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By Donald A, Mackenzie 


By A. R. Hope Moncrieff 

By Donald A. Mackenzie 


By Donald A. Mackenzie 

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This volume deals with the myths and legends of 
Babylonia and Assyria, and as these reflect the civilization 
in which they developed, a historical narrative has been 
provided, beginning with the early Sumerian Age and 
concluding with the periods of the Persian and Grecian 
Empires. Over thirty centuries of human progress are 
thus passed under review. 

During this vast interval of time the cultural influences 
emanating from the Tigro-Euphrates valley reached far- 
distant shores along the intersecting avenues of trade, and 
in consequence of the periodic and widespread migrations 
of peoples who had acquired directly or indirectly the 
leavening elements of Mesopotamian civilization. Even 
at the present day traces survive in Europe of the early 
cultural impress of the East; our "Signs of the Zodiac ", 
for instance, as well as the. system of measuring time and 
space by using 60 as a basic numeral for calculation, are 
inheritances from ancient Babylonia. 

As in the Nile Valley, however, it is impossible to 
trace in Mesopotamia the initiatory stages of prehistoric 
culture based on the agricultural mode of life. What is 
generally called the "Dawn of History" is really the 
beginning of a later age of progress ; it is necessary to 
account for the degree of civilization attained at the 
earliest period of which we have knowledge by postulating 


a remoter age of culture of much longer duration than that 
which separates the " Dawn " from the age in which we 
now live. Although Sumerian (early Babylonian) civiliza- 
tion presents distinctively local features which justify the 
application of the term "indigenous" in the broad sense, 
it is found, like that of Egypt, to be possessed of certain 
elements which suggest exceedingly remote influences and 
connections at present obscure. Of special interest in this 
regard is Professor Budge's mature and well-deliberated 
conclusion that a both the Sumerians and early Egyptians 
derived their primeval gods from some common but ex- 
ceedingly ancient source ". The prehistoric burial customs 
of these separate peoples are also remarkably similar and 
they resemble closely in turn those of the Neolithic Euro- 
peans. The cumulative effect of such evidence forces us 
to regard as not wholly satisfactory and conclusive the 
hypothesis of cultural influence. A remote racial connec- 
tion is possible, and is certainly worthy of consideration 
when so high an authority as Professor Frazer, author of 
The Golden Eough^ is found prepared to admit that the 
widespread " homogeneity of beliefs " may have been due 
to "homogeneity of race". It is shown (Chapter 1) that 
certain ethnologists have accumulated data which estab- 
lish a racial kinship between the Neolithic Europeans, the 
proto-Egyptians, the Sumerians, the southern Persians, 
and the Aryo-Indians. 

Throughout this volume comparative notes have been 
compiled in dealing with Mesopotamian beliefs with pur- 
pose to assist the reader towards the study of linking 
myths and legends. Interesting parallels have been 
gleaned from various religious literatures in Europe, 
Egypt, India, and elsewhere. It will be found that 
certain relics of Babylonian intellectual life, which have 
a distinctive geographical significance, were shared by 


peoples in other cultural areas where they were similarly 
overlaid with local colour., Modes of thought were the 
products of modes of life and were influenced in their 
development by human experiences. The influence of 
environment on the growth of culture has long been 
recognized, but consideration must also be given to the 
choice of environment by peoples who had adopted 
distinctive habits of life. Racial units migrated from 
cultural areas to districts suitable for colonization and 
carried with them a heritage of immemorial beliefs and 
customs which were regarded as being quite as in- 
dispensable for their welfare as their implements and 
domesticated animals. 

When consideration is given in this connection to the 
conservative element in primitive religion, it is not sur- 
prising to find that the growth of religious myths was not 
so spontaneous in early civilizations of the highest order 
as has hitherto been assumed. It seems clear that in each 
great local mythology we have to deal, in the first place, 
not with symbolized ideas so much as symbolized folk 
beliefs of remote antiquity and, to a certain degree, of 
common inheritance. It may not be found possible to 
arrive at a conclusive solution of the most widespread, 
and therefore the most ancient folk myths, such as, for 
instance, the Dragon Myth, or the myth of the culture 
hero. Nor, perhaps, is it necessary that we should con- 
cern ourselves greatly regarding the origin of the idea 
of the dragon, which in one country symbolized fiery 
drought and in another overwhelming river floods. 

The student will find footing on surer ground by 
following the process which exalts the dragon of the folk 
tale into the symbol of evil and primordial chaos. The 
Babylonian Creation Myth, for instance, can be shown to 
be a localized and glorified legend in which the hero and 


his tribe are displaced by the war god and his fellow 
deities whose welfare depends on his prowess. Merodach 
kills the dragon, Tiamat, as the heroes of Eur-Asian folk 
stories kill grisly hags, by casting his weapon down her 

He severed her inward parts, he pierced her heart, 

He overcame her and cut off her life; 

He cast down her body and stood upon it ... 

And with merciless club he smashed her skull. 

He cut through the channels of her blood, 

And he made the north wind to bear it away into secret places. 


He divided the flesh of the Ku-pu and devised a cunning plan. 

Mr. L. W. King, from whose scholarly Seven Tablets 
of Creation these lines are quoted, notes that " Ku-pu " is 
a word of uncertain meaning. Jensen suggests "trunk, 
body". Apparently Merodach obtained special know- 
ledge after dividing, and perhaps eating, the "Ku-pu". 
His "cunning plan" is set forth in detail: he cut up the 
dragon's body: 

He split her up like a flat fish into two halves. 

He formed the heavens with one half and the earth 
with the other, and then set the universe in order. His 
power and wisdom as the Demiurge were derived from 
the fierce and powerful Great Mother, Tiamat. 

In other dragon stories the heroes devise their plans 
after eating the dragon's heart. According to Philo- 
stratus, 1 Apollonius of Tyana was worthy of being remem- 
bered for two things his bravery in travelling among 
fierce robber tribes, not then subject to Rome, and his 

1 Life of Apollonius of Tyana, i, 20. 


wisdom in learning the language of birds and other ani- 
mals as the Arabs do. This accomplishment the Arabs 
acquired, Philostratus explains, by eating the hearts of 
dragons. The "animals" who utter magic words are, of 
course, the Fates. Siegfried of the Nibelungenlied, after 
slaying the Regin dragon, makes himself invulnerable by 
bathing in its blood. He obtains wisdom by eating the 
heart : as soon as he tastes it he can understand the 
language of birds, and the birds reveal to him that Mimer 
is waiting to slay him. Sigurd similarly makes his plans 
after eating the heart of the Fafner dragon. In Scottish 
legend Finn-mac-Coul obtains the power to divine secrets 
by partaking of a small portion of the seventh salmon 
associated with the " well dragon ", and Michael Scott 
and other folk heroes become great physicians after tasting 
the juices of the middle part of the body of the white 
snake. The hero of an Egyptian folk tale slays a " death- 
less snake " by cutting it in two parts and putting sand 
between the parts. He then obtains from the box, of 
which it is the guardian, the book of spells ; when he 
reads a page of the spells he knows what the birds of the 
sky, the fish of the deep, and the beasts of the hill say; 
the book gives him power to enchant "the heaven and 
the earth, the abyss, the mountains and the sea". 1 

Magic and religion were never separated in Babylonia; 
not only the priests but also the gods performed magical 
cer ^monies. Ea, Merodach's father, overcame Apsu, the 
husband of the dragon Tiamat, by means of spells : he 
was "the great magician of the gods". Merodach's 
division of the "Ku-pu" was evidently an act of con- 
tagious magic ; by eating or otherwise disposing of the 
vital part of the fierce and wise mother dragon, he became 
endowed with her attributes, and was able to proceed 

1 Egyptian. Tales (Second Scries), W. M. Flinders Petrie, pp. 98 tt se%. 


with the work of creation. Primitive peoples in our own 
day, like the Abipones of Paraguay, eat the flesh of fierce 
and cunning animals so that their strength, courage, and 
wisdom may be increased. 

The direct influence exercised by cultural contact, on 
the other hand, may be traced when myths with an alien 
geographical setting are found among peoples whose ex- 
periences could never have given them origin. In India, 
where the dragon symbolizes drought and the western 
river deities are female, the Manu fish and flood legend 
resembles closely the Babylonian, and seems to throw 
light upon it. Indeed, the Manu myth appears to have 
been derived from the lost flood story in which Ea figured 
prominently in fish form as the Preserver. The Baby- 
lonian Ea cult and the Indian Varuna cult had apparently 
much in common, as is shown. 

Throughout this volume special attention has been 
paid to the various peoples who were in immediate con- 
tact with, and were influenced by, Mesopotamia!! civiliza- 
tion. The histories are traced in outline of the Kingdoms 
of Elam, Urartu (Ancient Armenia), Mitanni, and the 
Hittites, while the story of the rise and decline of the 
Hebrew civilization, as narrated in the Bible and referred 
to in Mesopotamia!! inscriptions, is related from the 
earliest times until the captivity in the Neo-Babylonian 
period and the restoration during the age of the Persian 
Empire. The struggles waged between the great Powers 
for the control of trade routes, and the periodic migrations 
of pastoral warrior folks who determined the fate of 
empires, are also dealt with, so that light may be thrown 
on the various processes and influences associated with 
the developments of local religions and mythologies. 
Special chapters, with comparative notes, are devoted to 
the Ishtar-Tammuz myths, the Semiramis legends, Ashur 


and his symbols, and the origin and growth of astrology 
and astronomy. 

The ethnic disturbances which occurred at various 
well-defined periods in the Tigro-Euphrates valley were 
not always favourable to the advancement of knowledge 
and the growth of culture. The invaders who absorbed 
Sumerian civilization may have secured more settled con- 
ditions by welding together political units, but seem to 
have exercised a retrogressive influence on the growth of 
local culture. " Babylonian religion ", writes Dr. Langdon, 
" appears to have reached its highest level in the Sumerian 
period, or at least not later than 2000 B.C. From that 
period onward to the first century B.C. popular religion 
maintained with great difficulty the sacred standards of 
the past/' Although it has been customary to charac- 
terize Mesopotamian civilization as Semitic, modern 
research tends to show that the indigenous inhabitants, 
who were non-Semitic, were its originators. Like the 
proto-Egyptians, the early Cretans, and the Pelasgians in 
southern Europe and Asia Minor, they invariably achieved 
the intellectual conquest of their conquerors, as in the 
earliest times they had won victories over the antagonistic 
forces of nature. If the modern view is accepted that 
these ancient agriculturists of the goddess cult were of 
common racial origin, it is to the most representative 
communities of the widespread Mediterranean race that 
the credit belongs of laying the foundations of the 
brilliant civilizations of the ancient world in southern 
Europe, and Egypt, and the valley of the Tigris and 


CHAP. F a^c 

^ INTRODUCTION ------- xxi 









HADES - - - - - - - -190 










CHAP. Pag<i 





INDEX ~ ..... > , , 501 



THE TEMPTATION OF EA-BANI (p. 173) - - 1'rontispiccc 

From the painting by E. Wa It 'cousins 

ISHTAK IN HADES -------- facing 96 

From the painting by E. Wai/cousins 


From the painting by E. Wallcousins 


From the painting by E. Wallcousim 

THE BABYLONIAN DELUGE - - - - - ,, 192 

From the painting by E. Wallcomim 


From the painting by E. Wallcousim 


From the painting by Edivin Long^ R.A., in the Royal 
Holloiuay College. By permission of 'the Trustees 


From the painting by E. Wall cousins 



From a drawing by E. Wallcousins 




From N.W. Palace of Nimroud 



From Kouyunjik (Nine'veK) 



facing 2 



1 06 

BY ENTEMENA -------- 

GUDEA - ... 

From the statue in the Louvre, Paris 





From the library of Ashur-bani-pal at Kouyutijik (Nine-veil) 





FROM THE SUN GOD ------ ,,248 



Marble slab from N.W. Palace of Nimroud 





From sculptured stone in the British Museum 

ASHUR SYMBOLS ------- ,,334 


TREE ,,3^o 

Marble slab from N.W. Palace of Nimroud 




Marble slab from Kouyunjik (Nineveh) 


From S.W. Palace of Nimroud 



OF SHALMANESER III - - - - - - facing 410 






From doorivay in Palace of S argon at Khorsabad 



Marble slab from Kouyunjik (Nineveh) 


Marble slab from Kouyunjik (Nineveh) 


WREATHS --------- ,,494 

Bas-relief from Persepolis 


( 642 > 


- Arabian 


Scale, 1:6,000,000 
English Miles 

URARTU, Dimaski 
.............. (Beirut} 

Assyrian names 

Biblical names 
Classical names 
Modern names in brwk 

East 42 of Greenwich 


Ancient Babylonia has made stronger appeal to the 
imagination of Christendom than even Ancient Egypt, 
because of its association with the captivity of the 
Hebrews, whose sorrows are enshrined in the familiar 
psalm : 

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down; 

Yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. 

We hanged our harps upon the willows. . . . 

In sacred literature proud Babylon became the city of 
the anti-Christ, the symbol of wickedness and cruelty 
and human vanity. Early Christians who suffered per- 
secution compared their worldly state to that of the 
oppressed and disconsolate Hebrews, and, like them, 
they sighed for Jerusalem the new Jerusalem. When 
St. John the Divine had visions of the ultimate triumph 
of Christianity, he referred to its enemies the unbelievers 
and persecutors as the citizens of the earthly Babylon, 
the doom of which he pronounced in stately and memor- 
able phrases : 

Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, 

And is become the habitation of devils, 

And the hold of every foul spirit, 

And a cage of every unclean and hateful bird . . . 



For her sins have reached unto heaven 

And God hath remembered her iniquities . . . 

The merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her, 

For no man buyeth their merchandise any more. 

"At the noise of the taking of Babylon ", cried Jeremiah, 
referring to the original Babylon, " the earth is moved, 
and the cry is heard among the nations. ... It shall 
be no more inhabited forever ; neither shall it be dwelt 
in from generation to generation." The Christian Saint 
rendered more profound the brooding silence of the deso- 
lated city of his vision by voicing memories of its beauty 
and gaiety and bustling trade : 

The voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers and trumpeters 

shall be heard no more at all in thee; 
And no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any 

more in thee; 

And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; 
And the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard 

no more at all in thee: 

For thy merchants were the great men of the earth; 
For by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. 
And in her was found the blood of 'prophets, and of saints. 
And of all that were slain upon the earth}- 

So for nearly two thousand years has the haunting 
memory of the once-powerful city pervaded Christian 
literature, while its broken walls and ruined temples and 
palaces lay buried deep in desert sand. The history of 
the ancient land of which it was the capital survived in 
but meagre and fragmentary form, mingled with accumu- 
lated myths and legends. A slim volume contained all 
that could be derived from references in the Old Testa- 
ment and the compilations of classical writers. 

1 Revelation^ xviii. The Babylon of the Apocalypse is generally believed to sym- 
bolize or be a mystic designation of Rome. 


It is only within the past half-century that the wonder- 
ful story of early Eastern civilization has been gradually 
pieced together by excavators and linguists, who have 
thrust open the door of the past and probed the hidden 
secrets of long ages. We now know more about "the 
land of Babel " than did not only the Greeks and Romans, 
but even the Hebrew writers who foretold its destruction. 
Glimpses are being afforded us of its life and manners 
and customs for some thirty centuries before the captives 
of Judah uttered lamentations on the banks of its reedy 
canals. The sites of some of the ancient cities of Baby- 
lonia and Assyria were identified by European officials 
and travellers in the East early in the nineteenth century, 
and a few relics found their way to Europe. But before 
Sir A. H. Layard set to work as an excavator in the 
"forties'*, "a case scarcely three feet square", as he him- 
self wrote, " enclosed all that remained not only of the 
great city of Nineveh, but of Babylon itself ". l 

Layard, the distinguished pioneer Assyriologist, was 
an Englishman of Huguenot descent, who was born in 
Paris. Through his mother he inherited a strain of 
Spanish blood. During his early boyhood he resided in 
Italy, and his education, which began there, was continued 
in schools in France, Switzerland, and England. He 
was a man of scholarly habits and fearless and inde- 
pendent character, a charming writer, and an accomplished 
fine-art critic ; withal he was a great traveller, a strenuous 
politician, and an able diplomatist. In 1845, white so ~ 
journing in the East, he undertook the exploration of 
ancient Assyrian cities. He first set to work at Kalkhi, 
the Biblical Calah. Three years previously M. P. C 
Botta, the French consul at Mosul, had begun to in- 
vestigate the Nineveh mounds ; but these he abandoned 

1 Nineveh and Its Remains, vol. i, p. 17. 


for a mound near Khorsabad which proved to be the site 
of the city erected by C Sargon the Later", who is referred 
to by Isaiah. The relics discovered by Botta and his suc- 
cessor, Victor Place, are preserved in the Louvre,, 

At Kalkhi and Nineveh Layard uncovered the palaces 
of some of the most famous Assyrian Emperors, including 
the Biblical Shalmaneser and Esarhaddon, and obtained 
the colossi, bas reliefs, and other treasures of antiquity 
which formed the nucleus of the British Museum's un- 
rivalled Assyrian collection. He also conducted diggings 
at Babylon and Niffer (Nippur) His work was con- 
tinued by his assistant, Hormuzd Rassam, a native Chris- 
tian of Mosul, near Nineveh, Rassam studied for a time 
at Oxford. 

The discoveries made by Layard and Botta stimulated 
others to follow their example. In the "fifties" Mr. W. 
K. Loftus engaged in excavations at Larsa and Erech, 
where important discoveries were made of ancient build- 
ings, ornaments, tablets, sarcophagus graves, and pot 
burials, while Mr. J. E. Taylor operated at Ur, the seat 
of the moon cult and the birthplace of Abraham, and at 
Eridu, which is generally regarded as the cradle of early 
Babylonian (Sumerian) civilization. 

In 1854 Sir Henry Rawlinson superintended diggings 
at Birs Nimrud (Borsippa, near Babylon), and excavated 
relics of the Biblical Nebuchadrezzar. This notable 
archaeologist began his career in the East as an officer 
in the Bombay army. He distinguished himself as a 
political agent and diplomatist. While resident at Bagh- 
dad, he devoted his leisure time to cuneiform studies. 
One of his remarkable feats was the copying of the 
famous trilingual rock inscription of Darius the Great on 
a mountain cliff at Behistun, in Persian Kurdistan. This 
work was carried out at great personal risk, for the cliff 


is 1700 feet high and the sculptures and inscriptions are 
situated about 300 feet from the ground. 

Darius was the first monarch of his line to make use 
of the Persian cuneiform script, which in this case he 
utilized in conjunction with the older and more compli- 
cated Assyro-Babylonian alphabetic and syllabic characters 
to record a portion of the history of his reign. Rawlin- 
son's translation of the famous inscription was an im- 
portant contribution towards the decipherment of the 
cuneiform writings of Assyria and Babylonia. 

Twelve years of brilliant Mesopotamian discovery 
concluded in 1854, and further excavations had to be 
suspended until the "seventies" on account of the un- 
settled political conditions of the ancient land and the 
difficulties experienced in dealing with Turkish officials. 
During the interval, however, archaeologists and philolo- 
gists were kept fully engaged studying the large amount 
of material which had been accumulated. Sir Henry 
Rawlinson began the issue of his monumental work 
The Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia on behalf of 
the British Museum. 

Goodspeed refers to the early archaeological work as 
the "Heroic Period" of research, and says that the 
" Modern Scientific Period " began with Mr. George 
Smith's expedition to Nineveh in 1873. 

George Smith, like Henry Schliemann, the pioneer 
investigator of pre-Hellenic culture, was a self-educated 
man of humble origin. He was born at Chelsea in 1840. 
At fourteen he was apprenticed to an engraver. He 
was a youth of studious habits and great originality, and 
interested himself intensely in the discoveries which had 
been made by Layard and other explorers. At the 
British Museum, which he visited regularly to pore over 
the Assyrian inscriptions, he attracted the attention of Sir 


Henry Rawlinson. So greatly impressed was Sir Henry 
by the young man's enthusiasm and remarkable intelli- 
gence that he allowed him the use of his private room 
and provided casts and squeezes of inscriptions to assist 
him in his studies. Smith made rapid progress. His 
earliest discovery was the date of the payment of tribute 
by Jehu, King of Israel, to the Assyrian Emperor Shal- 
maneser. Sir Henry availed himself of the young in- 
vestigator's assistance in producing the third volume of 
The Cuneiform Inscriptions. 

In 1867 Smith received an appointment in the Assyri- 
ology Department of the British Museum, and a few 
years later became famous throughout Christendom as 
the translator of fragments of the Babylonian Deluge 
Legend from tablets sent to London by Rassam. Sir 
Edwin Arnold, the poet and Orientalist, was at the time 
editor of the 'Daily Telegraph^ and performed a memorable 
service to modern scholarship by dispatching Smith, on 
behalf of his paper, to Nineveh to search for other frag- 
ments of the Ancient Babylonian epic. Rassam had 
obtained the tablets from the great library of the cultured 
Emperor Ashur-bani-pal, " the great and noble Asnapper " 
of the Bible, 1 who took delight, as he himself recorded, in 

The wisdom of Ea, 2 the art of song, the treasures of science. 

This royal patron of learning included in his library 
collection, copies and translations of tablets from Baby- 
lonia. Some of these were then over 2000 years old. 
The Babylonian literary relics were, indeed, of as great 
antiquity to Ashur-bani-pal as that monarch's relics are 
to us. 

The Emperor invoked Nebo, god of wisdom and 
learning, to bless his "books", praying: 

1 Exra, iv, 10. 2 The culture god. 


Forever, O Nebo, King of all heaven and earth, 

Look gladly upon this Library 

Of Ashur-bani-pal, his (thy) shepherd, reverencer of thy divinity. 1 

Mr. George Smith's expedition to Nineveh in 1873 was 
exceedingly fruitful of results. More tablets were dis- 
covered and translated. In the following year he re- 
turned to the ancient Assyrian city on behalf of the 
British Museum, and added further by his scholarly 
achievements to his own reputation and the world's 
knowledge of antiquity. His last expedition was made 
early in 1876 ; on his homeward journey he was stricken 
down with fever, and on I gth August he died at Aleppo 
in his thirty-sixth year. So was a brilliant career brought 
^to an untimely end. 

Rassam was engaged to continue Smith's great work, 
and between 1877 and 1882 made many notable dis- 
coveries in Assyria and Babylonia, including the bronze 
doors of a Shalmaneser temple, the sun temple at Sippar; 
the palace of the Biblical Nebuchadrezzar, which was 
famous for its "hanging gardens"; a cylinder of Na- 
bonidus, King of Babylon ; and about fifty thousand 

M. de Sarzec, the French consul at Bassorah, began 
in 1877 excavations at the ancient Sumerian city of 
Lagash (Shirpula), and continued them until 1900. He 
found thousands of tablets, many bas reliefs, votive 
statuettes, which worshippers apparently pinned on sacred 
shrines, the famous silver vase of King Entemena, statues 
of King Gudea, and various other treasures which are 
now in the Louvre. 

The pioneer work achieved by British and French 
excavators stimulated interest all over the world. An 

1 Langdon's Sumerian and Babylonian Psalms, p. 179. 


expedition was sent out from the United States by the 
University of Pennsylvania, and began to operate at 
Nippur in 1888. The Germans, who have displayed great 
activity in the domain of philological research, are at present 
represented by an exploring party which is conducting the 
systematic exploration of the ruins of Babylon. Even 
the Turkish Government has encouraged research work, 
and its excavators have accumulated a fine collection of 
antiquities at Constantinople. Among the archaeologists 
and linguists of various nationalities who are devoting 
themselves to the study of ancient Assyrian and Baby- 
lonian records and literature, and gradually unfolding the 
story of ancient Eastern civilization, those of our own 
country occupy a prominent position. One of the most 
interesting discoveries of recent years has been new 
fragments of the Creation Legend by L. W. King of the 
British Museum, whose scholarly work, The Seven Tablets 
of Creation, is the standard work on the subject. 

The archaeological work conducted in Persia, Asia 
Minor, Palestine, Cyprus, Crete, the -^Egean, and Egypt 
has thrown, and is throwing, much light on the relations 
between the various civilizations of antiquity. In addi- 
tion to the Hittite discoveries, with which the name of 
Professor Sayce will ever be associated as a pioneer, we 
now hear much of the hitherto unknown civilizations of 
Mitanni and Urartu (ancient Armenia), which contributed 
to the shaping of ancient history. The Biblical narratives 
of the rise and decline of the Hebrew kingdoms have also 
been greatly elucidated. 

In this volume, which deals mainly with the intel- 
lectual life of the Mesopotamian peoples, a historical 
narrative has been provided as an appropriate setting for 
the myths and legends. In this connection the reader 
must be reminded that the chronology of the early 


period is still uncertain. The approximate dates which 
are given, however, are those now generally adopted by- 
most European and American authorities. Early Baby- 
lonian history of the Sumerian period begins some time 
prior to 3000 B.C.; Sargon of Akkad flourished about 
2650 B.C., and Hammurabi not long before or after 
2000 B.C. The inflated system of dating which places 
Mena of Egypt as far back as 5500 B.C. and Sargon at 
about 3800 B.C. has been abandoned by the majority of 
prominent archaeologists, the exceptions including Pro- 
fessor Flinders Petrie. Recent discoveries appear to sup- 
port the new chronological system. cc There is a growing 
conviction", writes Mr. Hawes, "that Cretan evidence, 
especially in the eastern part of the island, favours the 
minimum (Berlin) system of Egyptian chronology, accor- 
ding to which the Sixth (Egyptian) Dynasty began at 
c. 2540 B.C. and the Twelfth at c. 2000 B.C. 1 Petrie dates 
the beginning of the Twelfth Dynasty at c. 3400 B.C. 

To students of comparative folklore and mythology 
the myths and legends of Babylonia present many features 
of engrossing interest. They are of great antiquity, yet 
not a few seem curiously familiar. We must not con- 
clude, however, that because a European legend may 
bear resemblances to one translated from a cuneiform 
tablet it is necessarily of Babylonian origin. Certain 
beliefs, and the myths which were based upon them, are 
older than even the civilization of the Tigro - Euphrates 
valley. They belong, it would appear, to a stock of 
common inheritance from an uncertain cultural centre 
of immense antiquity. The problem involved has been 
referred to by Professor Frazer in the Golden Bough. 
Commenting on the similarities presented by certain 
ancient festivals in various countries, he suggests that 

1 Crete the Forerunner of Greece^ p. 1 8. 


they may be due to " a remarkable homogeneity of civi- 
lization throughout Southern Europe and Western Asia 
in prehistoric times. How far", he adds, "such homo- 
geneity of civilization may be taken as evidence of homo- 
geneity of race is a question for the ethnologist/' 1 

In Chapter I the reader is introduced to the ethno- 
logical problem, and it is shown that the results of 
modern research tend to establish a remote racial 
connection between the Sumerians of Babylonia, the 
prehistoric Egyptians, and the Neolithic (Late Stone 
Age) inhabitants of Europe, as well as the southern 
Persians and the " Aryans " of India. 

Comparative notes are provided in dealing with the 
customs, religious beliefs, and myths and legends of the 
Mesopotamian peoples to assist the student towards the 
elucidation and partial restoration of certain literary frag- 
ments from the cuneiform tablets. 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 Mah&bh&rata^ and it is 
shown that there are undoubted links between the Garuda 
eagle myths and those of the Sumerian Zu bird and the 
Etana eagle, while similar stories remain attached to the 
memories of "Sargon of Akkad" and the Indian hero 
Kama, and of Semiramis (who was Queen Sammu-ramat 
of Assyria) and Shakuntala. The Indian god Varuna and 
the Sumerian Ea are also found to have much in common, 
and it seems undoubted that the Manu fish and flood 
myth is a direct Babylonian inheritance, like the Yuga 
(Ages of the Universe) doctrine and the system of cal- 
culation associated with it. It is of interest to note, too, 
that a portion of the Gilgamesh epic survives in the 

1 The Scapegoat vol., p. 409 (jrd edition). 


Rdmdyana story of the monkey god Hanuman's search 
for the lost princess Sita; other relics of similar character 
suggest that both the Gilgamesh and Hanuman narratives 
are derived in part from a very ancient myth. Gilgamesh 
also figures in Indian* mythology as Yama, the first man, 
who explored the way to the Paradise called " The Land 
of Ancestors ", and over which he subsequently presided 
as a god. Other Babylonian myths link with those found 
in Egypt, Greece, Scandinavia, Iceland, and the British 
Isles and Ireland. The Sargon myth, for instance, re- 
sembles closely the myth of Scyld (Sceaf), the patriarch, 
in the Beowulf epic, and both appear to be variations of 
the Tammuz-Adonis story. Tammuz also resembles in 
one of his phases the Celtic hero Diarmid, who was slain 
by the "green boar" of the Earth Mother, as was Adonis 
by the boar form of Ares, the Greek war god. 

In approaching the study of these linking myths it 
would be as rash to conclude that all resemblances are 
due to homogeneity of race as to assume that folklore 
and mythology are devoid of ethnological elements. Due 
consideration must be given to the widespread influence 
exercised by cultural contact. We must recognize also 
that the human mind has ever shown a tendency to arrive 
quite independently at similar conclusions, when con- 
fronted by similar problems, in various parts of the world. 

But while many remarkable resemblances may be 
detected between the beliefs and myths and customs of 
widely separated peoples, it cannot be overlooked that 
pronounced and striking differences remain to be ac- 
counted for. Human experiences varied in localities 
because all sections of humanity were not confronted in 
ancient times by the same problems in their everyday 
lives. Some peoples, for instance, experienced no great 
difficulties regarding the food supply, which might be 


provided for them by nature in lavish abundance; others 
were compelled to wage a fierce and constant conflict 
against hostile forces in inhospitable environments with 
purpose to secure adequate sustenance and their meed of 
enjoyment. Various habits of life had to be adopted in 
various parts of the world, and these produced various 
habits of thought. Consequently, we find that behind 
all systems of primitive religion lies the formative back- 
ground of natural phenomena. A mythology reflects the 
geography, the fauna and flora, and the climatic conditions 
of the area in which it took definite and permanent shape. 
In Babylonia, as elsewhere, we expect, therefore, to 
find a mythology which has strictly local characteristics 
one which mirrors river and valley scenery, the habits 
of life of the people, and also the various stages of pro- 
gress in the civilization from its earliest beginnings. 
Traces of primitive thought survivals from remotest 
antiquity should also remain in evidence. As a matter 
of fact Babylonian mythology fulfils our expectations in 
this regard to the highest degree. 

Herodotus said that Egypt was the gift of the Nile: 
similarly Babylonia may be regarded as the gift of the 
Tigris and Euphrates those great shifting and flooding 
rivers which for long ages had been carrying down from 
the Armenian Highlands vast quantities of mud to thrust 
back the waters of the Persian Gulf and form a country 
capable of being utilized for human habitation. The 
most typical Babylonian deity was Ea, the god of the 
fertilizing and creative waters. 

He was depicted clad in the skin of a fish, as gods in 
other geographical areas were depicted wearing the skins 
of animals which were regarded as ancestors, or hostile 
demons that had to be propitiated. Originally Ea appears 
to have been a fish the incarnation of the spirit of, or 


life principle in, the Euphrates River. His centre of wor- 
ship was at Eridu, an ancient seaport, where apparently 
the prehistoric Babylonians (the Sumerians) first began to 
utilize the dried -up beds of shifting streams to irrigate 
the soil. One of the 1 several creation myths is remi- 
niscent of those early experiences which produced early 
local beliefs: 

thou River, who didst create all things, 
When the great gods dug thee out, 
They set prosperity upon thy banks, 

Within thee Ea, the king of the Deep, created his dwelling. 1 

The Sumerians observed that the land was brought into 
existence by means of the obstructing reeds, which caused 
-mud to accumulate. When their minds began to be 
exercised regarding the origin of life, they conceived that 
the first human beings were created by a similar process: 

Marduk (son of Ea) laid a reed upon the face of the waters, 
He formed dust and poured it out beside the reed . . . 
He formed mankind. 2 

Ea acquired in time, as the divine artisan, various attri- 
butes which reflected the gradual growth of civilization: 
he was reputed to have taught the people how to form 
canals, control the rivers, cultivate the fields, build their 
houses, and so on. 

But although Ea became a beneficent deity, as a 
result of the growth of civilization, he had also a de- 
moniac form, and had to be propitiated. The worshippers 
of the fish god retained ancient modes of thought and 
perpetuated ancient superstitious practices. 

The earliest settlers in the Tigro-Euphrates valley were 
agriculturists, like their congeners, the proto-Egyptians 

1 The Seven Tablets of Creation, L. W. King, p. 129. a //V, pp. 133-4. 


and the Neolithic Europeans. Before they broke away 
from the parent stock in its area of characterization they 
had acquired the elements of culture, and adopted habits 
of thought which were based on the agricultural mode of 
life. Like other agricultural communities they were wor- 
shippers of the " World Mother ", the Creatrix, who was 
the giver of all good things, the "Preserver" and also 
the " Destroyer " the goddess whose moods were re- 
flected by natural phenomena, and whose lovers were the 
spirits of the seasons. 

In the alluvial valley which they rendered fit for 
habitation the Sumerians came into contact with peoples 
of different habits of life and different habits of thought. 
These were the nomadic pastoralists from the northern 
steppe lands, who had developed in isolation theories 
regarding the origin of the Universe which reflected their 
particular experiences and the natural phenomena of their 
area of characterization. The most representative people 
of this class were the "Hatti" of Asia Minor, who were 
of Alpine or Armenoid stock. In early times the nomads 
were broken up into small tribal units, like Abraham and 
his followers, and depended for their food supply on the 
prowess of the males. Their chief deity was the sky and 
mountain god, who was the "World Father", the creator, 
and the wielder of the thunder hammer, who waged war 
against the demons of storm or drought, and ensured 
the food supply of his worshippers. 

The fusion in Babylonia of the peoples of the god 
and goddess cults was in progress before the dawn of 
history, as was the case in Egypt and also in southern 
Europe, In consequence independent Pantheons came 
into existence in the various city States in the Tigro- 
Euphrates valley. These were mainly a reflection of city 
politics: the deities of each influential section had to 


receive recognition. But among the great masses of the 
people ancient customs associated with agriculture con- 
tinued in practice, and, as Babylonia depended for its 
prosperity on its harvests, the force of public opinion 
tended, it would appear, to perpetuate the religious beliefs 
of the earliest settlers, despite the efforts made by con- 
querors to exalt the deities they introduced. 

Babylonian religion was of twofold character. It em- 
braced temple worship and private worship. The religion 
of the temple was the religion of the ruling class, and 
especially of the king, who was the guardian of the people. 
Domestic religion was conducted in homes, in reed huts, 
or in public places, and conserved the crudest superstitions 
surviving from the earliest times. The great "burn- 
ings" and the human sacrifices in Babylonia, referred to 
in the Bible, were, no doubt, connected with agricultural 
religion of the private order, as was also the ceremony of 
baking and offering cakes to the Queen of Heaven, con- 
demned by Jeremiah, which obtained in the streets of 
Jerusalem and other cities. Domestic religion required 
no temples. There were no temples in Crete : the world 
was the "house" of the deity, who had seasonal haunts 
on hilltops, in groves, in caves, &c. In Egypt Herodotus 
witnessed festivals and processions which are not referred 
to in official inscriptions, although they were evidently 
practised from the earliest times. 

Agricultural religion in Egypt was concentrated in the 
cult of Osiris and Isis, and influenced all local theologies. 
In Babylonia these deities were represented by Tammuz 
and Ishtar. Ishtar, like Isis, absorbed many other local 

According to the beliefs of the ancient agriculturists 
the goddess was eternal and undecaying. She was the 
Great Mother of the Universe and the source of the food 

(0642) 3 


supply. Her son, the corn god, became, as the Egyptians 
put it, "Husband of his Mother ". Each year he was 
born anew and rapidly attained to manhood; then he 
was slain by a fierce rival who symbolized the season of 
pestilence-bringing and parching sun heat, or the rainy 
season, or wild beasts of prey. Or it might be that he 
was slain by his son, as Cronos was by Zeus and Dyaus 
by Indra. The new year slew the old year. 

The social customs of the people, which had a religious 
basis, were formed in accordance with the doings of the 
deities ; they sorrowed or made glad in sympathy with 
the spirits of nature. Worshippers also suggested by 
their ceremonies how the deities should act at various 
seasons, and thus exercised, as they believed, a magical 
control over them. 

In Babylonia the agricultural myth regarding the 
Mother goddess and the young god had many variations. 
In one form Tammuz, like Adonis, was loved by two 
goddesses the twin phases of nature the Queen of 
Heaven and the Queen of Hades. It was decreed that 
Tammuz should spend part of the year with one goddess 
and part of the year with the other. Tammuz was also 
a Patriarch, who reigned for a long period over the land 
and had human offspring. After death his spirit appeared 
at certain times and seasons as a planet, star, or con- 
stellation. He was the ghost of the elder god, and he 
was also the younger god who was born each year. 

In the Gilgamesh epic we appear to have a form of 
the patriarch legend the story of the "culture hero" 
and teacher who discovered the path which led to the 
land of ancestral spirits. The heroic Patriarch in Egypt 
was Apuatu, " the opener of the ways ", the earliest form 
of Osiris ; in India he was Yama, the first man, " who 
searched and found out the path for many". 


The King as Patriarch was regarded during life as an 
incarnation of the culture god : after death he merged in 
the god. "Sargon of Akkad" posed as an incarnation 
of the ancient agricultural Patriarch: he professed to be 
a man of miraculous birth who was loved by the goddess 
Ishtar, and was supposed to have inaugurated a New Age 
of the Universe. 

The myth regarding the father who was superseded 
by his son may account for the existence in Babylonian 
city pantheons of elder and younger gods who symbolized 
the passive and active forces of nature. 

Considering the persistent and cumulative influence 
exercised by agricultural religion it is not surprising to 
find, as has been indicated, that most of the Babylonian 
gods had Tammuz traits, as most of the Egyptian gods 
had Osirian traits. Although local or imported deities 
were developed and conventionalized in rival Babylonian 
cities, they jftill retained traces of primitive conceptions. 
They existed in all their forms as the younger god 
who displaced the elder god and became the elder god, 
and as the elder god who conciliated the younger god 
and made him his active agent ; and as the god who was 
identified at various seasons with different heavenly bodies 
and natural phenomena. Merodach, the god of Babylon, 
who was exalted as chief of the National pantheon in the 
Hammurabi Age, was, like Tammuz, a son, and therefore 
a form of Ea, a demon slayer, a war god, a god of 
fertility, a corn spirit, a Patriarch, and world ruler and 
guardian, and, like Tammuz, he had solar, lunar, astral, 
and atmospheric attributes. The complex characters of 
Merodach and Tammuz were not due solely to the 
monotheistic tendency: the oldest deities were of mystical 
character, they represented the "Self Power'* of Natural- 
ism as well as the spirit groups of Animism. 


The theorizing priests, who speculated regarding the 
mysteries of life and death and the origin of all things, 
had to address the people through the medium of popular 
beliefs. They utilized floating myths for this purpose. 
As there were in early times various centres of culture 
which had rival pantheons, the adapted myths varied 
greatly. In the different forms in which they survive 
to us they reflect, not only aspects of local beliefs, but 
also grades of culture at different periods. We must not 
expect, however, to find that the latest form of a myth 
was the highest and most profound. The history of 
Babylonian religion is divided into periods of growth and 
periods of decadence. The influence of domestic religion 
was invariably opposed to the new and high doctrines 
which emanated from the priesthood, and in times of 
political upheaval tended to submerge them in the debris 
of immemorial beliefs and customs. The retrogressive 
tendencies of the masses were invariably reinforced by 
the periodic invasions of aliens who had no respect for 
official deities and temple creeds. 

We must avoid insisting too strongly on the appli- 
cation of the evolution theory to the religious phenomena 
of a country like Babylonia. 

The epochs in the intellectual life of an ancient people 
are not comparable to geological epochs, for instance, 
because the forces at work were directed by human wills, 
whether in the interests of progress or otherwise. The 
battle of creeds has ever been a battle of minds. It 
should be recognized, therefore, that the human element 
bulks as prominently in the drama of Babylon's religious 
history as does the prince of Denmark in the play of 
Hamlet. We are not concerned with the plot alone. The 
characters must also receive attention. Their aspirations 
and triumphs, their prejudices and blunders, were the 


billowy forces which shaped the shoreland of the story 
and made history. 

Various aspects of Babylonian life and culture are 
dealt with throughout this volume, and it is shown that 
the growth of science and art was stimulated by un- 
wholesome and crude superstitions. Many rank weeds 
flourished beside the brightest blossoms of the human 
intellect that wooed the sun in that fertile valley of rivers. 
As in Egypt, civilization made progress when wealth was 
accumulated in sufficient abundance to permit of a leisured 
class devoting time to study and research. The endowed 
priests, who performed temple ceremonies, were the 
teachers of the people and the patrons of culture. We 
may think little of their religious beliefs, regarding which 
after all we have only a superficial knowledge, for we 
have yet discovered little more than the fragments of the 
shell which held the pearl, the faded petals that were 
once a rose, but we must recognize that they provided 
inspiration for the artists and sculptors whose achieve- 
ments compel our wonder and admiration, moved states- 
men to inaugurate and administer humanitarian laws, and 
exalted Right above Might. 

These civilizations of the old world, among which the 
Mesopotamian and the Nilotic were the earliest, were 
built on no unsound foundations. They made possible 
"the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was 
Rome", and it is only within recent years that we have 
begun to realize how incalculable is the debt which the 
modern world owes to them* 



The Races and Early Civilization of 

Prehistoric Babylonia The Confederacies of Sumer and Akkad 
Sumerian Racial Affinities Theories of Mongolian and Ural-Altaic Origins 
Evidence of Russian Turkestan Beginnings of Agriculture Remarkable 
Proofs from Prehistoric Egyptian Graves Sumerians and the Mediterranean 
Race Present-day Types in Western Asia The Evidence of Crania Origin 
of the Akkadians The Semitic Blend Races in Ancient Palestine South- 
ward Drift of Armenoid Peoples The Rephaims of the Bible Akkadians 
attain Political Supremacy in Northern Babylonia Influence of Sumerian 
Culture Beginnings of Civilization Progress in the Neolithic Age Position 
of Women in Early Communities Their Legal Status in Ancient Babylonia 
Influence in Social and Religious Life The "Woman's Language" God- 
dess who inspired Poets. 

