Sacred prostitution, temple prostitution, cult prostitution, and religious prostitution are general terms for a rite consisting of paid intercourse performed in the context of religious worship, possibly as a form of fertility rite or divine marriage (hieros gamos).Scholars prefer the terms "sacred sex" or "sacred sexual rites" in cases where payment for services is not involved. Unlike followers of Mesopotamian religion, the Egyptians had a strong belief in the afterlife, which they expressed by building elaborate tombs such as the pyramids. This reflects an interaction and a relationship between the worshipper and the god and is something that has also been adopted by monotheistic religions as well. He was annually elected by lot and was responsible for the economic administration of the city, which included the power to detain people and confiscate property.  His presence was symbolized by an image of the god in a separate room. There was increasing syncretism between the Sumerian and Akkadian cultures and deities, with the Akkadians typically preferring to worship fewer deities but elevating them to greater positions of power. No matter the version of the story, the man who survives the flood, whether Atrahasis, Zi-ud-sura, or Utnapishtim, is granted immortality by the gods. Upon hearing that his position in life did not matter in the underworld, Gilgamesh is terrified and seeks out Utnapishtim, who has achieved immortality after surviving the flood sent by the gods to wipe out humanity. One of the most notable goddesses was the Sumerian sex and war deity Inanna. L’archéologie de l’empire achéménide (Paris, France), Learn how and when to remove this template message, "Ancient cultic area for warrior-god uncovered in Iraq", "Ancient Mesopotamian Beliefs in the Afterlife", Comprehensive list of Mesopotamian gods (Ancient History Encyclopedia), List of religions and spiritual traditions, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ancient_Mesopotamian_religion&oldid=994565177, Short description is different from Wikidata, Articles lacking in-text citations from June 2015, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, Revelation 17:5: "And upon her forehead was a name written, mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth,", Revelation 18:9: "The kings of the earth who committed fornication and lived luxuriously with her will weep and lament for her, when they see the smoke of her burning, standing at a distance for fear of her torment, saying, 'Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city!  In the Epic of Creation, dated to 1200 BC, it explains that the god Marduk killed the mother goddess Tiamat and used half her body to create the earth, and the other half to create both the paradise of šamû and the netherworld of irṣitu. Modern understanding of Mesopotamian mythology has been provided through archeological excavations of West Asia and the recovery of many stone and clay tablets, some of which contained the records of many myths. Dictionary of the Ancient Near East published by the British Museum in London has beautifully summarised the Mesopotamian concept of god:-“ The gods of the Ancient Near Eastern peoples, in historical times, were almost without exception anthropomorphic, male or female. Bibliography The Holy Quran. Assyria, having been the dominant power in the region with the Old Assyrian Empire between the 20th and 18th centuries BC before the rise of Hammurabi, once more became a major power with the Middle Assyrian Empire (1391–1050 BC). Mesopotamia: The term Mesopotamia basically refers to the Tigris-Euphrates river system. , Mesopotamian religion was polytheistic, thereby accepting the existence of many different deities, both male and female, though it was also henotheistic, with certain gods being viewed as superior to others by their specific devotees. Stories like these can be found in many different cultures around the world, and often give insight into the values of those societies.  Man was believed to have been created to serve the gods, or perhaps wait on them: the god is lord (belu) and man is servant or slave (ardu), and was to fear (puluhtu) the gods and have the appropriate attitude towards them. Punishment came through sickness or misfortune, which inevitably lead to the common reference to unknown sins, or the idea that one can transgress a divine prohibition without knowing it—psalms of lamentation rarely mention concrete sins. When they get too be too numerous, loud, or otherwise bothersome, the gods attempt to control the population through plagues, droughts, and most famously, the great flood.  The temple itself was constructed of mud brick in the form of a ziggurat, which rose to the sky in a series of stairstep stages. Adapa was summoned to be judged by An, and before he left Enki warned him not to eat or drink anything offered to him. The concept, also found in the ancient Mesopotamian religions, can be found in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam ; a similar concept is also … Some time after this period, the Sumerians disappeared, becoming wholly absorbed into the Akkadian-speaking population. The Sumerian god Enki was later also adopted by the Akkadians, initially under his original name, and later as Éa. The son of Enlil and Ninlil, he was the god of thunder and of the spring rains and floods as well as the god of the plow. Mesopotamian religion, the beliefs and practices of the Sumerians and Akkadians, and their successors, the Babylonians and Assyrians, who inhabited ancient Mesopotamia (now in Iraq) in the millennia before the Christian era. This piece was thought to be recited in a ritual celebration of the Babylonian new year. During the Parthian Empire there was a major revival in Assyria (known as Athura and Assuristan) between the 2nd century BC and 4th