Sanat, Mitoloji ve Bilim

CKM 2017-18 / Aziz Yardımlı


Mezopotamya’da Sanat, Mitoloji ve Bilim


Shulgi and the Royal Ideal of Music

Shulgi and the Royal Ideal of Music (LINK)

2. Instrument Gods and Musician Kings in Early Mesopotamia: Divinized Instruments

Shulgi and the Royal Ideal of Music

“I, Shulgi, king of Ur, have also devoted myself to the musician’s art. Nothing is too complicated for me; I know the depth and breadth of the tigi and the adab, the perfection of music. When I fix the frets on the lute (giššukarak), which enraptures my heart, I never damage its neck; I have established procedures for raising and lowering its intervals. On the [sc. instrument with] eleven tuning-pegs, the lyre (zami), I know the harmonious tuning. I am familiar with the three-stringed instrument (sa-eš) and with drumming on its musical sound-box. I can take in my hands the Mari-lyre (miritum), which brings the house [sc. astonished] silence. I know the finger technique of the horizontal-lyre (alĝar) and the Sabu-lyre (sabitum), royal creations. In the same way I can produce sounds from the King-of-Kish instrument (urzababitum), the ḫarḫar, the zan(n)aru-lyre, the urgula and the dim-lu-magura. Even if they bring to me, as one might to a skilled musician, a lute (gudi) that I have not heard before, when I strike it up I make its true sound known; I am able to handle it just like something that has been in my hands before. If in tuning I tighten, loosen or set [sc. the strings], they do not slip from my hand. I never make the double-pipe sound like a shepherd’s instrument, and on my own initiative I can wail a sumunša or make a lament as well as anyone who does it regularly.”

The Divine Lyre, s. 33.
John Curtis Franklin (LINK) Harvard University, Center For Hellenic Studies

(W) Shulgi (𒀭𒂄𒄀 dŠulgi, formerly read as Dungi) of Ur was the second king of the Sumerian Renaissance in the Third Dynasty of Ur. He reigned for 48 years, from c. 2029-1982 (short chronology). His accomplishments include the completion of construction of the Great Ziggurat of Ur, begun by his father Ur-Nammu.

Music of Mesopotamia

Music of Mesopotamia (W)

Cuneiform sources reveal an orderly organized system of diatonic scales, depending on the tuning of stringed instruments in alternating fifths and fourths. Instruments of Ancient Mesopotamia include harps, lyres, lutes, reed pipes, and drums. Many of these were shared with neighbouring cultures. Contemporary East African lyres and West African lutes preserve many features of Mesopotamian instruments (van der Merwe 1989, p. 10).

Two silver pipes have been discovered in Ur with finger holes, and a depiction of two reeds vibrating. This instrument would be close to the modern oboe. The ancient Mesopotamians do not seem to have had a clarinet-type of instrument. A number of reconstructions have been proposed, the most recent being a pair of thin tubes with three finger holes in one tube and four finger holes in the other (Goss 2012).

The Harmonic Series, the series of notes that the Mesopotamian horn instruments would have been able to play.




A praise poem of Shulgi (Shulgi B)

A praise poem of Shulgi (Shulgi B) (LINK)
A praise poem of Shulgi (Shulgi B)

1lugal-e mu-ni nij2-ul-ce3
2ud su3-ra2 ka pa ed2 ak-de3
3dcul-gi lugal urimki-ma-ke4
4a2-na za3-mi2-bi-im kalag-ga-na cir3-bi-im
5gal-an-zu nij2-saj-bi-ce3 ed2-a-na mu da-ri2-bi-im
6cag4-bal-bal-a ejer ud-da-ka cu-a bal-e-de3
7kalag-ga dumu dnin-sumun2-ka-ra
8jectug2 ejer-ra-bi igi-ce3 mu-un-na-de6
9a2-ni cir3-ra silim-ce3 mu-un-e
10dim2-ma nij2-sag9-ga cag4-ta DU-a-ni ni2-bi i3-balaj-e (LINK)

1-10 To make his name famous for all time until distant days, and to transmit to posterity and the days to come the praise poems of his power, the songs of his might, and the lasting fame of his exceptional intelligence, King Culgi, king of Urim, has brought the songs' latent wisdom before the mighty son of Ninsumun. He praises his own power in song, and lauds his own superior native intelligence:

11lugal a lugal-e ru-a nin-e tud-da-me-en
12dcul-gi-me-en dumu-gir15 cag4 zid-ta nam dug3 tar-ra-me-en
13tur-ra-ju10-ne e2-dub-ba-a-a-am3
14dub ki-en-gi ki-uri-ka nam-dub-sar-ra mi-ni-zu
15nam-dumu-gir15 je26-e-gin7-nam im nu-mu-un-sar
16nam-dub-sar-ra ki nam-kug-zu-ba lu2 im-mi-re6-re6
17zi-zi-i ja2-ja2 cid nij2-cid-de3 zag im-mi-til-til
18dnanibgal sig7-ga dnisaba2-ke4
19jectug2 jizzal2-la cu dajal ma-ni-in-dug4
20dub-sar jal2 taka4-a nij2-e nu-dib-be2-me-en (LINK)

11-20 I am a king, offspring begotten by a king and borne by a queen. I, Culgi the noble, have been blessed with a favourable destiny right from the womb. When I was small, I was at the academy, where I learned the scribal art from the tablets of Sumer and Akkad. None of the nobles could write on clay as I could. There where people regularly went for tutelage in the scribal art, I qualified fully in subtraction, addition, reckoning and accounting. The fair Nanibgal, Nisaba, provided me amply with knowledge and comprehension. I am an experienced scribe who does not neglect a thing.

21-38 When I sprang up, muscular as a young lion, galloping like a spirited ass at full gallop, the favour of An brought me joy; to my delight Enlil spoke favourably about me, and they gave me the sceptre because of my righteousness. I place my foot on the neck of the foreign lands; the fame of my weapons is established as far as the south, and my victory is established in the highlands. When I set off for battle and strife to a place that Enlil has commanded me, I go ahead of the main body of my troops and I clear the terrain for my scouts. I have a positive passion for weapons. Not only do I carry lance and spear, I also know how to handle slingstones with a sling. The clay bullets, the treacherous pellets that I shoot, fly around like a violent rainstorm. In my rage I do not let them miss.

39-51 I sow fear and confusion in the foreign land. I look to my brother and friend, youthful Utu, as a source of divine encouragement. I, Culgi, converse with him whenever he rises over there; he is the god who keeps a good eye on my battles. The youth Utu, beloved in the mountains, is the protective deity of my weapons; by his words I am strengthened and made pugnacious (?). In those battles, where weapon clashes on weapon, Utu shines on me. Thus I broke the weapons of the highlands over my knees, and in the south placed a yoke on the neck of Elam. I make the populations of the rebel lands -- how could they still resist my weapons? -- scatter like seed-grain over Sumer and Akkad.

52-55 Let me boast of what I have done. The fame of my power is spread far and wide. My wisdom is full of subtlety. Do not my achievements surpass all qualifications?

56-76 I stride forward in majesty, trampling endlessly through the esparto grass and thickets, capturing elephant after elephant, creatures of the plain; and I put an end to the heroic roaring in the plains of the savage lion, dragon of the plains, wherever it approaches from and wherever it is going. I do not go after them with a net, nor do I lie in wait for them in a hide; it comes to a confrontation of strength and weapons. I do not hurl a weapon; when I plunge a bitter-pointed lance in their throats, I do not flinch at their roar. I am not one to retreat to my hiding-place but, as when one warrior kills another warrior, I do everything swiftly on the open plain. In the desert where the paths peter out, I reduce the roar at the lair to silence. In the sheepfold and the cattle-pen, where heads are laid to rest (?), I put the shepherd tribesmen at ease. Let no one ever at any time say about me, "Could he really subdue them all on his own?" The number of lions that I have dispatched with my weapons is limitless; their total is unknown.

77-80 Let me boast of what I have done. The fame of my power is spread far and wide. My wisdom is full of subtlety. Do not my achievements surpass all qualifications?

81-94 I am Culgi, god of manliness, the foremost of the troops. When I stretch the bowstring on the bow, when I fit a perfect arrow to it, I shoot the bow's arrow with the full strength of my arms. The great wild bull, the bull of heaven, the wild cow and the bison bellow. As they pass across the foothills of the mountains, I shoot barbed arrows at them with my powerful strength.
1 line unclear
As they collapse (?) on the plain, I topple them like old towers. I make their heads plunge to the ground like crushing pestles. For the wild asses I set no snares, dig no pits, shoot no arrows against them. But I race after them as against my own rivals; I do not try to surround them to kill their young, as people kill slim ass foals.

95-113 When a burly wild boar (?) is running across the plain, I pierce its lungs with an arrow. With only one shot of mine I bring it to the ground; no single clansman from my regiments can surpass me in archery. I am a man with sharp eyes. When I lead the ...... of the crack troops, I know best of all how to cast the throwstick, running as quick as light radiating from heaven. What I hit no longer rises from its place.
1 line unclear
I can throw an ellag (a weapon) as high in the air as if it is a rag. I can bring down quadrupeds lightning-quick with the sling. I, Culgi, can catch a goat with a quick pace; nothing checks my power. ...... has been given to me. Wherever I direct my steps, I always achieve something; when I return from the desert, I always bring something more for her -- for Ninsumun, my own mother, I am her son of five things, of ten things (= of everything) .

114-117 Let me boast of what I have done. The fame of my power is spread far and wide. My wisdom is full of subtlety. Do not my achievements surpass all qualifications?

118-130 I, the king, am the Land's most excellent fighter against the enemy. I, Culgi, am respected for my immense bodily strength. I am mighty; nothing resists me; I know no setbacks. My barges on the river do not sink (?) under me (alludes to a proverb (?)) ; my teams of asses do not collapse under me. Striding forward like my brother and friend, the youth Utu, as if with the legs of a lion, I am the good groom of my dust-making asses that bray like lions roaring. Like that of a stallion, my strength is unwavering during the running-race; I come first in the race, and my knees do not get tired. I am fearless; I dance with joy. My words shall never be forgotten. Praise for me because of my reliable judgments is on everyone's lips.

131-149 I am a ritually pure interpreter of omens. I am the very Nintud (creator deity) of the collections of omens. These words of the gods are of pre-eminent value for the exact performance of hand-washing and purification rites, for eulogy of the en priestess or for her enthronement in the jipar, for the choosing of the lumah and nindijir priests by sacred extispicy, for attacking the south or for defeating the uplands, for the opening of the emblem house, for the washing of lances in the "water of battle" (blood) , for the taking of subtle decisions about the rebel lands. After I have determined a sound omen through extispicy from a white lamb and a sheep, water and flour are libated at the place of invocation. Then, as I prepare the sheep with words of prayer, my diviner watches in amazement like an idiot. The prepared sheep is placed at my disposal, and I never confuse a favourable sign with an unfavourable one. I myself have a clear intuition, and I judge by my own eyes. In the insides of just one sheep I, the king, can find the indications for everything and everywhere.

150-153 Let me boast of what I have done. The fame of my power is spread far and wide. My wisdom is full of subtlety. Do not my achievements surpass all qualifications?

154-174 I, Culgi, king of Urim, have also devoted myself to the art of music. Nothing is too complicated for me; I know the full extent of the tigi and the adab, the perfection of the art of music. When I fix the frets on the lute, which enraptures my heart, I never damage its neck; I have devised rules for raising and lowering its intervals. On the gu-uc lyre I know the melodious tuning. I am familiar with the sa-ec and with drumming on its musical soundbox. I can take in my hands the miritum, which ....... I know the finger technique of the aljar and sabitum, royal creations. In the same way I can produce sounds from the urzababitum, the harhar, the zanaru, the ur-gula and the dim-lu-magura. Even if they bring to me, as one might to a skilled musician, a musical instrument that I have not played previously, when I strike it up I make its true sound known; I am able to handle it just like something that has been in my hands before. Tuning, stringing, unstringing and fastening are not beyond my skills. I do not make the reed pipe sound like a rustic pipe, and on my own initiative I can wail a sumunca or make a lament as well as anyone who does it regularly.

175-189 I bestow joy and gladness, and I pass my days in pomp and splendour. But people should consider for themselves -- it is a matter to keep in one's sights -- that at the inescapable end of life, no one will be spared the bitter gall of the land of oppression. But I am one who is powerful enough to trust in his own power. He who trusts in his own exalted name may carry out great things. Why should he do less? Since it was for my true mother Ninsumun that my mother together with her actually bore me to bestow joy and gladness, lovingly she cherished my unborn fruit. She did not endure scandal from anyone's mouth. Before she released her little one, this lady passed her time in my palace in the greatest joy.

190-205 Before Utu son of Ningal, I, Culgi, declare that in my long life in which I have achieved great things since the day that my kingly destiny was determined, in my life in which everything was richly provided in contentment, I have never lacked anything. Until the distant future may this song bless the name of me, the king, with a life of long days. As I am musical, as I am eloquent, I am a heavenly star of steadfastness. It is an awe-inspiring brow that establishes palaces, just as a peg and a measuring cord are the builders of cities. With the awesomeness that radiates from my forehead, which I make the foreign lands wear like a nose-rope, and the fear-inspiring lustre, my personal weapon, which I impose on the Land like a neck-stock, I am able to root out and undo crime. I have the ability to reconcile great matters with one word.

206-220 When I ...... like a torrent with the roar of a great storm, in the capture of a citadel in Elam ......, I can understand what their spokesman answers. By origin I am a son of Sumer; I am a warrior, a warrior of Sumer. Thirdly, I can conduct a conversation with a man from the black mountains. Fourthly, I can do service as a translator with an Amorite, a man of the mountains ....... I myself can correct his confused words in his own language. Fifthly, when a man of Subir yells ......, I can even distinguish the words in his language, although I am not a fellow-citizen of his. When I provide justice in the legal cases of Sumer, I give answers in all five languages. In my palace no one in conversation switches to another language as quickly as I do.

221-243 When I pronounce a completed verdict, it is heartily welcomed, since I am wise and exalted in kingship. So that my consultative assemblies, sitting together to care for the people, inspire respect in their hearts when the chief herald sounds the horn, they should deliberate and debate; and so that the council should decide policy properly, I have taught my governors to deliberate and to debate. While the words at their dining tables flow like a river, I tackle crime, so that the foundations are securely established for my wide dominions. I vanquish a city with words as weapons, and my wisdom keeps it subjected just as violence with burning torches would. I have taught them the meaning of the words "I have no mother". My words can be words smooth as the finest quality oil; I know how to cool hearts which are hot as fire, and I know how to extinguish a mouth set on fire like a reed-bed. I weigh my words against those of the braggart. I am a man of the very highest standards of value. The importance of the humble is of particular value to me, and they cannot be counter-productive to any of my activities. By command of An and by command of Enlil, prayers are said for the life of the Land and for the life of the foreign lands, and I neither neglect them nor allow them to be interrupted.

244-258 I also know how to serve the gods, and I can cool the hearts of the Anuna gods. I am Culgi, whose thick neck becomes fat (?) in majesty. Grand achievements that I have accomplished which bring joy to my heart I do not cast negligently aside; therefore I give pride of place to progress. I give no orders concerning the development of waste ground, but devote my energies to extensive building plots. I have planted trees in fields and in agricultural land; I devote my powers to dams, ......, ditches and canals. I try to ensure a surplus of oil and wool. Thanks to my efforts flax and barley are of the highest quality. The thirst and hunger of the gods are a cause of the greatest anxiety to me; I, Culgi, am the life of Sumer.

259-269 I have no equal among even the most distant rulers, and I can also state that my deeds are great deeds. Everything is achievable by me, the king. Since the time when Enlil gave me the direction of his numerous people in view of my wisdom, my extraordinary power and my justice, in view of my resolute and unforgettable words, and in view of my expertise, comparable to that of Ictaran, in verdicts, my heart has never committed violence against even one other king, be he an Akkadian or a son of Sumer, or even a brute from Gutium.

270-280 I am no fool as regards the knowledge acquired since the time that mankind was, from heaven above, set on its path: when I have discovered tigi and zamzam hymns from past days, old ones from ancient times, I have never declared them to be false, and have never contradicted their contents. I have conserved these antiquities, never abandoning them to oblivion. Wherever the tigi and the zamzam sounded, I have recovered all that knowledge, and I have had those cir-gida songs brilliantly performed in my own good house. So that they should never fall into disuse, I have added them to the singers' repertoire, and thereby I have set the heart of the Land on fire and aflame.

281-296 Whatever is acquired is destined to be lost. What mortal has ever reached the heavens? At some time in the distant future, a man of Enlil may arise, and if he is a just king, like myself, then let my odes, prayers and learned songs about my heroic courage and expeditions follow that king in his good palace. He should take to heart the benefit that has been conferred on him; he should exalt the power of my odes, absorb the exuberance of my songs, and value highly my great wisdom. Just as a strong person can consider on an equal basis even those things which he has not brought about by his own efforts, let him applaud and welcome my achievements. Let him call upon my good name.

297-307 But if his heart devises treason against me, and he commits violence against anything of mine, may Nanna then adjudicate against this rebel, and let Utu the torch catch him. Wherever that king's path may lead, his word shall be wiped out. Until he has completed the days of his life, he shall do everything in his power to keep the hymns in their proper form. Through becoming familiar thereby with me, the king, he will speak of me in awed amazement. Because of my extraordinary wisdom and my ancient fame as a master, he should choose my hymns as examples, and himself beget heavenly writings.

308-319 In the south, in Urim, I caused a House of the Wisdom of Nisaba to spring up in sacrosanct ground for the writing of my hymns; up country in Nibru I established another. May the scribe be on duty there and transcribe with his hand the prayers which I instituted in the E-kur; and may the singer perform, reciting from the text. The academies are never to be altered; the places of learning shall never cease to exist. This and this only is now my accumulated knowledge! The collected words of all the hymns that are in my honour supersede all other formulations. By An, Enlil, Utu and Inana, it is no lie -- it is true!

320-336 Furthermore no one will assert under oath that to this day there is any mention in my inscriptions of a single city that I have not devastated, or wall that I have not demolished, or land that I have not made tremble like a reed hut, or praise that I have not completely verified. Why should a singer put them in hymns? An eminent example deserves eternal fame. What is the use of writing lies without truth? For me, the king, the singer has recorded my exploits in songs about the strength of the protective deity of my power; my songs are unforgettable, and my words shall not fall into oblivion. I am the best king of the Land. From the very first origins until the full flourishing of mankind, there will never be any king who can measure himself against my achievements whom An will let wear his crown or wield his sceptre from a royal throne.

337-353 I am gifted with power, insight and wisdom. The high point of my great deeds is the culling of lions before the lance as if they were garden weeds, the snapping of fierce felines like reeds as if under the carding-comb, and the crushing (?) of their throats under the axe as if they were dogs. Great powerful wild cows, indomitable bulls, cattle on their way to their mountain pastures, which were killed in the plain, were ...... the mountains. That the hills were impenetrable and inaccessible ...... -- those are pure lies. Where, in important words on tablets, my wisdom and my power
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He who knows, and does not ...... the truth about me as lies, will applaud and praise me.

354-357 I am a warrior whose might is enormous might. I am Culgi, whose shadow lies over the mountain lands. I am the king, the weapon and the downfall of rebel lands. Thus I have spread far and wide my everlasting renown.

358-373 Now, I swear by Utu on this very day -- and my younger brothers shall be witnesses of it in foreign lands where the sons of Sumer are not known, where people do not have the use of paved (?) roads, where they have no access to the written word -- that the firstborn son is a fashioner of words, a composer of songs, a composer of words, and that they will recite my songs as heavenly writings, and that they will bow down before my words as a ......
8 lines fragmentary

374-385 For that house, I am the right man to step over the threshold. I am the man whose name has been chosen by Nanna. I am the steward of Enlil's temple, the domestic slave of An. I am Culgi, and my house E-hursaj is the palace of palaces. My royal residence is above all praise; I made it tower up like a lapis-lazuli mountain. Inana, the queen of the gods, the protective deity of my power, has perfected the songs of my might -- the foremost among kings -- in respect of everything in the whole world. It is good to praise me. Praise be to Nisaba.

Revision history

10.viii.1998-12.i.1999 : JAB : adapting translation
26.vii.2000 : GZ : proofreading
27.vii.2000 : GC : tagging
01.ix.2000 : ER : proofreading SGML
01.ix.2000 : ER : converting to HTML 4.0

The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature

Shulgi (𒀭𒂄𒄀 dŠulgi, formerly read as Dungi) of Ur was the second king of the Sumerian Renaissance in the Third Dynasty of Ur. He reigned for 48 years, from c. 2029-1982 BC (short chronology). His accomplishments include the completion of construction of the Great Ziggurat of Ur, begun by his father Ur-Nammu.


  The Mesopotamian collection

The Mesopotamian collection of the Oriental Institute Museum

The Mesopotamian collection of the Oriental Institute Museum (LINK)

Mesopotamia — the land between the rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates — is an ancient Greek term used by archaeologists to refer to the area now roughly equivalent to the modern country of Iraq. The Mesopotamian collection of the Oriental Institute Museum was acquired almost exclusively through archaeological excavations. The first of these — the University of Chicago Oriental Exploration Fund's expedition to Bismaya (ancient Adab) — worked in Iraq from 1903-1905. During the 1930's the Babylonian Section of the Iraq Expedition excavated four sites on the lower Diyala River, and today the Nippur Expedition is continuing its work, begun in 1948, at the holy city of Nippur. The material that has been brought back as a result of divisions of finds from these expeditions forms one of the major world collections, covering in depth the civilizations of ancient Mesopotamia.

