kishar.

Enlil (EN = Lord + LÍL = Wind, “Lord (of the) Wind”), along with Anu/An, Enki and Ninhursag were gods of the Sumerians. He was considered to be the god of breath, wind, loft and breadth (height and distance). He was also the God of weather.

According to the Sumerians, Enlil helped create the humans, but then got tired of their noise and tried to kill them by sending a flood. A mortal known as Utnapishtim survived the flood through the help of another god, Ea, and he was made immortal by Enlil after Enlil’s initial fury had subsided.

Enlil was known as the inventor of the mattock (a key agricultural pick, hoe, ax or digging tool of the Sumerians) and helped plants to grow.

Enlil is associated with the ancient city of Nippur, sometimes referred to as the cult city of Enlil. His temple was named Ekur, “House of the Mountain.”

In one myth, Enlil gives advice to his son, the god Ninurta, advising him on a strategy to slay the demon Asag. This advice is relayed to Ninurta by way of Sharur, his enchanted talking mace, which had been sent by Ninurta to the realm of the gods to seek counsel from Enlil directly.

One story names his origins as the exhausted breath of An (god of the heavens) and Ki (goddess of the Earth) after sexual union. He is the father of Nisaba the goddess of grain, of Pabilsag who is sometimes equated with Ninurta, and sometimes of Enbilulu. By Ereshkigal Enlil was father of Namtar, considered responsible for diseases and pests.

The myth of Enlil and Ninlil («lady of the open field” or “Lady of the Wind”), also called Sud, in Assyrian called Mulliltu, discusses when Enlil was a young god, he was banished from Dilmun, home of the gods, to Kur, the underworld for raping a goddess named Ninlil.

Ninlil followed him to the underworld where she bore his first child, and of Ninurta, also called Ninurta and Ningirsu, and/or the moon god Nanna/Suen (in Akkadian, Sin). After fathering three more underworld-deities (substitutes for Sin), Enlil was allowed to return to Dilmun.

In Sumerian religion, Ninlil is the consort goddess of Enlil. Her parentage is variously described. Most commonly she is called the daughter of Haia (god of stores) and Nunbarsegunu (or Ninshebargunnu [a goddess of barley] or Nisaba).

Another source says she is the daughter of Anu (aka An) and Antu. Other sources call her a daughter of Anu and Nammu. Theophilus G. Pinches noted that Nnlil or Belit Ilani had seven different names (such as Nintud, Ninhursag, Ninmah, etc.) for seven different localities.

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.

Ishkur in Sumerian, Adad in Akkadian, and Hadad in Aramaic are the names of the storm-god in the Babylonian-Assyrian pantheon.

Ishkur, in Mesopotamian religion, Sumerian god of the rain and thunderstorms of spring. He was the city god of Bit Khakhuru (perhaps to be identified with modern Al-Jidr) in the central steppe region.

Ishkur closely resembled Ninhar (Ningubla) and as such was visualized in the form of a great bull. He was the son of Nanna, the moon god. When portrayed in human shape, he often holds his symbol, the lightning fork. Ishkur’s wife was the goddess Shala. In his role as god of rain and thunder, Ishkur corresponded to the Sumerian deities Asalluhe and Ninurta.

Ninurta (Nin Ur: God of War) in Sumerian and the Akkadian mythology of Assyria and Babylonia, was the god of Lagash. The cult of Ninurta can be traced back to the oldest period of Sumerian history. He is identified with Ningirsu with whom he may always have been identified. In older transliteration the name is rendered Ninib and Ninip, and in early commentary he was sometimes portrayed as a solar deity.

In the inscriptions found at Lagash, an ancient city located northwest of the junction of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers and east of Uruk, about 22 kilometres (14 mi) east of the modern town of Ash Shatrah, Iraq, he appears under his name Ningirsu, “the lord of Girsu”, Girsu being the name of a city where he was considered the patron deity.

Lagash was one of the oldest cities of the Ancient Near East. The ancient site of Surghul/Nina is around 6 miles (9.7 km) away. Nearby Girsu, about 25 km (16 mi) northwest of Al-Hiba, was the religious center of the Lagash state. Lagash’s temple was E-Ninnu, dedicated to the god Ningirsu.

From inscriptions found at Girsu such as the Gudea cylinders, it appears that Lagash was an important Sumerian city in the late 3rd millennium BC. It was at that time ruled by independent kings, Ur-Nanshe (24th century BC) and his successors, who were engaged in contests with the Elamites on the east and the kings of “Kienĝir” and Kish on the north.

Some of the earlier works from before the Akkadian conquest are also extremely interesting, in particular Eannatum’s Stele of the Vultures and Entemena’s great silver vase ornamented with Ningirsu’s sacred animal Anzu: a lion-headed eagle with wings outspread, grasping a lion in each talon.

With the Akkadian conquest Lagash lost its independence, its ruler or ensi becoming a vassal of Sargon of Akkad and his successors; but Lagash continued to be a city of much importance and above all, a centre of artistic development.

In Nippur, Ninurta was worshiped as part of a triad of deities including his father, Enlil and his mother, Ninlil. In variant mythology, his mother is said to be the harvest goddess Ninhursag. The consort of Ninurta was Ugallu in Nippur and Bau when he was called Ningirsu.

Nippur (Sumerian: Nibru, Akkadian: Nibbur), also known as “Enlil City» was one of the most ancient of all the Sumerian cities. It was the special seat of the worship of the Sumerian god Enlil, the “Lord Wind,” ruler of the cosmos subject to An alone. Nippur was located in modern Nuffar in Afak, Al-Qādisiyyah Governorate, Iraq.

Ninurta often appears holding a bow and arrow, a sickle sword, or a mace named Sharur: Sharur is capable of speech in the Sumerian legend “Deeds and Exploits of Ninurta” and can take the form of a winged lion and may represent an archetype for the later Shedu.

In another legend, Ninurta battles a birdlike monster called Imdugud (Akkadian: Anzû); a Babylonian version relates how the monster Anzû steals the Tablets of Destiny from Enlil. The Tablets of Destiny were believed to contain the details of fate and the future.

In the late neo-Babylonian and early Persian period, syncretism seems to have fused Ninurta’s character with that of Nergal, with the main seat of his cult at Cuthah represented by the mound of Tell-Ibrahim. The two gods were often invoked together, and spoken of as if they were one divinity.

Nergal, born by Enlil and Ninlil, “lady of the open field” or “Lady of the Wind”, also called Sud, actually seems to be in part a solar deity, sometimes identified with Shamash, but only a 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.

Standard iconography pictured Nergal as a lion, and boundary-stone monuments symbolise him with a mace surmounted by the head of a lion.

The Akkadian god Adad is cognate in name and functions with northwest Semitic god Hadad. In Akkadian, Adad is also known as Ramman (“Thunderer”) cognate with Aramaic Rimmon which was a byname of the Aramaic Hadad. Ramman was formerly incorrectly taken by many scholars to be an independent Babylonian god later identified with the Amorite god Hadad.

The Sumerian Ishkur appears in the list of gods found at Fara but was of far less importance than the Akkadian Adad later became, probably partly because storms and rain are scarce in southern Babylonia and agriculture there depends on irrigation instead. Also, the gods Enlil and Ninurta also had storm god features which decreased Ishkur’s distinctiveness. He sometimes appears as the assistant or companion of one or the other of the two.

When Enki distributed the destinies, he made Ishkur inspector of the cosmos. In one litany Ishkur is proclaimed again and again as “great radiant bull, your name is heaven” and also called son of An, lord of Karkara; twin-brother of Enki, lord of abundance, lord who rides the storm, lion of heaven.

In other texts Adad/Ishkur is sometimes son of the moon god Nanna/Sin by Ningal and brother of Utu/Shamash and Inana/Ishtar. He is also occasionally son of Enlil.

Adad/Ishkur’s consort (both in early Sumerian and later Assyrian texts) was Shala, a goddess of grain, who is also sometimes associated with the god Dagan. She was also called Gubarra in the earliest texts. The fire god Gibil (named Gerra in Akkadian) is sometimes the son of Ishkur and Shala.

Adad/Ishkur presents two aspects in the hymns, incantations, and votive inscriptions. On the one hand he is the god who, through bringing on the rain in due season, causes the land to become fertile, and, on the other hand, the storms that he sends out bring havoc and destruction.

He is pictured on monuments and cylinder seals (sometimes with a horned helmet) with the lightning and the thunderbolt (sometimes in the form of a spear), and in the hymns the sombre aspects of the god on the whole predominate.

His association with the sun-god, Shamash, due to the natural combination of the two deities who alternate in the control of nature, leads to imbuing him with some of the traits belonging to a solar deity.

Shamash and Adad became in combination the gods of oracles and of divination in general. Whether the will of the gods is determined through the inspection of the liver of the sacrificial animal, through observing the action of oil bubbles in a basin of water or through the observation of the movements of the heavenly bodies, it is Shamash and Adad who, in the ritual connected with divination, are invariably invoked.

Similarly in the annals and votive inscriptions of the kings, when oracles are referred to, Shamash and Adad are always named as the gods addressed, and their ordinary designation in such instances is bele biri (“lords of divination”).

Adad/Ishkur’s special animal is the bull. He is naturally identified with the Anatolian storm-god Teshub. Occasionally Adad/Ishkur is identified with the god Amurru, the god of the Amorites.

Hadad, also known as Haddu, is a Northwest Semitic storm and rain god, cognate in name and origin with the earlier attested East Semitic Akkadian (Assyrian-Babylonian) god Adad. Hadad was also called “Pidar”, “Rapiu”, “Baal-Zephon”, or often simply Baʿal (Lord), but this title was also used for other gods.