BEFORE the dawn of the historical period Ancient Baby- 
lonia was divided into a number of independent city 
states similar to those which existed in pre-Dynastic 
Egypt. Ultimately these were grouped into loose con- 
federacies. The northern cities were embraced in the 
territory known as Akkad, and the southern in the land 
of Sumer, or Shurner. This division had a racial as 
well as a geographical significance. The Akkadians were 


"late comers" who had achieved political ascendency in 
the north when the area they occupied was called Uri, 
or Kiuri, and Sumer was known as Kengi. They were a 
people of Semitic speech with pronounced Semitic affini- 
ties. From the earliest times the sculptors depicted them 
with abundant locks, long full beards, and the prominent 
distinctive noses and full lips, which we usually associate 
with the characteristic Jewish type, and also attired in 
long, flounced robes, suspended from their left shoulders, 
and reaching down to their ankles. In contrast, the 
Sumerians had clean-shaven faces and scalps, and noses 
of Egyptian and Grecian rather than Semitic type, while 
they wore short, pleated kilts, and went about with the 
upper part of their bodies quite bare like the Egyptian 
noblemen of the Old Kingdom period. They spoke a 
non-Semitic language, and were the oldest inhabitants of 
Babylonia of whom we have any knowledge. Sumerian 
civilization was rooted in the agricultural mode of life, 
and appears to have been well developed before the 
Semites became numerous and influential in the land. 
Cities had been built chiefly of sun-dried and fire-baked 
bricks; distinctive pottery was manufactured with much 
skill; the people were governed by humanitarian laws, 
which formed the nucleus of the Hammurabi code, and 
had in use a system of cuneiform writing which was still 
in process of development from earlier pictorial characters. 
The distinctive feature of their agricultural methods was 
the engineering skill which was displayed in extending 
the cultivatable area by the construction of irrigating 
canals and ditches. There are also indications that they 
possessed some knowledge of navigation and traded on 
the Persian Gulf. According to one of their own tradi- 
tions Eridu, originally a seaport, was their racial cradle. 
The Semitic Akkadians adopted the distinctive culture of 

Egyptian UV J 

^ j 

liXAMPL.KS Uf KA^i/\u in^ 

J*Vo/ <i drawing by E. f^allcousins 


these Sumerians after settlement, and exercised an in- 
fluence on its subsequent growth. 

Much controversy has been waged regarding the 
original home of the Sumerians and the particular racial 
type which they represented. One theory connects them 
with the lank-haired and beardless Mongolians, and it is 
asserted on the evidence afforded by early sculptural 
reliefs that they were similarly oblique-eyed. As they 
also spoke an aggluteratrve" language, it is suggested that 
they were descended from the same parent stock as the 
Chinese in an ancient Parthian homeland. If, however, 
the oblique eye was not the result of faulty and primitive 
art, it is evident that the Mongolian type, which is 
invariably found to be remarkably persistent in racial 
blends, did not survive in the Tigris and Euphrates 
valleys, for in the finer and more exact sculpture work 
of the later Sumerian period the eyes of the ruling classes 
are found to be similar to those of the Ancient Egyptians 
and southern Europeans. Other facial characteristics 
suggest that a Mongolian racial connection is highly im- 
probable; the prominent Sumerian nose, for instance, is 
quite unlike the Chinese, which is diminutive. Nor 
can far-reaching conclusions be drawn from the scanty 
linguistic evidence at our disposal. Although the lan- 
guages of the Sumerians and long-headed Chinese are 
of the agglutinative variety, so are those also which are 
spoken by the broad-headed Turks and Magyars of 
Hungary, the broad-headed and long-headed, dark and 
fair Finns, and the brunet and short-statured Basques 
with pear-shaped faces, who are regarded as a variation 
of the Mediterranean race with distinctive characteristics 
developed in isolation. Languages afford no sure indica- 
tion of racial origins or affinities. 

Another theory connects the Sumerians with the 


broad-headed peoples of the Western Asian plains and 
plateaus, who are vaguely grouped as Ural-Altaic stock 
and are represented by the present-day Turks and the 
dark variety of Finns. It is assumed that they migrated 
southward in remote times in consequence ot tribal 
pressure caused by changing climatic conditions, and 
abandoned a purely pastoral for an agricultural life. The 
late Sumerian sculpture work again presents difficulties in 
this connection, for the faces and bulging occiputs sug- 
gest rather a long-headed than a broad-headed type, and 
the theory no longer obtains that new habits of life alter 
skull forms which are usually associated with other dis- 
tinctive traits in the structure of skeletons. These broad- 
headed nomadic peoples of the Steppes are allied to 
Tatar stock, and distinguished from the pure Mongols 
by their abundance of wavy hair and beard. The fact 
that the Sumerians shaved their scalps and faces is highly 
suggestive in this connection. From the earliest times it 
has been the habit of most peoples to emphasize their 
racial characteristics so as to be able, one may suggest, to 
distinguish readily a friend from a foeman. At any rate 
this fact is generally recognized by ethnologists. The 
Basques, for instance, shave their pointed chins and 
sometimes grow short side whiskers to increase the dis- 
tinctive pear-shape which is given to their faces by their 
prominent temples. In contrast, their neighbours, the 
Andalusians, grow chin whiskers to broaden their already 
rounded chins, and to distinguish them markedly from 
the Basques. 1 Another example of similar character is 
afforded in Asia Minor, where the skulls of the children 
of long-headed Kurds are narrowed, and those of the 
children of broad-headed Armenians made flatter behind 
as a result of systematic pressure applied by using cradle 

, l The' Races of Europe, W. Z. Ripley, p. 203, 


boards. In this way these rival peoples accentuate their 
contrasting head forms, which at times may, no doubt, 
show a tendency towards variation as a result of the 
crossment of types. When it is found, therefore, that the 
Sumerians, like the Ancient Egyptians, were in the habit 
of shaving, their ethnic affinities should be looked for 
among a naturally glabrous rather than a heavily- 
bearded people. " " 

A Central Asiatic source for Sumerian culture has 
also been urged of late with much circumstantial detail. 
It breaks quite fresh and interesting ground. Recent 
scientific expeditions in Russian and Chinese Turkestan 
have accumulated important archaeological data which 
clearly establish that vast areas of desert country were at 
a remote period most verdurous and fruitful, and thickly 
populated by organized and apparently progressive com- 
munities. From these ancient centres of civilization 
wholesale migrations must have been impelled from time 
to time in consequence of the gradual encroachment of 
wind -distributed sand and the increasing shortage of 
water. At Anau in Russian Turkestan, where exca- 
vations were conducted by the Pumpelly expedition, 
abundant traces were found of an archaic and forgotten 
civilization reaching back to the Late Stone Age. The 
pottery is decorated with geometric designs, and resembles 
somewhat other Neolithic specimens found as far apart 
as Susa, the capital of ancient Elam, on the borders of 
Babylonia, Boghaz Koi in Asia Minor, the seat of Hittite 
administration, round the Black Sea to the north, and at 
points in the southern regions of the Balkan Peninsula. 
It is suggested that these * various finds are scattered 
evidences of early racial drifts from the Central Asian 
areas which were gradually being rendered uninhabitable. 
Among the Copper Age artifacts at Anau are clay votive 


statuettes resembling those which were used in Sumeria 
for religious purposes. These, however, cannot be held 
to prove a racial connection, but they are important in so 
far as they afford evidence of early trade relations in a 
hitherto unsuspected direction, and the long distances 
over which cultural influence extended before the dawn 
of history. Further we cannot go. No inscriptions have 
yet been discovered to render articulate this mysterious 
Central Asian civilization, or to suggest the original source 
of early Sumerian picture writing. Nor is it possible to 
confirm Mr. Pumpelly's view that from the Anau district 
the Sumerians and Egyptians first obtained barley and 
wheat, and some of their domesticated animals. If, as 
Professor Elliot Smith believes, copper was first used by 
the Ancient Egyptians, it may be, on the other hand, that 
a knowledge of this metal reached Anau through Sumeria, 
and that the elements of the earlier culture were derived 
from the same quarter by an indirect route. The evi- 
dence obtainable in Egypt is of interest in this connec- 
tion. Large quantities of food have been taken from the 
stomachs and intestines of sun-dried bodies which have 
lain in their pre-Dynastic graves for over sixty centuries. 
This material has been carefully examined, and has yielded, 
among other things, husks of barley and millet, and frag- 
ments of mammalian bones, including those, no doubt, 
of the domesticated sheep and goats and cattle painted 
on the pottery. 1 It is therefore apparent that at an 
extremely remote period a knowledge of agriculture ex- 
tended throughout Egypt, and we have no reason for 
supposing that it was not shared by the contemporary 
inhabitants of Sumer. 

The various theories which have been propounded 
regarding the outside source of Sumerian culture are 

1 The Ancient Egyptians, by Elliot Smith, p. 41 et sey 


based on the assumption that it commenced abruptly and 
full grown. Its rude beginnings cannot be traced on 
the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates, but although no 
specimens of the earliest form of picture writing have 
been recovered from the ruins of Sumerian and Akkadian 
cities, neither have any been found elsewhere. The pos- 
sibility remains, therefore, that early Babylonian culture 
was indigenous. "A great deal of ingenuity has been 
displayed by many scholars ", says Professor Elliot Smith, 
"with the object of bringing these Sumerians from some- 
where else as immigrants into Sumer ; but no reasons 
have been advanced to show that they had not been 
settled at the head of the Persian Gulf for long genera- 
tions before they first appeared on the stage of history. 
The argument that no early remains have been found 
is futile, not only because such a country as Sumer is no 
more favourable to the preservation of such evidence than 
is the Delta of the Nile, but also upon the more general 
grounds that negative statements of this sort cannot be 
assigned a positive evidence for an immigration." l This 
distinguished ethnologist is frankly of opinion that the 
Sumerians were the congeners of the pre-Dynastic Egyp- 
tians of the Mediterranean or Brown race, the eastern 
branch of which reaches to India and the western to the 
British Isles and Ireland. In the same ancient family are 
included the Arabs, whose physical characteristics distin- 
guish them from the Semites of Jewish type. 

Some light may be thrown on the Sumerian problem 
by giving consideration to the present-day racial com- 
plexion of Western Asia. The importance of evidence 
of this character has been emphasized elsewhere. In 
Egypt, for instance, Dr. C. S. Myers has ascertained that 
the modern peasants have skull forms which are identical 

1 The Ancient Egyptians, p. 140. 


with those of their pre-Dynastic ancestors. Mr. Hawes 
has also demonstrated that the ancient inhabitants of 
Crete are still represented on that famous island. But 
even more remarkable is the fact that the distinctive racial 
type which occupied the Palaeolithic caves of the Dordogne 
valley in France continues to survive in their vicinity after 
an interval of over twenty thousand years. 1 It is note- 
worthy, therefore, to find that in south-western Asia at the 
present day one particular racial type predominates over 
all others. Professor Ripley, who summarizes a con- 
siderable mass of data in this connection, refers to it as 
the "Iranian", and says: "It includes the Persians and 
Kurds, possibly the Ossetes in the Caucasus, and farther 
to the east a large number of Asiatic tribes, from the 
Afghans to the Hindus. These peoples are all primarily 
long-headed and dark brunets. They incline to slender- 
ness of habit, although varying in stature according to 
circumstances. In them we recognize at once undoubted 
congeners of our Mediterranean race in Europe. The 
area of their extension runs off into Africa, through the 
Egyptians, who are clearly of the same race. Not only 
the modern peoples, but the Ancient Egyptians and the 
Phoenicians also have been traced to the same source. 
By far the largest portion of this part of Western Asia 
is inhabited by this eastern branch of the Mediterranean 
race." The broad -headed type "occurs sporadically 
among a few ethnic remnants in Syria and Mesopotamia". 2 
The exhaustive study of thousands of ancient crania in 
London and Cambridge collections has shown that Medi- 
terranean peoples, having alien traits, the result of early 
admixture, were distributed between Egypt and the 
Punjab. 3 Where blending took place, the early type, 

1 Crete the Forerunner of Greece, C. H. and H. B. Hawes, 191 1, p. 23 et scq. 
2 The Races of Europe, W. Z. Ripley, p. 443 et se<j. * The Ancient Egyptians, pp. 144-5. 


apparently, continued to predominate ; and it appears to 
be reasserting itself in our own time in Western Asia, 
as elsewhere. It seems doubtful, therefore, that the 
ancient Sumerians differed racially from the pre-Dynastic 
inhabitants of Egypt and the Pelasgians and Iberians 
of Europe. Indeed, the statuettes from Tello, the site 
of the Sumerian city of Lagash, display distinctively 
Mediterranean skull forms and faces. Some of the 
plump figures of the later period suggest, however, " the 
particular alien strain" which in Egypt and elsewhere 
cc is always associated with a tendency to the develop- 
ment of fat'*, in contrast to "the lean and sinewy ap- 
pearance of most representatives of the Brown race". 1 
This change may be accounted for by the presence of the 
Semites in northern Babylonia. 

Whence, then, came these invading Semitic Akka- 
dians of Jewish type? It is generally agreed that they 
were closely associated with one of the early outpourings 
of nomadic peoples from Arabia, a country which is 
favourable for the production of a larger population than 
it is able to maintain permanently, especially when its 
natural resources are restricted by a succession of abnor- 
mally dry years. In tracing the Akkadians from Arabia, 
however, we are confronted at the outset with the diffi- 
culty that its prehistoric, and many of its present-day, 
inhabitants are not of the characteristic Semitic type. On 
the Ancient Egyptian pottery and monuments the Arabs 
are depicted as men who closely resembled the repre- 
sentatives of the Mediterranean race in the Nile valley 
and elsewhere. They shaved neither scalps nor faces as 
did the historic Sumerians and Egyptians, but grew the 
slight moustache and chin -tuft beard like the Libyans 
on the north and the majority of the men whose bodies 

1 The Ancient Egyptians, p. 114. 


have been preserved in pre~Dynastic graves in the Nile 
valley. "If ", writes Professor Elliot Smith, "the gene- 
rally accepted view is true, that Arabia was the original 
home of the Semites, the Arab must have undergone a 
profound change in his physical characters after he left 
his homeland and before he reached Babylonia." This 
authority is of opinion that the Arabians first migrated into 
Palestine and northern Syria, where they mingled with 
thd southward - migrating Armenoid peoples from Asia 
Minor. "This blend of Arabs, kinsmen of the proto- 
Egyptians and Armenoids, would then form the big-nosed, 
long-bearded Semites, so familiar not only on the ancient 
Babylonian and Egyptian monuments, but also in the 
modern Jews/' 1 Such a view is in accord with Dr. Hugo 
Winckler's contention that the flow of Arabian migrations 
was northwards towards Syria ere it swept through Meso- 
potamia. It can scarcely be supposed that these invasions 
of settled districts did not result in the fusion and cross- 
ment of racial types and the production of a sub-variety 
with medium skull form and marked facial characteristics. 
Of special interest in this connection is the evidence 
afforded by Palestine and Egypt. The former country 
has ever been subject to periodic ethnic disturbances and 
changes. Its racial history has a remote beginning in the 
Pleistocene Age. Palaeolithic flints of Chellean and other 
primitive types have been found in large numbers, and a 
valuable collection of these is being preserved in a French 
museum at Jerusalem. In a northern cave fragments of 
rude pottery, belonging to an early period in the Late 
Stone Age, have been discovered in association with the 
bones of the woolly rhinoceros. To a later period 
belong the series of Gezer cave dwellings, which, accord- 
ing to Professor Macalister, the well-known Palestinian 

1 The Ancient Egyptian^ p, 136. 


authority, "were occupied by a non-Semitic people of low 
stature, with thick skulls and showing evidence of the 
great muscular strength that is essential to savage life". 1 
These people are generally supposed to be representatives 
of the Mediterranean race, which Sergi has found to have 
been widely distributed throughout Syria and a part of 
Asia Minor. 2 An interesting problem, however, is raised 
by the fact that, in one of the caves, there arc evidences 
that the dead were cremated. This was not a Medi- 
terranean custom, nor does it appear to have prevailed 
outside the Gezer area. If, however, it does not indicate 
that the kinsmen of the Ancient Egyptians came into 
contact with the remnants of an earlier people, it may be 
that the dead of a later people were burned there. The 
possibility that unidentified types may have contributed 
to the Semitic blend, however, remains. The Medi- 
terraneans mingled in Northern Syria and Asia Minor 
with the broad-headed Armenoid peoples who are repre- 
sented in Europe by the Alpine race. With them they 
ultimately formed the great Hittite confederacy. These 
Armenoids were moving southwards at the very dawn 
of Egyptian history, and nothing is known of their con- 
quests and settlements. Their pioneers, who were prob- 
ably traders, appear to have begun to enter the Delta 
region before the close of the Late Stone Age. 3 The 
earliest outpourings of migrating Arabians may have been 
in progress about the same time. This early southward 
drift of Armenoids might account for the presence in 
southern Palestine, early in the Copper Age, of the tall 
race referred to in the Bible as the Rephaim or Ana- 
kim, "whose power was broken only by the Hebrew 

1 A History of Palestine, R. A. S. Macalister, pp. 8 16. 

2 Ihe Mediterranean Race (1901 trans.), G. Sergi, p. 146 e t seq. 
2 The Ancient Egyptians, p. 130. 

(0642) ' 4 


invaders". 1 Joshua drove them out of Hebron, 2 in the 
neighbourhood of which Abraham had purchased a burial 
cave from Ephron, the Hittite. 8 Apparently a system 
of land laws prevailed in Palestine at this early period. 
It is of special interest for us to note that in Abraham's 
day and afterwards, the landed proprietors in the country 
of the Rephaim were identified with the aliens from Asia 
Minor the tall variety in the Hittite confederacy. 

Little doubt need remain that the Arabians during 
their sojourn in Palestine and Syria met with distinctive 
types, and if not with pure Armenoids, at any rate with 
peoples having Armenoid traits. The consequent multi- 
plication of tribes, and the gradual pressure exercised 
by the constant stream of immigrants from Arabia and 
Asia Minor, must have kept this part of Western Asia 
in a constant state of unrest. Fresh migrations of the 
surplus stock were evidently propelled towards Egypt in 
one direction, and the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates 
in another. The Semites of Akkad were probably the 
conquerors of the more highly civilized Sumerians, who 
must have previously occupied that area. It is possible 
that they owed their success to the possession of superior 
weapons. Professor Elliot Smith suggests in this con- 
nection that the Arabians had become familiar with the 
use of copper as a result of contact with the Egyptians 
in Sinai. There is no evidence, however, that the 
Sumerians were attacked before they had begun to make 
metal weapons. It is more probable that the invading 
nomads had superior military organization and consider- 
able experience in waging war against detached tribal 
units. They may have also found some of the northern 
Sumerian city states at war with one another and taken 

1 A Hijfory of Civilization in Palestine, p. 20 et scq. 

2 Joshua, xi. 21. 3 Genesis, xxiii. 


(British Museum) 


advantage of their unpreparedness to resist a common 
enemy. The rough Dorians who overran Greece and 
the fierce Goths who shattered the power of Rome were 
similarly in a lower state of civilization than the peoples 
whom they subdued. 

The Sumerians, however, ultimately achieved an in- 
tellectual^conquest of their conquerors, Although the 
leaders of invasion may have formed military aristocracies 
in the cities which they occupied, it was necessary for the 
great majority of the nomads to engage their activities 
in new directions after settlement. The Semitic Ak- 
kadians, therefore, adopted Sumerian habits of life which 
were best suited for the needs of the country, and they 
consequently came under the spell of Sumerian modes of 
thought. This is shown by the fact that the native 
speech of ancient Sumer continued long after the dawn 
of history to be the language of Babylonian religion and 
culture, like Latin in Europe during the Middle Ages. 
For centuries the mingling peoples must have been bi- 
lingual, as are many of the inhabitants of Ireland, Wales, 
and the Scottish Highlands in the present age, but 
ultimately the language of the Semites became the 
prevailing speech in Sumer and Akkad. This change 
was the direct result of the conquests and the political 
supremacy achieved by the northern people. A con- 
siderable period elapsed, however, ere this consummation 
was reached and Ancient Babylonia became completely 
Semitized. No doubt its brilliant historical civilization 
owed much of its vigour and stability to the organizing 
genius of the Semites, but the basis on which it was estab- 
lished had been laid by the ingenious and imaginative Sumer- 
ians who first made the desert to blossom like the rose. 

The culture of Sumer was a product of the Late 
Stone Age, which should not be regarded as necessarily 


an age of barbarism. During its vast periods there were 
great discoveries and great inventions in various parts 
of Asia, Africa, and Europe. The Neoliths made pottery 
and bricks ; we know that they invented the art of 
spinning, for spindle-whorls are found even in the Gezer 
caves to which we have referred, while in Egypt the pre- 
Dynastic dead were sometimes wrapped in finely woven 
linen: their deftly chipped flint implements are eloquent 
of artistic and mechanical skill, and undoubted mathe- 
matical ability must be credited to the makers of smoothly 
polished stone hammers which are so perfectly balanced 
that they revolve on a centre of gravity. In Egypt and 
Babylonia the soil was tilled and its fertility increased 
by irrigation. Wherever man waged a struggle with 
Nature he made rapid progress, and consequently we 
find that the earliest great civilizations were rooted in 
the little fields of the Neolithic farmers. Their mode 
of life necessitated a knowledge of Nature's laws; they 
had to take note of the seasons and measure time. So 
Egypt gave us the Calendar, and Babylonia the system 
of dividing the week into seven days, and the day into 
twelve double hours. 

The agricultural life permitted large communities to 
live in river valleys, and these had to be governed by 
codes of laws; settled communities required peace and 
order for their progress and prosperity. All great civil- 
izations have evolved from the habits and experiences 
of settled communities. Law and religion were closely 
associated, and the evidence afforded by the remains of 
stone circles and temples suggests that in the organization 
and division of labour the influence of religious teachers 
was pre-eminent. Early rulers, indeed, were priest- 
kings incarnations of the deity who owned the land 
and measured out- the span of human life. 


We need not assume that Neolithic man led an idyllic 
existence; his triumphs were achieved by slow and gradual 
steps; his legal codes were, no doubt, written in blood 
and his institutions welded in the fires of adversity, 
But, disciplined by laws, which fostered humanitarian 
ideals. Neolithic man, especially of the Mediterranean 
race, had reached a comparatively high state of civiliza- 
tion long ages before the earliest traces of his activities 
can be obtained. When this type of mankind is por- 
trayed in Ancient Sumeria, Ancient Egypt, and Ancient 
Crete we find that the faces are refined and intellectual 
and often quite modern in aspect. The skulls show that 
in the Late Stone Age the human brain was fully de- 
veloped and that the racial types were fixed* In every 
country in Europe we still find the direct descendants 
of the ancient Mediterranean race, as well as the de- 
scendants of the less highly cultured conquerors who 
swept westward out of Asia at the dawn of the Bronze 
Age; and everywhere there are evidences of crossment of 
types in varying degrees. Even the influence of Neo- 
lithic intellectual life still remains. The comparative 
study of mythology and folk beliefs reveals that we 
have inherited certain modes of thought from our re- 
mote ancestors, who were the congeners of the Ancient 
Sumerians and the Ancient Egyptians. In this connec- 
tion it is of interest, therefore, to refer to the social 
ideals of the early peoples who met and mingled on the 
southern plains of the Tigris and Euphrates, and especi- 
ally the position occupied .by women, which is engaging 
so much attention at the present day. 

It would appear that among the Semites and other 
nomadic peoples woman was regarded as the helpmate 
rather than the companion and equal of man. The birth 
of a son was hailed with joy; it was "miserable to have 


a daughter ", as a Hindu sage reflected ; in various 
countries it was the custom to expose female children 
after birth and leave them to die. A wife had no rights 
other than those accorded to her by her husband, who 
exercised over her the power of life and death. Sons 
inherited family possessions; the daughters had no share 
allotted to them, and could be sold by fathers and 
brothers. Among the peoples who observed "male 
right ", social life was reflected in the conception of con- 
trolling male deities, accompanied by shadowy goddesses 
who were often little else than figures of speech. 

The Ancient Sumerians, on the other hand, like the 
Mediterranean peoples of Egypt and Crete, reverenced 
and exalted motherhood in social and religious life. 
Women were accorded a legal status and marriage laws 
were promulgated by the State. Wives could possess 
private property in their own right, as did the Babylonian 
Sarah, wife of Abraham, who owned the Egyptian slave 
Hagar. 1 A woman received from her parents a marriage 
dowry, and in the event of separation from her husband 
she could claim its full value. Some spinsters, or wives, 
were accustomed to enter into business partnerships with 
men or members of their own sex, and could sue and be 
sued in courts of law. Brothers and sisters were joint 
heirs of the family estate. Daughters might possess 
property over which their fathers exercised no control: 
they could also enter into legal agreements with their 
parents in business matters, when they had attained to 
years of discretion. Young women who took vows of 
celibacy and lived in religious institutions could yet make 
business investments, as surviving records show. There 
is only one instance of a Sumerian woman ascending the 
throne, like Queen Hatshepsut of Egypt. Women, there- 

1 Genesis, xvi. 8, 9. 


fore, were not rigidly excluded from official life. Dungi II, 
an early Sumerian king, appointed two of his daughters 
as rulers of conquered cities in Syria and Elam. Simi- 
larly Shishak, the Egyptian Pharaoh, handed over the 
city of Gezer, which he had subdued, to his daughter, 
Solomon's wife. 1 In the religious life of ancient Sumeria 
the female population exercised an undoubted influence, 
and in certain temples there were priestesses. The oldest 
hymns give indication of the respect shown to women 
by making reference to mixed assemblies as "females and 
males", just as present-day orators address themselves to 
"ladies and gentlemen". In the later Semitic adapta- 
tions of these productions, it is significant to note, this 
conventional reference was altered to "male and female". 
If influences, however, were at work to restrict the posi- 
tion of women they did not meet with much success, 
because when Hammurabi codified existing laws, the 
ancient rights of women received marked recognition. 

There were two dialects in ancient Sumeria, and the 
invocatory hymns were composed in what was known as 
"the women's language". It must not be inferred, how- 
ever, that the ladies of Sumeria had established a speech 
which differed from that used by men. The reference 
would appear to be to a softer and homelier dialect, per- 
haps the oldest of the two, in which poetic emotion found 
fullest and most beautiful expression. In these ancient 
days, as in our own, the ideal of womanhood was the 
poet's chief source of inspiration, and among the hymns 
the highest reach of poetic art was attained in the invoca- 
tion of Ishtar, the Babylonian Venus. The following 
hymn is addressed to that deity in her Valkyrie-like 
character as a goddess of war, but her more feminine 
traits are not obscured : 


Hymn to Ishtar 

To thee I cry, O lady of the gods, 
Lady of ladies, goddess without peer, 
Ishtar who shapes the lives of all mankind, 
Thou stately world queen, sovran of the sky, 
And lady ruler of the host of heaven 
Illustrious is thy name ... O light divine, 
Gleaming in lofty splendour o'er the earth 
Heroic daughter of the moon, oh! hear; 
Thou dost control our weapons and award 
In battles fierce the victory at will 
O crown'd majestic Fate. Ishtar most high, 
Who art exalted over all the gods, 
Thou bringest lamentation; thou dost urge 
With hostile hearts our brethren to the fray; 
The gift of strength is thine for thou art strong; 
Thy will is urgent, brooking no delay; 
Thy hand is violent, thou queen of war 
Girded with battle and enrobed with fear . . . 
Thou sovran wielder of the wand of Doom, 
The heavens and earth are under thy control. 

Adored art thou in every sacred place, 

In temples, holy dwellings, and in shrines, 

Where is thy name not lauded ? where thy will 

Unheeded, and thine images not made ? 

Where are thy temples not upreared ? O, where 

Art thou not mighty, peerless, and supreme ? 

Anu and Bel and Ea have thee raised 

To rank supreme, in majesty and pow'r, 

They have established thee above the gods 

And all the host of heaven ... O stately queen, 

At thought of thee the world is filled with fear, 

The gods in heaven quake, and on the earth 

All spirits pause, and all mankind bow down 

With reverence for thy name ... O Lady Judge, 


Thy ways are just and holy; thou dost gaze 
On sinners with compassion, and each morn 
Leadest the wayward to the rightful path. 

Now linger not, but come! O goddess fair, 

O shepherdess of all, thou drawest nigh 

With feet unwearied . . . Thou dost break the bonds 

Of these thy handmaids . . . When thou stoopest o'er 

The dying with compassion, lo! they live; 

And when the sick behold thee they are healed. 

Hear me, thy servant ! hearken to my prayV, 

For I am full of sorrow and I sigh 

In sore distress; weeping, on thee I wait. 

Be merciful, my lady, pity take 

And answer, " 'T is enough and be appeased ". 

How long must my heart sorrow and make moan 
And restless be ? How long must my dark home 
Be filled with mourning and my soul with grief? 
O lioness of heaven, bring me peace 
And rest and comfort. Hearken to my pray'r! 
Is anger pity ? May thine eyes look down 
With tenderness and blessings, and behold 
Thy servant. Oh! have mercy; hear my cry 
And unbe witch me from the evil spells, 
That I may see thy glory . . . Oh! how long 
Shall these my foes pursue me, working ill, 
And robbing me of joy ? . . . Oh! how long 
Shall demons compass me about and cause 
Affliction without end ? . . . I thee adore 
The gift of strength is thine and thou art strong 
The weakly are made strong, yet I am weak . . - 
O hear me! I am glutted with my grief 
This flood of grief by evil winds distressed; 
My heart hath fled me like a bird on wings, 
And like the dove I moan. Tears from mine eyes 
Are falling as the rain from tyeaven falls, 
And I am destitute and full of woe. 


What have I done that them hast turned from me ? 
Have I neglected homage to my god 
And thee my goddess? O deliver me 
And all my sins forgive, that I may share 
Thy love and be watched over in thy fold; 
And may thy fold be wide, thy pen secure. 

How long wilt thou be angry ? Hear my cry, 

And turn again to prosper all my ways 

O may thy wrath be crumbled and withdrawn 

As by a crumbling stream. Then smite my foes, 

And take away their power to work me ill, 

That I may crush them. Hearken to my pray'r! 

And bless me so that all who me behold 

May laud thee and may magnify thy name, 

While I exalt thy power over all 

Ishtar is highest! Ishtar is the queen! 

Ishtar the peerless daughter of the moon! 


The Land of Rivers and the God 
of the Deep 

Fertility of Ancient Babylonia Rivers, Canals, Seasons, and Climate 
Early Trade and Foreign Influences Local Religious Cults -Ea, God of the 
Deep, identical with Cannes of Berosus Origin as a Sacred Fish Compared 
with Brahma and Vishnu Flood Legends in Babylonia and India Fish 
Deities in Babylonia and Egypt Fish God as a Corn God The River as 
Creator Ea aa Artisan God, and links with Egypt and India Ea as the 
Hebrew Jah Ea and Varuna are Water and Sky Gods The Babylonian 
Dagan and Dagon of the Philistines Deities of Water and Harvest in 
Phoenicia, Greece, Rome, Scotland, Scandinavia, Ireland, and Egypt Ea's 
Spouse Damkina Demons of Ocean in Babylonia and India Anu, God of 
the Sky Enlil, Storm and War God of Nippur, like Adad, Odin, &c. 
Early Gods of Babylonia and Egypt of common origin Ea's City as Cradle 
of Sumerian Civilization. 

ANCIENT Babylonia was for over four thousand years the 
garden of Western Asia. In the days of Hezekiah and 
Isaiah, when it had come under the sway of the younger 
civilization of Assyria on the north, it was "a land of corn 
and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of oil 
olive and of honey". 1 Herodotus found it still flourish- 
ing and extremely fertile. "This territory ", he wrote, 
" is of all that we know the best by far for producing 
grain ; it is so good that it returns as much as two 
hundredfold for the average, and, when it bears at its 
best, it produces three hundredfold. The blades of the 
wheat and barley there grow to be full four fingers broad ; 

1 2 King*) xviii, 32. 


and from millet and sesame seed, how large a tree grows, 
1 know myself, but shall not record, being well aware that 
even what has already been said relating to the crops 
produced has been enough to cause disbelief in those 
who have not visited Babylonia." 1 To-day great tracts 
of undulating moorland, which aforetime yielded two and 
three crops a year, are in summer partly barren wastes 
and partly jungle and reedy swamp. Bedouins camp 
beside sandy heaps which were once populous and thriv- 
ing cities, and here and there the shrunken remnants of 
a people once great and influential eke out precarious 
livings under the oppression of Turkish tax-gatherers who 
are scarcely less considerate than the plundering nomads 
of the desert 

This historic country is bounded on the east by Persia 
and on the west by the Arabian desert. In shape some- 
what resembling a fish, it lies between the two great 
rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, 100 miles wide at 
its broadest part, and narrowing to 35 miles towards the 
"tail" in the latitude of Baghdad; the "head" converges 
to a point above Basra, where the rivers meet and form 
the Shatt-el-Arab, which pours into the Persian Gulf 
after meeting the Karun and drawing away the main 
volume of that double-mouthed river. The distance 
from Baghdad to Basra is about 300 miles, and the area 
traversed by the Shatt-el-Arab is slowly extending at the 
rate of a mile every thirty years or so, as a result of the 
steady accumulation of silt and mud carried down by the 
Tigris and Euphrates. When Sumeria was beginning to 
flourish, these two rivers had separate outlets, and Eridu, 
the seat of the cult of the sea god Ea, which now lies 
125 miles inland, was a seaport at the head of the Persian 
Gulf. A day's journey separated the river mouths when 

1 Herodotus, i, 193. 


Alexander the Great broke the power of the Persian 

In the days of Babylonia's prosperity the Euphrates 
was hailed as "the soul of the land" and the Tigris 
as "the bestower of blessings". Skilful engineers had 
solved the problem of water distribution by irrigating 
sun-parched areas and preventing the excessive flooding 
of those districts which are now rendered impassable 
swamps when the rivers overflow, A network of canals 
was constructed throughout the country, which restricted 
the destructive tendencies of the Tigris and Euphrates 
and developed to a high degree their potentialities as 
fertilizing agencies. The greatest of these canals appear 
to have been anciently river beds. One, which is called 
Shatt en Nil to the north, and Shatt el Kar to the south, 
curved eastward from Babylon, and sweeping past Nippur, 
flowed like the letter S towards Larsa and then rejoined 
the river. It is believed to mark the course followed in 
the early Sumerian period by the Euphrates river, which 
has moved steadily westward many miles beyond the sites 
of ancient cities that were erected on its banks. Another 
important canal, the Shatt el Hai, crossed the plain from 
the Tigris to its sister river, which lies lower at this point, 
and does not run so fast. Where the artificial canals were 
constructed on higher levels than the streams which fed 
them, the water was raised by contrivances known as 
" shaddufs " ; the buckets or skin bags were roped to a 
weighted beam, with the aid of which they were swung up 
by workmen and emptied into the canals. It is possible 
that this toilsome mode of irrigation was substituted in 
favourable parts by the primitive water wheels which are 
used in our own day by the inhabitants of the country 
who cultivate strips of land along the river banks. 

In Babylonia there are two seasons the rainy and. 


the dry. Rain falls from November till March, and the 
plain is carpeted in spring by patches of vivid green 
verdure and brilliant wild flowers. Then the period of 
drought ensues; the sun rapidly burns up all vegetation, 
and everywhere the eye is wearied by long stretches of 
brown and yellow desert. Occasional sandstorms darken 
the heavens, sweeping over sterile wastes and piling up 
the shapeless mounds which mark the sites of ancient 
cities. Meanwhile the rivers are increasing in volume, 
being fed by the melting snows at their mountain sources 
far to the north. The swift Tigris, which is 1146 miles 
long, begins to rise early in March and reaches its highest 
level in May; before the end of June it again subsides. 
More sluggish in movement, the Euphrates, which is 1780 
miles long, shows signs of rising a fortnight later than 
the Tigris, and is in flood for a more extended period; 
it does not shrink to its lowest level until early in 
September. By controlling the flow of these mighty 
rivers, preventing disastrous floods, and storing and dis- 
tributing surplus water, the ancient Babylonians developed 
to the full the natural resources of their country, and 
made it what it may once again become one of the 
fairest and most habitable areas in the world. Nature 
conferred upon them bountiful rewards for their labour; 
trade and industries flourished, and the cities increased in 
splendour and strength. Then as now the heat was great 
during the long summer, but remarkably dry and unvary- 
ing, while the air was ever wonderfully transparent under 
cloudless skies of vivid blue. The nights were cool and 
of great beauty, whether in brilliant moonlight or when 
ponds and canals were jewelled by the lustrous displays 
of clear and numerous stars which glorified that homeland 
of the earliest astronomers. 

Babylonia is a treeless country, and timber had to be 


imported from the earliest times. The date palm was 
probably introduced by man, as were certainly the vine 
and the fig tree, which were widely cultivated, especially 
in the north. Stone, suitable for building, was very 
scarce, and limestone, alabaster, marble, and basalt had 
to be taken from northern Mesopotamia, where the 
mountains also yield copper and lead and iron. Except 
Eridu, where ancient workers quarried sandstone from 
its sea-shaped ridge, all the cities jyerc buOtof bpck, an 
excellent clay being found in abundance. When brick 
walls were cemented with bitumen they were given great 
stability. This resinous suBstanc? is found in the north 
and south. It bubbles up through crevices of rocks on 
river banks and forms small ponds. Two famous springs 
at modern Hit, on the Euphrates, have been drawn upon 
from time immemorial. "From one", writes a traveller, 
"flows hot water black with bitumen, while the other 
discharges intermittently bitumen, or, after a rainstorm, 
bitumen and cold water. . . . Where rocks crop out in 
the plain above Hit, they are full of seams of bitumen/' 1 
Present-day Arabs call it " kiyara ", and export it for coat- 
ing boats and roofs; they also use it as an antiseptic, and 
apply it to cure the skin diseases from which camels suffer. 
Sumeria had many surplus products, including corn 
and figs, pottery, fine wool and woven garments, to offer 
in exchange for what it most required from other coun- 
tries. It must, therefore, have had a brisk and flourish- 
ing foreign trade at an exceedingly remote period. No 
doubt numerous alien merchants were attracted to its 
cities, and it may be that they induced or encouraged 
Semitic and other raiders to overthrow governments and 
form military aristocracies, so that they themselves might 
obtain necessary concessions and achieve a degree of 

J Peter's Nippur, i, p. 160. 


political ascendancy. It does not follow, however, that 
the peasant class was greatly affected by periodic revolu- 
tions of this kind, which brought little more to them 
than a change of rulers. The needs of the country 
necessitated the continuance of agricultural methods and 
the rigid observance of existing land laws; indeed, these 
constituted the basis of Sumerian prosperity. Conquerors 
have ever sought reward not merely in spoil, but also the 
services of the conquered. In northern Babylonia the 
invaders apparently found it necessary to conciliate and 
secure the continued allegiance of the tillers of the soil. 
Law and religion being closely associated, they had to 
adapt their gods to suit the requirements of existing 
social and political organizations. A deity of pastoral 
nomads had to receive attributes which would give him 
an agricultural significance; one of rural character had to 
be changed to respond to the various calls of city life. 
Besides, local gods could not be ignored on account of 
their popularity. As a result, imported beliefs and re- 
ligious customs must have been fused and absorbed 
according to their bearing on modes of life in various 
localities. It is probable that the complex character of 
certain deities was due to the process of adjustment to 
which they were subjected in new environments. 

The petty kingdoms of Sumeria appear to have been 
tribal in origin. Each city was presided over by a deity 
who was the nominal owner of the surrounding arable 
land, farms were rented or purchased from the priesthood, 
and pasture was held in common. As in Egypt, where 
we find, for instance, the artisan god 'Ptah supreme at 
Memphis, the sun god Ra at Heliopolis, and the cat 
goddess Bast at Bubastis, the various local Sumerian and 
Akkadian deities had distinctive characteristics, and simi- 
larly showed a tendency to absorb the attributes of their 


rivals. The chief deity of a state was the central figure 
in a pantheon, which had its political aspect and influenced 
the growth of local theology. Cities, however, did not, 
as a rule, bear the names of deities, which suggests that 
several were founded when Sumerian religion was in its 
early animistic stages, and gods and goddesses were not 
sharply defined from the various spirit groups, 

A distinctive and characteristic Sumerian god was Ea, 
who was supreme at the ancient sea -deserted port of 
Eridu. He is identified with the Cannes of Berosus, 1 
who referred to the deity as " a creature endowed with 
reason, with a body like that of a fish, with feet below 
like those of a man, with a fish's tail". This description 
recalls the familiar figures of Egyptian gods and priests 
attired in the skins of the sacred animals from whom 
their powers were derived, and the fairy lore about swan 
maids and men, and the seals and other animals who 
could divest themselves of their " skin coverings " and 
appear in human shape. Originally Ea may have been 
a sacred fish. The Indian creative gods Brahma and 
Vishnu had fish forms. In Sanskrit literature Manu, 
the eponymous "first man", is instructed by the fish to 
build a ship in which to save himself when the world 
would be purged by the rising waters. Ea befriended 
in similar manner the Babylonian Noah, called Pir-na- 
pishfeim, advising him to build a vessel so as to be pre- 
pared for the approaching Deluge. Indeed the Indian 
legend appears to throw light on the original Sumerian 
conception of Ea. It relates that when the fish was 
small and in danger of being swallowed by other fish 
in a stream it appealed to Manu for protection. The 

1 A Babylonian priest of Bel Merodach. In the third century B.C. he composed in 
Greek a history of his native land, which has perished. Extracts from it are given by 
Eusebius, Josephus, Apollodorus, and others. 

