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Kubau and Zababa

Posted by Fredsvenn on June 21, 2016

Kubaba / Ku-Bau

The Third Dynasty of Kish is unique in that it begins with a woman, previously a tavern keeper, Kubaba (in the Weidner or Esagila Chronicle; Sumerian: Kug-Bau), as “king”. She is the only queen on the Sumerian King List, which states she reigned for 100 years – roughly in the Early Dynastic III period (ca. 2500-2330 BC) of Sumerian history. Before becoming monarch, the king list says she was an alewife.

Shrines in honour of Kubaba spread throughout Mesopotamia. In the Hurrian area she may be identified with Kebat, or Hepat, one title of the Hurrian Mother goddess Hannahannah (from Hurrian hannah, “mother”).

Hebat, also transcribed, Kheba or Khepat, was the mother goddess of the Hurrians, known as “the mother of all living”. She is also a Queen of the deities. Hebat is married to Teshub and is the mother of Sarruma and Alanzu, as well mother-in-law of the daughter of the dragon Illuyanka. The mother goddess is likely to have had a later counterpart in the Phrygian goddess Cybele.

Kubaba became the tutelary goddess who protected the ancient city of Carchemish on the upper Euphrates, in the late Hurrian – Early Hittite period. She plays a role in Luwian texts and a minor role in Hittite texts, mainly in Hurrian rituals.

Relief carvings, now at the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara, show her seated, wearing a cylindrical headdress like the polos and holding probably a tympanum (hand drum) or possibly a mirror in one hand and a poppy capsule (or perhaps pomegranate) in the other.

Her cult later spread and her name was adapted for the main goddess of the Hittite successor-kingdoms in Anatolia, which later developed into the Phrygian matar (mother) or matar kubileya Cybele whose image with inscriptions appear in rock-cut sculptures.

Her Lydian name was Kuvav or Kufav which Ionian Greeks initially transcribed Kybêbê, not Kybele. The seventh-century Semonides of Amorgos calls one of her Hellene followers a kybêbos, and observes that in the following century she has been further Hellenized by Hipponax as “Kybêbê, daughter of Zeus”. The Phrygian goddess otherwise bears little resemblance to Kubaba, who was a sovereign deity at Sardis, known to Greeks as Kybebe.

Ur Zababa

According to the King list, Ur-Zababa was a son of King Puzur-Suen. His mother is unknown. His grandmother was the famous Queen Kugbau. Her son Puzur-Suen and grandson Ur-Zababa followed her on the throne in Sumer as the fourth Kish dynasty on the king list. In some copies as her direct successors, in others with the Akshak dynasty, a city of ancient Sumer, situated on the northern boundary of Akkad, sometimes identified with Babylonian Upi (Greek Opis), intervening.

Ur-Zababa is also known as the king said to be reigning in Sumer during the youth of Sargon of Akkad, also known as Sargon the Great “the Great King” (2334–2279 BC), who became the founder of the Akkadian Empire, the first ancient Semitic-speaking empire of Mesopotamia, centered in the city of Akkad and its surrounding region, also called Akkad in ancient Mesopotamia.

Meliae

In Greek mythology, the Meliae were nymphs of the ash tree, whose name they shared. They appeared from the drops of blood spilled when Cronus castrated Uranus, according to Hesiod, Theogony. From the same blood sprang the Erinyes and the Giants. From the Meliae sprang the race of mankind of the Age of Bronze.

The Meliae belong to a class of sisterhoods whose nature is to appear collectively and who are invoked in the plural, though genealogical myths, especially in Hesiod, give them individual names, such as Melia, “but these are quite clearly secondary and carry no great weight”.

The Melia thus singled out is one of these daughters of Oceanus. By her brother the river-god Inachus, she became the mother of Io, Phoroneus, Aegialeus or Phegeus, and Philodice. In other stories, she was the mother of Amycus by Poseidon, as the Olympian representative of Oceanus.

Many species of Fraxinus, the ash trees, exude a sugary substance, which the ancient Greeks called méli, “honey”. The species of ash in the mountains of Greece is the Manna-ash (Fraxinus ornus). The Meliae were nurses of the infant Zeus in the Cretan cave of Dikte, according to Callimachus, Hymn to Zeus. They fed him honey.

Of “manna”, the ash-tree sugar, the standard 19th-century US pharmacopeia, The Dispensatory of the United States of America (14th edition, Philadelphia, 1878) said: It is owing to the presence of true sugar and dextrin that manna is capable of fermenting… Manna, when long kept, acquires a deeper color, softens, and ultimately deliquesces into a liquid which on the addition of yeast, undergoes the vinous fermentation. Fermented honey preceded wine as an entheogen in the Aegean world.

The Meliae were perhaps the same as the honey-nymph (meliai) nurses of the god Zeus, Ida and Adrasteia. The manna meli of the ash and the honey of bees were thought to be related and being regarded as an ambrosial food fallen from heaven.

In Hesiod’s Theogony they were born aside the Erinyes, avengers of the castration of Uranus, and the Gigantes. In Hesiod they appear to be the Kouretes-protectors of the baby Zeus. As children born of the castration, it would be proper that such brothers should play a role in the downfall of Cronus, performer of the crime. They were an overly aggressive race who incurred the wrath of Zeus and were ruined in the flood of the Great Deluge.

Semele

Semele, in Greek mythology, daughter of the Boeotian hero Cadmus and Harmonia, was the mortal mother of Dionysus by Zeus in one of his many origin myths. Certain elements of the cult of Dionysus and Semele came from the Phrygians. These were modified, expanded and elaborated by the Ionian Greek invaders and colonists. Herodotus, who gives the account of Cadmus, estimates that Semele lived sixteen hundred years before his time, or around 2000 BCE. In Rome, the goddess Stimula was identified as Semele.

According to some linguists the name “Semele” is Thraco-Phrygian, derived from a PIE root meaning “earth”. Julius Pokorny reconstructs her name from the PIE root *dgem- meaning “earth” and relates it with Thracian Zemele, “mother earth”. However, Burkert says that while Semele is “manifestly non-Greek”, he also says that “it is no more possible to confirm that Semele is a Thraco-Phrygian word for earth than it is to prove the priority of the Lydian baki- over Bacchus as a name for Dionysos”.

In one version of the myth, Semele was a priestess of Zeus, and on one occasion was observed by Zeus as she slaughtered a bull at his altar and afterwards swam in the river Asopus to cleanse herself of the blood. Flying over the scene in the guise of an eagle, Zeus fell in love with Semele and repeatedly visited her secretly.

Zeus’ wife, Hera, a goddess jealous of usurpers, discovered his affair with Semele when she later became pregnant. Appearing as an old crone, Hera befriended Semele, who confided in her that her lover was actually Zeus. Hera pretended not to believe her, and planted seeds of doubt in Semele’s mind. Curious, Semele asked Zeus to grant her a boon.

Zeus, eager to please his beloved, promised on the River Styx to grant her anything she wanted. She then demanded that Zeus reveal himself in all his glory as proof of his divinity. Though Zeus begged her not to ask this, she persisted and he was forced by his oath to comply.

Zeus tried to spare her by showing her the smallest of his bolts and the sparsest thunderstorm clouds he could find. Mortals, however, cannot look upon the gods without incinerating, and she perished, consumed in lightning-ignited flame.

Zeus rescued the fetal Dionysus, however, by sewing him into his thigh (whence the epithet Eiraphiotes, “insewn”, of the Homeric Hymn). A few months later, Dionysus was born. This leads to his being called “the twice-born”.

When he grew up, Dionysus rescued his mother from Hades, and she became a goddess on Mount Olympus, with the new name Thyone, presiding over the frenzy inspired by her son Dionysus.

There is a story in the Fabulae 167 of Gaius Julius Hyginus, or a later author whose work has been attributed to Hyginus. In this, Dionysus (called Liber) is the son of Jupiter and Proserpina, and was killed by the Titans. Jupiter gave his torn up heart in a drink to Semele, who became pregnant this way.

In another account, Zeus swallows the heart himself, in order to beget his seed on Semele. Hera then convinces Semele to ask Zeus to come to her as a god, and on doing so she dies, and Zeus seals the unborn baby up in his thigh.

There is no suggestion in the text that Semele is a virgin, however. As a result of this Dionysus “was also called Dimetor [of two mothers]… because the two Dionysoi were born of one father, but of two mothers”.

Still another variant of the narrative is found in Callimachus and the 5th century CE Greek writer Nonnus. In this version, the first Dionysus is called Zagreus. Nonnus does not present the conception as virginal; rather, the editor’s notes say that Zeus swallowed Zagreus’ heart, and visited the mortal woman Semele, whom he seduced and made pregnant.

In Dionysiaca he classifies Zeus’s affair with Semele as one in a set of twelve, the other eleven women on whom he begot children being Io, Europa, the nymph Pluto, Danaë, Aigina, Antiope, Leda, Dia, Alcmene, Laodameia, mother of Sarpedon, and Olympias.

The most usual setting for the story of Semele is the palace that occupied the acropolis of Thebes, called the Cadmeia. When Pausanias visited Thebes in the 2nd century CE, he was shown the very bridal chamber where Zeus visited her and begat Dionysus.

Since an Oriental inscribed cylindrical seal found at the palace can be dated 1400-1300 centuries BCE, the myth of Semele must be Mycenaean or earlier in origin. At the Alcyonian Lake near the prehistoric site of Lerna, Dionysus, guided by Prosymnus or Polymnus, descended to Tartarus to free his once-mortal mother. Annual rites took place there in classical times; Pausanias refuses to describe them.

Though the Greek myth of Semele was localized in Thebes, the fragmentary Homeric Hymn to Dionysus makes the place where Zeus gave a second birth to the god a distant one, and mythically vague: “For some say, at Dracanum; and some, on windy Icarus; and some, in Naxos, O Heaven-born, Insewn; and others by the deep-eddying river Alpheus that pregnant Semele bare you to Zeus the thunder-lover. And others yet, lord, say you were born in Thebes; but all these lie. The Father of men and gods gave you birth remote from men and secretly from white-armed Hera. There is a certain Nysa, a mountain most high and richly grown with woods, far off in Phoenice, near the streams of Aegyptus…”

Semele was worshipped at Athens at the Lenaia, when a yearling bull, emblematic of Dionysus, was sacrificed to her. One-ninth was burnt on the altar in the Hellenic way; the rest was torn and eaten raw by the votaries.

Semla is the Etruscan equivalent for the Greek goddess Semele, daughter of the Boeotian hero Cadmus and mother of the Greek god of wine Dionysus by Zeus. Her name also is sometimes spelled Semia. The Greek cult of Dionysus had flourished among the Etruscans in the archaic period, and had been made compatible with Etruscan religious beliefs.

In ancient Rome, a grove (lucus) near Ostia, situated between the Aventine Hill and the mouth of the Tiber River, was dedicated to a goddess named Stimula. Augustine notes that the goddess is named after stimulae, “goads, whips,” by means of which a person is driven to excessive actions.

Religious beliefs and myths associated with Dionysus were successfully adapted and remained pervasive in Roman culture, as evidenced for instance by the Dionysian scenes of Roman wall painting and on sarcophagi from the 1st to the 4th centuries CE.

One of the main principles of the Dionysian mysteries that spread to Latium and Rome was the concept of rebirth, to which the complex myths surrounding the god’s own birth were central. Birth and childhood deities were important to Roman religion; Ovid identifies Semele’s sister Ino as the nurturing goddess Mater Matuta. This goddess had a major cult center at Satricum that was built 500–490 BCE.

The female consort who appears with Bacchus in the acroterial statues there may be either Semele or Ariadne. The pair were part of the Aventine Triad in Rome as Liber and Libera, along with Ceres. The temple of the triad is located near the Grove of Stimula, and the grove and its shrine (sacrarium) were located outside Rome’s sacred boundary (pomerium), perhaps as the “dark side” of the Aventine Triad.

Zemlya

Mat Zemlya, also Matka Ziemia, and Mati Syra Zemlya (literally Damp Mother Earth), is the oldest deity in Slavic mythology, her identity later blended into that of Mokosh. She shares characteristics with Indo-Iranian Ardvi Sura Anahita, the Avestan language name of an Indo-Iranian cosmological figure venerated as the divinity of ‘the Waters’ (Aban) and hence associated with fertility, healing and wisdom, “Humid Mother of the Earth”.

Anahit was the goddess of fertility and healing, wisdom and water in Armenian mythology. In early periods she was the goddess of war. By the 5th century BC she was the main deity in Armenia along with Aramazd. The Armenian goddess Anahit is related to the similar Old Persian goddess Anahita.

At some point prior to the 4th century BCE, this yazata was conflated with (an analogue of) Semitic Ištar, likewise a divinity of “maiden” fertility and from whom Aredvi Sura Anahita then inherited additional features of a divinity of war and of the planet Venus or “Zohreh” in Arabic. It was moreover the association with the planet Venus, “it seems, which led Herodotus to record that the [Persis] learnt ‘to sacrifice to “the heavenly goddess”‘ from the Assyrians and Arabians.”

In the early Middle Ages, Mati Syra Zemlya was one of the most important deities in the Slavic world. Oaths were made binding by touching the Earth and sins were confessed into a hole in the Earth before death. She was worshipped in her natural form and was not given a human personage or likeness. Since the adoption of Christianity in all Slavic lands, she has been identified with Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Mokosh

Mokoš is a Slavic goddess mentioned in the Primary Chronicle, protector of women’s work and women’s destiny. She watches over spinning and weaving, shearing of sheep, and protects women in child birth. She is a wanderer and a spinner. She is the Great Mother, Mat Zemlya.

Mokosh probably means moisture. According to Max Vasmer, her name is derived from the same root as Slavic wordsmokry ‘wet’ and moknut(i) ‘get wet’. She was one of the most popular Slavic deities and the great Mother Goddess of East Slavs and Eastern Polans.

Archeological evidence of Mokosh dates back to the 7th century BC. As late as the 19th century, she was worshipped as a force of fertility and the ruler of death. Worshipers prayed to Mokosh-stones or breast-shaped boulders that held power over the land and its people.

In Eastern Europe Mokosh is still popular as a powerful life giving force and protector of women. Villages are named after her. She shows up in embroidery, represented as a woman with uplifted hands and flanked by two plow horses. Sometimes she is shown with male sexual organs, as the deity in charge of male potency.

Her consorts are probably both, the god of thunder Perun and his opponent Veles. Mokosh is also the mother of the twin siblings Jarilo and Morana. A key myth in Slavic mythology, is the divine battle between the thunder god Perun and his opponent the god Veles. Some authors and the original researchers Ivanov and Toporov believe, the abduction of Mokosh causes the struggle.

During Christianization of Kievan Rus’ there were warnings issued against worshipping Mokoš. She was replaced by the cult of the Virgin Mary and St. Paraskevia.

Ninsun

In Sumerian mythology, Ninsun or Ninsuna (“lady wild cow”) is a goddess, best known as the mother of the legendary hero Gilgamesh, and as the tutelary goddess of Gudea of Lagash. Ninsun was called Gula in Sumerian Mythology until the name was later changed to Ninisina. Gula in the latter became a Babylonian goddess. Her parents are the deities Anu and Uras.

Ninsun is called “Rimat-Ninsun”, the “August cow”, the “Wild Cow of the Enclosure”, and “The Great Queen”. In the Tello relief (the ancient Lagash, 2150 BC) her name is written with the cuneiform glyphs as: DINGIR.NIN.GUL where the glyph for GUL is the same for SUN. The meaning of SUN is attested as “cow”.

In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Ninsun is depicted as a human queen who lives in Uruk with her son as king. Since the father of Gilgamesh was former king Lugalbanda, it stands to reason that Ninsun procreated with Lugalbanda to give birth.

Nintinugga was a Babylonian goddess of healing, the consort of Ninurta. She is identical with the goddess of Akkadian mythology, known as Bau or Baba, though it would seem that the two were originally independent. She was the daughter of An and Ninurta’s wife. She had seven daughters, including Hegir-Nuna (Gangir). She was known as a patron deity of Lagash, where Gudea built her a temple.

The name Bau is more common in the oldest period and gives way to Gula after the First Babylonian Dynasty. Since it is probable that Ninib has absorbed the cults of minor sun-deities, the two names may represent consorts of different gods. However, this may be, the qualities of both are alike, and the two occur as synonymous designations of Ninib’s female consort.

Other names borne by this goddess are Nin-Karrak, Nin Ezen, Ga-tum-dug and Nm-din-dug, the latter signifying “the lady who restores to life”, or the Goddess of Healing. After the Great Flood, she helped “breathe life” back into mankind.

The designation well emphasizes the chief trait of Bau-Gula which is that of healer. She is often spoken of as “the great physician,” and accordingly plays a prominent role in incantations and incantation rituals intended to relieve those suffering from disease.

She is, however, also invoked to curse those who trample upon the rights of rulers or those who do wrong with poisonous potions. As in the case of Ninib, the cult of Bau-Gula is prominent in Lagash and in Nippur. While generally in close association with her consort, she is also invoked alone, giving her more dominance than most of the goddesses of Babylonia and Assyria.

Chaabou and Dushara

According to the early Christian bishop Epiphanius of Salamis (c. 315–403), Chaabou or Kaabu was a goddess in the Nabataean pantheon – a virgin who gave birth to the god Dusares. However, Epiphanus likely mistook the word ka’abu (“cube”, etymologically related to the name of the Kaaba), referring to the stone blocks used by the Nabateans to represent Dusares and possibly other deities, for the proper name of a goddess.

His report that Chaabou was a virgin was likely influenced by his desire to find a parallel to the Christian belief in the virgin birth of Jesus, and by the similarity of the words ka’bah and ka’ibah (“virgin”) in Arabic, a language closely related to that spoken by the Nabateans.

Dushara (“Lord of the Mountain”), also transliterated as Dusares, a deity in the ancient Middle East worshipped by the Nabataeans at Petra and Madain Saleh (of which city he was the patron). He may have been named after deity of Tushar, a famous god of Tushar kingdom in Vedic India situated in Himalayan ranges and known for its horses in ancient world.

In Greek times, he was associated with Zeus because he was the chief of the Nabataean pantheon as well as with Dionysus. His sanctuary at Petra contained a great temple in which a large cubical stone was the centrepiece.

Zababa

In ancient Mesopotamia, Zababa was the tutelary god of the city of Kish, whose sanctuary was the E-meteursag. In Akkadian times the city’s patron deity was Zababa (or Zamama), along with his wife, the goddess Inanna.

Several ancient Mesopotamian kings were named in honor of Zababa, including Ur-Zababa of Kish (early patron of Sargon of Akkad) and Zababa-shuma-iddin (a 12th-century BC Kassite king of Babylon).

Zababa (also Zamama) was the Hittite way of writing the name of a war god, using Akkadian writing conventions. Most likely, this spelling represents the native Anatolian Hattian god [Wurunkatte], their god of war. His Hurrian name was Astabis. He is connected with the Akkadian god Ninurta. The symbol of Zababa – the eagle-headed staff was often depicted next to Ninurta’s symbol.

Sabazios

Sabazios is the nomadic horseman and sky father god of the Phrygians and Thracians. In Indo-European languages, such as Phrygian, the -zios element in his name derives from dyeus, the common precursor of Latin deus (‘god’) and Greek Zeus.

Though the Greeks interpreted Phrygian Sabazios as both Zeus and Dionysus, representations of him, even into Roman times, show him always on horseback, as a nomadic horseman god, wielding his characteristic staff of power.

It seems likely that the migrating Phrygians brought Sabazios with them when they settled in Anatolia in the early first millennium BCE, and that the god’s origins are to be looked for in Macedonia and Thrace.

The recently discovered ancient sanctuary of Perperikon in modern-day Bulgaria is believed to be that of Sabazios. The Macedonians were also noted horsemen, horse-breeders and horse-worshippers up to the time of Philip II, whose name signifies “lover of horses”.

Possible early conflict between Sabazios and his followers and the indigenous mother goddess of Phrygia (Cybele) may be reflected in Homer’s brief reference to the youthful feats of Priam, who aided the Phrygians in their battles with Amazons.

An aspect of the compromise religious settlement, similar to the other such mythic adjustments throughout Aegean culture, can be read in the later Phrygian King Gordias’ adoption “with Cybele” of Midas.

One of the native religion’s creatures was the Lunar Bull. Sabazios’ relations with the goddess may be surmised in the way that his horse places a hoof on the head of the bull, in a Roman marble relief at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Though Roman in date, the iconic image appears to be much earlier.

Gugalanna (Sumerian gu.gal.an.na, “the Great Bull of Heaven”), better known as the Bull of Heaven (Sumerian: gu.an.na), was a deity in ancient Mesopotamian religion originating in Sumer as well as the constellation known today as Taurus, one of the twelve signs of the Zodiac.

Gugalanna was sent by the gods to take retribution upon Gilgamesh for rejecting the sexual advances of the goddess Inanna. Gugalanna, whose feet made the earth shake, was slain and dismembered by Gilgamesh and his companion Enkidu.

Sabazios, the Thracian reflex of Indo-European Dyeus, was identified with Heros Karabazmos, the “Thracian horseman”. He gained a widespread importance especially after the Roman conquest. This could be akin to Sleipnir, the horse ridden by Odin, in Norse mythology.

Transference of Sabazios to the Roman world appears to have been mediated in large part through Pergamum. The naturally syncretic approach of Greek religion blurred distinctions. Later Greek writers, like Strabo in the first century CE, linked Sabazios with Zagreus, a god, usually but not always identified with Dionysus, among Phrygian ministers and attendants of the sacred rites of Rhea and Dionysos.

Strabo’s Sicilian contemporary, Diodorus Siculus, conflated Sabazios with the secret ‘second’ Dionysus, born of Zeus and Persephone, a connection that is not borne out by surviving inscriptions, which are entirely to Zeus Sabazios.

The Christian Clement of Alexandria had been informed that the secret mysteries of Sabazius, as practiced among the Romans, involved a serpent, a chthonic creature unconnected with the mounted sky god of Phrygia: “‘God in the bosom’ is a countersign of the mysteries of Sabazius to the adepts”. Clement reports: “This is a snake, passed through the bosom of the initiates”.

Much later, the Byzantine Greek encyclopedia, Suda (10th century?), flatly states: “Sabazios … is the same as Dionysos. He acquired this form of address from the rite pertaining to him; for the barbarians call the bacchic cry ‘sabazein’. Hence some of the Greeks too follow suit and call the cry ‘sabasmos’; thereby Dionysos [becomes] Sabazios.

They also used to call ‘saboi’ those places that had been dedicated to him and his Bacchantes … Demosthenes [in the speech] ‘On Behalf of Ktesiphon’ [mentions them]. Some say that Saboi is the term for those who are dedicated to Sabazios, that is to Dionysos, just as those [dedicated] to Bakkhos [are] Bakkhoi. They say that Sabazios and Dionysos are the same. Thus some also say that the Greeks call the Bakkhoi Saboi.”