The bull was the symbolic animal of Hadad. He appeared bearded, often holding a club and thunderbolt while wearing a bull-horned headdress. Hadad was equated with the Anatolian storm-god Teshub; the Egyptian god Set; the Greek god Zeus; and the Roman god Jupiter, as Jupiter Dolichenus.

In religious texts, Ba‘al/Hadad is the lord of the sky who governs the rain and thus the germination of plants with the power of his desire that they be fertile. He is the protector of life and growth to the agricultural people of the region. The absence of Ba‘al causes dry spells, starvation, death, and chaos.

Amurru and Martu are names given in Akkadian and Sumerian texts to the god of the Amorite/Amurru people, often forming part of personal names. He is sometimes called Ilu Amurru (MAR.TU). He was the patron god of the Mesopotamian city of Ninab, whose exact location is unknown.

Amurru/Martu was probably a western Semitic god originally. He is sometimes described as a ‘shepherd’ or as a storm god, and as a son of the sky-god Anu. He is sometimes called bêlu šadī or bêl šadê, ‘lord of the mountain’; dúr-hur-sag-gá sikil-a-ke, ‘He who dwells on the pure mountain’; and kur-za-gan ti-[la], ‘who inhabits the shining mountain’. In Cappadocian Zinčirli inscriptions he is called ì-li a-bi-a, ‘the god of my father’.

Accordingly, it has been suggested by L. R. Bailey (1968) and Jean Ouelette (1969), 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 have been 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 ramān ‘thunderer’, and he is even called bāriqu ‘hurler of the thunderbolt’ and Adad ša a-bu-be ‘Adad of the deluge’. 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 sometimes the goddess Ašratum (see Asherah) who in northwest Semitic tradition and Hittite tradition appears as wife of the god Ēl which suggests that Amurru may indeed have been a variation of that god. If Amurru was identical with Ēl, it would explain why so few Amorite names are compounded with the name Amurru, but so many are compounded with Il; that is, with Ēl.

Another tradition about Amurru’s wife (or one of Amurru’s wives) gives her name as Belit-Sheri, ‘Lady of the Desert’.

A third tradition appears in a Sumerian poem in pastoral style, which relates how the god Martu came to marry Adg̃ar-kidug the daughter of the god Numushda of the city of Inab. It contains a speech expressing urbanite Sumerian disgust at uncivilized, nomadic Amurru life which Adg̃ar-kidug ignores, responding only: “I will marry Martu!”.

Egypt

Set, or Seth, is a god of the desert, storms, disorder, violence and foreigners in ancient Egyptian religion. Set is not however a god to be ignored or avoided, he has a positive role where he is employed by Ra on his solar boat to repel the serpent of Chaos Apep. Set had a vital role as a reconciled combatant. He was lord of the red (desert) land where he was the balance to Horus’ role as lord of the black (soil) land.

In Egyptian mythology, Set is portrayed as the usurper who killed and mutilated his own brother Osiris. Osiris’ wife Isis reassembled Osiris’ corpse and resurrected him long enough to conceive his son and heir Horus. Horus sought revenge upon Set, and the myths describe their conflicts. The death of Osiris and the battle between Horus and Set is a popular theme in Egyptian mythology.

In art, Set is mostly depicted as a fabulous creature, referred to by Egyptologists as the Set animal or Typhonic beast. The earliest representations of what may be the Set animal comes from a tomb dating to the Naqada I phase of the Predynastic Period (3790 BC–3500 BC), though this identification is uncertain. If these are ruled out, then the earliest Set-animal appears on a mace head of the King Scorpion, a protodynastic ruler. The head and the forked tail of the Set animal are clearly present.

Set was depicted standing on the prow of Ra’s night barque spearing Apep in the form of a serpent, turtle, or other dangerous water animals. In some Late Period representations, such as in the Persian Period temple at Hibis in the Khargah Oasis, Set was represented in this role with a falcon’s head, taking on the guise of Horus. In the Amduat

Set is described as having a key role in overcoming Apep, an evil god in ancient Egyptian religion depicted as a snake/serpent and a dragon, the deification of darkness and chaos, and thus opponent of light and Ma’at (order/truth), whose existence was believed from the 8th Dynasty (mentioned at Moalla) onwards.

During the Second Intermediate Period, a group of Asiatic foreign chiefs known as the Hyksos (literally, “rulers of foreign lands”) gained the rulership of Egypt, and ruled the Nile Delta, from Avaris. They chose Set, originally Upper Egypt’s chief god, the god of foreigners and the god they found most similar to their own chief god, as their patron, and then Set became worshiped as the chief god once again.

The power of Seth’s cult in the mighty (yet outlying) city of Avaris from the Second Intermediate Period through the Ramesside Period cannot be denied. There he reigned supreme as a deity both at odds and in league with threatening foreign powers, and in this case, his chief consort-goddesses were the Phoenicians Anat and Astarte, with Nephthys merely one of the harem.

Set also became associated with foreign gods during the New Kingdom, particularly in the Delta. Set was also identified by the Egyptians with the Hittite deity Teshub, who was a storm god like Set.

Herman te Velde dates the demonization of Set to after Egypt’s conquest by several foreign nations in the Third Intermediate and Late Periods. Set, who had traditionally been the god of foreigners, thus also became associated with foreign oppressors, including the Assyrian and Persian empires.

It was during the time that Set was particularly vilified, and his defeat by Horus widely celebrated. Nevertheless, throughout this period, in some outlying regions of Egypt Set was still regarded as the heroic chief deity.

Set’s negative aspects were emphasized during this period. Set was the killer of Osiris, having hacked Osiris’ body into pieces and dispersed it so that he could not be resurrected. The Greeks later linked Set with Typhon because both were evil forces, storm deities, and sons of the Earth that attacked the main gods.

Armenian

Teshub (also written Teshup or Tešup) was the Hurrian god of sky and storm. His Hittite and Luwian name was Tarhun (with variant stem forms Tarhunt, Tarhuwant, Tarhunta), although this name is from the Hittite root *tarh- “to defeat, conquer”.

Teshub is depicted holding a triple thunderbolt and a weapon, usually an axe (often double-headed) or mace. The sacred bull common throughout Anatolia was his signature animal, represented by his horned crown or by his steeds Seri and Hurri, who drew his chariot or carried him on their backs.

In the Hurrian myth of Teshub’s origin he was conceived when the god Kumarbi bit off and swallowed his father Anu’s genitals, as such it most likely shares a Proto-Indo-European cognate with the Greek story of Uranus, Cronus, and Zeus, which is recounted in Hesiod’s Theogony. Teshub’s brothers are Tigris (personification of the river), Ullikummi (stone giant) and Tashmishu.

In the Hurrian schema, Teshub was paired with Hebat the mother goddess; in the Hittite, with the sun goddess Arinniti of Arinna – a cultus of great antiquity which has similarities with the venerated bulls and mothers at Çatalhöyük in the Neolithic era. His son was called Sarruma, the mountain god.

Ḫaldi (also known as Khaldi or Hayk) was one of the three chief deities of Ararat (Urartu). He is portrayed as a man with or without a beard, standing on a lion. His shrine was at Ardini. His wife was the goddess Arubani, the Urartian’s goddess of fertility and art.

Theispas (also known as Teisheba or Teišeba) of Kumenu was the Araratian (Urartian) weather-god, notably the god of storms and thunder. He was also sometimes the god of war. His shrine was at Kumenu. He was often depicted as a man standing on a bull, holding a handful of thunderbolts. His wife was the goddess Huba, who was the counterpart of the Hurrian goddess Hebat. He is a counterpart to the Assyrian god Adad, and the Hurrian god, Teshub.

Shivini or Artinis (the present form of the name is Artin, meaning “sun rising” or to “awake”, and it persists in Armenian names to this day) was a solar god in the mythology of the Urartu. His shrine was at Tushpa. He is the third god in a triad with Khaldi and Theispas and is cognate with the triad in Hinduism called Shivam. The Assyrian god Shamash is a counterpart to Shivini.

Indo-European

In Indo-European cultures, the Thunder God is frequently known as the chief or king of the gods, e.g. Indra in Hinduism, Zeus in Greek mythology, and Perun in ancient Slavic religion; or a close relation thereof, e.g. Thor, son of Odin, in Norse mythology.

In Greek mythology, The Elysian Fields, or the Elysian Plains, the final resting places of the souls of the heroic and the virtuous, evolved from a designation of a place or person struck by lightning, enelysion, enelysios. This could be a reference to Zeus, the god of lightning/Jupiter, so “lightning-struck” could be saying that the person was blessed (struck) by Zeus (/lightning/fortune).

Egyptologist Jan Assmann has also suggested that Greek Elysion may have instead been derived from the Egyptian term ialu (older iaru), meaning “reeds,” with specific reference to the “Reed fields” (Egyptian: sekhet iaru / ialu), a paradisiacal land of plenty where the dead hoped to spend eternity.

In Celtic mythology Taranis was the god of thunder worshipped essentially in Gaul, Britain and Ireland, but also in the Rhineland and Danube regions, amongst others. Taranis, along with Esus and Toutatis as part of a sacred triad, was mentioned by the Roman poet Lucan in his epic poem Pharsalia as a Celtic deity to whom human sacrificial offerings were made. Taranis was associated, as was the cyclops Brontes (“thunder”) in Greek mythology, with the wheel.

Many representations of a bearded god with a thunderbolt in one hand and a wheel in the other have been recovered from Gaul, where this deity apparently came to be syncretised with Jupiter.

The name as recorded by Lucan is unattested epigraphically, but variants of the name include the forms Tanarus, Taranucno-, Taranuo-, and Taraino-. The name is continued in Irish as Tuireann, and is likely connected with those of Germanic (Norse Thor, Anglo-Saxon Þunor, German Donar) and Sami (Horagalles) gods of thunder.