( C 642 ) 5 


sage at once lifted up the fish and placed it in a jar of 
water. It gradually increased in bulk, and he transferred 
it next to a tank and then to the river Ganges. In time 
the fish complained to Manu that the river was too small 
for it, so he carried it to the sea. For these services the 
god in fish form instructed Manu regarding the approach- 
ing flood, and afterwards piloted his ship through the 
weltering waters until it rested on a mountain top. 1 

If this Indian myth is of Babylonian origin, as appears 
probable, it may be that the spirit of the river Euphrates, 
** the soul of the land ", was identified with a migrating 
fish. The growth of the fish suggests the growth of the 
river rising in flood. In Celtic folk tales high tides and 
valley floods are accounted for by the presence of a "great' 
beast " in sea, loch, or river. In a class of legends, 
" specially connected with the worship of Atargatis", 
wrote Professor Robertson Smith, "the divine life of 
the waters resides in the sacred fish that inhabit them. 
Atargatis and her son, according to a legend common 
to Hierapolis and Ascalon, plunged into the waters in 
the first case the Euphrates, in the second the sacred 
pool at the temple near the town and were changed 
into fishes". The idea is that "where a god dies, that 
is, ceases to exist in human form, his life passes into the 
waters where he is buried; and this again is merely a 
theory to bring the divine water or the divine fish into 
harmony with anthropomorphic ideas. The same thing was 
sometimes effected in another way by saying that the anthro- 
pomorphic deity was born from the water, as Aphrodite 
sprang from sea foam, or as Atargatis, in another form of 
the Euphrates legend, . . . was born of an egg which the 
sacred fishes found in the Euphrates and pushed ashore." 2 

As " Shar Apsi ", Ea was the " King of the Watery 

1 Indian Myth and Legend, pp. 140, 141. a The Religion of the Semites, pp. 159, 1 60. 


Deep". The reference, however, according to Jastrow, 
" is not to the salt ocean, but the sweet waters flowing 
under the earth which feed the streams, and through 
streams and canals irrigate the fields", 1 As Babylonia 
was fertilized by its rivers, Ea, the fish god, was a ferti- 
lizing deity. In Egypt the "Mother of Mendes" is 
depicted carrying a fish upon her head; she links with 
Isis and Hathor; her husband is Ba-neb-Tettu, a form 
of Ptah, Osiris, and Ra, and as a god of fertility he is 
symbolized by the ram. Another Egyptian fish deity 
was the god Rem, whose name signifies "to weep'*; he 
wept fertilizing tears, and corn was sown and reaped 
amidst lamentations. He may be identical with Remi, 
who was a phase of Sebek, the crocodile god, a developed 
attribute of Nu, the vague primitive Egyptian deity who 
symbolized the primordial deep. The connection between 
a fish god and a corn god is not necessarily remote when 
we consider that in Babylonia and Egypt the harvest was 
the gift of the rivers. 

The Euphrates, indeed, was hailed as a creator of 
all that grew on its banks. 

O thou River who didst create all things, 

When the great gods dug thee out. 

They set prosperity upon thy banks, 

Within thee Ea, the King of the Deep, created his dwelling . . . 

Thou judgest the cause of mankind! 

O River, thou art mighty! O River, thou art supreme! 

O River, thou art righteous! 2 

In serving Ea, the embodiment or the water spirit, by 
leading him, as the Indian Manu led the Creator and 
"Preserver" in fish form, from river to water pot, water 
pot to pond or canal, and then again to river and ocean, 

1 Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, M. Jastrow, p. 88. 

2 The Seven Tablets of Creation, L. W. King, vol. i, p. 129. 


the Babylonians became expert engineers and experienced 
agriculturists, the makers of bricks, the builders of cities, 
the fuamers of laws. Indeed, their civilization was a 
growth of Ea worship. Ea was their instructor. Berosus 
states that, as Oannes, he lived in the Persian Gulf, and 
every day came ashore to instruct the inhabitants of 
Eridu how to make canals, to grow crops, to work 
metals, to make pottery and bricks, and to build temples; 
he was the artisan god Nun-ura, "god of the potter"; 
Kuski-banda, "god of goldsmiths ", &c. the divine 
patron of the arts and crafts. "Ea knoweth everything", 
chanted the hymn maker. He taught the people how to 
form and use alphabetic signs and instructed them in 
mathematics : he gave them their code of laws. Like 
the Egyptian artisan god Ptah, and the linking deity 
Khnumu, Ea was the "potter or moulder of gods and 
man ". Ptah moulded the first man on his potter's 
wheel: he also moulded the sun and moon; he shaped 
the universe and hammered out the copper sky. Ea 
built the world " as an architect builds a house "- 1 Simi- 
larly the Vedic Indra, who wielded a hamr^er like Ptah, 
fashioned the universe after the simple manner in which 
the Aryans made their wooden dwellings. 2 

Like Ptah, Ea also developed from an artisan god 
.into a sublime Creator in the highest sense, not merely 
Vs a producer of crops. His word became the creative 
force; he named those things he desired to be, and they 
came into existence. "Who but Ea creates things", 
exckimed a priestly poet. This change from artisan god 
to creator (Nudimmud) may have been due to the ten- 
dency of early religious cults to attach to their chief god 
the attributes of rivals exalted at other centres. 

1 Religious Belief in Babylonia and Assyria^ M. Jastrow, p. 88. 

3 Cosmology of the Rigveda, Wallis, and Indian Myth-and Legend^ p. 10. 


Ea, whose name is also rendered Aa, was identified 
with Ya, Ya'u, or Au, the Jah of the Hebrews. "In 
Ya-Daganu, 'Jah is Dagon' ", writes Professor Pinches, 
"we have the elements reversed, showing a wish to 
identify Jah with Dagon, rather than Dagon with Jah; 
whilst another interesting name, Au-Aa, shows an identi- 
fication of Jah with Aa, two names which have every 
appearance of being etymologically connected.*' Jah's 
name "is one of the words for 'god' in the Assyro- 
Babylonian language". 1 

Ea was "Enki", "lord of the world", or "lord of 
what is beneath"; Amma-ana-ki, ")ord of heaven and 
earth"; Sa-kalama, "ruler of the land 'V as well as 
Engur, "god of the abyss", Naqbu, "the deep", and 
Lugal-ida, " king of the river ". As rain fell from " the 
waters above the firmament ", the god of waters was also 
a sky and earth god. 

The Indian Varuna was similarly a sky as well as 
an ocean god before the theorizing and systematizing 
Brahmanic teachers relegated him to a permanent abode 
at the bottom of the sea. It may be that Ea-Oannes and 
Varuna were of common origin. 

Another Babylonian deity, named Dagan, is believed 
to be identical with Ea. His worship was certainly of 
great antiquity. " Hammurabi ", writes Professor Pinches, 
" seems to speak of the Euphrates as being c the boundary 
of Dagan*, whom he calls his creator. In later inscriptions 
the form Daguna, which approaches nearer to the West 
Semitic form (Dagon of the Philistines), is found in a 
few personal names. 2 

It is possible that the Philistine deity Dagon was a 

1 The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records and Legends of Assyria and 
Babylonia, T. G. Pinches, pp. 59-61. 

- The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, T. G. Pinches, pp. 91, 92. 


specialized rorm of ancient Ea, who was either imported 
from Babylonia or was a sea god of more than one branch 
of the Mediterranean race. The authorities are at variance 
regarding the form and attributes of Dagan. Our know- 
ledge regarding him is derived mainly from the Bible. 
He was a national rather than a city god. There are 
references to a Beth-dagon *, " house or city of Dagon " ; 
he had also a temple at Gaza, and Samson destroyed it 
by pulling down the two middle pillars which were its 
main support. 2 A third temple was situated in Ashdod. 
When the captured ark of the Israelites was placed in it 
the image of Dagon " fell on his face ", with the result that 
" the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were 
cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was 
left ". 8 A further reference to "the threshold of Dagon" 
suggests that the god had feet like Ea-Oannes. Those 
who hold that Dagon had a fish form derive his name 
from the Semitic " dag = a fish ", and suggest that after 
the idol fell only the fishy part (dago) was left. On the 
other hand, it was argued that Dagon was a corn god, 
and that the resemblance between the words Dagan and 
Dagon are accidental. Professor Sayce makes reference 
in this connection to a crystal seal from Phoenicia in the 
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, bearing an inscription which 
he reads as Baal-dagon. Near the name is an ear of corn, 
and other symbols, such as the winged solar disc, a gazelle, 
and several stars, but there is no fish. It may be, of 
course, that Baal-dagon represents a fusion of deities. 
As we have seen in the case of Ea-Oannes and the deities 
of Mendes, a fish god may also be a corn god, a land 
animal god and a god of ocean and the sky. The offer- 
ing of golden mice representing " your mice that mar the 

1 Joshua, xv, 41; xix, 27. 2 Judges^ xvi, 14. 

3 / Sam., v, 1-9. 


land", 1 made by the Philistines, suggests that Dagon was 
the fertilizing harvest god, among other things, whose 
usefulness had been impaired, as they believed, by the 
mistake committed of placing the ark of Israel in the 
temple at Ashdod. The Philistines came from Crete, 
and if their Dagon was imported from that island, he may 
have had some connection with Poseidon, whose worship 
extended throughout Greece, This god of the sea, who 
is somewhat like the Roman Neptune, carried a lightning 
trident and caused earthquakes. He was a brother of 
Zeus, the sky and atmosphere deity, and had bull and 
horse forms. As a horse he pursued Demeter, the earth 
and corn goddess, and, like Ea, he instructed mankind, 
but especially in the art of training horses. In his train 
were the Tritons, half men, half fishes, and the water 
fairies, the Nereids. Bulls, boars, and rams were offered 
to this sea god of fertility. Amphitrite was his spouse. 

An obscure god Shony, the Cannes of the Scottish 
Hebrides, received oblations from those who depended 
for their agricultural prosperity on his gifts of fertilizing 
seaweed. He is referred to in Martin's Western Isles^ 
and is not yet forgotten. The Eddie sea god Njord 
of Noatun was the father of Frey, the harvest god. 
Dagda, the Irish corn god, had for wife Boann, the 
goddess of the river Boyne. Osiris and Isis of Egypt 
were associated with the Nile. The connection between 
agriculture and the water supply was too obvious to 
escape the early symbolists, and many other proofs of 
this than those referred to could be given. 

Ea's " faithful spouse " was the goddess Damkina, 
who was also called Nin-ki, "lady of the earth". "May 
Ea make thee glad ", chanted the priests. " May Dam- 
kina, queen of the deep, illumine thee with her counten- 

1 / Sam*) vi, 5. 


ancc; may Merodach (Marduk), the mighty overseer of 
the Igigi (heavenly spirits), exalt thy head." Merodach 
was their son: in time he became the Bel, or "Lord ", of 
the Babylonian pantheon. 

Like the Indian Varuna, the sea god, Ea-Oannes had 
control over the spirits and demons of the deep. The 
" ferryman " who kept watch over the river of death was 
called Arad-Ea, " servant of Ea ". There are also refer- 
ences to sea maidens, the Babylonian mermaids, or Nereids. 
We have a glimpse of sea giants, which resemble the 
Indian Uanavas and Daityas of ocean, in the chant: 

Seven arc they, seven are they, 

In the ocean deep seven are they, 

Battening in heaven seven are they, 

Bred in the depths of ocean. . . . 

Of these seven the first is the south wind, 

The second a dragon with mouth agape. . . .* 

A suggestion of the Vedic Vritra and his horde of monsters. 
These seven demons were also " the messengers of 
Ami", who, although specialized as a sky god in more 
than one pantheon, appears to have been closely asso- 
ciated with Ea in the earliest Sumerian period. His 
name, signifying "the high one", is derived from "ana", 
"heaven"; he was the city god of Erech (Uruk). It is 
possible that he was developed as an atmospheric god with 
solar and lunar attributes. The seven demons, who were 
his messengers, recall the stormy Maruts, the followers 
of Indra. They are referred to as 

Forcing their way with baneful windstorms, 
Mighty destroyers, the deluge of the storm god, 
Stalking at the right hand of the storm god. 2 

1 The Devils and Evil Spirits of Babylonia, R. Campbell Thompson, London, 1903, 
vol. i, p. xlii. 

2 The Devils and Evil Spirits of Babylonia^ R. C. Thompson, vol. i, p. xliii. 


When we deal with a deity in his most archaic form 
it is difficult to distinguish him from a demon. Even 
the beneficent Ea is associated with monsters and furies. 
"Evil spirits", according to a Babylonian chant, were 
" the bitter venom of the gods ", Those attached to a 
deity as "attendants** appear to represent the original 
animistic group from which he evolved. In each district 
the character of the deity was shaped to accord with local 

At Nippur, which was situated on the vague and 
shifting boundary line between Sumer and Akkad, the 
chief god was Enlil, whose name is translated " lord of 
mist", "lord of might", and "lord of demons" by 
various authorities. He was a storm god and a war 
god, and " lord of heaven and earth ", like Ea and Anu. 
An atmospheric deity, he shares the attributes of the 
Indian Indra, the thunder and rain god, and Vayu, the 
wind god; he also resembles the Semitic Adad or Rim- 
man, who links with the Hittite Tarku. All these are 
deities of tempest and the mountains Wild Huntsmen 
in the Raging Host. The name of Enlil's temple at 
Nippur has been translated as "mountain house ", or 
" like a mountain ", and the theory obtained for a time 
that the god must therefore have been imported by a 
people from the hills. But as the ideogram for "moun- 
tain" and "land" was used in the earliest times, as King 
shows, with reference to foreign countries, 1 it is more 
probable that Enlil was exalted as a world god who had 
dominion over not only Sumer and Akkad, but also the 
territories occupied by the rivals and enemies of the early 

Enlil is known as the "older Bel" (lord), to dis- 
tinguish him from Bel Merodach of Babylon. He was 

1 A History of Sumer and Akkad y L. W. King, p. 54. 


the chief figure in a triad in which he figured as earth 
god, with Anu as god of the sky and Ea as god of the 
deep. This classification suggests that Nippur had either 
risen in political importance and dominated the cities of 
Erech and Eridu, or that its priests were influential at 
the court of a ruler who was the overlord of several city 

Associated with Bel Enlil was Beltis, later known as 
cc Beltu the lady ". She appears to be identical with 
the other great goddesses, Ishtar, Nana, Zer-panitu m , 
&c., a " Great Mother ", or consort of an early god with 
whom she was equal in power and dignity. 

In the later systematized theology of the Babylonians 
we seem to trace the fragments of a primitive mythology 
which was vague in outline, for the deities were not 
sharply defined, and existed in groups. Enneads were 
formed in Egypt by placing a local god at the head of 
a group of eight elder deities. The sun god Ra was the 
chief figure of the earliest pantheon of this character at 
Heliopolis, while at Hermopolis the leader was the lunar 
god Thoth. Professor Budge is of opinion that " both 
the Sumerians and the early Egyptians derived their 
primeval gods from some common but exceedingly 
ancient source ", for he finds in the Babylonian and Nile 
valleys that there is a resemblance between two early 
groups which "seems to be too close to be accidental". 1 

The Egyptian group comprises four pairs of vague 
gods and goddesses Nu and his consort Nut, Hehu and 
his consort Hehut, Kekui and his consort Kekuit, and Kerh 
and his consort Kerhet. " Man always has fashioned ", 
he says, "and probably always will fashion, his god or 
gods in his own image, and he has always, having reached 
a certain stage in development, given to his gods wives 

1 The Gods of the Egyptian^ E. Wallis Budge, vol. i, p. 290. 


and offspring; but the nature of the position taken by 
the wives of the gods depends upon the nature of the 
position of women in the households of those who write 
the legends and the traditions of the gods. The gods 
of the oldest company in Egypt were, the writer believes, 
invented by people in whose households women held a 
high position, and among whom they possessed more 
power than is usually the case with Oriental peoples/* l 

We cannot say definitely what these various deities 
represent. Nu was the spirit of the primordial deep, 
and Nut of the waters above the heavens, the mother 
of moon and sun and the stars. The others were phases 
of light and darkness and the forces of nature in activity 
and repose. 

Nu is represented in Babylonian mythology by Apsu- 
Rishtu, and Nut by Mummu-Tiamat or Tiawath ; the 
next pair is Lachmu and Lachamu, and the third, Anshar 
and Kishar. The fourth pair is missing, but the names 
of Anu and Ea (as Nudimmud) are mentioned in the 
first tablet of the Creation series, and the name of a third 
is lost. Professor Budge thinks that the Assyrian editors 
substituted the ancient triad of Anu, Ea, and Enlil for 
the pair which would correspond to those found in Egypt. 
Originally the wives of Anu and Ea may have made up 
the group of eight primitive deities. 

There can be little doubt but that Ea, as he survives 
to us, is of later characterization than the first pair of 
primitive deities who symbolized the deep. The attri- 
butes of this beneficent god reflect the progress, and the 
social and moral ideals of a people well advanced in 
civilization. He rewarded mankind for the services they 
rendered to him; he was their leader and instructor; he 
achieved for them the victories over the destructive forces 

1 The Gods of the Egyptians, vol. i, p. 287. 


of nature. In brief, he was the dragon slayer, a dis- 
tinction, by the way, which was attached in later times 
to his son Merodach, the Babylonian god, although Ea 
was still credited with the victory over the dragon's 

When Ea was one of the pre-Babylonian group the 
triad of Bel-Enlil, Anu, and Ea he resembled the Indian 
Vishnu, the Preserver, while Bel-Enlil resembled Shiva, 
the Destroyer, and Anu, the father, supreme Brahma, 
the Creator and Father of All, the difference in exact 
adjustment being due, perhaps, to Sumerian political 

Ea, as we have seen, symbolized the beneficence of 
the waters; their destructive force was represented by 
Tiamat or Tiawath, the dragon, and Apsu, her husband, 
the arch-enemy of the gods. We shall find these elder 
demons figuring in the Babylonian Creation myth, which 
receives treatment in a later chapter. 

The ancient Sumerian city of Eridu, which means "on 
the seashore ", was invested with great sanctity from the 
earliest times, and Ea, the "great magician of the gods", 
was invoked by workers of spells, the priestly magicians 
of historic Babylonia. Excavations have shown that 
Eridu was protected by a retaining wall of sandstone, 
of which material many of its houses were made. In its 
temple tower, built of brick, was a marble stairway, and 
evidences have been forthcoming that in the later Su- 
merian period the structure was lavishly adorned. It is 
referred to in the fragments of early literature which have 
survived as "the splendid house, shady as the forest ", 
that " none may enter ". The mythological spell exer- 
cised by Eridu in later times suggests that the civilization 
of Sumeria owed much to the worshippers of Ea. At 
the sacred city the first man was created : there the souls 


of the dead passed towards the great Deep. Its proximity 
to the sea Ea was Nin~bubu, " god of the sailor " may 
have brought it into contact with other peoples and other 
early civilizations. Like the early Egyptians, the early 
Sumerians may have been in touch with Punt (Somali- 
land), which some regard as the cradle of the Medi- 
terranean race. The Egyptians obtained from that sacred 
land incense-bearing trees which had magical potency. In 
a fragmentary Babylonian charm there is a reference to 
a sacred tree or bush at Eridu. Professor Sayce has 
suggested that it is the Biblical "Tree of Life" in the 
Garden of Eden. His translations of certain vital words, 
however, is sharply questioned by Mr. R, Campbell 
Thompson of the British Museum, who does not accept 
the theory. 1 It may be that Ea's sacred bush or tree is 
a survival of tree and water worship. 

If Eridu was not the " cradle " of the Sumerian race, 
it was possibly the cradle of Sumerian civilization. Here, 
amidst the shifting rivers in early times, the agriculturists 
may have learned to control and distribute the water 
supply by utilizing dried-up beds of streams to irrigate 
the land. Whatever successes they achieved were credited 
to Ea, their instructor and patron; he was Nadimmud, 
" god of everything ". 

1 The Devils and Evil Spirits of Babylonia, vol. i, Intro. See also Sayce's The Religion 
of Ancient Egypt and Babylonia (Giffbrd Lectures, 1902), p. 385, and Pinches* The Old 
Testament in the Light of Historical Records, &c., p. 71. 


Rival Pantheons and Representative 

Why Different Gods were Supreme at Different Centres Theories 
regarding Origin of Life Vital Principle in Water Creative Tears of Weep- 
ing Deities Significance of widespread Spitting Customs Divine Water in 
Blood and Divine Blood in Water Liver as the Seat of Life Inspiration 
derived by Drinking Mead, Blood, &c. Life Principle in Breath Babylonian 
Ghosts as " Evil Wind Gusts " Fire Deities Fire and Water in Magical 
Ceremonies Moon Gods of Ur and Harran Moon Goddess and Babylonian 
"Jack and Jill" Antiquity of Sun Worship Tarn muz and Ishtar Solar 
Gods of War, Pestilence, and Death Shamash as the " Great Judge " His 
Mitra Name Aryan Mitra or Mithra and linking Babylonian Deities 
Varuna and Shamash Hymns compared The Female Origin of Life 
Goddesses of Maternity The Babylonian Thor Deities of Good and Evil. 

IN dealing with the city cults of Sumer and Akkad, 
consideration must be given to the problems involved 
by the rival mythological systems. Pantheons not only 
varied in detail, but were presided over by different 
supreme gods. One city's chief deity might be re- 
garded as a secondary deity at another centre. Although 
Ea, for instance, was given first place at Eridu, and was 
so pronouncedly Sumerian in character, the moon god 
Nannar remained supreme at Ur, while the sun god, 
whose Semitic name was Shamash, presided at Larsa and 
Sippar. Other deities were similarly exalted in other 

As has been indicated, a mythological system must 
have been strongly influenced by city politics. To hold 



a community in sway, it was necessary to recognize offi- 
cially the various gods worshipped by different sections, 
so as to secure the constant allegiance of all classes to 
their rulers. Alien deities were therefore associated with 
local and tribal deities, those of the nomads with those 
of the agriculturists, those of the unlettered folks with 
those of the learned people. Reference has been made 
to the introduction of strange deities by conquerors. 
But these were not always imposed upon a community 
by violent means. Indications are not awanting that the 
worshippers of alien gods were sometimes welcomed and 
encouraged to settle in certain states. When they came 
as military allies to assist a city folk against a fierce 
.enemy, they were naturally much admired and praised, 
honoured by the women and the bards, and rewarded 
by the rulers. 

In the epic of Gilgamesh, the Babylonian Hercules, 
we meet with Ea-bani, a Goliath of the wilds, who is 
entreated to come to the aid of the besieged city of 
Erech when it seemed that its deities were unable to help 
the people against their enemies. 

The gods of walled-round Erech 

To flies had turned and buzzed in the streets; 

The winged bulls of walled-round Erech 

Were turned to mice and departed through the holes. 

Ea-bani was attracted to Erech by the gift of a fair 
woman for wife. The poet who lauded him no doubt 
mirrored public opinion. We can see the slim, shaven 
Sumerians gazing with wonder and admiration on their 
rough heroic ally. 

All his body was covered with hair, 
His locks were like a woman's, 
Thick as corn grew his abundant hair. 


He was a stranger to the people and in that land. 
Clad in a garment like Gira, the god, 
He had eaten grass with the gazelles, 
He had drunk water with savage beasts. 
His delight was to be among water dwellers. 

Like the giant Alban, the eponymous ancestor of a 
people who invaded prehistoric Britain, Ea-bani appears 
to have represented in Babylonian folk legends a certain 
type of foreign settlers in the land. No doubt the city 
dwellers, who were impressed by the prowess of the hairy 
and powerful warriors, were also ready to acknowledge 
the greatness of their war gods, and to admit them into 
the pantheon. The fusion of beliefs which followed 
must have stimulated thought and been productive of 
speculative ideas, " Nowhere ", remarks Professor Jastrow, 
"does a high form of culture arise without the com- 
mingling of diverse ethnic elements/' 

We must also take into account the influence exercised 
by leaders of thought like En-we-dur-an-ki, the famous 
high priest of Sippar, whose piety did much to increase 
the reputation of the cult of Shamesh, the sun god. The 
teachings and example of Buddha, for instance, revolu- 
tionized Brahmanic religion in India. 

A mythology was an attempt to solve the riddle of the 
Uni\ r erse, and to adjust the relations of mankind with 
the various forces represented by the deities. The priests 
systematized existing folk beliefs and established an 
official religion. To secure the prosperity of the State, 
it was considered necessary to render homage unto 
whom homage was due at various seasons and under 
various circumstances. 

The religious attitude of a particular community, there- 
fore, must have been largely dependent on its needs and 
experiences. The food supply^ was a first consideration. 


At Eridu, as we have seen, it was assured by devotion 
to Ea and obedience to his commands as an instructor. 
Elsewhere it might happen, however, that Ea's gifts were 
restricted or withheld by an obstructing force the raging 
storm god, or the parching, pestilence-bringing deity of 
the sun. It was necessary, therefore, for the people to 
win the favour of the god or goddess who seemed most 
powerful, and was accordingly considered to be the 
greatest in a particular district, A rain god presided 
over the destinies of one community, and a god of disease 
and death over another; a third exalted the war god, no 
doubt because raids were frequent and the city owed its 
strength and prosperity to its battles and conquests. The 
reputation won by a particular god throughout Baby- 
lonia would depend greatly on the achievements of his 
worshippers and the progress of the city civilization over 
which he presided. Bel-Enlil's fame as a war deity 
was probably due to the political supremacy of his city 
of Nippur; and there was probably good reason for 
attributing to the sun god a pronounced administra- 
tive and legal character; he may have controlled the 
destinies of exceedingly well organized communities in 
which law and order and authority were held in high 

In accounting for the rise of distinctive and rival 
city deities, we should also consider the influence of 
divergent conceptions regarding the origin of life in 
mingled communities. Each foreign element in a com- 
munity had its own intellectual life and immemorial tribal 
traditions, which reflected ancient habits of life and per- 
petuated the doctrines of eponymous ancestors. Among 
the agricultural classes, the folk religion which entered 
so intimately into their customs and labours must have 
remained essentially Babylonish in character. In cities, 

(0642) 6 


however, where official religions were formulated, foreign 
ideas were more apt to be imposed, especially when 
embraced by influential teachers. It is not surprising, 
therefore, to find that in Babylonia, as in Egypt, there 
were differences of opinion regarding the origin of life 
and the particular natural element which represented the 
vital principle. 

One section of the people, who were represented by 
the worshippers of Ea, appear to have believed that the 
essence of life was contained in water. The god of 
Eridu was the source of the "water of life ". He fer- 
tilized parched and sunburnt wastes through rivers and 
irrigating canals, and conferred upon man the sustaining 
cc food of life ". When life came to an end 

Food of death will be offered thee . . . 
Water of death will be offered thee . . . 

Offerings of water and food were made to the dead 
so that the ghosts might be nourished and prevented from 
troubling the living. Even the gods required water and 
food; they were immortal because they had drunk 
ambrosia and eaten from the plant of life. When the 
goddess Ishtar was in the Underworld, the land of the 
dead, the servant of Ea exclaimed 

"Hail! lady, may the well give me of its waters, so that I 
may drink." 

The goddess of the dead commanded her servant to 
" sprinkle the lady Ishtar with the water of life and bid 
her depart". The sacred water might also be found at 
a confluence of rivers. Ea bade his son, Merodach, to 
" draw water from the mouth of two streams ", and " on 
this water to put his pure spell ". 

The worship of rivers and wells which prevailed in 


many countries was connected with the belief that the 
principle of life was in moisture. In India, water was 
vitalized by the intoxicating juice of the Soma plant, 
which inspired priests to utter prophecies and filled their 
hearts with religious fervour. Drinking customs had 
originally a religious significance. It was believed in 
India that the sap of plants was influenced by the moon, 
the source of vitalizing moisture and the hiding-place of 
the mead of the gods. The Teutonic gods also drank 
this mead, and poets were inspired by it. Similar beliefs 
obtained among various peoples. Moon and water wor- 
ship were therefore closely associated; the blood of animals 
and the sap of plants were vitalized by the water of life 
and under control of the moon. 

The body moisture of gods and demons had vitalizing 
properties. When the Indian creator, Prajapati, wept at 
the beginning, " that (the tears) which fell into the water 
became the air. That which he wiped away, upwards, 
became the sky." 1 The ancient Egyptians believed that 
all men were born from the eyes of Horus except negroes, 
who came from other parts of his body. 2 The creative 
tears of Ra, the sun god, fell as shining rays upon the 
earth. When this god grew old saliva dripped from his 
mouth, and Isis mixed the vitalizing moisture with dust, 
and thus made the serpent which bit and paralysed the 
great solar deity. 3 

Other Egyptian deities, including Osiris and Isis, wept 
creative tears. Those which fell from the eyes of the evil 
gods produced poisonous plants and various baneful 
animals. Orion, the Greek giant, sprang from the body 
moisture of deities. The weeping ceremonies in connec- 

1 Indian Myth and Legend, p. 100. 2 Maspero's Dawn of Civilization , p. i 56 et sey. 
3 Egyptian Myth and Legend, p. I et seq. The saliva of the frail and elderly was 


tion with agricultural rites were no doubt believed to be 
of magical potency; they encouraged the god to weep 
creative tears. 

Ea, the god of the deep, was also "lord of life*' (Enti), 
"king of the river" (Lugal-ida), and god of creation 
(Nudimmud). His aid was invoked by means or magical 
formulae. As the "great magician of the gods" he 
uttered charms himself, and was the patron of all 
magicians. One spell runs as follows: 

I am the sorcerer priest of Ea . . . 
To revive the . * . sick man 
The great lord Ea hath sent me; 
He hath added his pure spell to mine, 
He hath added his pure voice to mine, 
He hath added his pure spittle to mine. 

R. C. Thompson's Translation. 

Saliva, like tears, had creative and therefore curative 
qualities; it also expelled and injured demons and brought 
good luck. Spitting ceremonies are referred to in the 
religious literature of Ancient Egypt. When the Eye 
of Ra was blinded by Set, Thoth spat in it to restore 
vision. The sun god Turn, who was linked with Ra 
as Ra-Tum, spat on the ground, and his saliva became 
the gods Shu and Tefnut. In the Underworld the devil 
serpent Apep was spat upon to curse it, as was also its 
waxen image which the priests fashioned. 1 

Several African tribes spit to make compacts, declare 
friendship, and to curse. 

Park, the explorer, refers in his Travels to his carriers 
spitting on a flat stone to ensure a good journey. 
Arabian holy men and descendants of Mohammed spit 
to cure diseases. Mohammed spat in the mouth of his 
grandson Hasen soon after birth. Theocritus, Sophocles, 

1 Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection, E. Wallis Budge, vol. ii, p. 203 et seq. 


and Plutarch testify to the ancient Grecian customs of 
spitting to cure and to curse, and also to bless when 
children were named. Pliny has expressed belief in the 
efficacy of the fasting spittle for curing disease, and re- 
ferred to the custom of spitting to avert witchcraft* In 
England, Scotland, and Ireland spitting customs are not 
yet obsolete. North of England boys used to talk of 
" spitting their sauls " (souls). When the Newcastle 
colliers held their earliest strikes they made compacts by 
spitting on a stone. There are still "spitting stones" 
in the north of Scotland. When bargains are made in 
rural districts, hands are spat upon before they are shaken. 
The first money taken each day by fishwives and other 
dealers is spat upon to ensure increased drawings. Brand, 
who refers to various spitting customs, quotes Scot's Dis- 
covery of Witchcraft regarding the saliva cure for king's 
evil, which is still, by the way, practised in the Hebrides. 
Like Pliny, Scot recommended ceremonial spitting as a 
charm against witchcraft. 1 In China spitting to expel 
demons is a common practice. We still call a hasty 
person a " spitfire ", and a calumniator a " spit-poison ". 
The life principle in trees, &c., as we have seen, 
was believed to have been derived from the tears of 
deities. In India sap was called the " blood of trees ", 
and references to " bleeding trees " are still widespread 
and common. "Among the ancients ", wrote Professor 
Robertson Smith, "blood is generally conceived as the 
principle or vehicle of life, and so the account often given 
of sacred waters is that the blood of the deity flows in 
them. Thus as Milton writes: 

Smooth Adonis from his native rock 

Ran purple to the sea, supposed with blood 

Of Thammuz yearly wounded. Paradise Lost, i, 450. 

1 Brand's Popular Antiquities, vol. iii, pp. 259-263 (1889 ed.}. 


The ruddy colour which the swollen river derived from 
the soil at a certain season was ascribed to the blood 
of the god, who received his death wound in Lebanon 
at that time of the year, and lay buried beside the sacred 

source/' 1 

In Babylonia the river was regarded as the source 
of the life blood and the seat of the soul. No doubt 
this theory was based on the fact that the human liver 
contains about a sixth of the blood in the body, the largest 
proportion required by any single organ. Jeremiah makes 
"Mother Jerusalem " exclaim: "My liver is poured upon 
the earth for the destruction of the daughter of my 
people ", meaning that her life is spent with grief. 

Inspiration was derived by drinking blood as well as 
by drinking intoxicating liquors the mead of the gods. 
Indian magicians who drink the blood of the goat sacri- 
ficed to the goddess Kali, are believed to be temporarily 
possessed by her spirit, and thus enabled to prophesy. 2 
Malayan exorcists still expel demons while they suck the 
blood from a decapitated fowl. 3 

Similar customs were prevalent in Ancient Greece. 
A woman who drank the blood of a sacrificed lamb or 
bull uttered prophetic sayings. 4 

But while most Babylonians appear to have believed 
that the life principle was in blood, some were apparently 
of opinion that it was in breath the air of life. A man 
died when he ceased to breathe; his spirit, therefore, 
it was argued, was identical with the atmosphere the 
moving wind and was accordingly derived from the 
atmospheric or wind god. When, in the Gilgamesh 
epic, the hero invokes the dead Ea-bani, the ghost rises 

1 The Religion of the Semites, pp. 158, 159. 

2 Castes and Tribes of Southern India, E. Thurston, iv, 187. 

3 Omens and Superstitions of Southern India, E, Thurston (1912), pp. 245, 246. 

4 Pausanias, ii, 24, i. 


up like a " breath of wind ". A Babylonian charm 

The gods which seize on men 

Came forth from the grave 5 
The evil wind gusts 

Have come forth from the grave. 
To demand payment of rites and the pouring out of libations 

They have come forth from the grave ; 
All that is evil in their hosts, like a whirlwind, 

Hath come forth from the grave. 1 

The Hebrew "nephesh ruach" and " neshamah " (in 
Arabic " ruh " and " nefs ") pass from meaning " breath " 
to " spirit " 2 In Egypt the god Khnumu was " Kneph " 
in his character as an atmospheric deity The ascendancy 
of storm and wind gods in some Babylonian cities may 
have been due to the belief that they were the source 
of the " air of life ". It is possible that this conception 
was popularized by the Semites. Inspiration was perhaps 
derived from these deities by burning incense, which, if 
we follow evidence obtained elsewhere, induced a pro- 
phetic trance. The gods were also invoked by incense. 
In the Flood legend the Babylonian Noah burned incense. 
" The gods smelled a sweet savour and gathered like flies 
over the sacrificer." In Egypt devotees who inhaled the 
breath of the Apis bull were enabled to prophesy. 

In addition to water and atmospheric deities Babylonia 
had also its fire gods, Girru, Gish Bar, Gibil, and Nusku. 
Their origin is obscure. It is doubtful if their wor- 
shippers, like those of the Indian Agni, believed that 
fire, the "vital spark", was the principle of life which 
was manifested by bodily heat. The Aryan fire wor- 
shippers cremated their dead so that the spirits might be 

1 Devils and Evil Spirits of Babylonia, R. C. Thompson, vol. ii, tablet T. 

2 Animism, E. Clodd, p. 37. 


transferred by fire to Paradise. This practice, however, 
did not obtain among the fire worshippers of Persia, nor, 
as was once believed, in Sumer or Akkad either. Fire 
was, however, used in Babylonia for magical purposes. 
It destroyed demons, and put to flight the spirits of 
disease. Possibly the fire -purification ceremonies re- 
sembled those which were practised by the Canaanites, 
and are referred to in the Bible. Ahaz "made his son 
to pass through the fire, according to the abominations 
of the heathen 'V Ezekiel declared that "when ye offer 
your gifts, when ye make your sons to pass through the 
fire, ye pollute yourselves with all your idols ", 2 In 
Leviticus it is laid down: "Thou shalt not let any of thy 
seed pass through the fire to Moloch ". 3 It may be that 
in Babylonia the fire-cleansing ceremony resembled that 
which obtained at Beltane (May Day) in Scotland, 
Germany, and other countries. Human sacrifices might 
also have been offered up as burnt offerings. Abraham, 
who came from the Sumerian city of Ur, was prepared 
to sacrifice Isaac, Sarah's first-born. The fire gods of 
Babylonia never achieved the ascendancy of the Indian 
Agni; they appear to have resembled him mainly in so 
far as he was connected with the sun. Nusku, like 
Agni, was also the ." messenger of the gods ". When 
Merodach of Babylon was exalted as chief god of the 
pantheon his messages were carried to Ea by Nusku. 
He may have therefore symbolized the sun rays, for 
Merodach had solar attributes. It is possible that the 
belief obtained among even the water worshippers of 
Eridu that the sun and moon, which rose from the 
primordial deep, had their origin in the everlasting fire 
in Ea's domain at the bottom of the sea. In the Indian 
god Varuna's ocean home an " Asura fire " (demon fire) 

1 2 Kings, xvi, 3. 2 Ezekiel, xx, 31. 8 Leviticus, xviii, 21. 


burned constantly; it was "bound and confined", but 
could not be extinguished. Fed by water, this fire, it 
was believed, would burst forth at the last day and con- 
sume the universe. 1 A similar belief can be traced in 
Teutonic mythology. The Babylonian incantation cult 
appealed to many gods, but "the most important share 
in the rites", says Jastrow, "are taken by fire and water 
suggesting, therefore, that the god ot water more 
particularly Ea and the god of fire . . . are the chief 
deities on which the ritual itself hinges". In some 
temples there was a bit rimki, a "house of washing", 
and a bit nuri^ a "house of light". 2 

It is possible, of course, that fire was regarded as the 
vital principle by some city cults, which were influenced 
by imported ideas. If so, the belief never became preva- 
lent. The most enduring influence in Babylonian religion 
was the early Sumerian; and as Sumerian modes of 
thought were the outcome of habits of life necessitated 
by the character of the country, they were bound, sooner 
or later, to leave a deep impress on the minds of foreign 
peoples who settled in the Garden of Western Asia. It 
is not surprising, therefore, to find that imported deities 
assumed Babylonian characteristics, and were identified or 
associated with Babylonian gods in the later imperial 

Moon worship appears to have been as ancient as 
water worship, with which, as we have seen, it was closely 
associated. It was widely prevalent throughout Baby- 
lonia. The chief seat of the lunar deity, Nannar or Sin, 
was the ancient city of Ur, from which Abraham migrated 
to Harran, where the " Baal " (the lord) was also a moon 
god. Ur was situated in Sumer, in the south, between 

1 Indian Myth and Legend, p. 65... 

-Religious Belief in Babylonia and Assyria^ M. Jastrow, pp. 312, 313. 


the west bank of the Euphrates and the low hills border- 
ing the Arabian desert> and not far distant from sea- 
washed Eridu. No doubt, like that city, it had its origin 
at an exceedingly remote period. At any rate, the ex- 
cavations conducted there have afforded proof that it 
flourished in the prehistoric period. 

As in Arabia, Egypt, and throughout ancient Europe 
and elsewhere, the moon god of Sumeria was regarded 
as the " friend of man ". He controlled nature as a 
fertilizing agency; he caused grass, trees, and crops to 
grow; he increased flocks and herds, and gave human 
offspring* At Ur he was exalted above Ea as " the lord 
and prince of the gods, supreme in heaven, the Father of 
all"; he was also called "great Anu % an indication that 
Anu, the sky god, had at one time a lunar character. The 
moon god was believed to be the father of the sun god: 
he was the "great steer with mighty horns and perfect 

His name Sin is believed to be a corruption of 
" Zu-ena ", which signifies " knowledge lord'V Like the 
lunar Osiris of Egypt, he was apparently an instructor of 
mankind; the moon measured time and controlled the 
seasons; seeds were sown at a certain phase of the moon, 
and crops were ripened by the harvest moon. The moun- 
tains of Sinai and the desert of Sin are called after this 

As Nannar, which Jastrow considers to be a variation 
of "Narnar", the "light producer", the moon god 
scattered darkness and reduced the terrors of night. His 
spirit inhabited the lunar stone, so that moon and stone 
worship were closely associated; it also entered trees and 
crops, so that moon worship linked with earth worship, 
as both linked with water worship. 

1 The Religion of Bahylonia and Assyria^ T, G. Pinches, p. 8 1. 


The consort of Nannar was Nin-Uruwa, "the lady 
of Ur ", who was also called Nin-gala. She links with 
Ishtar as Nin, as Isis of Egypt linked with other mother 
deities. The twin children of the moon were Mashu and 
Mashtu, a brother and sister, like the lunar girl and boy 
of Teutonic mythology immortalized in nursery rhymes 
as Jack and Jill. 

Sun worship was of great antiquity in Babylonia, but 
appears to have been seasonal in its earliest phases. No 
doubt the sky god Anu had his solar as well as his lunar 
attributes, which he shared with Ea. The spring sun was 
personified as Tammuz, the youthful shepherd, who was 
loved by the earth goddess Ishtar and her rival Eresh- 
ki-gal, goddess of death, the Babylonian Persephone. 
During the winter Tammuz dwelt in Hades, and at the 
beginning of spring Ishtar descended to search for him 
among the shades. 1 But the burning summer sun was 
symbolized as a destroyer, a slayer of men, and therefore 
a war god. As Ninip or Nirig, the son of Enlil, who was 
made in the likeness of Anu, he waged war against the 
earth spirits, and was furiously hostile towards the deities 
of alien peoples, as befitted a god of battle. Even his 
father feared him, and when he was advancing towards 
Nippur, sent out Nusku, messenger of the gods, to soothe 
the raging deity with soft words Ninip was symbolized 
as a wild bull, was connected with stone worship, like the 
Indian destroying god Shiva, and was similarly a deity 
of Fate. He had much in common with Nin-Girsu, a 
god of Lagash, who was in turn regarded as a form of 

Nergal 5 another solar deity, brought disease and pesti- 
lence, and, according to Jensen, all misfortunes due to 
excessive heat. He was the king of death, husband of 

1 In early times two goddesses searched for Tammuz at different periods. 


Eresh~ki-gal, queen of Hades. As a war god he thirsted 
for human blood, and was depicted as a mighty lion. 
He was the chief deity of the city of Cuthah, which, 
Jastrow suggests, was situated beside a burial place of 
great repute, like the Egyptian Abydos. 

The two great cities of the sun in ancient Babylonia 
were the Akkadian Sippar and the Sumerian Larsa. In 
these the sun god, Shamash or Babbar, was the patron 
deity. He was a god of Destiny, the lord of the living 
and the dead, and was exalted as the great Judge, the 
lawgiver, who upheld justice; he was the enemy of 
wrong, he loved righteousness and hated sin, he inspired 
his worshippers with rectitude and punished evildoers. 
The sun god also illumined the world, and his rays 
penetrated every quarter: he saw all things, and read 
the thoughts of men; nothing could be concealed from 
Shamash. One of his names was Mitra, like the god 
who was linked with Varuna in the Indian Rigveda. 
These twin deities, Mitra and Varuna, measured out 
the span of human life. They were the source of all 
heavenly gifts : they regulated sun and moon, the winds 
and waters, and the seasons. 1 

These did the gods establish in royal power over themselves, 
because they were wise and the children of wisdom, and because 
they excelled in power. Prof. Arnold's trans, of Rigvedic Hymn. 