century CE, with temples once more being dedicated to gods such as Ashur, Sin, Shamash, Hadad and Ishtar in independent Neo-Assyrian states such as Assur, Adiabene, Osroene, Beth Garmai, Hatra and Beth Nuhadra. In time, Ashur was promoted from being the local deity of Assur to the overlord of the vast Assyrian domain, which spread from the Caucasus and Armenia in the north to Egypt, Nubia and the Arabian Peninsula in the south, and from Cyprus and the eastern Mediterranean Sea in the west to central Iran in the east. In the 3rd century CE another native Mesopotamian religion flourished, Manicheanism, which incorporated elements of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Zoroastrianism, as well as local Mesopotamian elements. Be helpful, do good", Ethno-linguistic group(s) indigenous to the, Effect of Assyrian religious beliefs on its political structure, Curtis, John (November 2003). Mesopotamia had a Sumerian and a Babylonian version. The ruler presided over the assembly and carried out its decisions. Stories such as the Adapa myth resignedly relate that, due to a blunder, all men must die and that true everlasting life is the sole property of the gods. Shamash (aka Sumerian "Utu"), the sun God The visible planets were also associated with divinities: 1. Incense was also burned before the image, because it was thought that the gods enjoyed the smell. The Mesopotamian pantheon evolved greatly over the course of its history. Judaism was not a total break with the past. Adapa was a Sumerian citizen who was blessed by the god Enki with immeasurable intelligence. Davis, A. H. (2007). Amulets were occasionally used, and sometimes a special priest or exorcist (āšipu or mašmašu) was required. 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. During this period the Syriac language and Syriac script evolved in Assyria, and were centuries later to be the vehicle for the spread of Syriac Christianity throughout the near east. The Akkadian Empire endured for two centuries before collapsing due to economic decline, internal strife and attacks from the north east by the Gutian people. Worship was conducted in his name throughout the lands dominated by the Assyrians. As well as traditional Syriac folk music, many heavy metal bands have named themselves after Mesopotamian gods and historical figures, including the partly Assyrian band Melechesh. The religion of the Assyrian Empire (sometimes called Ashurism) centered on Ashur, patron deity of the city of Assur, and Ishtar, patroness of Nineveh. These versions were written in different languages, including Akkadian, Sumerian, and Old Babylonian, and were often translated from one to another, leading to further inconsistencies due to the inherently imperfect nature of these translations. The Akkadian-speaking Semites are believed to have entered the region at some point between 3500 BC and 3000 BC, with Akkadian names first appearing in the regnal lists of these states c. 29th century BC. Other theories treat the tower as an image of the cosmic mountain where a dying and rising god "lay buried." Babylonia was dissolved as an entity during the Parthian Empire, though Assyria endured as a geo-political entity until the 7th century AD Arab Islamic conquest. During the first phase, starting in the fourth millennium BC, deities' domains mainly focused on basic needs for human survival. She was also a representation of the crafts of war and combat. But both Mesopotamians and Egyptians had flood myths. Deities, characters, and their actions within myths changed in character and importance over time, and occasionally depicted different, sometimes even contrasting images or concepts. Following a brief Sumerian revival with the Third Dynasty of Ur or Neo-Sumerian Empire, Mesopotamia broke up into a number of Akkadian states. Immortality is also touched on in the myth of Adapa. :78 The worship of Inanna/Ishtar, which was prevalent in Mesopotamia could involve wild, frenzied dancing and bloody ritual celebrations of social and physical abnormality.  Assyria and Babylonia later became provinces under the Parthian Empire (Athura and province of Babylonia), Rome (province of Assyria) and Sassanid Empire (province of Asuristan). Each Mesopotamian city, whether Sumerian, Akkadian, Babylonian or Assyrian, had its own patron god or goddess.  Unlike Christian Hell, the Mesopotamians considered the underworld neither a punishment nor a reward.  It was believed that the gods expressed their will through "words" (amatu) and "commandments" (qibitu) which were not necessarily spoken, but were thought to manifest in the unfolding routine of events and things. A weakened Assyria was then subject to combined attacks by a coalition of hitherto vassals, in the form of the Babylonians, Chaldeans, Medes, Scythians, Persians, Sagartians and Cimmerians beginning in 616 BC. Duties seem to have been primarily of a cultic and ritual nature, although some prayers express a positive psychological relationship, or a sort of conversion experience in regard to a god. By historical times they resided in southern Mesopotamia, which was known as Sumer (and much later, Babylonia), and had considerable influence on the Akkadian speakers and their culture. " While Mesopotamian religion had almost completely died out by approximately 400–500 CE after its indigenous adherents had largely become Assyrian Christians, it has still had an influence on the modern world, predominantly because many biblical stories that are today found in Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Mandaeism were possibly based upon earlier Mesopotamian myths, in particular that of the creation myth, the Garden of Eden, the flood myth, the Tower of Babel, figures such as Nimrod and Lilith and the Book of Esther.  