Taranis is likely associated with the Gallic Ambisagrus (likely from Proto-Celtic *ambi-sagros = “about-strength”), and in the interpretatio romana with Jupiter, in ancient Roman religion and myth, Jupiter (Latin: Iuppiter) or Jove is the king of the gods and the god of sky and thunder.

Jupiter was the chief deity of Roman state religion throughout the Republican and Imperial eras, until Christianity became the dominant religion of the Empire. In Roman mythology, he negotiates with Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome, to establish principles of Roman religion such as sacrifice.

The reconstructed Proto-Celtic form of the name is *Toranos “thunder”. In present day Welsh taranu and taran means ‘to thunder’ and ‘thunder’ (taraniñ and taran in Breton), and in present day Irish Tarann means ‘thunder’. This may also be connected to the Ancient Greek “ουρανός” (“ouranos”, meaning “sky”), and “του ουρανού” (“touranou” or “touranos”, meaning “of the sky” or “from the sky”, possibly indicating the origin of thunder (also see Ogmios).

Taranis, as a personification of thunder, is often identified with similar deities found in other Indo-European pantheons. Of these, Old Norse Þórr, Anglo-Saxon Þunor, Old High German Donar—all from Proto-Germanic *þunraz or *þonar-oz—and the Hittite theonym Tarhun (see Teshub) contain a comparable *torun- element. The Thracian deity names Zbel-thurdos, Zbel-Thiurdos also contain this element (Thracian thurd(a), “push, crash down”). The name of the Sami thunder god Horagalles derives from Thor’s.

Votive wheels called Rouelles, thought to correspond to the cult of Taranis. Thousands of such wheels have been found in sanctuaries in Belgic Gaul, dating from 50 BC to 50 AD. Musée d’Archéologie Nationale.

The wheel, more specifically the chariot wheel with six or eight spokes, was an important symbol in historical Celtic polytheism, apparently associated with a specific god, known as the wheel-god, identified as the sky- sun- or thunder-god, whose name is attested as Taranis by Lucan. Numerous Celtic coins also depict such a wheel. It is thought to correspond to a sun-cult practiced in Bronze Age Europe, the wheel representing the sun. The half-wheel shown in the Gundestrup “”broken wheel” panel also has eight visible spokes.

Symbolic votive wheels were offered at shrines (such as in Alesia), cast in rivers (such as the Seine), buried in tombs or worn as amulets since the Middle Bronze Age. Such “wheel pendants” from the Bronze Age usually had four spokes, and are commonly identified as solar symbols or “sun cross”. Artefacts parallel to the Celtic votive wheels or wheel-pendants are the so-called Zierscheiben in a Germanic context. The identification of the Sun with a wheel, or a chariot, has parallels in Germanic, Greek and Vedic mythology.

The so-called sun cross or wheel cross, a cross inside a circle, is frequently found in the symbolism of prehistoric cultures, particularly during the Neolithic to Bronze Age periods. The actual significance of these symbols in the prehistoric period is not known. From their ubiquity and apparent importance, however, the symbols have been adopted in various schools of Neopaganism, esotericism and occultism.

In Norse mythology, Thor (from Old Norse Þórr) is a hammer-wielding god associated with thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength, the protection of mankind, and also hallowing, healing and fertility.

The cognate deity in wider Germanic mythology and paganism was known in Old English as Þunor, in Old High German as Donar, in Old Saxon as thunar, and in Old Frisian as thuner, stemming from a Common Proto-Germanic masculine noun þunraz (meaning “thunder”).

Tendants in a distinctive shape representing the hammer of Thor (known in Norse sources as Mjöllnir) have frequently been unearthed in Viking Age Scandinavian burials. The hammers were worn as a symbol of Norse pagan faith.

Casting moulds have been found for the production of both Thor’s hammers and Christian crucifixes, and at least one example of a combined crucifix and hammer has been discovered. The Eyrarland Statue, a copper alloy figure found near Akureyri, Iceland dating from around the 11th century, may depict Thor seated and gripping his hammer.

The swastika symbol has been identified as representing the hammer or lightning of Thor. Scholar Hilda Ellis Davidson (1965) comments on the usage of the swastika as a symbol of Thor: The protective sign of the hammer was worn by women, as we know from the fact that it has been found in women’s graves. It seems to have been used by the warrior also, in the form of the swastika. […]

Primarily it appears to have had connections with light and fire, and to have been linked with the sun-wheel. It may have been on account of Thor’s association with lightning that this sign was used as an alternative to the hammer, for it is found on memorial stones in Scandinavia besides inscriptions to Thor. When we find it on the pommel of a warrior’s sword and on his sword-belt, the assumption is that the warrior was placing himself under the Thunder God’s protection.

Swastikas appear on various Germanic objects stretching from the Migration Period to the Viking Age, such as the 3rd century Værløse Fibula (DR EM85;123) from Zealand, Denmark; the Gothic spearhead from Brest-Litovsk, Belarus; numerous Migration Period bracteates; cremation urns from early Anglo-Saxon England; the 8th century Sæbø sword from Sogn, Norway; and the 9th century Snoldelev Stone (DR 248) from Ramsø, Denmark.

Sun cross

Sun Chariot (horse)

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The Sun God

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 24, 2013

Solar deity

List of solar deities

Winged sun

Solar calendar

Solar symbol

Lunar deity

A solar deity (also sun god/dess) is a sky deity who represents the Sun, or an aspect of it, usually by its perceived power and strength. Solar deities and sun worship can be found throughout most of recorded history in various forms. Hence, many beliefs have formed around this worship, such as the “missing sun” found in many cultures.

A “solar barge” (also “solar bark”, “solar barque”, “solar boat” and “sun boat”) is a mythological representation of the sun riding in a boat. The “Khufu ship”, a 43.6-meter-long vessel that was sealed into a pit in the Giza pyramid complex at the foot of the Great Pyramid of Giza around 2500 BC, is a full-size surviving example which may have fulfilled the symbolic function of a solar barque. This boat was rediscovered in May 1954 when archeologist Kamal el-Mallakh and inspector Zaki Nur found two ditches sealed off by about 40 blocks weighing 17 to 20 tonnes each. This boat was disassembled into 1,224 pieces and took over 10 years to reassemble. A nearby museum was built to house this boat.

Other sun boats were found in Egypt dating to different pharonic dynasties.

Examples include:

  • Neolithic petroglyphs which (it has been speculated) show solar barges
  • The many early Egyptian goddesses who are related as sun deities and the later gods Ra and Horus depicted as riding in a solar barge. In Egyptian myths of the afterlife, Ra rides in an underground channel from west to east every night so that he can rise in the east the next morning.
  • The Nebra sky disk, which is thought to show a depiction of a solar barge.
  • Nordic Bronze Age petroglyphs, including those found in Tanumshede often contains barges and sun crosses in different constellations.

A “sun chariot” is a mythological representation of the sun riding in a chariot. The concept is younger than that of the solar barge, and typically Indo-European, corresponding with the Indo-European expansion after the invention of the chariot in the 2nd millennium BC.

Examples include:

  • In Norse mythology, the chariot of the goddess Sól, drawn by Arvak and Alsvid. The Trundholm sun chariot dates to the Nordic Bronze Age, more than 2,500 years earlier than the Norse myth, but is often associated with it.
  • Greek Helios riding in a chariot, (see also Phaëton)
  • Sol Invictus depicted riding a quadriga on the reverse of a Roman coin.
  • Vedic Surya riding in a chariot drawn by seven horses

The sun itself also was compared to a wheel, possibly in Proto-Indo-European, Greek hēliou kuklos, Sanskrit suryasya cakram, Anglo-Saxon sunnan hweogul (PIE *swelyosyo kukwelos).

The Neolithic concept of a solar barge, the sun as traversing the sky in a boat, is found in the later myths of Utu (Akkadian rendition of Sumerian UD “Sun”), the Sun god in Sumerian mythology, and the god of the sun, justice, application of law, and the lord of truth

Utu is the son of the moon god Nanna, or Sin (Akkadian: Su’en, Sîn), and the goddess Ningal. His brother and sisters are Ishkur and the twins Inanna and Ereshkigal. Marduk is spelled AMAR.UTU in Sumerian, literally, “the calf of Utu” or “the young bull of the Sun”. In the perfected system of astrology, the planet Jupiter was associated with Marduk by the Hammurabi period.

Nanna was the god of the moon in the Mesopotamian mythology of Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia. Nanna is a Sumerian deity, the son of Enlil and Ninlil, and became identified with the Semitic moon god Su’en/Sin, who is in origin a separate deity from Sumerian Nanna, but became syncronized with Nanna from the time of the Akkadian Empire and are identified as the same.

Nanna’s wife was Ningal (“Great Lady”), who bore him Utu/Shamash (“Sun”) and Inanna/Ishtar (the goddess of the planet Venus). The tendency to centralize the powers of the universe leads to the establishment of the doctrine of a triad consisting of Sin/Nanna and his children.

The original meaning of the name Nanna is unknown. The name of Ur, is itself derived from the theonym, and means “the abode (UNUG) of Nanna. The two chief seats of Nanna’s/Sin’s worship were Ur in the south of Mesopotamia and Harran in the north.

Utu is usually depicted as wearing a horned helmet and carrying a saw-edged weapon not unlike a pruning saw. It is thought that every day, Utu emerges from a mountain in the east, symbolizing dawn, and travels either via chariot or boat across the Earth, returning to a hole in a mountain in the west, symbolizing sunset. Every night, Utu descends into the underworld to decide the fate of the dead. He is also depicted as carrying a mace, and standing with one foot on a mountain. Its symbol is “sun rays from the shoulders, and or sun disk or a saw”.