Foundation Figurine of King Ur-Nammu
King Ur-Nammu rebuilt and enlarged one of the most important temples in ancient Mesopotamia — the E-kur of Enlil, the chief god of the pantheon. This figurine, which was buried in a foundation box beneath one of the temple towers, represents the king at the start of the building project— carrying on his head a basket of clay from which would be made the critically important first brick. The foundation deposit also contained an inscribed stone tablet; beads of frit, stone and gold; chips of various stones; and four ancient date pits found perched atop the basket carried by the king.  

Striding Lion
This colorful striding lion, its mouth opened in a threatening roar, once decorated a side of the 'Processional Way' in ancient Babylon (the Biblical city of Babel). The 'Processional Way' led out of the city through a massive gate named for the Mesopotamian goddess of love and war, Ishtar, whose symbol was the lion. Each year, during the celebration of the great New Year Festival, the images of the city's deities were carried out through the Ishtar Gate and along the 'Processional Way' past some 120 lions such as this one to a special festival house north of the city.  

Four-Lugged Vessel
Short, squat jars with painted decoration on the shoulder and four pierced lugs are characteristic of the period around 3000 B.C. in Mesopotamia. Many are decorated with only geometric designs; on this vessel a tree was added beneath each lug. Probably strings were passed through the lugs and used to tie a lid securely in place over the jar's low neck, thus safeguarding its contents.  

Female Figurine

Figurines like this one have been found in the excavated remains of Mesopotamian houses, temples, and other public buildings of the early second millennium B.C. They have no definite divine attributes and their exact function is not known. This female has characteristic broad, flat hips, a large and elaborately incised pubic triangle, and prominent breasts with applied disk-shaped nipples. The multiple holes pierced at the sides of her head may have held metal earrings or served to fasten the piece to a separate material, such as cloth.


Cup Supported by Hero and Animals

This elaborate vessel was discovered in the Shara Temple where it was probably used to place offerings before the god. The decoration of its openwork support shows a hero, naked except for a double-strand belt, grasping the rumps of two lions in his hands. The curling tails of two additional lions are tucked under his arms, and all four felines menace a bearded bull at the opposite end of the stand. Series of figures such as these, engaged in static combats, are common in ancient Mesopotamian art. Their exact meaning is unknown.


Four-Faced God and Goddess

Illicit diggers found these four-faced statuettes, which may represent a god of the four winds and a goddess of rainstorms. The god wears a low cap with a pair of horns meeting above each face. He carries a scimitar in his right hand and places his left foot upon the back of a crouching ram. The goddess's tall crown, again with a pair of horns above each face, has the shape of a temple facade or altar. She grasps in her hands a vase from which flow streams of water; a rippled water pattern covers her garment.


Sumerian Statuette

During the Early Dynastic Period in Mesopotamia, statuettes were placed in sanctuaries as votive offerings and were later buried when the temple was remodelled or rebuilt. This representation of a Sumerian standing reverently before his god is one of a group of sculptures found buried in a pit next to the altar of the Abu Temple at Tell Asmar. It is thought to depict a priest because it lacks the full beard and long hair of other male statues of its type.


Banquet Plaque

The top register of this plaque shows a seated man and woman celebrating an unidentified event or ritual by participating in a banquet. Two servants attend them while others bring a jar (probably filled with beer), an animal to be slaughtered, and other edibles carried in bundles on their heads. Musicians and dancers in the bottom register add to the festivities.

Plaques such as this were part of a door-locking system for important buildings. The plaque was embedded in the doorjamb and a peg, inserted into the central perforation, was used to hold a hook or cord that secured the door and was covered with clay impressed by one or more seals.


Clay Tablet and Envelope

Enclosed in its clay envelope, this tablet was stored in a private archive of more than 1,000 texts. The tablet records the outcome of a litigation between two men, both of whom claimed to own the same estate. The judges ruled in favor of the individual who provided written statements attesting to his ownership of the land from residents of nine neighboring towns. Two court officials rolled their cylinder seals across the front of the tablet after it was inscribed, guaranteeing that the information it contained was correct.


Gazelle-Head Stamp Seal/Amulet

In central and southern Mesopotamia, both stamp and cylinder seals appeared together near the end of the third millennium B.C. Many stamp seals were carved in the form of an animal or an animal head, and the sealing surface was decorated with simple designs— often representing animals— comprised of drill-holes and incised lines. It is possible that many of the stamps were not actually used as seals but were worn primarily as amulets


Cylinder Seal

This cylinder seal was dedicated to a little-known goddess, Ninishkun, who is shown interceding on the owner's behalf with the great goddess Ishtar. Ishtar places her right foot upon a roaring lion, which she restrains with a leash. The scimitar in her left hand and the weapons sprouting from her winged shoulders indicate her war-like nature.


Pazuzu Demon

The demon Pazuzu represented by this figurine stands like a human but has a scorpion's body, feathered wings and legs, talons, and a lion-like face on both front and back. Pazuzu, the "king of the evil wind demons," was not entirely unfriendly to mankind. As an enemy of the dreaded Lamashtu demon, bearer of sickness especially to women and children, Pazuzu is often portrayed on amulets used as protection in childbirth. The ring at the top of this figurine suggests that it was such an amulet.


Duck Weights

The Mesopotamians used sets of standard weights in conducting business and set stiff penalities for those who used false weights. The weights themselves were usually made of a very hard stone like hematite. A simple barrel shape was the most common form, but weights such as these in the form of a duck, with its neck and head resting along its back, were also prevalent.


Plaque Showing a Harpist

Harps are known from the earliest period of written history, but the fringed robe and close-fitting cap of this harpist are typical for the early second millennium B.C. in Mesopotamia. Clay plaques from this period depict musicians playing a variety of stringed, percussion, and wind instruments. The casting of plaques was a simple and inexpensive way to produce relief images, since numerous plaques could be made from a single mold.



The Oriental Institute of
The University of Chicago




Enheduanna (ca. 2300 BCE) is the earliest known author in the history of human civilization. The daughter of King Sargon of Akkad, she was a high priestess & poet in Ur. Her powerful hymns to the goddess Inanna narrate her own religious consciousness & became sacred. She was also an important political figure & probably played a crucial role in Sargon’s rise to power & consolidation of the religious establishment. The famous “Enheduanna Disk” (inset) actually records her likeness.


Enheduanna (Ancient History Encyclopedia)

The Akkadian/Sumerian poet Enheduanna (2285-2250 BCE) is the world’s first author known by name and was the daughter of Sargon of Akkad (Sargon the Great, 2334-2279 BCE). Whether Enheduanna was, in fact, a blood relative of Sargon’s or the title was figurative is not known. It is clear, however, that Sargon placed enormous trust in Enheduanna in elevating her to the position of high priestess of the most important temple in Sumer (in the city of Ur) and leaving to her the responsibility for melding the Sumerian gods with the Akkadian ones to create the stability his empire needed to thrive.

Her influence during her lifetime was as impressive as her literary legacy. Entrusted by her father with great responsibility, Enheduanna not only exceeded those expectations but changed the entire culture. Through her written works, she altered the very nature of the Mesopotamian gods and the perception the people had of the divine.

Enheduanna — ‘En’ (Chief Priest or Priestess); ‘hedu’ (ornament); ‘Ana’ (of heaven).

She organized and presided over the city’s temple complex, the heart of the city, and held her own against an attempted coup by a Sumerian rebel named Lugal-Ane who forced her into exile. The Akkadian Empire, for all the wealth and stability it brought to the region, was constantly plagued by uprisings in the various regions under its control. One of Enheduanna's responsibilities in the region of Sumer would have been to keep the populace in check through religion.

Enheduanna was finally restored to her rightful place in the temple. She seems to have been the first woman to hold this position in Ur and her comportment as high priestess would have served as an exemplary model for those who followed her.


She is best known for her works Inninsagurra, Ninmesarra, and Inninmehusa, which translate as 'The Great-Hearted Mistress’, The Exaltation of Inanna’, and 'Goddess of the Fearsome Powers’, all three powerful hymns to the goddess Inanna (later identified with Ishtar and, still later, Aphrodite). These hymns re-defined the gods for the people of the Akkadian Empire under Sargon’s rule and helped provide the underlying religious homogeniety sought by the king. For over forty years Enheduanna held the office of high priestess, even surviving the attempted coup against her authority by Lugal-Ane.

In addition to her hymns, Enheduanna is remembered for the forty-two poems she wrote reflecting personal frustrations and hopes, religious devotion, her response to war, and feelings about the world she lived in. Her writing is very personal and direct and, as the historian Stephen Bertman notes:

“The hymns provide us with the names of the major divinities the Mesopotamians worshipped and tell us where their chief temples were located [but] it is the prayers that teach us about humanity, for in prayers we encounter the hopes and fears of everyday mortal life.”

Sitting in her chamber, or perhaps her office, for the director of an enterprise as large and prestigious as the Nanna temple of Ur must surely have been afforded the very best working arrangements, her hair beautifully coiffed by Ilum Palilis [her hairdresser] and staff, dictating to her scribe, perhaps the very Sagadu whose seal Wooley found, Enheduanna proceeded to make her permanent mark on history by composing, in her own name, a series of more than forty extraordinary liturgical works, which were copied and recopied for nearly 2,000 years.

The skill and beauty of these works aside, their impact on Mesopotamian theology was profound. Enheduanna drew the gods closer to the people of the land, synthesizing Sumerian and Akkadian beliefs, to create a richer understanding than either had before. Her reflections on the moon god Nanna, for example, made him a deeper and more sympathetic character and she elevated Inanna from a local deity to the Queen of Heaven. These two deities, and the others she transformed through her work, appeared more compassionate than before; gods for all of the people and not only Sumerians or Akkadians.


by Joshua J. Mark
published on 24 March 2014


Enheduanna (W)

(Sumerian: 𒂗𒃶𒌌𒀭𒈾, also transliterated as Enheduana, En-hedu-ana, or variants; fl. 23rd century BC) is the earliest known poet whose name has been recorded. She was the High Priestess of the goddess Inanna and the moon god Nanna (Sin). She lived in the Sumerian city-state of Ur.

Enheduanna's contributions to Sumerian literature, definitively ascribed to her, include several personal devotions to Inanna and a collection of hymns known as the "Sumerian Temple Hymns". Further additional texts are ascribed to her. This makes her the first named author in world history.

She was the first known woman to hold the title of EN, a role of great political importance that was often held by royal daughters. She was appointed to the role by her father, King Sargon of Akkad. Her mother was probably Queen Tashlultum. Enheduanna was appointed to the role of High Priestess in a shrewd political move by Sargon to help secure power in the south of his kingdom, where the City of Ur was located.

She continued to hold office during the reign of Rimush, her brother, when she was involved in some form of political turmoil, expelled, then eventually reinstated as high priestess. Her composition 'The Exaltation of Inanna' or ‘nin me šara’ details her expulsion from Ur and eventual reinstatement. This correlates with 'The Curse of Akkade' in which Naram-Sin, under whom Enheduanna may have also served, is cursed and cast out by Enlil. After her death, Enheduanna continued to be remembered as an important figure, perhaps even attaining semi-divine status.

Hymnal Prayers and Poems of Enheduanna

Below are several poems written by the first known poet, Enheduanna, who was the daughter of Sargon I of Akkad and a high-priestess of the Goddess of Love and War, Inanna.

Hymnal Prayers and Poems of Enheduanna
Classical Art History
The Adoration of Inanna of Ur


Queen of all the ME, Radiant Light,
Life-giving Woman, beloved of An (and) Urash,
Hierodule of An, much bejeweled,
Who loves the life-giving tiara, fit for High Priestesshood,
Who grasps in (her) hand, the seven ME,
My Queen, you who are the Guardian of All the Great ME,
You have lifted the ME, have tied the ME to Your hands,
Have gathered the ME, pressed the ME to Your breast.
You have filled the land with venom, like a dragon.
Vegetation ceases, when You thunder like Ishkur,
You who bring down the Flood from the mountain,
Supreme One, who are the Inanna of Heaven (and) Earth,
Who rain flaming fire over the land,
Who have been given the me by An,
Queen Who Rides the Beasts,
Who at the holy command of An, utters the (divine) words,
Who can fathom Your great rites!
Destroyer of the Foreign Lands,
You have given wings to the storm,
Beloved of Enlil - You made it (the storm) blow over the land,
You carried out the instructions of An.
My Queen,
the foreign lands cower at Your cry,
In dread (and) fear of the South Wind, mankind
Brought You their anguished clamor,
Took before You their anguished outcry
Opened before You wailing and weeping,
Brought before You the "great" lamentations in the city streets.
In the van of battle, everything was struck down before You,
My Queen,
You are all devouring in Your power,
You kept on attacking like an attacking storm,
Kept on blowing (louder) than the howling storm,
Kept on thundering (louder) than Ishkur,
Kept on moaning (louder) than the evil winds,
Your feet grew not weary,
You caused wailing to be uttered on the "lyre of lament."
My Queen,
[all] the Anunna, the great gods,
Fled before You like fluttering bats,
Could not stand before Your awesome face,
Could not approach Your awesome forehead. Who can soothe Your angry heart!
Your baleful heart is beyond soothing!
Queen, Happy of "Liver," Joyful of Heart,
(But) whose anger cannot be soothed, daughter of Sin,
Queen, Paramount in the Land,
Who has (ever) paid You (enough) homage!
The mountain who kept from paying homage to You -
vegetation became "tabu" for it,
You burnt down its great gates,
Its rivers ran with blood because of You,
its people had nothing to drink,
Its troops were led off willingly (into captivity) before You,
Its forces disbanded themselves willingly before You,
Its strong men paraded willingly before You,
The amusement places of its cities were filled with turbulence,
Its adult males were driven off as captives before You.
Against the city that said not "Yours is the land,'
That said not "It belongs to the father who begot you,"
You promised Your Holy Word, turned away from it,
Kept Your distance from its womb,
Its woman spoke not of love with her husband,
In the deep night she whispered not (tenderly) with him,
Revealed not to him the "Holiness" of Her heart.
Rampant Wild Cow, elder daughter of Sin,
Queen, greater than An,
who has (ever) paid You (enough) homage!
You who in accordance with the life giving me,
Great Queen of Queens,
Have become greater than Your mother who gave birth to you,
(as soon as) you came forth from the Holy Womb,
Knowing, Wise, Queen of All the Lands,
Who multiplies (all) living creatures (and) peoples --
I have uttered Your Holy song.
Life-Giving Goddess, fit for the ME,
whose acclamation is exalted,
Merciful, Live-Giving Woman, Radiant of Heart,
I have uttered it before You in accordance with the ME.
I have entered before You in my holy gipar,
I the En, Enheduanna,
Carrying the masab-basket, I uttered a joyous chant,
(But now) I no longer dwell in the goodly place You established.
Came the day, the sun scorched me
Came the shade (of night), the South Wind overwhelmed me,
My honey-sweet voice has become strident,
Whatever gave me pleasure has turned into dust. Oh Sin, King of Heaven, my (bitter) fate,
To An declare, An will deliver me,
Pray declare it to An, he will deliver me.
The kingship of heaven has been seized by the woman (Inanna),
At whose feet lies the flood-land.
That woman (Inanna) so exalted,
who has made me tremble together the city (Ur),
Stay Her, let Her heart be soothed by me.
I, Enheduanna will offer supplications to Her,
My tears, like sweet drinks.
Will I proffer to the Holy Inanna, I will greet Her in peace,
Let not Ashimbabbar (Sin) be troubled.
She (Inanna) has changed altogether the rites of Holy An,
Has seized the Eanna from An,
Feared not the great An,
That house (the Eanna) whose charm was irresistible,
whose allure was unending,
That house She has turned over to destruction,
Her . . . that She brought there has . . .
My Wild Cow (Inanna) assaults there its men, makes them captive.
I, what am I among the living creatures!
May An give over (to punishment)
the rebellious lands that hate your (Inanna's) Nanna,
May An split its cities asunder,
May Enlil curse it,
May not its tear-destined child be soothed by her mother,
Oh, Queen who established lamentations,
Your "boat of lamentations," has landed in an inimical land,
There will I die, while singing the holy song.
As for me, my Nanna watched not over me,
I have been attacked most cruelly.
Ashimbabbar has not spoken my verdict.
But what matter, whether he spoke it or not!
I, accustomed to triumph, have been driven forth from (my) house,
Was forced to flee like the cote like a swallow, my life is devoured,
Was made to walk among the mountain thorns,
The life-giving tiara of En-ship was taken from me,
Eunuchs were assigned to me -
"These are becoming to you," it was told me.
Dearest Queen, Beloved of An,
Let your Holy heart, the Noble, return to me,
Beloved wife of Ushumgalanna (Dumuzi),
Great Queen of the Horizon and the Zenith,
The Anunna have prostrated themselves before you.
Although at birth You were the younger sister,
How much greater You have become than the Anunna,
the Great Gods!
The Anunna kiss the ground before You.
It is not my verdict that has been completed,
it is a strange verdict that has been turned into my verdict,
The fruitful bed has been abolished,
(So that) I have not interpreted to man the commands of Ningal.
For me, the Radiant En of Nanna,
May your heart be soothed, You who are the Queen beloved of An.
"You are known, You are known" -
it is not of Nanna that I have recited it,
it is of You that I have recited it.
You are known by Your heaven-like height,
You are known by Your earth-like breadth,
You are known by Your destruction of rebel-lands,
You are known by Your massacring (their people),
You are known by Your devouring (their) dead like a dog,
You are known by Your fierce countenance.
You are known by the raising of Your fierce countenance,
You are known by Your flashing eyes.
You are known by Your contentiousness (and) disobedience,
You are known by Your many triumphs" --
It is not of Nanna that I have recited it,
it is of You that I have recited it.
My Queen, I have extolled You,
who alone are exalted,
Queen Beloved of An, I have erected your daises,
Have heaped up the coals, have conducted the rites,
Have set up the nuptial chamber for You,
may Your heart be soothed for me,
Enough, more than enough innovations,
Great Queen, have I made for You.
What I have recited to You in the deep night,
The gala-singer will repeat for You in midday.
It is because of Your captive spouse, your captive son,
That Your wrath is so great, Your heart so unappeased.
The foremost Queen, the prop of the assembly,
Accepted Her prayer.
The heart of Inanna was restored,
The day was favorable for Her,
She was clothed with beauty, was filled with joyous allure,
How she carried (her) beauty -- like the rising moonlight!
Nanna who came forth in wonder true,
(and) her Ningal, proffered prayers to Her,
Greeted her at the doorsill (of the Temple).
To the hierodule whose command is noble,
The destroyer of foreign lands, presented by An with the me,
My Queen garbed in allure,
O Inanna, praise!





  Mesopotamia, 8000-2000 BC

Mesopotamia, 8000-2000 BC

Sherd (LINK)

Period: Halaf
Date: ca. 5600–5000 B.C.
Geography: Syria, Tell Brak
Culture: Halaf
Medium: Ceramic, paint
Dimensions: 7.19 x 4.19 cm
Classification: Ceramics-Vessels


Halaf pottery was made by hand and decorated with very finely executed designs in one or two colors. The surface of the finest pottery was then highly burnished and a glossy effect was achieved by the use of fluxes, which serve to lower the melting point of the pigments, in some cases accidentally achieving true glazes. This fragment of a thin walled vessel has the exterior painted with light and dark brown decoration consisting of a stylized bird in profile with back arched, a long neck, and a large circular head. A vertical zigzag pattern on the left and a dark brown band partly frame the bird. The rim edge has a horizontal band with vertical stripes.

Man carrying a box, possibly for offerings (LINK)

Period:Early Dynastic I-II

Date:ca. 2900–2600 B.C.



Medium:Copper alloy

Dimensions:H. 37.8 x W. 12.3 x D. 9.7 cm




Temples were the most important institutions in Mesopotamian cities of the Early Dynastic period (2900–2350 B.C.). Each city had a patron deity, whose temple was built on a large platform and was visible for great distances in the flat countryside. The temple was literally a house for the god and a place of ritual, but it was also the most significant economic institution of the time, with large numbers of laborers to work its fields, produce goods for use in the temple, and to trade with distant lands. Temple building had its own series of rituals, including purifying the ground on which the temple would stand and dedicating foundation deposits to the resident god.

This figure of a nude man carrying a box on his head is a fine example of Sumerian sculpture in metal. Only certain categories of people were represented as nude in the Early Dynastic period: priests, athletes, mythological heroes, and prisoners of war. This figure, reminiscent of scenes depicting priests carrying offerings, carries an object that might be a temple foundation deposit or offering related to its building.

Seated female (LINK)

Period: Halaf

Date: ca. 5600–5000 B.C.

Geography: Mesopotamia or Syria

Culture: Halaf

Medium: Ceramic, paint

Dimensions: H. 5.1 cm, W. 4.5 cm

Classification: Ceramics-Sculpture


Distinctive clay female figures like this one were produced at sites belonging to the Halaf culture. This example displays a strong stylization with an emphasis on the sexual features. She sits with her large thighs extended, supporting her breasts with her arms; neither hands nor feet are shown. Her head is missing; in other figures of this type when the head is intact, it is elongated into a large noselike projection but otherwise is featureless. Remains of paint may represent jewelry. The meaning of such representations is unknown but may be connected with fertility. The stylized depiction of the nude female form remained an artistic convention in northern Syria, Anatolia, and the Aegean for several millennia.

Proto-Cuneiform tablet with seal impressions: administrative account of barley distribution with cylinder seal impression of a male figure, hunting dogs, and boars (LINK)

Period: Jemdet Nasr

Date: ca. 3100–2900 B.C.