Mitra and Varuna were protectors of hearth and home, 
and they chastised sinners. "In a striking passage of 
the Mahdbhdrata" says Professor Moulton, "one in 
which Indian thought comes nearest to the conception of 
conscience, a kingly wrongdoer is reminded that the sun 
sees secret sin." 2 

In Persian mythology Mitra, as Mithra, is the patron 

1 Indian Myth and Legend, p. 30. 2 Early Religious Poetry of Persia, p. 35. 


of Truth, and "the Mediator 7 * between heaven and earth. 1 
This god was also worshipped by the military aristocracy 
of Mitanni, which held sway for a period over Assyria* 
In Roman times the worship of Mithra spread into 
Europe from Persia. Mithraic sculptures depict the 
deity as a corn god slaying the harvest bull; on one of 
the monuments "cornstalks instead of blood arc seen 
issuing from the wound inflicted with the knife*'. 2 The 
Assyrian word "metru" signifies rain. 1 As a sky god 
Mitra may have been associated, like Varuna, with the 
waters above the firmament. Rain would therefore be 
gifted by him as a fertilizing deity* In the Babylonian 
Flood legend it is the sun god Shamash who "appointed 
the time" when the heavens were to "rain destruction*' 
'in the night, and commanded Pir-napishtim, " Enter into 
the midst of thy ship and shut thy door". The solar 
deity thus appears as a form of Anu, god of the sky and 
upper atmosphere, who controls the seasons and the various 
forces of nature. Other rival chiefs of city pantheons, 
whether lunar, atmospheric, earth, or water deities, were 
similarly regarded as the supreme deities who ruled the 
Universe., and decreed when man should receive benefits 
or suffer from their acts of vengeance. 

It is possible that the close resemblances between 
Mithra and Mitra of the Aryan -speaking peoples of 
India and the Iranian plateau, and the sun god of the 
Babylonians the Semitic Shamash, the Sumerian Utu 
were due to early contact and cultural influence through 
the medium of Elam. As a solar and corn god, the 
Persian Mithra links with Tammuz, as a sky and atmos- 
pheric deity with Anu, and as a god of truth, righteous- 
ness 5 and law with Shamash. We seem to trace in the 

1 Early Religious Poetry of Persia, p. 37. 

2 The Golden Bough (Spirits of the Corn and Wild, vol. ii, p. 10), 3rd edition. 


sublime Vedic hymns addressed by the Indian Aryans 
to Mitra and Varuna the impress of Babylonian religious 

Whate'er exists within this earth, and all within the sky, 
Yea, all that is beyond, King Varuna perceives. . . . 

Rigvedd) iv, i6. 1 

O Varuna, whatever the offence may be 
That we as men commit against the heavenly folk, 
When through our want of thought we violate thy laws, 
Chastise us not, O god, for that iniquity. 

Rigveda, vii, Sg. 2 

Shamash was similarly exalted in Babylonian hymns: 

The progeny of those who deal unjustly will not prosper. 

What their mouth utters in thy presence 

Thou wilt destroy, what issues from their mouth thou wilt 

Thou knowest their transgressions, the plan of the wicked thou 


All, whoever they be, are in thy care. . . . 
He who takes no bribe, who cares for the oppressed, 
Is favoured by Shamash, his life shall be prolonged. 3 

The worshippers of Varuna and Mitra in the Punjab 
did not cremate their dead like those who exalted the 
rival fire god Agni. The grave was the "house of clay", 
as in Babylonia. Mitra, who was identical with Yama, 
ruled over departed souls in the " Land of the Pitris " 
(Fathers), which was reached by crossing the mountains 
and the rushing stream of death. 4 As we have seen, the 
Babylonian solar god Nergal was also the lord of the dead. 

As Ma-banda-anna, "the boat of the sky", Shamash 
links with the Egyptian sun god Ra, whose barque sailed 

1 Indian Wisdom? Sir Monier Monier- Williams. 

2 A History of Sanskrit Literature, Professor Mactlonell. 

3 Religious Belief and Practice in Babylonia and Assyria, M. Jastrow, pp. 1 1 1, 112. 

4 Indian Myth and Legend, pp. xxxii, and 38 et seq. 


over the heavens by day and through the underworld of 
darkness and death during the night. The consort of 
Shamash was Aa, and his attendants were Kittu and 
Mesharu, "Truth" and "Righteousness". 

Like the Hittites, the Babylonians had also a sun 
goddess: her name was Nin-sun, which Jastrow renders 
"the annihilating lady". At Erech she had a shrine in 
the temple of the sky god Anu. 

We can trace in Babylonia, as in Egypt, the early 
belief that life in the Universe had a female origin. Nin- 
sun links with Ishtar, whose Sumerian name is Nana. 
Ishtar appears to be identical with the Egyptian Hathor, 
who, as Sekhet, slaughtered the enemies of the sun god 
Ra. She was similarly the goddess of maternity, and is 
"depicted in this character, like Isis and other goddesses 
of similar character, suckling a babe. Another Babylonian 
lady of the gods was Ama, Mama, or Mami, " the creatress 
of the seed of mankind ", and was " probably so called 
as the c mother' of all things". 1 

A characteristic atmospheric deity was Ramman, the 
Rimmon of the Bible, the Semitic Addu, Adad, Hadad, 
or Dadu. He was not a presiding deity in any pan- 
theon, but was identified with Enlil at Nippur. As a 
hammer god, he was imported by the Semites from the 
hills. He was a wind and thunder deity, a rain bringer, 
a corn god, and a god of battle like Thor, Jupiter, Tarku, 
Indra, and others, who were all sons of the sky. 

In this brief review of the representative deities of 
early Babylonia, it will be seen that most gods link with 
Anu, Ea, and Enlil, whose attributes they symbolized 
in various forms. The prominence accorded to an in- 
dividual deity depended on local conditions, experiences, 
and influences. Ceremonial practices no doubt varied 

1 The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, T. G. Pinches, p. 94. 


here and there, but although one section might exalt Ea 
and another Shamash, the religious faith of the people as 
a whole did not differ to any marked extent; they served 
the gods according to their lights, so that life might be 
prolonged and made prosperous, for the land of death 
and <c no return " was regarded as a place of gloom and 

When the Babylonians appear before us in the early 
stages of the historical period they had reached that stage 
of development set forth so vividly in the Orations of 
Isocrates: "Those of the gods who are the source to us 
of good things have the title of Olympians; those whose 
department is that of calamities and punishments have 
harsher titles: to the first class both private persons and 
states erect altars and temples; the second is not wor- 
shipped either with prayers or burnt sacrifices, but in 
their case we perform ceremonies of riddance". 1 

The Sumerians, like the Ancient Egyptians, developed 
their deities, who reflected the growth of culture, from 
vague spirit groups, which, like ghosts, were hostile to 
mankind. Those spirits who could be propitiated were 
exalted as benevolent deities ; those who could not be 
bargained with were regarded as evil gods and goddesses. 
A better understanding of the character of Babylonian 
deities will therefore be obtained by passing the demons 
and evil spirits under review. 

1 The Religion cf Ancient Greece, J. E. "Harrison, p. 46, and Isoc. Orat. t v ? 117. 

Demons, Fairies, and Ghosts 

Spirits in Everything and Everywhere The Bringers of" Luck and Mis* 
fortune Germ Theory Anticipated Early Gods indistinguishable from 
Demons Repulsive form of Ea Spirit Groups as Attendants of Deities 
Egyptian, Indian, Greek, and Germanic parallels Elder Gods as Evil Gods- 
Animal Demons The Babylonian " Will-o'-the-Wisp " " Foreign Devils " 
Elves and Fairies Demon Lovers "Adam's first wife, Lilith" Children 
Charmed against Evil Spirits The Demon of Nightmare Ghosts as Enemies 
of the Living The Vengeful Dead Mother in Babylonia, India, Europe, and 
Mexico Burial Contrast Calling Back the DeadFate of Childless Ghosts 
Religious Need for Offspring Hags and Giants and Composite Monsters 
Tempest Fiends Legend of Adapa and the Storm Demon Wind Hags of 
Ancient Britain Tyrolese Storm Maidens Zu Bird Legend and Indian 
Garuda Myth Legend of the Eagle and the Serpent The Snake Mother 
Goddess Demons and the Moon God Plague Deities Classification of 
Spirits, and Egyptian, Arabian, and Scottish parallels Traces of Progress from 
Animism to Monotheism. 

THE memorable sermon preached by Paul to the 
Athenians when he stood " in the midst of Mars' hill ", 
could have been addressed with equal appropriateness 
to the ancient Sumerians and Akkadians. " I perceive ", 
he declared, "that in all things ye are too superstitious. 
. . . God that made the world and all things therein, 
seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not 
in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with 
men's hands as though he needed any thing, seeing he 
giveth to all life, and breath, and all things ... for in 
him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain 
also of your own poets have said, For we are also his 
offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of 

(0642) 69 7 


God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like 
unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's 
device." 1 

Babylonian temples were houses of the gods in the 
literal sense; the gods were supposed to dwell in them, 
their spirits having entered into the graven images or 
blocks of stone. It is probable that like the Ancient 
Egyptians they believed a god had as many spirits as 
he had attributes. The gods, as we have said, appear 
to have evolved from early spirit groups. All the world 
swarmed with spirits, which inhabited stones and trees, 
mountains and deserts, rivers and ocean, the air, the 
sky, the stars, and the sun and moon. The spirits con- 
trolled Nature: they brought light and darkness, sun- 
shine and storm, summer and winter; they were mani- 
fested in the thunderstorm, the sandstorm, the glare of 
sunset, and the wraiths of mist rising from the steaming 
marshes. They controlled also the lives of men and 
women. The good spirits were the source of luck. The 
bad spirits caused misfortunes, and were ever seeking 
to work evil against the Babylonian. Darkness was 
peopled by demons and ghosts of the dead. The spirits 
of disease were ever lying in wait to clutch him with 
cruel invisible hands. 

Some modern writers, who are too prone to regard 
ancient peoples from a twentieth-century point of view, 
express grave doubts as to whether "intelligent Baby- 
lonians " really believed that spirits came down in the 
rain and entered the soil to rise up before men's eyes 
as stalks of barley or wheat. There is no reason for sup- 
posing that they thought otherwise. The early folks 
based their theories on the accumulated knowledge of 
their age. They knew nothing regarding the com- 

1 The Acts, xvii, 22-31. 


position of water or the atmosphere, of the cause of 
thunder and lightning, or of the chemical changes effected 
in soils by the action of bacteria. They attributed all 
natural phenomena to the operations of spirits or gods, 
In believing that certain demons caused certain diseases, 
they may be said to have achieved distinct progress, for 
they anticipated the germ theory. They made dis- 
coveries, too, which have been approved and elaborated 
in later times when they lit sacred fires, bathed in sacred 
waters, and used oils and herbs to charm away spirits of 
pestilence. Indeed, many folk cures, which were origi- 
nally associated with magical ceremonies, are still prac- 
tised in our own day. They were found to be effective 
by early observers, although they were unable to explain 
why and how cures were accomplished, like modern 
scientific investigator's. 

In peopling the Universe with spirits, the Babylonians, 
like other ancient folks, betrayed that tendency to sym- 
bolize everything which has ever appealed to the human 
mind. Our painters and poets and sculptors are greatest 
when they symbolize their ideals and ideas and impres- 
sions, and by so doing make us respond to their moods. 
Their " beauty and their terror are sublime ". But what 
may seem poetic to us, was invariably a grim reality to 
the Babylonians. The statue or picture was not merely 
a work of art but a manifestation of the god or demon. 
As has been said, they believed that the spirit of the god 
inhabited the idol; the frown of the brazen image was the 
frown of the wicked demon. They entertained as much 
dread of the winged and human-headed bulls guarding 
the entrance to the royal palace as do some of the Arab 
workmen who, in our own day, assist excavators to rescue 
them from sandy mounds in which they have been hidden 
for long centuries. 


When an idol was carried away from a city by an 
invading army, it was believed that the god himself had 
been taken prisoner, and was therefore unable any longer 
to help his people. 

In the early stages of Sumerian culture, the gods and 
goddesses who formed groups were indistinguishable from 
demons. They were vaguely defined, and had changing 
shapes. When attempts were made to depict them they 
were represented in many varying forms. Some were 
winged bulls or lions with human heads; others had even 
more remarkable composite forms. The " dragon of 
Babylon ", for instance, which was portrayed on walls 
of temples, had a serpent's head, a body covered with 
scales, the fore legs of a lion, hind legs of an eagle, and 
a long wriggling serpentine tail. Ea had several monster 
forms. The following description of one of these is 
repulsive enough: 

The head is the head of a serpent, 
From his nostrils mucus trickles, 
His mouth is beslavered with water; 
The ears are like those of a basilisk, 
His horns are twisted into three curls, 
He wears a veil in his head band, 
The body is a suh-fish full of stars, 
The base of his feet are claws, 
The sole of his foot has no heel, 
His name is Sassu-wunnu, 
A sea monster, a form of Ea. 

R. C. Thompson's Translation. 1 

Even after the gods were given beneficent attributes 
to reflect the growth of culture, and were humanized, 
they still retained many of their savage characteristics. 
Bel Enlil and his fierce son, Nergal, were destroyers 

1 Devils and Evil Spirits of Babylonia, vol. ii, p. 149 et seq. 


//; Marble. From N.W. Palace of Nimroud : now in the British Museum 


of mankind; the storm god desolated the land; the sky 
god deluged it with rain; the sea raged furiously, ever 
hungering for human victims; the burning sun struck 
down its victims; and the floods played havoc with the 
dykes and houses of human beings. In Egypt the sun 
god Ra was similarly a " producer of calamity ", the com- 
posite monster god Sokar was " the lord of fear". 1 Osiris 
in prehistoric times had been "a dangerous god", and 
some of the Pharaohs sought protection against him in 
the charms inscribed in their tombs* 2 The Indian Shiva, 
"the Destroyer'*, in the old religious poems has also 
primitive attributes of like character. 

The Sumerian gods never lost their connection with 
the early spirit groups. These continued to be repre- 
sented by their attendants, who executed a deity's stern 
and vengeful decrees. In one of the Babylonian charms 
the demons are referred to as "the spleen of the gods 1 ' 
the symbols of their wrathful emotions and vengeful 
desires. Bel Enlil, the air and earth god, was served 
by the demons of disease, "the beloved sons of Bel", 
which issued from the Underworld to attack mankind. 
Nergal, the sulky and ill-tempered lord of death and 
destruction, who never lost his demoniac character, swept 
over the land, followed by the spirits of pestilence, sun- 
stroke, weariness, and destruction. Anu, the sky god, 
had " spawned " at creation the demons of cold and rain 
and darkness. Even Ea and his consort, Damkina, were 
served by groups of devils and giants, which preyed upon 
mankind in bleak and desolate places when night fell. In 
the ocean home of Ea were bred the " seven evil spirits " 
of tempest the gaping dragon, the leopard which preyed 
upon children, the great Beast, the terrible serpent, &c. 

tian Myth and Legend^ xxxix, . 
2 Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt, J. H. Breasted, pp. 38, 


In Indian mythology Indra was similarly followed by 
the stormy Maruts, and fierce Rudra by the tempestuous 
Rudras. In Teutonic mythology Odin is the " Wild 
Huntsman in the Raging Host'*. In Greek mythology 
the ocean furies attend upon fickle Poseidon. Other 
examples of this kind could be multiplied. 

As we have seen (Chapter II) the earliest group of 
Babylonian deities consisted probably of four pairs of 
gods and goddesses as in Egypt. The first pair was 
Apsu-Rishtu and Tiamat, who personified the primordial 
deep. Now the elder deities in most mythologies the 
"grandsires " and "grandmothers" and "fathers" and 
" mothers " are ever the most powerful and most 
vengeful. They appear to represent primitive "layers" 
of savage thought. The Greek Cronos devours even 
his own children, and, as the late Andrew Lang has 
shown, there are many parallels to this myth among 
primitive peoples in various parts of the world. 

Lang regarded the Greek survival as an example of 
"the conservatism of the religious instinct". 1 The grand- 
mother of the Teutonic deity Tyr was a fierce giantess 
with nine hundred heads ; his father was an enemy of 
the gods. In Scotland the hag-mother of winter and 
storm and darkness is the enemy of growth and all life, 
and she raises storms to stop the grass growing, to slay 
young animals, and prevent the union of her son with 
his fair bride. Similarly the Babylonian chaos spirits, 
Apsu and Tiamat, the father and mother of the gods, 
resolve to destroy their offspring, because they begin to 
set the Universe in order. Tiamat, the female dragon, 
is more powerful than her husband Apsu, who is slain 
by his son Ea. She summons to her aid the gods of 
evil, and creates also a brood of monsters serpents, 

1 Custom and Myth, p. 45 et sey. 


dragons, vipers, fish men, raging hounds, &c. so as 
to bring about universal and enduring confusion and 
evil. Not until she is destroyed can the beneficent gods 
establish law and order and make the earth habitable and 

But although Tiamat was slain, the everlasting battle 
between the forces of good and evil was ever waged in 
the Babylonian world. Certain evil spirits were let loose 
at certain periods, and they strove to accomplish the de- 
struction of mankind and his works. These invisible 
enemies were either charmed away by performing magical 
ceremonies, or by invoking the gods to thwart them and 
bind them. 

Other spirits inhabited the bodies of animals and were 
ever hovering near. The ghosts of the dead and male 
and female demons were birds, like the birds of Fate 
which sang to Siegfried. When the owl raised its 
melancholy voice in the darkness the listener heard the 
spirit of a departed mother crying for her child. Ghosts 
and evil spirits wandered through the streets in darkness; 
they haunted empty houses; they fluttered through the 
evening air as bats; they hastened, moaning dismally, 
across barren wastes searching for food or lay in wait 
for travellers ; they came as roaring lions and howl- 
ing jackals, hungering for human flesh. The " shedu " 
was a destructive bull which might slay man wantonly 
or as a protector of temples. Of like character was the 
" lamassu ", depicted as a winged bull with human head, 
the protector of palaces; the "alu" was a bull -like 
demon of tempest, and there were also many composite, 
distorted, or formless monsters which were vaguely 
termed " seizers " or " overthrowers ", the Semitic 
"labashu" and "ach-chazu", the Sumerian "dimmea" 
and " dimme-kur ". A dialectic form of "gallu" or devil 


was "mulla". Professor Pinches thinks it not improbable 
that " mulla " may be connected with the word " mula ", 
meaning "star", and suggests that it referred to a "will- 
o'-the-wisp". 1 In these islands, according to an old 


Some call him Robin Good-fellow, 

Hob-goblin, or mad Crisp, 
And some againe doe tearme him oft 
By name of Will the Wisp. 

Other names are "Kitty", "Peg", and "Jack with a 
lantern ". " Poor Robin " sang: 

1 should indeed as soon expect 
That Peg-a-lantern would direct 
Me straightway home on misty night 
As wand'ring stars, quite out of sight. 

In Shakespeare's Tempest* a sailor exclaims: "Your 
fairy, which, you say, is a harmless fairy, has done little 
better than played the Jack with us". Dr. Johnson com- 
mented that the reference was to "Jack with a lantern". 
Milton wrote also of the "wandering fire", 

Which oft, they say, some evil spirit attends, 
Hovering and blazing with delusive light, 
Misleads th* amaz'd night wand'rer from his way 
To bogs and mires, and oft through pond or pool; 
There swallowed up and lost from succour far. 3 

"When we stick in the mire", sang Drayton, "he doth 
with laughter leave us." These fires were also " fallen 
stars", "death fires", and "fire drakes": 

So have I seen a fire drake glide along 
Before a dying man, to point his grave, 
And in it stick and hide. 4 

1 The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, p. 108. 2 Act iv, scene I. 

3 Paradise Lost, book ix. 4 Chapman's Caesar and Pom fey. 


Pliny referred to the wandering lights as stars. 1 The 
Sumerian "mulla" was undoubtedly an evil spirit. In 
some countries the "fire drake 1 ' is a bird with gleaming 
breast: in Babylonia it assumed the form of a bull, and 
may have had some connection with the bull of Ishtar, 
Like the Indian "Dasyu" and "Dasa", 2 Gallu was 
applied in the sense of " foreign devil " to human and 
superhuman adversaries of certain monarchs. Some of 
the supernatural beings resemble our elves and fairies 
and the Indian Rakshasas. Occasionally they appear in 
comely human guise; at other times they are vaguely 
monstrous. The best known of this class is Lilith, who, 
according to Hebrew tradition, preserved in the Talmud, 
was the demon lover of Adam. She has been immortalized 
by Dante Gabriel Rossetti: 

Of Adam's first wife Lilith, it is told 

(The witch he loved before the gift of Eve) 

That, ere the snake's, her sweet tongue could deceive, 

And her enchanted hair was the first gold. 

And still she sits, young while the earth is old, 

And, subtly of herself contemplative, 

Draws men to watch the bright web she can weave, 

Till heart and body and life are in its hold. 

The rose and poppy are her flowers 5 for where 

Is he not found, O Lilith, whom shed scent 

And soft shed kisses and soft sleep shall snare ? 

Lo! as that youth's eyes burned at thine, so went 

Thy spell through him, and left his straight neck bent 

And round his heart one strangling golden hair. 

Lilith is the Babylonian Lilithu, a feminine form of 
Lilu, the Sumerian Lila. She resembles Surpanakha of 
the Rclmbyana^ who made love to Rama and Lakshmana, 
and the sister of the demon Hidimva, who became 

1 Natural History, 2nd book. 2 Indian Myth and Legend, 70, n. 


enamored of Bhima, one of the heroes of the Mahd- 
bhdrata* and the various fairy lovers of Europe who 
lured men to eternal imprisonment inside mountains, or 
vanished for ever when they were completely under their 
influence, leaving them demented. The elfin Lilu simi- 
larly wooed young women, like the Germanic Laurin of 
the "Wonderful Rose Garden", 2 who carried away the 
fair lady Kunhild to his underground dwelling amidst 
the Tyrolese mountains, or left them haunting the place 
of their meetings, searching for him in vain: 

A savage place ! as holy and enchanted 

As ere beneath the waning moon was haunted 

By woman wailing for her demon lover . . . 

His flashing eyes, his floating hair ! 

Weave a circle round him thrice, 

And close your eyes with holy dread, 

For he on honey dew hath fed 

And drunk the milk of Paradise. 

Coleridge s Kubla Khan. 

Another materializing spirit of this class was Ardat 
Lili, who appears to have wedded human beings like the 
swan maidens, the mermaids, and Nereids of the Euro- 
pean folk tales, and the goddess Ganga, who for a time 
was the wife of King Shantanu of the Mahdbhdrata? 

The Labartu, to whom we have referred, was a female 
who haunted mountains and marshes; like the fairies 
and hags of Europe, she stole or afflicted children, who 
accordingly had to wear charms round their necks for 
protection. Seven of these supernatural beings were 
reputed to be daughters of Anu, the sky god. 

The Alu, a storm deity, was also a spirit which caused 
nightmare. It endeavoured to smother sleepers like the 

1 Indian Myth and Legend, pp. 202-5, 400, 401. 
2 Teutonic Myth and Legend, p. 424 e t sej. 3 Indian Myth and Legend^ p. 1 64 e t seq. 


Scandinavian hag Mara, and similarly deprived them of 
power to move. In Babylonia this evil spirit might also 
cause sleeplessness or death by hovering near a bed. In 
shape it might be as horrible and repulsive as the Egyptian 
ghosts which caused children to die from fright or by 
sucking out the breath of life* 

As most representatives of the spirit world were 
enemies of the living, so were the ghosts of dead men 
and women. Death chilled all human affections; it turned 
love to hate; the deeper the love had been, the deeper 
became the enmity fostered by the ghost. Certain ghosts 
might also be regarded as particularly virulent and hostile 
if they happened to have left the body of one who was 
ceremonially impure. The most terrible ghost in Baby- 
lonia was that of a woman who had died in childbed. 
She was pitied and dreaded ; her grief had demented 
her; she was doomed to wail in the darkness; her im- 
purity clung to her like poison. No spirit was more 
prone to work evil against mankind, and her hostility 
was accompanied by the most tragic sorrow. In Northern 
India the Hindus, like the ancient Babylonians, regard 
as a fearsome demon the ghost of a woman who died 
while pregnant, or on the day of the child's birth. 1 A 
similar belief prevailed in Mexico. In Europe there 
are many folk tales of dead mothers who return to 
avenge themselves on the cruel fathers of neglected 

A sharp contrast is presented by the Mongolian 
Buriats, whose outlook on the spirit world is less gloomy 
than was that of the ancient Babylonians. According to 
Mr. Jeremiah Curtin, this interesting people are wont 
to perform a ceremony with purpose to entice the ghost 
to return to the dead body a proceeding which is 

1 Popular Religion and Folk Lore of Northern India, W. Crooke, vol. i, p. 254. 


dreaded in the Scottish Highlands. 1 The Buriats address 
the ghost, saying: " You shall sleep well. Come back 
to your natural ashes. Take pity on your friends. It 
is necessary to live a real life. Do not wander along the 
mountains. Uo not be like bad spirits. Return to your 
peaceful home, . . . Come back and work for your 
children. How can you leave the little ones?" If it 
is a mother, these words have great effect; sometimes 
the spirit moans and sobs, and the Buriats tell that 
there have been instances of it returning to the body. 2 
In his Arabia Deserta* Doughty relates that Arab women 
and children mock the cries of the owl. One explained 
to him: "It is a wailful woman seeking her lost child; 
she has become this forlorn bird ". So do immemorial 
beliefs survive to our own day. 

The Babylonian ghosts of unmarried men and women 
and of those without offspring were also disconsolate 
night wanderers. Others who suffered similar fates were 
the ghosts of men who died in battle far from home and 
were left unburied, the ghosts of travellers who perished 
in the desert and were not covered over, the ghosts of 
drowned men which rose from the water, the ghosts of 
prisoners starved to death or executed, the ghosts of 
people who died violent deaths before their appointed 
time. The dead required to be cared for, to have liba- 
tions poured out, to be fed, so that they might not prowl 

1 When a person, young or old, is dying, near relatives must not call out their names 
in case the soul may come back from the spirit world. A similar belief still lingers, 
especially among women, in the Lowlands. The writer was once present in a room 
when a child was supposed to be dying. Suddenly the mother called out the child's 
name in agonized voice. It revived soon afterwards. Two old women who had at- 
tempted to prevent " the calling " shook their heads and remarked : " She has done it ! 
The child will never do any good in this world after being called back." In England 
and Ireland, as well as in Scotland, the belief also prevails in certain localities that if a 
dying person is " called back" the soul will tarry for another twenty-four hours, during 
which the individual will suffer great agony. 

2 A Journey in Southern Siberia, Jeremiah Curtin, pp. 103, 104. 8 Vol. i, p. 305. 


through the streets or enter houses searching for scraps 
of food and pure water. The duty of giving offerings 
to the dead was imposed apparently on near relatives, 
As in India, it would appear that the eldest son per- 
formed the funeral ceremony: a dreadful fate therefore 
awaited the spirit of the dead Babylonian man or woman 
without offspring. In Sanskrit literature there is a refer- 
ence to a priest who was not allowed to enter Paradise, 
although he had performed rigid penances, because he had 
no children. 1 

There were hags and giants of mountain and desert, 
of river and ocean. Demons might possess the pig, the 
goat, the horse, the lion, or the ibis, the raven, or the hawk. 
The seven spirits of tempest, fire, and destruction rose 
from the depths of ocean, and there were hosts of demons 
which could not be overcome or baffled by man without 
the assistance of the gods to whom they were hostile. 
Many were sexless; having no offspring, they were devoid 
of mercy and compassion. They penetrated everywhere: 

The high enclosures, the broad enclosures, like a flood 

they pass through, 

From house to house they dash along. 
No door can shut them out ; 
No bolt can turn them back. 
Through the door, like a snake, they glide, 
Through the hinge, like the wind, they storm, 
Tearing the wife from the embrace of the man, 
Driving the freedman from his family home. 2 

These furies did not confine their unwelcomed attentions 
to mankind alone: 

They hunt the doves from their cotes, 
And drive the birds from their nests, 

1 Adi Parva section of Mahabharata, Roy's trans., p. 635. 
r * Jastrow's Aspects of Religious Belief in Babylonia, &c., p. 312. 


And chase the marten from its hole. . . . 
Through the gloomy street by night they roam, 
Smiting sheepfold and cattle pen, 
Shutting up the land as with door and bolt. 

R. C. Thompson s Translation. 

The Babylonian poet, like Burns, was filled with pity 
for the animals which suffered in the storm: 

List'ning the doors an' winnocks rattle, 
I thought me o' the ourie cattle, 
Or silly sheep, wha bide this brattle 

O' winter war. . . . 
Ilk happing bird, wee, helpless thing! 
That in the merry months o' spring 
Delighted me to hear thee sing, 

What comes o' thee ? 
Whare wilt thou cow'r thy chittering wing, 

And close thy e'e ? 

According to Babylonian belief, "the great storms 
directed from heaven " were caused by demons. Man- 
kind heard them " loudly roaring above, gibbering below". 1 
The south wind was raised by Shutu, a plumed storm 
demon resembling Hraesvelgur of the Icelandic Eddas: 

Corpse-swallower sits at the end of heaven, 

A Jotun in eagle form; 
From his wings, they say, comes the wind which fares 

Over all the dwellers of earth. 2 

The northern story of Thor's fishing, when he hooked 
and wounded the Midgard serpent, is recalled by the 
Babylonian legend of Adapa, son of the god Ea. This 
hero was engaged catching fish, when Shutu, the south 
wind, upset his boat. In his wrath Adapa immediately 
attacked the storm demon and shattered her pinions. 
Anu, the sky god, was moved to anger against Ea's son 

1 R. C. Thompson's trans. 2 The Elder or Poetic Edda, Olive Bray, part i, p. 53. 


The upper head is that of Shutu, the demon of the south-west wind, whose wings 
were broken by Adapa, son of Ea 

(British Museum} 


and summoned him to the Celestial Court. Adapa, how- 
ever, appeared in garments of mourning and was forgiven. 
Anu offered him the water of life and the bread of life 
which would have made him immortal, but Ea's son 
refused to eat or drink, believing, as his father had 
warned him, that the sky god desired him to partake 
of the bread of death and to drink of the water of 

Another terrible atmospheric demon was the south- 
west wind, which caused destructive storms and floods, 
and claimed many human victims like the Icelandic 
" corpse swallower ". She was depicted with lidless 
staring eyes, broad flat nose, mouth gaping horribly, and 
showing tusk-like teeth, and with high cheek bones, heavy 
eyebrows, and low bulging forehead. 

In Scotland the hag of the south-west wind is 
similarly a bloodthirsty and fearsome demon. She is 
most virulent in the springtime. At Cromarty she is 
quaintly called " Gentle Annie " by the fisher folks, who 
repeat the saying: "When Gentle Annie is skyawlan 
(yelling) roond the heel of Ness (a promontory) wi' a 
white feather on her hat (the foam of big billows) they 
(the spirits) will be harrying (robbing) the crook " 
that is, the pot which hangs from the crook is empty 
during the spring storms, which prevent fishermen going 
to sea. In England the wind hag is Black Annis, who 
dwells in a Leicestershire hill cave. She may be identical 
with the Irish hag Anu, associated with the "Paps of 
Anu". According to Gaelic lore, this wind demon of 
spring is the "Cailleach " (old wife). She gives her name 
in the Highland calendar to the stormy period of late 
spring; she raises gale after gale to prevent the coming of 
summer. Angerboda, the Icelandic hag, is also a storm 
demon, but represents the east wind. A Tyrolese folk 


tale tells of three magic maidens who dwelt on Jochgrimm 
mountain, where they "brewed the winds". Their demon 
lovers were Ecke, "he who causes fear"; Vasolt, " he 
who causes dismay"; and the scornful Dietrich in his 
mythical character of Donar or Thunor (Thor), the 

Another Sumerian storm demon was the Zu bird, 
which is represented among the stars by Pegasus and 
Taurus. A legend relates that this " worker of evil, 
who raised the head of evil ", once aspired to rule the 
gods, and stole from Bel, " the lord " of deities, the 
Tablets of Destiny, which gave him his power over the 
Universe as controller of the fates of all. The Zu bird 
escaped with the Tablets and found shelter on its moun- 
tain top in Arabia. Anu called on Ramman, the thun- 
derer, to attack the Zu bird, but he was afraid ; other 
gods appear to have shrunk from the conflict. How the 
rebel was overcome is not certain, because the legend sur- 
vives in fragmentary form. There is a reference, how- 
ever, to the moon god setting out towards the mountain 
in Arabia with purpose to outwit the Zu bird and recover 
the lost Tablets. How he fared it is impossible to ascer- 
tain. In another legend that of Etana the mother 
serpent, addressing the sun god, Shamash, says: 

Thy net is like unto the broad earth; 
Thy snare is like unto the distant heaven! 
Who hath ever escaped from thy net ? 
Even Zu, the worker of evil, who raised the head 
of evil [did not escape] ! 

L. W. King's Translation. 

In Indian mythology, Garuda, half giant, half eagle, 
robs the Amrita (ambrosia) of the gods which gives them 
their power and renders them immortal. It had assumed 
a golden body, bright as the sun. Indra, the thunderer, 


flung his bolt in vain ; he could not wound Garuda, 
and only displaced a single feather. Afterwards, how- 
ever, he stole 'the moon goblet containing the Amrita, 
which Garuda had delivered to his enemies, the serpents, to 
free his mother from bondage. This Indian eagle giant 
became the vehicle of the god Vishnu, and, according to 
the Mahdbhdrata, " mocked the wind with his fleetness ". 

It would appear that the Babylonian Zu bird sym- 
bolized the summer sandstorms from the Arabian desert. 
Thunder is associated with the rainy season, and it may 
have been assumed, therefore, that the thunder god was 
powerless against the sandstorm demon, who was chased, 
however, by the moon, and finally overcome by the trium- 
phant sun when it broke through the darkening sand drift 
arid brightened heaven and earth, "netting" the rebellious 
demon who desired to establish the rule of evil over gods 
and mankind. 

In the " Legend of Etana " the Eagle, another demon 
which links with the Indian Garuda, slayer of serpents, 
devours the brood of the Mother Serpent. For this 
offence against divine law, Shamash, the sun god, pro- 
nounces the Eagle's doom. He instructs the Mother 
Serpent to slay a wild ox and conceal herself in its en- 
trails. The Eagle comes to feed on the carcass, unheeding 
the warning of one of his children, who says, "The 
serpent lies in this wild ox": 

He swooped down and stood upon the wild ox, 

The Eagle . . . examined the flesh; 

He looked about carefully before and behind him; 

He again examined the flesh; 

He looked about carefully before and behind him, 

Then, moving swiftly, he made for the hidden parts. 

When he entered into the midst, 

The serpent seized him by his wing. 

< 642 ) 


In vain the Eagle appealed for mercy to the Mother 
Serpent, who was compelled to execute the decree of 
Shamash; she tore off the Eagle's pinions, wings, and 
claws, and threw him into a pit where he perished from 
hunger and thirst. 1 This myth may refer to the ravages 
of a winged demon of disease who was thwarted by the 
sacrifice of an ox. The Mother Serpent appears to be 
identical with an ancient goddess of maternity resem- 
bling the Egyptian Bast, the serpent mother of Bubastis. 
According to Sumerian belief, Nintu, "a form of the 
goddess Ma ", was half a serpent. On her head there is 
a horn; she is "girt about the loins"; her left arm holds 
"a babe suckling her breast": 

From her head to her loins 
The body is that of a naked woman ; 
From the loins to the sole of the foot 
Scales like those of a snake are visible. 

R. C. Thompson's Translation. 

The close association of gods and demons is illustrated 
in an obscure myth which may refer to an eclipse of the 
moon or a night storm at the beginning of the rainy 
season. The demons go to war against the high gods, 
and are assisted by Adad (Ramman) the thunderer, 
Shamash the sun, and Ishtar. They desire to wreck the 
heavens, the home of Anu: 

They clustered angrily round the crescent of the moon god, 
And won over to their aid Shamash, the mighty, and Adad, the 


And Ishtar, who with Anu, the King, 
Hath founded a shining dwelling. 

The moon god Sin, " the seed of mankind ", was 
darkened by the demons who raged, a rushing loose over 

1 Babylonian Religion, L. W. King, pp. 186-8. 


the land " like to the wind, Bel called upon his messen- 
ger, whom he sent to Ea in the ocean depths, saying: 
"My son Sin . . . hath been grievously bedimmed". Ea 
lamented, and dispatched his son Mcrodach to net the 
demons by magic, using " a two-coloured cord from the 
hair of a virgin kid and from the wool of a virgin 
lamb". 1 

As in India, where Shitala, the Bengali goddess of 
smallpox, for instance, is worshipped when the dreaded 
disease she controls becomes epidemic, so in Babylonia 
the people sought to secure immunity from attack by 
worshipping spirits of disease. A tablet relates that Ura, 
a plague demon, once resolved to destroy all life, but 
ultimately consented to spare those who praised his name 
ami exalted him in recognition of his bravery and power. 
This could be accomplished by reciting a formula, Indian 
serpent worshippers believe that their devotions "destroy 
all danger proceeding from snakes". 2 

Like the Ancient Egyptians, the Babylonians also had 
their kindly spirits who brought luck and the various 
enjoyments of life. A good "labartu" might attend on 
a human being like a household fairy of India or Europe: 
a friendly " shedu " could protect a household against the 
attacks of fierce demons and human enemies. Even the 
spirits of Fate who served Anu, god of the sky, and that 
"Norn" of the Underworld, Eresh-ki-gal, queen of 
Hades, might sometimes be propitious: if the deities 
were successfully invoked they could cause the Fates to 
smite spirits of disease and bringers of ill luck. Damu, 
a friendly fairy goddess, was well loved, because she 
inspired pleasant dreams, relieved the sufferings of the 

1 c he Devils and Evil Spirits of Babylonia, R. Campbell Thompson, vol. i, p. 53 
et seq. 

2 Omens and Superstitions of Southern India, E. Thurston, p. 124. 


afflicted, and restored to good health those patients whom 
she selected to favour. 

In the Egyptian Book of the Dead the kindly spirits 
are overshadowed by the evil ones, because the various 
magical spells which were put on record were directed 
against those supernatural beings who were enemies of 
mankind. Similarly in Babylonia the fragments of this 
class of literature which survive deal mainly with wicked 
and vengeful demons. It appears probable, however, 
that the highly emotional Sumerians and Akkadians were 
on occasion quite as cheerful a people as the inhabitants 
of ancient Egypt. Although they were surrounded by 
bloodthirsty furies who desired to shorten their days, and 
their nights were filled with vague lowering phantoms 
which inspired fear, they no doubt shared, in their charm- 
protected houses, a comfortable feeling of security after 
performing magical ceremonies, and were happy enough 
when they gathered round flickering lights to listen to 
ancient song and story and gossip about crops and traders, 
the members of the royal house, and the family affairs of 
their acquaintances. 

The Babylonian spirit world, it will be seen, was of 
complex character. Its inhabitants were numberless, but 
often vaguely defined, and one class of demons linked 
with another. Like the European fairies of folk belief, 
the Babylonian spirits were extremely hostile and irre- 
sistible at certain seasonal periods; and they were fickle 
and perverse and difficult to please even when inclined 
to be friendly. They were also similarly manifested from 
time to time in various forms. Sometimes they were 
comely and beautiful; at other times they were appari- 
tions of horror. The Jinn of present-day Arabians are 
of like character; these may be giants, cloudy shapes, 
comely women, serpents or cats, goats or pigs. 


Some of the composite monsters of Babylonia may 
suggest the vague and exaggerated recollections of terror- 
stricken people who have had glimpses of unfamiliar wild 
beasts in the dusk or amidst reedy marshes* But they 
cannot be wholly accounted for in this way* While 
animals were often identified with supernatural beings, 
and foreigners were called " devils", it would be mis- 
leading to assert that the spirit world reflects confused 
folk memories of human and bestial enemies. Even 
when a demon was given concrete human form it re- 
mained essentially non-human: no ordinary weapon could 
inflict an injury, and it was never controlled by natural 
laws. The spirits of disease and tempest and darkness 
were creations of fancy: they symbolized moods; they 
were the causes which explained effects. A sculptor or 
storyteller who desired to convey an impression of a 
spirit of storm or pestilence created monstrous forms to 
inspire terror. Sudden and unexpected visits of fierce and 
devastating demons were accounted for by asserting that 
they had wings like eagles, were nimble-footed as gazelles, 
cunning and watchful as serpents; that they had claws to 
clutch, horns to gore, and powerful fore legs like a lion 
to smite down victims. Withal they drank blood like 
ravens and devoured corpses like hyaenas. Monsters 
were all the more repulsive when they were partly human. 
The human-headed snake or the snake-headed man and 
the man with the horns of a wild bull and the legs of a 
goat were horrible in the extreme. Evil spirits might 
sometimes achieve success by practising deception. They 
might appear as beautiful girls or handsome men and 
seize unsuspecting victims in deathly embrace or leave 
them demented and full of grief, or come as birds and 
suddenly assume awesome shapes. 

Fairies and elves, and other half-human demons, are 


sometimes regarded as degenerate gods. It will be seen, 
however, that while certain spirits developed into deities, 
others remained something between these two classes of 
supernatural beings: they might attend upon gods and 
goddesses, or operate independently now against man- 
kind and now against deities even. The " namtaru ", 
for instance, was a spirit of fate, the son of Bel-Enlil and 
Eresh-ki-gal, queen of Hades. "Apparently", writes 
Professor Pinches, "he executed the instructions given 
him concerning the fate of men, and could also have power 
over certain of the gods/* 1 To this middle class belong 
the evil gods who rebelled against the beneficent deities. 
According to Hebridean folk belief, the fallen angels are 
divided into three classes the fairies, the "nimble men >x 
(aurora borealis), and the "blue men of the Minch". 
In Beowulf the "brood of Cain " includes "monsters and 
elves and sea-devils giants also, who long time fought 
with God, for which he gave them their reward". 2 Simi- 
larly the Babylonian spirit groups are liable to division 
and subdivision. The various classes may be regarded 
as relics of the various stages of development from crude 
animism to sublime monotheism : in the fragmentary 
legends we trace the floating material from which great 
mythologies have been framed. 