The sun god is only modestly mentioned in Sumerian mythology with one of the notable exceptions being the Epic of Gilgamesh. In the myth, Gilgamesh seeks to establish his name with the assistance of Utu, because of his connection with the cedar mountain. Gilgamesh and his father, Lugalbanda were kings of the first dynasty of Uruk, a lineage that Jeffrey H. Tigay suggested could be traced back to Utu himself. He further suggested that Lugalbanda’s association with the sun-god in the Old Babylonian version of the epic strengthened “the impression that at one point in the history of the tradition the sun-god was also invoked as an ancestor”.

In Sumerian mythology, the utukku were a type of spirit or demon that could be either benevolent or evil. In Akkadian mythology, they were referred to as utukki, were seven evil demons who were the offspring of Anu and Antu.

The evil utukku were called Edimmu or Ekimmu; the good utukku were called shedu. Two of the best known of the evil Utukku were Asag (slain by Ninurta) and Alû.

Assyro-Babylonian Shamash (“Sun”) plays an important role during the Bronze Age, and “my Sun” is eventually used as an address to royalty. Similarly, South American cultures have a tradition of Sun worship, as with the Incan Inti. Svarog is the Slavic god sun and spirit of fire.

Together with Nanna-Sin and Ishtar, Shamash completes another triad by the side of Anu, Enlil and Ea. The three powers Sin, Shamash and Ishtar symbolized three great forces of nature: the moon, the sun, and the life-giving force of the earth, respectively. At times instead of Ishtar we find Adad, the storm-god, associated with Sin and Shamash, and it may be that these two sets of triads represent the doctrines of two different schools of theological thought in Babylonia which were subsequently harmonized by the recognition of a group consisting of all four deities.

Both in early and in late inscriptions Shamash is designated as the “offspring of Nannar”; i.e. of the moon-god, and since, in an enumeration of the pantheon, Sin generally takes precedence of Shamash, it is in relationship, presumably, to the moon-god that the sun-god appears as the dependent power. Such a supposition would accord with the prominence acquired by the moon in the calendar and in astrological calculations, as well as with the fact that the moon-cult belongs to the nomadic and therefore earlier stage of civilization, whereas the sun-god rises to full importance only after the agricultural stage has been reached.

In ancient Egypt, with Ra and Horus. Earlier Egyptian myths imply that the sun is within the lioness, Sekhmet, at night and can be seen reflected in her eyes or that it is within the cow, Hathor during the night, being reborn each morning as her son (bull).

Sun worship was prevalent in ancient Egyptian religion. The earliest deities associated with the sun are all goddesses: Wadjet, Sekhmet, Hathor, Nut, Bast, Bat, and Menhit. First Hathor, and then Isis, give birth to and nurse Horus and Ra. Hathor the horned-cow is one of the 12 daughters of Ra, gifted with joy and is a wet-nurse to Horus.

The Sun’s movement across the sky represents a struggle between the Pharaoh’s soul and an avatar of Osiris. Ra travels across the sky in his solar-boat; at dawn he drives away the demon Apep of darkness. The “solarisation” of several local gods (Hnum-Re, Min-Re, Amon-Re) reaches its peak in the period of the fifth dynasty.

Ra or Re is the ancient Egyptian solar deity. By the Fifth Dynasty (2494 to 2345 BC) he had become a major god in ancient Egyptian religion, identified primarily with the midday sun. The meaning of the name is uncertain, but it is thought that if not a word for ‘sun’ it may be a variant of or linked to words meaning ‘creative power’ and ‘creator’.

The major cult centre of Ra was Heliopolis (called Iunu, “Place of Pillars”, in Egyptian), where he was identified with the local sun-god Atum. Through Atum, or as Atum-Ra, he was also seen as the first being and the originator of the Ennead, consisting of Shu and Tefnut, Geb and Nut, Osiris, Set, Isis and Nephthys.

In later Egyptian dynastic times, Ra was merged with the god Horus, as Re-Horakhty (“Ra, who is Horus of the Two Horizons”). He was believed to rule in all parts of the created world: the sky, the earth, and the underworld. He was associated with the falcon or hawk.

When in the New Kingdom the god Amun rose to prominence he was fused with Ra as Amun-Ra. During the Amarna Period, Akhenaten suppressed the cult of Ra in favour of another solar deity, the Aten, the deified solar disc, but after the death of Akhenaten the cult of Ra was restored.

The cult of the Mnevis bull, an embodiment of Ra, an aspect of the chief god in the region of Heliopolis, Atum-Ra, had its centre in Heliopolis and there was a formal burial ground for the sacrificed bulls north of the city.

All forms of life were believed to have been created by Ra, who called each of them into existence by speaking their secret names. Alternatively humans were created from Ra’s tears and sweat, hence the Egyptians call themselves the “Cattle of Ra.” In the myth of the Celestial Cow it is recounted how mankind plotted against Ra and how he sent his eye as the goddess Sekhmet to punish them. When she became bloodthirsty she was pacified by mixing beer with red dye.

Proto-Indo-European religion has a solar chariot, the sun as traversing the sky in a chariot. In Germanic mythology this is Sol, in Vedic Surya, and in Greek Helios (occasionally referred to as Titan) and (sometimes) as Apollo.

During the Roman Empire, a festival of the birth of the Unconquered Sun (or Dies Natalis Solis Invicti) was celebrated on the winter solstice, the “rebirth” of the sun, which occurred on December 25 of the Julian calendar.

In late antiquity, the theological centrality of the sun in some Imperial religious systems suggest a form of a “solar monotheism.” The religious commemorations on December 25 were replaced under Christian domination of the Empire with the birthday of Christ.

The Ādityas are one of the principal deities of the Vedic classical Hinduism belonging to Solar class. In the Vedas, numerous hymns are dedicated to Mitra, Varuna, Savitr etc.

Even the Gayatri mantra, which is regarded as one of the most sacred of the Vedic hymns is dedicated to Savitr, one of the principal Ādityas. The Adityas are a group of solar deities, from the Brahmana period numbering twelve. The ritual of sandhyavandanam, performed by Hindus, is an elaborate set of hand gestures and body movements, designed to greet and revere the Sun.

The sun god in Hinduism is an ancient and revered deity. In later Hindu usage, all the Vedic Ādityas lost identity and metamorphosed into one composite deity, Surya, the Sun. The attributes of all other Ādityas merged into that of Surya and the names of all other Ādityas became synonymous with, or epithets of, Surya.

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Mythology

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 24, 2013

File:Lammasu.jpg

 Shedu

A lamassu is a protective deity, often depicted with a bull or lion’s body, eagle’s wings, and human’s head. In some writings, it is portrayed to represent a female deity. A less frequently used name is shedu which refers to the male counterpart of a lamassu.

Ninurta

Sharur

Ninurta (Nin Ur: God of War) often appears holding a bow and arrow, a sickle sword, or a mace named Sharur: Sharur is capable of speech in the Sumerian legend “Deeds and Exploits of Ninurta” and can take the form of a winged lion and may represent an archetype for the later Shedu.

Sharur, which means “smasher of thousands”, is the weapon and mythic symbol of the god Ninurta. Sumerian mythic sources describe it as an enchanted talking mace. Sharur plays a prominent role in an incident in which Ninurta is described as using it to defeat Asag, a monstrous demon; Sharur has the power to fly across vast distances without impediment and communicate with its wielder.

It has been suggested that Sharur is a possible precursor for similar objects in other mythology such as Arthurian lore. King Arthur is a legendary British leader of the late 5th and early 6th centuries, who, according to medieval histories and romances, led the defence of Britain against Saxon invaders in the early 6th century.

Imdugud 1

Imdugud 2

Anzû

Date: ca. 2500 B.C.

Description: Monumental relief showing lion-headed eagle Imdugud, grasping hind-quarters of pair of stags standing back-to-back beneath its outstretched wings.

Zu, also known as Anzu and Imdugud, in Sumerian, (from An “heaven” and Zu “to know”, in the Sumerian language) is a lesser divinity of Akkadian mythology, and the son of the bird goddess Siris. He was conceived by the pure waters of the Apsu and the wide Earth.[1] Both Zu and Siris are seen as massive birds who can breathe fire and water, although Zu is alternately seen as a lion-headed eagle (like a griffin).

Anzu was a servant of the chief sky god Enlil, guard of the throne in Enlil’s sanctuary, (possibly previously a symbol of Anu), from whom Anzu stole the Tablet of Destinies, so hoping to determine the fate of all things. In one version of the legend, the gods sent Lugalbanda, a character found in Sumerian mythology and literature, to retrieve the tablets, who in turn, killed Anzu.

Typhon

The Typhon episode in Hesiod’s Theogony (820-880) is as follows: a monstruous creature, previously unheard of, is born from Earth and Tartarus and grows great, threatening Zeus’ power. There is a battle between the two, and Zeus, using his storm weapons, which include the usual thunder and lightning and also tornadoes, overwhelms his opponent and destroys him.

Typhon himself is some sort of stormdemon: although consigned to Tartarus, he is the source of wild, destructive winds. The Typhon episode does not fit very well into the structure of the Succession Myth and should be regarded as a separate, self-contained story drawn from the general area of tradition, and it may be compared with several oriental myths. The myth has many important Mesopotamian, Canaanite and Hurro-Hittite parallels.

