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Green Defines Numerous Figures

“After the lahmu, the text goes on to prescribe a type whose name is lost in the break but which is to be inscribed “Go out death, come in life!” Rittig has already pointed out, on the basis of figurines from Aššur, that this is the creature called in modern literature the “bull-man.” (F.A.M. Wiggermann […]

Green Identifies the Lahmu and the Ugallu

“Returning to the apotropaic ritual, after the fish-apkallē the text prescribes various kinds of wooden figures which cannot be identified among actual figurines, although some types may, as Dr. Reade suggested, be represented in Assyrian sculpture. These wooden figures end, however, with those of the ugallu, “Great-lion,” of which clay examples do exist. The human-leonine […]

From Anthony Green, Neo-Assyrian Apotropaic Figures, 1983

“From Assyria and Babylonia in the first half of the first millennium BCE comes a series of small figurines in the round and relief plaques, which are usually found beneath the floors of buildings within receptacles of baked or unbaked brick or (at Nineveh) stone slabs or (so far restricted to Aššur) pottery jars; the […]

Eco: Some Ghosts of the Perfect Language

“We have often paused to draw attention to side-effects. Without forced comparisons and without exaggerated claims, it seems permissible at this point to ask informed readers to reconsider various chapters of the history of philosophy, especially those concerning the advent of contemporary logic and linguistic analysis. Would these developments have been possible without the secular […]

Eco: Hypotheses

“By the term “Rosicrucian linguistics” Ormsby-Lennon (1988) indicates a current of thought prevalent in Germany and England in the seventeenth century, whose influences could still be traced in the proposals for the invention of scientific languages by Dalgarno and Wilkins. According to Ormsby-Lennon the Rosicrucians derived their notion of magic language from Jacob Böhme‘s theory […]

Eco: Bruno: Ars Combinatoria & Infinite Worlds, 2

  “Thus this language claimed to be so perfect as to furnish the keys to express relations between things, not only of this world, but of any of the other infinite worlds in their mutual concordance and opposition. Nevertheless, in its semiotic structure, it was little more than an immense lexicon, conveying vague meanings, with […]

Eco: Lullian Kabbalism

“We have now reached a point where we must collect what seem the various membra disiecta of the traditions we have been examining and see how they combined to produce a Lullian revival. We can begin with Pico della Mirandola: he cited Lull in his Apologia of 1487. Pico, of course, would have been aware […]

Eco: New Prospects for the Monogenetic Hypothesis

“Doubting the possibility of obtaining scientific agreement upon an argument whose evidence had been lost in the mists of time, about which nothing but conjectures might be offered, the Société de Linguistique of Paris 1866 decided that it would no longer accept scientific communications on the subject of either universal languages or origins of language. […]

Gane: Applying Black’s Theory of Metaphor

“Composite creatures are found on various cosmic levels. For that reason, Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography, by Wayne Horowitz (1998; rev. 2011), has informed the present study, especially with regard to the “Babylonian Map of the World” and Enuma Elish texts, which mention a significant number of mixed beings found in the Neo-Babylonian iconographic repertoire. (Wayne Horowitz, Mesopotamian […]

Gane: Review of the Literature on Monsters, Demons and gods

“When a monster is associated with an anthropomorphic deity, it operates in the same field of action or part of nature as that of the deity. Whereas the deity functions in the entire domain of his or her rule, the monster’s activity is limited to only part of the god’s realm. Thus, a monster that […]

Gane: A Study of Mischwesen in the Neo-Babylonian Period

“This study investigates the contribution of iconographic depictions of composite beings, commonly referred to by the German term Mischwesen, toward an understanding of the worldview of the Neo-Babylonians. This important aspect of their art provides access, albeit limited, to Babylonian ideology. Unlike previous scholarly treatments of Mesopotamian supernatural hybrids, this study focuses on all extant, […]

Gane: Composite Beings in Neo-Babylonian Art

“An examination of all the extant, provenanced depictions of composite beings, Mischwesen, in Neo-Babylonian (NB) iconography sheds important new light on the worldview of the last great Mesopotamian civilization. The types of hybrids that are portrayed include such disparate forms as the apkallu and the genius in human form, as well as creatures based on […]