1 The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, p. no. 

2 Beowulf, Clark Hall, p. 14. 

Myths of Tammuz and Ishtar 

Forms of Tammuz The Weeping Ceremony Tammuz the Patriarch 
and the Dying God Common Origin of Tammuz and other Deities from an 
Archaic God The Mediterranean Racial Myth Animal Forms of Gods of 
Fertility Two Legends of the Death of Tammuz Attis, Adonis, and 
Diarmid Slain by a Boar Laments for Tammuz His Soul in Underworld 
and the Deep Myth of the Child God of Ocean Sargon Myth Version 
The Germanic Scyld of the Sheaf Tammuz Links with Frey, Heimdal, Agni, 
&c. Assyrian Legend of "Descent of Ishtar" Sumerian Version The Sister 
Belit-sheri and the Mother Ishtar The Egyptian Isis and Nepthys Goddesse? 
as Mothers, Sisters, and Wives Great Mothers of Babylonia Immortal God- 
desses and Dying Gods The Various Indras Celtic Goddess with Seven 
Periods of Youth Lovers of Germanic and Classic Goddesses The Lovers 
of Ishtar Racial Significance of Goddess Cult The Great Fathers and their 
Worshippers Process of Racial and Religious Fusion Ishtar and Tiamat 
Mother Worship in Palestine Women among Goddess Worshippers. 

AMONG the gods of Babylonia none achieved wider and 
more enduring fame than Tammuz, who was loved by 
Ishtar, the amorous Queen of Heaven the beautiful 
youth who died and was mourned for and came to life 
again. He does not figure by his popular name in any 
of the city pantheons, but from the earliest times of which 
we have knowledge until the passing of Babylonian 
civilization, he played a prominent part in the religious 
life of the people. 

Tammuz, like Osiris of Egypt, was an agricultural 
deity, and as the Babylonian harvest was the gift of the 
rivers, it is probable that one of his several forms was 
Dumu-zi-abzu, "Tammuz of the Abyss ". He was also 



"the child", "the heroic lord", "the sentinel", "the 
healer", and the patriarch who reigned over the early 
Babylonians for a considerable period. " Tammuz of the 
Abyss " was one of the members of the family of Ea, 
god of the Deep, whose other sons, in addition to 
Merodach, were Nira, an obscure deity; Ki-gulla, "world 
destroyer ", Burnunta-sa, " broad ear ", and Bara and 
Baragulla, probably "revealers" or "oracles". In addi- 
tion there was a daughter, Khi-dimme-azaga, "child of 
the renowned spirit ". She may have been identical with 
Belit-sheri, who is referred to in the Sumerian hymns as 
the sister of Tammuz. This family group was probably 
formed by symbolizing the attributes of Ea and his spouse 
Damkina. Tammuz, in his character as a patriarch, may 
have been regarded as a hostage from the gods: the 
human form of Ea, who instructed mankind, like King 
Osiris, how to grow corn and cultivate fruit trees. As 
the youth who perished annually, he was the corn 
spirit. He is referred to in the Bible by his Babylonian 

When Ezekiel detailed the various idolatrous prac- 
tices of the Israelites, which included the worship of the 
sun and " every form of creeping things and abominable 
beasts" a suggestion of the composite monsters of Baby- 
lonia he was brought " to the door of the gate of the 
Lord's house, which was towards the north; and, behold, 
there sat women weeping for Tammuz ".* 

The weeping ceremony was connected with agricul- 
tural rites. Corn deities were weeping deities, they shed 
fertilizing tears; and the sowers simulated the sorrow 
of divine mourners when they cast seed in the soil " to 
die ", so that it might spring up as corn. This ancient 
custom, like many others, contributed to the poetic 

1 Exekiel, viii. 


imagery of the Bible. "They that sow in tears", David 
sang, " shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and 
weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come 
again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him/' 1 
In Egypt the priestesses who acted the parts of Isis and 
Nepthys, mourned for the slain corn god Osiris. 

Gods and men before the face of the gods are weeping for 
thee at the same time, when they behold me ! . . . 

All thy sister goddesses are at thy side and behind thy couch, 

Calling upon thee with weeping yet thou are prostrate upon 
thy bed ! ... 

Live before us, desiring to behold thee. 2 

It was believed to be essential that human beings 
should share the universal sorrow caused by the death 
of a god. If they remained unsympathetic, the deities 
would punish them as enemies. Worshippers of nature 
gods, therefore, based their ceremonial practices on natural 
phenomena. "The dread of the worshippers that the 
neglect of the usual ritual would be followed by disaster, 
is particularly intelligible ", writes Professor Robertson 
Smith, " if they regarded the necessary operations of agri- 
culture as involving the violent extinction of a particle 
of divine life." 8 By observing their ritual, the wor- 
shippers won the sympathy and co-operation of deities, 
or exercised a magical control over nature. 

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 Pro- 
fessor 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 

1 Psalms, cxxvi. 

2 The Burden of Isis, J. T. Dennis (Wisdom of the East series), pp. 21, 22. 
8 Religion of the Semites, pp. 412, 414. 


have therefore to deal with Tammuz in his twofold 
character as a patriarch and a god of fertility. 

The Adonis version of the myth may be summarized 
briefly. Ere the god was born, his mother, who was pur- 
sued by her angry sire, as the river goddesses of the folk 
tales are pursued by the well demons, transformed herself 
into a tree, Adonis sprang from the trunk of this tree, 
and Aphrodite, having placed the child in a chest, com- 
mitted him to the care of Persephone, queen of Hades, 
who resembles the Babylonian Eresh-ki-gal. Persephone 
desired to retain the young god, and Aphrodite (Ishtar) 
appealed to Zeus (Anu), who decreed that Adonis should 
spend part of the year with one goddess and part of the 
year with the other. 

It is suggested that the myth of Adonis was derived 
in post-Homeric times by the Greeks indirectly from 
Babylonia through the Western Semites, the Semitic title 
" Adon ", meaning " lord ", having been mistaken for a 
proper name. This theory, however, cannot be accepted 
without qualifications. It does not explain the existence 
of either the Phrygian myth of Attis, which was de- 
veloped differently from the Tammuz myth, or the Celtic 
story of " Diarmid and the boar ", which belongs to the 
archaeological "Hunting Period ". There are traces in 
Greek mythology of pre-Hellenic myths about dying 
harvest deities, like Hyakinthos and Erigone, for instance, 
who appear to have been mourned for. There is every 
possibility, therefore, that the Tammuz ritual may have 
been attached to a harvest god of the pre-Hellenic Greeks, 
who received at the same time the new name of Adonis. 
Osiris of Egypt resembles Tammuz, but his Mesopo- 
tamian origin has not been proved. It would appear 
probable that Tammuz, Attis, Osiris, and the deities 
represented by Adonis and Diarmid were all developed 


from an archaic god of fertility and vegetation, the central 
figure of a myth which was not only as ancient as the 
knowledge and practice of agriculture, but had existence 
even in the a Hunting Period", Traces of the Tammuz- 
Osiris story in various forms are found all over the area 
occupied by the Mediterranean or Brown race from 
Sumeria to the British Isles. Apparently the original 
myth was connected with tree and water worship and 
the worship of animals, Adonis sprang from a tree; the 
body of Osiris was concealed in a tree which grew round 
the sea-drifted chest in which he was concealed. Diarmid 
concealed himself in a tree when pursued by Finn* The 
blood of Tammuz, Osiris, and Adonis reddened the 
swollen rivers which fertilized the soil. Various animals 
were associated with the harvest god, who appears to have 
been manifested from time to time in different forms, for 
his spirit pervaded all nature. In Egypt the soul of 
Osiris entered the Apis bull or the ram of Mendes. 

Tammuz in the hymns is called "the pre-eminent 
steer of heaven ", and a popular sacrifice was cc a white 
kid of the god Tammuz ", which, however, might be 
substituted by a sucking pig. Osiris had also associa- 
tions with swine, and the Egyptians, according to Hero- 
dotus, sacrificed a pig to him annually. When Set at 
full moon hunted the boar in the Delta marshes, he prob- 
ably hunted the boar form of Osiris, whose human body 
had been recovered from the sacred tree by Isis. As the 
soul of Bata, the hero of the Egyptian folk tale, 1 migrated 
from the blossom to the bull, and the bull to the tree, so 
apparently did the soul of Osiris pass from incarnation to 
incarnation. Set, the demon slayer of the harvest god, 
had also a boar form ; he was the black pig who devoured 
the waning moon and blinded the Eye of Ra. 

1 Egyptian Myth and Legend^ pp. 45 ft scq* 


In his character as a long-lived patriarch, Tammuz, 

the King Daonus or Daos of Berosus, reigned in Baby- 
lonia for 36,000 years* When he died, he departed to 
Hades or the Abyss. Osiris, after reigning over the 
Egyptians, became Judge of the Dead. 

Tammuz of the Sumerian hymns, however, is the 
Adonis-like god who lived on earth for a part of the 
year as the shepherd and agriculturist so dearly beloved 
by the goddess Ishtar. Then he died so that he might 
depart to the realm of Eresh-ki-gal (Persephone), queen of 
Hades. According to one account, his death was caused 
by the fickle Ishtar. When that goddess wooed Gilgamesh, 
the Babylonian Hercules, he upbraided her, saying: 

On Tammuz, the spouse of thy youth, 
Thou didst lay affliction every year. 

King's Translation. 

References in the Sumerian hymns suggest that there 
also existed a form of the legend which gave an account 
of the slaying of the young god by someone else than 
Ishtar. The slayer may have been a Set-like demon 
perhaps Nin-shach, who appears to have symbolized the 
destroying influence of the sun. He was a war deity, 
and his name, Professor Pinches says, " is conjectured to 
mean 'lord of the wild boar' ". There is no direct evi- 
dence, however, to connect Tammuz's slayer with the boar 
which killed Adonis. Ishtar 1 s innocence is emphasized by 
the fact that she mourned for her youthful lover, crying: 

Oh hero, my lord, ah me ! I will say ; 

Food I eat not . . . water I drink not . , . 

Because of the exalted one of the nether world, him of the 
radiant face, yea radiant, 

Of the exalted one of the nether world, him of the dove- 
like voice, yea dove-like. 1 

1 Langdon's Sumerian and Babylonian Psalms^ pp. 319-321. 


The Phrygian Attis met his death, according to one 
legend, by self-mutilation under a sacred tree. Another 
account sets forth, however, that he was slain by a boar. 
The Greek Adonis was similarly killed by a boar* This 
animal was a form of Ares (Mars), god of war and 
tempest, who also loved Aphrodite (Ishtar). The Celtic 
Diarmid, in his character as a love god, with lunar attri- 
butes, was slain by <c the green boar ", which appears to 
have been one of the animals of a ferocious Hag, an 
earth and air "mother" with various names. In one 
of the many Fingalian stories the animal is 

. . . That venomous boar, and he so fierce, 

That Grey Eyebrows had with her herd of swine. 1 

Diarmid had eloped with the wife of Finn-mac-Coul 
(Fingal), who, like Ares, plotted to bring about his rival's 
death, and accordingly set the young hero to hunt the 
boar. As a thunder god Finn carried a hammer with 
which he smote his shield; the blows were heard in 
Lochlann (Scandinavia). Diarmid, like Tammuz, the 
"god of the tender voice and shining eyes", had much 
beauty. When he expired, Finn cried: 

No maiden will raise her eye 

Since the mould has gone over thy visage fair . . . 

Blue without rashness in thine eye ! 

Passion and beauty behind thy curls ! . . . 

Oh, yesternight it was green the hillock, 

Red is it this day with Diarmid's blood. 2 

Tammuz died with the dying vegetation, and Diarmid 
expired when the hills apparently were assuming their 
purple tints. 8 The month of Tammuz wailings was from 

1 Campbell's West Highland Tales, vol. iii, p. 74. 

2 West Highland Tales, vol. iii, pp. 85, 86. 

3 If Finn and his band were really militiamen the original Fenians as is believed 
in Ireland, they may have had attached to their memories the legends of archaic Iberian 


2oth June till 2oth July, when the heat and dryness 
brought forth the demons of pestilence. The mourners 
chanted : 

He has gone, he has gone to the bosom of the earth, 

And the dead are numerous in the land . . . 

Men are filled with sorrow: they stagger by day in gloom . . . 

In the month of thy year which brings not peace hast thou gone. 

Thou hast gone on a journey that makes an end of thy people. 

The following extract contains a reference to the 
slaying of the god: 

The holy one of Ishtar, in the middle of the year the fields lan- 
guish ... 

The shepherd, the wise one, the man of sorrows, why have they 
slain ? . . . 

In his temple, in his inhabited domain, 

The child, lord of knowledge, abides no more . . . 

In the meadows, verily, verily, the soul of life perishes. 

There is wailing for Tammuz "at the sacred cedar, 
where the mother bore thee ", a reference which connects 
the god, like Adonis and Osiris, with tree worship: 

The wailing is for the herbs : the first lament is, " they are not 

produced ". 

The wailing is for the grain, ears are not produced. 
The wailing is for the habitations, for the flocks which bring forth 

no more. 
The wailing is for the perishing wedded ones; for the perishing 

children; the dark-headed people create no more. 

The wailing is also for the shrunken river, the parched 
meadows, the fishpools, the cane brakes, the forests, the 

deities who differed from the Celtic Danann deities. Theodoric the Goth, as Dietrich 
von Bern, was identified, for instance, with Donar or Thunor (Thor), the thunder god, 
In Scotland Finn and his followers are all giants. Diarmid is the patriarch of the 
Campbell clan, the MacDiarmids being "sons of Diarmid". 


plains, the gardens, and the palace, which all suffer because 
the god of fertility has departed. The mourner cries : 

How long shall the springing of verdure be restrained ? 
How long shall the putting forth of leaves be held back ? 

Whither went Tammuz ? His destination has already 
been referred to as " the bosom of the earth ", and in the 
Assyrian version of the "Descent of Ishtar" he dwells in 
"the house of darkness" among the dead, "where dust 
is their nourishment and their food mud**, and "the 
light is never seen" the gloomy Babylonian Hades* In 
one of the Sumerian hymns, however, it is stated that 
Tammuz "upon the flood was cast out". The reference 
may be to the submarine " house of Ea ", or the Blessed 
Island to which the Babylonian Noah was carried. In 
this Hades bloomed the nether "garden of Adonis". 

The following extract refers to the garden of Damu 
(Tammuz) 1 : 

Damu his youth therein slumbers . . . 

Among the garden flowers he slumbers; among the garden flowers 

he is cast away . . . 
Among the tamarisks he slumbers, with woe he causes_us to be 


Although Tammuz of the hymns was slain, he re- 
turned again from Hades. Apparently he came back as 
a child. He is wailed for as "child, Lord Gishzida", 
as well as "my hero Damu". In his lunar character the 
Egyptian Osiris appeared each month as "the child sur- 
passingly beautiful " ; the Osiris bull was also a child of 
the moon ; " it was begotten ", says Plutarch, " by a ray 
of generative light falling from the moon". When the 
bull of Attis was sacrificed his worshippers were drenched 

1 Isaiah condemns a magical custom connected with the worship of Tammuz in the 
garden, haiah, xvii, 9, n. This "Garden of Adonis " is dealt with in the next chapter. 


with its blood, and were afterwards ceremonially fed with 
milk, as they were supposed to have "renewed their 
youth ** and become children. The ancient Greek god 
Eros (Cupid) was represented as a wanton boy or hand- 
some youth. Another god of fertility, the Irish Angus, 
who resembles Eros, is called "the ever young"; he 
slumbers like Tammuz and awakes in the Spring. 

Apparently it was believed that the child god, Tammuz, 
returned from the earlier Sumerian Paradise of the Deep, 
and grew into full manhood in a comparatively brief period, 
like Vyasa and other super-men of Indian mythology. A 
couplet from a Tammuz hymn says tersely : 

In his infancy in a sunken boat he lay. 

In his manhood in the submerged grain he lay. 1 

The "boat" may be the "chest" in which Adonis 
was concealed by Aphrodite when she confided him to 
the care of Persephone, queen of Hades, who desired 
to retain the young god, but was compelled by Zeus to 
send him back to the goddess of love and vegetation. 
The fact that Ishtar descended to Hades in quest of 
Tammuz may perhaps explain the symbolic references in 
hymns to mother goddesses being in sunken boats also 
when their powers were in abeyance, as were those of the 
god for part of each year. It is possible, too, that the boat 
had a lunar and a solar significance. Khonsu, the Egyp- 
tian moon god, for instance, was associated with the Spring 
sun, being a deity of fertility and therefore a corn spirit ; 
he was a form of Osiris, the Patriarch, who sojourned on 
earth to teach mankind how to grow corn and cultivate 
fruit trees. In the Egyptian legend Osiris received the 
corn seeds from Isis, which suggests that among Great- 

1 Quotations are from Sumerian and Babylonian Psalms, translated by Stephen 
Langdon, Ph.D. (Paris and London, 1909), pp. 299-341. 


Mother-worshipping peoples, it was believed that agri- 
cultural civilization had a female origin. The same myths 
may have been attached to corn gods and corn goddesses, 
associated with water, sun, moon, and stars. 

That there existed in Babylonia at an extremely re- 
mote period an agricultural myth regarding a Patriarch of 
divine origin who was rescued from a boat in his child- 
hood, is suggested by the legend which was attached to 
the memoryj of the usurper King Sargon of Akkad. It 
runs as follows: 

" I am Sargon, the mighty King of Akkad, My mother was a 
vestal (priestess), my father an alien, whose brother inhabited the 
mountain. . . . When my mother had conceived me, she bare 
me in a hidden place. She laid me in a vessel of rushes, stopped 
th'e door thereof with pitch, and cast me adrift on the river* . . . 
The river floated me to Akki, the water drawer, who, in drawing 
water, drew me forth. Akki, the water drawer, educated me as 
his son, and made me his gardener. As a gardener, I was beloved 
by the goddess Ishtar." 

It is unlikely that this story was invented by Sargon. 
Like the many variants of it found in other countries, 
it was probably founded on a form of the Tammuz- 
Adonis myth. Indeed, a new myth would not have suited 
Sargon's purpose so well as the adaptation of an old one, 
which was more likely to make popular appeal when con- 
nected with his name. The references to the goddess 
Ishtar, and Sargon's early life as a gardener, suggest that 
the king desired to be remembered as an agricultural 
Patriarch, if not of divine, at any rate of semi-divine 

What appears to be an early form of the widespread 
Tammuz myth is the Teutonic legend regarding the 
mysterious child who came over the sea to inaugurate 
a new era of civilization and instruct the people how to 

(0642) 9 


grow corn and become great warriors. The Northern 
peoples, as archaeological evidence suggests, derived their 
knowledge of agriculture, and therefore their agricultural 
myths, from the Neolithic representatives of the Mediter- 
ranean race with whom they came into contact. There can 
be no doubt but that the Teutonic legend refers to the 
introduction of agriculture. The child is called " Scef " 
or "Sceaf", which signifies "Sheaf", or "Scyld, the son 
of Sceaf". Scyld is the patriarch of the Scyldings, the 
Danes, a people of mixed origin. In the Anglo-Saxon 
Beowulf poem, the reference is to " Scyld ", but Ethel- 
weard, William of Malmesbury, and others adhered to 
"Sceaf" as the name of the Patriarch of the Western 

The legend runs that one day a boat was seen 
approaching the shore; it was not propelled by oars or 
sail. In it lay a child fast asleep, his head pillowed upon 
a sheaf of grain. He was surrounded by armour, treasure, 
and various implements, including the fire-borer. The 
child was reared by the people who found him, and he 
became a great instructor and warrior and ruled over the 
tribe as king. In Beowulf Scyld is the father of the elder 
Beowulf, whose grandson Hrothgar built the famous Hall. 
The poem opens with a reference to the patriarch " Scyld 
of the Sheaf '\ When he died, his body, according to 
the request he had made, was laid in a ship which was 
set adrift: 

Upon his breast lay many treasures which were to travel with 
him into the power of the flood. Certainly they (the mourners) 
furnished him with no less of gifts, of tribal treasures, than those 
had done who, in his early days, started him over the sea alone, 
child as he was. Moreover, they set besides a gold-embroidered 
standard high above his head, and let the flood bear him gave 
him to the sea. Their soul was sad, their spirit sorrowful. Who 


received that load, men, chiefs of council, heroes under heaven, 
cannot for certain telL 1 

Sceaf or Scyld is identical with Yngve, the patriarch 
of the Ynglings; with Frey, the harvest and boar god, 
son of Njord, 2 the sea god; and with Hermod, referred 
to as follows in the Eddie "Lay of Hyndla": 

To some grants he wealth, to his children war fame, 
Word skill to many and wisdom to men, 
Fair winds to sea-farers, song craft to skalds, 
And might of manhood to many a warrior. 

Tammuz is similarly "the heroic lord of the land", 
the " wise one ", the " lord of knowledge ", and " the 
sovereign, lord of invocation ". 

Heimdal, watchman of the Teutonic gods, also dwelt 
for a time among men as " Rig ", and had human off- 
spring, his son Thrall being the ancestor of the Thralls, 
his son Churl of churls, and Jarl of noblemen. 

Tammuz, like Heimdal, is also a guardian. He 
watches the flocks and herds, whom he apparently guards 
against the Gallu demons as Heimdal guards the world 
and the heavens against attacks by giants and monsters. 
The flocks of Tammuz, Professor Pinches suggests, " re- 
call the flocks of the Greek sun god Helios. These were 
the clouds illuminated by the sun, which were likened to 
sheep indeed, one of the early Sumerian expressions for 
* fleece' was c sheep of the sky'. The name of Tammuz 
in Sumerian is Dumu-zi, or in its rare fullest form, Dumu- 
zida, meaning < true or faithful son '. There is prob- 
ably some legend attached to this which is at present 
unknown." 3 

1 Beowulf, translated by J. R. Clark Hall (London, 1911), pp. 9-11. 

2 For Prey's connection with the Ynglings see Morris and Magnusson's Heimskringla 
(Saga Library, vol. iii), pp. 23-71. 

3 The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, p. /z. 


So the Sumerian hymn-chanters lamented: 

Like an herdsman the sentinel place of sheep and cattle he 

(Tammuz) has forsaken . . . 
From his home, from his inhabited domain, the son, he of wisdom, 

pre-eminent steer of heaven, 
The hero unto the nether herding place has taken his way. 1 

Agni, the Aryo-Indian god, who, as the sky sentinel, 
has points of resemblance to Heimdal, also links with 
Tammuz, especially in his Mitra character: 

Agni has been established among the tribes of men, the son of 
the waters, Mitra acting in the right way. Rigveda^ iii, 5, 3. 

Agni, who has been looked and longed for in Heaven, who has 
been looked for on earth he who has been looked for has entered 
all herbs. Rigyeda, i, g8. 2 

Tammuz, like the Egyptian lunar and solar god 
Khonsu, is "the healer", and Agni "drives away all dis- 
ease ". Tammuz is the god "of sonorous voice "; Agni 
"roars like a bull "; and Heimdal blows a horn when the 
giants and demons threaten to attack the citadel of the 
gods. As the spring sun god, Tammuz is " a youthful 
warrior ", says Jastrow, " triumphing over the storms of 
winter". 3 The storms, of course, were symbolized as 
demons. Tammuz, " the heroic lord ", was therefore 
a demon slayer like Heimdal and Agni. Each of these 
gods appear to have been developed in isolation from an 
archaic spring god of fertility and corn whose attributes 
were symbolized. In Teutonic mythology, for instance, 
Heimdal was the warrior form of the patriarch Scef, while 
Frey was the deified agriculturist who came over the 
deep as a child. In Saxo's mythical history of Denmark, 

1 Langdon's Sumerian and Babylonian Psalms, pp. 325, 339. 

2 Professor Oldenberg's translation. 

8 Osiris is also invoked to " remove storms and rain and give fecundity in the night- 
time". As a spring sun god he slays demons 5 as a lunar god he brings fertility. 


Frey as Frode is taken prisoner by a storm giant, Beli, 
" the howler ", and is loved by his hag sister in the 
Teutonic Hades, as Tammuz is loved by Eresh-ki-gal, 
spouse of the storm god Nergal, in the Babylonian Hades. 
Frode returns to earth, like Tammuz, in due season. 

It is evident that there were various versions of the 
Tammuz myth in Ancient Babylonia. In one the goddess 
Ishtar visited Hades to search for the lover of her youth. 
A part of this form of the legend survives in the famous 
Assyrian hymn known as " The Descent of Ishtar ". It 
was first translated by the late Mr. George Smith, of the 
British Museum. A box containing inscribed tablets had 
been sent from Assyria to London, and Mr. Smith, with 
characteristic patience and skill, arranged and deciphered 
them, giving to the world a fragment of ancient literature 
infused with much sublimity and imaginative power. 
Ishtar is depicted descending to dismal Hades, where the 
souls of the dead exist in bird forms : 

I spread like a bird my hands. 

I descend, I descend to the house of darkness, the dwelling of the 

god Irkalla: 

To the house out of which there is no exit, 
To the road from which there is no return : 
To the house from whose entrance the light is taken, 
The place where dust is their nourishment and their food mud. 
Its chiefs also are like birds covered with feathers; 
The light is never seen, in darkness they dwell. ... 
Over the door and bolts is scattered dust. 

When the goddess reaches the gate of Hades she cries 
to the porter: 

Keeper of the waters, open thy gate, 
Open thy gate that I may enter. 
If thou openest not the gate that I may enter 
I will strike the door, the bolts I will shatter, 


I will strike the threshold and will pass through the doors 5 
I will raise up the dead to devour the living, 
Ahove the living the dead shall exceed in numbers. 

The porter answers that he must first consult the Queen 
of Hades, here called Allatu, to whom he accordingly 
announces the arrival of the Queen of Heaven. Allatu's 
heart is filled with anger, and makes reference to those 
whom Ishtar caused to perish: 

Let me weep over the strong who have left their wives, 

Let me weep over the handmaidens who have lost the embraces of 

their husbands, 
Over the only son let me mourn, who ere his days are come is 

taken away. 

Then she issues abruptly the stern decree : 

Go, keeper, open the gate to her, 

Bewitch her according to the ancient rules ; 

that is, " Deal with her as you deal with others who come 

As Ishtar enters through the various gates she is 
stripped of her ornaments and clothing. At the first gate 
her crown was taken off, at the second her ear-rings, at 
the third her necklace of precious stones, at the fourth the 
ornaments of her breast, at the fifth her gemmed waist- 
girdle, 1 at the sixth the bracelets of her hands and feet, 
and at the seventh the covering robe of her body. Ishtar 
asks at each gate why she is thus dealt with, and the 
porter answers, " Such is the command of Allatu." 

After descending for a prolonged period the Queen 
of Heaven at length stands naked before the Queen 
of Hades. Ishtar is proud and arrogant, and Allatu, 
desiring to punish her rival whom she cannot humble, 

1 Like the love-compelling girdle of Aphrodite. 


From the Painting by E. 


commands the plague demon, Namtar, to strike her with 
disease in all parts of her body. The effect of Ishtar's 
fate was disastrous upon earth: growth and fertility came 
to an end. 

Meanwhile Pap-sukal, messenger of the gods, hastened 
to Shamash, the sun deity, to relate what had occurred. 
The sun god immediately consulted his lunar father, Sin, 
and Ea, god of the deep. Ea then created a man lion, 
named Nadushu-namir, to rescue Ishtar, giving him power 
to pass through the seven gates of Hades. When this 
being delivered his message 

Allatu . . . struck her breast; she bit her thumb, 
She turned again : a request she asked not. 

In her anger she cursed the rescuer of the Queen of 

May I imprison thee in the great prison, 

May the garbage of the foundations of the city be thy food, 

May the drains of the city be thy drink, 

May the darkness of the dungeon be thy dwelling, 

May the stake be thy seat, 

May hunger and thirst strike thy offspring. 

She was compelled, however, to obey the high gods, 
and addressed Namtar, saying: 

Unto Ishtar give the waters of life and bring her before me. 

Thereafter the Queen of Heaven was conducted through 
the various gates, and at each she received her robe and 
the ornaments which were taken from her on entering. 
Namtar says : 

Since thou hast not paid a ransom for thy deliverance to her 

(Allatu), so to her again turn back, 
For Tammuz the husband of thy youth. 
The glistening waters (of life) pour over him . . . 
In splendid clothing dress him, with a ring of crystal adorn him. 


Ishtar mourns for "the wound of Tammuz", smiting 
her breast, and she did not ask for "the precious eye- 
stones, her amulets ", which were apparently to ransom 
Tammuz. The poem concludes with Ishtar's wail : 

O my only brother (Tammuz) thou dost not lament for me. 
In the day that Tammuz adorned me, with a ring of crystal, 
With a bracelet of emeralds, together with himself, he adorned me, 1 
With himself he adorned mej may men mourners and women 

On a bier place him, and assemble the wake. 2 

A Sumerian hymn to Tammuz throws light on this 
narrative. It sets forth that Ishtar descended to Hades 
to entreat him to be glad and to resume care of his flocks, 
but Tammuz refused or was unable to return. 

His spouse unto her abode he sent back. 

She then instituted the wailing ceremony: 

The amorous Queen of Heaven sits as one in darkness. 3 

Mr. Langdon also translates a hymn (Tammuz III) 
which appears to contain the narrative on which the 
Assyrian version was founded. The goddess who de- 
scends to Hades, however, is not Ishtar, but the "sister", 
Belit-sheri. She is accompanied by various demons 
the " gallu-demon ", the "slayer", &c. and holds a con- 
versation with Tammuz which, however, is "unintelligible 
and badly broken". Apparently, however, he promises to 
return to earth. 

... I will go up, as for me I will depart with thee . . . 
... I will return, unto my mother let us go back. 

1 A wedding bracelet of crystal is worn by Hindu women} they break it when the 
husband dies. 

2 Quotations from the translation in The Chaldean Account of Genesis, by George 

3 Langdon's Sumerian and Babylonian Psalms, p. 329 ft seq. 


Probably two goddesses originally lamented for Tam- 
muz, as the Egyptian sisters, Isis and Nepthys, lamented 
for Osiris, their brother, Ishtar is referred to as "my 
mother". Isis figures alternately in the Egyptian chants 
as mother, wife, sister, and daughter of Osiris. She 
cries, " Come thou to thy wife in peace ; her heart 
fluttereth for thy love ",,.,"! am thy wife, made 
as thou art, the elder sister, soul of her brother ". . . . 
"Come thou to us as a babe". . . . "Lo, thou art 
as the Bull of the two goddesses come thou, child 
growing in peace, our lord!" . . . "Lo! the Bull, 
begotten of the two cows, Isis and Nepthys". . . . 
" Come thou to the two widowed goddesses ". . . . 
"Oh child, lord, first maker of the body". . . . "Father 
Osiris." 1 

As Ishtar and Belit-sheri weep for Tammuz, so do 
Isis and Nepthys weep for Osiris. 

Calling upon thee with weeping yet thou art prostrate upon thy 

Gods and men ... are weeping for thee at the same time, when 

they behold me (Isis). 
Lo ! I invoke thee with wailing that reacheth high as heaven. 

Isis is also identified with Hathor (Ishtar) the Cow. . . . 
"The cow weepeth for thee with her voice." 2 

There is another phase, however, to the character of 
the mother goddess which explains the references to the 
desertion and slaying of Tammuz by Ishtar. "She is", 
says Jastrow, " the goddess of the human instinct, or 
passion which accompanies human love. Gilgamesh . . . 
reproaches her with abandoning the objects of her passion 
after a brief period of union." At Ishtar's temple "public 
maidens accepted temporary partners, assigned to them by 

1 The Burden of Isis, translated by J. T. Dennis (Wisdom of the East series), pp. 24, 
31, 32, 39, 45, 46, 49. 2 The Burden of his, pp. 22, 46. 


Ishtar". 1 The worship of all mother goddesses in ancient 
times was accompanied by revolting unmoral rites which 
are referred to in condemnatory terms in various passages 
in the Old Testament, especially in connection with the 
worship of Ashtoreth, who was identical with Ishtar and 
the Egyptian Hathor. 

Ishtar in the process of time overshadowed all the 
other female deities of Babylonia, as did Isis in Egypt. 
Her name, indeed, which is Semitic, became in the plural, 
IshtarAte, a designation for goddesses in general. But 
although she was referred to as the daughter of the 
sky, Anu, or the daughter of the moon, Sin or Nannar, 
she still retained traces of her ancient character. Origin- 
ally she was a great mother goddess, who was worshipped 
by those who believed that life and the universe had a 
female origin in contrast to those who believed in the 
theory of male origin. Ishtar is identical with Nina, 
the fish goddess, a creature who gave her name to the 
Sumerian city of Nina and the Assyrian city of Nineveh. 
Other forms of the Creatrix included Mama, or Mami, 
or Ama, "mother", Aruru, Bau, Gula, and Zer-panitu m . 
These were all " Preservers " and healers. At the same 
time they were "Destroyers", like Nin-sun and the Queen 
of Hades, Eresh-ki-gal or Allatu. They were accom- 
panied by shadowy male forms ere they became wives of 
strongly individualized gods, or by child gods, their sons, 
who might be regarded as "brothers" or "husbands of 
their mothers", to use the paradoxical Egyptian term. 
Similarly Great Father deities had vaguely defined wives. 
The " Semitic " Baal, " the lord ", was accompanied by 
a female reflection of himself Beltu, "the lady". 
Shamash, the sun god, had for wife the shadowy Aa. 

1 Aspects of Religious Belief and Practice in Babylonia and Assyria, p. 137, and Herodotus^ 
book i, 199. 


From Kouyunjik (Nineveh] : now in the British Museum 


As has been shown, Ishtar is referred to in a Tarn muz 
hymn as the mother of the child god of fertility. In an 
Egyptian hymn the sky goddess Nut, " the mother " of 
Osiris, is stated to have " built up life from her own 
body". 1 Sri or Lakshmi, the Indian goddess, who be- 
came the wife of Vishnu, as the mother goddess Sara- 
swati, a tribal deity, became the wife of Brahma, was, 
according to a Purana commentator, " the mother of the 
world . . . eternal and undecaying". 2 

The gods, on the other hand, might die annually: 
the goddesses alone were immortal. Indra was supposed 
to perish of old age, but his wife, Indrani, remained ever 
young. There were fourteen Indras in every "day of 
Brahma", a reference apparently to the ancient conception 
of Indra among the Great-Mother-worshipping sections of 
the Aryo-Indians. 8 In the Mahdibhdrata the god Shiva, 
as Mahadeva, commands Indra on " one of the peaks of 
Himavat", where they met, to lift up a stone and join 
the Indras who had been before him. "And Indra on 
removing that stone beheld a cave on the breast of that 
king of mountains in which were four others resembling 
himself." Indra exclaimed in his grief, " Shall I be even 
like these ? " These five Indras, like the " Seven Sleepers ", 
awaited the time when they would be called forth. They 
were ultimately reborn as the five Pandava warriors. 4 

The ferocious, black-faced Scottish mother goddess, 
Cailleach Bheur, who appears to be identical with Mala 
Lith, " Grey Eyebrows " of Fingalian story, and the 
English "Black Annis", figures in Irish song and legend 
as "The Old Woman of Beare". This "old woman" 
(Cailleach) "had", says Professor Kuno Meyer, "seven 

1 The Burden of Isis, p. 47. 

2 Original Sanskrit Texts, J. Muir, London, 1890, vol. i, p. 67. 
8 Original Sanskrit Texts, vol. i, p. 44. 

4 Adi Parva section of MattMdrata (Roy's translation), pp. 553, 555. 


periods of youth one after another, so that every man 
who had lived with her came to die of old age, and her 
grandsons and great-grandsons were tribes and races". 
When old age at length came upon her she sang 
her "swan song", from which the following lines are 
extracted : 

Ebb tide to me as of the sea! 

Old age causes me reproach . . . 

It is riches 

Ye love, it is not men : 

In the time when we lived 

It was men we loved . . . 

My arms when they are seen 

Are bony and thin : 

Once they would fondle, 

They would be round glorious kings . . . 

I must take my garment even in the sun : 

The time is at hand that shall renew me. 1 

Freyja, the Germanic mother goddess, whose car was 
drawn by cats, had similarly many lovers. In the Ice- 
landic poem " Lokasenna ", Loki taunts her, saying: 

Silence, Freyja ! Full well I know thee, 

And faultless art thou not found ; 
Of the gods and elves who here are gathered 

Each one hast thou made thy mate. 

Idun, the keeper of the apples of immortal youth, 
which prevent the gods growing old, is similarly 

Silence, Idun ! I swear, of all women 

Thou the most wanton art ; 
Who couldst fling those fair- washed arms of thine 

About thy brother's slayer. 

1 Ancient Irish Poetry, Kuno Meyer (London, 1911), pp. 88 90. 


Frigg, wife of Odin, is satirized as well: 

Silence, Frigg ! Earth's spouse for a husband, 
And hast ever yearned after men ! l 

The goddesses of classic mythology had similar 
reputations. Aphrodite (Venus) had many divine and 
mortal lovers. She links closely with Astarte and Ashto- 
reth (Ishtar), and reference has already been made to her 
relations with Adonis (Tammuz), These love deities 
were all as cruel as they were wayward. When Ishtar 
wooed the Babylonian hero, Gilgamesh, he spurned her 
advances, as has been indicated, saying: 

On Tammuz, the spouse of thy youth, 
Thou didst lay affliction every year. 
Thou didst love the brilliant Allalu bird 
But thou didst smite him and break his wing; 
He stands in the woods and cries "O my wing", 

He likewise charged her with deceiving the lion and the 
horse, making reference to obscure myths: 

Thou didst also love a shepherd of the flock, 

Who continually poured out for thee the libation, 

And daily slaughtered kids for thee ; 

But thou didst smite him and didst change him into a leopard, 

So that his own sheep boy hunted him, 

And his own hounds tore him to pieces. 2 

These goddesses were ever prone to afflict human 
beings who might offend them or of whom they wearied. 
Demeter (Ceres) changed Ascalaphus into an owl and 
Stellio into a lizard. Rhea (Ops) resembled 

The tow'red Cybele, 
Mother of a hundred gods, 

1 Translations from The Elder Edda, by O. Bray (part i), London, 1908. 
8 Babylonian Religion, L. W. King, pp. 160, 161. 


the wanton who loved Attis (Adonis). Artemis (Diana) 
slew her lover Orion, changed Actaeon into a stag, which 
was torn to pieces by his own dogs, and caused numerous 
deaths by sending a boar to ravage the fields of CEneus, 
king of Calydon. Human sacrifices were frequently 
offered to the bloodthirsty " mothers ". The most 
famous victim of Artemis was the daughter of Aga- 
memnon, "divinely tall and most divinely fair". 1 
Agamemnon had slain a sacred stag, and the goddess 
punished him by sending a calm when the war fleet was 
about to sail for Troy, with the result that his daughter 
had to be sacrificed. Artemis thus sold breezes like the 
northern wind hags and witches. 

It used to be customary to account for the similarities 
manifested by the various mother goddesses by assuming 
that there was constant cultural contact between separate 
nationalities, and, as a result, a not inconsiderable amount 
of u religious borrowing ". Greece was supposed to have 
received its great goddesses from the western Semites, 
who had come under the spell of Babylonian religion. 
Archaeological evidence, however, tends to disprove this 
theory. " The most recent researches into Mesopotamian 
history ", writes Dr. Farnell, " establish with certainty 
the conclusion that there was no direct political contact 
possible between the powers in the valley of the Euphrates 
and the western shores of the ^Egean in the second 
millennium B.C. In fact, between the nascent Hellas 
and the great world of Mesopotamia there were powerful 
and possibly independent strata of cultures interposing." 2 

The real connection appears to be the racial one. 
Among the Mediterranean Neolithic tribes of Sumeria, 
Arabia, and Europe, the goddess cult appears to have 

1 Tennyson's A Dream of Fair Women* 

* Greece and Babvlon, L. R. Farnell (Edinburgh, 1911), p. 35. 


been influential. Mother worship was the predominant 
characteristic of their religious systems, so that the Greek 
goddesses were probably of pre- Hellenic origin, the 
Celtic of Iberian, the Egyptian of proto-Egyptian, and 
the Babylonian of Sumerian. The northern hillmen, 
on the other hand, who may be identified with the 
" Aryans " of the philologists, were father worshippers. 
The Vedic Aryo-lndians worshipped father gods, 1 as did 
also the Germanic peoples and certain tribes in the 
" Hittite confederacy ". Earth spirits were males, like 
the Teutonic elves, the Aryo-Indian Ribhus, and the 
Burkans, " masters ", of the present-day Buriats, a Mon- 
golian people. When the father-worshipping peoples 
invaded the dominions of the mother-worshipping peoples, 
they introduced their strongly individualized gods, but 
they did not displace the mother goddesses. " The 
Aryan Hellenes ", says Dr. Farnell, " were able to plant 
their Zeus and Poseidon on the high hill of Athens, 
but not to overthrow the supremacy of Athena in the 
central shrine and in the aboriginal soul of the Athenian 
people/' 2 As in Egypt, the beliefs of the father wor- 
shippers, represented by the self-created Ptah, were fused 
with the beliefs of the mother worshippers, who adored 
Isis, Mut, Neith, and others. In Babylonia this process 
of racial and religious fusion was well advanced before the 
dawn of history. Ea, who had already assumed manifold 
forms, may have originally been the son or child lover ot 
Damkina, "Lady of the Deep", as was Tammnz of Ishtar. 
As the fish, Ea was the offspring of the mother river. 