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People Of Ancient Assyria

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 20, 2013

AS Assyria merely a more brutal, more uncivilized and less interesting offshoot of the culture created by Sumerians and Babylonians in Southern Mesopotamia at the dawn of history? Do the countless Assyrian reliefs that fill our museums give a complete picture of the phenomenon that was Assyria? Was the contribution of this people to world culture merely an incredibly effective military organization? Is it a true picture of Assyria that the reliefs and annals give us, with their presentation of war chariots, archers, battering-rams surrounding besieged cities, the punishment of prisoners of war, and the triumphal march of the Assyrian army through the realms of the Near East? Have we no evidence of the human element behind this phenomenon? How far may we rely on the Biblical descriptions of the cruelty of the Assyrian armies and the depravity of Assyrian cities? How are we, who can look back on the incredible events of the European wars of religion, on the conduct of Europeans towards the Indians of America, and on man’s recent treatment of his fellow-man, to judge these Assyrians? The rather

answer to many of these questions is to be sought they in the personal documents of the time than in the official inscriptions, in the letters Assyrians wrote to one another rather than in the annals of their rulers. Truth resides more often in the letters from one human being to another: distortion of facts often insinuates itself more easily into public proclamations intended for contemporary or subsequent acceptance. Therefore, in an attempt to rehabilitate the Assyrians and to provide a truer picture on which to base their reputation, their official inscriptions are, with few exceptions, excluded from this book. The basis of presentation here consists of historical sources that must in every respect be regarded as primary, namely the correspondence discovered in excavating the archives of Assyrian kings and governors.

People Of Ancient Assyria by Jorgen Laessoe

Assyrian people

History of the Assyrian people

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The Uruk period

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 12, 2013

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Female statuette, Samarra, 6000 BC

The Samarra bowl, at the Pergamon Museum, Berlin

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Uruk

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Uruk

Uruk

Uruk

Uruk

The 52-metre (170-foot) Malwiya tower in City of Samarra has been Damaged – 2003/4

The tell Halaf and the Ubaid period

The Ubaid period (ca. 6500 to 3800 BC) is a prehistoric period of Mesopotamia. The name derives from the tell (mound) of al-Ubaid west of nearby Ur in southern Iraq’s Dhi Qar Governorate where the earliest large excavation of Ubaid period material was conducted initially by Henry Hall and later by Leonard Woolley.

In South Mesopotamia the period is the earliest known period on the alluvium although it is likely earlier periods exist obscured under the alluvium. In the south it has a very long duration between about 6500 and 3800 BC when it is replaced by the Uruk period.

The Samarra culture (ca 5500–4800 BC), identified at the rich site of Tell Sawwan, where evidence of irrigation – including flax – establishes the presence of a prosperous settled culture with a highly organized social structure, is primarily known for its finely-made pottery decorated against dark-fired backgrounds with stylized figures of animals and birds and geometric designs. This widely-exported type of pottery, one of the first widespread, relatively uniform pottery styles in the Ancient Near East, was first recognized at Samarra.

The Samarran culture was the precursor to the Mesopotamian culture of the Ubaid period. Ubaid 1, sometimes called Eridu (5300–4700 BC), a phase limited to the extreme south of Iraq, on what was then the shores of the Persian Gulf. This phase shows clear connection to the Samarra culture to the north.

The Ubaid 1 phase saw the establishment of the first permanent settlement south of the 5 inch rainfall isohyet. These people pioneered the growing of grains in the extreme conditions of aridity, thanks to the high water tables of Southern Iraq.

In North Mesopotamia the period runs only between about 5300 and 4300 BC. It is preceded by the Halaf period, a prehistoric period which lasted between about 6100 and 5500 BC, and the Halaf-Ubaid Transitional period (ca. 5500/5400 to 5200/5000 BC) and succeeded by the Late Chalcolithic period.

The Halaf culture is a continuous development out of the earlier Pottery Neolithic and is located primarily in south-eastern Turkey, Syria, and northern Iraq, although Halaf-influenced material is found throughout Greater Mesopotamia. The most important site for the Halaf tradition was the site of Tell Arpachiyah, now located in the suburbs of Mosul, Iraq. Dryland farming was practiced by the population. This type of farming was based on exploiting natural rainfall without the help of irrigation.

The best known, most characteristic pottery of Tell Halaf, called Halaf ware, produced by specialist potters, can be painted, sometimes using more than two colors (called polychrome) with geometric and animal motifs. Other types of Halaf pottery are known, including unpainted, cooking ware and ware with burnished surfaces. There are many theories about why the distinctive pottery style developed.

The theory is that the pottery came about due to regional copying and that it was exchanged as a prestige item between local elites is now disputed. The polychrome painted Halaf pottery has been proposed to be a “trade pottery” – pottery produced for export – however, the predominance of locally produced painted pottery in all areas of Halaf sites including potters settlement questions that theory.

Halaf pottery has been found in other parts of northern Mesopotamia, such as at Nineveh and Tepe Gawra, Chagar Bazar and at many sites in Anatolia (Turkey) suggesting that it was widely used in the region. In addition, the Halaf communities made female figurines of partially baked clay and stone and stamp seals of stone. The seals are thought to mark the development of concepts of personal property, as similar seals were used for this purpose in later times. The Halaf people used tools made of stone and clay. Copper was also known, but was not used for tools.

In the Halaf-Ubaid Transitional period, which chronologically lies between the Halaf period and the Ubaid period, there is a gradual change from Halaf style pottery to Ubaid style pottery in North Mesopotamia.

Hassuna or Tell Hassuna is an ancient Mesopotamian site situated in what was to become ancient Assyria, and is now in the Ninawa Governorate of Iraq west of the Tigris river, south of Mosul and about 35 km southwest of the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh.

By around 6000 BC people had moved into the foothills (piedmont) of northernmost Mesopotamia where there was enough rainfall to allow for “dry” agriculture in some places. These were the first farmers in northernmost Mesopotamia. They made Hassuna style pottery (cream slip with reddish paint in linear designs). Hassuna people lived in small villages or hamlets ranging from 2 to 8 acres (32,000 m2).

At Tell Hassuna, adobe dwellings built around open central courts with fine painted pottery replace earlier levels with crude pottery. Hand axes, sickles, grinding stones, bins, baking ovens and numerous bones of domesticated animals reflect settled agricultural life. Female figurines have been related to worship and jar burials within which food was placed related to belief in afterlife. The relationship of Hassuna pottery to that of Jericho suggests that village culture was becoming widespread.

Shulaveri-Shomu culture is a Late Neolithic/Eneolithic culture that existed on the territory of present-day Georgia, Azerbaijan and the Armenian Highlands. The culture is dated to mid-6th or early-5th millennia BC and is thought to be one of the earliest known Neolithic cultures. The Shulaveri-Shomu culture begins after the 8.2 kiloyear event which was a sudden decrease in global temperatures starting ca. 6200 BC and which lasted for about two to four centuries.

Shulaveri culture predates the Kura-Araxes culture and surrounding areas, which is assigned to the period of ca. 4000 – 2200 BC, and had close relation with the middle Bronze Age culture called Trialeti culture (ca. 3000 – 1500 BC). Sioni culture of Eastern Georgia possibly represents a transition from the Shulaveri to the Kura-Arax cultural complex.

In around ca. 6000–4200 B.C the Shulaveri-Shomu and other Neolithic/Chalcolithic cultures of the Southern Caucasus use local obsidian for tools, raise animals such as cattle and pigs, and grow crops, including grapes. Many of the characteristic traits of the Shulaverian material culture (circular mudbrick architecture, pottery decorated by plastic design, anthropomorphic female figurines, obsidian industry with an emphasis on production of long prismatic blades) are believed to have their origin in the Near Eastern Neolithic (Hassuna, Halaf).

The Sumerian city of Eridu, on the coast of the Persian Gulf, was the world’s first city, where three separate cultures fused – that of peasant Ubaidian farmers, living in mud-brick huts and practicing irrigation; that of mobile nomadic Semitic pastoralists living in black tents and following herds of sheep and goats; and that of fisher folk, living in reed huts in the marshlands, who may have been the ancestors of the Sumerians.

Ubaid culture originated in the south, but still has clear connections to earlier cultures in the region of middle Iraq. The appearance of the Ubaid folk has sometimes been linked to the so-called Sumerian problem, related to the origins of Sumerian civilisation.

Whatever the ethnic origins of this group, this culture saw for the first time a clear tripartite social division between intensive subsistence peasant farmers, with crops and animals coming from the north, tent-dwelling nomadic pastoralists dependent upon their herds, and hunter-fisher folk of the Arabian littoral, living in reed huts.

Ubaid culture is characterized by large village settlements, characterized by multi-roomed rectangular mud-brick houses and the appearance of the first temples of public architecture in Mesopotamia, with a growth of a two tier settlement hierarchy of centralized large sites of more than 10 hectares surrounded by smaller village sites of less than 1 hectare. Domestic equipment included a distinctive fine quality buff or greenish colored pottery decorated with geometric designs in brown or black paint; tools such as sickles were often made of hard fired clay in the south. But in the north, stone and sometimes metal were used.

A contextual analysis comparing different regions shows that the Ubaid expansion took place largely through the peaceful spread of an ideology, leading to the formation of numerous new indigenous identities that appropriated and transformed superficial elements of Ubaid material culture into locally distinct expressions.

Stein and Özbal describe the Near East oikumene that resulted from Ubaid expansion, contrasting it to the colonial expansionism of the later Uruk period.

During the Ubaid Period (5000 BC.– 4000 BC), the movement towards urbanization began. “Agriculture and animal husbandry [domestication] were widely practiced in sedentary communities”. There were also tribes that practiced domesticating animals as far north as Turkey, and as far south as the Zagros Mountains.

Ubaid 3/4, sometimes called Ubaid I and Ubaid II – In the period from 4500–4000 BC saw a period of intense and rapid urbanisation with the Ubaid culture spread into northern Mesopotamia replacing (after a hiatus) the Halaf culture. Ubaid artifacts spread also all along the Arabian littoral, showing the growth of a trading system that stretched from the Mediterranean coast through to Oman.

The archaeological record shows that Arabian Bifacial/Ubaid period came to an abrupt end in eastern Arabia and the Oman peninsula at 3800 BC, just after the phase of lake lowering and onset of dune reactivation.

At this time, increased aridity led to an end in semi-desert nomadism, and there is no evidence of human presence in the area for approximately 1000 years, the so-called “Dark Millennium”. This might be due to the 5.9 kiloyear event at the end of the Older Peron.

