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Boaz and Jachin, and Pillars of Emerald and Gold in the Temple of Melkarth in Herodotus

“Within the last few years, bas-reliefs have been found in Sicily and Tunisia representing persons in the act of adoration before a small triad of stone. We are here on Phoenician territory, and it is not strange therefore that classical writers should speak of the βαίτυλοι or Beth-els, the meteoric stones which had fallen from heaven like “the image” of Artemis at Ephesos, […]

Herodotus and Strabo on Babylonian Temple Prostitution

“There are two other “historic” accounts of sexual activities in and around the Babylonian temples, both of which have unduly influenced modern historians. One was written by the Greek historian Herodotus in the fifth century B.C. and purports to describe religious prostitution in the temple of the Goddess Mylitta; the other was written by the […]

Herodotus on E-Sagila

“181. This wall then which I have mentioned is as it were a cuirass for the town, and another wall runs round within it, not much weaker for defence than the first but enclosing a smaller space. And in each division of the city was a building in the midst, in the one the king’s […]

Herodotus on the Glory of Babylon

“The rise of Babylon inaugurated a new era in the history of Western Asia. [ … ] Considerable wealth had accumulated at Babylon when the Dynasty of Ur reached the zenith of its power. It is recorded that King Dungi plundered its famous “Temple of the High Head,” E-sagila, which some identify with the Tower of Babel, so as to […]

Eco: Conventionalism, Epicureanism and Polygenesis, 2

“During these same years, thinkers also returned to reflect upon an older suggestion by Epicurus, who, in a letter to Herodotus, gave his opinion that the names of things were not  originally due to convention; human beings themselves had rather created them from their own natures. Those of differing tribes, “under the impulse of special […]

Eco: Dante and Abulafia, 2

“Yet could Dante have known the theories of Abulafia? Abulafia visited Italy on several occasions: he was in Rome in 1260; he remained on the peninsula until 1271, when he returned to Barcelona; he returned to Rome in 1280 with the project of converting the pope. He journeyed afterwards to Sicily, where we lose trace […]

Umberto Eco: Search for the Perfect Language

This book by Umberto Eco is available in one eBook format via The Open Library.

Lending of that book is controlled using Adobe Digital Editions.

Excerpts published on Samizdat fall under Fair Use provisions.

Babylon, Fallen

“Although in all the articles and discussions concerning cultic prostitution the preeminence of Babylon as the “mother of harlots” is never mentioned; it is an unarticulated assumption underlying their arguments. “The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet and glittered with gold and jewels and pearls, and she was holding a gold winecup filled with […]

Sacred Prostitution is an Amalgam of Misconceptions

“If prostitution is defined as occurring outside the cultural bounds of controlled sexuality, then controlled coitus within the sacred sphere is not prostitution. The existence of the so-called sacred marriage ritual during which ritual intercourse seems to have been performed once a year during the New Year’s festival in the latter half of the third […]

Controversy Over Sacred Prostitution in Mesopotamia

“Having proved that neither the   nor the qadištu nor the nu-gig are to be reckoned as sacred prostitutes, it remains necessary to prove that there was no such institution as sacred prostitution in Mesopotamia in spite of its widespread reputation among scholars, to which I would like to return in the conclusion. Their investigations are […]

Temple of Bel, Temple of Marduk, Temple of Babylon, E-Sagila

“He says of it: “Ka-khilibu, the gate of glory, as well as the gate of E-Zida within E-Sagila, I made as brilliant as the sun. The holy seats, the place of the gods who determine destiny, which is the place of the assembly (of the gods), the holy of holies of the gods of destiny, […]

E-Sagila, The Great Temple of Bel in Babylon

The temple or “tomb”of Bêlos, as it was also called by the Greeks, was one of the wonders of the world. Hêrodotos, quoting probably from an earlier author, describes it in the following terms : “The temple of Zeus Bêlos,with bronze gates which remained up to my time, was a square building two furlongs every way. […]

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The View of Babylon at the Near End of History

“The influence and prestige of Mesopotamia ensured that its myths, legends, and history were widely disseminated in the Near East and beyond. Many elements of Assyrian and Babylonian legal institutions and laws, science, astronomy, mathematics and medicine, calendar and the division of time, as well as magical and ritual beliefs and practices such as divination […]