The mother worshippers recognized male as well as 
female deities, but regarded the great goddess as the First 
Cause. Although the primeval spirits were grouped in 

1 The goddesses did not become prominent until the " late invasion " of the post- 
Vedic Aryans. a Greece and Babylon, p. 96. 


four pairs in Egypt, and apparently in Babylonia also, 
the female in the first pair was more strongly indi- 
vidualized than the male. The Egyptian Nu is vaguer 
than his consort Nut, and the Babylonian Apsu than his 
consort Tiamat. Indeed, in the narrative of the Creation 
Tablets of Babylon, which will receive full treatment 
in a later chapter, Tiamat, the great mother, is the con- 
trolling spirit. She is more powerful and ferocious than 
Apsu, and lives longer. After Apsu's death she elevates 
one of her brood, named Kingu, to be her consort, a fact 
which suggests that in the Ishtar-Tammuz myth survives 
the influence of exceedingly ancient modes of thought. 
Like Tiamat, Ishtar is also a great battle heroine, and in 
this capacity she was addressed as "the lady of majestic rank 
exalted over all gods". This was no idle flattery on the 
part of worshippers, but a memory of her ancient supremacy. 
Reference has been made to the introduction of 
Tammuz worship into Jerusalem. Ishtar, as Queen of 
Heaven, was also adored by the backsliding Israelites 
as a deity of battle and harvest. When Jeremiah cen- 
sured the people for burning incense and serving gods 
" whom they knew not ", he said, " neither they, ye, nor 
your fathers", they made answer: "Since we left ofF to 
burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out 
drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and 
have been consumed by the sword and the famme ". 
The women took a leading part in these practices, but 
refused to accept all the blame, saying, " When we burned 
incense to the queen of heaven, and poured out drink 
offerings unto her, did we make our cakes and pour out 
drink offerings unto her without our men?" 1 That the 
husbands, and the children even, assisted at the ceremony 
is made evident in another reference to goddess worship: 

1 Jeremiah^ xliy. 

j'ht* vungni' .h>vf the rising sun |*fHl f iht ti\*r gjni, ,unl uther ueiti** 1 

Gilgamesh in conflict with bulls (see page 176) 

{British Museum} 


"The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the 
fire, and the women knead the dough, to make cakes 
to the queen of heaven ".* 

Jastrow suggests that the women of Israel wept for 
Tammuz, offered cakes to the mother goddess, &c. 5 
because " in all religious bodies . , . women represent 
the conservative element ; among them religious customs 
continue in practice after they have been abandoned by 
men ", 2 The evidence of Jeremiah, however, shows that 
the men certainly co-operated at the archaic ceremonials, 
In lighting the fires with the " vital spark ", they ap- 
parently acted in imitation of the god of fertility. The 
women, on the other hand, represented the reproductive 
harvest goddess in providing the food supply. In re- 
cognition of her gift, they rewarded the goddess by 
offering her the cakes prepared from the newly ground 
wheat and barley the " first fruits of the harvest ". As 
the corn god came as a child, the children began the 
ceremony by gathering the wood for the sacred fire. 
When the women mourned for Tammuz, they did so 
evidently because the death of the god was lamented 
by the goddess Ishtar. It would appear, therefore, that 
the suggestion regarding the " conservative element " 
should really apply to the immemorial practices of folk 
religion. These differed from the refined ceremonies of 
the official cult in Babylonia, where there were suitable 
temples and organized bands of priests and priestesses. 
But the official cult received no recognition in Palestine; 
the cakes intended for a goddess were not offered up in 
the temple of Abraham's God, but "in the streets of 
Jerusalem " and those of other cities. 3 

1 Jeremiah, vii, 18. 

2 Aspects of Religious Belief ana Practice in Babylonia and Assyria, pp. 348, 349. 

3 Jeremiah, vii, 17. 

( c 642 ^ 10 


The obvious deduction seems to be that in ancient 
times women everywhere played a prominent part in the 
ceremonial folk worship of the Great Mother goddess, 
while the men took the lesser part of the god whom 
she had brought into being and afterwards received as 
w husband of his mother**. This may account for the 
high social status of women among goddess worshippers, 
like the representatives of the Mediterranean race, whose 
early religion was not confined to temples, but closely 
associated with the acts of everyday life. 


Wars of the City States of Sumer and 


Civilization well advanced The Patesi Prominent City States Sur- 
roundings of Babylonia The Elamites Biblical References to Susa The 
Sumerian Temperament Fragmentary Records City States of Kish and Opis 
A Shopkeeper who became a Queen Goddess Worship Tammuz as Nin- 
Girsu Great Dynasty of Lagash Ur-Nina and his Descendants A Napoleonic 
Conqueror Golden Age of Sumerian Art The First Reformer in History - 
His Rise and Fall The Dynasty of Erech Sargon of Akkad The Royal 
Gardener Sargon Myth in India A Great Empire The King who Pur- 
chased Land Naram Sin the Conqueror Disastrous Foreign Raid Lagash 
again Prominent Gudea the Temple Builder Dynasty of Ur Dynasty 
of Isin Another Gardener becomes King Rise of Babylon Humanized 
Deities Why Sumerian Gods wore Beards. 

WHEN the curtain rises to reveal the drama of Babylonian 
civilization we find that we have missed the first act and 
its many fascinating scenes. Sumerians and Akkadians 
come and go, but it is not always possible to distinguish 
between them. Although most Semites are recognizable 
by their flowing beards, prominent noses, and long robes, 
some have so closely imitated the Sumerians as to suffer 
almost complete loss of identity. It is noticeable that in 
the north the Akkadians are more Semitic than their con- 
temporaries in the south, but it is difficult at times to say 
whether a city is controlled by the descendants of the in- 
digenous people or those of later settlers. Dynasties rise 
and fall, and, as in Egypt at times, the progress of the 
fragmentary narrative is interrupted by a sudden change 



of scene ere we have properly grasped a situation and 
realized its significance. 

What we know for certain is that civilization is well 
advanced. Both in the north and the south there are 
many organized and independent city states, and not un- 
frequently these wage war one against another. Occasion- 
ally ambitious rulers tower among their fellows, conduct 
vigorous military campaigns, and become overlords of 
wide districts. As a rule, a subjugated monarch who has 
perforce to acknowledge the suzerainty of a powerful king 
is allowed to remain in a state of semi-independence on 
condition that he pays a heavy annual tribute of grain. 
His own laws continue in force, and the city deities 
remain supreme, although recognition may also be given 
to the deities of his conqueror* He styles himself a 
Patesi a "priest king", or more literally, "servant of 
the chief deity ". But as an independent monarch may 
also be a pious Patesi, it does not always follow when a 
ruler is referred to by that title he is necessarily less 
powerful than his neighbours. 

When the historical narrative begins Akkad included 
the cities of Babylon, Cutha, Kish, Akkad, and Sippar, 
and north of Babylonia proper is Semitic Opis. Among 
the cities of Sumer were Eridu, Ur, Lagash, Larsa, Erech, 
Shuruppak, and probably Nippur, which was situated on 
the " border ". On the north Assyria was yet " in the 
making ", and shrouded in obscurity. A vague but vast 
area above Hit on the Euphrates, and extending to the 
Syrian coast, was known as the "land of the Amorites". 
The fish -shaped Babylonian valley lying between the 
rivers, where walled towns were surrounded by green 
fields and numerous canals flashed in the sunshine, was 
bounded on the west by the bleak wastes of the Arabian 
desert, where during the dry season " the rocks branded 


the body " and occasional sandstorms swept in blinding 
folds towards the " plain of Shinar " (Sumer) like demon 
hosts who sought to destroy the world. To the east the 
skyline was fretted by the Persian Highlands, and amidst 
the southern mountains dwelt the fierce Elamites, the 
hereditary enemies of the Sumerians, although a people 
apparently of the same origin. Like the Nubians and 
the Libyans, who kept watchful eyes on Egypt, the 
Elamites seemed ever to be hovering on the eastern 
frontier of Sumeria, longing for an opportunity to raid 
and plunder. 

The capital of the Elamites was the city of Susa, 
where excavations have revealed traces of an independent 
civilization which reaches back to an early period in the 
Late Stone Age. Susa is referred to in the Old Testa- 
ment " The words of Nehemiah ... I was in Shushan 
the palace". 1 An Assyrian plan of the city shows it 
occupying a strategic position at a bend of the Shawur 
river, which afforded protection against Sumerian attacks 
from the west, while a canal curved round its northern 
and eastern sides, so that Susa was completely surrounded 
by water. Fortifications had been erected on the river 
and canal banks, and between these and the high city 
walls were thick clumps of trees. That the kings of 
Elam imitated the splendours of Babylonian courts in 
the later days of Esther and Haman and Mordecai, is 
made evident by the Biblical references to the gorgeous 
palace, which had "white, green, and blue hangings, 
fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver 
rings and pillars of marble ; the beds were of gold and 
silver, upon a pavement of red, and blue, and white, and 
black marble ", 2 Beyond Elam were the plains, plateaus, 
and grassy steppes occupied by the Medes and other 

1 Nehemiahy i, i. 2 Esther^ i, 6. 


peoples of Aryan speech. Cultural influences came and 
went like spring winds between the various ancient com- 

For ten long centuries Sumer and Akkad flourished 
and prospered ere we meet with the great Hammurabi, 
whose name has now become almost as familiar as that 
of Julius C^sar. But our knowledge of the leading his- 
torical events of this vast period is exceedingly fragmen- 
tary. The Sumerians were not like the later Assyrians 
or their Egyptian contemporaries a people with a passion 
for history. When inscriptions were composed and cut 
on stone, or impressed upon clay tablets and bricks, the 
kings selected as a general rule to record pious deeds 
rather than to celebrate their victories and conquests. 
Indeed, the average monarch had a temperament resem- 
bling that of Keats, who declared: 

The silver flow 

Of Hero's tears, the swoon of Imogen, 
Fair Pastorella in the bandits' den, 
Are things to brood on with more ardency 
Than the death day of empires. 

The Sumerian king was emotionally religious as the 
great English poet was emotionally poetical. The tears 
of Ishtar for Tammuz, and the afflictions endured by the 
goddess imprisoned in Hades, to which she had descended 
for love of her slain husband, seemed to have concerned 
the royal recorder to a greater degree than the memories 
of political upheavals and the social changes which passed 
over the land, like the seasons which alternately brought 
greenness and gold, barrenness and flood. 

City chronicles, as a rule, are but indices of obscure 
events, to which meagre references were sometimes also 
made on mace heads, vases, tablets, stelae, and sculptured 


monoliths. Consequently, present-day excavators and 
students have often reason to be grateful that the habit 
likewise obtained of inscribing on bricks in buildings and 
the stone sockets of doors the names of kings and others* 
These records render obscure periods faintly articulate, 
and are indispensable for comparative purposes. His- 
torical clues are also obtained from lists of year names. 
Each city king named a year in celebration of a great 
event his own succession to the throne, the erection 
of a new temple or of a city wall, or, mayhap, the defeat 
of an invading army from a rival state. Sometimes, too, 
a monarch gave the name of his father in an official 
inscription, or happily mentioned several ancestors. An- 
other may be- found to have made an illuminating state- 
ment regarding a predecessor, who centuries previously 
erected the particular temple that he himself has piously 
restored. A reckoning of this kind, however, cannot 
always be regarded as absolutely correct. It must be 
compared with and tested by other records, for in these 
ancient days calculations were not unfrequently based 
on doubtful inscriptions, or mere oral traditions, perhaps. 
Nor can implicit trust be placed on every reference to 
historical events, for the memoried deeds of great rulers 
were not always unassociated with persistent and cumu- 
lative myths. It must be recognized, therefore, that even 
portions of the data which had of late been sifted and 
systematized by Oriental scholars in Europe, may yet 
have to be subjected to revision. Many interesting and 
important discoveries, which will throw fresh light on 
this fascinating early period, remain to be made in that 
ancient and deserted land, which still lies under the 
curse of the Hebrew prophet, who exclaimed: "Babylon, 
the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' ex- 
cellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and 


Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited; neither shall 
the Arabian pitch tent there ; neither shall the shep- 
herds make their fold there. But wild beasts of the 
desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of 
doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs 
shall dance there. And the wild beasts of the islands 
shall cry in their desolate houses and dragons in their 
pleasant palaces/* 1 

The curtain rises, as has been indicated, after civiliza- 
tion had been well advanced. To begin with, our interests 
abide with Akkad, and during a period dated approxi- 
mately between 3000 B.C. and 2800 B.C., when Egypt was 
already a united kingdom, and the Cretans were at the 
dawn of the first early Minoan period, and beginning to 
use bronze. In Kish Sumerian and Akkadian elements 
had apparently blended, and the city was the centre of a 
powerful and independent government. After years have 
fluttered past dimly, and with them the shadow-shapes of 
vigorous rulers, it is found that Kish came under the 
sway of the pronouncedly Semitic city of Opis, which was 
situated " farthest north " and on the western bank of 
the river Tigris. A century elapsed ere Kish again threw 
off the oppressor's yoke and renewed the strength of its 

The city of Kish was one of the many ancient centres 
of goddess worship. The Great Mother appears to have 
been the Sumerian Bau, whose chief seat was at Lagash. 
If tradition is to be relied upon, Kish owed its existence 
to that notable lady, Queen Azag-Bau. Although float- 
ing legends gathered round her memory as they have 
often gathered round the memories of famous men, like 
Sargon of Akkad, Alexander the Great, and Theodoric 
the Goth, who became Emperor of Rome, it is probable 

1 Isaiah, xiii, 19-22. 


that the queen was a prominent historical personage. She 
was reputed to have been of humble origin, and to have 
first achieved popularity and influence as the keeper of a 
wine shop. Although no reference survives to indicate 
that she was believed to be of miraculous birth, the 
Chronicle of Kish gravely credits her with a prolonged 
and apparently prosperous reign of a hundred years* Her 
son, who succeeded her, sat on the throne for a quarter 
of a century. These calculations are certainly remarkable. 
If the Queen Azag-Bau founded Kish when she was only 
twenty, and gave birth to the future ruler in her fiftieth 
year, he must have been an elderly gentleman of seventy 
when he began to reign. When it is found, further, that 
the dynasty in which mother and son flourished was sup- 
posed to have lasted for 586 years, divided between eight 
rulers, one of whom reigned for only three years, two for 
six, and two for eleven, it becomes evident that the 
historian of Kish cannot be absolutely relied upon in 
detail. It seems evident that the memory of this lady of 
forceful character, who flourished about thirteen hundred 
years before the rise of Queen Hatshepsut of Egypt, has 
overshadowed the doubtful annals of ancient Kish at a 
period when Sumerian and Semite were striving in the 
various states to achieve political ascendancy. 

Meanwhile the purely Sumerian city of Lagash had 
similarly grown powerful and aggressive. For a time it 
acknowledged the suzerainty of Kish, but ultimately it 
threw off the oppressor's yoke and asserted its indepen- 
dence. The cumulative efforts of a succession of energetic 
rulers elevated Lagash to the position of a metropolis in 
Ancient Babylonia. 

The goddess Bau, "the mother of Lagash", was 
worshipped in conjunction with other deities, including 
the god Nin-Girsu, an agricultural deity, and therefore 


a deity of war, who had solar attributes. One of the 
titles of Nin-Girsu was En-Mersi, which, according to 
Assyrian evidence, was another name of Tammuz, the 
spring god who slew the storm and winter demons, and 
made the land fertile so that man might have food. Nin- 
Girsu was, it would seem, a developed form of Tammuz, 
like the Scandinavian Frey, god of harvest, or Heimdal, 
the celestial warrior. Bau was one of 7 the several god- 
desses whose attributes were absorbed by the Semitic 
Ishtar. She was a "Great Mother", a creatrix, the 
source of all human and bestial life, and, of course, a 
harvest goddess. She was identified with Gula, " the 
great one", who cured diseases and prolonged life. Evi- 
dently the religion of Lagash was based on the popular 
worship of the <c Queen of Heaven ", and her son, the 
dying god who became " husband of his mother ". 

The first great and outstanding ruler of Lagash was 
Ur-Nina, who appears to have owed his power to the 
successful military operations of his predecessors. It is 
uncertain whether or not he himself engaged in any great 
war. His records are silent in that connection, but, 
judging from what we know of him, it may be taken 
for granted that he was able and fully prepared to give 
a good account of himself in battle. He certainly took 
steps to make secure his position, for he caused a strong 
wall to be erected round Lagash. His inscriptions are 
eloquent of his piety, which took practical shape, for 
he repaired and built temples, dedicated offerings to 
deities, and increased the wealth of religious bodies and 
the prosperity of the State by cutting canals and develop- 
ing agriculture. In addition to serving local deities, he 
also gave practical recognition to Ea at Eridu and Enlil 
at Nippur. He, however, overlooked Anu at Erech, 
a fact which suggests that he held sway over Eridu and 


Nippur, but had to recognize Erech as an independent 
city state. 

Among the deities of Lagash, Ur-Nina favoured most 
the goddess Nina, whose name he bore. As she was 
a water deity, and perhaps identical with Belit-sheri, sister 
of " Tammuz of the Abyss " and daughter of Ea, one of 
the canals was dedicated to her. She was also honoured 
with a new temple, in which was probably placed her 
great statue, constructed by special order of her royal 
worshipper. Like the Egyptian goddess, the " Mother 
of Mendes ", Nina received offerings of fish, not only 
as a patroness of fishermen, but also as a corn spirit 
and a goddess of maternity. She was in time identified 
with Ishtar. 

" A famous limestone plaque, which is preserved in the 
Louvre, Paris, depicts on its upper half the pious King 
Ur-Nina engaged in the ceremony of laying the founda- 
tions of a temple dedicated either to the goddess Nina 
or to the god Nin-Girsu. His face and scalp are clean 
shaven, and he has a prominent nose and firm mouth, 
eloquent of decision. The folds of neck and jaw suggest 
Bismarckian traits. He is bare to the waist, and wears 
a pleated kilt, with three flounces, which reaches almost 
to his ankles. On his long head he has poised deftly 
a woven basket containing the clay with which he is to 
make the first brick. In front of him stand five figures. 
The foremost is honoured by being sculptured larger than 
the others, except the prominent monarch. Apparently 
this is a royal princess, for her head is unshaven, and her 
shoulder dress or long hair drops over one of her arms. 
Her name is Lida, and the conspicuous part she took in 
the ceremony suggests that she was the representative 
of the goddess Nina. She is accompanied by her brothers, 
and at least one official, Anita, the cup-bearer, or high 


priest. The concluding part of this ceremony, or another 
ceremonial act, is illustrated on the lower part of the 
plaque. Ur-Nina is seated on his throne, not, as would 
seem at first sight, raising the wine cup to his lips and 
toasting to the success of the work, but pouring out a 
libation upon the ground. The princess is not present; 
the place of honour next to the king is taken by the 
crown prince. Possibly in this case it is the god Nin- 
Girsu who is being honoured. Three male figures, per- 
haps royal sons, accompany the prominent crown prince. 
The cup-bearer is in attendance behind the throne. 

The inscription on this plaque, which is pierced in the 
centre so as to be nailed to a sacred shrine, refers to the 
temples erected by Ur-Nina, including those of Nina and 

After Ur-Nina' s prosperous reign came to a close, 
his son Akurgal ascended the throne. He had trouble 
with Umma, a powerful city, which lay to the north-west 
of Lagash, between the Shatt-el-Kai and Shatt-el-Hai 
canals. An army of raiders invaded his territory and had 
to be driven back. 

The next king, whose name was Eannatum, had 
Napoleonic characteristics. He was a military genius 
with great ambitions, and was successful in establishing 
by conquest a small but brilliant empire. Like his grand- 
father, he strengthened the fortifications of Lagash; then 
he engaged in a series of successful campaigns. Umma 
had been causing anxiety in Lagash, but Eannatum 
stormed and captured that rival city, appropriated one 
of its fertile plains, and imposed an annual tribute to 
be paid in kind. An army of Elamites swept down from 
the hills, but Ur-Nina's grandson inflicted upon these 
bold foreigners a crushing defeat and pursued them over 
the frontier. Several cities were afterwards forced to 


come under the sway of triumphant Lagash, including 
Erech and Ur, and as his suzerainty was already acknow- 
ledged at Eridu, Eannatum's power in Sumeria became 
as supreme as it was firmly established. 

Evidently Zuzu, king of the northern city of Opis, 
considered that the occasion was opportune to overcome 
the powerful Sumerian conqueror, and at the same time 
establish Semitic rule over the subdued and war-wasted 
cities. He marched south with a large army, but the 
tireless and ever-watchful Eannatum hastened to the fray, 
scattered the forces of Opis, and captured the foolhardy 

Eannatum's activities, however, were not confined to 
battlefields. At Lagash he carried out great improve- 
ments in the interests of agriculture; he constructed a 
large reservoir and developed the canal system. He also 
extended and repaired existing temples in his native city 
and at Erech. Being a patron of the arts, he encouraged 
sculpture work, and the finest Sumerian examples belong 
to his reign. 

Eannatum was succeeded by his brother, Enannatum I. 
Apparently the new monarch did not share the military 
qualities of his royal predecessor, for there were signs of 
unrest in the loose confederacy of states. Indeed, Umma 
revolted. From that city an army marched forth and 
took forcible possession of the plain which Eannatum had 
appropriated, removing and breaking the landmarks, and 
otherwise challenging the supremacy of the sovran state. 
A Lagash force defeated the men of Umma, but appears 
to have done little more than hold in check their aggressive 

No sooner had Entemena, the next king, ascended the 
throne than the flame of revolt burst forth again. The 
Patesi of Umma was evidently determined to free, once 


and for all, his native state from the yoke of Lagash. 
But he had gravely miscalculated the strength of the 
vigorous young ruler. Entemena inflicted upon the 
rebels a crushing defeat, and following up his success, 
entered the walled city and captured and slew the patesi. 
Then he took steps to stamp out the embers of revolt 
in Umma by appointing as its governor one of his own 
officials, named Hi, who was duly installed with great 
ceremony. Other military successes followed, including 
the sacking of Opis and Kish, which assured the suprem- 
acy of Lagash for many years. Entemena, with charac- 
teristic vigour, engaged himself during periods of peace 
in strengthening his city fortifications and in continuing 
the work of improving and developing the irrigation 
system. He lived in the golden age of Sumerian art, 
and to his reign belongs the exquisite silver vase of 
Lagash, which was taken from the Tello mound, and is 
now in the Louvre. This votive offering was placed by 
the king in the temple of Nin-Girsu. It is exquisitely 
shaped, and has a base of copper. The symbolic decora- 
tions include the lion-headed eagle, which was probably 
a form of the spring god of war and fertility, the lion, 
beloved by the Mother goddess, and deer and ibexes, 
which recall the mountain herds of Astarte. In the 
dedicatory inscription the king is referred to as a patesi, 
and the fact that the name of the high priest, Dudu, is 
given may be taken as an indication of the growing power 
of an aggressive priesthood. After a brilliant reign of 
twenty-nine years the king died, and was succeeded by 
his son, Enannatum II, who was the last ruler of Ur- 
Nina's line. An obscure period ensued. Apparently 
there had been a city revolt, which may have given the 
enemies of Lagash the desired opportunity to gather 
strength for the coming conflict. There is a reference to 


The finest example extant of Sumerian metal work. (See page 120) 
Reproduced by permission from " Decouve rtes en Chaldee" (E. Leroux, Paris) 


an Elamite raid which, although repulsed, may be regarded 
as proof of disturbed political conditions, 

One or two priests sat on the throne of Lagash in 
brief succession, and then arose to power the famous 
Urukagina, the first reformer in history. He began to 
rule as patcsi, but afterwards styled himself king, What 
appears certain is that he was the leader of a great social 
upheaval, which received the support of a section of the 
priesthood, for he recorded that his elevation was due to 
the intercession of the god Nin-Girsu. Other deities, 
who were sons and daughters of Nin-Girsu and Nina, 
had been given recognition by his predecessors, and it 
is possible that the orthodox section of Lagash, and 
especially the agricultural classes, supported the new 
ruler in sweeping away innovations to which they were 

Like Khufu and his descendants, the Pyramid kings 
of Egypt's fourth dynasty, the vigorous and efficient 
monarchs of the Ur-Nina dynasty of Lagash were ap- 
parently remembered and execrated as tyrants and oppres- 
sors of the people. To maintain many endowed temples 
and a standing army the traders and agriculturists had 
been heavily taxed. Each successive monarch who under- 
took public works on a large scale for the purpose of 
extending and developing the area under cultivation, 
appears to have done so mainly to increase the revenue 
of the exchequer, so as to conserve the strength of the 
city and secure its pre-eminence as a metropolis. A 
leisured class had come into existence, with the result 
that culture was fostered and civilization advanced. 
Lagash seems to have been intensely modern in character 
prior to 2800 B.C., but with the passing of the old order 
of things there arose grave social problems which never 
appear to have been seriously dealt with. All indications 


of social unrest were, it would appear, severely repressed 
by the iron-gloved monarchs of Ur-Nina's dynasty. 

The people as a whole groaned under an ever- 
increasing burden of taxation. Sumeria was overrun by 
an army of officials who were notoriously corrupt; they 
do not appear to have been held in check, as in Egypt, 
by royal auditors. " In the domain of Nin-Girsu ", one 
of Urukagina's tablets sets forth, " there were tax 
gatherers down to the sea." They not only attended 
to the needs of the exchequer, but enriched themselves 
by sheer robbery, while the priests followed their example 
by doubling their fees and appropriating temple offerings 
to their own use. The splendid organization of Lagash 
was crippled by the dishonesty of those who should have 
been its main support. 

Reforms were necessary and perhaps overdue, but, 
unfortunately for Lagash, Urukagina's zeal for the people's 
cause amounted to fanaticism. Instead of gradually re- 
adjusting the machinery of government so as to secure 
equality of treatment without impairing its efficiency as 
a defensive force in these perilous times, he inaugurated 
sweeping and revolutionary social changes of far-reaching 
character regardless of consequences. Taxes and temple 
fees were cut down, and the number of officials reduced 
to a minimum. Society was thoroughly disorganized. 
The army, which was recruited mainly from the leisured 
and official classes, went practically out of existence, so 
that traders and agriculturists obtained relief from taxation 
at the expense of their material security. 

Urukagina's motives were undoubtedly above re- 
proach, and he showed an example to all who occupied 
positions of trust by living an upright life and denying 
himself luxuries. He was disinterestedly pious, and built 
and restored temples, and acted as the steward of his god 


with desire to promote the welfare and comfort of all true 
worshippers. His laws were similar to those which over 
two centuries afterwards were codified by Hammurabi, 
and like that monarch he was professedly the guardian 
of the weak and the helper of the needy; he sought to 
establish justice and liberty in the kingdom. But his 
social Arcadia vanished like a dream because he failed 
to recognize that Right must be supported by Might. 

In bringing about his sudden social revolution, 
Urukagina had at the same time unwittingly let loose 
the forces of disorder. Discontented and unemployed 
officials, and many representatives of the despoiled leisured 
and military classes of Lagash, no doubt sought refuge 
elsewhere, and fostered the spirit of revolt which ever 
smouldered in subject states. At any rate, Umma, re- 
membering the oppressions of other days, was not slow 
to recognize that the iron hand of Lagash had become 
unnerved. The zealous and iconoclastic reformer had 
reigned but seven years when he was called upon to de- 
fend his people against the invader. He appears to have 
been utterly unprepared to do so. The victorious forces 
of Umma swept against the stately city of Lagash and 
shattered its power in a single day. Echoes of the great 
disaster which ensued rise from a pious tablet inscription 
left by a priest, who was convinced that the conquerors 
would be called to account for the sins they had com- 
mitted against the great god Nin-Girsu. He lamented 
the butchery and robbery which had taken place. We 
gather from his composition that blood was shed by the 
raiders of Umma even in the sacred precincts of temples, 
that statues were shattered, that silver and precious stones 
were carried away, that granaries were plundered and stand- 
ing crops destroyed, and that many buildings were set on 
fire. Amidst these horrors of savagery and vengeance, 


the now tragic figure of the great reformer suddenly 
vanishes from before our eyes. Perhaps he perished 
in a burning temple; perhaps he found a nameless grave 
with the thousands of his subjects whose bodies had lain 
scattered about the blood-stained streets. With Uruka- 
gina the glory of Lagash departed. Although the city 
was rebuilt in time, and was even made more stately than 
before, it never again became the metropolis of Sumeria. 

The vengeful destroyer of Lagash was Lugal-zaggisi, 
Patesi of Umma, a masterful figure in early Sumerian 
history* We gather from the tablet of the unknown 
scribe, who regarded him as a sinner against the god 
Nin-Girsu, that his city goddess was named Nidaba. He 
appears also to have been a worshipper of Enlil of 
Nippur, to whose influence he credited his military suc- 
cesses. But Enlil was not his highest god, he was the 
interceder who carried the prayers of Lugal-zaggisi to 
the beloved father, Anu, god of the sky. No doubt Nin- 
Girsu represented a school of theology which was asso- 
ciated with unpleasant memories in Umma. The sacking 
and burning of the temples of Lagash suggests as much. 

Having broken the power of Lagash, Lugal-zaggisi 
directed his attention to the rival city of Kish, where 
Semitic influence was predominating. When Nanizak, 
the last monarch of the line of the famous Queen Azag- 
Bau, had sat upon the throne for but three years, he 
perished by the sword of the Umma conqueror. Nippur 
likewise came under his sway, and he also subdued the 
southern cities. 

Lugal-zaggisi chose for his capital ancient Erech, the 
city of Anu, and of his daughter, the goddess Nana, who 
afterwards was identified with Ishtar. Ami's spouse was 
Anatu, and the pair subsequently became abstract deities, 
like Anshar and Kishar, their parents, who figure in the 


Babylonian Creation story, Nana was worshipped as the 
goddess of vegetation, and her relation to Anu was similar 
to that of Belit-sheri to Ea at Eridu. Anu and Ea were 
originally identical, but it would appear that the one was 
differentiated as the god of the waters above the heaven 
and the other as god of the waters beneath the earth, both 
being forms of Anshar. Elsewhere the chief god of the 
spring sun or the moon, the lover of the goddess, became 
pre-eminent, displacing the elder god, like Nin-Girsu at 
Lagash. At Sippar the sun god, Babbar, whose Semitic 
name was Shamash, was exalted as the chief deity, while 
the moon god remained supreme at Ur, This specializing 
process, which was due to local theorizing and the in- 
fluence of alien settlers, has been dealt with in a previous 

In referring to himself as the favoured ruler of various 
city deities, Lugal-zaggisi appears as a ruler of all Sumeria. 
How far his empire extended it is impossible to determine 
with certainty. He appears to have overrun Akkad, and 
even penetrated to the Syrian coast, for in one inscription 
it is stated that he "made straight his path from the 
Lower Sea (the Persian Gulf) over the Euphrates and 
Tigris to the Upper Sea (the Mediterranean) ". The 
allegiance of certain states, however, depended on the 
strength of the central power. One of his successors 
found it necessary to attack Kish, which was ever waiting 
for an opportunity to regain its independence. 

According to the Chronicle of Kish, the next ruler of 
Sumer and Akkad after Lugal-zaggisi was the famous 
Sargon I. It would appear that he was an adventurer 
or usurper, and that he owed his throne indirectly to 
Lugal-zaggisi, who had dethroned the ruler of Akkad. 
Later traditions, which have been partly confirmed by con- 
temporary inscriptions, agree that Sargon was of humble 


birth. In the previous chapter reference was made to the 
Tammuz-like myth attached to his memory. His mother 
was a vestal virgin dedicated to the sun god, Shamash, 
and his father an unknown stranger from the mountains 
a suggestion of immediate Semitic affinities. Perhaps 
Sargon owed his rise to power to the assistance received 
by bands of settlers from the land of the Amorites, which 
Lugal-zaggisi had invaded. 

According to the legend, Sargon's birth was concealed. 
He was placed in a vessel which was committed to the 
river. Brought up by a commoner, he lived in obscurity 
until the Semitic goddess, Ishtar, gave him her aid. 

A similar myth was attached in India to the memory 
of Kama, the Hector of that great Sanskrit epic the 
Mahdbhdrata. Kama's mother, the Princess Pritha, who 
afterwards became a queen, was loved by the sun god, 
Surya. When in secret she gave birth to her son she 
placed him in an ark of wickerwork, which was set adrift 
on a stream. Ultimately it reached the Ganges, and it 
was borne by that river to the country of Anga, where 
the child was rescued by a woman and afterwards reared 
by her and her husband, a charioteer. In time Kama 
became a great warrior, and was crowned King of Anga 
by the Kaurava warriors. 1 

Before he became king, Sargon of Akkad, the 
Sharrukin of the texts, was, according to tradition, a 
gardener and watchman attached to the temple of the 
war god Zamama of Kish. This deity was subsequently 
identified with Merodach, son of Ea; Ninip, son of Enlil; 
and Nin-Girsu of Lagash. He was therefore one of the 
many developed forms of Tammuz a solar, corn, and 
military deity, and an interceder for mankind. The god- 
dess of Kish appears to have been a form of Bau, as is 

1 Indian Myth and Legend, pp. 173-175 and 192-194. 


testified by the name of Queen Azag-Bau, the legendary 
founder of the city. 

Unfortunately our knowledge of Sargon's reign is 
of meagre character. It is undoubted that he was a 
distinguished general and able ruler. He built up an 
empire which included Sumer and Akkad, and also 
Amurru, "the western land ", or " land of the Amorites ". 
The Elamites gave him an opportunity to extend his con- 
quests eastward. They appear to have attacked Opis, 
but he drove them back, and on more than one occasion 
penetrated their country, over the western part of which, 
ktpwn as Anshan, he ultimately imposed his rule. 
Thither went many Semitic settlers who had absorbed the 
culture of Sumeria. 

During Sargon's reign Akkad attained to a splendour 
which surpassed that of Babylon. In an omen text the 
monarch is lauded as the "highly exalted one without 
a peer ". Tradition relates that when he was an old man 
all the Babylonian states rose in revolt against him and 
besieged Akkad. But the old warrior led forth his army 
against the combined forces and achieved a shattering 

Manishtusu, who succeeded Sargon I, had similarly 
to subdue a great confederacy of thirty-two city states, 
and must therefore have been a distinguished general. 
But he is best known as the monarch who purchased 
several large estates adjoining subject cities, his aim 
having been probably to settle on these Semitic allies 
who would be less liable to rebel against him than the 
workers they displaced. For the latter, however, he 
found employment elsewhere. These transactions, which 
were recorded on a monument subsequently carried off 
with other spoils by the Elamites and discovered at Susa, 
show that at this early period (about 2 6ocT B.C.) even a 


conquering monarch considered it advisable to observe 
existing land laws. Urumush, 1 the next ruler, also 
achieved successes in Elam and elsewhere, but his life 
was Cut short by a palace revolution* 

The prominent figure of Naram Sin, a later king of 
Akkad, bulks largely in history and tradition. Accord- 
ing to the Chronicle of Kish, he was a son of Sargon. 
Whether he was or not, it is certain that he inherited 
the military and administrative genius of that famous 
ex-gardener. The arts flourished during his reign. One 
of the memorable products of the period was an ex- 
quisitely sculptured monument celebrating one of Naram 
Sin's victories, which was discovered at Susa. It is one 
of the most wonderful examples of Babylonian stone 
work which has come to light. 

A successful campaign had been waged against a 
mountain people. The stele shows the warrior king 
leading his army up a steep incline and round the base 
of a great peak surmounted by stars. His enemies flee 
in confusion before him. One lies on the ground clutch- 
ing a spear which has penetrated his throat, two are 
falling over a cliff, while others apparently sue for mercy. 
Trees have been depicted to show that part of the con- 
quered territory is wooded. Naram Sin is armed with 
battleaxe and bow, and his helmet is decorated with horns. 
The whole composition is spirited and finely grouped; 
and the military bearing of the disciplined troops contrasts 
sharply with the despairing attitudes of the fleeing 
remnants of the defending army. 

During this period the Semitized mountaineers to the 
north-east of Babylonia became the most aggressive op- 
ponents of the city states. The two most prominent 
were the Gutium, or men of Kutu, and the Lulubu. 

1 Or Rimush. 


(Louvre, Paris} 


Naram Sin's great empire included the whole of 
Sumer and Akkad, Amurru and northern Palestine, and 
part of Elam, and the district to the north. He also 
penetrated Arabia, probably by way of the Persian Gulf, 
and caused diorite to be quarried, there. One of his 
steles, which is now in the Imperial Ottoman Museum 
at Constantinople, depicts him as a fully bearded man 
with Semitic characteristics. During his lifetime he was 
deified a clear indication of the introduction of foreign 
ideas, for the Sumerians were not worshippers of kings 
and ancestors. 

Naram Sin was the last great king of his line, Soon 
after his death the power of Akkad went to pieces, and 
the Sumerian city of Erech again became the centre of 
empire. Its triumph, however, was shortlived. After 
a quarter of a century had elapsed, Akkad and Sumer 
were overswept by the fierce Gutium from the north- 
eastern mountains. They sacked and burned many cities, 
including Babylon, where the memory of the horrors per- 
petrated by these invaders endured until the Grecian Age. 
An obscure period, like the Egyptian Hyksos Age, 
ensued, but it was of comparatively brief duration. 

When the mists cleared away, the city Lagash once 
more came to the front, having evidently successfully 
withstood the onslaughts of the Gutium, but it never 
recovered the place of eminence it occupied under the 
brilliant Ur-Nina dynasty. It is manifest that it must 
have enjoyed under the various overlords, during the 
interval, a considerable degree of independence, for its 
individuality remained unimpaired. Of all its energetic 
and capable patesis, the most celebrated was Gudea, who 
reigned sometime before 2400 B.C. In contrast to the 
Semitic Naram Sin, he was beardless and pronouncedly 
Sumerian in aspect. His favoured deity, the city god 


Nin-Girsu, again became prominent, having triumphed 
over his jealous rivals after remaining in obscurity for 
three or four centuries. Trade flourished, and the arts 
were fostered. Gudea had himself depicted, in one of 
the most characteristic sculptures of his age, as an archi- 
tect, seated reverently with folded hands with a temple 
plan lying on his knees, and his head uplifted as if 
watching the builders engaged in materializing the dream 
of his life. The temple in which his interests were centred 
was erected in honour of Nin-Girsu. Its ruins suggest 
that it was of elaborate structure and great beauty. Like 
Solomon in later days, Gudea procured material for his 
temple from many distant parts cedar from Lebanon, 
marble from Amurru, diorite from Arabia, copper from 
Elarn, and so forth. Apparently the King of Lagash was 
strong enough or wealthy enough to command respect 
over a wide area. 

Another city which also rose into prominence, amidst 
the shattered Sumerian states, was Ur, the centre of moon 
worship. After Gudea's death, its kings exercised sway 
over Lagash and Nippur, and, farther south, over Erech 
and Larsa as well. This dynasty endured for nearly a 
hundred and twenty years, during which Ur flourished 
like Thebes in Egypt. Its monarchs styled themselves 
as " Kings of the Four Regions ". The worship of 
Nannar (Sin) became officially recognized at Nippur, the 
seat of Enlil, during the reign of King Dungi of Ur; 
while at Erech, the high priest of Anu, the sky god, 
became the high priest of the moon god. Apparently 
matriarchal ideas, associated with lunar worship, again 
came into prominence, for the king appointed two of 
his daughters to be rulers of conquered states in Elam 
and Syria. In the latter half of his reign, Dungi, the 
conqueror, was installed as high priest at Eridu. It 

Photo. Mansell 

(Louvre, Paris) 


would thus appear that there was a renascence of early 
Sumerian religious ideas. Ea, the god of the deep, had 
long been overshadowed, but a few years before Dungi's 
death a temple was erected to him at Nippur, where he 
was worshipped as Dagan. Until the very close of his 
reign, which lasted for fifty-eight years, this great 
monarch of tireless activity waged wars of conquest, built 
temples and palaces, and developed the natural resources 
of Sumer and Akkad, Among his many reforms was the 
introduction of standards of weights, which received divine 
sanction from the moon god, who, as in Egypt, was the 
measurer and regulator of human transactions and human 

To this age also belongs many of the Sumerian 
business and legal records, which were ultimately carried 
off to Susa, where they have been recovered by French 

About half a century after Dungi's death the Dynasty 
of Ur came to an end, its last king having been captured 
by an Elamite force. 

At some time subsequent to this period, Abraham 
migrated from Ur to the northern city of Harran, where 
the moon god was also the chief city deity the Baal, or 
" lord ". It is believed by certain Egyptologists that 
Abraham sojourned in Egypt during its Twelfth Dynasty, 
which, according to the Berlin system of minimum dating, 
extended from about 2000 B.C. till 1780 B.C. The Hebrew 
patriarch may therefore have been a contemporary of 
Hammurabi's, who is identified with Amraphel, king of 
Shinar (Sumer) in the Bible. 1 

But after the decline of Ur's ascendancy, and long 
before Babylon's great monarch came to the throne, the 
centre of power in Sumeria was shifted to Isin, where 

1 Genesis, x!v. 


sixteen kings flourished for two and a quarter centuries. 
Among the royal names, recognition was given to Ea 
and Dagan, Sin, Enlil, and Ishtar, indicating that Sumerian 
religion in its Semitized form was receiving general re- 
cognition. The sun god was identical with Ninip and 
Nin-Girsu, a god of fertility, harvest, and war, but now 
more fully developed and resembling Babbar, a the shining 
one ", the solar deity of Akkadian Sippar, whose Semitic 
name was Shamash. As Shamash was ultimately de- 
veloped as the god of justice and righteousness, it would 
appear that his ascendancy occurred during the period 
when well - governed communities systematized their 
religious beliefs to reflect social conditions. 

The first great monarch of the Isin dynasty was Ishbi- 
Urra, who reigned for thirty-two years. Like his suc- 
cessors, he called himself " King of Sumer and Akkad ", 
and it appears that his sway extended to the city of Sippar, 
where solar worship prevailed. Traces of him have also 
been found at Eridu, Ur, Erech, and Nippur, so that he 
must have given recognition to Ea, Sin, Anu, and EnliL 
In this period the early national pantheon may have taken 
shape, Bel Enlil being the chief deity. Enlil was after- 
wards displaced by Merodach of Babylon. 

Before 2200 B.C. there occurred a break in the su- 
premacy of Isin. Gungunu, King of Ur, combined with 
Larsa, whose sun temple he restored, and declared him- 
self ruler of Sumer and Akkad. But Isin again gathered 
strength under Ur-Ninip, who was not related to his 
predecessor. Perhaps he came from Nippur, where the 
god Ninip was worshipped as the son of Bel Enlil. 

According to a Babylonian document, a royal grand- 
son of Ur-Ninip's, having no direct heir, selected as his 
successor his gardener, Enlil-bani. He placed the crown 
on the head of this obscure individual, abdicated in his 


favour, and then died a mysterious death within his 

It is highly probable that Enlil-bani, whose name 
signifies "Enlil is my creator*', was a usurper like Sargon 
of Akkad, and he may have similarly circulated a myth 
regarding his miraculous origin to justify his sudden rise 
to power. The truth appears to be that he came to the 
throne as the leader of a palace revolution at a time of 
great unrest. But he was not allowed to remain in un- 
disputed possession. A rival named Sin-ikisha, evidently 
a moon worshipper and perhaps connected with Ur, dis- 
placed the usurper, and proclaimed himself king. After 
a brief reign of six months he was overthrown, however, 
by Enlil-bani, who piously credited his triumph over his 
enemy to the chief god of Nippur, whose name he bore. 
Although he took steps to secure his position by strength- 
ening the fortifications of Isin, and reigned for about a 
quarter of a century, he was not succeeded by his heir, if 
he had one. King Zambia, who was no relation, followed 
him, but his reign lasted for only three years. The 
names of the next two kings are unknown. Then came 
Sin-magir, who was succeeded by Damik-ilishu, the last 
King of Isin. 