During the 3rd millennium BC, a close cultural symbiosis developed between the Sumerians (who spoke a Language Isolate) and the Semitic Akkadian speakers, which included widespread bilingualism.

The influence of Sumerian 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.

Sumer was conquered by the Semitic-speaking kings of the Akkadian Empire around 2270 BC (short chronology), but Sumerian continued as a sacred language. Native Sumerian rule re-emerged for about a century in the Third Dynasty of Ur (Sumerian Renaissance) of the 21st to 20th centuries BC, but the Akkadian language also remained in use.

The Ubaid period is marked by a distinctive style of fine quality painted pottery which spread throughout Mesopotamia and the Persian Gulf. During this time, the first settlement in southern Mesopotamia was established at Eridu, ca. 5300 BC, by farmers who brought with them the Hadji Muhammed culture, which first pioneered irrigation agriculture. It appears this culture was derived from the Samarran culture from northern Mesopotamia.

Irrigation agriculture, which seem to have developed first at Choga Mami (4700–4600 BC.), a Samarra ware archaeological site of Southern Iraq in the Mandali region, and rapidly spread elsewhere, from the first required collective effort and centralised coordination of labour. Buildings were of wattle and daub or mud brick.

It is no longer clear which way cultural developments were flowing in the 6500 to 4500 BC. period. It is not known whether or not these were the actual Sumerians who are identified with the later Uruk culture.

Eridu remained an important religious center when it was gradually surpassed in size by the nearby city of Uruk, an ancient city of Sumer and later Babylonia, situated east of the present bed of the Euphrates river, on the ancient dry former channel of the Euphrates River, some 30 km east of modern As-Samawah, Al-Muthannā, Iraq.

The story of the passing of the me (gifts of civilisation) to Inanna, goddess of Uruk and of love and war, by Enki, god of wisdom and chief god of Eridu, may reflect this shift in hegemony.

It appears that this early culture was an amalgam of three distinct cultural influences: peasant farmers, living in wattle and daub or clay brick houses and practicing irrigation agriculture; hunter-fishermen living in woven reed houses and living on floating islands in the marshes (Proto-Sumerians); and Proto-Akkadian nomadic pastoralists, living in black tents.

Uruk

Uruk gave its name to the Uruk period, the protohistoric Chalcolithic to Early Bronze Age period in the history of Mesopotamia spanning ca. 4000 – 3100 BC, succeeded by the Jemdet Nasr period of Sumer proper.

Sumerian civilization took form in the Uruk period (ca. 4000 to 3100 BC), continuing from the protohistoric Chalcolithic and into the Early Bronze Age period in the history of Mesopotamia, in the Jemdat Nasr and Early Dynastic periods. It followed the Ubaid period and succeeded by the Jemdet Nasr period. Named after the Sumerian city of Uruk, this period saw the emergence of urban life in Mesopotamia. It was followed by the Sumerian civilization.

The archaeological transition from the Ubaid period to the Uruk period is marked by a gradual shift from painted pottery domestically produced on a slow wheel to a great variety of unpainted pottery mass-produced by specialists on fast wheels.

Artifacts, and even colonies of this Uruk civilization have been found over a wide area—from the Taurus Mountains in Turkey, to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, and as far east as Central Iran.

By the time of the Uruk period (ca. 4100–2900 BC calibrated), the volume of trade goods transported along the canals and rivers of southern Mesopotamia facilitated the rise of many large, stratified, temple-centered cities (with populations of over 10,000 people) where centralized administrations employed specialized workers. It is fairly certain that it was during the Uruk period that Sumerian cities began to make use of slave labor captured from the hill country, and there is ample evidence for captured slaves as workers in the earliest texts.

The late Uruk period (34th to 32nd centuries) saw the gradual emergence of the cuneiform script and corresponds to the Early Bronze Age; it may also be called the Protoliterate period. It was during this period that pottery painting declined as copper started to become popular, along with cylinder seals.

The Uruk period civilization, exported by Sumerian traders and colonists (like that found at Tell Brak), had an effect on all surrounding peoples, who gradually evolved their own comparable, competing economies and cultures. The cities of Sumer could not maintain remote, long-distance colonies by military force.

The end of the Uruk period coincided with the Piora oscillation, a dry period from c. 3200–2900 BC that marked the end of a long wetter, warmer climate period from about 9,000 to 5,000 years ago, called the Holocene climatic optimum.

Uruk played a leading role in the early urbanization of Sumer in the mid 4th millennium BC. At its height c 2900 BC, Uruk probably had 50,000–80,000 residents living in 6 km2 of walled area; making it the largest city in the world at the time.

The Dynastic period begins ca. 2900 BC and includes such legendary figures as Enmerkar and Gilgamesh, who are supposed to have reigned shortly before the historic record opens ca. 2700 BC, when the now deciphered syllabic writing started to develop from the early pictograms.

The center of Sumerian culture remained in southern Mesopotamia, even though rulers soon began expanding into neighboring areas, and neighboring Semitic groups adopted much of Sumerian culture for their own.

In myth, Uruk was founded by Enmerkar, who brought the official kingship with him, according to the Sumerian king list. He also, in the epic Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta, constructs the House of Heaven (Sumerian: e-anna) for the goddess Inanna in the Eanna District of Uruk. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh builds the city wall around Uruk and is king of the city.

The character of Lugalbanda is introduced as one of Enmerkar’s war chiefs. According to the Sumerian king list, it was this Lugalbanda “the shepherd” who eventually succeeded Enmerkar to the throne of Uruk. Lugalbanda is also named as the father of Gilgamesh, a later king of Uruk, in both Sumerian and Akkadian versions of the Epic of Gilgamesh.

David Rohl has claimed parallels between Enmerkar, builder of Uruk, and Nimrod, ruler of biblical Erech (Uruk) and architect of the Tower of Babel in extra-biblical legends. One parallel Rohl noted is the description “Nimrod the Hunter”, and the -kar in Enmerkar also meaning “hunter”. Rohl has also suggested that Eridu near Ur is the original site of Babel, and that the incomplete ziggurat found there – by far the oldest and largest of its kind – is none other than the remnants of the Biblical tower.

In a legend related by Aelian (ca. AD 200), the king of Babylon, Euechoros or Seuechoros (also appearing in many variants as Sevekhoros, earlier Sacchoras, etc.), is said to be the grandfather of Gilgamos, who later becomes king of Babylon (i.e., Gilgamesh of Uruk). Several recent scholars have suggested that this “Seuechoros” or “Euechoros” is moreover to be identified with Enmerkar of Uruk, as well as the Euechous named by Berossus as being the first king of Chaldea and Assyria. This last name Euechous (also appearing as Evechius, and in many other variants) has long been identified with Nimrod.

Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta is a legendary Sumerian account, of preserved, early post-Sumerian copies, composed in the Neo-Sumerian period (ca. 21st century BC). It is one of a series of accounts describing the conflicts between Enmerkar, king of Unug-Kulaba (Uruk), and the unnamed king of Aratta (probably somewhere in modern Iran or Armenia).

Aside from founding Uruk, Enmerkar is said here to have had a temple built at Eridu, and is even credited with the invention of writing on clay tablets, for the purpose of threatening Aratta into submission.

In the hymn Incantation of Nudimmud furthermore seeks implore Enki to restore the disrupted linguistic unity of the inhabited regions around Uruk, listed as Shubur, Hamazi, Sumer, Uri-ki (the region around Akkad), and the Martu land.

In the legendary Sumerian account Lugalbanda and the Anzu Bird it is mentioned that fifty years into Enmerkar’s reign, the Martu people had arisen in all of Sumer and Akkad, necessitating the building of a wall in the desert to protect Uruk.

The Hurrians had a reputation in metallurgy. The Sumerians borrowed their copper terminology from the Hurrian vocabulary. Copper was traded south to Mesopotamia from the highlands of Anatolia. The Khabur Valley had a central position in the metal trade, and copper, silver and even tin were accessible from the Anatolian highland. Not many examples of Hurrian metal work have survived, except from the later Urartu. Some small fine bronze lion figurines were discovered at Urkesh.

The land of Subartu (Akkadian Šubartum/Subartum/ina Šú-ba-ri, Assyrian mât Šubarri) or Subar (Sumerian Su-bir4/Subar/Šubur) is mentioned in Bronze Age literature. 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. Most scholars accept Subartu as an early name for Assyria proper on the Tigris, although there are various other theories placing it sometimes a little farther to the east, north or west of there. Its precise location has not been identified.

Shupria (Shubria) or Arme-Shupria (Akkadian: Armani-Subartu from the 3rd millennium BC) 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. The capital was called Ubbumu. Scholars have linked the district in the area called Arme or Armani, to the name Armenia.

Weidner interpreted textual evidence to indicate that after the Hurrian king Shattuara of Mitanni was defeated by Adad-nirari I of Assyria in the early 13th century BC, he then became ruler of a reduced vassal state known as Shubria or Subartu. The name Subartu (Sumerian: Shubur) for the region is attested much earlier, from the time of the earliest Mesopotamian records (mid 3rd millennium BC).

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 early Armenians.

There are various alternate theories associating the ancient Subartu with one or more modern cultures found in the region, including Armenian or Kurdish tribes. Some scholars, such as Harvard Professor Mehrdad Izady, claim to have identified Subartu with the current Kurdish tribe of Zibaris inhabiting the northern ring around Mosul up to Hakkari in Turkey.

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 marked the northern geographical horizon, just as Martu, Elam and Sumer marked “west”, “east” and “south”, respectively.