In Roman sites, though an inscription built into the wall of the abbey church of San Venanzio at Ceperana suggested to a Renaissance humanist it had been built upon the foundations of a temple to Jupiter Sabazius, according to modern scholars not a single temple consecrated to Sabazius, the rider god of the open air, has been located.

Small votive hands, typically made of copper or bronze, are often associated with the cult of Sabazios. Many of these hands have a small perforation at the base which suggests they may have been attached to wooden poles and carried in processions. The symbolism of these objects is not well known.

The first Jews who settled in Rome were expelled in 139 BCE, along with Chaldaean astrologers by Cornelius Hispalus under a law which proscribed the propagation of the “corrupting” cult of “Jupiter Sabazius,” according to the epitome of a lost book of Valerius Maximus. It is conjectured that the Romans identified the Jewish YHVH Tzevaot (“sa-ba-oth,” “of the Hosts”) as Jove Sabazius.

This mistaken connection of Sabazios and Sabaos has often been repeated. In a similar vein, Plutarch maintained that the Jews worshipped Dionysus, and that the day of Sabbath was a festival of Sabazius. Plutarch also discusses the identification of the Jewish God with the “Egyptian” Typhon, an identification which he later rejects, however. The monotheistic Hypsistarians worshipped the Most High under this name, which may have been a form of the Jewish God.

Chaoskampf

The Thracian horseman is the name given to a recurring motif of a deity in the form of a horseman, in Paleo-Balkan mythology, that includes the religious practices of the Dacians, Thracians, and Illyrians. The motif typically features a caped horseman astride a steed, with a spear poised in his right hand.

He is often depicted as slaying a beast with a spear, though this features is sometimes absent. The tradition is best illustrated in surviving artifacts from Thrace, Macedonia, Moesia, and Scythia Minor dating to the Roman era, and is often found depicted on funerary statues.

After Christianity was adopted, the motif of the Thracian horseman is believed to have continued in representations of Saint George slaying the dragon. In the 4th century, the reliefs were considered to be representations of St. George.

Sabazios gained widespread importance after the Roman conquest. The rider is a syncretism of a Romanized people; the rider is a representation of the Cult of Apollo. After Christianity was adopted, the symbolism of Heros continued as representations of Saint George slaying the dragon (compare Uastyrdzhi/Tetri Giorgi in the Caucasus).

The iconic image of the god or hero on horseback battling the chthonic serpent, on which his horse tramples, appears on Celtic votive columns, and with the coming of Christianity it was easily transformed into the image of Saint George and the Dragon, whose earliest known depictions are from tenth- and eleventh-century Cappadocia and eleventh-century Georgia and Armenia.

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Thor and Sif – Chaoskampf and Divine marriage

Posted by Fredsvenn on June 21, 2016

Ninurta / Hercules – Thor

Thor

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 and in Old High German as Donar (runic þonar), stemming from a Common Germanic *Þunraz (meaning “thunder”).

Ultimately stemming from Proto-Indo-European religion, Thor is a prominently mentioned god throughout the recorded history of the Germanic peoples, from the Roman occupation of regions of Germania, to the tribal expansions of the Migration Period, to his high popularity during the Viking Age, when, in the face of the process of the Christianization of Scandinavia, emblems of his hammer, Mjölnir, were worn in defiance and Norse pagan personal names containing the name of the god bear witness to his popularity. The swastika symbol has been identified as representing the hammer or lightning of Thor.

Into the modern period, Thor continued to be acknowledged in rural folklore throughout Germanic regions. Thor is frequently referred to in place names, the day of the week Thursday (“Thor’s day”; Old English Thunresdæg, Thunor’s day; German “Donnerstag” Donar’s day; Dutch “donderdag”) bears his name, and names stemming from the pagan period containing his own continue to be used today.

By employing a practice known as interpretatio germanica during the Roman Empire period, the Germanic peoples adopted the Roman weekly calendar, and replaced the names of Roman gods with their own. Latin dies Iovis (‘day of Jupiter’) was converted into Proto-Germanic *Þonares dagaz (“Thor’s day”), from which stems modern English “Thursday” and all other Germanic weekday cognates.

The earliest records of the Germanic peoples were recorded by the Romans, and in these works Thor is frequently referred to—via a process known as interpretatio romana (where characteristics perceived to be similar by Romans result in identification of a non-Roman god as a Roman deity)—as either the Roman god Jupiter (also known as Jove) or the Greco-Roman god Hercules. Tacitus refers to the god Odin as “Mercury”, Thor as “Hercules”, and the god Týr as “Mars”.

Numerous tales and information about Thor are provided. In these sources, Thor bears at least fourteen names, is the husband of the golden-haired goddess Sif, is the lover of the jötunn Járnsaxa, and is generally described as fierce-eyed, red-haired and red-bearded. With Sif, Thor fathered the goddess (and possible valkyrie) Þrúðr; with Járnsaxa, he fathered Magni; with a mother whose name is not recorded, he fathered Móði, and he is the stepfather of the god Ullr.

The same sources list Thor as the son of the god Odin and the personified earth, Fjörgyn, and by way of Odin, Thor has numerous brothers. Thor has two servants, Þjálfi and Röskva, rides in a cart or chariot pulled by two goats, Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr (that he eats and resurrects), and is ascribed three dwellings (Bilskirnir, Þrúðheimr, and Þrúðvangr). Thor wields the mountain-crushing hammer, Mjölnir, wears the belt Megingjörð and the iron gloves Járngreipr, and owns the staff Gríðarvölr.

Thor’s exploits, including his relentless slaughter of his foes and fierce battles with the monstrous serpent Jörmungandr—and their foretold mutual deaths during the events of Ragnarök—are recorded throughout sources for Norse mythology.

Dumézil’s trifunctional hypothesis

In Georges Dumézil’s trifunctional hypothesis of Indo-European religion, Thor represents the second function, that of strength. Dumézil notes that as a result of displacements, he does not lead armies; most of the functions of Indra have been in effect taken over by Odin.

The trifunctional hypothesis of prehistoric Proto-Indo-European society postulates a tripartite ideology (“idéologie tripartite”) reflected in the existence of three classes or castes – priests, warriors, and commoners (farmers or tradesmen) – corresponding to the three functions of the sacral, the martial and the economic, respectively.

The trifunctional thesis is primarily associated with the French mythographer Georges Dumézil who proposed it in 1929 in the book Flamen-Brahman, and later in Mitra-Varuna. According to Dumézil, Proto-Indo-European society comprised three main groups corresponding to three distinct functions: the function of sovereignty, the military function, and the function of productivity.

Sovereignty fell into two distinct and complementary sub-parts, one formal, juridical and priestly but worldly, the other powerful, unpredictable, and also priestly but rooted in the supernatural world. The second main social division was connected with force, the military and war while the role of the third, ruled by the other two, was productivity, herding, farming and crafts. Proto-Indo-European mythology was divided in the same way: each social group had its own god or family of gods to represent it and the function of the god or gods matched the function of the group. Many such divisions occur in history.

Terje Leiren discerns a grouping of three Norse gods that corresponds to the trifunctional division; Odin as the patron of priests and magicians, Thor of warriors, and Freyr of fertility and farming.

However, many scholars have noted the association of Thor with fertility. For Dumézil, this is the preservation by peasants of only the side-effect of the god’s atmospheric battles: the fertilizing rain. Others have emphasized Thor’s close connection to humanity, in all its concerns.

Theshub

Thor closely resembles other Indo-European deities associated with the thunder: the Celtic Taranis, the Baltic Perkūnas, the Slavic Perun, and particularly the Hindu Indra, whose red hair and thunderbolt weapon the vajra are obvious parallels. Although in the past it was suggested that Thor was an indigenous sky god or a Viking Age import into Scandinavia, these Indo-European parallels make him generally accepted today as ultimately derived from a Proto-Indo-European deity.

Teshub (cuneiform IM; hieroglyphic Luwian (DEUS)TONITRUS, read as Tarhunzas) was the Hurrian god of sky and storm. Taru (Luwian Tarhun / Tarhunt- / Tarhuwant- / Tarhunta) — a word derived from the Hattic root *tarh “to defeat, conquer”) — was the name of a similar (Indo-European, pre-Hittite) Hattic Storm God, whose mythology and worship as a primary deity continued and evolved through descendant Luwian and Hittite cultures.

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.

The Hurrian myth of Teshub’s origin—he was conceived when the god Kumarbi bit off and swallowed his father Anu’s genitals, similarly to the Greek story of Uranus, Cronus, and Zeus, which is recounted in Hesiod’s Theogony. Teshub’s brothers are Aranzah (personification of the river Tigris), 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.

According to Hittite myths, one of Teshub’s greatest acts was the slaying of the dragon Illuyanka. The context is a ritual of the Hattian spring festival of Puruli, a Hattian spring festival, held at Nerik, dedicated to the earth goddess Hannahanna, who is married to a new king. The central ritual of the Puruli festival is dedicated to the destruction of the dragon Illuyanka by the storm god Teshub. The corresponding Assyrian festival is the Akitu of the Enuma Elish.

Chaoskampf

Thor’s exploits, including his relentless slaughter of his foes and fierce battles with the monstrous serpent Jörmungandr—and their foretold mutual deaths during the events of Ragnarök—are recorded throughout sources for Norse mythology.

Scholars have compared Indra’s slaying of Vritra with Thor’s battle with Jörmungandr (Old Norse: Jǫrmungandr, meaning “huge monster”), often written as Jormungand, or Jörmungand and also known as the Midgard Serpent (Old Norse: Miðgarðsormr), or World Serpent, a sea serpent, the middle child of the giantess Angrboða and Loki.

 

The motif of Chaoskampf (German for “struggle against chaos”) is ubiquitous in myth and legend, depicting a battle of a culture hero deity with a chaos monster, often in the shape of a serpent or dragon. The same term has also been extended to parallel concepts in the religions of the Ancient Near East, such as the abstract conflict of ideas in the Egyptian duality of Maat and Isfet.

The origins of the Chaoskampf myth most likely lie in the Proto-Indo-European religion whose descendants almost all feature some variation of the story of a storm god fighting a sea serpent representing the clash between the forces of order and chaos.

Early work by German academics such as Gunkel and Bousset in comparative mythology popularized translating the mythological sea serpent as a “dragon.” Indo-European examples of this mythic trope include Thor vs. Jörmungandr (Norse), Tarhunt vs. Illuyanka (Hittite), Indra vs. Vritra (Vedic), Fereydun vs. Aži Dahāka (Avestan), and Zeus vs. Typhon (Greek) among others.

In Mesopotamian Religion, Tiamat is a primordial goddess of the ocean, mating with Abzû (the god of fresh water) to produce younger gods. She is the symbol of the chaos of primordial creation, depicted as a woman, she represents the beauty of the feminine, depicted as the glistening one.

Tiamat was the “shining” personification of salt water who roared and smote in the chaos of original creation. She and Apsu filled the cosmic abyss with the primeval waters. She is “Ummu-Hubur who formed all things”.

It is suggested that there are two parts to the Tiamat mythos, the first in which Tiamat is a creator goddess, 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. Some sources identify her with images of a sea serpent or dragon.

In the myth recorded on cuneiform tablets, the deity Enki (later Ea) believed correctly that Apsu, upset with the chaos they created, was planning to murder the younger deities; and so captured him, holding him prisoner beneath his temple the E-Abzu. This angered Kingu, their son, who reported the event to Tiamat, whereupon she fashioned eleven monsters to battle the deities in order to avenge Apsu’s death.

Tiamat possessed the Tablet of Destinies and in the primordial battle she gave them to Kingu, the deity she had chosen as her lover and the leader of her host, and who was also one of her children. The deities gathered in terror, but Anu, (replaced later, first by Enlil and, in the late version that has survived after the First Dynasty of Babylon, by Marduk, the son of Ea), first extracting a promise that he would be revered as “king of the gods”, overcame her, armed with the arrows of the winds, a net, a club, and an invincible spear.

Slicing Tiamat in half, he made from her ribs the vault of heaven and earth. Her weeping eyes became the source of the Tigris and the Euphrates, her tail became the Milky Way. With the approval of the elder deities, he took from Kingu the Tablet of Destinies, installing himself as the head of the Babylonian pantheon. Kingu was captured and later was slain: his red blood mixed with the red clay of the Earth would make the body of humankind, created to act as the servant of the younger Igigi deities.

The principal theme of the epic is the justified elevation of Marduk to command over all the deities. It is generally accepted amongst modern Assyriologists that the Enûma Elish – the Babylonian creation epic to which this mythological strand is attributed – has been written as political and religious propaganda rather than reflecting a Sumerian tradition; the dating of the epic is not completely clear, but judging from the mythological topics covered and the cuneiform versions discovered thus far, it is likely to date it to the 15th century BCE.

Ninurta was a Sumerian and the Akkadian god of hunting and war. He was worshipped in Babylonia and Assyria and in Lagash he was identified with the city god Ningirsu. In older transliteration the name is rendered Ninib and Ninip, and in early commentary he was sometimes portrayed as a solar deity.

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.

Ninurta slays each of the monsters later known as the “Slain Heroes”. Eventually, Anzû is killed by Ninurta who delivers the Tablet of Destiny to his father, Enlil. There are many parallels with both and the story of Marduk (son of Enki) who slew Abzu (or Apsu), and delivered the Tablets of Destiny from Kingu to his father, Enki.

 

Ouroboros

According to the Prose Edda, Odin took Loki’s three children by Angrboða—the wolf Fenrir, Hel, and Jörmungandr—and tossed Jörmungandr into the great ocean that encircles Midgard. The serpent grew so large that it was able to surround the earth and grasp its own tail. As a result, it received the name of the Midgard Serpent or World Serpent. When it lets go, the world will end. Jörmungandr’s arch-enemy is the god Thor. It is an example of an ouroboros, (“tail-devouring snake”), an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its own tail.

The ouroboros often symbolizes self-reflexivity, introspection, or cyclicality, especially in the sense of something constantly re-creating itself, the eternal return, and other things such as the phoenix which operate in cycles that begin anew as soon as they end. It can also represent the idea of primordial unity related to something existing in or persisting from the beginning with such force or qualities it cannot be extinguished.

The first known appearance of the ouroboros motif is in the tomb of Tutankhamun in the 14th century BC. The text concerns the actions of the god Ra and his union with Osiris in the underworld. In an illustration from this text, two serpents, holding their tails in their mouths, coil around the head and feet of an enormous god, who may represent the unified Ra-Osiris. Both serpents are manifestations of the deity Mehen, who in other funerary texts protects Ra in his underworld journey. The whole divine figure represents the beginning and the end of time.

The ouroboros appears elsewhere in Egyptian sources, where, like many Egyptian serpent deities, it represents the formless disorder that surrounds the orderly world and is involved in that world’s periodic renewal. The symbol persisted in Egypt into Roman times, when it frequently appeared on magical talismans, sometimes in combination with other magical emblems. The 4th-century AD Latin commentator Servius was aware of the Egyptian use of the symbol, noting that the image of a snake biting its tail represents the cyclical nature of the year.

Wolf-Dieter Storl argues that “When Shakti is united with Shiva, she is a radiant, gentle goddess; but when she is separated from him, she turns into a terrible, destructive fury. She is the endless Ouroboros, the dragon biting its own tail, symbolizing the cycle of samsara.”

Ouroboros symbolism has been used to describe Kundalini energy. According to the second century Yoga Kundalini Upanishad, “The divine power, Kundalini, shines like the stem of a young lotus; like a snake, coiled round upon herself she holds her tail in her mouth and lies resting half asleep as the base of the body”. Another interpretation is that Kundalini equates to the entwined serpents of the caduceus of the Greek god Hermes, the entwined serpents representing divine balance in the west or, esoterically, DNA.

Carl Jung interpreted the ouroboros as having an archetypal significance to the human psyche. The Jungian psychologist Erich Neumann writes of it as a representation of the pre-ego “dawn state”, depicting the undifferentiated infancy experience of both mankind and the individual child.

Divine marriage

Scholar Hilda Ellis Davidson summarizes: The cult of Thor was linked up with men’s habitation and possessions, and with well-being of the family and community. This included the fruitfulness of the fields, and Thor, although pictured primarily as a storm god in the myths, was also concerned with the fertility and preservation of the seasonal round.

In our own times, little stone axes from the distant past have been used as fertility symbols and placed by the farmer in the holes made by the drill to receive the first seed of spring. Thor’s marriage with Sif of the golden hair, about which we hear little in the myths, seems to be a memory of the ancient symbol of divine marriage between sky god and earth goddess, when he comes to earth in the thunderstorm and the storm brings the rain which makes the fields fertile. In this way Thor, as well as Odin, may be seen to continue the cult of the sky god which was known in the Bronze Age.

Sif is a goddess associated with earth. She is the wife of the thunder god Thor and is known for her golden hair. She is named as the mother of the goddess Þrúðr by Thor and of Ullr with a father whose name is not recorded. The Prose Edda also recounts that Sif once had her hair shorn by Loki, and that Thor forced Loki to have a golden headpiece made for Sif, resulting in not only Sif’s golden tresses but also five other objects for other gods.

Scholars have proposed that Sif’s hair may represent fields of golden wheat, that she may be associated with fertility, family, and wedlock. Sif’s name means “relation by marriage”. The name is the singular form of the plural Old Norse word sifjar, which only appears in singular form when referring to the goddess as a proper noun.

Sifjar is cognate to the Old English sib (meaning “affinity, connection, by marriage”) and in other Germanic languages: Gothic language sibja, Old High German sibba, and German Sippe. Sifjar appears not only in ancient poetry and records of law, but also in compounds (byggja sifjar means “to marry”). Using this etymology, scholar John Lindow gives the meanings “in-law-relationship”, scholar Andy Orchard provides “relation”, and scholar Rudolf Simek gives “relation by marriage”.

Hieros gamos or Hierogamy (“holy marriage”) refers to a sexual ritual that plays out a marriage between a god and a goddess, especially when enacted in a symbolic ritual where human participants represent the deities.

Sacred prostitution was common in the Ancient Near East as a form of “Sacred Marriage” or hieros gamos between the king of a Sumerian city-state and the High Priestess of Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare.

Along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers there were many shrines and temples dedicated to Inanna. The temple of Eanna, meaning “house of heaven” in Uruk was the greatest of these. The temple housed Nadītu, priestesses of the goddess. The high priestess would choose for her bed a young man who represented the shepherd Dumuzid, or Tammuz (Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D), “faithful or true son”), consort of Inanna, in a hieros gamos or sacred marriage, celebrated during the annual Duku ceremony, just before Invisible Moon, with the autumn Equinox (Autumnal Zag-mu Festival).

Tammuz was the name of a Sumerian god of food and vegetation, also worshiped in the later Mesopotamian states. In Babylonia, the month Tammuz was established in honor of the eponymous god Tammuz, who originated as a Sumerian shepherd-god, the consort of Inanna and, in his Akkadian form, the parallel consort of Ishtar. The Levantine (“lord”) Adonis, who was drawn into the Greek pantheon, was considered by Joseph Campbell among others to be another counterpart of Tammuz, son and consort.

Beginning with the summer solstice came a time of mourning in the Ancient Near East, as in the Aegean: the Babylonians marked the decline in daylight hours and the onset of killing summer heat and drought with a six-day “funeral” for the god. In cult practice, the dead Tammuz was widely mourned in the Ancient Near East.

Recent discoveries reconfirm him as an annual life-death-rebirth deity: tablets discovered in 1963 show that Dumuzi was in fact consigned to the Underworld himself, in order to secure Inanna’s release, though the recovered final line reveals that he is to revive for six months of each year.

Adonis, in Greek mythology, is a central figure in various mystery religions. In 1966, Wahib Attalah wrote that the “cult of Adonis belonged to women,” and further asserted “the cult of dying Adonis was fully developed in the circle of young girls around Sappho on Lesbos, about 600 BC, as a fragment of Sappho reveals.”

There has been much scholarship over the centuries concerning the multiple roles of Adonis, if any, and his meaning and purpose in Greek religious beliefs. Modern scholarship sometimes describes him as an annually renewed, ever-youthful vegetation god, a life-death-rebirth deity whose nature is tied to the calendar. His name is often applied in modern times to handsome youths, of whom he is the archetype.

The Greek Adōnis was a borrowing from the Canaanite word ʼadōn, meaning “lord”, which is related to Adonai, one of the names used to refer to the God of the Hebrew Bible and still used in Judaism to the present day. Syrian Adonis is Gauas or Aos, akin to Egyptian Osiris, the Semitic Tammuz and Baal Hadad, the Etruscan Atunis and the Phrygian Attis, all of whom are deities of rebirth and vegetation.

Adonis is the Hellenized form of the Phoenician word “adoni”, meaning “my lord”. It is believed that the cult of Adonis was known to the Greeks from around the sixth century BC, but it is unquestionable that they came to know it through contact with Cyprus. Around this time, the cult of Adonis is noted in the Book of Ezekiel in Jerusalem, though under the Babylonian name Tammuz.

Adonis originally was a Phoenician god of fertility representing the spirit of vegetation. It is further speculated that he was an avatar of the version of Ba’al, worshipped in Ugarit. It is likely that lack of clarity concerning whether Myrrha was called Smyrna, and who her father was, originated in Cyprus before the Greeks first encountered the myth. However, it is clear that the Greeks added much to the Adonis-Myrrha story, before it was first recorded by classical scholars.

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In the beginning of our civilization

Posted by Fredsvenn on June 20, 2016

The Natufian culture was an Epipaleolithic culture that existed from 12,500 to 9,500 BC in the Levant, a region in the Eastern Mediterranean. It was unusual in that it was sedentary, or semi-sedentary, before the introduction of agriculture. Generally, though, Natufians exploited wild cereals. Animals hunted included gazelles.
 
By 10,200–8,800 BC, farming communities arose in the Levant and spread to Asia Minor, North Africa and North Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia is the site of the earliest developments of the Neolithic Revolution from around 10,000 BC.
 
It has been identified as having “inspired some of the most important developments in human history including the invention of the wheel, the planting of the first cereal crops and the development of cursive script, mathematics, astronomy and agriculture.”
 
The Natufian communities may be the ancestors of the builders of the first Neolithic settlements of the region, which may have been the earliest in the world. Some evidence suggests deliberate cultivation of cereals, specifically rye, by the Natufian culture, at Tell Abu Hureyra, the site of earliest evidence of agriculture in the world.
 
The Natufian developed in the same region as the earlier Kebaran complex, and is generally seen as a successor which developed from at least elements within that earlier culture.
 
There were also other cultures in the region, such as the Mushabian culture of the Negev and Sinai, which are sometimes distinguished from the Kebaran, and sometimes also seen as having played a role in the development of the Natufian.
 
More generally there has been discussion of the similarities of these cultures with those found in coastal North Africa. Graeme Barker notes there are: “similarities in the respective archaeological records of the Natufian culture of the Levant and of contemporary foragers in coastal North Africa across the late Pleistocene and early Holocene boundary”.
 
Ofer Bar-Yosef has argued that there are signs of influences coming from North Africa to the Levant, citing the microburin technique and “microlithic forms such as arched backed bladelets and La Mouillah points.” But recent research has shown that the presence of arched backed bladelets, La Mouillah points, and the use of the microburin technique was already apparent in the Nebekian industry of the Eastern Levant.
 