Once constructed, idols were consecrated through special nocturnal rituals where they were given "life", and their mouth "was opened" (pet pî) and washed (mes pî) so they could see and eat. One of their prominent features was a terrifying brightness (melammu) which surrounded them, producing an immediate reaction of awe and reverence among men.  Sometimes an attempt was made to capture a demon by making an image of it, placing it above the head of a sick person, then destroying the image, which the demon was somehow likely to inhabit. However, the last king of Babylonia, Nabonidus, an Assyrian, paid little attention to politics, preferring to worship the lunar deity Sin, leaving day-to-day rule to his son Belshazzar. It also contains the earliest reference to The Great Flood. It spanned several civilizations; from Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian, and … ", Mesopotamian temples were originally built to serve as dwelling places for the god, who was thought to reside and hold court on earth for the good of the city and kingdom. The religion of the Neo-Assyrian Empire centered around the Assyrian king as the king of their lands as well. Assyria had evolved during the 25th century BC, and asserted itself in the north circa 2100 BC in the Old Assyrian Empire and southern Mesopotamia fragmented into a number of kingdoms, the largest being Isin, Larsa and Eshnunna. Adapa’s accidental refusal to eat the food of immortality offered to him by the gods is used as an explanation for the fact that humans die. In the fourth millennium BC, the first evidence for what is recognisably Mesopotamian religion can be seen with the invention in Mesopotamia of writing circa 3500 BC. The earliest record of myth of Adapa is from the 14th century. Also common in Mesopotamian myths is the reoccurring concept that humanity’s purpose is to serve the gods.  Generally the reward to mankind is described as success and long life. Nonetheless, modern scholars have examined various accounts, and created what is believed to be an at least partially accurate depiction of Mesopotamian cosmology. In Mesopotamian religion, the city god of Girsu. It was this land, known alternately as Arallû, Ganzer or Irkallu, the latter of which meant "Great Below", that it was believed everyone went to after death, irrespective of social status or the actions performed during life. He was not referred to with the usual Akkadian term for "king", šarrum; that was instead reserved for the city's patron deity Ashur, of whom the ruler was the high priest. It was rarely ruled by native dynasties throughout its history. The focus of the narrative is on praising Marduk, the patron god of Babylon, who creates the world, the calendar, and humanity. There are many different accounts of the creation of the earth from the Mesopotamian region. According to this theory the religions of the Near East were rooted in Babylonian astral science- including the Hebrew Bible and Judaism. , In the New Testament Book of Revelation, Babylonian religion is associated with religious apostasy of the lowest order, the archetype of a political/religious system heavily tied to global commerce, and it is depicted as a system which, according to the author, continued to hold sway in the first century CE, eventually to be utterly annihilated. In this context, the flood story and other constructs … In particular the societies of Sumer, Akkad, and Assyria, all of which existed shortly after 3000 BCE and were mostly gone by 400 CE.  There were countless ways to divine the future, such as observing oil dropped into a cup of water (lecanomancy), observing the entrails of sacrificial animals (extispicy), observation of the behavior of birds (augury) and observing celestial and meteorological phenomena (astrology), as well as through interpretation of dreams. During the Neo-Assyrian Empire, Mesopotamian Aramaic became the lingua franca of the empire, and also Mesopotamia proper. , There was a strong belief in demons in Mesopotamia, and private individuals, like the temple priests, also participated in incantations (šiptu) to ward them off. The Sumerians regarded their divinities as responsible for all matters pertaining to the natural and social orders.  Examples of this include not alienating and causing dissension between friends and relatives, setting innocent prisoners free, being truthful, being honest in trade, respecting boundary lines and property rights, and not putting on airs with subordinates. And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more...", This page was last edited on 16 December 2020, at 11:03. As with other deities, the personal gods changed over time and little is known about early practice as they are rarely named or described. Sacrificial meals were also set out regularly, with a sacrificial animal seen as a replacement (pūhu) or substitute (dinānu) for a man, and it was considered that the anger of the gods or demons was then directed towards the sacrificial animal. It was believed that "nothing is prohibited to Inanna", and that by depicting transgressions of normal human social and physical limitations, including traditional gender definition, one could cross over from the "conscious everyday world into the trance world of spiritual ecstasy. In religious or mythological cosmology, the seven heavens refer to seven levels or divisions of the Heavens (Heaven). This brought to an end over 3,000 years of Semitic Mesopotamian dominance of the Near East. 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 myth begins with humans being created by the mother goddess Mami to lighten the gods’ workload. 