Geography: Mesopotamia, probably from Uruk (modern Warka)

Culture: Sumerian

Medium: Clay

Dimensions: 5.5 x 6 x 4.15 cm

Classification: Clay-Tablets-Inscribed-Seal Impressions


Of the many legacies left by the ancient civilizations of southern Mesopotamia, the invention of writing is paramount. At the end of the fourth millennium B.C., written language developed in the region, first as pictographs and then evolving into abstract forms called cuneiform. The pictographs, like the ones on this tablet, are called proto-cuneiform and were drawn in the clay with a pointed implement. Circular impressions alongside the pictographs represented numerical symbols. Cuneiform (meaning wedge-shaped) script was written by pressing a reed pen or stylus with a wedge-shaped tip into a clay tablet. Clay, when dried to a somewhat hardened state, made a fine surface for writing, and when fired the records written on it became permanent.

Early writing was used primarily as a means of recording and storing economic information. This tablet most likely documents grain distributed by a large temple, although the absence of verbs in early texts makes them difficult to interpret with certainty. In addition to the writing that appears on this tablet, the imagery of the cylinder seal, which was incompletely impressed on both faces and the edges of the tablet before it was inscribed, also records information. This seal apparently has not survived. The seal impression depicts a male figure guiding two dogs on a leash and hunting or herding boars in a reed marsh. He is the so-called priest-king, a male figure who can be identified by his dress and pose. Here he appears in his role as the good shepherd who protects flocks from wild predators.

Standing male worshiper (LINK)

Period: Early Dynastic I-II

Date: ca. 2900–2600 B.C.

Geography: Mesopotamia, Eshnunna (modern Tell Asmar)

Culture: Sumerian

Medium: Gypsum alabaster, shell, black limestone, bitumen

Dimensions: 29.5 x 12.9 x 10 cm

Classification: Stone-Sculpture


In Mesopotamia gods were thought to be physically present in the materials and experiences of daily life. Enlil, considered the most powerful Mesopotamian god during most of the third millennium B.C., was a "raging storm" or "wild bull," while the goddess Inanna reappeared in different guises as the morning and evening star. Deities literally inhabited their cult statues after they had been animated by the proper rituals, and fragments of worn statues were preserved within the walls of the temple.

This standing figure, with clasped hands and a wide-eyed gaze, is a worshiper. It was placed in the "Square Temple" at Tell Asmar, perhaps dedicated to the god Abu, in order to pray perpetually on behalf of the person it represented. For humans equally were considered to be physically present in their statues. Similar statues were sometimes inscribed with the names of rulers and their families.

Cylinder seal and modern impression: Ishtar image and a worshiper below a canopy flanked by winged genies (LINK)

Period: Neo-Assyrian

Date: ca. 8th–7th century B.C.

Geography: Mesopotamia

Culture: Assyrian

Medium: Chalcedony

Dimensions: H. 3.1 cm

Classification: Stone-Cylinder Seals


Seals of the early first millennium B.C. in Babylonia and Assyria were carved in the linear, drilled, cut, and modeled styles. The modeled style illustrated here derives from earlier Middle Assyrian seal carving and from the modeled sculpture in the palace of Sargon II (r. 721–705 B.C.), king of Assyria at Khorsabad. This style was used predominantly on seals showing scenes of contest and worship.

On this cylinder seal a statue of the goddess Ishtar stands on a platform within a canopied enclosure. Ishtar is identified by crossed quivers, a starred crown, and stars encircling her body. Two winged genies protect the enclosure, while a kneeling figure worships.

Cuneiform tablet: Sumerian dedicatory(?) inscription from Ekur, the temple of the god Enlil (LINK)

Period: Kassite

Date: ca. 16th–15th century B.C.

Geography: Mesopotamia, probably from Nippur

Culture: Kassite

Medium: Black marble

Dimensions: 20.96 x 22.86 x 2.55 cm

Classification: Stone-Tablets-Inscribed


The city of Nippur, home to the chief god Enlil, was an important religious center in Mesopotamia. Rulers seeking the favor of Enlil visited the city to make offerings to the god, and contributed to the refurbishment of his temple and ziggurat, known as the Ekur (which means “mountain temple”). Bricks stamped with the inscriptions of different kings, buried during construction projects, give dates to the archaeologically -observable re-buildings of the temple from the end of the third through the early first millennia B.C.

This tablet also attests to the refurbishment of the temple. Carved onto stone, the inscription was intended to last for eternity. The name of the donor, Hashmar-galshu, is Kassite, and the inscription is written using the Kassite period preference for archaizing signs and the Sumerian language. Although Hashmar-galshu is not a particularly well-known Kassite figure, he would have been a person of some standing, capable of making such a dedication and writing his name with the divine determinative, a marker usually reserved for deities and rarely adopted by even the most powerful of rulers.

Present of
A stone brick for the Ekur
for Enlil,
his lord.

Amarna letter: Royal Letter from Abi-milku of Tyre to the king of Egypt (LINK)

Period: New Kingdom, Amarna Period

Dynasty: Dynasty 18

Reign: reign of Akhenaten

Date: ca. 1353–1336 B.C.

Geography: From Egypt; Probably from Middle Egypt, Amarna (Akhetaten)

Medium: Clay (unfired)

Dimensions: H. 7.7 × W. 5.2 cm


This letter from Abi-milku, the ruler of the Levantine city of Tyre, to the Egyptian king was found in the late 1880s at the site of Amarna, the religious capital of Egypt under Akhenaten. It was likely originally stored in administrative offices that formed part of a palace complex in the central part of the city. It is written in cuneiform script on a clay tablet using a reed stylus. The language is Akkadian, the lingua francaof the time. One of ten missives from Abi-milku that have survived, this letter makes it clear that this vassal ruler expected protection from his Egyptian overlord in return for his loyalty.

The Amarna Letters (LINK)

The Amarna Letters are a group of several hundred clay tablets inscribed with cuneiform (“wedge-shaped”) writing that date to the fourteenth century B.C. and were found at the site of Tell el-Amarna, the short-lived capital of ancient Egypt during the reign of Amenhotep IV / Akhenaten (ca. 1353–1336 B.C.) (22.9.1; 21.9.13). Since Egypt is outside the area where cuneiform writing developed, the Amarna Letters testify to the use of the Mesopotamian script and the Akkadian language across the eastern Mediterranean during this period. The majority of the tablets are letters (hence the modern designation “Amarna Letters”) written from rulers of the lands north of Egypt, but a few are letters from the Egyptian king, and there are also tablets inscribed with myths, epics, syllabaries, lexical texts, and other lists—the kinds of texts that were used to learn cuneiform writing. These texts are housed today in museums and collections across the world, including two examples in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum (24.2.11; 24.2.12).

Cuneiform tablet: private letter (LINK)

Period: Middle Bronze Age–Old Assyrian Trading Colony

Date: ca. 20th–19th century B.C.

Geography: Anatolia, probably from Kültepe (Karum Kanesh)

Culture: Old Assyrian Trading Colony

Medium: Clay

Dimensions: 6.8 x 5.4 x 2.3 cm

Classification: Clay-Tablets-Inscribed


Kültepe, the ancient city of Kanesh, was a powerful and cosmopolitan city located in northern Cappadocia in central Anatolia. During the early second millennium B.C., it became part of the network of trading settlements established across the region by merchants from Ashur (in Assyria in northern Mesopotamia). Travelling long distances by donkey caravan, and often living separately from their families, these merchants traded vast quantities of tin and textiles for gold and silver in addition to controlling the copper trade within Anatolia itself. Although the merchants adopted many aspects of local Anatolian life, they brought with them Mesopotamian tools used to record transactions: cuneiform writing, clay tablets and envelopes, and cylinder seals. Using a simplified version of the elaborate cuneiform writing system, merchants tracked loans as well as business deals and disputes, and sent letters to families and business partners back in Ashur. These texts also provide information about the greater political history of Ashur and the Anatolian city-states as well as details about the daily life of Assyrians and Anatolians who not only worked side-by-side, but also married and had children together. At Kültepe, thousands of these texts stored in household archives were preserved when fire destroyed the city in ca. 1836 B.C. and provide a glimpse into the complex and sophisticated commercial and social interactions that took place in the Near East during the beginning of the second millennium B.C.

Many of the tablets discovered in the merchants’ private archives were letters. This cuneiform text, read from left to right, is one of many comprising the correspondence of the Imdi-ilum family firm. Written by the merchant Puzur-Ashur to his three brothers, including Imdi-ilum (1888 and 1876 B.C.), it mainly concerns a business dispute between Puzur-Assur and Imdi-ilum’s son. Puzur-Assur also expresses worry for his travel companions, who allegedly have been detained before reaching their destination of Kanesh, and asks his brothers to send any news they may have on the matter. Such letters demonstrate the high volume of correspondence necessary to facilitate complicated business affairs across great distances. A caravan account also in The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection (66.245.10) concerns shipments organized by the same merchant firm.

Cylinder seal and modern impression: hunting scene (LINK)

Period: Akkadian

Date: ca. 2250–2150 B.C.

Geography: Mesopotamia

Culture: Akkadian

Medium: Chert

Dimensions: H. 2.8 cm

Classification: Stone-Cylinder Seals-Inscribed


In ancient Mesopotamia, a cylinder-shaped seal could be rolled on a variety of objects made of clay. When seals were impressed on tablets or tablet cases the seal impressions served to identify the authority responsible for what was written in the documents, much as a signature does today. When seals were impressed on sealings — lumps of clay that were used to secure doors and the lids of storage jars— the seal impressions served to identify their owner and protect against unauthorized opening. Many cylinder seals have survived because they were made of durable materials, particularly stone, but also metal and fired clay. Perforated through the middle like a bead, seals were also believed to have apotropaic, or protective, functions and were worn as jewelry or pinned on garments.

The modern impression of a seal is shown here so that the entire design can be seen. The scene is composed of two basic groupings that form an overall continuous design unified by the stylized landscape setting. In one group, two tall trees flank a hunter grasping an ibex. Above the man a cuneiform inscription gives the name of the seal owner, Balu-ili, who was a court official, and his profession, cupbearer. In the other group, ibexes stand on mountains, facing each other and flanking three trees. This seal was made during the Akkadian period, when the iconography used by the seal engraver expanded to include a variety of new mythological, thematic, and narrative subjects. Here, the already ancient motif of the hunt is given a new setting in a clearly defined landscape. If there was a relationship between this imagery and the inscribed text, its meaning is no longer understood.

Sacred and secular ideas, fundamental to the beliefs of ancient Mesopotamian peoples, were visualized in the miniature images carved on the seals. The carver used intaglio, a technique in which the forms were cut into the stone, to create the raised impression. The challenge of the seal carver was to create a design that would maintain its balance and clarity when rolled out only half its length on a small surface or twice its length on a larger surface. On the left and right edges of the impression one can see how the rolled out design begins to repeat. Unlike much of the art of the ancient Near East, which survives only in a fragmentary state, cylinder seals are in the unique position of appearing almost exactly as they would have looked to the ancient people who used them.

Headdress (LINK)

Period: Early Dynastic IIIa

Date: ca. 2600–2500 B.C.

Geography: Mesopotamia, Ur (modern Tell al-Muqayyar)

Culture: Sumerian

Medium: Gold, lapis lazuli, carnelian

Dimensions: L. 38.5 cm

Classification: Metalwork-Ornaments


Kings and nobles became increasingly powerful and independent of temple authority during the course of the Early Dynastic period (2900–2350 B.C.), although the success of a king's reign was considered to depend on support from the gods. A striking measure of royal wealth was the cemetery in the city of Ur, in which sixteen royal tombs were excavated in the 1920s and 1930s by Sir Leonard Woolley. These tombs consisted of a vaulted burial chamber for the king or queen, an adjoining pit in which as many as seventy-four attendants were buried, and a ramp leading into the grave from the ground.

This delicate chaplet of gold leaves separated by lapis lazuli and carnelian beads adorned the forehead of one of the female attendants in the so-called King's Grave. In addition, the entombed attendants wore necklaces of gold and lapis lazuli, gold hair ribbons, and silver hair rings. Since gold, silver, lapis, and carnelian are not found in Mesopotamia, the presence of these rich adornments in the royal tomb attests to the wealth of the Early Dynastic kings as well as to the existence of a complex system of trade that extended far beyond the Mesopotamian River valley.

Statue of Gudea (LINK)

Period: Neo-Sumerian

Date: ca. 2090 B.C.

Geography: Mesopotamia, probably from Girsu (modern Tello)

Culture: Neo-Sumerian

Medium: Diorite

Dimensions: 44 x 21.5 x 29.5 cm

Classification: Stone-Sculpture-Inscribed


The Akkadian Empire collapsed after two centuries of rule, and during the succeeding fifty years, local kings ruled independent city-states in southern Mesopotamia. The city-state of Lagash produced a remarkable number of statues of its kings as well as Sumerian literary hymns and prayers under the rule of Gudea (ca. 2150–2125 B.C.) and his son Ur-Ningirsu (ca. 2125–2100 B.C.). Unlike the art of the Akkadian period, which was characterized by dynamic naturalism, the works produced by this Neo-Sumerian culture are pervaded by a sense of pious reserve and serenity.

This sculpture belongs to a series of diorite statues commissioned by Gudea, who devoted his energies to rebuilding the great temples of Lagash and installing statues of himself in them. Many inscribed with his name and divine dedications survive. Here, Gudea is depicted in the seated pose of a ruler before his subjects, his hands folded in a traditional gesture of greeting and prayer.

The Sumerian inscription on his robe reads as follows:

When Ningirsu, the mighty warrior of Enlil, had established a courtyard in the city for Ningišzida, son of Ninazu, the beloved one among the gods; when he had established for him irrigated plots(?) on the agricultural land; (and) when Gudea, ruler of Lagaš, the straightforward one, beloved by his (personal) god, had built the Eninnu, the White Thunderbird, and the..., his 'heptagon,' for Ningirsu, his lord, (then) for Nanše, the powerful lady, his lady, did he build the Sirara House, her mountain rising out of the waters. He (also) built the individual houses of (other) great gods of Lagaš. For Ningišzida, his (personal) god, he built his House of Girsu. Someone (in the future) whom Ningirsu, his god - as my god (addressed me) has (directly) addressed within the crowd, let him not, thereafter, be envious(?) with regard to the house of my (personal) god. Let him invoke its (the house's) name; let such a person be my friend, and let him (also) invoke my (own) name. (Gudea) fashioned a statue of himself. "Let the life of Gudea, who built the house, be long." - (this is how) he named (the statue) for his sake, and he brought it to him into (his) house.

This translation is derived from Edzard, Dietz-Otto. 1997. Gudea and his Dynasty. The Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia, Early Periods Volume 3/1. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, pp. 57-58.



Neo-Assyrian Relief Panels

Relief panel (LINK)

Period: Neo-Assyrian

Date: ca. 883–859 B.C.

Geography: Mesopotamia, Nimrud (ancient Kalhu)

Culture: Assyrian

Medium: Gypsum alabaster

Dimensions: 234.3 x 233.7 x 11.4 cm

Classification: Stone-Reliefs-Inscribed

Relief panel (LINK)
Relief panel

This relief, from the palace of the Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II (r. ca. 883-859 B.C.), depicts a king, probably Ashurnasirpal himself, and an attendant. The two larger-than-life-sized figures are carved in low relief, and as with other reliefs in the palace featuring the image of the king, the carving is particularly fine and shows special attention to detail. The panel joins a second relief (32.143.6, see ‘Additional Images’ above) that shows a further attendant, also facing the king, and a winged supernatural protective figure. Together, the two panels show the king flanked by his human courtiers, just as in other scenes he or the Assyrian Sacred Tree are flanked by human and eagle-headed winged guardian figures.

The king is immediately identifiable by his crown, a distinctive truncated cone with a smaller cone emerging from the center, with a long ‘streamer’ hanging from its back. He is also recognizable by his luxuriant beard, and in the relief’s original state would have been further distinguished by his clothing, more elaborately embroidered than that of any other figure. The pigment that originally colored these reliefs is now lost, but the embroidery is still faintly visible in the form of fine inscised lines made by the sculptors over most areas of the king’s clothing. The king wears elaborate jewelry, including rosette bracelets, thick armlets worn above the elbow, large pendant earrings, and a necklace whose beads and spacers would probably have consisted of semiprecious stones and gold. The king carries a sword on his left hip, as well as two daggers tucked into his clothing, and in his left hand holds the tip of a bow. In his right hand, balanced on his fingertips, is a shallow bowl. In other reliefs the bowl contains wine and is used for pouring libations, for example on the bodies of slain animals following a royal hunt. Here, however, there is no apparent object for the libation. The relief comes from an area of the palace that seems to have held sarcophagi and might have been devoted to the cult of royal ancestors, and one possibility is that the libation is here being poured for the dead. For similar reasons, while it is normally thought that all such images of the king represent Ashurnasirpal, it has also been suggested that some may represent ancestral kings.

The second figure on the relief is beardless, and probably represents a eunuch. He is richly dressed, with jewelry including rosette bracelets, armbands, a collar of beads, probably of semiprecious stone with gold spacers, pendant earrings, and a crescent-shaped pectoral. At the ends of his short sleeves are bands of incised plant motifs representing embroidery; another incised band below the waist shows further plants but also birds, possibly ostriches. He carries a sword whose scabbard, like the king's, ends in the image of two roaring lions. At the sword's hilt another lion head can be seen; an object in the Metropolitan Museum's collection may be just such a hilt (54.117.20). In his right hand the eunuch holds a fly-whisk whose handle is carved in the shape of a ram's head. The object in his left hand may be an oil lamp, though it has also been suggested that it might be a ladle to replenish the wine in the bowl held by the king. Its handle terminates in the head of a snake, or more likely a fantastic composite creature, called Mushhushshu, associated with the god Ashur.

A distinctive feature of the Northwest Palace is the so-called Standard Inscription that ran across the middle of every relief, often cutting across the imagery. The inscription, carved in cuneiform script and written in the Assyrian dialect of the Akkadian language, lists the achievements of Ashurnasirpal II (r. 883–859 B.C.), the builder of the palace. After giving his ancestry and royal titles, the Standard Inscription describes Ashurnasirpal’s successful military campaigns to east and west and his building works at Nimrud, most importantly the construction of the palace itself. The inscription is thought to have had a magical function, contributing to the divine protection of the king and the palace.


Relief panel (LINK)

Period: Neo-Assyrian

Date: ca. 883–859 B.C.

Geography: Mesopotamia, Nimrud (ancient Kalhu)

Culture: Assyrian

Medium: Gypsum alabaster

Dimensions: 132.7 x 68.6 x 8.9 cm

Classification: Stone-Reliefs-Inscribed

Relief panel (LINK)
Relief panel

This panel represents a supernatural protective figure similar to those seen in the Northwest Palace at Nimrud (ancient Kalhu) but comes from another important structure at the same site, the Ninurta Temple. Like the palace, the Ninurta Temple was built by Ashurnasirpal II (r. 883–859 B.C.), and it is very likely that many of the same personnel were involved in producing the relief programs for the two buildings.

Ninurta was an important god in the Mesopotamian pantheon. In origin he was an agricultural deity, but for the Assyrian kings it was his association with war and victory that gave him particular significance. One relief from the Ninurta Temple depicts the god’s most famous mythological exploit—recovering the "Tablet of Destinies," on which was written the future of humanity, from the Anzu bird, a demon who often appears in art as a lion-headed eagle.

The figure depicted here is winged and human-headed, and holds in his left hand part of a plant whose three branches end in rosettes. The meaning of this plant is unknown, but it is probably highly stylized and may not represent any real plant. Rosettes occur frequently in Assyrian art and have strong divine associations, particularly with the goddess Ishtar.



Votive statues showing the attitude of prayer, found at Tell Asmar, Iraq, ca. 2900-2500 BCE.


Chaos Monster and Sun God

Chaos Monster and Sun God (W)

(W) Assyrian stone relief from the temple of Ninurta at Kalhu, showing the god with his thunderbolts pursuing Anzû, who has stolen the Tablet of Destinies from Enlil's sanctuary:142 (Austen Henry Layard Monuments of Nineveh, 2nd Series, 1853).    
Black and white crop of full engraving plate scan - from Plate 5 of the work "A second series of the monuments of Nineveh: including bas-reliefs from the Palace of Sennacherib and bronzes from the ruins of Nimroud ; from drawings made on the spot, during a second expedition to Assyria" (WH Layard)

The description given in the text of the work of the plate reads:



Part of one side of the entrance near which stood the bas-relief of the King last described. The group is believed to represent the god to whom the temple was dedicated, driving out the evil spirit.† On the opposite side of the doorway the same figures were repeated. These bas-reliefs are now in the British Museum


Ibid.. p.348

The plate description is on page 2 of the work.

The image in the book is by Faucher-Gudin, an drawing based on the excavated Bas-Relief. The Bas-Relief was in not as good condition.

Sources for the description an full plate include :

The reference in the text to "Ibid. p.348" is to Discoveries in the ruins of Nineveh and Babylon (Layard, 1853) - which can be seen here

quote (p.348-349):

About thirty feet to the right, or north, of the lion gateway was a second entrance, at each side of which were two singular figures. One was that of a monster, whose head, of fanciful and hideous form, had long pointed ears and extended jaws, armed with huge teeth. Its body was covered with feathers, its fore-feet were those of a lion, its hind legs ended in the talons of an eagle, and it had spreading wings and the tail of a bird. Behind this strange image was a winged man, whose dress consisted of an upper garment with a skirt of skin or fur, an under robe fringed with tassels, and the sacred horned hat. A long sword was suspended from his shoulders by an embossed belt; sandals, armlets, and bracelets, completed his attire. He grasped in each hand an object in the form of a double trident, resembling the thunderbolt of the Greek Jove, which he was in the attitude of hurling against the monster, who turned furiously towards him.