Selz: Enoch Derives from 3d Millennium BCE Mesopotamia

” … [He who saw the deep, the] foundation of the country, who knew [the secrets], was wise in everything! … he saw the secret and uncovered the hidden, he brought back a message from the antediluvian age.” From the introduction to the Gilgamesh Epic, A.R. George, The Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic: Introduction, Critical Edition and […]

Kvanvig: Dates the apkallu to the Beginning of the 1st Millennium BCE

“Most of the sources we have to these imaginations developed around the apkallus are Assyrian. This does not, however, mean that the imaginations only belonged to Assyrian mythology. Of the three lists of the apkallus known, two are Babylonian, and Bīt Mēseri was known in Babylonia. The most extensive description of their role we find […]

Kvanvig: On the Correspondences Between Antediluvian Myths

Is Anu never portrayed in Mesopotamian art?

Kvanvig: Divine Origin of Antediluvian Texts

“Enuma Elish was written to promote Marduk as the head of the pantheon, reflecting the position of Babylon at the end of the second millennium. This was a new invention in Mesopotamian theology. To promote this new theology the author added a postscript in which he claims a divine origin for his work: “This is […]

Kvanvig: Assurbanipal Studied Inscriptions on Stone from Before the Flood

“The first thing to notice is the strange expression salmīšunu, “their images.” The pronoun refers back to the primeval ummanus / apkallus. They had “images,” created by Ea on earth. A line from Bīt Mēseri sheds light on the issue. šiptu šipat Marduk āšipu salam Marduk “The incantation is the incantation of Marduk, the āšipu […]

Kvanvig: The mīs pî and pīt pî Rituals of Mouth Washing and Mouth Opening

“The āšipū did not only expel demons; they had one more important duty that they performed together with other specialists, the bārû, “haruspex / diviner” and the kalû, “lamentation chanter.” They had the primary responsibility for consecration of the divine statue. In this duty they performed ina šipir apkalli, according to the “task” or “office” […]

Kvanvig: The Maqlû Ritual Against Witchcraft

Wrestling with the WordPress Visual Editor–tags and categories are coming, as soon as I make this all look right. I appreciate your patience.

Kvanvig: The ilū mušīti Are the Stars of the Night

“How the actual connection between the earthly exorcist and his heavenly counterpart was imagined is vividly portrayed on an Assyrian bronze tablet from the first millennium. The image depicts the universe of an ill man. In the basement lurks the demon Lamaštu, ready to attack; in the upper room are divine figures supporting the heavens, […]

Kvanvig: On Šēp lemutti, Averting Evil

“The apkallus were also an essential part of the composition Šēp lemutti. The composition starts by defining the purpose of the ritual as to avert evil from the house. Then the text prescribes the types of figures to be fashioned and buried at set locations in the house. This section contains a long passage describing […]

Dalley: Apkallu-7, IDD 2011

Iconography of Deities and Demons (IDD).  Apkallu (continued). Sources. Chronological Range. “All three types begin to appear in the late 2nd millennium. Some possible antecedents are noted by GREEN (1993-97: 252; see also nos. 66-70 belonging to the early Atlantid series, which MATTHEWS 1990: 109 dates to the 14th century). They could, however, have had […]

Dalley: Apkallu-6, IDD 2011

Iconography of Deities and Demons (IDD). Apkallu (continued).  Type 3 Bird-of-Prey-Headed Apkallu, Problematic Identifications.  “The three types are identified from ritual texts and labels on figurines, but because the evidence is uncommon and sometimes ambiguous there are uncertainties. Change over time may also account for some difficulties. Some overlap in the iconography with Tiamat’s composite […]

Dalley: Apkallu-4, IDD 2011

Iconography of Deities and Demons (IDD).  Apkallu (continued). Type 2 Fish-cloaked Apkallu, Phenotypes. “The fish-cloak Apkallu (12*, 33*–35, 40–66), a human figure wearing a fish-cloak suspended from the top of his head and with the head of a fish on top of his human head, corresponds to Berossos’ description of the first sage, Oannes. He […]