Towards the close of Damik-ilishu's reign of twenty- 
four years he came under the suzerainty of Larsa, whose 
ruler was Rim Sin. Then Isin was captured by Sin- 
muballit, King of Babylon, the father of the great Ham- 
murabi. Rim Sin was an Elamite. 

Afterwards the old order of things passed away. Baby- 
lon became the metropolis, the names of Sumer and Akkad 
dropped out of use, and the whole country between the 
rivers was called Babylonia. 1 The various systems of 

1 That is, the equivalent of Babylonia. During the Kassite period the name was 


law which obtained in the different states were then codi- 
fied by Hammurabi, who appointed governors in all the 
cities which came under his sway to displace the patesis 
and kings. A new national pantheon of representative 
character was also formed, over which Merodach (Mar- 
duk), the city god of Babylon, presided. How this 
younger deity was supposed to rise to power is related 
in the Babylonian legend of Creation, which is dealt with 
in the next chapter. 1 In framing this myth from the frag- 
ments of older myths, divine sanction was given to the 
supremacy achieved by Merodach's city. The allegiance 
of future generations was thus secured, not only by the 
strong arm of the law, but also by the combined influence 
of the reorganized priesthoods at the various centres of 

An interesting problem, which should be referred to 
here, arises in connection with the sculptured represen- 
tations of deities before and after the rise of Akkad as 
a great Power. It is found, although the Sumerians 
shaved their scalps and faces at the dawn of the historical 
age, that they worshipped gods who had long hair and 
also beards, which were sometimes square and sometimes 

At what period the Sumerian deities were given human 
shape it is impossible to determine. As has been shown 
(Chapters II and III) all the chief gods and goddesses 
had animal forms and composite monster forms before 
they became anthropomorphic deities. Ea had evidently 
a fish shape ere he was clad in the skin of a fish, as an 
Egyptian god was simply a bull before he was depicted 
in human shape wearing a bull's skin. The archaic Su- 
merian animal and composite monster gods of animistic 

1 The narrative follows The Seven Tablets of Creation and other fragments, while the 
account given by Berosus is also drawn upon. 


and totemic origin survived after the anthropomorphic 
period as mythical figures, which were used for decorative 
or magical purposes and as symbols, A form of divine 
headdress was a cap enclosed in horns, between which 
appeared the soaring lion-headed eagle, which symbolized 
Nin-Girsu. This god had also lion and antelope forms, 
which probably figured in lost myths perhaps they were 
like the animals loved by Ishtar and referred to in the 
Gilgamesh epic. Similarly the winged bull was associated 
with the moon god Nannar, or Sin, of Ur, who was " a 
horned steer". On various cylinder seals appear groups 
of composite monsters and rearing wild beasts, which were 
evidently representations of gods and demons in conflict. 

Suggestive data for comparative study is afforded in 
this connection by ancient Egypt. Sokar, the primitive 
Memphite deity, retained until the end his animal and 
composite monster forms. Other gods were depicted 
with human bodies and the heads of birds, serpents, 
and crocodiles, thus forming links between the archaic 
demoniac and the later anthropomorphic deities. A 
Sumerian example is the deified Ea-bani, who, like 
Pan, has the legs and hoofs of a goat. 

The earliest representations of Sumerian humanized 
deities appear on reliefs from Tello, the site of Lagash. 
These examples of archaic gods, however, are not bearded 
in Semitic fashion. On the contrary, their lips and 
cheeks are shaved, while an exaggerated chin tuft is re- 
tained. The explanation suggested is that the Sumerians 
gave their deities human shape before they themselves 
were clean shaven, and that the retention of the charac- 
teristic facial hair growth of the Mediterranean Race is 
another example of the conservatism of the religious 
instinct. In Egypt the clean-shaven Pharaohs, who re- 
presented gods, wore false chin-tuft beards; even Queen 


Hatshepsut considered it necessary to assume a beard 
on state occasions. Ptah-Osiris retained his archaic beard 
until the Ptolemaic period. 

It seems highly probable that in similarly depicting 
their gods with beards, the early Sumerians were not 
influenced by the practices of any alien people or peoples. 
Not until the period of Gudea, the Patesi of Lagash, did 
they give their gods heavy moustaches, side whiskers, 
and flowing beards of Semitic type. It may be, how- 
ever, that by then they had completely forgotten the 
significance of an ancient custom. Possibly, too, the 
sculptors of Lagash were working under the influence 
of the Akkadian school of art, which had produced the 
exquisite stele of victory for Naram-Sin, and consequently 
adopted the conventional Semitic treatment of bearded 
figures. At any rate, they were more likely to study 
and follow the artistic triumphs of Akkad than the crude 
productions of the archaic period. Besides, they lived 
in an age when Semitic kings were deified and the 
Semitic overlords had attained to great distinction and 

The Semitic folks were not so highly thought of in 
the early Sumerian period. It is not likely that the agri- 
cultural people regarded as models of gods the plunderers 
who descended from the hills, and, after achieving suc- 
cesses, returned home with their spoils. More probably 
they regarded them as " foreign devils ". Other Semites, 
however, who came as traders, bringing wood, stone, and 
especially copper, and formed communities in cities, may 
well have influenced Sumerian religious thought. The 
god Ramman, for instance, who was given recognition 
all through Babylonia, was a god of hill folks as far 
north as Asia Minor and throughout Syria. He may 
have been introduced by settlers who adopted Sumerian 


habits of life and shaved scalp and face. But although 
the old cities could never have existed in a complete state 
of isolation from the outer world, it is unlikely that their 
inhabitants modelled their deities on those worshipped by- 
groups of aliens. A severe strain is imposed on our 
credulity if we are expected to believe that it was due 
to the teachings and example of uncultured nomads that 
the highly civilized Sumerians developed their gods from 
composite monsters to anthropomorphic deities. Such 
a supposition, at any rate, is not supported by the 
evidence of Ancient Egypt 


Creation Legend: Merodach the 
Dragon Slayer 

Elder Spirits of the Primordial Deep Apsu and the Tiamat Dragon 
Plot to Destroy the Beneficent Gods Ea overcomes Apsu and Mummu - 
The Vengeful Preparations of the Dragon Anshar's Appeal to Merodach 
The Festival of the High Gods Merodach exalted as Ruler of the Universe 
Dragon slain and Host taken captive Merodach rearranges the Pantheon 
Creation of Man Merodach as Asari The Babylonian Osiris The Chief 
Purpose of Mankind Tiamat as Source of Good and Evil The Dragon as 
the Serpent or Worm Folk Tale aspect of Creation Myth British Neolithic 
Legends German and Egyptian Contracts Biblical references to Dragons 
The Father and Son theme Merodach and Tammuz Monotheistic Ten- 
dency Bi-sexuai Deities. 

IN the beginning the whole universe was a sea. Heaven 
on high had not been named, nor the earth beneath. 
Their begetter was Apsu, the father of the prim- 
ordial Deep, and their mother was Tiamat, the spirit of 
Chaos. No plain was yet formed, no marsh could be 
seen; the gods had no existence, nor had their fates been 
determined. Then there was a movement in the waters, 
and the deities issued forth. The first who had being 
were the god Lachmu and the goddess Lachamu. Long 
ages went past. Then were created the god Anshar and 
the goddess Kishar. When the days of these deities had 
increased and extended, they were followed by Anu, god 
of the sky, whose consort was Anatu; and Ea, most wise 
and all-powerful, who was without an equal. Now Ea, 
god of the deep, was also Enki, " lord of earth ", and 



his eternal spouse, Damkina, was Gashan-ki, "lady of 
earth ". The son of Ea and Damkina was Bel, the lord, 
who in time created mankind. 1 Thus were the high gods 
established in power and in glory. 

Now Apsu and Tiamat remained amidst confusion in 
the deeps of chaos. They were troubled because their 
offspring, the high gods, aspired to control the universe 
and set it in order. 2 Apsu was still powerful and fierce, 
and Tiamat snarled and raised tempests, smiting herself. 
Their purpose was to work evil amidst eternal confusion. 

Then Apsu called upon Mummu, his counsellor, the 
son who shared his desires, and said, " O Mummu, thou 
who art pleasing unto me, let us go forth together unto 
Tiamat and speak with her." 

So the two went forth and prostrated themselves 
before the Chaos Mother to consult with her as to what 
should be done to prevent the accomplishment of the 
purpose of the high gods. 

Apsu opened his mouth and spake, saying, " O Tiamat, 
thou gleaming one, the purpose of the gods troubles me. 
I cannot rest by day nor can I repose by night. I will 
thwart them and destroy their purpose. I will bring 
sorrow and mourning so that we may lie down undis- 
turbed by them. 7 ' 

Tiamat heard these words and snarled. She raised 
angry and roaring tempests ; in her furious grief she 
uttered a curse, and then spake to Apsu, saying, "What 
shall we do so that their purpose may be thwarted and 
we may lie down undisturbed again?'' 

Mummu, the counsellor, addressing Apsu, made 
answer, and said, " Although the gods are powerful, thou 

1 The elder Bel was Enlil of Nippur and the younger Merodach of Babylon. Accord- 
ing to Damascius the elder Bel came into existence before Ea, who as Enki shared his 
attributes. 2 This is the inference drawn from fragmentary texts. 

(0642) 12 


canst overcome them ; although their purpose is strong, 
thou canst thwart it. Then thou shalt have rest by day 
and peace by night to lie down." 

The face of Apsu grew bright when he heard these 
words spoken by Mummu, yet he trembled to think of 
the purpose of the high gods, to whom he was hostile. 
With Tiamat he lamented because the gods had changed 
all things ; the plans of the gods filled their hearts with 
dread ; they sorrowed and spake with Mummu, plotting 

Then Ea, who knoweth all, drew near ; he beheld the 
evil ones conspiring and muttering together. He uttered 
a pure incantation and accomplished the downfall of Apsu 
and Mummu, who were taken captive. 1 

Kingu, who shared the desires of Tiamat, spake unto 
her words of counsel, saying, " Apsu and Mummu have 
been overcome and we cannot repose. Thou shalt be 
their Avenger, O Tempestuous One." 

Tiamat heard the words of this bright and evil god, 
and made answer, saying, " On my strength thou canst 
trust. So let war be waged." 

Then were the hosts of chaos and the deep gathered 
together. By day and by night they plotted against the 
high gods, raging furiously, making ready for battle, 
fuming and storming and taking no rest. 

Mother Chuber, 2 the creator of all, provided irresistible 
weapons. She also brought into being eleven kinds of 
fierce monsters giant serpents, sharp of tooth with un- 
sparing fangs, whose bodies were filled with poison instead 
of blood ; snarling dragons, clad with terror, and of such 
lofty stature that whoever saw them was overwhelmed 
with fear, nor could any escape their attack when they 

1 A large portion of the narrative is awanting here. 

2 A title of Tiamat; pron. ch guttural. 


lifted themselves up; vipers and pythons, and the Lachamu, 
hurricane monsters, raging hounds, scorpion men, tem- 
pest furies, fish men, and mountain rams. These she 
armed with fierce weapons and they had no fear of war. 

Then Tiamat, whose commands are unchangeable and 
mighty, exalted Kingu, who had come to her aid, above 
all the evil gods ; she made him the leader to direct the 
army in battle, to go in front, to open the attack. Rob- 
ing Kingu in splendour, she seated him on high and spoke, 
saying : 

" I have established thy command over all the gods. 
Thou shalt rule over them. Be mighty, thou my chosen 
husband, and let thy name be exalted over all the spirits 
of heaven and spirits of earth. " 

Unto Kingu did Tiamat deliver the tablets of fate ; 
she laid them in his bosom, and said, "Thy commands 
cannot be changed; thy words shall remain firm." 

Thus was Kingu exalted ; he was vested with the 
divine power of Anu to decree the fate of the gods, 
saying, " Let thy mouth open to thwart the fire god ; 
be mighty in battle nor brook resistance. 1 ' 

Then had Ea knowledge of Tiamat's doings, how she 
had gathered her forces together, and how she had pre- 
pared to work evil against the high gods with purpose to 
avenge Apsu. The wise god was stricken with grief, 
and he moaned for many days. Thereafter he went and 
stood before his father, Anshar, and spake, saying, " Our 
mother, Tiamat, hath turned against us in her wrath. 
She hath gathered the gods about her, and those thou 
didst create are with her also." 

When Anshar heard all that Ea revealed regarding 
the preparations made by Tiamat, he smote his loins and 
clenched his teeth, and was ill at ease. In sorrow and 
anger he spoke and said, "Thou didst go forth afore- 


time to battle; thou didst bind Mummu and smite Apsu. 
Now Kingu is exalted, and there is none who can oppose 
Tiamat." 1 

Anshar called his son, Anu, before him, and spoke, 
saying: "O mighty one without fear, whose attack is 
irresistible, go now before Tiamat and speak so that her 
anger may subside and her heart be made merciful. But 
if she will not hearken unto thee, speak thou for me, so 
that she may be reconciled/* 

Anu was obedient to the commands of Anshar. He 
departed, and descended by the path of Tiamat until he 
beheld her fuming and snarling, but he feared to approach 
her, and turned back. 

Then Ea was sent forth, but he was stricken with 
terror and turned back also. 2 

Anshar then called upon Merodach, son of Ea, and 
addressed him, saying, " My son, who softeneth my heart, 
thou shalt go forth to battle and none shall stand against 

The heart of Merodach was made glad at these words. 
He stood before Anshar, who kissed him, because that he 
banished fear. Merodach spake, saying : " O lord of the 
gods, withdraw not thy words; let me go forth to do as 
is thy desire. What man hath challenged thee to battle? 7 ' 

Anshar made answer and said: "No man hath 
challenged me. It is Tiamat, the woman, who hath 
resolved to wage war against us. But fear not and make 
merry, for thou shalt bruise the head of Tiamat. O wise 
god, thou shalt overcome her with thy pure incantation. 
Tarry not but hasten forth; she cannot wound thee; thou 
shalt come back again." 

1 There is another gap here which interrupts the narrative. 

2 This may refer to Ea's first visit when he overcame Kingu, but did not attack 


The words of Anshar delighted the heart of Merodach, 
who spake, saying: "O lord of the gods, O fate of the 
high gods, if I, the avenger, am to subdue Tiamat and 
save all, then proclaim my greatness among the gods. 
Let all the high gods gather together joyfully in Upshu- 
kinaku (the Council Hall), so that my words like thine 
may remain unchanged, and what I do may never be 
altered. Instead of thee I will decree the fates of the 

Then Anshar called unto his counsellor, Gaga, and 
addressing him, said: " O thou who dost share my de- 
sires, thou who dost understand the purpose of my heart, 
go unto Lachmu and Lachamu and summon all the high 
gods to come before me to eat bread and drink wine. 
Repeat to them all I tell you of Tiamat's preparations 
for war, of my commands to Anu and Ea, who turned 
back, fearing the dragon, of my choice of Merodach to 
be our avenger, and his desire to be equipped with my 
power to decree fate, so that he may be made strong to 
combat against our enemy." 

As Anshar commanded so did Gaga do. He went 
unto Lachmu and Lachamu and prostrated himself humbly 
before them. Then he rose and delivered the message 
of Anshar, their son, adding: "Hasten and speedily decide 
for Merodach your fate. Permit him to depart to meet 
your powerful foe." 

When Lachmu and Lachamu heard all that Gaga 
revealed unto them they uttered lamentations, while the 
Igigi (heavenly spirits) sorrowed bitterly, and said: 
"What change hath happened that Tiamat hath become 
hostile to her own offspring? We cannot understand 
her deeds." 

All the high gods then arose and went unto Anshar. 
They filled his council chamber and kissed one another. 


Then they sat down to eat bread and drink sesame wine. 
And when they were made drunk and were merry and at 
their ease, they decreed the fate for Merodach. 

In the chamber of Anshar they honoured the Avenger. 
He was exalted as a prince over them all, and they said: 
"Among the high gods thou art the highest; thy com- 
mand is the command of Anu. Henceforth thou wilt 
have power to raise up and to cast down. None of the 
gods will dispute thy authority. O Merodach, our 
avenger, we give thee sovereignty over the entire Uni- 
verse. Thy weapon will ever be irresistible. Smite 
down the gods who have raised revolt, but spare the 
lives of those who repose their trust in thee." 

Then the gods laid down a garment before Merodach, 
saying: "Open thy mouth and speak words of command, 
so that the garment may be destroyed; speak again and 
it will be brought back." 

Merodach spake with his mouth and the garment 
vanished ; he spake again and the garment was repro- 

All the gods rejoiced, and they prostrated themselves 
and cried out, "Merodach is King!" 

Thereafter they gave him the sceptre and the throne 
and the insignia of royalty, and also an irresistible weapon 1 
with which to overcome his enemies, saying: "Now, O 
Merodach, hasten and slay Tiamat. Let the winds carry 
her blood to hidden places." 

So was the fate of Merodach decreed by the gods ; so 
was a path of prosperity and peace prepared for him. He 
made ready for battle ; he strung his bow and hung his 
quiver; he slung a dart over his shoulder, and he grasped 
a club in his right hand; before him he set lightning, and 
with flaming fire he filled his body. Anu gave unto him 

1 The lightning trident or thunderstone. 


a great net with which to snare his enemies and prevent 
their escape. Then Merodach created seven winds the 
wind of evil, the uncontrollable wind, the sandstorm, and 
the whirlwind, the fourfold wind, the sevenfold wind, and 
the wind that has no equal and they went after him. 
Next he seized his mighty weapon, the thunderstone, and 
leapt into his storm chariot, to which were yoked four 
rushing and destructive steeds of rapid flight, with foam- 
flecked mouths and teeth full of venom, trained for battle, 
to overthrow enemies and trample them underfoot. A 
light burned on the head of Merodach, and he was clad 
in a robe of terror. He drove forth, and the gods, his 
fathers, followed after him : the high gods clustered 
around and followed him, hastening to battle. 

Merodach drove on, and at length he drew nigh to 
the secret lair of Tiamat, and he beheld her muttering 
with Kingu, her consort. For a moment he faltered, and 
when the gods who followed him beheld this, their eyes 
were troubled. 

Tiarnat snarled nor turned her head. She uttered 
curses, and said: "O Merodach, I fear not thy advance 
as chief of the gods. My allies are assembled here, and 
are more powerful than thou art." 

Merodach uplifted his arm, grasping the dreaded 
thunderstone, and spake unto Tiamat, the rebellious one, 
saying: " Thou hast exalted thyself, and with wrathful 
heart hath prepared for war against the high gods and 
their fathers, whom thou dost hate in thy heart of evil. 
Unto Kingu thou hast given the power of Anu to decree 
fate, because thou art hostile to what is good and loveth 
what is sinful. Gather thy forces together, and arm 
thyself and come forth to battle/' 

When Tiamat heard these mighty words she raved 
and cried aloud like one who is possessed ; all her limbs 


shook, and she muttered a spell. The gods seized their 

Tiamat and Merodach advanced to combat against 
one another. They made ready for battle. The lord of 
the high gods spread out the net which Arm had given 
him. He snared the dragon and she could not escape. 
Tiamat opened her mouth which was seven miles wide, 
and Merodach called upon the evil wind to smite her ; 
he caused the wind to keep her mouth agape so that she 
could not close it. All the tempests and the hurricanes 
entered in, filling her body, and her heart grew weak ; 
she gasped, overpowered. Then the lord of the high 
gods seized his dart and cast it through the lower part of 
her body; it tore her inward parts and severed her heart. 
So was Tiamat slain. 

Merodach overturned the body of the dead dragon 
and stood upon it. All the evil gods who had followed 
her were stricken with terror and broke into flight. But 
they were unable to escape. Merodach caught them in 
his great net, and they stumbled and fell uttering cries of 
distress, and the whole world resounded with their wailing 
and lamentations. The lord of the high gods broke the 
weapons of the evil gods and put them in bondage. 
Then he fell upon the monsters which Tiamat had created; 
he subdued them, divested them of their powers, and 
trampled them under his feet. Kingu he seized with the 
others. From this god great Merodach took the tablets 
of fate, and impressing upon them his own seal, placed 
them in his bosom. 

So were the enemies of the high gods overthrown by 
the Avenger. Ansar's commands were fulfilled and the 
desires of Ea fully accomplished. 

Merodach strengthened the bonds which he had laid 
upon the evil gods and then returned to Tiamat. He 


leapt upon the dragon's body ; he clove her skull with 
his great club ; he opened the channels of her blood 
which streamed forth, and caused the north to carry her 
blood to hidden places. The high gods, his fathers, 
clustered around; they raised shouts of triumph and 
made merry. Then they brought gifts and offerings to 
the great Avenger. 

Merodach rested a while, gazing upon the dead body 
of the dragon. He divided the flesh of Ku-pu, 1 and 
devised a cunning plan. 

Then the lord of the high gods split the body of 
the dragon like that of a mashde fish into two halves. 
With one half he enveloped the firmament; he fixed 
it there and set a watchman to prevent the waters falling 
down. 2 With the other half he made the earth. 3 Then 
he made the abode of Ea in the deep, and the abode 
of Anu in high heaven. The abode of Enlil was in 
the air. 

Merodach set all the great gods in their several 
stations. He also created their images, the stars of 
the Zodiac, and fixed them all. He measured the year 
and divided it into months; for twelve months he made 
three stars each. After he had given starry images of 
the gods separate control of each day of the year, he 
founded the station of Nibiru (Jupiter), his own star, 
to determine the limits of all stars, so that none might 
err or go astray. He placed beside his own the stations 
of Enlil and Ea, and on each side he opened mighty 

1 The authorities are not agreed as to the meaning of " Ku-pu ". Jensen suggests 
" trunk, body ". In European dragon stories the heroes of the Siegfried order roast and 
eat the dragon's heart. Then they are inspired with the dragon's wisdom and cunning. 
Sigurd and Siegfried immediately acquire the language of birds. The birds are the 
"Fates", and direct the heroes what next they should do. Apparently Merodach's 
" cunning plan " was inspired after he had eaten a part of the body of Tiamat. 

2 The waters above the firmament. 8 According to Berosus. 


gates, fixing bolts on the left and on the right. He set 
the zenith in the centre, 

Merodach decreed that the moon god should rule 
the night and measure the days, and each month he 
was given a crown. Its various phases the great lord 
determined, and he commanded that on the evening of 
its fullest brilliancy it should stand opposite the sun. 1 

He placed his bow in heaven (as a constellation) and 
his net also. 

We have now reached the sixth tablet, which begins 
with a reference to words spoken to Merodach by the 
gods. Apparently Ea had conceived in his heart that 
mankind should be created. The lord of the gods read 
his thoughts and said: " I will shed my blood and fashion 
bone ... I will create man to dwell on the earth so 
that the gods may be worshipped and shrines erected 
for them. I will change the pathways of the gods . . .". 

The rest of the text is fragmentary, and many lines 
are missing. Berosus states, however, that Belus (Bel 
Merodach) severed his head from his shoulders. His 
blood flowed forth, and the gods mixed it with earth and 
formed the first man and various animals. 

In another version of the creation of man, it is related 
that Merodach " laid a reed upon the face of the waters ; 
he formed dust, and poured it out beside the reed. . . . 
That he might cause the gods to dwell in the habitation 
of their heart's desire, he formed mankind." The god- 
dess Aruru, a deity of Sippar, and one of the forms of 
" the lady of the gods ", is associated with Merodach as 
the creatrix of the seed of mankind. "The beasts of 
the field and living creatures in the field he formed." 

l This portion is fragmentary and seems to indicate that the Babylonians had made- 
considerable progress in the science of astronomy. It is suggested that they knew that 
the moon derived its light from the sun. 


He also created the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, grass, 
reeds, herbs and trees, lands, marshes and swamps, cows, 
goats, &C. 1 

In the seventh tablet Merodach is praised by the 
gods the Igigi (spirits of heaven). As he has absorbed 
all their attributes, he is addressed by his fifty-one names; 
henceforth each deity is a form of Merodach. Bel Enlil, 
for instance, is Merodach of lordship and domination; 
Sin, the moon god, is Merodach as ruler of night; 
Shamash is Merodach as god of law and holiness; Nergal 
is Merodach of war; and so on. The tendency to mono- 
theism appears to have been most marked among the 
priestly theorists of Babylon. 

Merodach is hailed to begin with as Asari, the intro- 
ducer of agriculture and horticulture, the creator of grain 
and plants. He also directs the decrees of Anu, Bel, 
and Ea; but having rescued the gods from destruction 
at the hands of Kingu and Tiamat, he was greater than 
his cc fathers ", the elder gods. He set the Universe 
in order, and created all things anew. He is therefore 
Tutu, " the creator ", a merciful and beneficent god. 
The following are renderings of lines 25 to 32: 

Tutu : Aga-azaga (the glorious crown) may he make the crowns 


The lord of the glorious incantation bringing the dead to life ; 
He who had mercy on the gods who had been overpowered ; 
Made heavy the yoke which he had laid on the gods who were his 


(And) to redeem (?) them created mankind. 
" The merciful one ", " he with whom is salvation ", 
May his word be established, and not forgotten, 
In the mouth of the black-headed ones whom his hands have made. 

Pinches' Translation? 

1 The Seven Tablets of Creation, L. W. King, pp. 134, 135. 

2 The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, T. G. Pinches, p. 43. 


Tutu as Aga-azag may mankind tourthly magnify ! 

44 The Lord of the Pure Incantation ", " the Quickener of the 

Dead ", 

a Who had mercy upon the captive gods ", 
" Who removed the yoke from upon the gods his enemies ". 
" For their forgiveness did he create mankind", 
"The Merciful One, with whom it is to bestow life!" 
May his deeds endure, may they never be forgotten 
In the mouth of mankind whom his hands have made. 

King's Translation. 1 

Apparently the Babylonian doctrine set forth that 
mankind was created not only to worship the gods, but 
also to bring about the redemption of the fallen gods 
who followed Tiamat. 

Those rebel angels (/'//, gods) He prohibited return ; 

He stopped their service; He removed them unto the gods (///') 

who were His enemies. 
In their room he created mankind. 2 

Tiamat, the chaos dragon, is the Great Mother. She 
has a dual character. As the origin of good she is the 
creatrix of the gods. Her beneficent form survived as 
the Sumerian goddess Bau, who was obviously identical 
with the Phoenician Baau, mother of the first man. An- 
other name of Bau was Ma, and Nintu, " a form of the 
goddess Ma ", was half a woman and half a serpent, and 
was depicted with " a babe suckling her breast " (Chapter 
IV). The Egyptian goddesses Neheb-kau and Uazit 
were serpents, and the goddesses Isis and Nepthys had 
also serpent forms. The serpent was a symbol of fertility, 
and as a mother was a protector. Vishnu, the Preserver 
of the Hindu Trinity, sleeps on the world-serpent's body. 
Serpent charms are protective and fertility charms. 

1 The Seven Tablets of Creation, L. W. King, vol. i, pp. 98, 99. 
8 Tram. Soc. Bib. Arch., iv, 251-2. 


As the origin of evil Tiamat personified the deep and 
tempests. In this character she was the enemy of order 
and good, and strove to destroy the world. 

I have seen 

The ambitious ocean swell and rage and foam 
To be exalted with the threatening clouds. 1 

Tiamat was the dragon of the sea, and therefore the 
serpent or leviathan. The word " dragon " is derived 
from the Greek " drakon ", the serpent known as " the 
seeing one " or " looking one ", whose glance was the 
lightning. The Anglo-Saxon "fire drake " ("draca", 
Latin "draco") is identical with the "flying dragon". 

In various countries the serpent or worm is a destroyer 
whichr swallows the dead. " The worm shall eat them 
like wool ", exclaimed Isaiah in symbolic language, 2 It 
lies in the ocean which surrounds the world in Egyptian, 
Babylonian, Greek, Teutonic, Indian, and other mytholo- 
gies. The Irish call it " moriiach ", and give it a mermaid 
form like the Babylonian Nintu. In a Scottish Gaelic 
poem Tiamat figures as "The Yellow Muilearteach ", who 
is slain by Finn-mac-Coul, assisted by his warrior band. 

There was seen coming on the top of the waves 
The crooked, clamouring, shivering brave . . . 
Her face was blue black of the lustre of coal, 
And her bone-tufted tooth was like rusted bone. 3 

The serpent figures in folk tales. When Alexander 
the Great, according to Ethiopic legend, was lowered 
in a glass cage to the depths of the ocean, he saw a 
great monster going past, and sat for two days "watch- 
ing for its tail and hinder parts to appear ". 4 An 

1 Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, i, 3, 8. 2 Isaiah, li, 8. 

1 Campbell's West Highland Tales, pp. 136 et seq. 

4 The Life and Exploits of Alexander the Great, E. A. Wallis Budge, pp. 284, 285. 


Argyllshire Highlander had a similar experience. He 
went to fish one morning on a rock. " He was not long 
there when he saw the head of an eel pass. He con- 
tinued fishing for an hour and the eel was still passing. 
He went home, worked in the field all day, and having 
returned to the same rock in the evening, the eel was 
still passing, and about dusk he saw her tail disappear- 
ing." 1 Tiamat's sea-brood is referred to in the Anglo- 
Saxon epic Beowulf as " nickers ". The hero " slew by 
night sea monsters on the waves " (line 422). 

The well dragon the French "draco" also recalls 
the Babylonian water monsters. There was a " dragon 
well " near Jerusalem. 2 From China to Ireland rivers 
are dragons, or goddesses who flee from the well dragons. 
The demon of the Rhone is called the "drac". Floods 
are also referred to as dragons, and the Hydra, or water 
serpent, slain by Hercules, belongs to this category. 
Water was the source of evil as well as good. To the 
Sumerians, the ocean especially was the abode of monsters. 
They looked upon it as did Shakespeare's Ferdinand, 
when, leaping into the sea, he cried: "Hell is empty 
and all the devils are here".* 

There can be little doubt but that in this Babylonian 
story of Creation we have a glorified variation of the wide- 
spread Dragon myth. Unfortunately, however, no trace 
can be obtained of the pre-existing Sumerian oral version 
which the theorizing priests infused with such sublime 
symbolism. No doubt it enjoyed as great popularity as 
the immemorial legend of Perseus and Andromeda, which 
the sages of Greece attempted to rationalize, and parts of 
which the poets made use of and developed as these 
appealed to their imaginations. 

1 Campbell's West Highland Tales. 2 Nehemiah, ii, 13. 

3 The Tempest, i, 2, 212. 


The lost Sumerian story may be summarized as follows: 
There existed in the savage wilds, or the ocean, a family of 
monsters antagonistic to a group of warriors represented 
in the Creation legend by the gods. Ea, the heroic 
king, sets forth to combat with the enemies of man, and 
slays the monster father, Apsu, and his son, Mummvu 
But the most powerful demon remains to be dealt with, 
This is the mother Tiamat, who burns to avenge the 
deaths of her kindred. To wage war against her the 
hero makes elaborate preparations, and equips himself 
with special weapons. The queen of monsters cannot be 
overcome by ordinary means, for she has great cunning, 
and is less vulnerable than were her husband and son. 
Although Ea may work spells against her, she is able to 
thwart him by working counter spells. Only a hand-to-hand 
combat can decide the fray. Being strongly protected by 
her scaly hide, she must be wounded either on the under 
part of her body or through her mouth by a weapon 
which will pierce her liver, the seat of life. It will be 
noted in this connection that Merodach achieved success 
by causing the winds which followed him to distend the 
monster's jaws, so that he might be able to inflict the 
fatal blow and prevent her at the same time from uttering 
spells to weaken him. 

This type of story, in which the mother monster is 
greater and more powerful than her husband or son, is 
exceedingly common in Scottish folklore. In the legend 
which relates the adventures of " Finn in the Kingdom 
of Big Men ", the hero goes forth at night to protect his 
allies against the attacks of devastating sea monsters. 
Standing on the beach, "he saw the sea advancing in 
fiery kilns and as a darting serpent. ... A huge 
monster came up, and looking down below where he 
(Finn) was, exclaimed, c What little speck do I see here?'" 


Finn, aided by his fairy dog, slew the water monster. On 
the following night a bigger monster, " the father ", came 
ashore, and he also was slain. But the most powerful 
enemy had yet to be dealt with. " The next night a Big 
Hag came ashore, and the tooth in the front of her mouth 
would make a distaff. c You killed my husband and son/ 
she said/' Finn acknowledged that he did, and they began 
to fight. After a prolonged struggle, in which Finn was 
almost overcome, the Hag fell and her head was cut off. 1 

The story of " Finlay the Changeling " has similar 
features. The hero slew first a giant and then the giant's 
father. Thereafter the Hag came against him and ex- 
claimed, " Although with cunning and deceitfulness you 
killed my husband last night and my son on the night 
before last, I shall certainly kill you to-night." A fierce 
wrestling match ensued on the bare rock. The Hag was 
ultimately thrown down. She then offered various 
treasures to ransom her life, including "a gold sword in 
my cave", regarding which she says, "never was it drawn 
to man or to beast whom it did not overcome ". 2 In 
other Scottish stories of like character the hero climbs a 
tree, and says something to induce the hag to open her 
mouth, so that he may plunge his weapon down her throat. 

The Grendel story in Beowulf? the Anglo-Saxon epic, 
is of like character. A male water monster preys nightly 
upon the warriors who sleep in the great hall of King 
Hrothgar. Beowulf comes over the sea, as did Finn 
to the " Kingdom of Big Men ", to slay Grendel. He 
wrestles with this man-eater and mortally wounds him. 
Great rejoicings ensue, but they have to be brought to 
an abrupt conclusion, because the mother of Grendel has 

1 Waifs and S frays of Celtic Tradition, vol. iv, p. 1 76 e t seq, 

2 From unpublished folk talc. 

2 Beowulf, translated by Clark Hall, London, 1911, p. 18 e t seq. 


meanwhile resolved " to go a sorry journey and avenge 
the death of her son ". 

The narrative sets forth that she enters the Hall in 
the darkness of night. " Quickly she grasped one of 
the nobles tight, and then she went towards the fen ", 
towards her submarine cave. Beowulf follows in due 
course, and, fully armoured, dives through the waters 
and ultimately enters the monster's lair. In the combat 
the "water wife" proves to be a more terrible opponent 
than was her son. Indeed, Beowulf was unable to slay 
her until he possessed himself of a gigantic sword, 
" adorned with treasure ", which was hanging in the 
cave. With this magic weapon he slays the mother 
monster, whose poisonous blood afterwards melts the 
" damasked blade ". Like Finn, he subsequently returns 
with the head of one of the monsters. 

An interesting point about this story is that it does 
not appear in any form in the North German cycle of 
Romance. Indeed, the poet who included in his epic 
the fiery dragon story, which links the hero Beowulf with 
Sigurd and Siegfried, appears to be doubtful about the 
mother monster's greatness, as if dealing with unfamiliar 
material, for he says: "The terror (caused by Grendel's 
mother) was less by just so much as woman's strength, 
woman's war terror, is (measured) by fighting men". 1 
Yet, in the narrative which follows the Amazon is proved 
to be the stronger monster of the two. Traces of the 
mother monster survive in English folklore, especially 
in the traditions about the mythical "Long Meg of 
Westminster ", referred to by Ben Jonson in his masque 
of the " Fortunate Isles " : 

Westminster Meg, 
With her long leg, 

1 Beowulf, translated by Clark Hall, London, 1911, p. 69, lines 1280-1287. 
(0642) 13 


As long as a crane; 
And feet like a plane, 
With a pair of heels 
As broad as two wheels. 

Meg has various graves. One is supposed to be marked 
by a huge stone in the south side of the cloisters 
of Westminster Abbey; it probably marks the trench 
in which some plague victims regarded, perhaps, as 
victims of Meg were interred. Meg was also reputed 
to have been petrified, like certain Greek and Irish giants 
and giantesses. At Little Salkeld, near Penrith, a stone 
circle is referred to as " Long Meg and her Daughters ". 
Like " Long Tom ", the famous giant, " Mons Meg " 
gave her name to big guns in early times, all hags and 
giants having been famous in floating folk tales as throwers 
of granite boulders, balls of hard clay, quoits, and other 
gigantic missiles. 

The stories about Grendel's mother and Long Meg 
are similar to those still repeated in the Scottish High- 
lands. These contrast sharply with characteristic Ger- 
manic legends, in which the giant is greater than the 
giantess, and the dragon is a male, like Fafner, who is 
slain by Sigurd, and Regin whom Siegfried overcomes. 
It is probable, therefore, that the British stones of female 
monsters who were more powerful than their husbands 
and sons, are of Neolithic and Iberian origin immemorial 
relics of the intellectual life of the western branch of the 
Mediterranean race. 

In Egypt the dragon survives in the highly developed 
mythology of the sun cult of Heliopolis, and, as sun wor- 
ship is believed to have been imported, and the sun deity 
is a male, it is not surprising to find that the night demon, 
Apep, was a personification of Set. This god, who is 
identical with Sutekh, a Syrian and Asia Minor deity, was 


apparently worshipped by a tribe which was overcome in 
the course of early tribal struggles in pre~dynastic times. 
Being an old and discredited god, he became by a familiar 
process the demon of the conquerors. In the eighteenth 
dynasty, however, his ancient glory was revived, for the 
Sutekh of Rameses II figures as the "dragon slayer". 1 
It is in accordance with Mediterranean modes of thought, 
however, to find that in Egypt there is a great celestial 
battle heroine. This is the goddess Hathor-Sekhet 5 the 
" Eye of Ra ", 2 Similarly in India, the post-Vedic god- 
dess Kali is a destroyer, while as Durga she is a guardian 
of heroes. 8 Kali, Durga, and Hathor-Sekhet link with 
the classical goddesses of war, and also with the Baby- 
lonian Ishtar, who, as has been shown, retained the 
outstanding characteristics of Tiamat, the fierce old 
" Great Mother " of primitive Sumerian folk religion. 

It is possible that in the Babylonian dragon myth the 
original hero was Ea. As much may be inferred from 
the symbolic references in the Bible to Jah's victory over 
the monster of the deep : " Art thou not it that hath cut 
Rahab and wounded the dragon ?" 4 "Thou brakest the 
heads of the dragons in the waters ; thou brakest the 
heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat 
to the people inhabiting the wilderness " ; 5 "He divideth 
the sea with his power, and by his understanding he 
smiteth through the proud (Rahab). By his spirit he 
hath garnished the heavens: his hand hath formed (or 
pierced) the crooked serpent"; 6 "Thou hast broken 
Rahab in pieces as one that is slain: thou hast scattered 
thine enemies with thy strong arm"; 7 "In that day the 

1 Egyptian Myth and Legend, pp. 260, 261. 2 Egyptian Myth and Legend, pp. 8, 9. 
8 Indian Myth and Legend, pp. xli, 149, 150. 4 Isaiah, li, 9. 

p Psalms, Ixxiv, 13, 14. It will be noted that the Semitic dragon, like the Egyptian, 
is a male. 6 Job, xxvi, 12, 13. 7 Psalms, Ixxxix, 10. 


Lord with his sore and great and strong sword shall 
punish leviathan the piercing (or stiff) serpent, even 
leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the 
dragon that is in the sea", 1 

In the Babylonian Creation legend Ea is supplanted 
as dragon slayer by his son Merodach. Similarly Ninip 
took the place of his father, Enlil, as the champion of 
the gods. " In other words," writes Dr. Langdon, " later 
theology evolved the notion of the son of the earth god, 
who acquires the attributes of the father, and becomes the 
god of war. It is he who stood forth against the rebel- 
lious monsters of darkness, who would wrest the dominion 
of the world from the gods who held their conclave on the 
mountain. The gods offer him the Tablets of Fate; the 
right to utter decrees is given unto him." This develop- 
ment is cc of extreme importance for studying the growth 
of the idea of father and son, as creative and active principles 
of the world ". 2 In Indian mythology Indra similarly 
takes the place of his bolt-throwing father Dyaus, the sky 
god, who so closely resembles Zeus. Andrew Lang has 
shown that this myth is of widespread character. 8 Were 
the Babylonian theorists guided by the folk-lore clue ? 

Now Merodach, as the son of Ea whom he consulted 
and received spells from, was a brother of " Tammuz of 
the Abyss ". It seems that in the great god of Babylon 
we should recognize one of the many forms of the prime- 
val corn spirit and patriarch the shepherd youth who 
was beloved by Ishtar. As the deity of the spring sun, 
Tammuz slew the winter demons of rain and tempest, so 
that he was an appropriate spouse for the goddess of 
harvest and war. Merodach may have been a develop- 
ment of Tammuz in his character as a demon slayer. 

1 Isaiah^ xxvii, I. 2 Sumerian and Babylonian Psalms, p. 204. 

3 Custom and Myth, pp. 45 et seq. 


When he was raised to the position of Bel, "the 
Lord", by the Babylonian conquerors, Merodach sup- 
planted the older Bel Enlil of Nippur, Now Enlil, 
who had absorbed all the attributes of rival deities, and 
become a world god, was the 

Lord of the harvest lands . . . lord of the grain fields, 

being " lord of the anunnaki ", or " earth spirits ". As 
agriculturists in early times went to war so as to secure 
prisoners who could be sacrificed to feed the corn spirit, 
Enlil was a god of war and was adored as such: 

The haughty, the hostile land thou dost humiliate . . , 
With thee who ventureth to make war ? 

He w'as also " the bull of goring horns . . . Enlil 
the bull ", the god of fertility as well as of battle. 1 

Asari, one of Merodach's names, links him with 
Osiris, the Egyptian Tammuz, who was supplanted by 
his son Horus. As the dragon slayer, he recalls, among 
others, Perseus, the Grecian hero, of whom it was pro- 
phesied that he would slay his grandfather. Perseus, 
like Tammuz and Osiris, was enclosed in a chest which 
was cast into the sea, to be rescued, however, by a fisher- 
man on the island of Seriphos. This hero afterwards 
slew Medusa, one of the three terrible sisters, the Gor- 
gons a demon group which links with Tiamat. In 
time, Perseus returned home, and while an athletic con- 
test was in progress, he killed his grandfather with a 
quoit. There is no evidence, however, to show that the 
displacement of Enlil by Merodach had any legendary 
sanction of like character. The god of Babylon absorbed 
all other deities, apparently for political purposes, and in 
accordance with the tendency of the thought of the times, 

1 Translation by Dr. Langdon, pp. 199 et scq* 


when raised to supreme rank in the national pantheon; 
and he was depicted fighting the winged dragon, flapping 
his own storm wings, and carrying the thunder weapon 
associated with Ramman. 