Maher et al. state that, “Many technological nuances that have often been always highlighted as significant during the Natufian were already present during the Early and Middle EP [Epipalaeolithic] and do not, in most cases, represent a radical departure in knowledge, tradition, or behavior.”
 
Authors such as Christopher Ehret have built upon the little evidence available to develop scenarios of intensive usage of plants having built up first in North Africa, as a precursor to the development of true farming in the Fertile Crescent. However, Weiss et al. have shown that the earliest known intensive usage of plants was in the Levant 23,000 years ago at the Ohalo II site.
 
According to Bar-Yosef and Belfer-Cohen, “It seems that certain preadaptive traits, developed already by the Kebaran and Geometric Kebaran populations within the Mediterranean park forest, played an important role in the emergence of the new socioeconomic system known as the Natufian culture”.
 
According to the genetic analyses done on six Natufian remains from Northern Israel, the Natufians carried the Y-DNA haplogroup E-Z380, which is ancestral to the modern-day E-M123 and were distinct, in terms of autosomal DNA, from northern, Anatolian populations, who contributed to the peopling of Europe, whilst the Natufians did not.
 
Anthropologist C. Loring Brace in a recent study on cranial metric traits however, was also able to identify a “clear link” to Sub-Saharan African populations for early Natufians based on his observation of gross anatomical similarity with extant populations found mostly in the Sahara.
 
Brace believes that these populations later became assimilated into the broader continuum of Southwest Asian populations. It is further speculated that the admixture process between Neolithic people and in situ foragers diluted any discoverable trace of Sub-Saharan ancestry that may have been present.
 
According to Christy G. Turner II, there is an archaeological and physical anthropological reason for a relationship between the modern Semitic-speaking populations of the Levant and the Natufians.
 
However, Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA), denoting the first stage in early Levantine and Anatolian Neolithic culture, dating around 9500 to 8000 BC, succeeded the Natufian culture of the Epipaleolithic (Mesolithic).
 
During this time, pottery was not yet in use. They precede the ceramic Neolithic (Yarmukian). Archaeological remains are located in the Levantine and upper Mesopotamian region of the Fertile Crescent.
 
Sites includes ‘Sultanian’ in the Jordan River valley and southern Levant with the type site of Jericho (other sites include Netiv HaGdud, El-Khiam, Hatoula and Nahal Oren), ‘Mureybetian’ in the Northern Levant, ‘Aswadian’ in the Damascus Basin, Çayönü and Göbekli Tepe (with the latter possibly being the oldest religious structural complex yet discovered), in ‘Upper Mesopotamia’, and Çatalhöyük, and the smaller but older site, rivaling even Jericho in age, Aşıklı Höyük, in central Anatolia.
 
Göbekli Tepe (“Potbelly Hill”), which is a direct translation of Armenian Portasar (“Mountain Navel”), is an archaeological site at the top of a mountain ridge in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of modern-day Turkey, approximately 12 km (7 mi) northeast of the city of Şanlıurfa.
 
Göbekli Tepe is connected with the initial stages of the Neolithic. It is one of several sites in the vicinity of Karaca Dağ, an area which geneticists suspect may have been the original source of at least some of our cultivated grains. It was here that the Neolithic revolution, i.e., the beginnings of grain cultivation, took place.
 
Recent DNA analysis of modern domesticated wheat compared with wild wheat has shown that its DNA is closest in sequence to wild wheat found on Karaca Dağ 20 miles (32 km) away from the site, suggesting that this is where modern wheat was first domesticated.
 
Mobile groups in the area were compelled to cooperate with each other to protect early concentrations of wild cereals from wild animals (herds of gazelles and wild donkeys).
 
Wild cereals may have been used for sustenance more intensively than before and were perhaps deliberately cultivated. This would have led to early social organization of various groups in the area. Thus, the Neolithic did not begin on a small scale in the form of individual instances of garden cultivation, but developed rapidly in the form of “a large-scale social organization”.
 
The cultural tendencies of Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB), dating ca. 8000-6200 BC, differ from that of the earlier Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) period in that people living during this period began to depend more heavily upon domesticated animals to supplement their earlier mixed agrarian and hunter-gatherer diet.
 
Like the earlier PPNA people, the PPNB culture developed from the Earlier Natufian but shows evidence of a northerly origin, possibly indicating an influx from the region of north eastern Anatolia.
 
Early Neolithic farming was limited to a narrow range of plants, both wild and domesticated, which included einkorn wheat, millet and spelt, and the keeping of dogs, sheep and goats. By about 6,900–6,400 BC, it included domesticated cattle and pigs, the establishment of permanently or seasonally inhabited settlements, and the use of pottery.
 
Pyrotechnology was highly developed in this period. During this period, one of the main features of houses is evidenced by a thick layer of white clay plaster floors highly polished and made of lime produced from limestone. It is believed that the use of clay plaster for floor and wall coverings during PPNB led to the discovery of pottery.
 
The earliest proto-pottery was White Ware vessels, made from lime and gray ash, built up around baskets before firing, for several centuries around 7000 BC at sites such as Tell Neba’a Faour (Beqaa Valley).
 
The similarities of White Ware and overlapping time periods with later clay firing methods have suggested that Dark Faced Burnished Ware (DFBW), the first real pottery, came as a development from this limestone prototype.
 
DFBW is the earliest form of pottery developed in the western world. It has long been considered the forbear of the more polished examples such as Ancient Greek pottery.
 
The culture disappeared during the 8.2 kiloyear event, a term that climatologists have adopted for a sudden decrease in global temperatures that occurred approximately 8,200 years before the present, or c. 6200 BCE, and which lasted for the next two to four centuries.
 
Milder than the Younger Dryas cold spell that preceded it, but more severe than the Little Ice Age that would follow, the 8.2 kiloyear cooling was a significant exception to general trends of the Holocene climatic optimum.
 
During the event, atmospheric methane concentration decreased by 80 ppb or an emission reduction of 15%, by cooling and drying at a hemispheric scale.
 
Drier conditions were notable in North Africa while East Africa suffered five centuries of general drought. In West Asia and especially Mesopotamia, the 8.2 kiloyear event was a 300-year aridification and cooling episode, which may have provided the natural force for Mesopotamian irrigation agriculture and surplus production that were essential for the earliest class-formation and urban life.
 
However, multicentennial changes around the same period are difficult to link specifically to the approximately 100-year abrupt event as recorded most clearly in the Greenland ice cores.
 
The Neolithic 3 (PN) began around 6,400 BCE in the Fertile Crescent. By then distinctive cultures emerged, with pottery like the Halafian (Turkey, Syria, Northern Mesopotamia) and Ubaid (Southern Mesopotamia). This period has been further divided into PNA (Pottery Neolithic A) and PNB (Pottery Neolithic B) at some sites.
 
In the following Munhatta and Yarmukian post-pottery Neolithic cultures that succeeded it, rapid cultural development continues, although PPNB culture continued in the Amuq valley, where it influenced the later development of Ghassulian culture (c. 3800–c. 3350 BC) dating to the Middle Chalcolithic Period in the Southern Levant.
 
Ghassulian refers to a culture and an archaeological stage. Its type-site is located in the Jordan Valley near the Dead Sea in modern Jordan. It was characterized by small hamlet settlements of mixed farming peoples, who migrated southwards from today’s Syria into today’s Jordan, Israel and Palestine. Their pottery was highly elaborate, including footed bowls and horn-shaped drinking goblets, indicating the cultivation of wine.
 
Ghassulian culture has been identified at numerous other places in what is today southern Israel, especially in the region of Beersheba. The Ghassulian culture correlates closely with the Amratian of Egypt and may have had trading affinities (e.g., the distinctive churns, or “bird vases”) with early Minoan culture in Crete.
 
Work at the site of ‘Ain Ghazal in Jordan has indicated a later Pre-Pottery Neolithic C period which existed between 8,200 and 7,900 BP. Cultures practicing this lifestyle spread down the Red Sea shoreline and moved east from Syria into southern Iraq.
 
Juris Zarins has proposed that a Circum Arabian Nomadic Pastoral Complex developed in the period from the climatic crisis of 6200 BCE, partly as a result of an increasing emphasis in PPNB cultures upon animal domesticates, and a fusion with Harifian hunter gatherers in Southern Palestine, with affiliate connections with the cultures of Fayyum and the Eastern Desert of Egypt.
 
Domestication of sheep and goats reached Egypt from the Near East possibly as early as 6,000 BC. The first indisputable evidence for domestic plants and animals in the Nile valley is not until the early 5000 BC in northern Egypt and a thousand years later further south. In both cases as part of strategies that still relied heavily on fishing, hunting, and the gathering of wild plants”.
 
Graeme Barker suggests that these subsistence changes were not due to farmers migrating from the Near East but was an indigenous development, with cereals either indigenous or obtained through exchange.
 
Other scholars argue that the primary stimulus for agriculture and domesticated animals (as well as mud-brick architecture and other Neolithic cultural features) in Egypt was from the Middle East.
 
The Samarra culture is a Chalcolithic archaeological culture in northern Mesopotamia that is roughly dated to 5500–4800 BCE. It partially overlaps with Hassuna and early Ubaid.
 
It is speculated by some archaeologists that Sumerian speakers were farmers who moved down from the north, after perfecting irrigation agriculture there.
 
The Ubaid period pottery of southern Mesopotamia has been connected via Choga Mami transitional ware to the pottery of the Samarra period culture (c. 5700 – 4900 BC C-14) in the north, who were the first to practice a primitive form of irrigation agriculture along the middle Tigris River and its tributaries.
 
The connection is most clearly seen at Tell Awayli (Oueilli, Oueili) near Larsa, excavated by the French in the 1980s, where eight levels yielded pre-Ubaid pottery resembling Samarran ware.
 
According to this theory, farming peoples spread down into southern Mesopotamia because they had developed a temple-centered social organization for mobilizing labor and technology for water control, enabling them to survive and prosper in a difficult environment.
 
Others have suggested a continuity of Sumerians, from the indigenous hunter-fisherfolk traditions, associated with the Arabian bifacial assemblages found on the Arabian littoral.
 
The Sumerians themselves claimed kinship with the pre-Arab people of Dilmun, associated with modern Bahrain in the Persian Gulf. Professor Juris Zarins believes the Sumerians may have been the people living in the Persian Gulf region before it flooded at the end of the last Ice Age.
 
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 (Cuneiform: nun.ki), c. 6500 BC, by farmers who brought with them the Hadji Muhammed culture, which first pioneered irrigation agriculture.
 
It appears that this culture was derived from the Samarran culture from northern Mesopotamia. 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. The story of the passing of the me (gifts of civilization) 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.
 
Samarran material culture was first recognized during excavations by German Archaeologist Ernst Herzfeld at the site of Samarra. Other sites where Samarran material has been found include Tell Shemshara, Tell es-Sawwan and Yarim Tepe.
 
At Tell es-Sawwan, evidence of irrigation—including flax—establishes the presence of a prosperous settled culture with a highly organized social structure. The culture is primarily known for its finely made pottery decorated with stylized animals, including birds, and geometric designs on dark backgrounds.
 
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 (ca. 6500 to 3800 BCE).
 
Sumer was one the first ancient urban civilization in the historical region of southern Mesopotamia, modern-day southern Iraq, during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze ages, and arguably the first civilization in the world.
 
Proto-writing in the region dates back to c. 3500 BC. The earliest texts come from the cities of Uruk and Jemdet Nasr and date back to 3300 BC; early cuneiform writing emerged in 3000 BC.
 
Modern historians have suggested that Sumer was first permanently settled between c. 5500 and 4000 BC by a West Asian people who spoke the Sumerian language (pointing to the names of cities, rivers, basic occupations, etc., as evidence), a language isolate.
 
These conjectured, prehistoric people are now called “proto-Euphrateans” or “Ubaidians”, and are theorized to have evolved from the Samarra culture of northern Mesopotamia (Assyria).
 
The Ubaidians (though never mentioned by the Sumerians themselves) are assumed by modern-day scholars to have been the first civilizing force in Sumer, draining the marshes for agriculture, developing trade, and establishing industries, including weaving, leatherwork, metalwork, masonry, and pottery.
 
However, some scholars contest the idea of a Proto-Euphratean language or one substrate language. It has been suggested by them and others, that the Sumerian language was originally that of the hunter and fisher peoples, who lived in the marshland and the Eastern Arabia littoral region, and were part of the Arabian bifacial culture.
 
Reliable historical records begin much later; there are none in Sumer of any kind that have been dated before Enmebaragesi (c. 26th century BC). Professor Juris Zarins believes the Sumerians were settled along the coast of Eastern Arabia, today’s Persian Gulf region, before it flooded at the end of the Ice Age.
 
Sumerian civilization took form in the Uruk period (4th millennium BC), continuing into the Jemdat Nasr and Early Dynastic periods.
 
During the 3rd millennium BC, a close cultural symbiosis developed between the Sumerians, who spoke a language isolate, and Akkadian-speakers, which included widespread bilingualism. Sumerian culture seems to have appeared as a fully formed civilization, with no pre-history.
 
In South Mesopotamia the period is the earliest known period on the alluvial plain 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 BCE when it is replaced by the Uruk period.
 
Spreading from Eridu the Ubaid culture extended from the Middle of the Tigris and Euphrates to the shores of the Persian Gulf, and then spread down past Bahrein to the copper deposits at Oman.
 
The archaeological record shows that Arabian Bifacial/Ubaid period came to an abrupt end in eastern Arabia and the Oman peninsula at 3800 BCE, 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”. That might be due to the 5.9 kiloyear event at the end of the Older Peron.
 
Proto-Semitic is the hypothetical proto-language ancestral to historical Semitic languages of the Middle East. Locations which have been proposed for its origination include northern Mesopotamia, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Levant with a 2009 study proposing that it may have originated around 3750 BCE.
 
The Semitic language family is considered a component of the larger Afroasiatic macro-family of languages. The specific appearance of the donkey (an African animal) in Proto-Semitic but total absence of any reference to wheeled vehicles rather narrowly dates Proto-Semitic to between 3,800 BC and 3,500 BC.
 
In North Mesopotamia the period runs only between about 5300 and 4300 BCE. It is preceded by the Halaf period and the Halaf-Ubaid Transitional period and succeeded by the Late Chalcolithic period.
 
Previously, the Syrian plains were not considered as the homeland of Halaf culture, and the Halafians were seen either as hill people who descended from the nearby mountains of southeastern Anatolia, or herdsmen from northern Iraq. However, it has been demonstrated that Halaf culture was not sudden and was not the result of foreign people, but rather a continuous process of indigenous cultural changes in northern Syria, that spread to the other regions.
 
Halaf culture ended by 5000 BC after entering the so-called Halaf-Ubaid Transitional period. Many Halafians settlements were abandoned, and the remaining ones showed Ubaidian characters.
 
The new period is named Northern Ubaid to distinguish it from the proper Ubaid in southern Mesopotamia, and two explanations were presented for the transformation. The first maintain an invasion and a replacement of the Halafians by the Ubaidians, however, there is no hiatus between the Halaf and northern Ubaid which exclude the invasion theory. The most plausible theory is a Halafian adoption of the Ubaid culture.
 
The Leyla-Tepe culture of ancient Azerbaijan belongs to the Chalcolithic era. It got its name from the site in the Agdam district. Its settlements were distributed on the southern slopes of Central Caucasus, mostly in Agdam District, from 4350 until 4000 BC. The culture has also been linked to the north Ubaid period monuments, in particular, with the settlements in the Eastern Anatolia Region (Arslantepe, Coruchu-tepe, Tepechik, etc.).
 
Among the sites associated with this culture, the Soyugbulag kurgans or barrows are of special importance. The excavation of these kurgans demonstrated an unexpectedly early date of such structures on the territory of Azerbaijan. They were dated to the beginning of the 4th millennium BC.
 
The appearance of Leilatepe tradition’s carriers in the Caucasus marked the appearance of the first local Caucasian metallurgy. This is attributed to migrants from Uruk, arriving around 4500 BCE.
 
Leilatepe metalwork tradition was very sophisticated right from the beginning, and featured many bronze items. Yet later, the quality of metallurgy declined with the Kura–Araxes culture.
 
It extends along the area from the Taman Peninsula at the Kerch Strait to near the modern border of Dagestan and southwards to the Kura River. The culture takes its name from a royal burial found in Maykop kurgan in the Kuban River valley.
 
It has been suggested that the Leyla-Tepe were the founders of the Maykop culture (ca. 3700 BC – 3000 BC), a major Bronze Age archaeological culture in the Western Caucasus region of Southern Russia.
 
Discovery of Soyugbulaq in 2004 and subsequent excavations provided substantial proof that the practice of kurgan burial was well established in the South Caucasus during the late Eneolithic.
 
The Leylatepe Culture tribes migrated to the north in the mid-fourth millennium, B.C. and played an important part in the rise of the Maikop Culture of the North Caucasus.
 
An expedition to Syria by the Russian Academy of Sciences revealed the similarity of the Maykop and Leyla-Tepe artifacts with those found recently while excavating the ancient city of Tel Khazneh I, from the 4th millennium BC.
 
In the south the Maykop culture borders the approximately contemporaneous Kura-Araxes culture (3500—2200 BC), which extends into eastern Anatolia and apparently influenced it.
 
The Kura–Araxes culture or the early trans-Caucasian culture was a civilization that existed from 3400 BC until about 2000 BC, which has traditionally been regarded as the date of its end; in some locations it may have disappeared as early as 2600 or 2700 BC.
 
The earliest evidence for this culture is found on the Ararat plain. Its pottery was distinctive. It was painted black and red, using geometric designs. Examples have been found as far south as Syria and Israel, and as far north as Dagestan and Chechnya.
 
The spread of their pottery along trade routes into surrounding cultures was much more impressive than any of their achievements domestically. The spread of this pottery, along with archaeological evidence of invasions, suggests that the Kura-Araxes people may have spread outward from their original homes and, most certainly, had extensive trade contacts. It is believed that its southern expanse is attributable primarily to Mitanni and the Hurrians.
 
Viticulture and wine-making were widely practised in the area from the earliest times. Viticulture even goes back to the earlier Shulaveri-Shomu culture, a Late Neolithic/Eneolithic culture that existed on the territory of present-day Georgia, Azerbaijan and the Armenian Highlands dated to mid-6th or early-5th millennia BC.
 
Hamoukar is a large archaeological site located in the Jazira region of northeastern Syria (Al Hasakah Governorate), near the Iraqi and Turkish borders. The early settlement dates back to the 5th millennium BCE, and it existed simultaneously with the Ubaid and the early Uruk cultures. It was a big centre of obsidian production. In the 3rd millennium, this was one of the largest cities of Northern Mesopotamia, and extended to 105 ha.
 
It is now believed that Hamoukar was thriving as far back as 4000 BC and independently from Sumer. The origins of urban settlements has generally been attributed to the riverine societies of southern Mesopotamia (in what is now southern Iraq). This is the area of ancient Sumer, where around 4000 BC the Mesopotamian cities such of Ur and Uruk emerged.
 
In 2007, following the discoveries at Hamoukar, some archaeologists have argued that the Cradle of Civilization could have extended further up the Tigris River and included the part of northern Syria where Hamoukar is located. The town lay on an important trade route between Anatolia and southern Mesopotamia.
 
Excavation work undertaken in 2005 and 2006 has shown that this city was destroyed around 3500 BC. This may be the evidence of the earliest urban warfare attested so far in the archaeological record of the Near East. Slings and thousands of clay bullets have been found — evidence of the siege that the city endured. Contained excavations in 2008 and 2010 tried to expand on that.
 
The city could have fallen victim to the Uruk expansion around 3500 BC. There are remains of an Uruk trading colony in the area. Yet, according to the archaeologist Clemens Reichel, the evidence of who exactly was responsible for the destruction of Hamoukar is not entirely clear, since the Uruk trading colony was probably also destroyed at the same time as the big battle was taking place.
 
Eye Idols made of alabaster or bone have been found in Tell Hamoukar. Eye Idols have also been found in Tell Brak, the biggest settlement from Syria’s Late Chalcolithic period. Tell Brak was a trade center due to its location between Anatolia, the Levant and southern Mesopotamia.
 
Tell Brak was a religious center from its earliest periods; its famous Eye Temple is unique in the Fertile Crescent, and its main deity, Belet-Nagar, was revered in the entire Khabur region, making the city a pilgrimage site.
 
The earliest period A, is dated to the proto Halaf culture c. 6500 BC, when a small settlement existed. Many objects dated to that period were discovered including the Halaf pottery. By 5000 BC, Halaf culture transformed into Northern Ubaid, and many Ubaid materials were found in Tell Brak.
 
Excavations and surface survey of the site and its surroundings, unearthed a large platform of patzen bricks that dates to late Ubaid, and revealed that Tell Brak developed as an urban center slightly earlier than better known cities of southern Mesopotamia, such as Uruk.
 
In southern Mesopotamia, the original Ubaid culture evolved into the Uruk period. The people of the southern Uruk period used military and commercial means to expand the civilization. In Northern Mesopotamia, the post Ubaid period is designated Late Chalcolithic / Northern Uruk period, during which, Tell Brak, whose original name is unknown, started to expand.
 
Interactions with the Mesopotamian south grew c. 3600 BC, and an Urukean colony was established in the city. With the end of Uruk culture c 3000 BC, Tell Brak’s Urukean colony was abandoned and deliberately leveled by its occupants. Tell Brak contracted and became limited to the mound.
 
Evidence exists for an interaction with the Mesopotamian south, represented by the existence of materials similar to the ones produced during the southern Jemdet Nasr period. The city remained a small settlement during the Ninevite 5 period, with a small temple and associated sealing activities.
 
Around c. 2600 BC, a large administrative building was built and the city expanded out of the tell again. The revival is connected with the Kish civilization, and the city was named “Nagar”, which might be of Simitic origin and mean a “cultivated place”.
 
A theory has been suggested by Stephen Batiuk that the Kura-Araxes folk may have spread Vitis vinifera vine and wine technology to the “Fertile Crescent”—to Mesopotamia and the Eastern Mediterranean.
 
They are also remarkable for the production of wheeled vehicles (wagons and carts), which were sometimes included in burial kurgans. Their practice of storing relatively great wealth in burial kurgans was probably a cultural influence from the more ancient civilizations of the Fertile Crescent to the south.
 
Late in the history of this culture, its people built kurgans of greatly varying sizes, containing widely varying amounts and types of metalwork, with larger, wealthier kurgans surrounded by smaller kurgans containing less wealth. This trend suggests the eventual emergence of a marked social hierarchy.
 
Altogether, the early trans-Caucasian culture enveloped a vast area approximately 1,000 km by 500 km, and mostly encompassed, on modern-day territories, the Southern Caucasus (except western Georgia), northwestern Iran, the northeastern Caucasus, eastern Turkey, and as far as Syria.
 