Subartu in the earliest texts seem to have been farming mountain dwellers, frequently raided for slaves. Eannatum of Lagash was said to have smitten Subartu or Shubur, and it was listed as a province of the empire of Lugal-Anne-Mundu; in a later era Sargon of Akkad campaigned against Subar, and his grandson Naram-Sin listed Subar along with Armani (Armenians), among the lands under his control. Ishbi-Erra of Isin and Hammurabi also claimed victories over Subar.

Because it gives a Sumerian account of the “confusion of tongues”, and also involves Enmerkar constructing ziggurats at Eridu and Uruk, it has, been compared with the Tower of Babel narrative in the Book of Genesis.

Near the beginning of the account, the following background is provided: “In those days of yore, when the destinies were determined, the great princes allowed Unug Kulaba’s E-ana to lift its head high. Plenty, and carp floods and the rain which brings forth dappled barley were then increased in Unug Kulaba. Before the land of Dilmun yet existed, the E-ana of Unug Kulaba was well founded.”

Mother Godess

The king list adds that Enmerkar brought the official kingship with him from the city of E-ana after his father Mesh-ki-ang-gasher, a Sumerian ruler and the founder of the First Dynasty of Uruk and son of Utu, had “entered the sea and disappeared.”

E-ana (“house of heaven”) was the name of the temple to Inanna at Uruk. The entry thus has Mesh-ki-ang-gasher ruling the fortress or castle around which his son would build the city of Uruk, and which was to become the main temple to its patron goddess.

E-ana was a ziggurat in Uruk built in honour of the goddess Inanna, the “lady of all the lands”–(E-ana is ‘house of ana’, or ‘Temple of Ana’). Similarly, the lord of Aratta has himself crowned in Inanna’s name, but she does not find this as pleasing as her brick temple in Uruk.

Enmerkar, thus “chosen by Inanna in her holy heart from the bright mountain”, then asks Inanna to let him subject Aratta and make the people of Aratta deliver a tribute of precious metals and gemstones, for constructing the lofty Abzu ziggurat of Enki at Eridu, as well as for embellishing her own E-ana sanctuary at Uruk. Inanna accordingly advises Enmerkar to dispatch a herald across the mountains of Susin and Anshan to the lord of Aratta, to demand his submission and his tribute.

Inanna’s name derives from Queen of Heaven (Sumerian: nin-anna). The cuneiform sign of Inanna; however, is not a ligature of the signs lady and sky. These difficulties have led some early Assyriologists to suggest that originally Inanna may have been related to the Hurrian mother goddess Hannahannah, accepted only latterly into the Sumerian pantheon, an idea supported by her youthfulness, and that, unlike the other Sumerian divinities, at first she had no sphere of responsibilities.

Along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers were many shrines and temples dedicated to Inanna. The House of Heaven (Sumerian: e-anna) temple in Uruk was the greatest of these, where sacred prostitution was a common practice. In addition, according to Leick (1994) persons of asexual or hermaphroditic bodies and feminine men were particularly involved in the worship and ritual practices of Inanna’s temples.

The deity of this fourth-millennium city was probably originally An. After its dedication to Inanna the temple seems to have housed priestesses of the goddess. The high priestess would choose for her bed a young man who represented the shepherd Dumuzid, consort of Inanna, in a hieros gamos or sacred marriage, celebrated during the annual Akitu (New Year) ceremony, at the spring Equinox.

According to Samuel Noah Kramer in The Sacred Marriage Rite, in late Sumerian history (end of the third millennium) kings established their legitimacy by taking the place of Dumuzi in the temple for one night on the tenth day of the New Year festival. A Sacred Marriage to Inanna may have conferred legitimacy on a number of rulers of Uruk. Gilgamesh is reputed to have refused marriage to Inanna, on the grounds of her misalliance with such kings as Lugalbanda and Damuzi.

Inanna’s symbol is an eight-pointed star or a rosette. She was associated with lions – even then a symbol of power – and was frequently depicted standing on the backs of two lionesses. Her cuneiform ideogram was a hook-shaped twisted knot of reeds, representing the doorpost of the storehouse (and thus fertility and plenty).

Hannahannah (from Hittite hannas “grandmother”) is a Hurrian Mother Goddess related to or influenced by the pre-Sumerian goddess Inanna. Hannahannah was also identified with the Hurrian mother goddess Hebat, also transcribed Kheba or Khepat, known as “the mother of all living” and Queen of the gods. Hebat is the wife of Teshub and the mother of Sarruma and Alanzu, as well mother-in-law of the daughter of the dragon Illuyanka.

The name can be transliterated in different versions – Khebat with the feminine ending -t is primarily the Syrian and Ugaritic version. In the Hurrian language Hepa is the most likely pronunciation of the name of the goddess. The sound /h/ in cuneiform is in the modern literature sometimes transliterated as kh. In Aramaean times she appears to have become identified with the Goddess Hawwah.

With Hebat was later assimilated the Hittite sun goddess Arinniti. A prayer of Queen Puduhepa makes this explicit: “To the Sun-goddess of Arinna, my lady, the mistress of the Hatti lands, the queen of Heaven and Earth. Sun-goddess of Arinna, thou art Queen of all countries! In the Hatti country thou bearest the name of the Sun-goddess of Arinna; but in the land which thou madest the cedar land thou bearest the name Hebat.”

Hebat was venerated all over the ancient Near East. Her name appears in many theophoric personal names. The Third Dynasty of Kish, as was a later king of Jerusalem mentioned in the Amarna letters was named Abdi-Heba, possibly meaning “Servant of Hebat”.

Hebat is likely to have had a later counterpart in the Phrygian goddess Cybele (Matar Kubileya/Kubeleya “Kubeleyan Mother”, perhaps “Mountain Mother”), who originally was an Anatolian mother goddess.

Cybele may have evolved from an Anatolian Mother Goddess of a type found at Çatalhöyük, dated to the 6th millennium BCE. This corpulent, fertile Mother Goddess appears to be giving birth on her throne, which has two feline-headed hand rests.

Little is known of her oldest Anatolian cults, other than her association with mountains, hawks and lions. Her name, and the development of religious practices associated with her, may have been influenced by cult to the deified Sumerian queen Kubaba.

She may have been Phrygia’s state deity. She is ancient Phrygia’s only known goddess, and was probably the highest deity of the Phrygian State. In Phrygian art of the 8th century BCE, the cult attributes of the Phrygian mother-goddess include attendant lions, a bird of prey, and a small vase for her libations or other offerings.

The inscription matar kubileya at a Phrygian rock-cut shrine, dated to the first half of the 6th century BCE, is usually read as “Mother of the mountain”, a reading supported by ancient Classical sources, and consistent with Cybele as any of several similar tutelary goddesses, each known as “mother” and associated with specific Anatolian mountains or other localities: a goddess thus “born from stone”.

Her Phrygian cult was adopted and adapted by Greek colonists of Asia Minor and spread from there to mainland Greece and its more distant western colonies from around the 6th century BCE. In Greece, Cybele met with a mixed reception. She was partially assimilated to aspects of the Earth-goddess Gaia, her Minoan equivalent Rhea, and the Corn-Mother goddess Demeter.

Some city-states, notably Athens, evoked her as a protector, but her most celebrated Greek rites and processions show her as an essentially foreign, exotic mystery-goddess who arrives in a lion-drawn chariot to the accompaniment of wild music, wine, and a disorderly, ecstatic following.

Uniquely in Greek religion, she had a transgender or eunuch mendicant priesthood. Many of her Greek cults included rites to a divine Phrygian castrate shepherd-consort Attis, who was probably a Greek invention. In Greece, Cybele is associated with mountains, town and city walls, fertile nature, and wild animals, especially lions. In Rome, Cybele was known as Magna Mater (“Great Mother”).

Hamoukar is a large archaeological site located in the Jazira region of northeastern Syria near the Iraqi border (Al Hasakah Governorate) and Turkey. The Excavations have shown that this site houses the remains of one of the world’s oldest known cities, leading scholars to believe that cities in this part of the world emerged much earlier than previously thought.

Traditionally, the origins of urban developments in this part of the world have been sought in the riverine societies of southern Mesopotamia (in what is now southern Iraq). This is the area of ancient Sumer, where around 4000 BC many of the famous Mesopotamian cities such as Ur and Uruk emerged, giving this region the attributes of “Cradle of Civilization” and “Heartland of Cities.” Following the discoveries at Hamoukar, this definition may have to extended further up the Tigris River to include that part of northern Syria where Hamoukar is located.

This archaeological discovery suggests that civilizations advanced enough to reach the size and organizational structure that was necessary to be considered a city could have actually emerged before the advent of a written language. Previously it was believed that a system of written language was a necessary predecessor of that type of complex city.

Most importantly, archaeologists believe this apparent city was thriving as far back as 4000 BC and independently from Sumer. Until now, the oldest cities with developed seals and writing were thought to be Sumerian Uruk and Ubaid in Mesopotamia, which would be in the southern one-third of Iraq today.

The discovery at Hamoukar indicates that some of the fundamental ideas behind cities – including specialization of labor, a system of laws and government, and artistic development – may have begun earlier than was previously believed.

The fact that this discovery is such a large city is what is most exciting to archaeologists. While they have found small villages and individual pieces that date much farther back than Hamoukar, nothing can quite compare to the discovery of this size and magnitude. Discoveries have been made here that have never been seen before, including materials from Hellenistic and Islamic civilizations.

Uruk went through several phases of growth, from the Early Uruk period (4000–3500 BC) to the Late Uruk period (3500–3100 BC.). The city was formed when two smaller Ubaid settlements merged. The temple complexes at their cores became the Eanna District and the Anu District dedicated to Inanna and Anu, respectively.

The Anu District was originally called ‘Kullaba’ (Kulab or Unug-Kulaba) prior to merging with the Eanna District. Kullaba dates to the Eridu period when it was one of the oldest and most important cities of Sumer.