This group appears to represent the bad spirit driven out by a good deity; a fit subject for the entrance to a temple, dedicated to the god of war. The singular combination of forms by which the Assyrian sculptor portrayed the evil principle, so prominent an element in the Chaldæan, and afterwards in the Magian, religions system, cannot fail to strike the reader.


There is also in the same work and illustration of the relief in situ in the temple (between p.350 and 351)


There are at least two interpretations of what the image is/was intended to represent.

  1. Some sources interpret the image as [Bel-Merodach] Marduk (with thunderbolt) fighting Tiamat eg History of Egypt, Chaldea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria Vol. 3 (Maspero, G.; Sayce, A. H.),
  2. Some modern sources state this is probably Anzu and Ninurta. eg in Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia: An Illustrated Dictionary? (Jeremy A. Black and Anthony Green ISBN: 978-0-292-70794-8) p.142 states as text to same image: " Ninurta or Adad pursues a leonine bird-monster, perhaps the Anzû or Asakku."

A discussion of the development of the interpretation of this image can be found here

Original Source

The original gypsum wall carving from which the drawing was taken is now (2018) displayed in Room 6 of the British Museum. Details of the object can be found here:


The actual object also has a cuneiform inscription across the (approx.) middle third, not reproduced in the drawing. The texts is thought to be a "boilerplate" text used throughout the palace/temple on several reliefs - for more details and translation of a presumed nearly identical text see Assyrian Rulers of the Early First Millennium BC, I (1114-859 BC) vol. 1, (Grayson, Albert Kirk,Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1991) p.232 no.5 (entry A.0.101.5) which references entry A.0.101.3; there were also inscriptions on the backs of the slabs - see same publication reference A.0.101.31 (no.31, p.293) .. the inscriptions reference Ashurnasirpal [II] son of Tukulti-Ninurta [II] - which dates the objects to 883 to 859 BC. (see en:Ashurnasirpal II)

Note that the object was one of a pair on either side of the passage - [based on the drawing by Malan] the object's pair was left-right inverted so that the portrayals matched - a drawing of the object's pair by S.C. Malan partially in-situ at the excavation can be found in A Visiting Artist at Nineveh in 1850 (C. J. Gadd) in the journal "Iraq" vol.5, 1938 , DOI: 10.2307/4241628,[1], description p.120 no. 134, illus. plate XV
Date 1853
Source 'Monuments of Nineveh, Second Series' plate 5, London, J. Murray, 1853
Author editor Austen Henry Layard, drawing by L. Gruner


   Timeline of religion — 1) Prehistory, 2) Ancient Era  

Timeline of religion — 1) Prehistory, 2) Ancient Era

Timeline of religion — 1) Prehistory, 2) Ancient Era (W)
1) Prehıstory

50th to 11th millennium BCE

40,000 BCE
The remains of one of the earliest known anatomically modern humans to be discovered cremated, was buried near Lake Mungo.

38,000 BCE
The Aurignacian Löwenmensch figurine, the oldest known zoomorphic (animal-shaped) sculpture in the world and one of the oldest known sculptures in general, was made. The sculpture has also been interpreted as anthropomorphic, giving human characteristics to an animal, although it may have represented a deity.
All convincing evidence for Neanderthal burials ceased. Roughly coinciding with the time period of the Homo sapiens' introduction to Europe and decline of the Neanderthals, individual skulls and/or long bones began appearing, heavily stained with red ochre and separately buried. This practice may be the origin of sacred relics. The oldest discovered "Venus figurines" appeared in graves. Some were deliberately broken or repeatedly stabbed, possibly representing the murders of the men with whom they were buried, or owing to some other unknown social dynamic.

25,000-21,000 BCE
Clear examples of burials are present in Iberia, Wales, and eastern Europe. These, too, incorporate the heavy use of red ochre. Additionally, various objects were included in the graves (e.g. periwinkle shells, weighted clothing, dolls, possible drumsticks, mammoth ivory beads, fox teeth pendants, panoply of ivory artifacts, "baton" antlers, flint blades etc.).

13,000–8,000 BCE
Noticeable burial activity resumed. Prior mortuary activity had either taken a less obvious form or contemporaries retained some of their burial knowledge in the absence of such activity. Dozens of men, women, and children were being buried in the same caves which were used for burials 10,000 years beforehand. All these graves are delineated by the cave walls and large limestone blocks. The burials share a number of characteristics (such as use of ochre, and shell and mammoth ivory jewellery) that go back thousands of years. Some burials were double, comprising an adult male with a juvenile male buried by his side. They were now beginning to take on the form of modern cemeteries. Old burials were commonly re-dug and moved to make way for new ones, with the older bones often being gathered and cached together. Large stones may have acted as grave markers. Pairs of ochred antlers were sometimes mounted on poles within the cave; this is compared to the modern practice of leaving flowers at a grave.

10th Millennium to 1st century BCE

9130–7370 BCE
This was the apparent period of use of Göbekli Tepe, one of the oldest human-made sites of worship yet discovered; evidence of similar usage has also been found in another nearby site, Nevalı Çori.

7500–5700 BCE
The settlements of Catalhoyuk developed as a likely spiritual centre of Anatolia. Possibly practising worship in communal shrines, its inhabitants left behind numerous clay figurines and impressions of phallic, feminine and hunting scenes.

5500–4500 BCE
The Proto-Indo-Europeans (PIE) emerged, probably within the Pontic-Caspian steppe (though their exact urheimat is debated). The PIE peoples developed a religion focused on sacrificial ideology, which would influence the religions and cultures throughout Eurasia.

2) The Ancient Era

c.3750 BCE
The Proto-Semitic people emerged from a generally accepted urheimat in the Levant. The Proto-Semitic people would migrate throughout the Near East into Mesopotamia, Egypt, Ethiopia and the eastern shore of the Mediterranean.

3300–1300 BCE
The Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) was a Bronze Age civilization (3300–1300 BCE; mature period 2600–1900 BCE) in the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent, noted for its cities built of brick, roadside drainage system and multi-storeyed houses, as well as for creating artifacts which could be linked to pre-vedic religions.

3200–3100 BCE
Newgrange, the 250,000 ton (226,796.2 tonne) passage tomb aligned to the winter solstice in Ireland, was built.

3100 BCE
The initial form of Stonehenge was completed. The circular bank and ditch enclosure, about 110 metres (360 ft) across, may have been completed with a timber circle.

3000 BCE
Sumerian Cuneiform emerged from the proto-literate Uruk period, allowing the codification of beliefs and creation of detailed historical religious records.
The second phase of Stonehenge was completed and appeared to function as the first enclosed cremation cemetery in the British Isles.

2635–2610 BCE
The oldest surviving Egyptian Pyramid was commissioned by Pharaoh Djoser.

2600 BCE
Stonehenge began to take on its final form. The wooden posts were replaced with bluestone. It began taking on an increasingly complex setup (including an altar, a portal, station stones, etc.) and shows consideration of solar alignments.

2560 BCE
This is the approximate time accepted as the completion of the Great Pyramid of Giza, the oldest pyramid of the Giza Plateau.

2494–2345 BCE
The first of the oldest surviving religious texts, the Pyramid Texts, was composed in Ancient Egypt.

2200 BCE
The Minoan Civilization developed in Crete. Citizens worshipped a variety of goddesses.

2150–2000 BCE
The earliest surviving versions of the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh — originally titled He who Saw the Deep (Sha naqba īmuru) or Surpassing All Other Kings (Shūtur eli sharrī) — were written.

1700–1100 BCE
The oldest of the Hindu Vedas (scriptures), the Rig Veda was composed.

1600 BCE
The ancient development of Stonehenge came to an end.

1500 BCE
The Vedic Age began in India after the collapse of the Indus Valley Civilisation.

1351 or 1353 BCE
The reign of Akhenaten, sometimes credited with starting the earliest known recorded monotheistic religion, in Ancient Egypt.

1300–1000 BCE
The "standard" Akkadian version of the Epic of Gilgamesh was edited by Sin-liqe-unninni.

1250–600 BCE
The Upanishads (Vedic texts) were composed, containing the earliest emergence of some of the central religious concepts of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.

1200 BCE
The Greek Dark Age began.

1200 BCE
The Olmecs built the earliest pyramids and temples in Central America.

877–777 BCE
The life of Parshvanatha, 23rd Tirthankara of Jainism.

800 BCE
The Greek Dark Age ends.

8th to 6th centuries BCE
The Chandogya Upanishad is compiled, significant for containing the earliest to date mention of Krishna. Verse 3.17.6 mentions Krishna Devakiputra (Sanskrit: कृष्णाय देवकीपुत्रा) as a student of the sage Ghora Angirasa.

6th to 5th centuries BCE
The first five books of the Jewish Tanakh, the Torah (Hebrew: תורה‬), are probably compiled.

6th century BCE
Possible start of Zoroastrianism; however some date Zarathustra closer to 1000 BCE . Zoroastrianism flourished under the Persian emperors known as the Achaemenids. The emperors Darius (ruled 522–486 B.C.E.) and Xerxes (ruled 486–465 B.C.E.) made it the official religion of their empire.

600–500 BCE
The earliest Confucian writing, Shu Ching, incorporates ideas of harmony and heaven.

599–527 BCE
The life of Mahavira, 24th and last Tirthankara of Jainism.

c.563/480–c.483/400 BCE,
Gautama Buddha, founder of Buddhism was born.

551 BCE
Confucius, founder of Confucianism, was born.

399 BCE
Socrates was tried for impiety.

369-372 BCE
Birth of Mencius and Zhuang Zhou

300 BCE
The oldest known version of the Tao Te Ching was written on bamboo tablets.

300 BCE
Theravada Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka by the Venerable Mahinda.

c.250 BCE
The Third Buddhist council was convened by Ashoka. Ashoka sends Buddhist missionaries to faraway countries, such as China, mainland Southeast Asia, Malay kingdoms, and Hellenistic kingdoms.

140 BCE
The earliest grammar of Sanskrit literature was composed by Pāṇini.

100 BCE–500 CE
The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali, constituting the foundational texts of Yoga, were composed.


Ancient Mesopotamian religion

Ancient Mesopotamian religion (W)

Mesopotamian religion refers to the religious beliefs and practices of the civilizations of ancient Mesopotamia, particularly Sumer, Akkad, ssyria and Babylonia between circa 3500 BC and 400 AD, after which they largely gave way to Syriac Christianity. The religious development of Mesopotamia and Mesopotamian culture in general was not particularly influenced by the movements of the various peoples into and throughout the area, particularly the south. Rather, Mesopotamian religion was a consistent and coherent tradition which adapted to the internal needs of its adherents over millennia of development.

The earliest undercurrents of Mesopotamian religious thought date to the mid 4th millennium BC, and involved the worship of forces of nature as providers of sustenance. In the 3rd millennium BC objects of worship were personified and became an expansive cast of divinities with particular functions. The last stages of Mesopotamian polytheism, which developed in the 2nd and 1st millenniums, introduced greater emphasis on personal religion and structured the gods into a monarchical hierarchy with the national god being the head of the pantheon. Mesopotamian religion finally declined with the spread of Iranian religions during the Achaemenid Empire and with the Christianization of Mesopotamia.



   Mesopotamian gods  

Genealogy of the Sumerian deities

Genealogy of the Sumerian deities (W)

Genealogy of the Sumerian deities

born to Namma
born to Namma
born to Uraš
maybe daughter of Enlil
Nanna Nergal
maybe son of Enki
maybe born to Ninḫursaĝ
born to Uraš
Uttu Inanna
possibly also the daughter of Enki, of Enlil, or of An
maybe son of Enki
Utu Ninkigal
married Nergal
Meškiaĝĝašer Lugalbanda
Enmerkar Gilgāmeš


Deities in ancient Mesopotamia

Deities in ancient Mesopotamia (W)

Deities in ancient Mesopotamia were almost exclusively anthropomorphic. They were thought to possess extraordinary powersand were often envisioned as being of tremendous physical size. The deities typically wore melam, an ambiguous substance which "covered them in terrifying splendor". Melam could also be worn by heroes, kings, giants, and even demons. The effect that seeing a deity's melam has on a human is described as ni, a word for the "physical tingling of the flesh". Both the Sumerian and Akkadian languages contain many words to express the sensation of ni, including the word puluhtu, meaning "fear". Deities were almost always depicted wearing horned caps, consisting of up to seven superimposed pairs of ox-horns. They were also sometimes depicted wearing clothes with elaborate decorative gold and silver ornaments sewn into them.

The ancient Mesopotamians believed that their deities lived in Heaven, but that a god’s statue was a physical embodiment of the god himself. As such, cult statues were given constant care and attention and a set of priests were assigned to tend to them. These priests would clothe the statues and place feasts before them so they could “eat.” A deity's temple was believed to be that deity’s literal place of residence. The gods had boats, full-sized barges which were normally stored inside their temples and were used to transport their cult statues along waterways during various religious festivals. The gods also had chariots, which were used for transporting their cult statues by land. Sometimes a deity's cult statue would be transported to the location of a battle so that the deity could watch the battle unfold. The major deities of the Mesopotamian pantheon were believed to participate in the “assembly of the gods,” through which the gods made all of their decisions. This assembly was seen as a divine counterpart to the semi-democratic legislative system that existed during the Third Dynasty of Ur (c. 2112-2004 BC).

The Mesopotamian pantheon evolved greatly over the course of its history. In general, the history of Mesopotamian religion can be divided into four phases.

  • During the first phase, starting in the fourth millennium BC, deities' domains mainly focused on basic needs for human survival.
  • During the second phase, which occurred in the third millennium BC, the divine hierarchy became more structured and deified kings began to enter the pantheon.
  • During the third phase, in the second millennium BC, the gods worshipped by an individual person and gods associated with the commoners became more prevalent.
  • During the fourth and final phase, in the first millennium BC, the gods became closely associated with specific human empires and rulers.


The names of over 3,000 Mesopotamian deities have been recovered from cuneiform texts. Many of these are from lengthy lists of deities compiled by ancient Mesopotamian scribes. The longest of these lists is a text entitled An = Antum, a Babylonian scholarly work listing the names of over 2,000 Sumerian deities with their Semitic equivalents.

The Anunnaki are a group of deities first attested during the reign of Gudea (c. 2144-2124 BC) and the Third Dynasty of Ur. Originally, the Anunnaki appear to have been heavenly deities with immense powers, who were believed to "decree the fates of mankind". Later they became regarded as chthonic Underworld deities. They are chiefly mentioned in literary texts and very little evidence to support the existence of any cult of them has yet been unearthed. This is likely due to the fact that each member of the Anunnaki had his or her own individual cult, separate from the others. Similarly, no representations of the Anunnaki as a group have yet been discovered, although a few depictions of its individual members have been identified. Another group of deities are the Igigi, who are first attested from the Old Babylonian Period (c. 1830-1531 BC). The name Igigi seems to have originally been applied to the ten "great gods", but it later came to refer to all the gods of Heaven collectively. In some instances, the terms Anunnaki and Igigi are used synonymously.


Triad of Heaven / An, Enlil, and Enki

Triad of Heaven / An, Enlil, and Enki (W)

The three most important deities in the Mesopotamian pantheon during all periods were the gods An, Enlil, and Enki.
An was identified with all the stars of the equatorial sky, Enlil with those of the northern sky, and Enki with those of the southern sky. The path of Enlil's celestial orbit was a continuous, symmetrical circle around the north celestial pole, but those of An and Enki were believed to intersect at various points.
Name Image Major cult centers Celestial body Details Associated color
Cuneiform sign for 'Anu' or 'Heaven'
Eannatemple in Uruk Equatorial sky An (in Sumerian), later known as Anu or Ilu (in Akkadian), is the supreme God and “prime mover in creation,” embodied by the sky. He is the first and most distant ancestor, theologically conceived as the God of Heaven in its "transcendental obscurity." All the deities were believed to be the offspring of An and his consort Ki (cf. Anunnaki). While An was the utmost God, at least by the time of the earliest written records the cult was largely devoted to Enlil. Luludanitu; ensemble of red, white and black
Nunamnir, Ellil
Ancient Persian cylinder seal dating to between 550 and 330 BC, depicting an unidentified king wearing the horned crown, Enlil's primary symbol
Ekur temple in Nippur Northern sky Enlil, later known as Ellil, is the god of wind, air, earth, and storms and the chief of all the gods. He is theologically conceived as the “transcendent” facet of An. The Sumerians envisioned Enlil as a benevolent, fatherly deity, who watches over humanity and cares for their well-being. One Sumerian hymn describes Enlil as so glorious that even the other gods could not look upon him. His cult was closely tied to the holy city of Nippur and, after Nippur was sacked by the Elamites in 1230 BC, his cult fell into decline. He was eventually paralleled in his role as chief deity by Marduk, the national god of the Babylonians. Lapis lazuli-blue
Nudimmud, Ninshiku, Ea
Detail of Enki from the Adda Seal, an ancient Akkadian cylinder seal dating to circa 2300 BC
E-Abzutemple in Eridu Southern sky Enki, later known as Ea, and also occasionally referred to as Nudimmud or Ninšiku, is the god of the subterranean freshwater ocean, who is also closely associated with wisdom, magic, incantations, arts, and crafts. He is either the son of An, or the goddess Nammu, and is the twin brother of Ishkur. He is theologically conceived as the “immanent” facet of An. His wife is the goddess Damgalnuna (Ninhursag) and his sons include the gods Marduk, Asarluhi, Enbilulu, the sage Adapa, and the goddess Nanshe. His sukkal, or minister, is the two-faced messenger god Isimud. Enki is the divine benefactor of humanity, who helped humans survive the Great Flood. In Enki and the World Order, he organizes "in detail every feature of the civilised world." In Inanna and Enki, he is the holder of the sacred mes, the tablets concerning all aspects of human life. Jasper-green



Anu (An)

Anu (An) (W)

  • Ur III Sumerian cuneiform for An (and determinative sign for deities; cf. dingir)
  • The cuneiform character DINGIR (AN) (dingir), meaning "heavens" or "deity"

or An is the divine personification of the sky, supreme God, and ancestor of all the deities in ancient Mesopotamian religion. Anu was believed to be the supreme source of all authority, for the other gods and for all mortal rulers, and he is described in one text as the one “who contains the entire universe.” He is identified with the north ecliptic pole centered in the constellation Draco and, along with his sons Enlil and Enki, constitutes the highest divine triad personifying the three bands of constellations of the vault of the sky. By the time of the earliest written records, Anu was rarely worshipped, and veneration was instead devoted to his son Enlil, but, throughout Mesopotamian history, the highest deity in the pantheon was always said to possess the anûtu, meaning "Heavenly power". Anu's primary role in myths is as the ancestor of the Anunnaki, the major deities of Sumerian religion. His primary cult center was the Eanna temple in the city of Uruk, but, by the Akkadian Period (c. 2334-2154 BC), his authority in Uruk had largely been ceded to the goddess Inanna, the Queen of Heaven.

Anu's consort in the earliest Sumerian texts is the goddess Uraš, but she is later the goddess Ki and, in Akkadian texts, the goddess Antu, whose name is a feminine form of Anu. Anu briefly appears in the Akkadian Epic of Gilgamesh. in which his daughter Ishtar (the East Semitic equivalent to Inanna) persuades him to give her the Bull of Heaven so that she may send it to attack Gilgamesh. The incident results in the death of Enkidu. In another legend, Anu summons the mortal hero Adapa before him for breaking the wing of the south wind. Anu orders for Adapa to be given the food and water of immortality, which Adapa refuses, having been warned beforehand by Enki that Anu will offer him the food and water of death. In ancient Hittite religion, Anu is a former ruler of the gods, who was overthrown by his son Kumarbi, who bit off his father's genitals and gave birth to the storm god Teshub. Teshub overthrew Kumarbi, avenged Anu's mutilation, and became the new king of the gods. This story was the later basis for the castration of Ouranos in Hesiod's Theogony.



Marduk (W)

Marduk (cuneiform: 𒀭𒀫𒌓 dAMAR.UTU; Sumerian: amar utu.k "calf of the sun; solar calf"; Greek Μαρδοχαῖος, Mardochaios; Hebrew: מְרֹדַךְ, Modern: Mərōdaḵ, Tiberian: Merōḏaḵ) was a late-generation god from ancient Mesopotamia and patron deity of the city of Babylon. When Babylon became the political center of the Euphrates valley in the time of Hammurabi (18th century BC), he slowly started to rise to the position of the head of the Babylonian pantheon, a position he fully acquired by the second half of the second millennium BC. In the city of Babylon, Marduk was worshiped in the temple Esagila. Marduk is associated with the divine weapon Imhullu. "Marduk" is the Babylonian form of his name.

The name Marduk was probably pronounced Marutuk. The etymology of the name Marduk is conjectured as derived from amar-Utu ("immortal son of Utu") or ("bull calf of the sun god Utu"). The origin of Marduk's name may reflect an earlier genealogy, or have had cultural ties to the ancient city of Sippar (whose god was Utu, the sun god), dating back to the third millennium BC.

By the Hammurabi period, Marduk had become astrologically associated with the planet Jupiter.

Marduk's original character is obscure but he was later associated with water, vegetation, judgment, and magic. His consort was the goddess Sarpanit. He was also regarded as the son of Ea (Sumerian Enki) and Damkina and the heir of Anu.



Ashur (W)

A Neo-Assyrian "feather robed archer" figure, symbolizing Ashur. The right hand is extended similar to the Faravahar figure, while the left hand holds a bow instead of a ring (9th- or 8th-century BC relief).

(also, Assur, Aššur; cuneiform: 𒀭𒀸𒋩 dAš-šur) is an East Semitic god, and the head of the Assyrian pantheon in Mesopotamian religion, worshipped mainly in the northern half of Mesopotamia, and parts of north-east Syria and south-east Asia Minor which constituted old Assyria. He may have had a solar iconography.