Dalley: Apkallu, IDD 2011

Iconography of Deities and Demons (IDD). Apkallu. “Mesopotamian semi-divine figure. A Babylonian tradition related by Berossos in the 3rd cent. (BURSTEIN 1978: 13f) describes a creature called Oannes that rose up out of the Red Sea in the first year of man’s history. His entire body was that of a fish, but he had another […]

Kvanvig: The Apkallus as Protective Spirits

“The apkallus are especially known from two incantation rituals: the one is Bīt Mēseri, as already stated; the other is called: šēp lemutti ina bit amēli parāsu, “to block the foot of evil into a man’s house” (KAR 298). The two incantation series have a different scope. Bīt Mēseri prescribes the procedures to be performed […]

Kvanvig: Berossos and Primeval History

“Berossos does not only list the sages in succession. He is especially interesting because of the information he gives about the first sage, Oannes, who parallels Uan in the two other lists. Berossos’ account is here so noteworthy that we quote it as a whole: “In Babylonia there was a large number of people of […]

Nakamura: the āšipu was Master of the Figurines

“There is a sense here of Derrida’s (1994) autonomous automaton, the animate puppet with a will of its own that yet obeys some predetermined program. By containing, concealing, and hiding these magical figures, the priest has made his mastery of their power complete.”

Nakamura: The Figurines as Magical Objects

“While such apotropaic figures appear in grand scale and idealized form on wall reliefs flanking entrances of kingly palaces purifying all who passed through the gates, the figures standing guard in floor deposits performed an additional task.”

Nakamura: Humans Make Up the gods Who Make Them

“The creation of powerful supernatural beings in diminutive clay form mimes the divine creation of being from primordial clay. But this figurine work enacts an idealized relation between the human and divine such that the mimetic act establishes a double appropriation. Through mimesis, the āšipu appropriates the divine power of creation by making copies of […]

Nakamura: The Common Terrain Shared by Myth and Iconography

“After this “enlivening,” the āšipu then molds this clay into various figures of power and protection, in effect reenacting the divine creation of humans from the clay of the apsû, the primordial underground freshwater ocean. (Similar narratives of the creation of humankind reiterate a trope of the divine formation of being from clay. In the […]

Nakamura–Rimbaud’s Derangement of All the Senses, Magic, and Archeology

“Curiously, archaeological research has not fully exploited the evocative cooperation between text, iconography, material, and deposition in this apotropaic practice. Rather, it has been the art historical and Assyriological traditions that have provided the most thorough deliberations on the ritual. Iconographic analyses present detailed visual descriptions of the figurines (Klengel-Brandt 1968; Rittig 1977; Van Buren […]

Figurines Excavated from the Burnt Palace and Fort Shalmaneser

The most expansive text prescribing the types of figurines is the Aššur ritual KAR, no. 298. After defining the purpose of the ritual as to avert evil from the house, the text begins to prescribe the types of figures to be fashioned and buried at set locations. It begins with a long passage prescribing wooden […]

Lahmu, “The Hairy One,” is Not Apkallu

“The Babylonian scientific and religious texts reveal the names of over three thousand gods and demons, members of local and national pantheons. Most, if not all, play a part in cult or magic, and must have been represented in some form. Gods and demons, cult and magic, are the main subjects of Babylonian art, but generally […]

Editorial Note on the Apkallu and the Roadmap Ahead

I am breaking the narrative stream to speak directly to the process emerging from our reading on the apkallū, the antediluvian and postdiluvian sages of ancient Mesopotamia. If you are reading along over my shoulder, you noticed that we digressed from Martin Lang, “Mesopotamian Early History and the Flood Story,” in a post titled On the Date of the Flood. Martin […]

On the Apkallu

“During the course of the years studying and teaching the Primeval History as recorded in the literary texts of ancient Mesopotamia, this writer has been struck by certain similarities between the Akkadian apkallu (Sumerian algal / NUN.ME / EN.ME), creatures of the god Ea, the “sages of old,” and the biblical nēpīlîm of Genesis 6 […]

The World Tree of Eridu

“But the primitive home of Tammuz had been in that “garden” of Edin, or Eden, which Babylonian tradition placed in the immediate vicinity of Eridu. The fragment of an old bilingual hymn has been preserved, which begins in the following way : 1. “(In) Eridu a stalk grew over-shadowing; in a holy place did it […]