It gave rise to the later Khirbet Kerak-ware culture found in Syria and Canaan. Khirbet Kerak (“the ruin of the fortress”) or Beth Yerah (“House of the Moon god”) is a tell (archaeological mound) located on the southern shore of the Sea of Galilee in modern-day Israel.
 
The tell spans an area of over 50 acres—one of the largest in the Levant—and contains remains dating from the Early Bronze Age (c. 3000 BC – 2000 BC) and from the Persian period (c. 450 BC) through to the early Islamic period (c. 1000 AD).
 
“Khirbet Kerak ware” is a type of Early Bronze Age Syro-Palestinian pottery first discovered at this site. It is also found in other parts of the Levant (including Jericho, Beth Shan, Tell Judeideh, and Ugarit). Khirbet Kerak culture appears to have been a Levantine version of the Early Transcaucasian Culture.
 
The 2009 discovery at the tell of a stone palette with Egyptian motifs, including an ankh, points to trade/political relations with the First dynasty of Egypt, at approximately 3000 BCE.
 
Trialeti culture emerged in the areas of the preceding Kura-Araxes culture. It is attributed to the late 3rd and early 2nd millennium BC. At that time, there was already strong social differentiation indicated by rich mound burials. There are parallels to the Early Kurgan culture. Cremation burial was practised.
 
In a historical context, their impressive accumulation of wealth in burial kurgans, like that of other associated and nearby cultures with similar burial practices, is particularly noteworthy. This practice was probably a result of influence from the older civilizations to the south in the Fertile Crescent. Geographical interconnectedness and links with other areas of the Near East are seen in many aspects of the culture.
 
The Trialeti culture shows close ties with the cultures of the ancient world, particularly with the Aegean. For example, a cauldron found in Trialeti is nearly identical to the one from Shaft Grave 4 of Mycenae in Greece.
 
Trialeti-Vanadzor painted monochrome and polychrome pottery is very similar to that in the other areas of the Near East. In particular, similar ceramics is known as the Urmia ware (named after Lake Urmia in Iran). Also, similar pottery was produced by the Uzarlik culture, and the Karmirberd-Sevan culture.
 
The site at Trialeti was originally excavated in 1936–1940 in advance of a hydroelectric scheme, when forty-six barrows were uncovered. A further six barrows were uncovered in 1959–1962.[8]
 
To the north of the Maykop culture is the Yamna culture, including the Novotitorovka culture (3300—2700), which it overlaps in territorial extent. It is contemporaneous with the late Uruk period in Mesopotamia.
 
The Kuban River is navigable for much of its length and provides an easy water-passage via the Sea of Azov to the territory of the Yamna culture, along the Don and Donets River systems. The Maykop culture was thus well-situated to exploit the trading possibilities with the central Ukraine area.
 
Its inhumation practices were characteristically Indo-European, typically in a pit, sometimes stone-lined, topped with a kurgan (or tumulus). Stone cairns replace kurgans in later interments. The Maykop kurgan was extremely rich in gold and silver artifacts; unusual for the time.
 
In the early 20th century, researchers established the existence of a local Maykop animal style in the artifacts found. This style was seen as the prototype for animal styles of later archaeological cultures: the Maykop animal style is more than a thousand years older than the Scythian, Sarmatian and Celtic animal styles.
 
There is a recognition that this culture may be a product of at least two traditions: the local steppe tradition embraced in the Novosvobodna culture and foreign elements from south of the Caucasus which can be charted through imports in both regions.
 
The culture has been described as, at the very least, a “kurganized” local culture with strong ethnic and linguistic links to the descendants of the Proto-Indo-Europeans. It has been linked to the Lower Mikhaylovka group and Kemi Oba culture, and more distantly, to the Globular Amphora and Corded Ware cultures, if only in an economic sense.

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The True History of Ancient Civilizations

Posted by Fredsvenn on June 20, 2016

An alternative history of the world, based on Sumerian Historical text, that puts into question what may be currently understood. Sumerian history was recorded 2500 years before Moses wrote the Pentateuch, and lacks the religious overtones that we have been taught.By reading these blogs you will be able to go back in time and read the true history first recorded by man.

The True History of Ancient Civilizations

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One truth – many songs …

Posted by Fredsvenn on June 20, 2016

Tammuz (Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D), “faithful or true son”) was the name of a Sumerian god of food and vegetation, also worshiped in the later Mesopotamian states.

In cult practice, the dead Tammuz was widely mourned in the Ancient Near East. Beginning with the summer solstice came a time of mourning in the Ancient Near East, as in the Aegean: the Babylonians marked the decline in daylight hours and the onset of killing summer heat and drought with a six-day “funeral” for the god.

Recent discoveries reconfirm him as an annual life-death-rebirth deity: tablets discovered in 1963 show that Dumuzi was in fact consigned to the Underworld himself, in order to secure Inanna’s release, though the recovered final line reveals that he is to revive for six months of each year.

In Babylonia, the month Tammuz was established in honor of the eponymous god Tammuz, who originated as a Sumerian shepherd-god, Dumuzid or Dumuzi, the consort of Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare, and goddess of the E-Anna temple at the city of Uruk, her main centre, and, in his Akkadian form, the parallel consort of Ishtar.

Inanna was associated with the eastern fish of the last of the zodiacal constellations, Pisces, the twelfth astrological sign in the Zodiac, originating from the Pisces constellation, spanning the 330° to 360° of the zodiac, between 332.75° and 360° of celestial longitude. Her consort Dumuzi was associated with the contiguous first constellation, Aries, the first astrological sign in the Zodiac, spanning the first 30 degrees of celestial longitude (0°≤ λ <30°).

The Spring Triangle is an astronomical asterism involving an imaginary triangle drawn upon the celestial sphere, with its defining vertices at Arcturus, Spica, and Regulus. This triangle connects the constellations of Boötes, Virgo, and Leo. It is visible rising in the south eastern sky of the northern hemisphere between March and May.

George Lovi of Sky & Telescope magazine had a slightly different Spring triangle, including the tail of Leo, Denebola, instead of Regulus. Denebola is dimmer, but the triangle is more nearly equilateral. These stars forms part of a larger Spring asterism called the Great Diamond together with Cor Caroli.

The March equinox or Northward equinox is the equinox on the Earth when the Sun appears to leave the southern hemisphere and cross the celestial equator, heading northward as seen from earth. In the Northern Hemisphere the March equinox is known as the vernal equinox, and in the Southern Hemisphere as the autumnal equinox.

One of the most important goddesses of reconstructed Proto-Indo-European religion is the personification of dawn as a beautiful young woman. The name indicates that the goddess was imagined as a beautiful nubile woman, who also had aspects of a love goddess.

Her name is reconstructed as Hausōs (PIE *h₂ewsṓs- or *h₂ausōs-, an s-stem), besides numerous epithets. Derivatives of *h₂ewsṓs in the historical mythologies of Indo-European peoples include Indian Uṣas, Greek Ēōs, Latin Aurōra, and Baltic Aušra (“dawn”, c.f. Lithuanian Aušrinė). Germanic *Austrōn- is from an extended stem *h₂ews-tro-.

The name *h₂ewsṓs is derived from a root *h₂wes / *au̯es “to shine”, thus translating to “the shining one”. Both the English word east and the Latin auster “south” are from a root cognate adjective *aws-t(e)ro-. Also cognate is aurum “gold”, from *awso-. The name for “spring season”, *wes-r- is also from the same root.

Besides the name most amenable to reconstruction, *h₂ewsṓs, a number of epithets of the dawn goddess may be reconstructed with some certainty. Among these is *wenos- (also an s-stem), whence Sanskrit vanas “loveliness; desire”, used of Uṣas in the Rigveda, and the Latin name Venus and the Norse Vanir.

The dawn goddess was also the goddess of spring, involved in the mythology of the Indo-European new year, where the dawn goddess is liberated from imprisonment by a god. The abduction and imprisonment of the dawn goddess, and her liberation by a heroic god slaying the dragon who imprisons her, is a central myth of Indo-European religion.

Venus is the Roman goddess whose functions encompassed love, beauty, sex, fertility, prosperity, victory, and desire. In Roman mythology, Venus was the mother of the Roman people through her son, Aeneas, who survived the fall of Troy and fled to Italy. Julius Caesar claimed her as his ancestor. Venus was central to many religious festivals, and was revered in Roman religion under numerous cult titles.

In the mythic genealogy and founding myths of Rome, Mars was the father of Romulus and Remus with Rhea Silvia. His love affair with Venus symbolically reconciled the two different traditions of Rome’s founding; Venus was the divine mother of the hero Aeneas, celebrated as the Trojan refugee who “founded” Rome several generations before Romulus laid out the city walls.

The Romans adapted the myths and iconography of her Greek counterpart Aphrodite for Roman art and Latin literature. In the later classical tradition of the West, Venus becomes one of the most widely referenced deities of Greco-Roman mythology as the embodiment of love and sexuality.

The Church of the Nativity, a basilica located in Bethlehem, West Bank, is built over a cave that was originally a shrine to Adonis-Tammuz. The church was originally commissioned in 327 by Constantine the Great and his mother Helena over the site that is still traditionally considered to be located over the cave that marks the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth.

Telipinu (Cuneiform: Te(-e)-li-pí-nu(-ú), Hattic: Talipinu or Talapinu, “Exalted Son”) was a Hittite god who most likely served as a patron of farming, though he has also been suggested to have been a storm god who disappears after the harvest and then returns in spring or an embodiment of crops.

He was a son of the weather god Teššub and the solar goddess Arinniti according to their mythology. His wife was the goddess Hatepuna, though he was also paired with Šepuru and Kašḫa at various cultic centres.

The Telipinu Myth is an ancient Hittite myth about Telipinu, whose disappearance causes all fertility to fail, both plant and animal. In order to stop the havoc and devastation Telepinu’s father sends various gods in search of his son, but without success,

Hannahannah, the mother goddess, sent a bee to find him; when the bee did, stinging Telipinu and smearing wax on him, the god grew angry and began to wreak destruction on the world. Finally, Kamrušepa, goddess of magic, calmed Telipinu by giving his anger to the Doorkeeper of the Underworld.

In other references it is a mortal priest who prays for all of Telipinu’s anger to be sent to bronze containers in the underworld, from which nothing escapes.

The Levantine Adonis (“lord”), who was drawn into the Greek pantheon, was considered by Joseph Campbell among others to be another counterpart of Tammuz, son and consort. In 1966, Wahib Attalah wrote that the “cult of Adonis belonged to women,” and further asserted “the cult of dying Adonis was fully developed in the circle of young girls around Sappho on Lesbos, about 600 BC, as a fragment of Sappho reveals.”

There has been much scholarship over the centuries concerning the multiple roles of Adonis, if any, and his meaning and purpose in Greek religious beliefs. Modern scholarship sometimes describes him as an annually renewed, ever-youthful vegetation god, a life-death-rebirth deity whose nature is tied to the calendar. His name is often applied in modern times to handsome youths, of whom he is the archetype.

The Greek Adōnis was a borrowing from the Canaanite word ʼadōn, meaning “lord”, which is related to Adonai, one of the names used to refer to the God of the Hebrew Bible and still used in Judaism to the present day. Syrian Adonis is Gauas or Aos, akin to Egyptian Osiris, the Semitic Tammuz and Baal Hadad, the Etruscan Atunis and the Phrygian Attis, all of whom are deities of rebirth and vegetation.

Adonis is the Hellenized form of the Phoenician word “adoni”, meaning “my lord”. It is believed that the cult of Adonis was known to the Greeks from around the sixth century BC, but it is unquestionable that they came to know it through contact with Cyprus. Around this time, the cult of Adonis is noted in the Book of Ezekiel in Jerusalem, though under the Babylonian name Tammuz.

Adonis originally was a Phoenician god of fertility representing the spirit of vegetation. It is further speculated that he was an avatar of the version of Ba’al, worshipped in Ugarit.

It is likely that lack of clarity concerning whether Myrrha was called Smyrna, and who her father was, originated in Cyprus before the Greeks first encountered the myth. However, it is clear that the Greeks added much to the Adonis-Myrrha story, before it was first recorded by classical scholars.

Baldr (“lord, prince, king”) is a god in Norse mythology. He is often interpreted as the god of love, peace, forgiveness, justice, light or purity, but was not directly attested as a god of such. He is the second son of Odin and the goddess Frigg. His twin brother is the blind god, Höðr.

According to Gylfaginning, a book of Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda, Baldr’s wife is Nanna Nepsdóttir or simply Nanna and their son is Forseti (Old Norse “the presiding one,” actually “president” in Modern Icelandic and Faroese), an Æsir god of justice and reconciliation.

Accounts of Nanna vary greatly by source. In the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, Nanna is the wife of Baldr and the couple produced a son, the god Forseti. After Baldr’s death, Nanna dies of grief. Nanna is placed on Baldr’s ship with his corpse and the two are set aflame and pushed out to sea.

In Hel, Baldr and Nanna are united again. In an attempt to bring back Baldr from the dead, the god Hermóðr rides to Hel and, upon receiving the hope of resurrection from the being Hel, Nanna gives Hermóðr gifts to give to the goddess Frigg (a robe of linen), the goddess Fulla (a finger-ring), and others (unspecified).

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Posted by Fredsvenn on June 20, 2016

If we have organisation that has killed, tortured and murdered for not agreeing with their ideology. An organisation that has tried to enforce their views with violence and spread their view with violence and fear. This organisation has also destroyed countless books, statues, temples and art works that did not fit its ideology. Should such an organisation seen as a terrorist organisation?

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Egyptian main gods / godesses

Posted by Fredsvenn on June 16, 2016

Ra / Horus and Hathor / Isis

Ra or Re is the ancient Egyptian sun god. By the Fifth Dynasty in the 25th and 24th centuries BC, he had become a major god in ancient Egyptian religion, identified primarily with the noon sun.

In later Egyptian dynastic times, Ra was merged with the god Horus, as Ra-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 favor 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, had its center 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 man was 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 drinking beer mixed with red dye.

Hathor (Egyptian: ḥwt-ḥr, meaning “mansion of Horus”) is an Ancient Egyptian goddess who personified the principles of joy, feminine love, and motherhood. She was one of the most important and popular deities throughout the history of Ancient Egypt. The Ancient Greeks sometimes identified Hathor with the goddess Aphrodite, while in Roman mythology she corresponds to Venus.

Hathor was worshiped by royalty and common people alike in whose tombs she is depicted as “Mistress of the West” welcoming the dead into the next life. In other roles she was a goddess of music, dance, foreign lands and fertility who helped women in childbirth, as well as the patron goddess of miners.

The cult of Hathor predates the historic period, and the roots of devotion to her are therefore difficult to trace, though it may be a development of predynastic cults which venerated fertility, and nature in general, represented by cows.

Hathor is commonly depicted as a cow goddess with horns in which is set a sun disk with Uraeus. Twin feathers are also sometimes shown in later periods as well as a menat necklace. Hathor may be the cow goddess who is depicted from an early date on the Narmer Palette and on a stone urn dating from the 1st dynasty that suggests a role as sky-goddess and a relationship to Horus who, as a sun god, is “housed” in her.

The Ancient Egyptians viewed reality as multi-layered in which deities who merge for various reasons, while retaining divergent attributes and myths, were not seen as contradictory but complementary. In a complicated relationship Hathor is at times the mother, daughter and wife of Ra and, like Isis, is at times described as the mother of Horus, and associated with Bast.

The first secure references to Isis date back to the 5th dynasty, when her name appears in the sun temple of king Niuserre and on the statue of a priest named Pepi-Ankh, who worshipped at the very beginning of 6th dynasty and bore the title “high priest of Isis and Hathor”.

The cult of Osiris promised eternal life to those deemed morally worthy. Originally the justified dead, male or female, became an Osiris but by early Roman times females became identified with Hathor and men with Osiris.

The planet was known by the ancient Egyptians as “Horus of the Horizon”, then later Her Deshur (“Ḥr Dšr”), or “Horus the Red”. The Hebrews named it Ma’adim – “the one who blushes”; this is where one of the largest canyons on Mars, the Ma’adim Vallis, gets its name.

In Babylonian astronomy, the planet was named after Nergal, their deity of fire, war, and destruction, most likely due to the planet’s reddish appearance. Nergal seems to be in part a solar deity, sometimes identified with Shamash, but only representative of a certain phase of the sun.

Portrayed in hymns and myths as a god of war and pestilence, Nergal seems to represent the sun of noontime and of the summer solstice that brings destruction, high summer being the dead season in the Mesopotamian annual cycle. He has also been called “the king of sunset”.

Whether the Greeks equated Nergal with their god of war, Ares, or whether both drew from a more ancient association is unclear. In the age of Plato, the Greeks called the planet Areos aster, or “star of Ares”. Following the identification of Ares and Mars, it was translated into Latin as stella Martis, or “star of Mars”, or simply Mars. The Hellenistic Greeks also called the planet Pyroeis, meaning “fiery”.

Ptah and Sekhmet

In Egyptian mythology, Ptah (Egyptian: ptḥ, probably vocalized as Pitaḥ in ancient Egyptian) is the demiurge of Memphis, god of craftsmen and architects. In the triad of Memphis, he is the spouse of Sekhmet, a warrior goddess as well as goddess of healing, the father of Nefertum, and also regarded as the father of the sage Imhotep.

Religion, the royal lineage, and the authority to govern were intrinsically interwoven in Ancient Egypt during its approximately three millennia of existence. Sekhmet is depicted as a lioness, the fiercest hunter known to the Egyptians. It was said that her breath formed the desert. She was seen as the protector of the pharaohs and led them in warfare.

Sekhmet also is a Solar deity, sometimes called the daughter of the sun god Ra and often associated with the goddesses Hathor and Bast. She bears the Solar disk and the uraeus which associates her with Wadjet and royalty. With these associations she can be construed as being a divine arbiter of the goddess Ma’at (Justice, or Order) in the Judgment Hall of Osiris, associating her with the Wadjet (later the Eye of Ra), and connecting her with Tefnut as well.

Enki (Sumerian: EN.KI(G)) is a god in Sumerian mythology, later known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology. He was originally patron god of the city of Eridu (Cuneiform: NUN.KI), but later the influence of his cult spread throughout Mesopotamia and to the Canaanites, Hittites and Hurrians.

He 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). 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.

Thoth and Maat

Thoth (from Egyptian ḏḥwty) was one of the deities of the Egyptian pantheon. In art, he was often depicted as a man with the head of an ibis or a baboon, animals sacred to him. His feminine counterpart was Seshat, and his wife was Ma’at.

Thoth’s chief temple was located in the city of Khmun, later called Hermopolis Magna during the Greco-Roman era (in reference to him through the Greeks’ interpretation that he was the same as their god Hermes) andShmounein in the Coptic rendering, and was partially destroyed in 1826.

In that city, he led the Ogdoad pantheon of eight principal deities. He also had numerous shrines within the cities of Abydos, Hesert, Urit, Per-Ab, Rekhui, Ta-ur, Sep, Hat, Pselket, Talmsis, Antcha-Mutet, Bah, Amen-heri-ab, and Ta-kens.

Thoth played many vital and prominent roles in Egyptian mythology, such as maintaining the universe, and being one of the two deities (the other being Ma’at) who stood on either side of Ra’s boat. In the later history of ancient Egypt, Thoth became heavily associated with the arbitration of godly disputes, the arts of magic, the system of writing, the development of science, and the judgment of the dead.

Maat or Ma’at was the ancient Egyptian concept of truth, balance, order, harmony, law, morality, and justice. Maat was also personified as a goddess regulating the stars, seasons, and the actions of both mortals and the deities, who set the order of the universe from chaos at the moment of creation. Her ideological counterpart was Isfet.

The earliest surviving records indicating that Maat is the norm for nature and society, in this world and the next, were recorded during the Old Kingdom, the earliest substantial surviving examples being found in the Pyramid Texts of Unas (ca. 2375 BCE and 2345 BCE).

Later, as a goddess in other traditions of the Egyptian pantheon, where most goddesses were paired with a male aspect, her masculine counterpart was Thoth, as their attributes are similar. In other accounts, Thoth was paired off with Seshat, goddess of writing and measure, who is a lesser known deity.

After her role in creation and continuously preventing the universe from returning to chaos, her primary role in Egyptian mythology dealt with the weighing of souls (also called the weighing of the heart) that took place in the underworld, Duat.

Her feather was the measure that determined whether the souls (considered to reside in the heart) of the departed would reach the paradise of afterlife successfully. Pharaohs are often depicted with the emblems of Maat to emphasise their role in upholding the laws of the Creator.

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The creation of life

Posted by Fredsvenn on June 16, 2016

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

In Mesopotamian Religion Tiamat is a primordial goddess of the ocean, mating with Abzû (the god of fresh water) to produce younger gods. Abzu (or Apsû) fathered upon Tiamat the elder deities Lahmu and Lahamu, a title given to the gatekeepers at Enki’s Abzu/E’engurra-temple in Eridu.

Lahmu and Lahamu, in turn, were the parents of the ‘ends’ of the heavens (Anshar, from an = heaven, shár = horizon, end) and the earth (Kishar); Anshar and Kishar were considered to meet at the horizon, becoming, thereby, the parents of Anu (Heaven) and Ki (Earth).

The story of creation is a story of how we are born to this world – we are wandering cosmoses – it is about the earth mother (the head of the valley), the sky father (the thunderer), and the daughter or son – the new life.

“Hursag (HUR.SAG) is a Sumerian term variously translated as meaning “mountain”, “hill”, “foothills” or “piedmont”. Thorkild Jacobsen extrapolated the translation in his later career to mean literally, “head of the valleys”.” It is represented by the goddesses Ninlil, wife of Enlil (the sky) and Ninhursag, wife of Enki (the earth).

Tiamat, the “shining” personification of salt water who roared and smote in the chaos of original creation, and Apsu, a primal being made of fresh water, filled the cosmic abyss with the primeval waters. This mingling of waters was known in Sumerian as Nammu, and was identified as the mother of Enki.

Shiva – Kali / Parvati

Shiva (Sanskrit: Śiva, meaning “The Auspicious One” is one of the three major deities of Hinduism. He is the chief deity within Shaivism, one of the three most influential denominations in contemporary Hinduism. He is one of the five primary forms of God in the Smarta Tradition, and “the Transformer”. 

Kālī, also known as Kālikā, is a Hindu goddess who is the mighty aspect of the goddess Durga. The name Kali is derived from the Sanskrit “Kālá”, or time, she therefore represents time, change, power, creation, preservation, and destruction. “Kali” also means “the black one”, the feminine noun of the Sanskrit adjective Kālá. 

Her earliest appearance is that of a destroyer principally of evil forces. Various Shakta Hindu cosmologies, as well as Shākta Tantric beliefs, worship her as the ultimate reality or Brahman; devotional movements worship Kāli as a benevolent mother goddess. 

She is often portrayed standing or dancing on her consort, the Hindu god Shiva, who lies calm and prostrate beneath her. It represents that Shiva is a corpse without Shakti. He remains inert. While Shiva is the static form, Mahakali or Shakti is the dynamic aspect without whom Shiva is powerless.