(W) Myths of Babylonia and Assyria by Donald A. Mackenzie (1915):

Ashur was not a "goat of heaven", but a "bull of heaven", like the Sumerian Nannar (Sin), the moon god of Ur, Ninip of Saturn, and Bel Enlil. As the bull, however, he was, like Anshar, the ruling animal of the heavens; and like Anshar he had associated with him "six divinities of council".

Other deities who were similarly exalted as "high heads" at various centres and at various periods, included Anu, Bel Enlil, and Ea, Merodach, Nergal, and Shamash. A symbol of the first three was a turban on a seat, or altar, which may have represented the "world mountain". Ea, as "the world spine", was symbolized as a column, with ram's head, standing on a throne, beside which crouched a "goat fish". Merodach's column terminated in a lance head, and the head of a lion crowned that of Nergal. These columns were probably connected with pillar worship, and therefore with tree worship, the pillar being the trunk of the "world tree". The symbol of the sun god Shamash was a disc, from which flowed streams of water; his rays apparently were "fertilizing tears", like the rays of the Egyptian sun god Ra. Horus, the Egyptian falcon god, was symbolized as the winged solar disc.

It is necessary to accumulate these details regarding other deities and their symbols before dealing with Ashur. The symbols of Ashur must be studied, because they are one of the sources of our knowledge regarding the god's origin and character. These include (1) a winged disc with horns, enclosing four circles revolving round a middle circle; rippling rays fall down from either side of the disc; (2) a circle or wheel, suspended from wings, and enclosing a warrior drawing his bow to discharge an arrow; and (3) the same circle; the warrior's bow, however, is carried in his left hand, while the right hand is uplifted as if to bless his worshippers. These symbols are taken from seal cylinders.

An Assyrian standard, which probably represented the "world column", has the disc mounted on a bull's head with horns. The upper part of the disc is occupied by a warrior, whose head, part of his bow, and the point of his arrow protrude from the circle. The rippling water rays are V-shaped, and two bulls, treading river-like rays, occupy the divisions thus formed. There are also two heads--a lion's and a man's--with gaping mouths, which may symbolize tempests, the destroying power of the sun, or the sources of the Tigris and Euphrates.

Jastrow regards the winged disc as "the purer and more genuine symbol of Ashur as a solar deity". He calls it "a sun disc with protruding rays", and says: "To this symbol the warrior with the bow and arrow was added--a despiritualization that reflects the martial spirit of the Assyrian empire".


Enki (Ea)

Enki (Ea) (W)

is the Sumerian god of water, knowledge, mischief, crafts, and creation. He was later known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology. He was originally patron god of the city of Eridu, but later the influence of his cult spread throughout Mesopotamia and to the Canaanites, Hittites and Hurrians. He was associated with the southern band of constellations called stars of Ea, but also with the constellation AŠ-IKU, the Field (Square of Pegasus). Beginning around the second millennium BCE, he was sometimes referred to in writing by the numeric ideogram for "40", occasionally referred to as his "sacred number". The planet Mercury, associated with Babylonian Nabu (the son of Marduk) was, in Sumerian times, identified with Enki.

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

The main temple to Enki was 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. It was the first temple known to have been built in Southern Iraq.


Inanna (Isthar)

Inanna (Isthar) (W)

(LINK — The Burney Relief: Innana, Ishtar, or Lilith?)

is an ancient Mesopotamian goddess associated with love, beauty, sex, desire, fertility, war, justice, and political power. She was originally worshipped in Sumer and was later worshipped by the Akkadians, Babylonians, and Assyrians under the name Ishtar. She was known as the "Queen of Heaven" and was the patron goddess of the Eanna temple at the city of Uruk, which was her main cult center. She was associated with the planet Venus and her most prominent symbols included the lion and the eight-pointed star. Her husband was the god Dumuzid (later known as Tammuz) and her sukkal, or personal attendant, was the goddess Ninshubur (who later became the male deity Papsukkal).

Part of the front of a Babylonian temple to Ishtar in Uruk, built c. 1415 BC, during the Kassite Period (c. 1600 BC — c. 1155 BC). The original Eanna temple in Uruk was first dedicated to Anu, but later dedicated to Inanna.

Inanna was worshipped in Sumer at least as early as the Uruk period (c. 4000-3100 BC), but she had little cult prior to the conquest of Sargon of Akkad. During the post-Sargonic era, she became one of the most widely venerated deities in the Sumerian pantheon, with temples across Mesopotamia. The cult of Inanna-Ishtar, which may have been associated with a variety of sexual rites, including homosexual transvestite priests and sacred prostitution, was continued by the East Semitic-speaking people who succeeded the Sumerians in the region. She was especially beloved by the Assyrians, who elevated her to become the highest deity in their pantheon, ranking above their own national god Ashur. Inanna-Ishtar is alluded to in the Hebrew Bible and she greatly influenced the Phoenician goddess Astarte, who later influenced the development of the Greek goddess Aphrodite. Her cult continued to flourish until its gradual decline between the first and sixth centuries AD in the wake of Christianity, though it survived in parts of Upper Mesopotamia as late as the eighteenth century.

Inanna appears in more myths than any other Sumerian deity. Many of her myths involve her taking over the domains of other deities. She was believed to have stolen the mes, which represented all positive and negative aspects of civilization, from Enki, the god of wisdom. She was also believed to have taken over the Eanna temple from An, the god of the sky. Alongside her twin brother Utu (later known as Shamash), Inanna was the enforcer of divine justice; she destroyed Mount Ebih for having challenged her authority, unleashed her fury upon the gardener Shukaletuda after he raped her in her sleep, and tracked down the bandit woman Bilulu and killed her in divine retribution for having murdered Dumuzid. In the standard Akkadian version of the Epic of Gilgamesh, Ishtar asks Gilgamesh to become her consort. When he refuses, she unleashes the Bull of Heaven, resulting in the death of Enkidu and Gilgamesh's subsequent grapple with his mortality.

Inanna-Ishtar's most famous myth is the story of her descent into and return from Kur, the ancient Sumerian Underworld, a myth in which she attempts to conquer the domain of her older sister Ereshkigal, the queen of the Underworld, but is instead deemed guilty of hubris by the seven judges of the Underworld and struck dead. Three days later, Ninshubur pleads with all the gods to bring Inanna back, but all of them refuse her except Enki, who sends two sexless beings to rescue Inanna. They escort Inanna out of the Underworld, but the galla, the guardians of the Underworld, drag her husband Dumuzid down to the Underworld as her replacement. Dumuzid is eventually permitted to return to heaven for half the year while his sister Geshtinanna remains in the Underworld for the other half, resulting in the cycle of the seasons.



Anunnaki (W)

The Anunnaki (also transcribed as Anunaki. Anunna, Ananaki, and other variations) are a group of deities that appear in the mythological traditions of the ancient Sumerians, Akkadians, Assyrians, and Babylonians. Descriptions of how many Anunnaki there were and what role they fulfilled are inconsistent and often contradictory. In the earliest Sumerian writings about them, which come from the Post-Akkadian period, the Anunnaki are the most powerful deities in the pantheon, descendants of An, the god of the heavens, and their primary function is to decree the fates of humanity.

In Inanna's Descent into the Netherworld, the Anunnaki are portrayed as seven judges who sit before the throne of Ereshkigal in the Underworld. Later Akkadian texts, such as The Epic of Gilgamesh, follow this portrayal. During the Old Babylonian period, the Anunnaki were believed to be the chthonic deities of the Underworld, while the gods of the heavens were known as the Igigi. The ancient Hittites identified the Anunnaki as the oldest generation of gods, who had been overthrown and banished to the Underworld by the younger gods. The Anunnaki have featured prominently in works of modern pseudohistory, such as the books of Zecharia Sitchin, and in conspiracy theories, such as those of David Icke.



Enlil (W)

Enlil, later known as Elil, is an ancient Mesopotamian god associated with wind, air, earth, and storms. He is first attested as the chief deity of the Sumerian pantheon, but he was later worshipped by the Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and Hurrians. Enlil's primary center of worship was the Ekur temple in the city of Nippur, which was believed to have been built by Enlil himself and was regarded as the "mooring-rope" of heaven and earth. He is also sometimes referred to in Sumerian texts as Nunamnir. According to one Sumerian hymn, Enlil himself was so holy that not even the other gods could look upon him. Enlil rose to prominence during the twenty-fourth century BC with the rise of Nippur. His cult fell into decline after Nippur was sacked by the Elamites in 1230 BC and he was eventually supplanted as the chief god of the Mesopotamian pantheon by the Babylonian national god Marduk. The Babylonian god Bel was a syncretic deity of Enlil, Marduk, and the dying god Dumuzid.

Upper part of a gypsum statue of a Sumerian woman. The hands are folds in worship. The eyes would have been inlaid. A sheepskin garment is wrapped on the left shoulder. Early Dynastic Period, c. 2400 BCE. From Mesopotamia, modern-day Iraq. The British Museum, London.

Enlil plays a vital role in the Sumerian creation myth; he separates An (heaven) from Ki (earth), thus making the world habitable for humans. In the Sumerian Flood myth, Enlil rewards Ziusudra with immortality for having survived the flood and, in the Babylonian flood myth, Enlil is the cause of the flood himself, having sent the flood to exterminate the human race, who made too much noise and prevented him from sleeping. The myth of Enlil and Ninlil is about Enlil's serial seduction of the goddess Ninlil in various guises, resulting in the conception of the moon-god Nanna and the Underworld deities Nergal, Ninazu, and Enbilulu. Enlil was regarded as the inventor of the mattock and the patron of agriculture. Enlil also features prominently in several myths involving his son Ninurta, including Anzû and the Tablet of Destinies and Lugale.



Nergal (W)

Fragments of a circular vessel dedicated to the temple of god Nergal by a high official. The vessel depicts king Shalmaneser III kneeling before a central figure, probably Nergal (only part of the god can be seen). From the temple of Nergal at Tarbisu, Nineveh, Mesopotamia, modern-day Iraq. Reign of Shalmaneser III, 9th century BCE.

, Nirgal, or Nirgali (Sumerian: dGÌR-UNUG-GAL𒀭𒄊 Hebrew: נֵרְגַל, Modern: Nergal, Tiberian: Nērḡál; Aramaic ܢܹܪܓܵܐܠ; Latin: Nergel) was a deity worshipped throughout Mesopotamia (Akkad, Assyria, and Babylonia) with the main seat of his worship at Cuthah represented by the mound of Tell-Ibrahim. Other names for him are Erra and Irra.

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". 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.



Utu (Shamash) (W)

Representation of Shamash from the Tablet of Shamash (c. 888-855 BC), showing him sitting on his throne dispensing justice while clutching a rod-and-ring symbol

, later worshipped by East Semitic peoples as Shamash, is the ancient Mesopotamian god of the sun, justice, morality, and truth, and the twin brother of the goddess Inanna, the Queen of Heaven. His main temples were in the cities of Sippar and Larsa. He was believed to ride through the heavens in his sun chariot and see all things that happened in the day. He was the enforcer of divine justice and was thought to aid those in distress. According to Sumerian mythology, he helped protect Dumuzid when the galla demons tried to drag him to the Underworld and he appeared to the hero Ziusudra after the Great Flood. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, he helps Gilgamesh defeat the ogre Humbaba.

Old Babylonian cylinder seal impression depicting Shamash surrounded by worshippers (c. 1850-1598 BC)

Utu was worshipped in Sumer from the very earliest times. The oldest documents mentioning him date to around 3500 BC, during the first stages of Sumerian writing. His main temples, which were both known as E-babbar ("White House"), were located in Sippar and in Larsa. Utu continued to be venerated until the end of Mesopotamian culture and was worshipped for well over 3,000 years. Utu's main personality characteristics are his kindness and generosity, but, like all other Mesopotamian deities, he was not above refusing a request which inconvenienced him. In the Hurro-Akkadian bilingual Weidner god list, Utu is equated with the Hurrian sun-god Šimigi. In the Ugaritic trilingual version of the Weidner god list, Šimigi and Utu are both equated with Lugalbanda.



Eshnunna Statuettes, 2700 BCE

Eshnunna Statuettes, 2700 BCE (LINK)

Eshnunna Statuettes, Eshnunna, Iraq, 2700 BCE.

These statues found buried beneath the floor of a temple at Eshnunna (modern Tell Asmar) reveal a lot about the religious beliefs of Sumerians. At the temple, several statues were discovered. The statues were meant be in eternal prayer and devotion, filling in for the Sumerians when they had to leave the temple for other responsibilities.

Most men have beards and shoulder-length hair and they wear belts and fringed skirts. Most women wear long robes with the right shoulder bare.

Their hands are clasped in front of their chest, a symbol of prayer. They look upward in the direction of their god and their large eyes symbolize “the eternal wakefulness” of the loyal follower, since the purpose of these figures was to offer constant prayer and attention to the gods on behalf of the donor.


  Epic of Gilgamesh

Possible representation of Gilgamesh as Master of Animals, grasping a lion in his left arm and snake in his right hand, in an Assyrian palace relief, from Dur-Sharrukin, now held in the Louvre. (LINK)


(LINK) Ancient Mesopotamia, Middle 3rd Millenium B.C., FUNERAL PROCESSION of Substitute King, Royal Tomb of Ur Hide a Grim Secret — original 1950s plate. Plate is Original (not copy and not reproduction) — like NEW. TITLE under the image:

"Middle 3rd Millennium, B.C. "The Anunnaki, the Great Gods, Foregather. Death and Life They Determine; but of Death, its Days They Do Not Reveal" — Epic of GILGAMESH.

SIZE: 7"x 10"

ORIGINAL '50s Plate by H.Herget — based on archeological excavation in 1927 of an ancient Mesopotamian site.

DESCRIPTION PAGE — on a separate page, very interesting details of the scene, it's a copy since the reverse side has another illustration. This is an ORIGINAL authentic PAGE.

📹 King Gilgamesh (VİDEO)

King Gilgamesh (LINK)



📹 The Sound of the Sumerian Language (The Epic of Gilgamesh) (VİDEO)

The Sound of the Sumerian Language (The Epic of Gilgamesh) (LINK)




Gilgamesh (W)

Possible representation of Gilgamesh as Master of Animals, grasping a lion in his left arm and snake in his right hand, in an Assyrian palace relief, from Dur-Sharrukin, now held in the Louvre.

Gilgamesh was a historical king of the Sumerian city-state of Uruk, a major hero in ancient Mesopotamian mythology, and the protagonist of the Epic of Gilgamesh, an epic poem written in Akkadian during the late second millennium BC. He probably ruled sometime between 2800 and 2500 BC and was posthumously deified. He became a major figure in Sumerian legends during the Third Dynasty of Ur (c. 2112-2004 BC). Tales of Gilgamesh's legendary exploits are narrated in five surviving Sumerian poems. The earliest of these is probably Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Netherworld, in which Gilgamesh comes to the aid of the goddess Inanna and drives away the creatures infesting her huluppu tree. She gives him two unknown objects called a mikku and a pikku, which he loses. After Enkidu's death, his shade tells Gilgamesh about the bleak conditions in the Underworld. The poem Gilgamesh and Agga describes Gilgamesh's revolt against his overlord King Agga. Other Sumerian poems relate Gilgamesh's defeat of the ogre Huwawa and the Bull of Heaven and a fifth, poorly preserved one apparently describes his death and funeral.

In later Babylonian times, these stories began to be woven into a connected narrative. The standard Akkadian Epic of Gilgamesh was composed by a scribe named Sîn-lēqi-unninni, probably during the Middle Babylonian Period (c. 1600-1155 BC), based on much older source material. In the epic, Gilgamesh is a demigod of superhuman strength who befriends the wildman Enkidu. Together, they go on adventures, defeating Humbaba (the East Semitic name for Huwawa) and the Bull of Heaven, who, in the epic, is sent to attack them by Ishtar (the East Semitic equivalent of Inanna) after Gilgamesh rejects her offer for him to become her consort. After Enkidu dies of a disease sent as punishment from the gods, Gilgamesh becomes afraid of his own death, and visits the sage Utnapishtim, the survivor of the Great Flood, hoping to find immortality. Gilgamesh repeatedly fails the trials set before him and returns home to Uruk, realizing that immortality is beyond his reach.

Most classical historians agree that the Epic of Gilgamesh exerted substantial influence on both the Iliad and the Odyssey, two epic poems written in ancient Greek during the eighth century BC. The story of Gilgamesh's birth is described in a second-century AD anecdote from On the Nature of Animals by the Greek writer Aelian. Aelian relates that Gilgamesh's grandfather kept his mother under guard to prevent her from becoming pregnant, because he had been told by an oracle that his grandson would overthrow him. She became pregnant and the guards threw the child off a tower, but an eagle rescued him mid-fall and delivered him safely to an orchard, where he was raised by the gardener. The Epic of Gilgamesh was rediscovered in the Library of Ashurbanipal in 1849. After being translated in the early 1870s, it caused widespread controversy due to similarities between portions of it and the Hebrew Bible. Gilgamesh remained mostly obscure until the mid-twentieth century, but, since the late twentieth-century, he has become an increasingly prominent figure in modern culture.



Ve Tanrı dedi ki, “Yarattığım insanı yeryüzünden yok edeceğim. Hem insanı, hem hayvanı ve sürünen şeyleri ve havanın kuşlarını. Çünkü onları yaptığıma pişman oldum.”


Genesis 6:7

Gilgamesh flood myth

Gilgamesh flood myth (W)

The Gilgamesh flood myth is a flood myth in the Epic of Gilgamesh. Many scholars believe that the flood myth was added to Tablet XI in the "standard version" of the Gilgamesh Epic by an editor who utilized the flood story from the Epic of Atrahasis. A short reference to the flood myth is also present in the much older Sumerian Gilgamesh poems, from which the later Babylonian versions drew much of their inspiration and subject matter.

Atra-Hasis (W)

Atra-Hasis ("exceedingly wise") is the protagonist of an 18th-century BC Akkadian epic recorded in various versions on clay tablets. The Atra-Hasis tablets include both a creation myth and a flood account, which is one of three surviving Babylonian deluge stories. The name "Atra-Hasis" also appears on one of the Sumerian king lists as king of Shuruppak in the times before a flood.

Flood myth section (LINK)
Flood myth section

Lines 1-203, Tablet XI (note: with supplemental sub-titles and line numbers added for clarity)

Ea leaks the secret plan

  1. Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh a secret story that begins in the old city of Shuruppak on the banks of the Euphrates River.
  2. The "great gods" Anu, Enlil, Ninurta, Ennugi, and Ea were sworn to secrecy about their plan to cause the flood.
  3. But the god Ea (Sumerian god Enki) repeated the plan to Utnapishtim through a reed wall in a reed house.
  4. Ea commanded Utnapishtim to demolish his house and build a boat, regardless of the cost, to keep living beings alive.
  5. The boat must have equal dimensions with corresponding width and length and be covered over like Apsu boats.
  6. Utnapishtim promised to do what Ea commanded.
  7. He asked Ea what he should say to the city elders and the population.
  8. Ea tells him to say that Enlil has rejected him and he can no longer reside in the city or set foot in Enlil's territory.
  9. He should also say that he will go down to the Apsu "to live with my lord Ea".
  10. Note: 'Apsu' can refer to a fresh water marsh near the temple of Ea/Enki at the city of Eridu.
  11. Ea will provide abundant rain, a profusion of fowl and fish, and a wealthy harvest of wheat and bread.

Building and launching the boat

  1. Carpenters, reed workers, and other people assembled one morning.
  2. [missing lines]
  3. Five days later, Utnapishtim laid out the exterior walls of the boat of 120 cubits.
  4. The sides of the superstructure had equal lengths of 120 cubits. He also made a drawing of the interior structure.
  5. The boat had six decks [?] divided into seven and nine compartments.
  6. Water plugs were driven into the middle part.
  7. Punting poles and other necessary things were laid in.
  8. Three times 3,600 units of raw bitumen were melted in a kiln and three times 3,600 units of oil were used in addition to two times 3,600 units of oil that were stored in the boat.
  9. Oxen and sheep were slaughtered and ale, beer, oil, and wine were distributed to the workmen, like at a new year's festival.
  10. When the boat was finished, the launching was very difficult. A runway of poles was used to slide the boat into the water.
  11. Two-thirds of the boat was in the water.
  12. Utnapishtim loaded his silver and gold into the boat.
  13. He loaded "all the living beings that I had."
  14. His relatives and craftsmen, and "all the beasts and animals of the field" boarded the boat.
  15. The time arrived, as stated by the god Shamash, to seal the entry door.

The storm

  1. Early in the morning at dawn a black cloud arose from the horizon.
  2. The weather was frightful.
  3. Utnapishtim boarded the boat and entrusted the boat and its contents to his boatmaster Puzurammurri who sealed the entry.
  4. The thunder god Adad rumbled in the cloud and storm gods Shullar and Hanish went over mountains and land.
  5. Erragal pulled out the mooring poles and the dikes overflowed.
  6. The Annunnaki gods lit up the land with their lightning.
  7. There was stunned shock at Adad's deeds which turned everything to blackness. The land was shattered like a pot.
  8. All day long the south wind blew rapidly and the water overwhelmed the people like an attack.
  9. No one could see his fellows. They could not recognize each other in the torrent.
  10. The gods were frightened by the flood, and retreated up to the Anu heaven. They cowered like dogs lying by the outer wall.
  11. Ishtar shrieked like a woman in childbirth.
  12. The Mistress of the gods wailed that the old days had turned to clay because "I said evil things in the Assembly of the Gods, ordering a catastrophe to destroy my people who fill the sea like fish."
  13. The other gods were weeping with her and sat sobbing with grief, their lips burning, parched with thirst.
  14. The flood and wind lasted six days and six nights, flattening the land.
  15. On the seventh day, the storm was pounding [intermittently?] like a woman in labor.