There are different interpretations about the purposes of the temples. However, it is generally believed they were a unifying feature of the city. It also seems clear that temples served both an important religious function and state function. The surviving temple archive of the Neo-Babylonian period documents the social function of the temple as a redistribution center.

The Eanna District was composed of several buildings with spaces for workshops, and it was walled off from the city. By contrast, the Anu District was built on a terrace with a temple at the top. It is clear Eanna was dedicated to Inanna from the earliest Uruk period throughout the history of the city. The rest of the city was composed of typical courtyard houses, grouped by profession of the occupants, in districts around Eanna and Anu.

Uruk was extremely well penetrated by a canal system that has been described as, “Venice in the desert.” This canal system flowed throughout the city connecting it with the maritime trade on the ancient Euphrates River as well as the surrounding agricultural belt.

It should be noted the original city of Uruk was sited southwest of the ancient Euphrates River, now dry. Currently, the site of Warka is northeast of the modern Euphrates river. The change in position was caused by a shift in the Euphrates at some point in history, and may have contributed to the decline of Uruk.

The city lost its prime importance around 2000 BC, in the context of the struggle of Babylonia with Elam, but it remained inhabited throughout the Seleucid and Parthian periods until it was finally abandoned shortly before or after the Islamic conquest.

The ziggurat that dominates the site today was built around 2000 BC. by Ur-Nammu, but by that time the site was already in decline. Although Babylonian and Assyrian rulers maintained the Eanna temples down into the 600 BC. or beyond, the city had lost its position. The final occupants of the site were the Parthians who built a small temple to Gareus around 100 AD.

The site of Uruk was discovered in 1849 by William Kennett Loftus who led the first excavations from 1850 to 1854. The Arabic name of Babylonia, al-ʿIrāq, is thought to be derived from the name Uruk, via Aramaic (Erech) and possibly Middle Persian (Erāq) transmission.

Uruk expansion

With the Uruk period in ancient Mesopotamia we see the very beginnings of writing and are, therefore, almost into a historical period! How exciting! I’m sure that’s how the ancient Mesopotamians felt about it.

Much as there was an “Ubaid expansion” in the previous period, there was an “Uruk expansion”: a period in the middle to late Uruk in which characteristic Uruk artifacts are found in western Iran, northern Mesopotamia, northern Syria, and parts of Anatolia. It is not clear what type of interaction this “expansion” represents.

The most prominent theory, promoted by Guillermo Algaze, is that the Uruk expansion represents a Marxist-style World System. According to this theory, the Uruk enclaves represented by the Uruk material culture were trading colonies intended to ensure access to foreign resources for Mesopotamian cities. The Uruk peoples dominated the regions they touched through economic means rather than through military or political might.

There are, as you might imagine, a number of objections to this theory. First, there is no evidence of power asymmetry between the Mesopotamian “core” and the Anatolian (for example) “periphery”: the Anatolians controlled production of Anatolian traded goods and their side of the exchange. The terms of the exchange were not set by the Mesopotamian side of things.

Second, the Marxist model suggests that long-distance trade would have fundamentally changed the societies it touched, re-forming them along the lines dictated by the needs of the “core” entity. But this has not been established, as Algaze himself concedes.

Finally, the model assumes the existence of a political entity with the level of organization and resources needed to control a far-flung region. But Mesopotamia was not unified at this period, rather it consisted of several competing city-states. Algaze suggests the existence of several “cores” controlling parts of the “periphery,’ but this is a theory for which we will probably never have enough documentation to prove its truth or falsity.

The Uruk period

Uruk

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Inanna – the first winged goddess in antiquity

Posted by Fredsvenn on September 30, 2013

In the words of Pr. Maximillien de Lafayette “Humans or human figures with wings were known as guardians of the passage toward the next life. When Armenia was converted to Christianity, the early illustrators of the illuminated manuscripts paintings adopted this pagan iconography as a Christian symbol representing the Christian angels”.

Apparently the memory of Arattan Goddess Inanna was still strong among early Armenian Christians who transferred the concept of wings from paganism into Christianity. Armenia is the first country to officially adopt Christianity as a state religion.

We know from the Aratta-Erech epic tales that Inanna was the goddess of Aratta, as well as that of the city of Erech (Uruk) in Summer.

Aratta was under the special protection of the Sun god’s daughter, Inanna, the goddess of love and war. In “Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta”, the goddess and/or her statue were taken from Aratta to the Sumerian city of Uruk by the ruler of Uruk, Enmerkar.

The Sumerians that were of Armenic or Armenid extraction had established one of the first centers of civilization in the lower part of Mesopotamia. Many scholars agree that Sumerians initially inhabited Armenian Highland and gradually descended to first Northern Mesopotamia and eventually spread further south, establishing the cities of Ur, Uruk and Eridu [note the sacred variations — AR-UR-ER-OR prefix].

Aratta was a city, city-state, or country with which Sumerians had close trade and religious ties in the third millennium B.C.

Aratta- The Land of the Mountains Where the Gods Live of the great Epic of Gilgamesh. The Land where the Garden of Eden— the Tree of Life and the Tree of Wisdom is located…

English Egyptologist and former director of the Institute for the Study of Interdisciplinary Sciences David Rohl writes about Aratta which he places in Greater Armenia: “Despite such a long distance and very different geological and climatic features of these lands, two “Sumerian” States had close cultural and political ties. The inhabitants of these lands spoke the same language and worshiped the same gods, in the first place – the powerful goddess Inanna… In both states there was also the same administrative system and identical political titles.

Enmerkar was En of Uruk, Lord of Aratta also held the title of En(the king-priest). Assyriologist Henry Suggs suggested whether such a close cultural ties indicate the ancient ancestral land of inhabitants of Uruk, where they lived earlier and had to migrate to the plains of Sumer later on. In my view, as we shall see in later chapters of the book, Suggs is absolutely right”.

In Armenian language Aratta means ‘Ara’s house,’ ‘Ar’s
place’ or ‘the city-land of the Ars’ where AR/A (Ararich) is Creator.

In a later Armenian Pantheon Inanna was known as Anahit.

Based on the works of Pr. David Rohl, Pr. Martiros Kavoukjian, Pr. Robert Bedrossian, Pr. Maximillien de Lafayette

1. Inanna – Goddess of Aratta, later on Sumer- Mesopotamia. Inanna

2.
A. Armenian Queen Ashkhen from Maximillien de Lafayette’s book

B. Rich culture of Aratta. Belt decorations in a form of lions and stags. Aratta- Metsamor. Armenia. Second Millennium BCE.

3. An illumination (MS No. 197) from the Matenadaran Gospel.

4. The world’s first known map. Armenia is depicted on it.

5. Map of Aratta and Sumer from M. Kavoukjian’s book.

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Inanna – The Goddess of Sexual Love, Fertility, and Warfare

Posted by Fredsvenn on September 12, 2013

Inanna & Ishtar

Inanna has a central role in the myth of Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta. A major theme in the narrative is the rivalry between the rulers of Aratta and Uruk for the heart of Inanna. Ultimately, this rivalry results in natural resources coming to Uruk and the invention of writing.

The goddess Inanna resides in Aratta, but Enmerkar of Uruk pleases her more than does the lord of Aratta, who is not named in this epic. Enmerkar wants Aratta to submit to Uruk, bring stones down from the mountain, craft gold, silver and lapis lazuli, and send them, along with “kugmea” ore to Uruk to build a temple. Inana bids him send a messenger to Aratta, who ascends and descends the “Zubi” mountains, and crosses Susa, Anshan, and “five, six, seven” mountains before approaching Aratta. Aratta in turn wants grain in exchange. However Inana transfers her allegiance to Uruk, and the grain gains the favor of Aratta’s people for Uruk, so the lord of Aratta challenges Enmerkar to send a champion to fight his champion. Then the god Ishkur makes Aratta’s crops grow.

Inanna can be considered the most prominent female deity in ancient Mesopotamia. As early as the Uruk period (ca. 4000–3100 BC), Inanna was associated with the city of Uruk. The famous Uruk Vase (found in a deposit of cult objects of the Uruk III period) depicts a row of naked men carrying various objects, bowls, vessels, and baskets of farm produce, and bringing sheep and goats, to a female figure facing the ruler. This figure was ornately dressed for a divine marriage, and attended by a servant. The female figure holds the symbol of the two twisted reeds of the doorpost, signifying Inanna behind her, while the male figure holds a box and stack of bowls, the later cuneiform sign signifying En, or high priest of the temple. Especially in the Uruk period, the symbol of a ring-headed doorpost is associated with Inanna.

Seal impressions from the Jemdet Nasr period (ca. 3100–2900 BC) show a fixed sequence of city symbols including those of Ur, Larsa, Zabalam, Urum, Arina, and probably Kesh. It is likely that this list reflects the report of contributions to Inanna at Uruk from cities supporting her cult. A large number of similar sealings were found from the slightly later Early Dynastic I phase at Ur, in a slightly different order, combined with the rosette symbol of Inanna, that were definitely used for this purpose. They had been used to lock storerooms to preserve materials set aside for her cult. Inanna’s primary temple of worship was the Eanna, located in Uruk (c.f. Worship).

Inanna’s name derives from Queen of Heaven (Sumerian: nin-anna). The Cuneiform sign of Inanna; however, is not a ligature of the signs lady (Sumerian: nin) and sky (Sumerian: an). These difficulties have led some early Assyriologists to suggest that originally Inanna may have been a Proto-Euphratean goddess, possibly related to the Hurrian mother goddess Hannahannah, accepted only latterly into the Sumerian pantheon, an idea supported by her youthfulness, and that, unlike the other Sumerian divinities, at first she had no sphere of responsibilities. The view that there was a Proto-Euphratean substrate language in Southern Iraq before Sumerian is not widely accepted by modern Assyriologists.

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