Trinities versus Male-Female Dualism

“The early importance and supremacy of Erech in Semitic Babylonia caused its god to assume a place by the side of Ea of Eridu and Mul-lil, the older Bel. It is possible that the extension of his cult had already begun in Accadian days. The Ana, or Sky-god, to whom Gudea at Tel-loh erected a […]

On Dagon, Anu, Ishtar

In the Assyrian inscriptions Anu is coupled with Dagan, “the exalted one,” whose female consort seems to have been Dalas or Salas. Thus Assur-natsir-pal calls himself “the beloved of Anu and Dagon;” and Sargon asserts that he “had extended his protection over the city of Harran, and, according to the ordinance of Anu and Dagon, had written down their […]

Lady Ishtar

“Ishtar was frequently placed by the side of Asshur as a war-goddess. Ere she left the plains of Babylonia for the uplands of Assyria she had evinced certain bellicose propensities. In the Gilgamesh epic she appears as a deity of destructive and spiteful character, if not actually of warlike nature. But if the Babylonians regarded […]

Diorite Statues

“The land of Magána was already known to the inhabitants of Babylonia. The earliest Chaldaean monuments yet discovered are those which have been excavated at Tel-loh in southern Chaldaea by a Frenchman, M. de Sarzec, and are now deposited in the Louvre. Some of them go back almost to the very beginnings of Chaldaean art […]

Myths of Tammuz and Ishtar

“The myth of Tammuz is one of high antiquity, dating possibly from 4000 b.c. or even earlier. Both Tammuz and Ishtar were originally non-Semitic, the name of the former deity being derived from the Akkadian Dumu-zi, ‘son of life,’ or ‘the only son,’ perhaps a contraction of Dumu-zi-apsu, ‘offspring of the spirit of the deep,’ […]

Parallels Between the Enuma Elish and Genesis

“The close relation existing between the Babylonian account of the Creation and the narrative in Genesis i, 1-11, 4a has been recognized from the time of the first discovery of the former, 1 and the old and new points of resemblance between them may here be briefly discussed. According to each account the existence of a watery chaos […]

Sumerian Sacred Stories, c. 3500 BCE

” … it is quite as obvious that for the history of the progress of our civilization as we see and know it today, it is the tone and temper, the word and spirit of the ancient mythologies, those of the Greeks and Hebrews, of the Hindus and Iranians, of the Babylonians and Egyptians, which […]

On the Literature of Ancient Sumer

” … Now let us compare this date with that of the various ancient literatures known to us at present. In Egypt, for example, one might have expected an ancient written literature commensurate with its high cultural development. And, indeed, to judge from the pyramid inscriptions, the Egyptians in all probability did have a well […]

Destruction of Sennacherib

According to Berosus, the Babylonian priestly historian, the camp of Sennacherib was visited in the night by swarms of field mice which ate up the quivers and bows and the (leather) handles of shields. Next morning the army fled. The Biblical account of the disaster is as follows: And it came to pass that night, that the angel […]

The Water of Life

” … In the mythical histories of Alexander the Great, the hero searches for the Water of Life, and is confronted by a great mountain called Musas (Mashti). A demon stops him and says; “O king, thou art not able to march through this mountain, for in it dwelleth a mighty god who is like unto a monster serpent, […]

Comparative Mythology

” … Of special interest in this connection are the resemblances between some of the Indian and Babylonian myths. The writer has drawn upon that “great storehouse” of ancient legends, the voluminous Indian epic, the Mahabharata, and it is shown that there are undoubted links between the Garuda eagle myths and those of the Sumerian Zu bird and the Etana […]

What was the Third Image?

” … In this shrine are placed the statues, one of which is Hera, the other Zeus, though they call him by another name. Both of these are golden, both are sitting; Hera is supported by lions, Zeus is sitting on bulls. The effigy of Zeus recalls Zeus in all its details—his head, his robes, […]

The Mystery of the Third Gate

” … But what is of special interest to us is the treatment meted out to the Christian Mystics, whom Hippolytus stigmatizes as heretics, and whose teaching he deliberately asserts to be simply that of the Pagan Mysteries. He had come into possession of a secret document belonging to one of these sects, whom he […]