Calm after the storm

  1. The sea calmed and the whirlwind and flood stopped. All day long there was quiet. All humans had turned to clay.
  2. The terrain was as flat as a roof top. Utnapishtim opened a window and felt fresh air on his face.
  3. He fell to his knees and sat weeping, tears streaming down his face. He looked for coastlines at the horizon and saw a region of land.
  4. The boat lodged firmly on mount Nimush which held the boat for several days, allowing no swaying.
  5. On the seventh day he released a dove which flew away, but came back to him. He released a swallow, but it also came back to him.
  6. He released a raven which was able to eat and scratch, and did not circle back to the boat.
  7. He then sent his livestock out in various directions.

The sacrifice

  1. He sacrificed a sheep and offered incense at a mountainous ziggurat where he placed 14 sacrificial vessels and poured reeds, cedar, and myrtle into the fire.
  2. The gods smelled the sweet odor of the sacrificial animal and gathered like flies over the sacrifice.
  3. Then the great goddess arrived, lifted up her flies (beads), and said
  4. "Ye gods, as surely as I shall not forget this lapis lazuli [amulet] around my neck, I shall be mindful of these days and never forget them! The gods may come to the sacrificial offering. But Enlil may not come, because he brought about the flood and annihilated my people without considering [the consequences]."
  5. When Enlil arrived, he saw the boat and became furious at the Igigi gods. He said "Where did a living being escape? No man was to survive the annihilation!"
  6. Ninurta spoke to Enlil saying "Who else but Ea could do such a thing? It is Ea who knew all of our plans."
  7. Ea spoke to Enlil saying "It was you, the Sage of the Gods. How could you bring about a flood without consideration?"
  8. Ea then accuses Enlil of sending a disproportionate punishment, and reminds him of the need for compassion.
  9. Ea denies leaking the god's secret plan to Atrahasis (= Utnapishtim), admitting only sending him a dream and deflecting Enlil's attention to the flood hero.

The flood hero and his wife are granted immortality and transported far away

  1. He then boards a boat and grasping Utnapishtim's hand, helps him and his wife aboard where they kneel. Standing between Utnapishtim and his wife, he touches their foreheads and blesses them. "Formerly Utnapishtim was a human being, but now he and his wife have become gods like us. Let Utnapishtim reside far away, at the mouth of the rivers."
  2. Utnapishtim and his wife are transported and settled at the "mouth of the rivers".



Flood Stories

Flood Stories (LINK)

Fragment of a clay tablet from the library of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh, with an Assyrian account of the Flood. (W)

Flood myth (W)

A flood myth or deluge myth is a narrative in which a great flood, usually sent by a deity or deities, destroys civilization, often in an act of divine retribution. Parallels are often drawn between the flood waters of these myths and the primaeval waters found in certain creation myths, as the flood waters are described as a measure for the cleansing of humanity, in preparation for rebirth. Most flood myths also contain a culture hero, who "represents the human craving for life".

The flood myth motif is found among many cultures as seen in the Mesopotamian flood stories, Deucalion and Pyrrha in Greek mythology, the Genesis flood narrative, Pralaya in Hinduism, the Gun-Yu in Chinese mythology, Bergelmir in Norse mythology, in the lore of the K'iche' and Maya peoples in Mesoamerica, the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa tribe of Native Americans in North America, the Muisca, and Cañari Confederation, in South America, and the Aboriginal tribes in southern Australia.

Flood Stories (LINK)
Flood Stories

Stories about a great flood are found in the folklore of many cultures. The earliest written sources are inscribed in Sumerian on clay tablets and date to the late third millennium B.C. Mesopotamian versions of the flood story may have had their beginnings in the annual spring flooding of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Alternatively, some scholars believe that a change in the ancient sea level in the Persian Gulf may have given rise to stories about a deluge.

The Sumerian King List, a literary composition existing in several different versions, traces kingship from its origins to contemporary dynasties that ruled in southern Mesopotamia between the twenty-first and nineteenth centuries B.C. According to this composition, eight legendary rulers reigned for a combined total of 241,200 years, “then the flood swept over.” Ubara-tutu, from the city of Shuruppak, noted as the last prediluvium monarch in the King List, is mentioned by other names in several later flood stories. In one of these tales, called the Sumerian Flood Story by modern scholars (the ancient name is not preserved) and dating to the Old Babylonian period but possibly composed in the third millennium B.C., the gods fashion the black-headed people (the Sumerians) and create animals which multiply all over the earth. Later, after they have chosen a human king, rites are performed and cities founded. When Ziusudra (“Life of Distant Days”) is king, he hears a message from a god saying that a flood will sweep over the land. The gods in their divine assembly have made an irrevocable order to destroy mankind. After a break in the text, the wind and gales blow and the flood sweeps over the land. The storm rages for seven days and seven nights while Ziusudra, “the seed of mankind,” and animals ride it out in a sealed boat. Finally, the flood over, Ziusudra drills an opening in the boat and the sun enters. Once on firm ground, the animals disembark and the hero sacrifices oxen and sheep. The god Enlil then appears and treats Ziusudra kindly. He is given eternal life like a god and settles in the land of Dilmun, a place at the end of the earth where the sun rises.

Another Sumerian tale, “The Death of Bilgamesh” (“The Great Wild Bull Is Lying Down”), preserved in a copy dating to the Old Babylonian period, contains a section in which the gods review the life and career of the hero Bilgames (Gilgamesh in Akkadian). They describe how the hero fought the ogre Huwawa in the Cedar Forest and how he traveled to meet Ziusudra in his “abode” and learned about the deluge. The gods inform him that in spite of the fact that his mother was a goddess, he is mortal like all humans and will eventually take his place with the dead in the underworld.

Students at the academies during the Old Babylonian period also recorded a Babylonian story about a hero named Atra-hasis that contains a flood narrative. The narrative begins with an account of the early history of humankind. When the gods create humans to ease their burden in forming the world, they mistakenly forget to limit men’s and women’s years on earth. Consequently, humans multiply to such an extent that the noise they create becomes overwhelming and the god Enlil, the head of the pantheon, cannot sleep. Enlil believes that the only way to control this surge in population is by a plague, but when the plague god is presented with offerings, he relents and the plague ends. Soon after, the human population begins to multiply anew. When Enlil’s next attempt to limit humankind’s growth by the introduction of famine fails, he orders a flood to destroy all peoples. Atra-hasis is warned by Enki, the god of wisdom, of the impending disaster. He is advised to build a boat and save both his kin and animals. The storm rages for seven days and nights. After it subsides, Atra-hasis emerges from the ark and prepares an offering for the gods. When Enlil becomes aware that his plan to destroy all living beings has failed, he asks, “How did man survive in the destruction?” Enki responds and accuses Enlil of overreacting to the population explosion: “Instead of bringing about a flood, lions and wolves should have appeared and diminished the people . . . Impose the penalty on the guilty. Impose the crime on the criminal. Henceforth let no flood be brought about, but let the people last forever.” Enlil agrees and tells the flood hero that only he and his wife shall henceforth be granted eternal life. From now on, Enlil continues, human lifespan will be numbered and human population controlled though the creation of special classes of women who will bear no children. In addition, he decrees that some babies will be snatched from the laps of their mothers by pashittu-demons.

An expanded version of the flood story is found in the 11th Tablet of the Babylonian Gilgamesh epic. Here, the legendary Uta-napishtim, son of Ubara-tutu, relates a tale about the great deluge. Warned by the god Ea (Sumerian: Enki) that the great gods have decided to send down a flood to destroy humankind, Ea instructs Uta-napishtim to demolish his house, abandon wealth, build a boat, and seek safety. He is to take on board the boat the seed of all living things. The boat is to be six decks high and shaped like a cube. Uta-napishtim obeys his god; he loads the boat with all of his gold and silver and takes on board the beasts of the field and the creatures of the wild together with artisans and all of his family and kin. Soon the storm begins; for six days and seven nights, the wind blows and the deluge flattens the land, but on the seventh day the ocean grows calm and the boat runs aground on a mountain. Seven days later, Uta-napishtim lets loose a dove to find land, but the dove returns. Next he dispatches a swallow, but it too comes back. Finally, a raven is set free and never returns. Disembarking from the boat, Uta-napishtim makes an offering to the gods, but when the god Enlil smells the smoke and sees the boat, he is seized with fury. However, reprimanded by Ea for his lack of foresight and reason, Enlil relents and declares that Uta-napishtim and his wife shall become immortal and dwell far away at the source of the rivers.

Two other ancient Near Eastern flood stories from beyond the borders of Mesopotamia are known, the most famous being the version found in the book of Genesis. Another short but very fragmentary version describing only Atra-hasis, the flood itself, and the conclusion that the hero gains immortality was found at ancient Ugarit and dates to the fourteenth century B.C.

A much later version of the flood story was written in Greek by Berossos, a Babylonian priest of the god Bel. This tale, part of a larger work on Babylonian history, is lost, but sections of the flood story are quoted by the later Greek writers Eusebius and Polyhistor. According to this version of the tale, the hero Xisuthros (Ziusudra) has a dream in which the god Kronos warns him about the onslaught of an impending flood. Xisuthros digs a hole and buries all the written material from his city. Then he builds a boat “five stades long and two stades wide” and boards his wife, children, and closest friends. After the flood subsides, Xisuthros lets loose birds who return to the ship empty-handed. A few days later, he again frees birds and they return with their feet covered in mud. When he releases birds for a third time, they fail to return. The boat having landed in the mountains of Armenia, Xisuthros disembarks, offers a sacrifice to the gods, and disappears to dwell with the gods together with his wife and daughter. When the rest of his party leave the boat, they hear a voice from afar instructing them to return to worship the gods, dig up the writings buried in Sippar, and establish Babylon.

Ira Spar
Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

April 2009



📹 The Epic of Gilgamesh (for kids and adults) (VİDEO)

The Epic of Gilgamesh (for kids — and adults) (LINK)


Summary of Epic of Gilgamesh

Summary of Epic of Gilgamesh (LINK)

Summary of Epic of Gilgamesh
Summary of Epic of Gilgamesh

  • Tablet 1: A narrator invites the reader to view the majesty of the city of Uruk and introduces us to its king, Gilgamesh. He is the greatest king on Earth, two-thirds god and one-third human, the strongest man who ever existed. Yet he reigns as a tyrant over his people in the city of Uruk, failing to sympathize with their plight and even exercising the supposed right to deflower brides before their husbands sleep with them.

When his people complain to the gods that he is too harsh, the gods decide to educate Gilgamesh. The mother goddess Aruru/Ninhursag creates the hairy wild-man Enkidu as a worthy rival. Enkidu lives wild among the gazelles of the forest. Enkidu destroys the traps of a trapper, who discovers him and requests that Gilgamesh send a temple-harlot to ensnare the wild man so the wild beasts will then reject him. Gilgamesh sends Shamhat, the sacred harlot of the goddess Ishtar, who seduces Enkidu into a week-long sexual initiation, in which Enkidu demonstrates unmatched virility. As a result of this encounter, the animals now fear him and flee his presence. Bereft, Enkidu seeks solace from Shamhat who offers to bring him back with her to civilization.

  • Tablet Two: Enkidu learns to eat human food, anoints his unkempt body, and dresses in civilized clothing. He longs to visit the Temple of Ishtar and to challenge the mighty King Gilgamesh. Upon learning that this supposedly exemplary ruler intends to sleep with a man's bride before their wedding, Enkidu becomes enraged. He goes with Shamhat to Uruk, where he blocks Gilgamesh's way to the bridal chamber. After a titanic battle that Gilgamesh wins, Gilgamesh shows no malice and he and Enkidu become the closest of friends. Gilgamesh proposes an adventure to the forbidden Cedar Forest, where they must kill the mighty Humbaba, the forest's demon guardian. Enkidu, knowing that the chief god, Enlil himself, has assigned Humbaba to this post, bitterly protests; but he ultimately agrees out of love for his new friend.
  • Tablet Three: Gilgamesh and Enkidu prepare to journey to the Cedar Forest. They gain the blessing of Gilgamesh's mother, the goddess Ninsun, as well as the support of the sun-god Shamash, who becomes their patron.
  • Tablet Four: Gilgamesh and Enkidu journey westward to Lebanon and the Cedar Forest. Gilgamesh has a series of disturbing prophetic dreams, which Enkidu naively and inaccurately interprets as good omens.
  • Tablet Five: Entering the forest, Gilgamesh and Enkidu are no match for the terrible Humbaba, but they are aided by their patron Shamash, who sends eight powerful winds (Whistling Wind, Piercing Wind, Blizzard, Evil Wind, Demon Wind, Ice Wind, Storm, Sandstorm) against the forest guardian. Now at Gilgamesh's mercy, Humbaba pleads for his life, promising to give the king all the lumber he desires. Enkidu, however, advises Gilgamesh to show no mercy. The two brutally slay Humbaba, disemboweling him. They then cut down the mighty cedar trees that he protected and raft back down the Euphrates to civilization.
  • Tablet Six: Back in Uruk, the goddess Ishtar proposes marriage to Gilgamesh. Knowing the unfortunate fate of her previous lovers, he rejects her amorous advances. The spurned Ishtar demands that her father, Anu, send the "Bull of Heaven" to kill Gilgamesh for his impudence. Enkidu hunts down the bull and grasps it by the tail, while Gilgamesh, matador-like, delivers a killing thrust. Ishtar curses their feat, saying "Woe unto Gilgamesh who slandered me and killed the Bull of Heaven!" Enkidu, ever loyal to Gilgamesh, dares to insult the goddess. Ishtar and her priestesses go into deep mourning for the Bull Heaven, while Gilgamesh and the men of Uruk celebrate the masculine courage of the hero-king.
  • Tablet Seven: The chief gods—Anu, Enlil, and Shamash—gather in council to determine the punishment for killing the Bull of Heaven and Humbaba. After debating the issue, they decide to spare Gilgamesh but condemn Enkidu. The loyal Enkidu becomes deathly ill and curses the sacred harlot Shamhat for bringing him out of his wild state. At Shamash's urging, however, he relents and blesses her, though in bitter and ironic terms. As he lies dying, he describes his abode in the Netherworld's "House of Dust" to the grieving Gilgamesh.
  • Tablet Eight: Gilgamesh delivers a lengthy poetic eulogy to Enkidu. Deeply moved, the formerly invulnerable king laments the loss of his one true friend and realizes for the first time his own mortality.
"What is this sleep which has seized you? You have turned dark and do not hear me!"
But Enkidu's eyes do not move. Gilgamesh touched his heart, but it beat no longer.
He covered his friend's face like a bride, swooping down over him like an eagle,
and like a lioness deprived of her cubs, he keeps pacing to and fro.
  • Tablet Nine: Seeking to avoid Enkidu's fate, Gilgamesh undertakes the perilous journey to visit the legendary Utnapishtim and his wife, the only humans to have survived the Great Flood and who were granted immortality by the gods. He travels to the world's highest peak, Mount Mashu, where he encounters the fearsome Scorpion-Beings that guard the gate blocking the final leg of his journey. He persuades them of the absoluteness of his purpose, and they allow him to enter. He travels onward on a seemingly endless path through bitter cold and darkness.
  • Tablet Ten: At a far distant seashore, Gilgamesh encounters the female tavern-keeper Siduri, who attempts to dissuade him from his quest. He, however, is too deeply saddened by the loss of Enkidu—and too filled with anxiety over his own eventual death—to be deterred. Gilgamesh then crosses the Waters of Death with the ferryman Urshanabi, completing the journey and finally meeting with the immortal Utnapishtim.
  • Tablet Eleven: Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh in detail about the great flood (see below) and reluctantly gives him a chance for immortality. He informs Gilgamesh that if he can stay awake for seven nights, he will become immortal. Attempting the task, Gilgamesh inevitably falls asleep. Utnapishtim informs him of a special plant that grows only at the bottom of the sea. While not exactly conferring immortality, it will make him young again. Tying stones to his feet to reach the deep, Gilgamesh retrieves the plant and hopes to bring it back to Uruk. He places the plant on the shore of a lake while he bathes, and it is stolen by a serpent. Gilgamesh returns to Uruk in despair, but the sight of its massive walls move him to praise.
  • Tablet Twelve: Although several of the tales in the first eleven tablets are thought to have originally been separate stories, on the tablets they have been well integrated into a coherent whole. The story on the twelfth tablet is clearly a later appendage, in which Enkidu is still alive and now has both a wife and a son. It begins with Gilgamesh sending Enkidu on a mission to the Underworld to retrieve objects sacred to Ishtar/Inanna, which Gilgamesh has lost. It ends with a discussion in which Enkidu answers several of Gilgamesh's questions regarding the fate of those in the next life. The story has marked similarities to the myth of Gilgamesh and the Huluppu-Tree.



📹 Noah's Ark Bible Story For Kids (Children Christian Bible Cartoon Movie) The Bible's True Story (VİDEO)

Noah’s Ark Bible Story For Kids (LINK)


📹 The Math of the Great Flood (VİDEO)

The Math of the Great Flood (LINK)


Gilgamesh and the Flood

Gilgamesh and the Flood (LINK)

Gilgamesh and the Flood (LINK)
Gilgamesh and the Flood

The marked similarity between the story of Noah's flood and the story told to Gilgamesh by Utnapishtim caused a major stir when the Epic of Gilgamesh was first rediscovered and publicized in the nineteenth century. Utnapishtim's story simultaneously confirmed some aspects of the Biblical account of the flood and yet radically challenged Biblical authority, especially if scholars were correct in their assessment that Gilgamesh pre-dated Genesis.

Details of the two accounts are so nearly identical in some respects that it is virtually impossible to deny that one borrows from the other.

  • Both involve a divine warning about the flood and an instruction to build a large, sealed boat for the survivor's family and animals.
  • Both speak of the survivor releasing a dove and a raven after the rains stop.
  • Both tell of the boat coming to rest on a mountain after all the rest of mankind has been drowned in the flood.
  • Both describe the survivor offering a sacrifice to God or the gods after descending from the ark.
  • Both tell of the primary deity blessing the survivors after the sacrifice is complete.

And yet, the differences between the two accounts are also striking. Besides the obvious difference of names, numbers, and places (Utnapishtim vs. Noah, seven days instead of 40, Mount Nimush instead of Mount Ararat, a sparrow instead of a second flight of the dove, etc.), in the Gilgamesh story, Utnapishtim and his wife become immortal, while in Genesis, Noah is the last of mankind's long-lived ancestors—living more than 600 years—but not immortal. More importantly, the Genesis account allows for only one divine actor, while in Gilgamesh the functions of divinity are divided among several gods. Thus, in Gilgamesh, it is not the One God who determines to bring about the flood, but the gods collectively as a Heavenly Council. Utnapishtim receives his warning about the deluge not from Yahweh, but from the water deity Ea/Enki, who is acting against the orders of the Council. In Genesis, the One God shows no remorse after causing the death of the rest of mankind, while in Gilgamesh, Ishtar weeps for her dead children and repents of having supported the idea of the flood in the Divine Assembly.

The question remains: if one of the accounts borrowed from the other, which came first? Did Genesis retell the Gilgamesh account with a monotheistic twist, or did Gilgamesh pervert the true story of Noah's ark into a polytheistic form? Most scholars believe the latter explanation to be unlikely. For those who accept that Gilgamesh is earlier but also maintain that the Biblical story is accurate, one plausible explanation is that God revealed the truth through Genesis, while the Gilgamesh account is a primitive recollection filtered through the polytheistic culture of ancient Mesopotamia.


Gilgamesh and the Fall of Adam
Gilgamesh and the Fall of Adam

The connection between the serpent who steals the plant of life in Tablet 11 and the serpent in the Garden of Eden story who robs Adam and Eve of access to the tree of life is well known. But there are additional parallels between the Gilgamesh Epic and the story of Adam's fall in Genesis 3. These are more subtle, but appear unmistakably, provided one takes the view that the forbidden "fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil" was a euphemism for carnal knowledge and that the fall was a sexual seduction.

  • Enkidu in his wild state resembles Adam before the Fall, when he lived in harmony with the creatures of Eden.
  • After Enkidu falls for the harlot's seduction, he is alienated from nature and the animals run off, resembling Adam and Eve's expulsion from Eden.
  • Enkidu in his wild state was naked and hairy, but after the seduction he realizes he is naked, as Adam and Eve before the fall were naked and unashamed (Genesis 2:25), but afterwards were ashamed of their nakedness (Genesis 3:10).
  • The harlot clothes Enkidu and leads him to the world of humans, as God clothed Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21) and sent them forth from Eden to engage in the labors and hardships of farming life.
  • When Enkidu was clothed, the harlot says to him, "You are wise, like a God... let us go to the world of men," in language reminiscent of the serpent's words to Adam, that the fruit had made him "like God" (Genesis 3:5), therefore he should be cast out of Eden.
  • Enkidu's fate—made clear when on his deathbed (tablet 7) he cursed the prostitute for bringing the fate of death to him (through their sexual encounter)—resembles Adam's fate, which came upon him the day he ate of the fruit (had a sexual encounter with Eve), "for in the day that you eat of it you will die" (Genesis 2:17).

The story of Gilgamesh was well-known in the Israel of Solomon's day, when the J-source (Yahwist) most likely wrote Genesis 2-3, according to bible critics. These parallels would have been apparent to Israelites, lending credence to the view that the original meaning of the Fall story was a thinly-disguised account of sexual malfeasance.