At the highest level, Shiva is regarded as limitless, transcendent, unchanging and formless. Shiva is also regarded as the patron god of yoga, meditation and arts. He is depicted as both an ascetic yogi and as a householder, roles which have been traditionally mutually exclusive in Hindu society. 

Shiva also has many benevolent and fearsome forms. In benevolent aspects, he is depicted as an omniscient Yogi who lives an ascetic life on Mount Kailash, as well as a householder with wife Parvati and his two children, Ganesha and Kartikeya, and in fierce aspects, he is often depicted slaying demons.

When depicted as a yogi, he may be shown sitting and meditating. His epithet Mahāyogi (“the great Yogi: Mahā = “great”, Yogi = “one who practices Yoga”) refers to his association with yoga.

Parvati is the Hindu goddess of fertility, love and devotion; as well as of divine strength and power, and the gentle and nurturing aspect of the Hindu goddess Shakti and one of the central deities of the Goddess-oriented Shakta sect. Along with Lakshmi (goddess of wealth and prosperity) and Saraswati (goddess of knowledge and learning), she forms the trinity of Hindu goddesses (Tridevi).

Parvati is the wife of the Hindu god Shiva – the protector and regenerator of universe and all life. She is the daughter of the mountain king Himavan and mother Mena. Parvati is the mother of Hindu deities Ganesha and Kartikeya. Some communities also believe her to be the sister of the god Vishnu and the river-goddess Ganga.

With Shiva, Parvati is a central deity in the Shaiva sect. In Hindu belief, she is the recreative energy and power of Shiva, and she is the cause of a bond that connects all beings and a means of their spiritual release. In Hindu temples dedicated to her and Shiva, she is symbolically represented as the argha or yoni.

The main iconographical attributes of Shiva are the third eye on his forehead, the snake Vasuki around his neck, the adorning crescent moon, the holy river Ganga flowing from his matted hair, the trishula as his weapon and the damaru as his musical instrument.

Shiva is usually worshiped in the aniconic form of Lingam (also linga, ling, Shiva linga, Shiv ling, meaning sign, or symbol), an abstract or aniconic representation of the Hindu deity, Shiva, used for worship in temples, smaller shrines, or as self-manifested natural objects. In traditional Indian society, the lingam is seen as a symbol of the energy and potential of Shiva himself.

The lingam is often represented alongside the yoni (Sanskrit word, literally “origin” or “source” or “womb”), a symbol of the goddess or of Shakti, female creative energy. The union of lingam and yoni represents the “indivisible two-in-oneness of male and female, the passive space and active time from which all life originates”.

Kundalini (“coiled one”), in yogic theory, is a primal energy, or shakti, located at the base of the spine. Different spiritual traditions teach methods of “awakening” kundalini for the purpose of reaching spiritual enlightenment. 

Kundalini is described as lying “coiled” at the base of the spine, represented as either a goddess or sleeping serpent waiting to be awakened. In modern commentaries, Kundalini has been called an unconscious, instinctive or libidinal force, or “mother energy or intelligence of complete maturation”.

Kundalini awakening is said to result in deep meditation, enlightenment and bliss. This awakening involves the Kundalini physically moving up the central channel to reach within the Sahasrara Chakra at the top of the head.

Many systems of yoga focus on the awakening of Kundalini through meditation, pranayama breathing, the practice of asana and chanting of mantras. In physical terms, one commonly reports the Kundalini experience to be a feeling of electric current running along the spine.

Hel – Tyr

In Norse mythology, Hel is a being who presides over a realm of the same name, where she receives a portion of the dead. In the Poetic Edda, Prose Edda, and Heimskringla, Hel is referred to as a daughter of Loki, and to “go to Hel” is to die. In the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning, Hel is described as having been appointed by the god Odin as ruler of a realm of the same name, located in Niflheim.

In the same source, her appearance is described as half blue and half flesh-coloured and further as having a gloomy, downcast appearance. The Prose Edda details that Hel rules over vast mansions with many servants in her underworld realm and plays a key role in the attempted resurrection of the god Baldr.

Scholarly theories have been proposed about Hel’s potential connections to figures appearing in the 11th century Old English Gospel of Nicodemus and Old Norse Bartholomeus saga postola, that she may have been considered a goddess with potential Indo-European parallels in Bhavani, Kali, and Mahakali or that Hel may have become a being only as a late personification of the location of the same name.

Týr is a Germanic god associated with law and heroic glory in Norse mythology, portrayed as one-handed. Corresponding names in other Germanic languages are Gothic Teiws, Old English Tīw and Old High German Ziu and Cyo, all from Proto-Germanic *Tīwaz. The Latinised name is Tius or Tio.

Old Norse Týr, literally “god”, plural tívar “gods”, comes from Proto-Germanic *Tīwaz (cf. Old English Tīw, Old High German Zīo), which continues Proto-Indo-European *deiwós “celestial being, god” (cf. Welsh duw, Latin deus, Lithuanian diẽvas, Sanskrit dēvá, Avestan daēvō (false) “god”). And *deiwós is based in *dei-, *deyā-, *dīdyā-, meaning ‘to shine’.

In the late Icelandic Eddas, Týr is portrayed, alternately, as the son of Odin (Prose Edda) or of Hymir (Poetic Edda), while the origins of his name and his possible relationship to Tuisto suggest he was once considered the father of the gods and head of the pantheon since his name is ultimately cognate to that of *Dyeus (cf. Dyaus), the reconstructed chief deity in Indo-European religion.

Týr is a god of war and will take mead, meat and blood for sacrifice. If a warrior carved the rune Tîwaz on his weapon he would be dedicating it to Týr and strengthen the outcome of a battle to be in his favor. After a warrior has dedicated his weapon to Týr he should not lose it or break it.

 It is assumed that Tîwaz was overtaken in popularity and in authority by both Odin and Thor at some point during the Migration Age, as Odin shares his role as God of war. Tiw was equated with Mars in the Interpretatio Germanica. Tuesday is in fact “Tīw’s Day” (also in Alemannic Zischtig from zîes tag), translating dies Martis.

There is sketchy evidence of a consort, in German named Zisa: Tacitus mentions one Germanic tribe who worshipped “Isis”, and Jacob Grimm pointed to Cisa/Zisa, the patroness of Augsburg, in this connection. The name Zisa could be derived from Ziu etymologically. This Zisa would be the female consort of Ziu, as Dione was of Zeus. Dione is translated as “Goddess”, and given the same etymological derivation as the names Zeus, Diana, et al.

In Roman mythology, Diana was the goddess of the hunt, the moon and nature being associated with wild animals and woodland, and having the power to talk to and control animals. She was eventually equated with the Greek goddess Artemis, though she had an independent origin in Italy. Diana was known to be the virgin goddess of childbirth and women. She was one of the three maiden goddesses — along with Minerva and Vesta — who swore never to marry.

Oak groves were especially sacred to her. According to mythology (in common with the Greek religion and their deity Artemis), Diana was born with her twin brother Apollo on the island of Delos, daughter of Jupiter and Latona. Diana made up a triad with two other Roman deities: Egeria the water nymph, her servant and assistant midwife; and Virbius, the woodland god.

Diana (pronounced with long ‘ī’ and ‘ā’) is an adjectival form developed from an ancient *divios, corresponding to later ‘divus’, ‘dius’, as in Dius Fidius, Dea Dia and in the neuter form dium meaning the sky. 

It is rooted in Indoeuropean *d(e)y(e)w, meaning bright sky or daylight, from which also derived the name of Vedic god Dyaus and the Latin deus, (god), dies, (day, daylight), and ” diurnal”, (daytime). The ancient Latin writers Varro and Cicero considered the etymology of Dīāna as allied to that of dies and connected to the shine of the Moon.

Ereshkigal – Gugalanna / Nergal

In Mesopotamian mythology, Ereshkigal (EREŠ.KI.GAL, lit. “Queen of the Great Earth”) was the goddess of Irkalla, the land of the dead or underworld. Sometimes her name is given as Irkalla, similar to the way the name Hades was used in Greek mythology for both the underworld and its ruler, and sometimes it is given as Ninkigal (“Great Lady of the Earth” or “Lady of the Great Earth”).

Ereshkigal was the only one who could pass judgment and give laws in her kingdom. It was said that she had been stolen away by Kur and taken to the underworld, where she was made queen unwillingly.

The goddess Inanna / Ishtar refers to Ereshkigal as her older sister in the Sumerian hymn “The Descent of Inanna” (which was also in later Babylonian myth, also called “The Descent of Ishtar”). Inanna / Ishtar’s trip and return to the underworld is the most familiar of the myths concerning Ereshkigal.

Ereshkigal is the sister and counterpart of Inanna/Ishtar, the symbol of nature during the non-productive season of the year. She is known chiefly through two myths, believed to symbolize the changing of the seasons, but perhaps also intended to illustrate certain doctrines which date back to the Mesopotamia period. According to the doctrine of two kingdoms, the dominions of the two sisters are sharply differentiated, as one is of this world and one of the world of the dead.

It was to share the sorrow with her sister that Inanna later descends to the Underworld. Ereshkigal traps her sister in her kingdom and Inanna is only able to leave it by sacrificing her husband Dumuzi in exchange for herself. Inanna was associated with the eastern fish of the last of the zodiacal constellations, Pisces. Her consort Dumuzi was associated with the contiguous first constellation, Aries.

In some versions of the myths, she rules the underworld by herself, sometimes with a husband subordinate to her named Gugalana (Sumerian gu.gal.an.na, “the Great Bull of Heaven”), better known as the Bull of Heaven (Sumerian: gu.an.na), a deity in ancient Mesopotamian religion originating in Sumer as well as the constellation known today as Taurus, one of the twelve signs of the Zodiac.

Gugalanna was sent by the gods to take retribution upon Gilgamesh for rejecting the sexual advances of the goddess Inanna. Gugalanna, whose feet made the earth shake, was slain and dismembered by Gilgamesh and his companion Enkidu. Inanna looked down from the city walls and Enkidu shook the haunches of the bull at her, threatening to do the same if he ever caught her. He is later killed for this impiety.

Taurus was the constellation of the Northern Hemisphere’s March equinox from about 3200 bc. The equinox was considered the Sumerian New Year, Akitu, an important event in their religion. The story of the death of Gugalanna has been considered to represent the sun’s obscuring of the constellation as it rose on the morning of the equinox.

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

Nergal’s fiery aspect appears in names or epithets such as Lugalgira, Lugal-banda (Nergal as the fighting-cock), Sharrapu (“the burner,” a reference to his manner of dealing with outdated teachings), Erra, Gibil (though this name more properly belongs to Nusku), and Sibitti or Seven. In astronomy, the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters, is an open star cluster located in the constellation of Taurus.

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

Mars – Venus

In ancient Roman religion and myth, Mars was the god of war and also an agricultural guardian, a combination characteristic of early Rome. He was second in importance only to Jupiter and he was the most prominent of the military gods in the religion of the Roman army. Most of his festivals were held in March, the month named for him (Latin Martius), and in October, which began the season for military campaigning and ended the season for farming.

Although Ares was viewed primarily as a destructive and destabilizing force, Mars represented military power as a way to secure peace, and was a father (pater) of the Roman people. In the mythic genealogy and founding myths of Rome, Mars was the father of Romulus and Remus with Rhea Silvia.

His love affair with Venus symbolically reconciled the two different traditions of Rome’s founding; Venus was the divine mother of the hero Aeneas, celebrated as the Trojan refugee who “founded” Rome several generations before Romulus laid out the city walls.

The name of March comes from Latin Martius, the first month of the earliest Roman calendar. It was named for Mars. His month Martius was the beginning of the season for both farming and warfare, and the festivals held in his honor during the month were mirrored by others in October, when the season for these activities came to a close. 

Martius remained the first month of the Roman calendar year perhaps as late as 153 BC, and several religious observances in the first half of the month were originally new year’s celebrations. Even in late antiquity, Roman mosaics picturing the months sometimes still placed March first.

The March equinox or Northward equinox is the equinox on the Earth when the Sun appears to leave the southern hemisphere and cross the celestial equator, heading northward as seen from earth. In the Northern Hemisphere the March equinox is known as the vernal equinox, and in the Southern Hemisphere as the autumnal equinox.

The New Year

Puruli (EZEN Puruliyas) was a Hattian spring festival, held at Nerik, dedicated to the earth goddess Hannahanna, who is married to a new king. Hieros gamos or Hierogamy refers to a sexual ritual that plays out a marriage between a god and a goddess, especially when enacted in a symbolic ritual where human participants represent the deities.

The central ritual of the Puruli festival is dedicated to the destruction of the dragon Illuyanka by the storm god Teshub. The motif of Chaoskampf (German for “struggle against chaos”) is ubiquitous in myth and legend, depicting a battle of a culture hero deity with a chaos monster, often in the shape of a serpent or dragon. 

The corresponding Assyrian festival is the Akitu of the Enuma Elish. The name is from the Sumerian for “barley”, originally marking two festivals celebrating the beginning of each of the two half-years of the Sumerian calendar, marking the sowing of barley in autumn and the cutting of barley in spring. In Babylonian religion it came to be dedicated to Marduk’s victory over Tiamat, a primordial goddess of the ocean, mating with Abzû (the god of fresh water) to produce younger gods.

Tiamat is the symbol of the chaos of primordial creation, depicted as a woman, she represents the beauty of the feminine, depicted as the glistening one. Some sources identify her with images of a sea serpent or dragon.

It is suggested that there are two parts to the Tiamat mythos, the first in which Tiamat is a creator goddess, 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.

Along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers were many shrines and temples dedicated to Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare, and goddess of the E-Anna (“The House of Heaven”) temple at the city of Uruk, her main centre, 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.

Tammuz (Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D), “faithful or true son”) was the name of a Sumerian god of food and vegetation. In Babylonia, the month Tammuz was established in honor of the eponymous god Tammuz, who originated as a Sumerian shepherd-god, Dumuzid or Dumuzi, the consort of Inanna and, in his Akkadian form, the parallel consort of Ishtar. The Levantine Adonis (“lord”), who was drawn into the Greek pantheon, was considered by Joseph Campbell among others to be another counterpart of Tammuz, son and consort.

Beginning with the summer solstice came a time of mourning in the Ancient Near East, as in the Aegean: the Babylonians marked the decline in daylight hours and the onset of killing summer heat and drought with a six-day “funeral” for the god. In cult practice, the dead Tammuz was widely mourned in the Ancient Near East.

Recent discoveries reconfirm him as an annual life-death-rebirth deity: tablets discovered in 1963 show that Dumuzi was in fact consigned to the Underworld himself, in order to secure Inanna’s release, though the recovered final line reveals that he is to revive for six months of each year (see below).

Edin

Edin is a sumerian term meaning “steppe” or “plain”, written ideographically with the cuneiform sign EDIN. Friedrich Delitzsch was the first amongst numerous scholars to suggest the Jewish and Christian term Eden traced back to this term. The later Babylonian term is “edinu”.

It is featured on the Gudea cylinders as the name of a watercourse from which plaster is taken to build a temple for Ningirsu. “Clay plaster, harmoniously blended clay taken from the Edin canal, has been chosen by Lord Ningirsu with his holy heart, and was painted by Gudea with the splendors of heaven, as if kohl were being poured all over it.”

Thorkild Jacobsen called it the “Idedin” canal, suggesting it was an as yet unidentified “Desert Canal”, which he considered “probably refers to an abandoned canal bed that had filled with the characteristic purplish dune sand still seen in southern Iraq.”

Tiamat

In Mesopotamian Religion Tiamat is a primordial goddess of the ocean, mating with Abzû (the god of fresh water) to produce younger gods. Abzu (or Apsû) fathered upon Tiamat the elder deities Lahmu and Lahamu, a title given to the gatekeepers at Enki’s Abzu/E’engurra-temple in Eridu.

Lahmu and Lahamu, in turn, were the parents of the ‘ends’ of the heavens (Anshar, from an = heaven, shár = horizon, end) and the earth (Kishar); Anshar and Kishar were considered to meet at the horizon, becoming, thereby, the parents of Anu (Heaven) and Ki (Earth).

According to the Babylonian creation epic, the Enûma Elish, taken from the library of Assurbanipal (c 630 BCE) but which is about 500 years older, Tiamat was the “shining” personification of salt water who roared and smote in the chaos of original creation. She and Apsu, a primal being made of fresh water, filled the cosmic abyss with the primeval waters.

The Babylonian epic Enuma Elish is named for its incipit: “When above” the heavens did not yet exist nor the earth below, Apsu the freshwater ocean was there, “the first, the begetter”, and Tiamat, the saltwater sea, “she who bore them all”; they were “mixing their waters”, and no pasture land had yet been formed, nor even a reed marsh…

This resulted in the birth of the younger gods, who latter murder Apsu in order to usurp his lordship of the universe. Enraged, Tiamat gives birth to the first dragons, filling their bodies with “venom instead of blood”, and made war upon her treacherous children, only to be slain by Marduk, the god of Storms, who then forms the heavens and earth from her corpse.

Tiamat is the symbol of the chaos of primordial creation, depicted as a woman she represents the beauty of the feminine, depicted as the glistening one. Some sources identify her with images of a sea serpent or dragon.

It is suggested that there are two parts to the Tiamat mythos, the first in which Tiamat is a creator goddess, 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.

Thorkild Jacobsen and Walter Burkert both argue for a connection with the Akkadian word for sea, tâmtu, following an early form, ti’amtum. Burkert continues by making a linguistic connection to Tethys. He finds the later form, thalatth, to be related clearly to Greek thalatta or thalassa, “sea”. Tiamat also has been claimed to be cognate with Northwest Semitic tehom (the deeps, abyss), in the Book of Genesis 1:2.

Harriet Crawford finds this “mixing of the waters” to be a natural feature of the middle Persian Gulf, where fresh waters from the Arabian aquifer mix and mingle with the salt waters of the sea. This characteristic is especially true of the region of Bahrain, whose name in Arabic means “two seas”, and which is thought to be the site of Dilmun, the original site of the Sumerian creation beliefs. The difference in density of salt and fresh water drives a perceptible separation.

Nammu

It is thought that female deities are older than male ones in Mesopotamia and Tiamat may have begun as part of the cult of Nammu (also Namma, spelled ideographically NAMMA = ENGUR), a female principle of a watery creative force, with equally strong connections to the underworld, which predates the appearance of Ea-Enki.

Nammu was a primeval goddess, corresponding to Tiamat in Babylonian mythology. She was the Goddess Sea (Engur) that gave birth to An (heaven) and Ki (earth) and the first gods, representing the Apsu, the fresh water ocean that the Sumerians believed lay beneath the earth, the source of life-giving water and fertility in a country with almost no rainfall.

Nammu, known as this mingling of waters in Sumerian, is not well attested in Sumerian mythology. She may have been of greater importance prehistorically, before Enki took over most of her functions. 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.

According to the Neo-Sumerian mythological text Enki and Ninmah, Enki is the son of An and Nammu, the goddess who “has given birth to the great gods”. Reay Tannahill in Sex in History (1980) singled out Nammu as the “only female prime mover” in the cosmogonic myths of antiquity.

It is she who has the idea of creating mankind, and she goes to wake up Enki, who is asleep in the Apsu, so that he may set the process going. The Atrahasis-Epos has it that Enlil requested from Nammu the creation of humans. And Nammu told him that with the help of Enki (her son) she can create humans in the image of gods.

Absu

The Abzu (Cuneiform: ZU.AB; Sumerian: abzu; Akkadian: apsû) also called Engur (Cuneiform: LAGAB×HAL; Sumerian: engur; Akkadian: engurru) literally, ab=’ocean’ zu=’deep’), was the name for the primeval sea below the void space of the underworld (Kur) and the earth (Ma) above. It may also refer to fresh water from underground aquifers that was given a religious fertilizing quality. Lakes, springs, rivers, wells, and other sources of fresh water were thought to draw their water from the abzu.

In the city of Eridu, Enki’s temple was known as E-abzu (house of the cosmic waters) and was located at the edge of a swamp, an abzu. Certain tanks of holy water in Babylonian and Assyrian temple courtyards were also called abzu (apsû). Typical in religious washing, these tanks were similar to Judaism’s mikvot, the washing pools of Islamic mosques, or the baptismal font in Christian churches.

The Sumerian god Enki was believed to have lived in the abzu since before human beings were created. His wife Damgalnuna (Ninhursag), his mother Nammu, his advisor Isimud and a variety of subservient creatures, such as the gatekeeper Lahmu, also lived in the abzu.

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 (Ea in the Akkadian language), 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.

 

Hubur

Tiamat is known as “Ummu-Hubur who formed all things”. Hubur (ḪU.BUR) is a Sumerian term meaning “river”, “watercourse” or “netherworld”. It is usually the “river of the netherworld”. A connection to Tiamat has been suggested with parallels to her description as “Ummu-Hubur”. Hubur is also referred to in the Enuma Elish as “mother sea Hubur, who fashions all things”.

The river Euphrates has been identified with Hubur as the source of fertility in Sumer. This Babylonian “river of creation” has been linked to the Hebrew “river of paradise”. Gunkel and Zimmern suggested resemblance in expressions and a possible connection between the Sumerian river and that found in later literary tradition in the Book of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 47) likely influencing imagery of the “River of Water of Life” in the Apocalypse (Revelation 22).

They also noted a connection between the “Water of Life” in the legend of Adapa and a myth translated by A.H. Sayce called “An address to the river of creation”. Delitzch has suggested the similar Sumerian word Habur probably meant “mighty water source”, “source of fertility” or the like. This has suggested the meaning of Hubur to be “river of fertility in the underworld”.

Linda Foubister has suggested the river of creation was linked with the importance of rivers and rain in the fertile crescent and suggested it was related to the underworld as rivers resemble snakes. Samuel Eugene Balentine suggested that the “pit” (sahar) and “river” or “channel” (salah) in the Book of Job (Job 33:18) were referencing the Hubur.

The god Marduk was praised for restoration or saving individuals from death when he drew them out of the waters of the Hubur, a later reference to this theme is made in Psalm 18 (Psalms 18).

The river plays a certain role in Mesopotamian mythology and Assyro-Babylonian religion, associated with the Sumerian paradise and heroes and deities such as Gilgamesh, Enlil, Enki and Ninlil. The Hubur was suggested to be between the twin peaks of Mount Mashu to the east in front of the gates of the netherworld.

The Sumerian myth of Enlil and Ninlil tells the tale of the leader of the gods, Enlil being banished to the netherworld followed by his wife Ninlil. It mentions the river and its ferryman, SI.LU.IGI, who crosses the river in a boat. Themes of this story are repeated later in the Epic of Gilgamesh where the ferryman is called Urshanabi.

In later Assyrian times, the ferryman became a monster called Hamar-tabal and may have influenced the later Charon of Greek Mythology. In another story a four-handed, bird demon carries souls across to the city of the dead. Several Akkadian demons are also restrained by the river Hubur. The river is mentioned in the Inscription of Ilum-Ishar, written on bricks at Mari. Nergal, god of the netherworld is referred to as “king Hubur” in a list of Sumerian gods. The word is also used into the Assyrian empire where it was used as the name of the tenth month in a calendar dated to around 1100 BC. There was also a goddess called Haburitim mentioned in texts from the Third dynasty of Ur.

