History of Mesopotamian Religion it Term Paper

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Anu was considered to be the supreme God of the sky, and also the Lord of the Heavens, as mentioned earlier, and the 'Supreme Manager' of all the other Mesopotamian Gods. Inanna was the beautiful Goddess of words, language, syntax and meaning. Inanna was probably the daughter of Anu. Humbaba was the monster of the cedar forests, and he was taken on by many Gods, and would get into many a fight with them, in a demonstration of superior strength and power on both the sides. Ereshkigal, the final God on the pantheon of the most import Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses, was the underworld Goddess of darkness and death. (the Gods of Mesopotamian mythology)

It is important to remember that Mesopotamian life and religion and knowledge of Gods, Goddesses and Demons is as modern man knows about it today, but one must keep in mind the fact that the Mesopotamian civilization probably existed about fifty centuries before today. Almost all the knowledge that one has today has been gathered painstakingly form the hieroglyphics and the cuneiform writings on tablets that researchers, historians and archaeologists have deciphered. When the knowledge that one has about these people and their lives and their faith and religion is taken in the context in which there were periods of great heightened spirituality, when the people would become extremely peaceful and pious, there were also periods in which there was great political upheaval and violence, when a particular King would have reigned, who was probably revered as a powerful God and deity himself. One can therefore take one particular example to illustrate this point: the civilization of Sumer. One of the very first small kingdoms of the Sumerian civilization was that of the period of Uruk, from 3700 BC to 2700 BC. (the History and Religion of ancient Mesopotamia)

It was at about 3500 BC that one of the very first Sumerians settled down on the banks of the Tiger and the Euphrates rivers, and this is where they remained, until the time when they were able to found their first cities on the same location. At about 2480 BC, King Ar Ennum of Ebla, followed by his two sons Ebrium and Ibbi-Sipish ruled until the beginning of the dynasty of Akkad. Sargon was the first King of Akkad, and one must remember that Akkad was the central region of Mesopotamia and Sargon declared himself to be the Priest of Enlil, the spiritual center of Mesopotamia at the time. However, Sargon respected greatly the religions and the temples of the Sumerian civilization before him, and he took great care not to destroy any of these temples and structures. Eventually, Sargon was to pronounce himself the actual living protege of the Goddess Ishtar. Shulgi was another King, the son of Ur-Nammu, who was to rule from the years 2094 BC to 2947 BC. As far as religion was concerned, he believed that he was, himself, a God, and he therefore built a temple for himself, and he wished people to come to him with offerings to appease him. His son Amar-Sin was also known, like his father, as the Sun God. (the History and Religion of ancient Mesopotamia)

According to Jacobsen, it was during the third millennium of the Mesopotamian civilization that such an emphasis on the ruler as deity started to develop. This was also the time when the idea of taking the entire cosmos as a polity came into being, and this concept was to prevail through all the years of the Mesopotamian civilization, right until the end, although it may be true that the rise of Marduk and Assur to high and supreme positions of power within the divine world probably led to a greater sense of a sort of 'unified central power' in which there was apparently some efforts made to see the forces that govern the cosmos as being one and united. (Miller, 424) However, all previous approaches to Mesopotamian religion have been denying categorically the religious relevance and pertinence of the literary texts of the time, and this fact may make it difficult for analysts and researchers to make a conclusion about Mesopotamian religion, although it may be true that one may be able to make assumptions, and base these assumptions on the hieroglyphics and cuneiform writings that discerning archaeologists have found at the site of one of the world ancient civilizations. (Veldhuis, 13)

However, it must be said that one does know a lot about these ancient people and their lives and their faiths and their religion and beliefs, so much so that one would be able to create a picture in one's mind of the Mesopotamian civilization and their temples in which their deities were safely housed. The term 'religion' in itself means a system of beliefs and rules, and when these beliefs are personified into deities and Gods, then one can form a clear picture of the religion of the Mesopotamians. In an assessment of what modern man does know about this ancient civilization and their beliefs and their religion, one can state that these people believed that: the world was a flat disk like space, which was surrounded by a vast empty space, which was in turn covered with what could be heaven. (Religion in Mesopotamia)

The sea ran all across this flat space, top, bottom and the sides, and the universe as such had been born from these waters of the sea. One also knows that the Mesopotamians were polytheistic; they believed in several Gods, and not in one single deity. They also believed in spirits and demons, and at times, these demons were personified. Apparently, the Mesopotamians also relied on spiritual remedies, and probably trusted exorcists to help them get rid of the demons that they believed possessed them. They also believed in obtaining divine protection, even if it was from a demon, like for example, a woman giving birth would have an image of the King of Evil Demons Pazuzu next to her bedside as she labored. The Gods of the ancient Mesopotamians have provided a sort of window into the value system of the Mesopotamians, and as mentioned earlier, these people valued fertility, sought protection in war, respected wisdom, and they revered the earth, and all these aspects of their lives became their Gods and Goddesses or Demons. (Religion in Mesopotamia)

In conclusion, it must be said that the ancient people of Mesopotamia believed in a power that was greater than them, and they based their beliefs and their value systems and their various aspects of religion on this principle. Perhaps this was why the civilization was able to endure for a great many years, until it deteriorated and disappeared later in time.


Gill, N.S. Ancient Mesopotamia, early religion. 2007 http://ancienthistory.about.com/cs/nemythology/a/mesopotamiarel.htm

Miller, Patrick D. Israelite religion and Biblical theology, collected essays. Continuum International Publishing Group. 2000.

N.A. Gods, Goddesses, Demons and Monsters. http://www.mesopotamia.co.uk/gods/home_set.html

N.A. Lecture 3, ancient Mesopotamia. http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/rels/2/lectures/lecture3.html

N.A. Religion in Mesopotamia. 2007 http://www.dl.ket.org/humanities/connections/class/ancient/mesopreligion.htm

N.A. The Gods of Mesopotamian mythology. 2007. http://www.godchecker.com/pantheon/mesopotamian-mythology.php

N.A. The History and Religion of ancient Mesopotamia. http://members.tripod.com/historel/orient/01mesop.htm

Potts, Daniel T. Mesopotamian Civilizations, the material foundations. Continuum International

Publishing Group. 1997.

Veldhuis, Niek. Religion, literature and scholarship, the Sumerian composition of Nanse. Brill.[continue]

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