Semiramis was Legendary, Mythical, and Real

“It was through the researches of Professor Lehmann-Haupt of Berlin that the true personal significance of Semiramis was recovered. Until the year 1910 the legends of Diodorus and others were held to have been completely disproved and Semiramis was regarded as a purely mythical figure. Old Bryant in his Antient Mythology, published at the beginning of […]

Mesopotamian Religion is Undefinable

“Mesopotamian religion includes certain beliefs and practices of the Sumerians, Akkadians, Assyrians, Babylonians and other peoples who lived at various times in different parts of ancient Mesopotamia, the region corresponding roughly to modern Iraq, from the fourth through the first millennia BCE. The history and cultures of these peoples were mostly forgotten during the early […]

Mother Goddess of Love, Goddess of War

” … The oldest cult of the mother goddess, so far as our material goes, appears indeed to have been in Uruk where she is known as Nana, but we may be quite sure that the cult was never limited to one place. The special place which Nana has in the old Babylonian pantheon is […]

I.P. Cory on Egypt, the Basest of Kingdoms

” … The Laterculus or Canon of the Kings of Thebes, was compiled from the archives of that city, by Eratosthenes, the librarian of Ptolemæus Philadelphus. It is followed by the Old Egyptian Chronicle, with a Latin version of the same, from the Excerpta Barbara, and another from the Armenian Chronicle of Eusebius: they contain […]

The Legends of Queen Semiramis

The legends of Semiramis indicate that Sammu-rammat was associated like Queen Tiy with the revival of mother worship. As we have said, she went down to tradition as the daughter of the fish goddess, Derceto. Pliny identified that deity with Atargatis of Hierapolis. In Babylonia the fish goddess was Nina, a developed form of Damkina, spouse of Ea of Eridu. […]

Marriage Babylonian Style

” Of special interest are the laws which relate to the position of women. In this connection reference may first be made to the marriage-by-auction custom, which Herodotus described as follows: “Once a year in each village the maidens of age to marry were collected all together into one place, while the men stood round them in […]

Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Temple of E-sagila, Bel Merodach, Tower of Babel

” … In Greek times Babylon was famous for the hanging or terraced gardens of the “new palace,” which had been erected by Nebuchadnezzar II. These occupied a square which was more than a quarter of a mile in circumference. Great stone terraces, resting on arches, rose up like a giant stairway to a height of about three […]

Desecration of the Dead, Depredations of the Dead

” … Sometimes the bodies of the Sumerians were placed in sarcophagi of clay. The earlier type was of “bath-tub” shape, round and flat-bottomed, with a rounded lid, while the later was the “slipper-shaped coffin,” which was ornamented with charms. There is a close resemblance between the “bath-tub” coffins of Sumeria and the Egyptian pottery coffins of oval shape found […]

Tammuz, Attis, Osiris, Adonis, Diarmid Derive from a More Ancient God of Fertility

“The Babylonian myth of Tammuz, the dying god, bears a close resemblance to the Greek myth of Adonis. It also links with the myth of Osiris. According to Professor Sayce, Tammuz is identical with “Daonus or Daos, the shepherd of Pantibibla,” referred to by Berosus as the ruler of one of the mythical ages of Babylonia. We have therefore to […]

Sacred and Ritual Copulation

“We would take the copulation of goats with women in an Egyptian temple (reported by Herodotus) on a sacred, ritual level.” –W.H. Roscher, Pan and the Nightmare: Ephialtes–A Pathological-Mythological Treatise on the Nightmare in Classical Antiquity, & An Essay on Pan by James Hillman, 1972. Pp. xxxviii. (James Hillman, “An Essay on Pan.”)

Marduk’s Tower of Babel.

Modern archeology estimates the height of the Tower of Babel, a ziggurat dedicated to Marduk, at 270 feet high.  –Fred S. Kleiner, Gardner’s Art Through the Ages: A Global History, enhanced 13th Edition. 2005, 2009, 2011. “Sumer,” Pg. 33. Herodotus, 5th Century BCE, described it: “In the middle of the sanctuary [of Marduk] has been […]