In Sumerian cosmology, the souls of the dead had to travel across the desert or steppe, cross the Hubur river, to the mountain land of Kur. Here the souls had to pass through seven different walled and gated locations to reach the netherworld. The Annanuki administrated Kur as if it were a civilized settlement both architecturally and politically.

Frans Wiggermann connected Hubur to the Habur, a tributary of the Euphrates far away from the Sumerian heartland, there was also a town called Haburatum east of the Tigris. He suggested that as the concept of the netherworld (as opposed to an underworld) in Sumerian cosmogeny lacked the modern concept of an accompanying divine ruler of a location underneath the earth, the geographical terminology suggested that it was located at the edges of the world and that its features derived in part from real geography before shifting to become a demonic fantasy world.

Ninlil

In Sumerian religion, Ninlil (NIN.LÍL”lady of the open field” or “Lady of the Wind”), also called Sud, in Assyrian called Mulliltu, 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 Akkadian source says she is the daughter of Anu (aka An) and Antu (Sumerian Ki). Other sources call her a daughter of Anu and Nammu.

She lived in Dilmun with her family. Impregnated by her husband Enlil, who lie with her by the water, she conceived a boy, Nanna/Suen, the future moon god. As punishment Enlil was dispatched to the underworld kingdom of Ereshkigal, where Ninlil joined him.

Enlil impregnated her disguised as the gatekeeper, where upon she gave birth to their son Nergal, god of death. In a similar manner she conceived the underworld god Ninazu when Enlil impregnated her disguised as the man of the river of the nether world, a man-devouring river.

Later Enlil disguised himself as the man of the boat, impregnating her with a fourth deity Enbilulu, god of rivers and canals. All of these act as substitutes for Nanna/Suen to ascend. In some texts Ninlil is also the mother of Ninurta, the heroic god who slew Asag the demon with his mace, Sharur.

After her death, she became the goddess of the wind, like Enlil. She may be the Goddess of the South Wind referred to in the story of Adapa, as her husband Enlil was associated with northerly winter storms. As “Lady Wind” she may be associated with the figure of the Akkadian demon “Lil-itu”, thought to have been the origin of the Hebrew Lilith legend.

Shatt el-Nil

Kutha, Cuthah, or Cutha (Sumerian: Gudua, modern Tell Ibrahim) is an archaeological site in Babil Governorate, Iraq. Archaeological investigations have revealed remains of the Neo-Babylonian period and Kutha appears frequently in historical sources.

Josephus places Cuthah, which for him is the name of a river and of a district, in Persia, and Neubauer says that it is the name of a country near Kurdistan. However, Kutha lies on the right bank of the eastern branch of the Upper Euphrates, north of Nippur and around 25 miles (40 km) northeast of Babylon.

The site consists of two tells or settlement mounds. The larger main mound is 0.75 miles (1.21 km) long and crescent-shaped. A smaller mound is located to the west. The two mounds, as is typical in the region, are separated by the dry bed of an ancient canal, the Shatt en-Nil.

Called the Euphrates of Nippur, the river was an important irrigation and transport infrastructure for the city of Nippur during antiquity. The canal started just north of Babylon and travelled for 60 km endinging at Larsa where it rejoined the Euphrates River. On the way it flowed through Nippur.

The canal is referred to in the so-called Murashu documents discovered at Nippur. which record business transaction in the area around Nippur. The river/canal has also been one of the rivers identified as the biblical River Chebar.

The Kebar or Chebar Canal (or River) is the setting of several important scenes of the book of Ezekiel in the Hebrew Bible, including the opening verse: “Now it came about in the thirtieth year, on the fifth day of the fourth month, while I was by the river Chebar among the exiles, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God”.

The canal also serviced the city of Tel Abib (Hebrew: Tel Aviv; lit. “Spring Mound”, where Spring (Aviv) is the season), an unidentified place on the Kebar Canal, near Nippur in what is now Iraq, and Uruk.

The biblical place name was adopted by Nahum Sokolow as the title for his Hebrew translation of Theodor Herzl’s Altneuland (“Old New Land”). It later gave its name to the modern Israeli city of Tel Aviv; the Hebrew letter represents a sound like [v] but is traditionally transcribed ‘b’ in English translations of the Bible.

Some old commentaries identified the Chebar with the Khabur River in what is now Syria. The Khabur is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 5:26 as the Habor. However, more recent scholarship is agreed that the location of the Kebar Canal is near Nippur in Iraq.

The ka-ba-ru waterway (Akkadian) is mentioned among the 5th century BCE Murashu archives from Nippur. It was part of a complex network of irrigation and transport canals that also included the Shatt el-Nil, a silted up canal toward the east of Babylon.

According to the Tanakh, Cuthah was one of the five Syrian and Mesopotamian cities from which Sargon II, King of Assyria, brought settlers to take the places of the exiled Israelites (2 Kings 17:24-30).

II Kings relates that these settlers were attacked by lions, and interpreting this to mean that their worship was not acceptable to the deity of the land, they asked Sargon to send someone to teach them, which he did. The result was a mixture of religions and peoples, the latter being known as “Cuthim” in Hebrew and as “Samaritans” to the Greeks.

Kutha is also the name of the capital of the Sumerian underworld, Irkalla. Ereshkigal was the only one who could pass judgment and give laws in her kingdom. The main temple dedicated to her was located in Kutha.

Hursag

Ninlil – Ninhursag

Hursag (HUR.SAG) is a Sumerian term variously translated as meaning “mountain”, “hill”, “foothills” or “piedmont”. It is described here in a clear cultural myth as a high wall, levee, dam or floodbank, used to restrain the excess mountain waters and floods caused by the melting snow and spring rain.

Thorkild Jacobsen extrapolated the translation in his later career to mean literally, “head of the valleys”. Some scholars also identify hursag with an undefined mountain range or strip of raised land outside the plain of Mesopotamia.

In a myth variously entitled by Samuel Noah Kramer as “The Deeds and Exploits of Ninurta” and later Ninurta Myth Lugal-e by Thorkild Jacobsen, Hursag is described as a mound of stones constructed by Ninurta after his defeat of a demon called Asag. It is constructed with Ninurta’s skills in irrigation engineering and employed to improve the agriculture of the surrounding lands, farms and gardens where the water had previously been wasted.

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

An – Ki

An (in Akkadian; Sumerian: An, from An “sky, heaven”) is the earliest attested Sky Father deity. In Sumerian religion, he was also “King of the Gods”, “Lord of the Constellations, Spirits and Demons”, and “Supreme Ruler of the Kingdom of Heaven”, where Anu himself wandered the highest Heavenly Regions. He was believed to have the power to judge those who had committed crimes, and to have created the stars as soldiers to destroy the wicked. His attribute was the Royal Tiara. His attendant and vizier was the god Ilabrat.

Anu existed in Sumerian cosmogony as a dome that covered the flat earth; Outside of this dome was the primordial body of water known as Nammu. In Sumerian, the designation “An” was used interchangeably with “the heavens” so that in some cases it is doubtful whether, under the term, the god An or the heavens is being denoted.

Ki (Cuneiform KI; also read as GI5, GUNNI (=KI.NE) “hearth”, KARAŠ (=KI.KAL.BAD) “encampment, army”, KISLAḪ (=KI.UD) “threshing floor” or steath, and SUR7 (=KI.GAG) is the sign for “earth”. In Akkadian orthography, it functions as a determiner for toponyms and has the syllabic values gi, ge, qi, and qe.

Ki was an earth goddess in Sumerian mythology. She was the chief consort of An, the sky god. In some legends Ki and An were brother and sister, being the offspring of Anshar (“Sky Pivot”) and Kishar (“Earth Pivot”), earlier personifications of heaven and earth.

By her consort Anu, Ki gave birth to the Anunnaki, the most prominent of these deities being Enlil, god of the air. According to legends, heaven and earth were once inseparable until Enlil was born; Enlil cleaved heaven and earth in two. An carried away heaven. Ki, in company with Enlil, took the earth.

Some authorities question whether Ki was regarded as a deity since there is no evidence of a cult and the name appears only in a limited number of Sumerian creation texts. Samuel Noah Kramer identifies Ki with the Sumerian mother goddess Ninhursag and claims that they were originally the same figure. She later developed into the Babylonian and Akkadian goddess Antu, consort of the god Anu (from Sumerian An).

Enki and Ninhursag

In the epic Enki and Ninhursag, Enki, as lord of Ab or fresh water (also the Sumerian word for semen), is living with his wife in the paradise of Dilmun: “The land of Dilmun is a pure place. The land of Dilmun is a clean place. The land of Dilmun is a clean place. The land of Dilmun is a bright place. He who is alone laid himself down in Dilmun. The place, after Enki is clean, that place is bright.

Despite being a place where “the raven uttered no cries” and “the lion killed not, the wolf snatched not the lamb, unknown was the kid-killing dog, unknown was the grain devouring boar”, Dilmun had no water and Enki heard the cries of its Goddess, Ninsikil, and orders the sun-God Utu to bring fresh water from the Earth for Dilmun.

As a result: “Her City Drinks the Water of Abundance. Dilmun Drinks the Water of Abundance. Her wells of bitter water, behold they are become wells of good water. Her fields and farms produced crops and grain. Her city, behold it has become the house of the banks and quays of the land.”

The subsequent tale, with similarities to the Biblical story of the forbidden fruit, repeats the story of how fresh water brings life to a barren land. Enki, the Water-Lord then “caused to flow the ‘water of the heart” and having fertilised his consort Ninhursag, also known as Ki or Earth, after “Nine days being her nine months, the months of ‘womanhood’… like good butter, Nintu, the mother of the land, …like good butter, gave birth to Ninsar, (Lady Greenery)”. When Ninhursag left him, as Water-Lord he came upon Ninsar (Lady Greenery).

Not knowing her to be his daughter, and because she reminds him of his absent consort, Enki then seduces and has intercourse with her. Ninsar then gave birth to Ninkurra (Lady Fruitfulness or Lady Pasture), and leaves Enki alone again. A second time, Enki, in his loneliness finds and seduces Ninkurra, and from the union Ninkurra gave birth to Uttu (weaver or spider, the weaver of the web of life).

A third time Enki succumbs to temptation, and attempts seduction of Uttu. Upset about Enki’s reputation, Uttu consults Ninhursag, who, upset at the promiscuous wayward nature of her spouse, advises Uttu to avoid the riverbanks, the places likely to be affected by flooding, the home of Enki.

In another version of this myth Ninhursag takes Enki’s semen from Uttu’s womb and plants it in the earth where eight plants rapidly germinate. With his two-faced servant and steward Isimud,”Enki, in the swampland, in the swampland lies stretched out, ‘What is this (plant), what is this (plant).

His messenger Isimud, answers him; ‘My king, this is the tree-plant’, he says to him. He cuts it off for him and he (Enki) eats it”. And so, despite warnings, Enki consumes the other seven fruit. Consuming his own semen, he falls pregnant (ill with swellings) in his jaw, his teeth, his mouth, his hip, his throat, his limbs, his side and his rib.

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

Ninhursag relents and takes Enki’s Ab (water, or semen) into her body, and gives birth to gods of healing of each part of the body. Abu for the Jaw, Nintul for the Hip, Ninsutu for the tooth, Ninkasi for the mouth, Dazimua for the side, Enshagag for the Limbs. The last one, Ninti (Lady Rib), is also a pun on Lady Life, a title of Ninhursag herself.

The story thus symbolically reflects the way in which life is brought forth through the addition of water to the land, and once it grows, water is required to bring plants to fruit. It also counsels balance and responsibility, nothing to excess.

Ninti, the title of Ninhursag, also means “the mother of all living”, and was a title given to the later Hurrian goddess Kheba. This is also the title given in the Bible to Eve, the Hebrew and Aramaic Ḥawwah, who was made from the rib of Adam, in a strange reflection of the Sumerian myth, in which Adam — not Enki — walks in the Garden of Paradise.

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The first Sumerian gods

Posted by Fredsvenn on June 16, 2016

Lahmu and Laḫamu

Tiamat was the “shining” personification of salt water who roared and smote in the chaos of original creation. She and Apsu filled the cosmic abyss with the primeval waters. She is “Ummu-Hubur who formed all things”.

Abzu (or Apsû) fathered upon Tiamat the elder deities Lahmu (also Lakhmu, Lache, Lumasi, or Assyro-Akkadian Lammasu) and his sister Laḫamu (also Lakhamu, Lachos, Lumasi, or Assyro-Akkadian Lammasu), a title given to the gatekeepers at Enki’s Abzu/E’engurra-temple in Eridu that represents the zodiac, parent stars, or constellations, and deities in Sumerian-Akkadian mythology.

Laḫmu is depicted as a bearded man with a red sash-usually with three strands- and four to six curls on his head and they are also depicted as monsters, which each encompasses a specific constellation.

He is often associated with the Kusarikku or “Bull-Man” sometimes inscribed GUD.DUMU.UTU, GUD.DUMU.AN.NA and sometimes phonetically ku-sa-rik-ku(m), synonymous with the Sumerian GU/gud-alim and perhaps also alim.

The constellation Taurus is named Alu in Akkadian. Alulim was the first king of Eridu, and the first king of Sumer, according to the mythological antediluvian section of the Sumerian King List. Enki, the god of Eridu, is said to have brought civilization to Sumer at this point, or just shortly before. William H. Shea suggests that Alulim was a contemporary of the biblical figure Adam, who may have been derived from Adapa of ancient Mesopotamian religion.

In a chart of antediluvian generations in Babylonian and Biblical traditions, Professor William Wolfgang Hallo associates Alulim with the composite half-man, half-fish counselor or culture hero (Apkallu) Uanna-Adapa (Oannes), and suggests an equivalence between Alulim and Enosh in the Sethite genealogy given in Genesis chapter 5. Hallo notes that Alulim’s name means “Stag”.

Aleph is the first letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician Ālep, Hebrew Ālef, Aramaic Ālap, Syriac Ālap̄, Arabic Alif, and Persian. The Phoenician letter is derived from an Egyptian hieroglyph depicting an ox’s head and gave rise to the Greek Alpha (Α), being re-interpreted to express not the glottal consonant but the accompanying vowel, and hence the Latin A and Cyrillic А.

Alalu is a primeval deity in Hurrian mythology. He is considered to have housed “the Hosts of Sky”, the divine family, because he was a progenitor of the gods, and possibly the father of Earth. After nine years of reign, Alalu was defeated by his son Anu. Anuʻs son Kumarbi also defeated his father, and his son Teshub defeated him, too. Alalu was of the Hurrian mythology. Alalu fled to the underworld. Scholars have pointed out the similarities between the Hurrian creation myth and the story from Greek mythology of Uranus, Cronus, and Zeus.

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

Kusarikku, an ancient Mesopotamian mythological demon shown in artistic representation from the earliest (late Uruk) times with a human head, arms, and torso, and bovine hindquarters, is portrayed as walking upright and characterized as a door keeper to protect the inhabitants from malevolent intruders.

He is one of the demons which represented mountains. He is pictured in late iconography holding a banduddû, “bucket.” On a stela of Meli-Šipak, the land grant to Ḫasardu kudurru, he is pictured carrying a spade. He was associated with the god of justice, Šamaš, along with Girtablullû, the “Scorpion-Man,” and alim, the “Bison.”

The constellation of kusarikku, or gud-alim, corresponds to part of Centaurus, in Greek mythology represented as a centaur; a creature that is half human, half horse. While Centaurus now has a high southern latitude, at the dawn of civilization it was an equatorial constellation. It has been closely associated with the Sun god Utu-Shamash from very early times.

According to the Roman poet Ovid the constellation honors the centaur Chiron, who was tutor to many of the earlier Greek heroes including Heracles (Hercules), Theseus, and Jason, the leader of the Argonauts. However, most authorities consider Sagittarius to be the civilized Chiron, while Centaurus represents a more uncouth member of the species. The legend associated with Chiron says that he was accidentally poisoned with an arrow shot by Hercules, and was subsequently placed in the heavens.

The centaur’s half-human, half-horse composition has led many writers to treat them as liminal beings, caught between the two natures, embodied in contrasted myths, both as the embodiment of untamed nature, as in their battle with the Lapiths (their kin), or conversely as teachers, like Chiron.

In Sumerian times Laḫmu may have meant “the muddy one”. Lahmu guarded the gates of the Abzu temple of Enki at Eridu. He and his sister Laḫamu, sometimes seen as a serpent, and sometimes as a woman with a red sash and six curls on her head, are primordial deities in the Babylonian Epic of Creation Enuma Elis and Lahmu may be related to or identical with “Lahamu”, one of Tiamat’s creatures in that epic.

In the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh they are depicted as physical deities as well, which is where the Lammasu iconography originates, these deities could be microcosms of their microcosmic zodiac, parent-star, or constellation. It is suggested that the pair were represented by the silt of the sea-bed, but more accurately are known to be the representations of the zodiac, parent-stars, or constellations.

Although “lamassu” had a different iconography and portrayal in Sumerian culture, the terms lamassu, alad, andshedu evolved throughout the Assyro-Akkadian culture from the Sumerian culture to denote the Assyrian-winged-man-bull symbol and statues during the Neo-Assyrian empire. Female lamassus were called “apsasû”.

The motif of the Assyrian-winged-man-bull called Aladlammu and Lamassu interchangeably is not the lamassu or alad of Sumerian origin which were depicted with different iconography. These monumental statues were called aladlammû or lamassu which meant “protective spirit”. In Hittite, the Sumerian form LAMMA is used both as a name for the so-called “tutelary deity”, identified in certain later texts with Inara, and a title given to similar protective gods.

In art, lamassu were depicted as hybrids, either winged bulls or lions with the head of a human male. The motif of a winged animal with a human head is common to the Near East, first recorded in Ebla around 3000 BCE. The first distinct lamassu motif appeared in Assyria during the reign of Tiglath-Pileser as a symbol of power.

In Assyro-Babylonian ecclesiastical art the great lion-headed colossi serving as guardians to the temples and palaces seem to symbolise Nergal, just as the bull-headed colossi probably typify Ninurta.

The Utukki, the raised spirit of a mortal, could be either benevolent or evil. The evil utukku were called Edimmu, envisioned as the ghosts of those who were not buried properly, and the good lamassu (Cuneiform: AN.KAL; Sumerian: lammař; Akkadian: lamassu; sometimes called a lamassus), an Assyrian protective deity, often depicted as having a human’s head, a body of an ox or a lion, and bird’s wings, or shedu (Cuneiform: AN.KAL×BAD; Sumerian: alad; Akkadian, šēdu), which refers to the male counterpart of a lamassu.  The Lammasu or Lumasi represent the zodiacs, parent-stars or constellations. They were siblings of the Anunnaki.

Two of the best known edimmus were Asag (slain by Ninurta) and Alû. In Akkadian and Sumerian mythology, Alû is a vengeful spirit of the Utukku that goes down to the underworld Kur. The demon has no mouth, lips or ears. It roams at night and terrifies people while they sleep, and possession by Alû results in unconsciousness and coma; in this manner it resembles creatures such as the mara, and incubus, which are invoked to explain sleep paralysis. In Akkadian and Sumerian mythology, it is associated with other demons like Gallu and Lilu.

In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Alû is the celestial Bull.  Taurus marked the point of vernal (spring) equinox in the Chalcolithic and the Early Bronze Age, from about 4000 BC to 1700 BC, after which it moved into the neighboring constellation Aries.

In Babylonian astronomy, the constellation was listed in the MUL.APIN as GU.AN.NA, “The Bull of Heaven”. As this constellation marked the vernal equinox, it was also the first constellation in the Babylonian zodiac and they described it as “The Bull in Front”. The Akkadian name was Alu. To the early Hebrews, Taurus was the first constellation in their zodiac and consequently it was represented by the first letter in their alphabet, Aleph.

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

In the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the earliest works of literature, the goddess Inanna sends Taurus, the Bull of Heaven, to kill Gilgamesh for spurning her advances. Gugalanna, whose feet made the earth shake, was sent by the gods to take retribution upon Gilgamesh for rejecting the sexual advances of the goddess Inanna, but was slain and dismembered by Gilgamesh and his companion Enkidu.

Inanna looked down from the city walls and Enkidu shook the haunches of the bull at her, threatening to do the same if he ever caught her. He is later killed for this impiety. It was to share the sorrow with her sister that Inanna later descends to the Underworld. Some locate Gilgamesh as the neighboring constellation of Orion, facing Taurus as if in combat, while others identify him with the sun whose rising on the equinox vanquishes the constellation.

Gugalanna, who might have become known as Nergal, was the first husband of Ereshkigal, ruler of the Underworld, a gloomy place devoid of light. The goddess Inanna refers to Ereshkigal as her older sister in the Sumerian hymn “The Descent of Inanna” (which was also in later Babylonian myth, also called “The Descent of Ishtar”).

Over time Nergal developed from a war god to a god of the underworld. In the mythology, this occurred when Enlil and Ninlil gave him the underworld. In this capacity he has associated with him a goddess Allatu or Ereshkigal, though at one time Allatu may have functioned as the sole mistress of Aralu, ruling in her own person. A play upon his name—separated into three elements as Ne-uru-gal(lord of the great dwelling)—expresses his position at the head of the nether-world pantheon.

Nergal’s fiery aspect appears in names or epithets such as Lugalgira, Lugal-banda (Nergal as the fighting-cock), Sharrapu (“the burner,” a reference to his manner of dealing with outdated teachings), Erra, Gibil (though this name more properly belongs to Nusku), and Sibitti or Seven. In astronomy, the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters, is an open star cluster located in the constellation of Taurus.

The justification of elevation

The Abzu (ZU.AB; Sumerian: abzu; Akkadian: apsû) also called engur, (Cuneiform: LAGAB×HAL; Sumerian: engur; Akkadian: engurru) literally, ab=’ocean’ zu=’deep’, was the name for the primeval sea below the void space of the underworld (Kur) and the earth (Ma) above. It may also refer to fresh water from underground aquifers that was given a religious fertilizing quality. Lakes, springs, rivers, wells, and other sources of fresh water were thought to draw their water from the abzu.

In the city of Eridu, Enki’s temple was known as E-abzu (house of the cosmic waters) and was located at the edge of a swamp, an abzu. Certain tanks of holy water in Babylonian and Assyrian temple courtyards were also called abzu (apsû). Typical in religious washing, these tanks were similar to Judaism’s mikvot, the washing pools of Islamic mosques, or the baptismal font in Christian churches.

The Sumerian god Enki (Ea in the Akkadian language) was believed to have lived in the abzu since before human beings were created. His wife Damgalnuna (Ninhursag), his mother Nammu, his advisor Isimud and a variety of subservient creatures, such as the gatekeeper Lahmu, also lived in the abzu.

Abzu (apsû) is depicted as a deity only in the Babylonian creation epic, the Enûma Elish, taken from the library of Assurbanipal (c 630 BCE) but which is about 500 years older. In this story, he was a primal being made of fresh water and a lover to another primal deity, Tiamat, who was a creature of salt water.