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. According to the Mesopotamian creation myth, the Enuma Elish, (meaning,'When on High') life began after an epic struggle between the elder gods and the younger. The Achaemenid Empire conquered the Neo-Babylonian Empire in 539 BC, after which the Chaldeans disappeared from history, although Mesopotamian people, culture and religion continued to endure after this. Rather, Mesopotamian religion was a consi… The ruler himself was only designated as "steward of Assur" (iššiak Assur), where the term for steward is a borrowing from Sumerian ensí. Enki and later Nabu was associated with the planet Mercury 2. : 3–4. The myth possibly has Assyrian roots, as a fragmented version may have been found in the library of Ashusbanipal, though translations remain unsure. Occasionally, the king shared in these meals, and the priests may have had some share in the offerings as well. The fundamental tenets of Panbabylonism were eventually dismissed as pseudoscientific, however Assyriologists and biblical scholars recognize the influence of Babylonian mythology on Jewish mythology and other Near Eastern mythologies, albeit indirect. , There are no specific written records explaining Mesopotamian religious cosmology that survive today. Assyrian kings are attested from the late 25th century BC and dominated northern Mesopotamia and parts of eastern Anatolia and northeast Syria. […] known about the old Persian polytheism. 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.  A document from a similar period stated that the universe was a spheroid, with three levels of šamû, where the gods dwelt, and where the stars existed, above the three levels of earth below it. The Middle Assyrian Empire at its height stretched from the Caucasus to modern Bahrain and from Cyprus to western Iran. Religion played a role in the rise of the Mesopotamian city-state, and the religion's reliance on the stars to foretell events led to important developments in mathematics.  Though the full number of gods and goddesses found in Mesopotamia is not known, K. Tallqvist, in his Akkadische Götterepitheta (1938) counted around two thousand four hundred that we now know about, most of which had Sumerian names. In the 3rd millennium BC objects of worship were personified and became an expansive cast of divinities with particular functions. What is known about Mesopotamian religion comes from archaeological evidence uncovered in the region, particularly numerous literary sources, which are usually written in Sumerian, Akkadian (Assyro-Babylonian) or Aramaic using cuneiform script on clay tablets and which describe both mythology and cultic practices. Enkidu says: On entering the House of Dust, In this manner, the king's authority was seen as absolute so long as the high priest reassured the peoples that the gods, or in the case of the henotheistic Assyrians, the god, was pleased with the current ruler. This and the fact that the Persians and Medes to the east were growing in power now that the might of Assyria that had held them in vassalage for centuries was gone, spelt the death knell for native Mesopotamian power. If you have any suggestions, questions or need help please feel free to contact us.  In many cases, the various deities were family relations of one another, a trait found in many other polytheistic religions. Mesopotamian religion is thought to have been an influence on subsequent religions throughout the world, including Canaanite, Aramean, and ancient Greek. The Spiritual Life © 2020. the major difference must have been fire worship and construction of the temples. Their personal god received a great deal of their worship time and attention. Indus civilization, the earliest known urban culture of the Indian subcontinent. This is further complicated by the fact that scholars are not entirely certain what role religious texts played in the Mesopotamian world.. Those two religions have nothing to do with Hinduism, except they are all religions. Hinduism and Mesopotamian religion both dating back to a few thousand years ago, are few of the ancient religions on the planet having a lot of mysteries and secrets about the creation and evolution of the universe, also creation of mankind and activities on earth in ancient past. A Sumerian list of around 560 deities that did this was uncovered at Farm and Tell Abû Ṣalābīkh and dated to circa 2600 BC, ranking five primary deities as being of particular importance. This theory of a Babylonian-derived Bible originated from the discovery of a stele in the acropolis of Susa bearing a Babylonian flood myth with many similarities to the flood of Genesis, the Epic of Gilgamesh. , The king was thought, in theory, to be the religious leader (enu or šangū) of the cult and exercised a large number of duties within the temple, with a large number of specialists whose task was to mediate between men and gods: a supervising or "watchman" priest (šešgallu), priests for individual purification against demons and magicians (āšipu), priests for the purification of the temple (mašmašu), priests to appease the wrath of the gods with song and music (kalū), as well as female singers (nāru), male singers (zammeru), craftsmen (mārē ummāni), swordbearers (nāš paṭri), masters of divination (bārû), penitents (šā'ilu), and others. She made them out of a mixture of clay, flesh, and blood from a slain god. The god's presence within the image seems to have been thought of in a very concrete way, as instruments for the presence of the deity. , Every man also had duties to his fellow man which had some religious character, particularly the king's duties to his subjects. 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. Ishtar was a… In particular the societies of Sumer, Akkad, and Assyria, all of which existed shortly after 3000 BCE and were mostly gone by 400 CE. , The Mesopotamian gods bore many similarities with humans, and were anthropomorphic, thereby having humanoid form. In general, the history of Mesopotamian religion can be divided into four phases. 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