   The Legend of Sargon (The Goddess Ishtar Appears to Sargon)

"The Legend of Sargon (The Goddess Ishtar Appears to Sargon, the Gardener's Lad)" / By the contempoarary artist, Edwin J. Prittie

"The Legend of Sargon (The Goddess Ishtar Appears to Sargon, the Gardener's Lad)"

“The Legend of Sargon (The Goddess Ishtar Appears to Sargon, the Gardener’s Lad)”

MOST of what the early dwellers in Babylonia did was forgotten by their descendants ; for this land continued to be earth's chief centre of culture and of population during six thousand years or more. The earliest man to be clearly remembered was called Sargon. Tradition has handed his fame down to us through all the ages as the founder of the great city of Babylon and as its first great king. A legend grew around him, telling that he was a prince, who was exposed to death as an infant but was found and brought up by a gardener. While he worked one day in the garden a lady came to him surrounded by a cloud of doves. She was really Ishtar or Astarte, the love goddess of the Babylonians, to whom doves were sacred. Sargon did not know her, but received her in such princely fashion that she fell in love with him. Under Ishtar's guidance the gardener's boy rose to be the king of his own little city. Then he conquered other cities, and at length held all the land of Babylonia under his rule, being the first man to unite all the little warring cities into a single state. Recent discoveries have supphed us with a knowledge of the real career of Sargon. He was a military conqueror who lived 3,800 years before Christ, and founded a gorgeous city called Accad. But the city of Babylon had existed long before his time, he only added to its splendors; and many kings had preceded him during many centuries of the slowly developing civihzation along the banks of the Euphrates.

The Story of the Greatest Nations


Edward S. Ellis, A. M.
Charles F. Horne, Ph.D,

New York

Copyright, 1913,




   Mesopotamian myths

Mesopotamian myths

Mesopotamian myths (W)

Mesopotamian mythology refers to the myths, religious texts, and other literature that comes from the region of ancient Mesopotamia in modern-day West Asia. In particular the societies of Sumer, Akkad, and Assyria, all of which existed shortly after 3000 BCE and were mostly gone by 400 CE. These works were primarily preserved on stone or clay tablets and were written in cuneiform by scribes. Several lengthy pieces have survived, some of which are considered the oldest stories in the world, and have given historians insight into Mesopotamian ideology and cosmology.

Mezopotamya Yaratılış Mitleri

Creation myths

There are many different accounts of the creation of the earth from the Mesopotamian region. This is because of the many different cultures in the area and the shifts in narratives that are common in ancient cultures due to their reliance on word of mouth to transmit stories. These myths can share related themes, but the chronology of events vary based on when or where the story was written down.


See main article: Atra-Hasis

Atra-Hasis refers both to one of the Mesopotamian myths focusing on the earth’s creation, and also the main character of that myth. The myth possibly has Assyrian roots, as a fragmented version may have been found in the library of Ashusbanipal, though translations remain unsure. Its most complete surviving version was recorded in Akkadian. The myth begins with humans being created by the mother goddess Mami to lighten the gods’ workload. She made them out of a mixture of clay, flesh, and blood from a slain god. Later in the story though, the god Enlil attempts to control overpopulation of humans through various methods, including famine, drought, and finally, a great flood. Humankind is saved by Atrahasis, who was warned of the flood by the god Enki and built a boat to escape the waters, eventually placating the gods with sacrifices.

Eridu Gensis

See main article: Sumerian Creation Myth

Eridu Gensis has a similar plot to that of the Akkadian myth, Atra-Hasis, though it is harder to tell what happens exactly in Eridu Gensis because the tablet upon which it was recorded is badly damaged. The two stories share the flood as the major event however, although the hero who survives in Eridu Gensis is called Zi-ud-sura instead of Artahasis. Eridu Gensis was recorded around the same time as Atra-Hasis, however the fragmented tablet that held it was found in Nippur, located in modern-day east Iraq, while the version of Atra-hasis that came from the same time was found in the library of Ashurbanipal, in modern-day north Iraq.

Enuma Elis

See main article: Enuma Elis

Enuma Elis (also spelled Enuma Elish) is a Babylonian creation myth with an unclear composition, though it possibly dates back to the Bronze Age. This piece was thought to be recited in a ritual celebration of the Babylonian new year. It chronicles the birth of the gods, the world, and man, whose purpose was to serve the gods and lighten their work load. The focus of the narrative is on praising Marduk, the patron god of Babylon, who creates the world, the calendar, and humanity.

Heroic epics

These stories tended to focus on a great hero, following their journey through trials or simply important events in their life. Stories like these can be found in many different cultures around the world, and often give insight into the values of those societies. For example, in a culture that celebrated a hero that was devout to the gods or respecting their father, it can be inferred that the society valued those traits.

Epic of Gilgamesh

Main article: Epic of Gilgamesh

The Epic of Gilgamesh is one of the most well known Mesopotamian myths, and is often regarded as the oldest known piece of literature in the world. It was initially a number of individual short stories, and was not combined into one cohesive epic until the 18th century. The story follows the Sumerian king Gilgamesh, typically regarded as a historical figure, and his good friend, Enkidu through various adventures and quests that eventually lead to Enkidu's death. The second half of the epic deal with Gilgamesh, distressed about the death of his friend and his own impending mortality, as he searches for immortality. In the end he fails, but he comes to terms with the fact that he is eventually going to die and returns to his city of Uruk a wiser king.

The Myth of Adapa

Main article: Adapa

The earliest record of myth of Adapa is from the 14th century. Adapa was a Sumerian citizen who was blessed by the god Enki with immeasurable intelligence. However, one day Adapa was knocked into the sea by the south wind, and in a rage he broke the south wind’s wings so that it could no longer blow. Adapa was summoned to be judged by An, and before he left Enki warned him not to eat or drink anything offered to him. However, An had a change of heart when he realized just how smart Adapa was, and offered him the food of immortality, which Adapa, dutiful to Enki, turned down. This story is used as an explanation for humankind’s mortality, it is associated with the fall of man narrative that is also present in Christianity.


Sumerian creation myth

Sumerian creation myth (W)

The earliest record of a Sumerian creation myth, called The Eridu Genesis by historian Thorkild Jacobsen, is found on a single fragmentary tablet excavated in Nippur. It is written in the Sumerian language and dated to around 1600 BC. Other Sumerian creation myths from around this date are called the Barton Cylinder, the Debate between sheep and grain and the Debate between Winter and Summer, also found at Nippur.

Assembly of Gods, Ea and Marduk. — “As they drunk the strong drink, their bodies expanded. They became languid as their spirit rose.” (The Creation Epic)

Where the tablet picks up, the gods An, Enlil, Enki and Ninhursanga create the black-headed people and create comfortable conditions for the animals to live and procreate. Then kingship descends from heaven and the first cities are founded: Eridu, Bad-tibira, Larak, Sippar, and Shuruppak.

After a missing section in the tablet, we learn that the gods have decided not to save mankind from an impending flood. Zi-ud-sura, the king and gudug priest, learns of this. In the later Akkadian version, Ea, or Enki in Sumerian, the god of the waters, warns the hero (Atra-hasis in this case) and gives him instructions for the ark. This is missing in the Sumerian fragment, but a mention of Enki taking counsel with himself suggests that this is Enki's role in the Sumerian version as well.

When the tablet resumes, it is describing the flood. A terrible storm rocks the huge boat for seven days and seven nights, then Utu (the Sun god) appears and Zi-ud-sura creates an opening in the boat, prostrates himself, and sacrifices oxen and sheep.

After another break, the text resumes: the flood is apparently over, the animals disembark and Zi-ud-sura prostrates himself before An (sky-god) and Enlil (chief of the gods), who give him eternal life and take him to dwell in Dilmun for "preserving the animals and the seed of mankind". The remainder of the poem is lost.

The flood mythos possibly relates to a factual Sumerian flood.


Enuma Elish (Babylonian creation myth)

Enuma Elish (Babylonian creation myth) (W)

The Enûma Eliš (Akkadian Cuneiform: 𒂊𒉡𒈠𒂊𒇺, also spelled "Enuma Elish"), is the Babylonian creation myth (named after its opening words). It was recovered by Austen Henry Layard in 1849 (in fragmentary form) in the ruined Library of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh (Mosul, Iraq). A form of the myth was first published by George Smith in 1876; active research and further excavations led to near completion of the texts, and improved translation.

The Enûma Eliš has about a thousand lines and is recorded in Old Babylonian on seven clay tablets, each holding between 115 and 170 lines of Sumero-Akkadian cuneiform script. Most of Tablet V has never been recovered but, aside from this lacuna, the text is almost complete.

This epic is one of the most important sources for understanding the Babylonian world view. Over the seven tablets it describes the creation of the world, a battle between gods focused on supremacy of Marduk, the creation of man destined for the service of the Mesopotamian deities, and ends with a long passage praising Marduk. Its primary original purpose is unknown, although a version is known to have been used for certain festivals, there may also have been a political element to the myth, centered on the legitimization or primacy of Mesopotomia over Assyria. Some later versions replace Marduk with the Assyrian primary god Ashur.

The Enûma Eliš exists in various copies from Babylon and Assyria. The version from the Library of Ashurbanipal dates to the 7th century BCE. The composition of the text probably dates to the Bronze Age, or even earlier, to the time of Hammurabi. Some elements of the myth are attested by illustrations that date to, at least, as early as the Kassite era (roughly 18th to 16th centuries BCE).



Ancient Mesopotamian Beliefs in the Afterlife

Ancient Mesopotamian Beliefs in the Afterlife (LINK)

published on 20 June 2014

Unlike the rich corpus of ancient Egyptian funerary texts, no such “guidebooks” from Mesopotamia detail the afterlife and the soul’s fate after death. Instead, ancient Mesopotamian views of the afterlife must be pieced together from a variety of sources across different genres.

Copper alloy foundation figurines with pegs representing Gods

Many literary texts, most famously the Epic of Gilgamesh, contemplate the meaning of death, recount the fate of the dead in the netherworld, and describe mourning rites. Other texts were probably composed in order to be recited during religious rites involving ghosts or dying gods. Of these ritual texts, the most notable are Gilgamesh, Enkidu and the Netherworld; Ishtar’s Descent to the Netherworld; and Nergal and Ereshkigal. Further sources for Mesopotamian afterlife beliefs include burials, grave inscriptions, economic texts recording disbursements for funerals or cults of the dead, references to death in royal inscriptions and edicts, chronicles, royal and private letters, lexical texts, cultic commentaries, magico-medical texts, omens, and curse formulas.

Ancient Mesopotamian Beliefs in the Afterlife

Unlike the rich corpus of ancient Egyptian funerary texts, no such “guidebooks” from Mesopotamia detail the afterlife and the soul’s fate after death. Instead, ancient Mesopotamian views of the afterlife must be pieced together from a variety of sources across different genres.

Many literary texts, most famously the Epic of Gilgamesh, contemplate the meaning of death, recount the fate of the dead in the netherworld, and describe mourning rites. Other texts were probably composed in order to be recited during religious rites involving ghosts or dying gods. Of these ritual texts, the most notable are Gilgamesh, Enkidu and the Netherworld; Ishtar’s Descent to the Netherworld; and Nergal and Ereshkigal. Further sources for Mesopotamian afterlife beliefs include burials, grave inscriptions, economic texts recording disbursements for funerals or cults of the dead, references to death in royal inscriptions and edicts, chronicles, royal and private letters, lexical texts, cultic commentaries, magico-medical texts, omens, and curse formulas.

Copper alloy foundation figurines with pegs representing Gods

In addition to belonging to different genres, the sources for Mesopotamian beliefs in the afterlife come from distinct periods in Mesopotamian history and encompass Sumerian, Akkadian, Babylonian, and Assyrian cultures. We should therefore be careful not to view Mesopotamian afterlife beliefs as static or uniform. Like all cultural systems, Mesopotamian ideas of the afterlife transformed throughout time. Beliefs and practices relating to the afterlife also varied with socio-economic status and differed within official and popular religious paradigms. With this in mind, however, cultural continuity between the Sumerian civilization and its successors allows a synthesis of diverse sources in order to provide a working introduction to Mesopotamian concepts of the afterlife.

The Netherworld

Ancient Mesopotamians conceptualized the netherworld as the cosmic opposite of the heavens and as a shadowy version of life on earth. Metaphysically, it was thought to lie a great distance from the realm of the living. Physically, however, it lay underground and is poetically described as located only a short distance from the earth’s surface.

Literary accounts of the netherworld are generally dismal. It is described as a dark “land of no return” and the “house which none leaves who enters,” with dust on its door and bolt (Dalley 155). Yet other accounts moderate this bleak picture. For instance, a Sumerian work referred to as the Death of Urnamma describes the spirits of the dead rejoicing and feasting upon the ruler Urnamma’s arrival in the netherworld. Shamash, the sun god of justice, also visited the netherworld every night on his daily circuit through the cosmos. Similarly, scholar Caitlín Barrett has proposed that grave iconography – specifically symbolism related to the goddess Inanna/Ishtar who descended and returned from the underworld — indicates a belief in a more desirable afterlife existence than the one described in many literary texts. Although humans could not hope to return to life in exact imitation of Inanna/Ishtar, Barrett argues, by utilizing funerary iconography representing Ishtar, they could seek to avoid the unpleasant aspects of the netherworld from which Inanna/Ishtar herself had escaped. The Mesopotamian netherworld is therefore best understood as neither a place of great misery nor great joy, but as a dulled version of life on earth.

Queen of the Night, Old Babylon

One of the most vivid portrayals of the netherworld describes a subterranean “great city” (Sumerian "") protected by seven walls and gates where the spirits of the dead dwell. In the Akkadian Descent of Ishtar to the Underworld, Ishtar passes through these seven gates on her journey to the netherworld. At each gate she is stripped of her garments and jewelry until she enters the city of the dead naked. In light of such descriptions, it is perhaps notable that Mesopotamian funerary rites for the elite could last up to seven days.

The community of spirits living in the “great city” was sometimes called Arallu in Akkadian or Ganzer in Sumerian, terms of uncertain meaning. Sumerian Ganzer is also a name for the underworld and an entrance to the underworld. Paralleling the Mesopotamian idea of divine authority in heaven and earth, the realm of the dead was governed by particular deities who were ranked in hierarchical order with a supreme chief at their head. In older texts the goddess Ereshkigal (“Mistress of the Great Earth”) was queen of the Netherworld. She was later replaced by the male warrior god Nergal (“Chief of the Great City”). An Akkadian myth dating at latest to the mid-second millennium BCE attempts to resolve the conflicting traditions by making Ereshkigal the spouse of Nergal. Like the deities in heaven who met regularly in a divine council to render judgments for the universe, the divine rulers of the underworld were assisted in their decisions by an elite body of divinities called the Anunnaki.

“The Mesopotamian netherworld was neither a place of punishment nor reward. Rather, it was the only otherworldly destination for dead spirits.”

It must be emphasized that the Mesopotamian netherworld was not a “hell.” Although it was understood as the geographic opposite of the heavens, and although its environment was largely an inversion of heavenly realms (for instance, it was characterized by darkness instead of light), it did not stand opposite heaven as a possible dwelling place for dead spirits based on behavior during life. The Mesopotamian netherworld was neither a place of punishment nor reward. Rather, it was the only otherworldly destination for dead spirits whose bodies and graves or cult statues had received proper ritual care.

Human Nature & Fate after Death

In the Old Babylonian Atrahasis epic, the gods created humans by mixing clay with the blood of a rebellious deity named We-ilu who was specially slaughtered for the occasion. Humans therefore contained both an earthly and a divine component. Yet the divine element did not mean that humans were immortal. The Mesopotamians had no concept of either physical resurrection or metempsychosis.[4] Rather, Enki (Akkadian Ea), the Sumerian deity of wisdom and magic, ordained death for humans from their very inception. Mortality defined the fundamental human condition, and is even described as the destiny (Akk. šimtu) of mankind. The most common euphemism for dying in Mesopotamian texts is “to go to one’s fate” (Cooper 21). The quest for physical immortality, suggests the Epic of Gilgamesh, was consequently futile. The best humans could strive for was enduring fame through their deeds and accomplishments on earth. Immortality, insofar as it was metaphorically possible, was actualized in the memory of future generations.

Humans were considered alive (Akk. awilu) as long as they had blood in their veins and breath in their nostrils. At the moment when humans were emptied of blood or exhaled their last breath, their bodies were considered empty cadavers (Akk. pagaru. The condition of this empty corpse is compared to deep sleep and, upon burial in the ground, the body fashioned from clay “returned to clay” (Bottéro, “Religion” 107). The biblical euphemism for death as sleep (New Revised Standard Version, 1 Kgs. 2:10; 2 Kgs. 10:35; 15:38; 24:6; 2 Chron. 9:31) and the statement, “You are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gen. 3:19; cf. Ecc. 3:20), point to the common cultural milieu underlying ancient Mesopotamian and Israelite paradigms.

The Mesopotamians did not view physical death as the ultimate end of life. The dead continued an animated existence in the form of a spirit, designated by the Sumerian term gidim and its Akkadian equivalent, eṭemmu. The eṭemmu is best understood as a ghost. Its etiology is described in the Old Babylonian Atrahasis epic I 206-230, which recounts the creation of humans from the blood of the slain god We-ilu. The text uses word play to connect the etemmu to a divine quality: We-ilu is characterized as one who has ṭemu, “understanding” or “intelligence”. Thus, humans were thought to be composed of a corporeal body and some type of divine insight.

It must be stressed that Mesopotamian notions of the physical body and the eṭemmu do not represent a strict body/soul dualism. Unlike the concept of psyche in Classical Greek thought, the eṭemmu was closely associated with the physical corpse. Some texts even speak of the eṭemmu as if it were identical to the body. For instance, the eṭemmu is sometimes described as “sleeping” in the grave (Scurlock, “Death” 1892) – a description that echoes accounts of the corpse or pagaru. Further, the eṭemmu retained corporeal needs such as hunger and thirst, a characteristic that will be discussed in more detail below. It also unclear whether the eṭemmu existed within the living body prior to death (and was thus an entity that separated from the body), or whether it only came into existence at the moment of physical death (and was thus an entity created by the transformation of some physical life-force). In either case, upon physical death the status of the deceased changed from awilu to eṭemmu. Death was therefore a transitionary stage during which humans were transformed from one state of existence to another.

The eṭemmu was not immediately transported to the netherworld after bodily death, but had to undergo an arduous journey in order to reach it. Proper burial and mourning of the corpse was essential for the eṭemmu's transition to the next world. Provided that the necessary funerary rites were performed, the ghost was required to cross a demon-infested steppe, pass over the Khuber River with the assistance of an individual named Silushi/Silulim or Khumut-tabal (the latter meaning “Quick, take [me] there!”), and be admitted through the seven gates of the netherworld city with the permission of the gatekeeper, Bidu (“Open up!”).

Upon arrival in the netherworld, the eṭemmu was “judged” by the court of the Annunaki and assigned a place in its new subterranean community. This judgment and placement was not of an ethical nature and had nothing to do with the deceased’s merits during its lifetime. Instead, it had rather a clerical function and confirmed, according to the rules of the netherworld, the etemmu’s entrance into its new home.

Yet the judgment and placement of the eṭemmu in the netherworld was not entirely arbitrary or neutral. Just as social hierarchies existed within living communities, so too did a hierarchy between ghosts exist in the “great city” of the dead. The status of an eṭemmu in the netherworld was determined by two factors: the social status of the deceased while alive, and the post-mortem care its body and grave or cult statue received from the living on earth. Kings like Urnamma and Gilgamesh remained rulers and judges of the dead in the netherworld, and priests remained priests. In this respect the social order underground mimicked that above. Some texts such as Gilgamesh and Enkidu and the Netherworld indicate that the deceased’s lot in the underworld depended on the number of children one had. The more descendents, the more privileged the eṭemmu's existence in the netherworld, for there were more relatives to ensure the performance of necessary post-mortem rituals.

In the underworld the eṭemmu could be reunited with relatives who had preceded them in death. It should be noted, however, that although the eṭemmu was capable of recognizing and being recognized by the ghosts of people the deceased had known during life, these ghosts do not seem to have retained the deceased's unique personality traits in the netherworld.

Chaplet from Tomb at Ur

In addition to the eṭemmu, living beings were also thought to be composed of a wind-like emanation called in Akkadian the zaqiqu (or ziqiqu). This spirit was sexless, probably birdlike, and was associated with dreaming because it could depart the body while the individual was asleep. Both the eṭemmu and the zaqiqu descended to the netherworld after physical death. Aside from descriptions of dreams, however, the eṭemmu is mentioned far more prominently than the zaqiqu in Mesopotamian literature. This may be due to the fact that, unlike the eṭemmu, the zaqiqu was considered relatively harmless and unable to interfere either positively or negatively in the affairs of the living. It was therefore natural that a greater number of Mesopotamian texts would focus on proper ritual care for the eṭemmu, since these rites were intended to pacify the spirit of the dead so that it would not haunt the living.

The Relationship Between the Dead & the Living

As indicated above, the fate of the eṭemmu after corporeal death depended on performance of the proper post-mortem rituals by the living. First, funerary rites—specifically burial of the corpse and ritual mourning— at the time of death were necessary for the eṭemmu's successful journey to and integration into the netherworld. Second, continued cultic offerings at the deceased’s grave or (at least in the pre-Sargonic period) cult statue were required to ensure the eṭemmu's comfortable existence in the netherworld. We have seen that the eṭemmu retained the needs of a living being. Most importantly, it required sustenance. Yet the netherworld was devoid of any palatable nourishment. As the Death of Urnamma articulates, “The food of the netherworld is bitter and the water is brackish” (Cohen 103). The ghost was therefore dependent on the living for subsistence, which was provided through offerings of food and beverage. Absence of offerings reduced the eṭemmu to a beggar’s existence in the netherworld. The primary responsibility for performing these offerings fell to the eldest son of the deceased. Scurlock connects post-mortem duties with Mesopotamian property laws by positing that this “is presumably why [the eldest son] also customarily received an extra share of the inheritance” (“Death” 1888).