The Enuma Elishbegins: When above the heavens did not yet exist nor the earth below, Apsu the freshwater ocean was there, the first, the begetter, and Tiamat, the saltwater sea, she who bore them all; they were still mixing their waters, and no pasture land had yet been formed, nor even a reed marsh…

This resulted in the birth of the younger gods, who latter murder Apsu in order to usurp his lordship of the universe. Enraged, Tiamat gives birth to the first dragons, filling their bodies with “venom instead of blood”, and made war upon her treacherous children, only to be slain by Marduk, the god of Storms, who then forms the heavens and earth from her corpse.

In the myth recorded on cuneiform tablets, the deity Enki (later Ea) believed correctly that Apsu, upset with the chaos they created, was planning to murder the younger deities; and so captured him, holding him prisoner beneath his temple the E-Abzu.

This angered Kingu, their son, who reported the event to Tiamat, whereupon she fashioned eleven monsters to battle the deities in order to avenge Apsu’s death. These were her own offspring: Bašmu (“Venomous Snake”), Ušumgallu (“Great Dragon”), Mušmaḫḫū (“Exalted Serpent”), Mušḫuššu (“Furious Snake”), Laḫmu (the “Hairy One”), Ugallu (the “Big Weather-Beast”), Uridimmu (“Mad Lion”), Girtablullû (“Scorpion-Man”), Umū dabrūtu (“Violent Storms”), Kulullû (“Fish-Man”) and Kusarikku (“Bull-Man”).

Tiamat possessed the Tablet of Destinies and in the primordial battle she gave them to Kingu, the deity she had chosen as her lover and the leader of her host, and who was also one of her children. The deities gathered in terror, but Anu, (replaced later, first by Enlil and, in the late version that has survived after the First Dynasty of Babylon, by Marduk, the son of Ea), first extracting a promise that he would be revered as “king of the gods”, overcame her, armed with the arrows of the winds, a net, a club, and an invincible spear.

Slicing Tiamat in half, he made from her ribs the vault of heaven and earth. Her weeping eyes became the source of the Tigris and the Euphrates, her tail became the Milky Way. With the approval of the elder deities, he took from Kingu the Tablet of Destinies, installing himself as the head of the Babylonian pantheon. Kingu was captured and later was slain: his red blood mixed with the red clay of the Earth would make the body of humankind, created to act as the servant of the younger Igigi deities.

The principal theme of the epic is the justified elevation of Marduk to command over all the deities. “It has long been realized that the Marduk epic, for all its local coloring and probable elaboration by the Babylonian theologians, reflects in substance older Sumerian material,” American Assyriologist E. A. Speiser remarked in 1942 adding “The exact Sumerian prototype, however, has not turned up so far.”

Without corroboration in surviving texts, this surmise that the Babylonian version of the story is based upon a modified version of an older epic, in which Enlil, not Marduk, was the god who slew Tiamat, is more recently dismissed as “distinctly improbable”, in fact, Marduk has no precise Sumerian prototype.

It is generally accepted amongst modern Assyriologists that the Enûma Elish – the Babylonian creation epic to which this mythological strand is attributed – has been written as political and religious propaganda rather than reflecting a Sumerian tradition; the dating of the epic is not completely clear, but judging from the mythological topics covered and the cuneiform versions discovered thus far, it is likely to date it to the 15th century BCE.

The cult of Ninurta, a Sumerian and the Akkadian god of hunting and war, can be traced back to the oldest period of Sumerian history. Enlil’s brother, Enki, was portrayed as Ninurta’s mentor from whom Ninurta was entrusted several powerful Mes, including the Deluge.

He was worshipped in Babylonia and Assyria and in Lagash he was identified with the city god Ningirsu. In the inscriptions found at Lagash he appears under his name Ningirsu, “the lord of Girsu”, Girsu being the name of a city where he was considered the patron deity. In older transliteration the name is rendered Ninib and Ninip, and in early commentary he was sometimes portrayed as a solar deity.

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.

Ninurta appears in a double capacity in the epithets bestowed on him, and in the hymns and incantations addressed to him. On the one hand he is a farmer and a healing god who releases humans from sickness and the power of demons; on the other he is the god of the South Wind as the son of Enlil, displacing his mother Ninlil who was earlier held to be the goddess of the South Wind.

In the late neo-Babylonian and early Persian period, syncretism seems to have fused Ninurta’s character with that of Nergal. The two gods were often invoked together, and spoken of as if they were one divinity.

In the astral-theological system Ninurta was associated with the planet Saturn, or perhaps as offspring or an aspect of Saturn. In his capacity as a farmer-god, there are similarities between Ninurta and the Greek Titan Kronos, whom the Romans in turn identified with their Titan Saturn.

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.

Ninurta slays each of the monsters later known as the “Slain Heroes” (the Warrior Dragon, the Palm Tree King, Lord Saman-ana, the Bison-beast, the Mermaid, the Seven-headed Snake, the Six-headed Wild Ram), and despoils them of valuable items such as Gypsum, Strong Copper, and the Magilum boat.

Eventually, Anzû is killed by Ninurta who delivers the Tablet of Destiny to his father, Enlil. There are many parallels with both and the story of Marduk (son of Enki) who slew Abzu (or Apsu), and delivered the Tablets of Destiny from Kingu to his father, Enki.

When Babylon became the principal city of southern Mesopotamia during the reign of Hammurabi in the 18th century BC, the patron deity of Babylon was elevated to the level of supreme god. In order to explain how Marduk seized power, Enûma Elish was written, which tells the story of Marduk’s birth, heroic deeds and becoming the ruler of the gods. This can be viewed as a form of Mesopotamian apologetics. Also included in this document are the fifty names of Marduk.

In Enûma Elish, a civil war between the gods was growing to a climactic battle. The Anunnaki gods gathered together to find one god who could defeat the gods rising against them. Marduk, a very young god, answered the call and was promised the position of head god.

To prepare for battle, he makes a bow, fletches arrows, grabs a mace, throws lightning before him, fills his body with flame, makes a net to encircle Tiamat within it, gathers the four winds so that no part of her could escape, creates seven nasty new winds such as the whirlwind and tornado, and raises up his mightiest weapon, the rain-flood. Then he sets out for battle, mounting his storm-chariot drawn by four horses with poison in their mouths. In his lips he holds a spell and in one hand he grasps a herb to counter poison.

First, he challenges the leader of the Anunnaki gods, the dragon of the primordial sea Tiamat, to single combat and defeats her by trapping her with his net, blowing her up with his winds, and piercing her belly with an arrow.

Then, he proceeds to defeat Kingu, who Tiamat put in charge of the army and wore the Tablets of Destiny on his breast, and “wrested from him the Tablets of Destiny, wrongfully his” and assumed his new position. Under his reign humans were created to bear the burdens of life so the gods could be at leisure.

An – Ki

Lahmu and Lahamu, in turn, were the parents of Anshar (“Sky Pivot”), also spelled Anshur, which means “whole heaven” (from an = heaven, shár = horizon, end) and Kishar (“Earth Pivot”), which means “Whole Earth”, earlier personifications of heaven and earth.

Anshar and Kishar were considered to meet at the horizon, becoming, thereby, the parents of An (“Heaven”), the god of heaven, lord of constellations, king of gods, spirits and demons and Ki (Cuneiform KI, the sign for “earth”, also read as GI, GUNNI (=KI.NE) “hearth”, KARAŠ (=KI.KAL.BAD) “encampment, army”, KISLAḪ (=KI.UD) “threshing floor” or steath, and SUR (=KI.GAG), an earth goddess in Sumerian mythology.

Anu existed in Sumerian cosmogony as a dome that covered the flat earth; Outside of this dome was the primordial body of water known as Nammu, a primeval goddess, corresponding to Tiamat in Babylonian mythology.

Nammu, the goddess who “has given birth to the great gods”, was the Goddess Sea (Engur) that gave birth to An (heaven) and Ki (earth) and the first gods, representing the Apsu, the fresh water ocean that the Sumerians believed lay beneath the earth, the source of life-giving water and fertility in a country with almost no rainfall.

Nammu is not well attested in Sumerian mythology. She may have been of greater importance prehistorically, before Enki, who according to the Neo-Sumerian mythological text Enki and Ninmah is the son of An and Nammu, took over most of her functions.

The Atrahasis-Epos has it that Enlil requested from Nammu the creation of humans. And Nammu told him that with the help of Enki (her son) she can create humans in the image of gods. It is she who has the idea of creating mankind, and she goes to wake up Enki, who is asleep in the Apsu, so that he may set the process going.

In Sumerian, the designation “An” was used interchangeably with “the heavens” so that in some cases it is doubtful whether, under the term, the god An or the heavens is being denoted.

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

By her consort Anu, Ki gave birth to the Anunnaki, the most prominent of these deities being Enlil, god of the air. According to legends, heaven and earth were once inseparable until Enlil was born; Enlil cleaved heaven and earth in two. An carried away heaven. Ki, in company with Enlil, took the earth.

Samuel Noah Kramer identifies Ki with the Sumerian mother goddess Ninhursag and claims that they were originally the same figure. She later developed into the Babylonian and Akkadian goddess Antu, consort of the god Anu (from Sumerian An).

Uraš or Urash, in Sumerian mythology is a goddess of earth, and one of the consorts of the sky god Anu. She is the mother of the goddess Ninsun and a grandmother of the hero Gilgamesh. However, Uras may only have been another name for Antum, Anu’s wife. The name Uras even became applied to Anu himself, and acquired the meaning “heaven”. Ninurta also was apparently called Uras in later times.

Antu was a dominant feature of the Babylonian akit festival until as recently as 200 BC, her later pre-eminence possibly attributable to identification with the Greek goddess Hera. Antu was replaced as consort by Ishtar or Inanna, who may also be a daughter of Anu and Antu. She is similar to Anat or Anath (Hebrew and Phoenican ‘Anōt; Ugaritic ‘nt; Greek Anath; Egyptian Antit, Anit, Anti, or Anant), a major northwest Semitic goddess.

In Akkadian, the form one would expect Anat to take would be Antu, earlier Antum. This would also be the normal feminine form that would be taken by Anu, the Akkadian form of An ‘Sky’, the Sumerian god of heaven. Antu appears in Akkadian texts mostly as a rather colorless consort of Anu, the mother of Ishtar in the Gilgamesh story, but is also identified with the northwest Semitic goddess ‘Anat of essentially the same name.

It is unknown whether this is an equation of two originally separate goddesses whose names happened to fall together or whether Anat’s cult spread to Mesopotamia, where she came to be worshipped as Anu’s spouse because the Mesopotamian form of her name suggested she was a counterpart to Anu.

It has also been suggested that the parallelism between the names of the Sumerian goddess, Inanna, and her West Semitic counterpart, Ishtar, continued in Canaanite tradition as Anath and Astarte, particularly in the poetry of Ugarit.

The two goddesses were invariably linked in Ugaritic scripture and are also known to have formed a triad (known from sculpture) with a third goddess who was given the name/title of Qadesh (“The holy one”), a fertility goddess of sacred ecstasy and sexual pleasure associated with Anat, Astarte, and Asherah.

The goddess ‘Atah worshipped at Palmyra may possibly be in origin identical with ‘Anat. ‘Atah was combined with ‘Ashtart under the name Atar into the goddess ‘Atar‘atah known to the Hellenes as Atargatis. If this origin for ‘Atah is correct, then Atargatis is effectively a combining of ‘Ashtart and ‘Anat.

It has also been proposed that (Indo-)Iranian Anahita meaning ‘immaculate’ in Avestan (a ‘not’ + ahit ‘unclean’) is a variant of ‘Anat. It is however unlikely given that the Indo-Iranian roots of the term are related to the Semitic ones and although—through conflation—Aredvi Sura Anahita (so the full name) inherited much from Ishtar-Inanna, the two are considered historically distinct. In the Book of Zohar, ‘Anat is numbered among the holiest of angelic powers under the name of Anathiel.

In Akkadian mythology, Antu or Antum is a Babylonian goddess. She was the first consort of Anu, and the pair were the parents of the Anunnaki and the Utukki, a type of spirit In Sumerian religion that had escaped the underworld, either by their own power or by being summoned forth by a priest, such as the one appearing in the Epic of Gilgamesh.

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Lugalbanda

Posted by Fredsvenn on June 16, 2016

Uruk and Aratta

Aratta (probably somewhere in modern Iran or Armenia) is a land that appears in Sumerian myths surrounding Enmerkar and Lugalbanda, two early and possibly mythical kings of Unug-Kulaba (Uruk) also mentioned on the Sumerian king list. It is described in Sumerian literature as a fabulously wealthy place full of gold, silver, lapis lazuli and other precious materials, as well as the artisans to craft them.

It is remote and difficult to reach, but is conquered by Enmerkar of Uruk. It is home to the goddess Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare, and goddess of the E-Anna temple at the city of Uruk, her main centre, who transfers her allegiance from Aratta to Uruk. As early as the Uruk period (ca. 4000–3100 BC), Inanna was associated with the city of Uruk.

Among Sumerian literary narratives including the four of Enmerkar-Aratta cycle and five known Gilgamesh stories, “Lugalbanda in the Wilderness” and its continuation “Lugalbanda and the Anzu Bird” are considered to be the most elaborate and complex texts of their period with a combined length of 1000 lines, as well as their complicated symbolism, strong mythological elements, and unpredictable plot that moves back and forth between the mundane and divine worlds.

The stories, from the composer’s point of view, take place in the distant past. The accounts are believed to be composed during the Ur III Period (21st century BCE), although almost all extant copies come from Isin-Larsa period (20th-18th centuries BCE). Tablets containing these stories were found in various locations of southern Iraq, primarily in the city of Nippur, and were part of the curriculum of Sumerian scribal schools during the Old Babylonian period (20th-17th centuries BCE).

Although earlier generations of scholars have sought behind these stories a historical reality dating back to Early Dynastic Period, such attempts are mostly based on an amalgamation of data from the epic traditions of the 2nd millennium with unclear archaeological observations.

It is argued that even if the earlier oral traditions may have had an influence in the origin of these stories, the texts that have reached to us are the highly stylized and literary products of the scribes of the Ur III Period and later, and for such scribes “these texts were about the present, albeit projected into the past; indeed it is this very act of projection that marks them as fiction, not as ethnography or history.”

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.”

In Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta the goddess Inanna resides in Aratta, but Enmerkar of king of Unug-Kulaba pleases her more than does the lord of Aratta, who is not named in this epic. Enmerkar wants Aratta to submit to Uruk, and to bring stones, craft gold, silver and lapis lazuli down from the mountain, and send them, along with “kugmea” ore, to Uruk to build a temple.

Inanna 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, who in turn wants grain in exchange. However, Inanna 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.

The remainder of the text has many lacunae (line text losses), and the following events are unclear, but the tablet seems to end with Enmerkar triumphant, possibly installed by Inanna on the throne of Aratta, and with the people of Aratta delivering the tribute to E-ana, and providing the materials to build the Apsû.

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

In Enmerkar and En-suhgir-ana, the lord of Aratta, who is here named En-suhgir-ana (or Ensuhkeshdanna), challenges Enmerkar of Uruk to submit to him over the affections of Inanna, but he is rebuffed by Enmerkar.

While describing Enmerkar’s continued diplomatic rivalries with Aratta, there is an allusion to Hamazi having been vanquished. A sorcerer from the recently defeated Hamazi then arrives in Aratta, and offers to make Uruk submit.

The sorcerer travels to Eresh where he bewitches Enmerkar’s livestock, but a wise woman outperforms his magic and casts him into the Euphrates; En-suhgir-ana then admits the loss of Inanna, and submits his kingdom to Uruk.

In Lugalbanda in the Mountain Cave, or sometimes Lugalbanda in the Wilderness, a tale of Lugalbanda, who will become Enmerkar’s successor, Enmerkar is seen leading a campaign against Aratta. Enmerkar’s army travels through mountainous territory to wage war against rebellious Aratta. Lugalbanda falls ill and is left in a cave, but he prays to the various gods, recovers, and must find his way out of the mountains.

In Lugalbanda and the Anzud Bird, sometimes called The Return of Lugalbanda or Lugalbanda II being the second of two stories about the hero Lugalbanda, Lugalbanda befriends the Anzud bird, and asks it to help him find his army again. When Enmerkar’s army is faced with setback, Lugalbanda volunteers to return to Uruk to ask the goddess Inanna’s aid. He crosses through the mountains, into the flat land, from the edge to the top of Anshan and then to Uruk, where Inanna helps him.

Inanna advises Enmerkar to carry off Aratta’s “worked metal and metalsmiths and worked stone and stonemasons” and all the “moulds of Aratta will be his”. Then the city is described as having battlements made of green lapis lazuli and bricks made of “tinstone dug out in the mountains where the cypress grows”.

It also mentions 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.

Mesh-ki-ang-gasher and Kish

Mesh-ki-ang-gasher (Mèš-ki-áĝ-ga-še-er, Meš-ki-aĝ-gašer; also transliterated Mes-Kiag-Gasher, Mesh-Ki-Ang-Gasher, Meskiagkasher, Meckiagkacer and variants) was a Sumerian ruler and the founder of the First Dynasty of Uruk and the father of Enmerkar, according to the Sumerian king list. If a historical ruler, he would have flourished in ca. the 28th century BC (Early Bronze Age II).

“In E-ana, Meš-ki-aĝ-gašer, the son of Utu, became en and lugal; he ruled for 324 [variants: 325] years. Meš-ki-aĝ-gašer entered the sea and disappeared. Enmerkar, the son of Meš-ki-aĝ-gašer, the king of Unug, who built Unug [variants: under whom Unug was built], became king; he ruled for 420 years. ”

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.

Unlike his successors Enmerkar, Lugalbanda, Dumuzid, the Fisherman, and Gilgamesh, Mesh-ki-ang-gasher is not known from Sumerian epics or legends besides the King List. His nature as the son of the sun god, the founder of a major dynasty and his mysterious “disappearance” in the sea give him a mostly mythological flavour.

His son Enmerkar is also called “son of Utu” in the Sumerian legend Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta — where, aside from founding Uruk, Enmerkar is credited with building a temple at Eridu and with the invention of writing.

In David Rohl’s system of identifications of Bronze Age individuals with characters in the Hebrew Bible, Mesh-ki-ang-gasher corresponds to Cush, according to the Bible, the eldest son of Ham, who was a son of Noah.

Kish (Sumerian: Kiš; transliteration: Kiŝki; Akkadian: kiššatu) was an ancient city of Sumer in Mesopotamia, considered to have been located near the modern Tell al-Uhaymir in the Babil Governorate of Iraq, some 12 km east of Babylon and 80 km south of Baghdad. It was occupied from the Jemdet Nasr period (ca. 3100 BC), gaining prominence as one of the pre-eminent powers in the region during the early dynastic period.

The Sumerian king list states that Kish was the first city to have kings following the deluge, beginning with Jushur (also transliterated Jucur, Gushur, Ngushur, Gishur, etc.; earlier read as Gaur). No archaeological evidence corroborating his existence or identity has been found. If a historical figure, he may thus mark the beginning of the Early Dynastic Period of Sumer, corresponding very roughly to the Early Bronze Age II.

Jushur’s successor is called Kullassina-bel, but this is actually a sentence in Akkadian meaning “All of them were lord”. Thus, some scholars have suggested that this may have been intended to signify the absence of a central authority in Kish for a time.

The names of the next nine kings of Kish preceding Etana are all Akkadian words for animals, e.g. Zuqaqip “scorpion”. The East Semitic nature of these and other early names associated with Kish reveals that its population had a strong Semitic (Akkadian speaking) component from the dawn of recorded history, Ignace Gelb identified Kish as the center of the earliest East Semitic culture which he calls the Kish civilization.

The twelfth king of Kish appearing on the Sumerian king list, Etana, is noted as “the shepherd, who ascended to heaven and consolidated all the foreign countries”. Although his reign has yet to be archaeologically attested, his name is found in later legendary tablets, and Etana is sometimes regarded as the first king and founder of Kish.

A Babylonian legend says that Etana was desperate to have a child, until one day he helped save an eagle from starving, who then took him up into the sky to find the plant of birth. This led to the birth of his son, Balih.

In the detailed form of the legend, there is a tree with the eagle’s nest at the top, and a serpent at the base. Both the serpent and eagle have promised Utu (the sun god) to behave well toward one another, and they share food with their children.

But one day, the eagle eats the serpent’s children. The serpent comes back and cries. Utu tells the serpent to hide inside of the stomach of a dead bull. The eagle goes down to eat the bull. The serpent captures the eagle, and throws him into a pit to die of hunger and thirst.

Utu sends a man, Etana, to help the eagle. Etana saves the eagle, but he also asks the bird to find the plant of birth, in order to become father of a son. The eagle takes Etana up to the heaven of the god Anu, but Etana becomes afraid in the air and he goes back to the ground. He makes another attempt, and finds the plant of birth, enabling him to have Balih.

The twenty-first king of Kish on the list, Enmebaragesi, who is said to have captured the weapons of Elam, is the first name confirmed by archaeological finds from his reign. He is also known through other literary references, in which he and his son Aga of Kish are portrayed as contemporary rivals of Dumuzid, the Fisherman, and Gilgamesh, early rulers of Uruk.

The list states that he subdued Elam, reigned 900 years, and was captured single-handedly by Dumuzid “the fisherman” of Kuara, predecessor of Gilgamesh. He is the earliest ruler on the king list whose name is attested directly from archaeology. Two alabaster vase fragments inscribed with his name were found at Nippur where, according to the Sumerian Tummal Chronicle, he is said to have built the first temple. There are in all at least four surviving fragments bearing little more than the name of ‘Mebaragesi, lugal of Kish’.

He is also mentioned in a section of the original Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, Bilgamesh and Aga, as the father of the Aga who laid siege to Uruk. The Sumerian king list and the Tummal Chronicle concur with the Epic of Gilgamesh in making him the father of Aga, who was the final king of the 1st dynasty of Kish. Thus the fragments verifying Enmebaragesi’s historicity enhance the notion that Gilgamesh is also historical.

The later Sumerian Renaissance (Ur-III) king Shulgi addressed one of his praise poems to Gilgamesh, that credits Gilgamesh with capturing and defeating Enmebaragesi — thus contradicting the king list, where he was already captured by Gilgamesh’s predecessor.

In another part of the Gilgamesh epic, Gilgamesh offers his “sister” Enmebaragesi to be the wife of the monster Huwawa or Humbaba, causing some debate as to Enmebaragesi’s gender, with most scholars taking this reference as a jest.

Some early kings of Kish are known through archaeology, but are not named on the King list. These include Utug or Uhub, said to have defeated Hamazi in the earliest days, and Mesilim (ca. 2500-2330 BC), who built temples in Adab and Lagash, where he seems to have exercised some control.

The Third Dynasty of Kish is unique in that it begins with a woman, previously a tavern keeper, Kubau (Sumerian: Kug-Bau), as “king”. She is the only queen on the Sumerian King List, which states she reigned for 100 years – roughly in the Early Dynastic III period (ca. 2500-2330 BC) of Sumerian history. Before becoming monarch, the king list says she was an alewife.

Her son Puzur-Suen and grandson Ur-Zababa followed her on the throne in Sumer as the fourth Kish dynasty on the king list, in some copies as her direct successors, in others with the Akshak dynasty intervening.

Ur-Zababa is also known as the king said to be reigning in Sumer during the youth of Sargon the Great of Akkad, who militarily brought much of the near east under his regime shortly afterward. Sargon of Akkad, the founder of the Akkadian Empire, came from the area of Kish.

In ancient Mesopotamia, Zababa was the tutelary god of the city of Kish, whose sanctuary was the E-meteursag. In Akkadian times the city’s patron deity was Zababa (or Zamama), along with his wife, the goddess Inanna.

Several ancient Mesopotamian kings were named in honor of Zababa, including Ur-Zababa of Kish (early patron of Sargon of Akkad) and Zababa-shuma-iddin (a 12th-century BC Kassite king of Babylon).

Zababa (also Zamama) was the Hittite way of writing the name of a war god, using Akkadian writing conventions. Most likely, this spelling represents the native Anatolian Hattian god [Wurunkatte]. His Hurrian name was Astabis. He is connected with the Akkadian god Ninurta. The symbol of Zababa – the eagle-headed staff was often depicted next to Ninurta’s symbol.

She was later deified as the goddess Kheba. Shrines in honour of Kubaba spread throughout Mesopotamia. In the Hurrian area she may be identified with Kebat, or Hepat, one title of the Hurrian Mother goddess Hannahannah (from Hurrian hannah, “mother”). Abdi-Heba was the palace mayor, ruling Jerusalem at the time of the Amarna letters (1350 BC).

Kubaba became the tutelary goddess who protected the ancient city of Carchemish on the upper Euphrates, in the late Hurrian – Early Hittite period. She plays a role in Luwian texts and a minor role in Hittite texts, mainly in Hurrian rituals.

Relief carvings, now at the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations (Anadolu Medeniyetleri Müzesi), Ankara, show her seated, wearing a cylindrical headdress like the polos and holding probably a tympanum (hand drum) or possibly a mirror in one hand and a poppy capsule (or perhaps pomegranate) in the other.

According to Emanuel Laroche (Laroche 1960), Maarten J. Vermaseren (Vermaseren 1977), and Mark Munn (Munn 2004), her cult later spread and her name was adapted for the main goddess of the Hittite successor-kingdoms in Anatolia, which later developed into the Phrygian matar (mother) or matar kubileya Cybele whose image with inscriptions appear in rock-cut sculptures.

Her Lydian name was Kuvav or Kufav which Ionian Greeks initially transcribed Kybêbê, not Kybele; Jan Bremmer notes in this context the seventh-century Semonides of Amorgos, who calls one of her Hellene followers a kybêbos, and he observes that in the following century she has been further Hellenized by Hipponax as “Kybêbê, daughter of Zeus”. The Phrygian goddess otherwise bears little resemblance to Kubaba, who was a sovereign deity at Sardis, known to Greeks as Kybebe.

Afterwards, although its military and economic power was diminished, Kish retained a strong political and symbolic significance. Just as with Nippur to the south, control of Kish was a prime element in legitimizing dominance over the north of Mesopotamia (Assyria, Subartu).

Because of the city’s symbolic value, strong rulers later claimed the traditional title “King of Kish”, even if they were from Akkad, Ur, Assyria, Isin, Larsa or Babylon. One of the earliest to adopt this title upon subjecting Kish to his empire was King Mesannepada of Ur. A few governors of Kish for other powers in later times are also known.

Kish continued to be occupied through the pre-Babylonian, old Babylonian, Kassite, and Neo-Assyrian Empire and Neo-Babylonian periods, and into classical Seleucid times, before being abandoned.

Enmerkar and Uruk

Enmerkar, according to the Sumerian king list, was the builder of Uruk in Sumer, and was said to have reigned for “420 years” (some copies read “900 years”). The king list adds that Enmerkar became king after his father Mesh-ki-ang-gasher, son of Utu, had “entered the sea and disappeared.”

Enmerkar is also known from a few other Sumerian legends. These tales are part of a series of stories that describe the conflicts between Enmerkar, king of Unug (Uruk), and Ensuhkeshdanna, lord of Aratta. The texts are believed to be composed during the Ur III Period (21st century BCE), but almost all of the extant copies come from Isin-Larsa period (20th-18th centuries BCE).

The most notably Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta, where a previous confusion of the languages of mankind is mentioned. In this account, it is Enmerkar himself who is called ‘the son of Utu’ (the Sumerian sun god).

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. Enmerkar furthermore seeks 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.

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.

A number of scholars have suggested that either the god Ninurta or the Assyrian king bearing his name (Tukulti-Ninurta I) was the inspiration for the Biblical character Nimrod.

Lugalbanda

Lugalbanda is listed in the postdiluvian period of the Sumerian king list as the second king of Uruk, saying he ruled for 1,200 years, and providing him with the epithet of the Shepherd. Whether a king Lugalbanda ever historically ruled over Uruk, and if so, at what time, is quite uncertain.

In separate Sumerian traditions, specifically in the text referred to as 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.

But in these last two tablets there is no such indication, and Lugalbanda appears only as one of the soldiers of king Enmerkar. He is introduced as one of Enmerkar’s war chiefs. His name is composed of two Sumerian words meaning “young/fierce king” (lugal: king; banda: young, junior, small; but also fierce).

Lugalbanda and Ninsun

Lugalbanda appears in Sumerian literary sources as early as the mid-3rd millennium, as attested by a mythological text from Abu Salabikh that describes a romantic relationship between Lugalbanda and Ninsun or Ninsuna (“lady wild cow”), a goddess, best known as the mother of the legendary hero Gilgamesh, and as the tutelary goddess of Gudea of Lagash.

A deified Lugalbanda often appears as the husband of the goddess Ninsun. In the earliest god-lists from Fara, his name appears separate and in a much lower ranking than Ninsun, but in later traditions, until the Seleucid period, his name is often listed in god-lists along with his consort Ninsun.

Ample evidence for the worship of Lugalbanda as a deity comes from the Ur III period, as attested in tablets from Nippur, Ur, Umma and Puzrish-Dagan. In Old Babylonian period, Sin-kashid of Uruk is known to have built a temple called É-KI.KAL dedicated to Lugalbanda and Ninsun, and to have assigned his daughter Niši-īnī-šu as the eresh-dingir priestess of Lugalbanda.

In royal hymns of the Ur III period, Ur-Nammu of Ur and his son Shulgi describe Lugalbanda and Ninsun as their holy parents, and in the same context call themselves the brother of Gilgamesh. Sin-Kashid of Uruk also refers to Lugalbanda and Ninsun as his divine parents, and names Lugalbanda as his god.

In the Akkadian Epic of Gilgamesh and in earlier Sumerian stories about the hero, the king of Uruk, Gilgamesh, calls himself the son of Lugalbanda and Ninsun. In the Gilgamesh and Huwawa tale, the hero consistently uses the assertive phrase: “By the life of my own mother Ninsun and of my father, holy Lugalbanda!”.

In Akkadian versions of the epic, Gilgamesh also refers to Lugalbanda as his personal god, and in one episode presents the oil filled horns of the defeated Bull of Heaven “for the anointing of his god Lugalbanda”.

Ninurta

Ninurta was a Sumerian and the Akkadian god of hunting and war. The cult of Ninurta can be traced back to the oldest period of Sumerian history. He was worshipped in Babylonia and Assyria. In the inscriptions found at Lagash he appears under his name Ningirsu, “the lord of Girsu”, Girsu being the name of a city where he was considered the patron deity.

Girsu was possibly inhabited in the Ubaid period (5300-4800 BC), but significant levels of activity began in the Early Dynastic period (2900-2335 BC). At the time of Gudea, during the Second Dynasty of Lagash, Girsu became the capital of the Lagash kingdom and continued to be its religious center after political power had shifted to city of Lagash. During the Ur III period, Girsu was a major administrative center for the empire. After the fall of Ur, Girsu declined in importance, but remained inhabited until approximately 200 BC.

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. In older transliteration the name is rendered Ninib and Ninip, and in early commentary he was sometimes portrayed as a solar deity.

On the one hand he is a farmer and a healing god who releases humans from sickness and the power of demons; on the other he is the god of the South Wind as the son of Enlil, displacing his mother Ninlil who was earlier held to be the goddess of the South Wind. Enlil’s brother, Enki, was portrayed as Ninurta’s mentor from whom Ninurta was entrusted several powerful Mes, including the Deluge.

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.

Ninurta slays each of the monsters later known as the “Slain Heroes” (the Warrior Dragon, the Palm Tree King, Lord Saman-ana, the Bison-beast, the Mermaid, the Seven-headed Snake, the Six-headed Wild Ram), and despoils them of valuable items such as Gypsum, Strong Copper, and the Magilum boat. Eventually, Anzû is killed by Ninurta who delivers the Tablet of Destiny to his father, Enlil.

There are many parallels with both and the story of Marduk (son of Enki) who slew Abzu (or Apsu), and delivered the Tablets of Destiny from Kingu to his father, Enki.

He remained popular under the Assyrians: two kings of Assyria bore the name Tukulti-Ninurta. Ashurnasirpal II (883—859 BCE) built him a temple in the then capital city of Kalhu (the Biblical Calah, now Nimrud). In Assyria, Ninurta was worshipped alongside the gods Aššur and Mulissu.

In the astral-theological system Ninurta was associated with the planet Saturn, or perhaps as offspring or an aspect of Saturn. In his capacity as a farmer-god, there are similarities between Ninurta and the Greek Titan Kronos, whom the Romans in turn identified with their Titan Saturn.

Ninsun

The consort of Ninurta was Ugallu in Nippur and Bau when he was called Ningirsu. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Ninsun is depicted as a human queen who lives in Uruk with her son as king. Since the father of Gilgamesh was former king Lugalbanda, it stands to reason that Ninsun procreated with Lugalbanda to give birth.

Also in the Epic of Gilgamesh, Ninsun is summoned by Gilgamesh and Enkidu to help pray to the god Utu to help the two on their journey to the Country of the Living to battle Humbaba.

Ninsun is called “Rimat-Ninsun”, the “August cow”, the “Wild Cow of the Enclosure”, and “The Great Queen”. In the Tello relief (the ancient Lagash, 2150 BC) her name is written with the cuneiform glyphs as: DINGIR.NIN.GUL where the glyph for GUL is the same for SUN. The meaning of SUN is attested as “cow”.

She was the daughter of An and Uras, and Ninurta’s wife. She had seven daughters, including Hegir-Nuna (Gangir). She was known as a patron deity of Lagash, where Gudea built her a temple.

Ninsun was called Gula in Sumerian Mythology until the name was later changed to Ninisina. Nintinugga was a Babylonian goddess of healing, the consort of Ninurta. She is identical with the goddess of Akkadian mythology, known as Bau or Baba, though it would seem that the two were originally independent.

The name Bau is more common in the oldest period and gives way to Gula after the First Babylonian Dynasty. Since it is probable that Ninib has absorbed the cults of minor sun-deities, the two names may represent consorts of different gods. However this may be, the qualities of both are alike, and the two occur as synonymous designations of Ninib’s female consort.

Other names borne by this goddess are Nin-Karrak, Nin Ezen, Ga-tum-dug and Nm-din-dug, the latter signifying “the lady who restores to life”, or the Goddess of Healing. As in the case of Ninib, the cult of Bau-Gula is prominent in Shirgulla (Lagash) and in Nippur.

After the Great Flood, she helped “breathe life” back into mankind. The designation well emphasizes the chief trait of Bau-Gula which is that of healer. She is often spoken of as “the great physician,” and accordingly plays a specially prominent role in incantations and incantation rituals intended to relieve those suffering from disease.

Aquarius

Aquarius is a constellation of the zodiac, situated between Capricornus and Pisces. Its name is Latin for “water-carrier” or “cup-carrier”, and its symbol is a representation of water. It is found in a region often called the Sea due to its profusion of constellations with watery associations such as Cetus the whale, Pisces the fish, and Eridanus the river.

Across the desert in ancient Sumer the origins of Aquarius lie with the Goddess Gula, the Great One. She is described as a Goddess of Healing, but on closer inspection it becomes obvious that the healing that Gula gifts upon the Earth is that of the nourishing rain and fresh water floods that turn the dry land green again.

Gula is also said to have a violent side which She exhibits in the form of rain and thunderstorms: “Queen Whose Temper, Like a Raging Storm, Makes Heaven Tremble and the Earth Quake”. Gula was linked to the Great Flood and is often depicted with dogs by Her side.

Later accounts describe Gula in the form of Mul Gula as being a male Water Pourer who is immortalised in the constellation of  Aquarius. However, essentially the male Mul Gula is the same image as Enki, the Sumerian Lord of Fresh Water, who is often depicted pouring water from two jugs.

Aquarius is identified as GU.LA “The Great One” in the Babylonian star catalogues and represents the god Ea himself, who is commonly depicted holding an overflowing vase. The Babylonian star-figure appears on entitlement stones and cylinder seals from the second millennium. It contained the winter solstice in the Early Bronze Age. In Old Babylonian astronomy, Ea was the ruler of the southernmost quarter of the Sun’s path, the “Way of Ea”, corresponding to the period of 45 days on either side of winter solstice.

Considered the master shaper of the world, god of wisdom and of all magic, Enki was characterized as the lord of the Abzu, the freshwater sea or groundwater located within the earth. He is often shown with the horned crown of divinity dressed in the skin of a carp. He was the keeper of the divine powers called Me, the gifts of civilization.

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, a minor god, the messenger of the god Enki in Sumerian mythology, readily identifiable by his possessing two faces looking in opposite directions. He was also associated with the planet Mercury in the Sumerian astrological system.

Later known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology, Enki was the god of intelligence (gestú, literally “ear”), creation, crafts; magic; water, seawater and lakewater (a, aba, ab). Mercury is the ruling planet of Gemini and Virgo and is exalted in Virgo or Aquarius.

Aquarius was also associated with the destructive floods that the Babylonians regularly experienced, and thus was negatively connoted. In Ancient Egypt, Aquarius was associated with the annual flood of the Nile; the banks were said to flood when Aquarius put his jar into the river, beginning spring.

In the Greek tradition, the constellation became represented as simply a single vase from which a stream poured down to Piscis Austrinus. The name in the Hindu zodiac is likewise kumbha “water-pitcher”, showing that the zodiac reached India via Greek intermediaries.

In Greek mythology, Aquarius is sometimes associated with Deucalion, the son of Prometheus who built a ship with his wife Pyrrha to survive an imminent flood. They sailed for nine days before washing ashore on Mount Parnassus. Aquarius is also sometimes identified with beautiful Ganymede, a youth in Greek mythology and the son of Trojan king Tros, who was taken to Mount Olympus by Zeus to act as cup-carrier to the gods.

Uranus is the ruling planet of Aquarius and is exalted in Scorpio. In Greek mythology, Uranus is the personification of the heavens and the night sky. The planet Uranus is very unusual among the planets in that it rotates on its side, so that it presents each of its poles to the Sun in turn during its orbit; causing both hemispheres to alternate between being bathed in light and lying in total darkness over the course of the orbit.

Before the discovery of Uranus, Saturn was regarded as the ruling planet of Aquarius alongside Capricorn of course, which is the preceding sign. Many traditional types of astrologers prefer Saturn as the planetary ruler for both Capricorn and Aquarius. In modern astrology, it is the primary native ruler of the tenth house. Traditionally however, Saturn ruled both the first and eighth houses.

Under the tropical zodiac, the sun is in Aquarius typically between January 20 and February 18, while under the Sidereal Zodiac, the sun is in Aquarius from approximately February 15 to March 14, depending on leap year.

The Roman month Februarius was named after the Latin term februum, which means purification, via the purification ritual Februa held on February 15 (full moon) in the old lunar Roman calendar. Its zodiac signs are Aquarius (until February 19) and Pisces (February 20 onwards).

January and February were the last two months to be added to the Roman calendar, since the Romans originally considered winter a monthless period. They were added by Numa Pompilius about 713 BC.

February remained the last month of the calendar year until the time of the decemvirs (c. 450 BC), when it became the second month. At certain intervals February was truncated to 23 or 24 days, and a 27-day intercalary month, Intercalaris, was inserted immediately after February to realign the year with the seasons.

January (in Latin, Ianuarius) is named after the Latin word for door (ianua) since January is the door to the year. The month is conventionally thought of as being named after Janus, the god of beginnings and transitions in Roman mythology, but according to ancient Roman farmers’ almanacs Juno was the tutelary deity of the month. The zodiac signs for the month of January are Capricorn (until January 20) and Aquarius (January 21 onwards).

In Roman mythology, Saturn is the god of agriculture, leader of the titans, founder of civilizations, social order, and conformity. The day Saturday is, like the planet Saturn, named after the Roman god of agriculture, Saturn (linked to the Greek god Cronus).

The glyph is shaped like a scythe, but it is known as the “crescent below the cross”, whereas Jupiter’s glyph is the “crescent above the cross”. The famous rings of the planet Saturn that enclose and surround it, reflect the idea of human limitations. Saturn takes 29.5 years to orbit the Sun, spending about 2.46 years in each sign of the zodiac.

Saturn in astrology is the ruling planet of Capricorn, the tenth astrological sign in the zodiac, originating from the constellation of Capricornus, and, traditionally, Aquarius.

Capricorn spans the 270–300th degree of the zodiac. Under the tropical zodiac, the sun transits this area from December 21 to January 20 each year, and under the sidereal zodiac, the sun transits the constellation of Capricorn from approximately January 16 to February 16.

In astrology, Capricorn is considered an earth sign, introvert sign, a power sign and one of the four cardinal signs. Capricorn is said to be ruled by the planet Saturn. Its symbol is based on the Sumerians primordial god of wisdom and waters, Enki, with the head and upper body of a mountain goat, and the lower body and tail of a fish.

In Chinese astrology, Saturn is ruled by the element earth, which is warm, generous, and co-operative. In Indian astrology, Saturn is called Shani or “Sani”, representing a noteworthy career and longevity. He is also the bringer of obstacles and hardship.

In Scandinavian countries, Saturday is called lördag, “lørdag,” or laurdag, the name being derived from the old word laugr/laug, meaning bath, thus Lördag equates to bath-day. This is due to the Viking practice of bathing on Saturdays. The roots lör, laugar and so forth are cognate to the English word lye, in the sense of detergent.

*Laguz or *Laukaz is the reconstructed Proto-Germanic name of the l-rune, *laguz meaning “water” or “lake” and *laukaz meaning “leek”. The “leek” hypothesis is based not on the rune poems, but rather on early inscriptions where the rune has been hypothesized to abbreviate *laukaz, a symbol of fertility.

In the Anglo-Saxon rune poem, it is called lagu “ocean”. In the Younger Futhark, the rune is called lögr “waterfall” in Icelandic and logr “water” in Norse. The corresponding Gothic letter is l, named lagus. The rune is identical in shape to the letter lin the Raetic alphabet.

In India, Saturday is Shanivar, based on Shani, the Vedic god manifested in the planet Saturn. Shani dev is one of the Navagraha (the nine primary celestial beings in Hindu astrology) of Jyotiṣa. Shani dev is embodied in the planet Saturn and is the Lord of Saturday. Shani dev is also known as Śanaiścara. The word shani comes from Śanayē Kramati Saḥ, the one who moves slowly, because Saturn takes about 30 years to revolve around the Sun.

In Hindu astrology, the kumbha stands for the zodiac sign Aquarius and is also associated with the Kumbh Mela, a mass Hindu pilgrimage of faith in which Hindus gather to bathe in a sacred river, which happens when the planet Brihaspati moves into Aquarius. The Kumbh Mela of Haridwar appears to be the original Kumbh Mela, since it is held according to the astrological sign “Kumbha” (Aquarius), and because there are several references to a 12-year cycle for it.

In Hindu epic Ramayana, Ravana’s brother Kumbhakarna had a son named Kumbha. In Hindu mythology and scriptures, several references are found of human beings born from kumbha. A legend states that rishi Agastya was born out of a womb.

A kumbha is a type of pottery in India. Traditionally, it is made by Kumbhars, also known as Prajapatis. In the context of Hindu, Jain and Buddhist mythology, the kumbha symbolises the womb. It represents fertility, life, generative power of human beings and sustenance and is generally associated with devis, particularly Ganga.

According to Hindu mythology, the first kumbha was created by Prajapati (“lord of people”), a group of Hindu deities presiding over procreation and protection of life, and thereby a King of Kings (Rajanya or Rajan), on the occasion of the marriage of Shiva, so he was first kumbhara “potter”.

Prajapati is a Vedic deity presiding over procreation, and the protection of life. He was mentioned as Daksha in Hiranyagharbhasuktham as the creator deity emerging from supreme god vishvakarman above the other Vedic deities in RV 10 and in Brahmana literature. Vedic commentators also identify him with the creator referred to in the Nasadiya Sukta. In later times, he is identified with the personifications of Time, Fire, the Sun, etc.

A possible connection between Prajapati (and related figures in Indian tradition) and the Prōtogonos (“First-born”) or Phanes, the mystic primeval deity of procreation and the generation of new life, who was introduced into Greek mythology by the Orphic tradition, has been made by several scholars. Other names for this Classical Greek Orphic concept included Ericapaeus (“power”) and Metis (“thought”).

Another myth says that the first pot was created by Vishvakarman (Sanskrit for “all-accomplishing, maker of all, all-doer”) is personification of creation and the abstract form of the creator God according to the Rigveda, on the occasion of the churning of the ocean for the first Amrit Sanchar.

Viśwákarma is personification of creation and the abstract form of the creator God according to the Rigveda. He is the presiding deity of all Vishwakarma (caste), engineers, artisans and architects. He is believed to be the “Principal Architect of the Universe “, and the root concept of the later Upanishadic figures of Brahman and Purusha.

In several religious ceremonies and rituals, kumbhas or kalashas filled with water and leaves and decorated with intricate motifs, sometimes with ornaments, play an important role in ancient India. These rituals still survive in India.

Nergal and Ninurta

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

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

Nergal’s fiery aspect appears in names or epithets such as Lugalgira, Lugal-banda (Nergal as the fighting-cock), Sharrapu (“the burner,” a reference to his manner of dealing with outdated teachings), Erra, Gibil (though this name more properly belongs to Nusku), Sibitti or Seven, the “raging king,” the “furious one,” and the like.

The worship of Nergal does not appear to have spread as widely as that of Ninurta, but in the late Babylonian and early Persian period, syncretism seems to have fused the two divinities, which were invoked together as if they were identical. They were spoken of as if they were one divinity.

In Assyro-Babylonian ecclesiastical art the great lion-headed colossi serving as guardians to the temples and palaces seem to symbolise Nergal, just as the bull-headed colossi probably typify Ninurta.

Aquarius the water pourer

Aquarius

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