Mesopotamian Male Worshiper Votive Figure

Both non-elites and elites required such rituals, but the necessity of death cults for the elite was particularly emphasized. The primary difference between death cults for the non-elite and elite appears to have been that, for ordinary people, only the deceased personally known to their descendants –such as immediate family— required individual eṭemmu cults. Distant relatives seem to have “merged together in a sort of corporate ancestor” (Scurlock, “Death” 1889). In contrast, royal cult offerings were made individually to all ancestors of the reigning king.

As long as offerings continued regularly, the eṭemmu remained at peace in the netherworld. Pacified ghosts were friendly and could be induced to aid the living, or at least were prevented from harming them. A person who did not receive proper burial rites or cultic offerings, however, became a restless ghost or vicious demon. Some cases where this could occur included people who were left unburied, suffered a violent death or other unnatural end, or died unmarried. Vicious ghosts pursued, seized, bound, or even physically abused their victims, and could also possess victims by entering into them via their ears. They could also haunt the dreams of the living. Sickness, both physical and psychological, and misfortune were often believed to be caused by the anger of a restless eṭemmu . For example, the suffering servant of the Babylonian poem Ludlul bēl nēmeqi deplores his fate:

Debilitating Disease is let loose upon me:
An Evil Wind has blown [from the] horizon,
Headache has sprung up from the surface of the underworld….
The irresistible [Ghost] left Ekur
[The Lamastu-demon came] down from the mountain. (Lines 50-55, Poem of the Righteous Sufferer)

The Mesopotamians developed many magical means of dealing with vengeful ghosts. Some methods included the tying of magical knots, the manufacturing of amulets, smearing on magical ointments, drinking magical potions, the burial of a surrogate figurine representing the ghost, and the pouring libations while reciting incantations.


In Mesopotamian conceptions of the afterlife, life did not end after physical death but continued in the form of an eṭemmu, a spirit or ghost dwelling in the netherworld. Further, physical death did not sever the relationship between living and deceased but reinforced their bond through a new set of mutual obligations. Just as the well-being of the ghost in the netherworld was contingent upon offerings from the living, so too was the well being of the living contingent upon on the proper propitiation and favor of the dead. To a notable degree, these afterlife beliefs reflected and reinforced the social structure of kinship ties in Mesopotamian communities.

Editorial Review This Article has been reviewed for accuracy, reliability and adherence to academic standards prior to publication.




📹 The Sumerian Creation Myth (VİDEO)

The Sumerian Creation Myth (LINK)


📹 Babylonian Story of Creation (VİDEO)

Babylonian Story of Creation (LINK)


📹 Greek Story of Creation (VİDEO)

Greek Story of Creation (LINK)


📹 The Egyptian Creation Myth (VİDEO)

The Egyptian Creation Myth (LINK)


📹 The Maori Creation Myth (VİDEO)

Tthe Maori Creation Myth (LINK)


📹 The Old Testament Creation story (VİDEO)

The Old Testament Creation story (LINK)


📹 The Hawaiian Story of Creation (VİDEO)

The Hawaiian Story of Creation (LINK)





Din kavramı Tanrı kavramını kapsamalı, ve Tanrı Doğayı ve Tini yaratmalıdır. “Yaratış” dinsel bilincin Logos ve Fysis arasındaki ilişkiyi imgeleme yoludur. Doğa doğmakta, sürekli olarak yaratılmaktadır, ve böyle sonlu birşey dolaysız olamayacağına göre kendisi başka bir kaynaktan doğuyor olmalıdır. En ilkel dinlerde de bir yaratıcı imgesi vardır, çünkü din kavramı tanrı kavramını kapsar ve tanrı yaratıcı olmalıdır. En ilkel dinleri yaratan da aynı us yetisini taşıyan aynı homo sapienstir. Ama bu yaratıcının kendisinin dolaysızlığı ve yaratılmaması anlağı çatışkıya düşürür ve onun da yaratıcısı yaratılır. Mitolojik ya da imgesel düşünce özdeşlik ilkesine bağlılığından ötürü hiçbir zaman kendi usunun yaratısı olan din kavramını anlayamaz, sonsuzu kavrayamaz, ve sonlu imgeler alanında yalnızca kendini yineler. Din Kavramı sonsuz Tanrının kendisinin yaratısı tarafından sınırlanması ve sonlulaştırılması problemine Tanrının başkasında, olumsuzunda, sınırda, sonluda yine kendisini bulması, yaratısı ile bir ve aynı töz olması (homoousias) formülü ile çözüm getirir. Tanrı yaratısında, Oğulda kendi ile Birdir. Bu birlik soyut Logostan ve soyut Doğadan başka birşey olarak Tindir. Tin Tanrının ve Oğulun birliği olarak yine bir ve aynı tözdür. Bu birlik içinde Tanrı soyut Logosu ve özdeksel Doğayı kapsar ve aynı zamanda gerçekliğini, tinsel belirlenimini kazanır. Soyut Logos tinsel insan bilincinde tüm gerçeklik olarak somut olur.
Sumerler başka herşeyin yanısıra tanrıları da yarattılar. Bu aynı mitoloji binlerce yıl boyunca Persler, Helenler, Romalılar ve başkaları tarafından yalnızca yinelendi. Ve kültürün bir bileşeni olarak kalmada direttiği sürece kültürün daha öte gelişimini, tinin kendisinin kendi gizilliğini edimselleştirme itkisini durdurdu.
   Family tree of the Mezopotamian Gods  

Family tree of the Mezopotamian Gods

Family tree of the Mezopotamian Gods (W)

Family tree

born to Namma
born to Namma
born to Uraš
maybe daughter of Enlil
Nanna Nergal
maybe son of Enki
maybe born to Ninḫursaĝ
born to Uraš
Uttu Inanna
possibly also the daughter of Enki, of Enlil, or of An
maybe son of Enki
Utu Ninkigal
married Nergal
Meškiaĝĝašer Lugalbanda
Enmerkar Gilgāmeš



Sunset at the equinox from the prehistoric site of Pizzo Vento at Fondachelli Fantina, Sicily.
Mezopotamya matematiği sıfır ve pi kavramlarını, karşılıları, üsleri, kare ve küp kökleri, logaritmaları, sayısal dizileri, düzlem geometriyi, polinomial denklemleri biliyordu ve Pisagoras üçgeni Euklides tarafından tanıtlanmadan önce bin yaşında idi. İÖ 13'üncü yüzyılda Mezopotamya müziğinin müzik notasyonu kullanan gelişmiş bir kuramı vardı ve Pisagoras'ın tonlar cetveli biliniyordu. Hippokrates'in tıp reçetelerinin prototipleri ikinci bin yıl Asurunda bulundu.

📹 A Cuneiform Tablet in the Digital Age (VİDEO)

A Cuneiform Tablet in the Digital Age (LINK)



📹 Ancient Babylonian Tablet Deciphered after 70 Years Proves Trigonometry Used 1000 years Earlier (VİDEO)

Ancient Babylonian Tablet Deciphered after 70 Years Proves Trigonometry Used 1000 years Earlier (LINK)



Babylonian astronomy

Babylonian astronomy (W)

A Babylonian tablet recording Halley's comet in 164 BC.

Babylonian astronomy
was the study or recording of celestial objects during early history Mesopotamia. These records can be found on Sumerian clay tablets, inscribed in cuneiform, dated approximately to 3500-3200 BC.

In conjunction with their mythology, the Sumerians developed a form of astronomy/astrology that had an influence on Babylonian culture. Therein Planetary gods played an important role.

Babylonian astronomy seemed to have focused on a select group of stars and constellations known as Ziqpu stars. These constellations may have been collected from various earlier sources. The earliest catalogue, Three Stars Each, mentions stars of the Akkadian Empire, of Amurru, of Elam and others.

A numbering system based on sixty was used, a sexagesimal system. This system simplified the calculating and recording of unusually great and small numbers. The modern practices of dividing a circle into 360 degrees, of 60 minutes each, began with the Sumerians.

During the 8th and 7th centuries BC, Babylonian astronomers developed a new empirical approach to astronomy. They began studying and recording their belief system and philosophies dealing with an ideal nature of the universe and began employing an internal logic within their predictive planetary systems. This was an important contribution to astronomy and the philosophy of science, and some modern scholars have thus referred to this novel approach as the first scientific revolution. This approach to astronomy was adopted and further developed in Greek and Hellenistic astrology. Classical Greek and Latin sources frequently use the term Chaldeans for the astronomers of Mesopotamia, who were considered as priest-scribes specializing in astrology and other forms of divination.

Only fragments of Babylonian astronomy have survived, consisting largely of contemporary clay tablets containing astronomical diaries, ephemerides and procedure texts, hence current knowledge of Babylonian planetary theory is in a fragmentary state. Nevertheless, the surviving fragments show that Babylonian astronomy was the first "successful attempt at giving a refined mathematical description of astronomical phenomena" and that “all subsequent varieties of scientific astronomy, in the Hellenistic world, in India, in Islam, and in the West … depend upon Babylonian astronomy in decisive and fundamental ways.”

The origins of Western astronomy can be found in Mesopotamia, and all Western efforts in the exact sciences are descendants in direct line from the work of the late Babylonian astronomers. Modern knowledge of Sumerian astronomy is indirect, via the earliest Babylonian star catalogues dating from about 1200 BC. The fact that many star names appear in Sumerian suggests a continuity reaching into the Early Bronze Age.


Planetary theory

Planetary theory (W)

The Babylonians were the first civilization known to possess a functional theory of the planets. The oldest surviving planetary astronomical text is the Babylonian Venus tablet of Ammisaduqa, a 7th-century BC copy of a list of observations of the motions of the planet Venus that probably dates as early as the second millennium BC.

Venus tablet of Ammisaduqa (W)

The earliest copy of this tablet to be published, a 7th-century BC cuneiform, part of the British Museum collections, was recovered from the library at Nineveh. It was first published in 1870 by Henry Creswicke Rawlinson and George Smith as Enuma Anu Enlil Tablet 63, in "Tablet of Movements of the Planet Venus and their Influences" (The Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia, volume III).

As many as 20 copies of this text are currently on record, many of them fragmentary, falling into 6 groups.The oldest of these copies is believed to be Source "B", found at Kish in 1924. It was copied from a tablet written at Babylon while Sargon II was King of Assyria between 720 and 704 BC.



Cosmology (W)

In contrast to the world view presented in Mesopotamian and Assyro-Babylonian literature, particularly in Mesopotamian and Babylonian mythology, very little is known about the cosmology and world view of the ancient Babylonian astrologers and astronomers. This is largely due to the current fragmentary state of Babylonian planetary theory, and also due to Babylonian astronomy being independent from cosmology at the time. Nevertheless, traces of cosmology can be found in Babylonian literature and mythology.

In Babylonian cosmology, the Earth and the heavens were depicted as a “spatial whole, even one of round shape” with references to "the circumference of heaven and earth" and "the totality of heaven and earth". Their worldview was not exactly geocentric either. The idea of geocentrism, where the center of the Earth is the exact center of the universe, did not yet exist in Babylonian cosmology, but was established later by the Greek philosopher Aristotle's On the Heavens. In contrast, Babylonian cosmology suggested that the cosmos revolved around circularly with the heavens and the earth being equal and joined as a whole.The Babylonians and their predecessors, the Sumerians, also believed in a plurality of heavens and earths. This idea dates back to Sumerian incantations of the 2nd millennium BC, which refers to there being seven heavens and seven earths, linked possibly chronologically to the creation by seven generations of gods.

... 19 solar years is about equal to 235 lunar months, a period relation that perhaps was also known to the Babylonians.


Babylonian numerals

Babylonian numerals (W)


📹 Babylonian numbers 1-9 (VİDEO)

Babylonian numbers 1-9 (LINK)


📹 Babylonian numbers tens & units (VİDEO)

Babylonian numbers tens & units (LINK)



Mathematics in ancient Mesopotamia

Mathematics in ancient Mesopotamia (B)

Ancient number symbols

Mathematics in ancient Mesopotamia (LINK)
Mathematics in ancient Mesopotamia

Until the 1920s it was commonly supposed that mathematics had its birth among the ancient Greeks. What was known of earlier traditions, such as the Egyptian as represented by the Rhind papyrus (edited for the first time only in 1877), offered at best a meagre precedent. This impression gave way to a very different view as historians succeeded in deciphering and interpreting the technical materials from ancient Mesopotamia.

Owing to the durability of the Mesopotamian scribes’ clay tablets, the surviving evidence of this culture is substantial. Existing specimens of mathematics represent all the major eras—the Sumerian kingdoms of the 3rd millennium BCE, the Akkadian and Babylonian regimes (2nd millennium), and the empires of the Assyrians (early 1st millennium), Persians (6th through 4th century BCE), and Greeks (3rd century BCE to 1st century ce). The level of competence was already high as early as the Old Babylonian dynasty, the time of the lawgiver-king Hammurabi (c. 18th century BCE), but after that there were few notable advances. The application of mathematics to astronomy, however, flourished during the Persian and Seleucid (Greek) periods. (LINK)

Mathematical astronomy

The sexagesimal method developed by the Babylonians has a far greater computational potential than what was actually needed for the older problem texts. With the development of mathematical astronomy in the Seleucid period, however, it became indispensable. Astronomers sought to predict future occurrences of important phenomena, such as lunar eclipses and critical points in planetary cycles (conjunctions, oppositions, stationary points, and first and last visibility). They devised a technique for computing these positions (expressed in terms of degrees of latitude and longitude, measured relative to the path of the Sun’s apparent annual motion) by successively adding appropriate terms in arithmetic progression. The results were then organized into a table listing positions as far ahead as the scribe chose. (Although the method is purely arithmetic, one can interpret it graphically: the tabulated values form a linear “zigzag” approximation to what is actually a sinusoidal variation.) While observations extending over centuries are required for finding the necessary parameters (e.g., periods, angular range between maximum and minimum values, and the like), only the computational apparatus at their disposal made the astronomers’ forecasting effort possible.

Within a relatively short time (perhaps a century or less), the elements of this system came into the hands of the Greeks. Although Hipparchus (2nd century BCE) favoured the geometric approach of his Greek predecessors, he took over parameters from the Mesopotamians and adopted their sexagesimal style of computation. Through the Greeks it passed to Arab scientists during the Middle Ages and thence to Europe, where it remained prominent in mathematical astronomy during the Renaissance and the early modern period. To this day it persists in the use of minutes and seconds to measure time and angles.

Aspects of the Old Babylonian mathematics may have come to the Greeks even earlier, perhaps in the 5th century BCE, the formative period of Greek geometry. There are a number of parallels that scholars have noted. For example, the Greek technique of “application of area” (see below Greek mathematics) corresponded to the Babylonian quadratic methods (although in a geometric, not arithmetic, form). Further, the Babylonian rule for estimating square roots was widely used in Greek geometric computations, and there may also have been some shared nuances of technical terminology. Although details of the timing and manner of such a transmission are obscure because of the absence of explicit documentation, it seems that Western mathematics, while stemming largely from the Greeks, is considerably indebted to the older Mesopotamians.




Babylonian mathematics

Babylonian mathematics (W)

Babylonian mathematics (also known as Assyro-Babylonian mathematics) was any mathematics developed or practiced by the people of Mesopotamia, from the days of the early Sumerians to the fall of Babylon in 539 BC. Babylonian mathematical texts are plentiful and well edited. In respect of time they fall in two distinct groups: one from the Old Babylonian period (1830–1531 BC), the other mainly Seleucid from the last three or four centuries BC. In respect of content there is scarcely any difference between the two groups of texts. Babylonian mathematics remained constant, in character and content, for nearly two millennia.

In contrast to the scarcity of sources in Egyptian mathematics, knowledge of Babylonian mathematics is derived from some 400 clay tablets unearthed since the 1850s. Written in Cuneiform script, tablets were inscribed while the clay was moist, and baked hard in an oven or by the heat of the sun. The majority of recovered clay tablets date from 1800 to 1600 BCE, and cover topics that include fractions, algebra, quadratic and cubic equations and the Pythagorean theorem. The Babylonian tablet YBC 7289 gives an approximation to √2 accurate to three significant sexagesimal digits (about six significant decimal digits).


Babylonian numerals

Babylonian numerals (W)

Babylonian numerals were written in cuneiform, using a wedge-tipped reed stylus to make a mark on a soft clay tablet which would be exposed in the sun to harden to create a permanent record.

The Babylonians, who were famous for their astronomical observations and calculations (aided by their invention of the abacus), used a sexagesimal (base-60) positional numeral system inherited from either the Sumerian or the Eblaite civilizations. Neither of the predecessors was a positional system (having a convention for which ‘end’ of the numeral represented the units).


Mesopotamian Medicine

Mesopotamian Medicine (LINK)

Mesopotamian Medicine (LINK)
Mesopotamian Medicine

Mesopotamian medicine has been generally overlooked in the greater discipline of the history of medicine. Perhaps we have Herodotus to thank, in part, for this as he makes very clear his disdain for Babylonian medical practices, claiming they brought their sick to the marketplace to ask passersby what might be done (Histories, I, 197). More significantly however, Mesopotamian medicine has been relatively inaccessible to historians of medicine as there are so few editions of the medical texts (Biggs 1969). As a result there are some misunderstandings about the nature of Mesopotamian medicine, and it has not received the attention that ancient Egyptian or Greek medicine have.

One old misconception was that the Mesopotamians saw all causes of disease as supernatural. It is true that the perceived origin of most illnesses was supernatural, the result of an outside force intruding upon the body whether as the result of divine displeasure, a curse, a demon or witch. However, the Mesopotamians probably did recognize the natural origin of some illnesses such as those caused by food poisoning, drinking too much alcohol, or trauma. They also seem to have understood that some diseases were communicable and even observed the pulse (although did not seem to be an understanding of circulation) (Oppenheim 1962, Biggs 1995). This dichotomy between the supernatural and the natural does not seem to have been a problem for the Mesopotamians, and in fact they would often combine the two in affecting a cure. This can be seen in how the practitioners of medicine worked.

There were two different types of medical practitioners in Mesopotamia, the aszipu and the asuu, who are traditionally seen as having distinct functions in the healing of illness. The asuu (physician) was the therapeutic practitioner, he or she (female practitioners were known) dealt with the physical aspects of curing disease, concocting potions, salves, and tinctures and applying them (or instructing the patient in their application). The aszipu (magician) was always male and dealt with illness from a magical standpoint through the use of omens and incantations. They functioned as exorcists and were members of the clergy (Biggs 1995). It is well known, however, that although maintaining distinct primary functions, the two practitioners probably worked together to a certain extent (Biggs 1995). Hector Avalos (1995) gives a great deal of evidence to show that the two did often work together. For example, an asuu, after examining a patient, might suggest he see the aszipu for further help, or if the physician’s cure was not successful, the magical one was often recommended. Also, the physician would sometimes use incantations or other rituals as part of the application procedure for a medication. Likewise the magician was recorded as having sent patients to the physician for supplemental treatment.

Given the fact that the practitioners of medicine seem to have worked together to a certain extent, how did the medical texts themselves fit into the daily practice of a physician or a magician? The earliest medical text dates to 2000 BC (see The Sources), but it is in the same form as the therapeutic texts a thousand years later. Does this mean that the practice of medicine remained the same for a millennia without change? It is unclear whether the practitioners were all literate, and thus we are not certain to what degree the texts were used as handbooks for medical practice. It is clear that not all the functions of the physician or magician are addressed in the texts. Letters often refer to broken bones and traumatic wounds, but the texts never mention these problems. What the primary purpose of the medical texts was and what developments may have taken place in the field of medicine after the official form of the texts was set is not yet clear (Biggs 1969).

What little information we have specifically regarding the training and education of the physicians comes from two humorous tales, “The Poor Man from Nippur” and “Why Do You Cuss Me?” (Reiner 1964). In the first tale we see the poor man disguise himself as a physician, he is shaved and carries a bag and censer. He claims to be a physician from Isin, which we know to have been the center of Gula the goddess of healing. It was likely that Isin was, therefore, a center for medical training and by claiming to be from Isin the poor man is announcing his expert qualifications (Biggs 1995). In the other tale, however, we see a physician that could not understand spoken Sumerian, suggesting that at least this particular physician’s training was lacking (Reiner 1964). Biggs (1995) states that the title “chief physician” is attested, suggesting that there may have been some sort of professional guild for physicians.

There is even less known about the training of magicians than of physicians. As they probably had to consult the diagnostic texts they may have had extensive scribal training. Several colophons name the magician as the scribe and /or owner of certain medical texts. But whether all magicians were literate it is not known for certain (Biggs 1995).

J. Rashidi





Sumerian Calendar (W)

Ancient Mesopotamian units of measurement (W)

Ancient Mesopotamian units of measurement originated in the loosely organized city-states of Early Dynastic Sumer. Each city, kingdom and trade guild had its own standards until the formation of the Akkadian Empire when Sargon of Akkad issued a common standard. This standard was improved by Naram-Sin, but fell into disuse after the Akkadian Empire dissolved. The standard of Naram-Sin was readopted in the Ur III period by the Nanše Hymn which reduced a plethora of multiple standards to a few agreed upon common groupings. Successors to Sumerian civilization including the Babylonians, Assyrians, and Persians continued to use these groupings. Akkado-Sumerian metrology has been reconstructed by applying statistical methods to compare Sumerian architecture, architectural plans, and issued official standards such as Statue B of Gudeaand the bronze cubit of Nippur.

A series of old Babylonian weights ranging from 1 mina to 3 shekels (W)

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