Merodach's spouse Zer-panitu m was significantly 
called " the lady of the Abyss ", a title which connects 
her with Damkina, the mother, and Belit-sheri, the sister 
of Tammuz. Damkina was also a sky goddess like 

Zer-panitu m was no pale reflection of her Celestial 
husband, but a goddess of sharply defined character with 
independent powers. Apparently she was identical with 
Aruru, creatrix of the seed of mankind, who was asso- 
ciated with Merodach when the first man and the first 
woman were brought into being. Originally she was one 
of the mothers in the primitive spirit group, and so 
identical with Ishtar and the other prominent god- 

As all goddesses became forms of Ishtar, so did all 
gods become forms of Merodach. Sin was cc Mero- 
dach as illuminator of night ", Nergal was " Merodach 
of war ", Addu (Ramman) was " Merodach of rain ", and 
so on. A colophon which contains a text in which these 
identifications are detailed, appears to be "a copy", says 
Professor Pinches, " of an old inscription ", which, he 
thinks, "may go back as far as 2000 B.C. This is the 
period at which the name Tau m -ilu, <Jah is god', is found, 
together with references to ilu as the name for the one 
great god, and is also, roughly, the date of Abraham, 
who, it may be noted, was a Babylonian of Ur of the 
Chaldees." 1 

In one of the hymns Merodach is addressed as 
follows : 

1 The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, T. G. Pinches, pp. 118, 119. 


Who shall escape from before thy power ? 

Thy will is an eternal mystery ! 

Thou makcst it plain in heaven 

And in the earth. 

Command the sea 

And the sea obeyeth thee. 

Command the tempest 

And the tempest becometh a calm. 

Command the winding course 

Of the Euphrates, 

And the will of Merodach 

Shall arrest the floods. 

Lord, thou art holy! 

Who is like unto thee ? 

Merodach thou art honoured 

Among the gods that bear a name. 

The monotheistic tendency, which was a marked 
feature of Merodach worship, had previously become 
pronounced in the worship of Bel Enlil of Nippur. 
Although it did not affect the religion of the masses, 
it serves to show that among the ancient scholars and 
thinkers of Babylonia religious thought had, at an early 
period, risen far above the crude polytheism of those 
who bargained with their deities and propitiated them 
with offerings and extravagant flattery, or exercised over 
them a magical influence by the performance of seasonal 
ceremonies, like the backsliders in Jerusalem, censured 
so severely by Jeremiah, who baked cakes to reward the 
Queen of Heaven for an abundant harvest, and wept 
with her for the slain Tammuz when he departed to 

Perhaps it was due to the monotheistic tendency, if 
not to the fusion of father-worshipping and mother-wor- 
shipping peoples, that bi-sexual deities were conceived 
of. Nannar, the moon god, was sometimes addressed as 


father and mother in one, and Ishtar as a god as well as a 
goddess. In Egypt Isis is referred to in a temple chant 
as "the woman who was made a male by her father 
Osiris ", and the Nile god Hapi was depicted as a man 
with female breasts. 

Deified Heroes: Etana and Gilgamesh 

God and Heroes and the " Seven Sleepers " Quests of Etana, Gilgamesh, 
Hercules, &c. The Plant of Birth Eagle carries Etana to Heaven Indian 
Parallel Flights of Nimrod, Alexander the Great, and a Gaelic Hero Eagle 
as a God Indian Eagle identified with Gods of Creation, Fire, Fertility, and 
Death Eagle carries Roman Emperor's Soul to Heaven Fire and Agricultural 
Ceremonies Nimrod of the Koran and John Barleycorn Gilgamesh and the 
Eagle Sargon-Tammuz Garden Myth Ea-bani compared to Pan, Bast, and 
Nebuchadnezzar Exploits of Gilgamesh and Ea-bani Ishtar's Vengeance 
Gilgamesh journeys to Otherworld Song of Sea Maiden and "Lay of the 
Harper" Babylonian Noah and the Plant of Life Teutonic Parallels 
Alexander the Great as Gilgamesh Water of Life in the Koran The Indian 
Gilgamesh and Hercules The Mountain Tunnel in various Mythologies 
Widespread Cultural Influences. 

ONE of the oldest forms of folk stories relates to the 
wanderings of a hero in distant regions. He may set 
forth in search of a fair lady who has been taken captive, 
or to obtain a magic herb or stone to relieve a sufferer, to 
cure diseases, and to prolong life. Invariably he is a 
slayer of dragons and other monsters. A friendly spirit, 
or a group of spirits, may assist the hero, who acts ac- 
cording to the advice given him by a " wise woman ", a 
magician, or a god. The spirits are usually wild beasts 
or birds the "fates" of immemorial folk belief and 
they may either carry the hero on their backs, instruct 
him from time to time, or come to his aid when called 

When a great national hero appealed by reason of his 
achievements to the imagination of a people, all the 



floating legends of antiquity were attached to his memory, 
and he became identified with gods and giants and knight- 
errants "old in story*'. In Scotland, for instance, the 
boulder-throwing giant of Eildon hills bears the name of 
Wallace, the Edinburgh giant of Arthur's Seat is called 
after an ancient Celtic king, 1 and Thomas the Rhymer 
takes the place, in an Inverness fairy mound called Tom- 
na-hurich, of Finn (Fingal) as chief of the " Seven 
Sleepers**. Similarly Napoleon sleeps in France and 
Skobeleff in Russia, as do also other heroes elsewhere. 
In Germany the myths of Thunor (Thor) were mingled 
with hazy traditions of Theodoric the Goth (Dietrich), 
while in Greece, Egypt, and Arabia, Alexander the Great 
absorbed a mass of legendary matter of great antiquity, 
and displaced in the memories of the people the heroes 
of other Ages, as those heroes had previously displaced 
the humanized spirits of fertility and growth who alter- 
nately battled fiercely against the demons of spring, made 
love, gorged and drank deep and went to sleep the 
sleep of winter. Certain folk tales, and the folk beliefs 
on which they were based, seem to have been of hoary 
antiquity before the close of the Late Stone Age. 

There are two great heroes of Babylonian fame who 
link with Perseus and Hercules, Sigurd and Siegfried, 
Dietrich and Finn-mac-Coul. These are Etana and Gil- 
gamesh, two legendary kings who resemble Tammuz the 
Patriarch referred to by Berosus, a form of Tammuz 
the Sleeper of the Sumerian psalms. One journeys to 
the Nether World to obtain the Plant of Birth and 
the other to obtain the Plant of Life. The floating 
legends with which they were associated were utilized 

1 It is suggested that Arthur is derived from the Celtic word for " bear ". If so, the 
bear may have been the " totem " of the Arthur tribe represented by the Scottish clan 
of MacArthurs. 


and developed by the priests, when engaged in the process 
of systematizing and symbolizing religious beliefs, with 
purpose to unfold the secrets of creation and the Other- 

Etana secures the assistance of a giant eagle who is an 
enemy of serpents like the Indian Garuda, half giant, half 
eagle. As Vishnu, the Indian god, rides on the back of 
Garuda, so does Etana ride on the back of the Babylonian 
Eagle. In one fragmentary legend which was preserved in 
the tablet-library of Ashur-banipal, the Assyrian monarch, 
Etana obtained the assistance of the Eagle to go in quest 
of the Plant of Birth. His wife was about to become a 
mother, and was accordingly in need of magical aid* A 
similar belief caused birth girdles of straw or serpent 
skins, and eagle stones found in eagles' nests, to be used 
in ancient Britain and elsewhere throughout Europe 
apparently from the earliest times. 1 

On this or another occasion Etana desired to ascend 
to highest heaven. He asked the Eagle to assist him, and 
the bird assented, saying: "Be glad, my friend. Let me 
bear thee to the highest heaven. Lay thy breast on mine 
and thine arms on my wings, and let my body be as thy 
body." Etana did as the great bird requested him, and 
together they ascended towards the firmament. After a 
flight which extended over two hours, the Eagle asked 
Etana to gaze downwards. He did so, and beheld the 
ocean surrounding the earth, and the earth seemed like a 
mountainous island. The Eagle resumed its flight, and 
when another two hours had elapsed, it again asked Etana 
to look downwards. Then the hero saw that the sea 
resembled a girdle which clasped the land. Two hours 
later Etana found that he had been raised to a height 

1 See " Lady in the Straw " beliefs in Brand's Popular Antiquities, vol. ii, 66 et seq. 
(1899 ed.). 


from which the sea appeared to be no larger than a pond. 
By this time he had reached the heaven of Anu, Bel, and 
Ea, and found there rest and shelter. 

Here the text becomes fragmentary. Further on it is 
gathered from the narrative that Etana is being carried 
still higher by the Eagle towards the heaven of Ishtar, 
"Queen of Heaven ", the supreme mother goddess. 
Three times, at intervals of two hours, the Eagle asks 
Etana to look downwards towards the shrinking earth. 
Then some disaster happens, for further onwards the 
broken tablet narrates that the Eagle is falling. Down 
and down eagle and man fall together until they strike 
the earth, and the Eagle's body is shattered. 

The Indian Garuda eagle 1 never met with such a fate, 
but on one occasion Vishnu overpowered it with his right 
arm, which was heavier than the whole universe, and 
caused many feathers to fall off. In the story of Rama's 
wanderings, however, as told in the Rdmdyana and the 
Mahdbhdrata, there are interesting references in this con- 
nection to Garuda's two " sons ". One was mortally 
wounded by Ravana, the demon king of Ceylon. The 
other bird related to Rama, who found it disabled: "Once 
upon a time we two (brothers), with the desire of out- 
stripping each other, flew towards the sun. My wings 
were burnt, but those of my brother were not. ... I 
fell down on the top of this great mountain, where I still 
am." 2 

Another version of the Etana story survives among 
the Arabian Moslems. In the "Al Fatihat" chapter of 
the Koran it is related that a Babylonian king held a 
dispute with Abraham "concerning his Lord". Com- 

1 Like the Etana "mother eagle" Garuda was a slayer of serpents (Chapter HI). 

2 Vana Parva section of the Mah&bh&rata (Roy's trans.), p. 8 1 8 et seq. 9 and Indian 
Myth and Legend, p. 413. 


mentators identify the monarch with Nimrod, who after- 
wards caused the Hebrew patriarch to be cast into a fire 
from which he had miraculous deliverance. Nimrod then 
built a tower so as to ascend to heaven "to see Abraham's 
god", and make war against Him, but the tower was 
overthrown. He, however, persisted in his design. The 
narrative states that he was " carried to heaven in a chest 
borne by four monstrous birds; but after wandering for 
some time through the air, he fell down on a mountain 
with such a force that he made it shake ". A reference in 
the Koran to "contrivances . . . which make mountains 
tremble" is believed to allude to Nimrod's vain attempt. 1 

Alexander the Great was also reputed to have ascended 
on the back of an eagle. Among the myths attached to 
his melnory in the Ethiopic "history " is one which explains 
how "he knew and comprehended the length and breadth 
of the earth", and how he obtained knowledge regarding 
the seas and mountains he would have to cross. " He 
made himself small and flew through the air on an eagle, 
and he arrived in the heights of the heavens and he 
explored them." Another Alexandrian version of the 
Etana myth resembles the Arabic legend of Nimrod. 
"In the Country of Darkness" Alexander fed and tamed 
great birds which were larger than eagles. Then he 
ordered four of his soldiers to mount them. The men 
were carried to the "Country of the Living", and when 
they returned they told Alexander "all that had happened 
and all that they had seen". 2 

In a Gaelic story a hero is carried off by a Cro- 
mhineach, "a vast bird like an eagle". He tells that it 
" sprang to the clouds with me, and I was a while that 1 

1 The Koran (with notes from approved commentators), trans, by George Sale, 
p. 24.6, . 

2 The Life and Exploits of Alexander the Greaf, E. Wallis Budge (London, 1896), 
pp. 277-8, 474-5. 


did not know which was heaven or earth for me". The 
hero died, but, curiously enough, remained conscious of 
what was happening. Apparently exhausted, the eagle 
flew to an island in the midst of the ocean. It laid the 
hero on the sunny side. The hero proceeds: "Sleep 
came upon herself (the eagle) and she slept. The sun 
was enlivening me pretty well though I was dead." 
Afterwards the eagle bathed in a healing well, and as it 
splashed in the water, drops fell on the hero and he came 
to life. ct I grew stronger and more active", he adds, 
u than I had ever been before." 1 

The eagle figures in various mythologies, and appears 
to have been at one time worshipped as the god or god- 
dess of fertility, and storm and lightning, as the bringer of 
children, and the deity who carried souls to Hades. It 
was also the symbol of royalty, because the earthly ruler 
represented the controlling deity. Nin-Girsu, the god of 
Lagash, who was identified with Tammuz, was depicted 
as a lion-headed eagle. Zeus, the Greek sky and air god, 
was attended by an eagle, and may, at one time, have been 
simply an eagle. In Egypt the place of the eagle is taken 
by Nekhebit, the vulture goddess whom the Greeks iden- 
tified with "Eileithyia, the goddess of birth; she was 
usually represented as a vulture hovering over the king". 2 

The double-headed eagle of the Hittites, which figures 
in the royal arms of Germany and Russia, appears to have 
symbolized the deity of whom the king was an incarna- 
tion or son. In Indian mythology Garuda, the eagle 
giant, which destroyed serpents like the Babylonian Etana 
eagle, issued from its egg like a flame of fire; its eyes 
flashed the lightning and its voice was the thunder. This 
bird is identified in a hymn with Agni, god of fire, who 

1 Campbell's West Highland Tales, vol. iii, pp. 251-4 (1892 ed.). 

2 Religion of the Ancient Egyptians, A. Wiedemann, p. 141. 


has the attributes of Tammuz and Mithra, with Brahma, 
the creator, with Indra, god of thunder and fertility, and 
with Yama, god of the dead, who carries off souls to 
Hades. It is also called "the steed-necked incarnation 
of Vishnu'', the "Preserver" of the Hindu trinity who 
rode on its back. The hymn referred to lauds Garuda 
as "the bird of life, the presiding spirit of the animate 
and inanimate universe . . . destroyer of all, creator of 
all". It burns all "as the sun in his anger burneth all 
creatures ".* 

Birds were not only fates, from whose movements in 
flight omens were drawn, but also spirits of fertility. 
When the childless Indian sage Mandapala of the Jbfahd- 
bh&rata was refused admittance to heaven until a son was 
born to him, he "pondered deeply" and "came to know 
that of all creatures birds alone were blest with fecundity "; 
so he became a bird. 

It is of interest, therefore, to find the Etana eagle 
figuring as a symbol of royalty at Rome. The deified 
Roman Emperor's waxen image was burned on a pyre 
after his death, and an eagle was let loose from the great 
pile to carry his soul to heaven. 2 This custom was prob- 
ably a relic of seasonal fire worship, which may have 
been introduced into Northern and Western Syria and 
Asia Minor by the mysterious Mitanni rulers, if it was 
not an archaic Babylonian custom 3 associated with fire- 
and-water magical ceremonies, represented in the British 
Isles by May-Day and Midsummer fire-and-water festivals. 
Sandan, the mythical founder of Tarsus, was honoured 

1 Adi Parva section of the Mahabhdrata (Hymn to Garuda), Roy's trans., p. 88, 89. 

2 Herodian, iv, 2. 

8 The image made by Nebuchadnezzar is of interest in this connection. He decreed 
that "whoso falleth not down and worshippeth" should be burned in the "fiery furnace". 
The Hebrews, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, were accordingly thrown into the fire, 
but were delivered by God. Daniel^ iii, 1-30. 


each year at that city by burning a great bonfire, and he 
was identified with Hercules. Probably he was a form 
of Moloch and Melkarth. 1 Doves were burned to 
Adonis, The burning of straw figures, representing gods 
of fertility, on May-Day bonfires may have been a fer- 
tility rite, and perhaps explains the use of straw birth- 

According to the commentators of the Koran, Nimrod, 
the Babylonian king, who cast victims in his annual bon- 
fires at Cuthah, died on the eighth day of the Tammuz 
month, which, according to the Syrian calendar, fell on 
1 3th July. 2 It is related that gnats entered Nimrod's 
brain, causing the membrane to grow larger. He suffered 
great pain, and to relieve it had his head beaten with a 
mallet. Although he lived for several hundred years, 
like other agricultural patriarchs, including the Tammuz 
of Berosus, it is possible that he was ultimately sacrificed 
and burned. The beating of Nimrod recalls the beating 
of the corn spirit of the agricultural legend utilized by 
Burns in his ballad of "John Barleycorn ", which gives a 
jocular account of widespread ancient customs that are 
not yet quite extinct even in Scotland: 3 

They laid him down upon his back 

And cudgelled him full sore ; 
They hung him up before a storm 

And turned him o'er and o'er. 

They filled up a darksome pit 

With water to the brim, 
They heaved in John Barleycorn 

There let him sink or swim. 

1 The Assyrian and Phoenician Hercules is discussed by Raoul Rochette in Mtmoires 
de VAcadimie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres (Paris, 184.8), pp. 178 et seq. 

2 G. Sale's Koran, p. 246, n. 

8 In the Eddie poem " Lokasenna " the god Byggvir (Barley) is addressed by Loki, 
"Silence, Barleycorn!" The Elder Edda 9 translation by Olive Bray, pp. 262, 263. 


They wasted o'er a scorching flame 

The marrow of his bones, 
But the miller used him worst of all, 

For he crushed him between two stones, 

Hercules, after performing many mythical exploits, 
had himself burned alive on the pyre which he built upon 
Mount CEta, and was borne to Olympus amidst peals of 

Gilgamesh, the Babylonian Hercules, who links with 
Etana, Nimrod, and Sandan, is associated with the eagle, 
which in India, as has been shown, was identified with 
the gods of fertility, fire, and death. According to a 
legend related by -/Elian, 1 " the guards of the citadel of 
Babylon threw down to the ground a child who had been 
conceived and brought forth in secret, and who afterwards 
became known as Gilgamos". This appears to be another 
version of the Sargon-Tammuz myth, and may also refer 
to the sacrifice of children to Melkarth and Moloch, who 
were burned or slain " in the valleys under the clifts of 
the rocks" 2 to ensure fertility and feed the corn god. 
Gilgamesh, however, did not perish. "A keen -eyed 
eagle saw the child falling, and before it touched the 
ground the bird flew under it and received it on its back, 
and carried it away to a garden and laid it down gently." 
Here we have, it would appear, Tammuz among the 
flowers, and Sargon, the gardener, in the cc Garden of 
Adonis". Mimic Adonis gardens were cultivated by 
women. Corn, &c., was forced in pots and baskets, and 
thrown, with an image of the god, into streams. " Igno- 
rant people", writes Professor Frazer, "suppose that by 
mimicking the efFect which they desire to produce they 
actually help to produce it : thus by sprinkling water they 

1 De Nat. Animal., xii, 21, ed. Didot, p. 210, quoted by Professor Budge in The Life 
and Exploits of Alexander the Great, p. 278, . 2 Isaiah, Ivii, 4 and 5. 

(0642) 14 


make rain, by lighting a fire they make sunshine, and so 
on/* 1 Evidently Gilgamesh was a heroic form of the 
god Tammuz, the slayer of the demons of winter and 
storm, who passed one part of the year in the world and 
another in Hades (Chapter VI). 

Like Hercules, Gilgamesh figured chiefly in legendary 
narrative as a mighty hero. He was apparently of great 
antiquity, so that it is impossible to identify him with any 
forerunner of Sargon of Akkad, or Alexander the Great. 
His exploits were depicted on cylinder seals of the 
Sumerian period, and he is shown wrestling with a lion 
as Hercules wrestled with the monstrous lion in the valley 
of Nemea. The story of his adventures was narrated on 
twelve clay tablets s which were preserved in the library of 
Ashur-banipal, the Assyrian emperor. In the first tablet, 
which is badly mutilated, Gilgamesh is referred to as the 
man who beheld the world, and had great wisdom because 
he peered into the mysteries. He travelled to distant 
places, and was informed regarding the flood and the 
primitive race which the gods destroyed; he also obtained 
the plant of life, which his enemy, the earth-lion, in the 
form of a serpent or well demon, afterwards carried 

Gilgamesh was associated with Erech, where he reigned 
as "the lord". There Ishtar had a great temple, but her 
worldly wealth had decreased. The fortifications of the 
city were crumbling, and for three years the Elamites 
besieged it. The gods had turned to flies and the winged 
bulls had become like mice. Men wailed like wild beasts 
and maidens moaned like doves. Ultimately the people 
prayed to the goddess Aruru to create a liberator. Bel, 
Shamash, and Ishtar also came to their aid. 

1 The Golden Bough (Adonl^ Attit, Osirn vol.), "The Gardens of Adonis", pp. 194 
et icq. (3rd ed.). 


Arum heard the cries of her worshippers. She dipped 
her hands in water and then formed a warrior with clay. 
He was named Ea-bani, which signifies "Ea is my 
creator 1 *. It is possible, therefore, that an ancient myth 
of Eridu forms the basis of the narrative. 

Ea-bani is depicted on the cylinder seals as a hairy 
man-monster resembling the god Pan. He ate grass 
with the gazelles and drank water with wild beasts, and 
he is compared to the corn god, which suggests that he 
was an early form of Tammuz, and of character somewhat 
resembling the Egyptian Bast, the half- bestial god of 
fertility. A hunter was sent out from Erech to search 
for the man-monster, and found him beside a stream in 
a savage place drinking with his associates, the wild 
animals. The description of Ea-bani recalls that of 
Nebuchadnezzar when he was stricken with madness. 
" He was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, 
and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his 
hairs were grown like eagles' feathers, and his nails like 
birds' claws/' 1 

The hunter had no desire to combat with Ea-bani, so 
he had him lured from the wilds by a beautiful woman. 
Love broke the spell which kept Ea-bani in his savage 
state, and the wild beasts fled from him. Then the 
temptress pleaded with him to go with her to Erech, 
where Anu and Ishtar had their temples, and the mighty 
Gilgamesh lived in his palace. Ea-bani, deserted by his 
bestial companions, felt lonely and desired human friend- 
ship. So he consented to accompany his bride. Having 
heard of Gilgamesh from the hunter, he proposed to test 
his strength in single combat, but Shamash, god of the sun, 
warned Ea-bani that he was the protector of Gilgamesh, 

1 Daniel, iv, 33. It is possible that Nebuchadnezzar, as the human representative of 
the god of corn and fertility, imitated the god by living a time in the wilda like Ea-bani. 


who had been endowed with great knowledge by Bel and 
Aim and Ea. Gilgamesh was also counselled in a vision 
of night to receive Ea-bani as an ally. 

Ea-bani was not attracted by city life and desired to 
return to the wilds, but Shamash prevailed upon him to 
remain as the friend of Gilgamesh, promising that he 
would be greatly honoured and exalted to high rank. 

The two heroes became close friends, and when the 
narrative becomes clear again, they are found to be setting 
forth to wage war against Chumbaba, 1 the King of Elam. 
Their journey was long and perilous. In time they 
entered a thick forest, and wondered greatly at the 
numerous and lofty cedars. They saw the great road 
which the king had caused to be made, the high mountain, 
and the temple of the god. Beautiful were the trees 
about the mountain, and there were many shady retreats 
that were fragrant and alluring. 

At this point the narrative breaks off, for the tablet is 
mutilated. When it is resumed a reference is made to 
" the head of Chumbaba ", who has apparently been 
slain by the heroes. Erech was thus freed from the 
oppression of its fierce enemy. 

Gilgamesh and Ea-bani appear to have become pros- 
perous and happy. But in the hour of triumph a shadoto 
falls. Gilgamesh is robed in royal splendour and wears 
his dazzling crown. He is admired by all men, but sud- 
denly it becomes known that the goddess Ishtar has been 
stricken with love for him. She "loved him with that 
love which was his doom ". Those who are loved by 
celestials or demons become, in folk tales, melancholy 
wanderers and "night wailers". The "wretched wight" 
in Keats' "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" is a typical 

1 Pronounce ck guttural. 


what can ail thee, knight-at-arms, 
Alone and palely loitering ? 

The sedge is withered from the lake 
And no birds sing* 

1 met a lady in the meads, 

Full beautiful a faery's child ; 
Her hair was long, her foot was light, 
And her eyes were wild. 

She found me roots of relish sweet, 

And honey wild and manna dew ; 
And sure in language strange she said, 

" I love thee true ". 

Having kissed her lover to sleep, the fairy woman 
vanished. The "knight" then saw in a dream the ghosts 
of knights and warriors, her previous victims, who warned 
him of his fate. 

I saw their starved lips in the gloam, 

With horrid warning gaped wide ; 
And I awoke and found me here 

On the cold hill's side. 

The goddess Ishtar appeared as "La Belle Dame Sans 
Merci " before Gilgamesh and addressed him tenderly, 
saying : " Come, O Gilgamesh, and be my consort. Gift 
thy strength unto me. Be thou my husband and I will 
be thy bride. Thou shalt have a chariot of gold and 
lapis lazuli with golden wheels and gem-adorned. Thy 
steeds shall be fair and white and powerful. Into my 
dwelling thou shalt come amidst the fragrant cedars. 
Every king and every prince will bow down before thee, 
O Gilgamesh, to kiss thy feet, and all people will become 
subject unto thee." 

Gilgamesh feared the fate which would attend him as 


the lover of Ishtar, and made answer saying: "To what 
husband hast thou ever remained faithful? Each year 
Tammuz, the lover of thy youth, is caused by thee to 
weep. Thou didst love the Allala bird and then broke 
his wings, and he moans in the woods crying, <O my 
wings!' Thou didst love the lion and then snared him. 
Thou didst love the horse, and then laid harness on him 
and made him gallop half a hundred miles so that he 
suffered great distress, and thou didst oppress his mother 
Silili. Thou didst love a shepherd who sacrificed kids 
unto thee, and then thou didst smite him so that he 
became a jackal (or leopard) ; his own herd boy drove 
him away and his dogs rent him in pieces. Thou didst 
love Ishullanu, the gardener of Anu, who made offerings 
unto thee, and then smote him so that he was unable to 
move. Alas ! if thou wouldst love me, my fate would 
be like unto the fates of those on whom thou hast laid 

Ishtar' s heart was filled with wrath when she heard 
the words which Gilgamesh had spoken, and she prevailed 
upon her father Anu to create a fierce bull which she sent 
against the lord of Erech. 

This monster, however, was slain by Gilgamesh 1 and 
Ea-bani, but their triumph was shortlived. Ishtar cursed 
Gilgamesh. Ea-bani then defied her and threatened to 
deal with her as he had dealt with the bull, with the 
result that he was cursed by the goddess also. 

Gilgamesh dedicated the horns of the bull to Sharnash 
and returned with his friend to Erech, where they were 
received with great rejoicings. A festival was held, and 
afterwards the heroes lay down to sleep. Then Ea-bani 
dreamt a dream of ill omen. He met his death soon 
afterwards, apparently in a battle, and Gilgamesh lamented 

1 On a cylinder seal the heroes each wrestle with a bull. 


over him. From the surviving fragments of the narrative 
it would appear that Gilgamesh resolved to undertake a 
journey, for he had been stricken by disease. He wept 
and cried out, "Oh! let me not die like Ea-bani, for 
death is fearful. I will seek the aid of mine ancestor, 
Pir-napishtim " the Babylonian Noah, who was believed 
to be dwelling on an island which corresponds to the 
Greek " Island of the Blessed ". The Babylonian island 
lay in the ocean of the Nether World. 

It seems that Gilgamesh not only hoped to obtain the 
Water of Life and the Plant of Life to cure his own 
disease, but also to restore to life his dead friend, Ea-bani, 
whom he loved. 

Gilgamesh set out on his journey and in time reached 
a mountain chasm. Gazing on the rugged heights, he 
beheld fierce lions and his heart trembled. Then he 
cried upon the moon god, who took pity upon him, and 
under divine protection the hero pressed onward. He 
crossed the rocky range and then found himself con- 
fronted by the tremendous mountain of Mashi " Sunset 
hill ", which divided the land of the living from the 
western land of the dead. The mountain peak rose to 
heaven, and its foundations were in Aralu, the Under- 
world. 1 A dark tunnel pierced it and could be entered 
through a door, but the door was shut and on either side 
were two monsters of horrible aspect the gigantic 
" scorpion man " and his wife, whose heads reached to 
the clouds. When Gilgamesh beheld them he swooned 
with terror. But they did him no harm, perceiving that 
he was a son of a god and had a body like a god. 

When Gilgamesh revived, he realized that the mon- 

1 Alexander the Great in the course of his mythical travels reached a mountain at 
the world-end. "Its peak reached to the first heaven and its base to the seventh 
earth." Budge. 


sters regarded him with eyes of sympathy. Addressing 
the scorpion giant, he told that he desired to visit his 
ancestor, Pir-napishtim, who sat in the council of the 
gods and had divine attributes. The giant warned him 
of the dangers which he would encounter, saying that the 
mountain passage was twelve miles long and beamless 
and black. Gilgamesh, however, resolved to encounter 
any peril, for he was no longer afraid, and he was allowed 
to go forward. So he entered through the monster- 
guarded mountain door and plunged into thick unbroken 
darkness. For twice twelve hours he groped blindly 
onward, until he saw a ray of light. Quickening his 
steps, he then escaped from the dreadful tunnel and once 
more rejoiced in the rays of the sun. He found himself 
in an enchanted garden, and in the midst of it he saw a 
divine and beautiful tree towards which he hastened. On 
its gleaming branches hung clusters of precious stones 
and its leaves were of lapis lazuli. His eyes were dazzled, 
but he did not linger there. Passing many other wonder- 
ful trees, he came to a shoreland, and he knew that he was 
drawing nigh to the Sea of Death. The country which he 
entered was ruled over by the sea lady whose name was 
Sabitu. When she saw the pilgrim drawing nigh, she 
entered her palace and shut the door. 

Gilgamesh called out requesting that he should be 
allowed to enter, and mingled his entreaties with threats 
to break open the door. In the end Sabitu appeared and 
spoke, saying: 

Gilgamesh, whither hurriest thou ? 

The life that thou seekest thou wilt not find. 

When the gods created man 

They fixed death for mankind. 

Life they took in their own hand. 

Thou, O Gilgamesh, let thy belly be filled ! 


Day and night be merry, 

Daily celebrate a feast, 

Day and night dance and make merry! 

Clean be thy clothes, 

Thy head be washed, bathe in water ! 

Look joyfully on the child that grasps thy hand, 

Be happy with the wife in thine arms ! l 

This is the philosophy of the Egyptian "Lay of the 
Harper ". The following quotations are from two sepa- 
rate versions: 

How rests this just prince ! 

The goodly destiny befalls, 

The bodies pass away 

Since the time of the god, 

And generations come into their places. 

(Make) it pleasant for thee to follow thy desire 

While thou livest. 

Put myrrh upon thy head, 

And garments on thee of fine linen. . . . 

Celebrate the glad day, 

Be not weary therein. . . . 

Thy sister (wife) who dwells in thy heart. 

She sits at thy side. 

Put song and music before thee, 

Behind thee all evil things, 

And remember thou (only) joy. 2 

Jastrow contrasts the Babylonian poem with the 
following quotation from Ecclesiastes: 

Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with 
a merry heart. . . . Let thy garments be always white ; and 

1 Jastrow's trans., Aspects of Religious Belief and Practice in Babylonia and Assyria^ 

P- 374- 

* Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt (1912), J. H. Breasted, 

PP. '83-5- 


let thy head lack no ointment. Live joyfully with the wife whom 
thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he [God] 
hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity : for that 
is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest 
under the sun. 1 

"The pious Hebrew mind", Jastrow adds, "found the 
corrective to this view of life in the conception of a stern 
but just God, acting according to self-imposed standards 
of right and wrong, whose rule extends beyond the 
grave/' The final words of the Preacher are, " Fear God 
and keep his commandments ", 2 

Gilgamesh did not accept the counsel of the fatalistic 
sea lady. He asked her how he could reach Pir-napish- 
tim, his ancestor, saying he was prepared to cross the 
Sea of Death: if he could not cross it he would die of 

Sabitu answered him, saying: "O Gilgamesh, no mortal 
is ferried over this great sea. Who can pass over it save 
Shamash alone ? The way is full of peril. O Gilgamesh, 
how canst thou battle against the billows of death?" 
. At length, however, the sea lady revealed to the 
pilgrim that he might obtain the aid of the sailor, Arad 
Ea, who served his ancestor Pir-napishtim. 

Gilgamesh soon found where Arad Ea dwelt, and after 
a time prevailed upon him to act as ferryman. Arad Ea 
required a helm for his boat, and Gilgamesh hastened to 
fashion one from a tree. When it was fixed on, the boat 
was launched and the voyage began. Terrible experiences 
were passed through as they crossed the Sea of Death, 
but at length they drew nigh to the " Island of the 
Blessed" on which dwelt Pir-napishtim and his wife. 
Wearied by his exertions and wasted by disease, Gilgamesh 
sat resting in the boat. He did not go ashore. 

) ix, 7-9. 2 Ibid., xii, 1 3. 


Pir-napishtim had perceived the vessel crossing the 
Sea of Death and marvelled greatly. 

The story is unfortunately interrupted again, but it 
appears that Gilgamesh poured into the ears of his 
ancestor the tale of his sufferings, adding that he feared 
death and desired to escape his fate. 

Pir-napishtim made answer, reminding the pilgrim 
that all men must die* Men built houses, sealed con- 
tracts, disputed one with another, and sowed seeds in the 
earth, but as long as they did so and the rivers rose in 
flood, so long would their fate endure. Nor could any 
man tell when his hour would come. The god of destiny 
measured out the span of life: he fixed the day of death, 
but never revealed his secrets. 

Gilgamesh then asked Pir-napishtim how it chanced 
that he was still alive. "Thou hast suffered no change," 
he said, " thou art even as I am. Harden not thy heart 
against me, but reveal how thou hast obtained divine life 
in the company of the gods." 

Pir-napishtim thereupon related to his descendant the 
story of the deluge, which is dealt with fully in the next 
chapter. The gods had resolved to destroy the world, 
and Ea in a dream revealed unto Pir-napishtim how he 
could escape. He built a ship which was tossed about 
on the waters, and when the world had been destroyed, 
Bel discovered him and transported him to that island in 
the midst of the Sea of Death. 

Gilgamesh sat in the boat listening to the words of 
his ancestor. When the narrative was ended, Pir-napish- 
tim spoke sympathetically and said: "Who among the 
gods will restore thee to health, O Gilgamesh? Thou 
hast knowledge of my life, and thou shalt be given the 
life thou dost strive after. Take heed, therefore, to what 
I say unto thee. For six days and seven nights thou 


shalt not lie down, but remain sitting like one in the 
midst of grief." i 

Gilgamesh sat in the ship, and sleep enveloped him 
like to a black storm cloud* 

Pir-napishtim spoke to his wife and said: "Behold the 
hero who desireth to have life. Sleep envelops him like 
to a black storm cloud." 

To that lone man his wife made answer: "Lay thine 
hand upon him so that he may have perfect health and be 
enabled to return to his own land. Give him power to 
pass through the mighty door by which he entered." 

Then Pir-napishtim addressed his wife, saying: "His 
sufferings make me sad. Prepare thou for him the magic 
food, and place it near his head." 

On the day when Gilgamesh lay down, the food was 
prepared by seven magic processes, and the woman ad- 
ministered it while yet he slept. Then Pir-napishtim 
touched him, and he awoke full of life. 

Gilgamesh spake unto Pir-napishtim and said: "I was 
suddenly overcome by sleep. . . . But thou didst awaken 
me by touching me, even thou. ... Lo! I am bewitched. 
What hast thou done unto thy servant?" 

Then Pir-napishtim told Gilgamesh that he had been 
given to eat of the magic food. Afterwards he caused 
Arad Ea to carry Gilgamesh to a fountain of healing, 
where his disease -stricken body was cleansed. The 
blemished skin fell from him, and he was made whole. 

Thereafter Gilgamesh prepared to return to his own 
land. Ere he bade farewell, however, Pir-napishtim re- 
vealed unto him the secret of a magic plant which had 
power to renew life and give youth and strength unto 
those who were old. 

1 Perhaps brooding and undergoing penance like an Indian Rishi with purpose to 
obtain spiritual power. 


Arad Ea conducted the hero to the island where the 
plant grew, and when Gilgamesh found it he rejoiced, and 
said that he would carry it to Erech, his own city, where 
he would partake of it and restore his youth* 

So Gilgamesh and Arad Ea went on their way to- 
gether, nor paused until they came to a well of pure 
water. The hero stooped down to draw water. 1 But 
while he was thus engaged that demon, the Earth Lion, 
crept forth as a serpent, and, seizing the magic plant of 
life, carried it away. Stricken with terror, Gilgamesh 
uttered a curse. Then he sat down and wept bitterly, 
and the tears streamed over his face. To Arad Ea he 
spake, saying: " Why has my health been restored to me? 
Why shpuld I rejoice because that I live ? The benefit 
which I should have derived for myself has now fallen to 
the Earth Lion." 

The two travellers then resumed their journey, per- 
forming religious acts from time to time; chanting dirges 
and holding feasts for the dead, and at length Gilgamesh 
returned to Erech. He found that the city walls were 
crumbling, and he spake regarding the ceremonies which 
had been performed while yet he was in a far-distant 

During the days which followed Gilgamesh sorrowed 
for his lost friend Ea-bani, whose spirit was in the 
Underworld, the captive of the spirits of death. " Thou 
canst not draw thy bow now," he cried, c< nor raise the 
battle shout. Thou canst not kiss the woman thou 
hast loved; thou canst not kiss the child thou hast 
loved, nor canst thou smite those whom thou hast 

In vain Gilgamesh appealed to his mother goddess to 
restore Ea-bani to him. Then he turned to the gods, and 

1 Probably to perform the ceremony of pouring out a libation. 


Ka heard him. Thereafter Nergal, god of death, caused 
the grave to yawn, and the spirit of Ea-barii arose like a 
wind gust. 

Gilgamesh, still dreading death, spoke to the ghost of 
his friend, saying : " Tell me, my friend, O tell me 
regarding the land in which thou dost dwell/' 

Ea-bani made answer sorrowfully: "Alas! I cannot 
tell thce, my friend. If I were to tell thee all, thou 
wouldst sit down and weep." 

Said Gilgamesh : C Let me sit down and weep, but 
tell me regarding the land of spirits." 

The text is mutilated here, but it can be gathered that 
Ea-barii described the land where ill-doers were punished, 
where the young were like the old, where the worm 
devoured, and dust covered all. But the state of the 
warrior who had been given burial was better than that 
of the man who had not been buried, and had no one to 
lament or care for him. " He who hath been slain in 
battle," the ghost said, "reposeth on a couch drinking 
pure water one slain in battle as thou hast seen and I 
have seen. His head is supported by his parents: beside 
him sits his wife. His spirit doth not haunt the earth. 
But the spirit of that man whose corpse has been left 
unburied and uncared for, rests not, but prowls through 
the streets eating scraps of food, the leavings of the feast, 
and drinking the dregs of vessels." 

So ends the story of Gilgamesh in the form which 
survives to us. 

The journey of Gilgamesh to the Island of the Blessed 
recalls the journeys made by Odin, Hermod, Svipdag, 
Hotherus and others to the Germanic Hela. When 
Hermod went to search for Balder, as the Prose Edda 
relates, he rode through thick darkness for nine days and 
nine nights ere he crossed the mountains. As Gilgamesh 


met Sabitu, Hermod met Modgudur, " the maiden who 
kept the bridge " over the river Gjoll. Svipdag, accord- 
ing to a Norse poem, was guided like the Babylonian 
hero by the moon god, Gevar, who instructed him what 
way he should take to find the irresistible sword. Saxo's 
Hother, who is instructed by "King Gewar", crosses 
dismal mountains "beset with extraordinary cold"* 1 
Thorkill crosses a stormy ocean to the region of per- 
petual darkness, where the ghosts of the dead are confined 
in loathsome and dusty caves. At the main entrance 
< the door posts were begrimed with the soot of ages M . 2 
In the Elder Edda Svipdag is charmed against the 
perils he will be confronted by as he fares "o'er seas 
mightier. than men do know", or is overtaken by night 
" wandering on the misty way ". 8 When Odin " down- 
ward rode into Misty Hel " he sang spells at a " witch's 
grave", and the ghost rose up to answer his questions 
regarding Balder. "Tell me tidings of Hel", he addressed 
her, as Gilgamesh addressed the ghost of Ea-bani. 

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, and he preventeth 
everyone who would go unto him." In another part 
of the narrative Alexander and his army arrive at a 
place of darkness "where the blackness is not like the 
darkness of night, but is like unto the mists and clouds 
which descend at the break of day". A servant uses 
a shining jewel stone, which Adam had brought from 
Paradise, to guide him, and found the well. He drank 

y iii, 71. 2 //</., viii, 291. 

3 The Elder Edda^ O. Bray, pp. 157 et seq. See also Teutonic Myth and Legend. 


of the "waters of life** and bathed in them, with the result 
that he was strengthened and felt neither hunger nor 
thirst. When he came out of the well <c all the flesh of 
his body became bluish-green and his garments likewise 
bluish-green ". Apparently he assumed the colour of 
supernatural beings. Rama of India was blue, and certain 
of his monkey allies were green, like the fairies of Eng- 
land and Scotland. This fortunate man kept his secret. 
His name was Matun, but he was afterwards nicknamed 
" <El-Khidr *, that is to say, c Green* ". What explanation 
he offered for his sudden change of appearance has not 
been recorded. 1 It is related that when Matun reached 
the Well of Life a dried fish which he dipped in the 
water was restored to life and swam away. In the Koran 
a similar story is told regarding Moses and Joshua, who 
travelled cc for a long space of time " to a place where 
two seas met. "They forgot their fish which they had 
taken with them, and the fish took its way freely to the 
sea." The Arabian commentators explain that Moses 
once agreed to the suggestion that he was the wisest of 
men. In a dream he was directed to visit Al Khedr, 
who was " more knowing than he ", and to take a fish 
with him in a basket. On the seashore Moses fell asleep, 
and the fish, which had been roasted, leapt out of the 
basket into the sea. Another version sets forth that 
Joshua, " making the ablution at the fountain of life ", 
some of the water happened to be sprinkled on the fish, 
which immediately leapt up. 2 

The Well of Life is found in Fingalian legends. 
When Diarmid was mortally wounded by the boar, he 
called upon Finn to carry water to him from the well: 

1 The Life and Exploit* of Alexander the Great, E. Wallis Budge, pp. xl et seq. y 167 
e t seq* 

2 The Koran, trans, by G. Sale, pp. 222, 223 (chap, xviii). 


Give me a draught from thy palms, O Finn, 
Son of my king for my succour, 
For my life and my dwelling. 

CampbelFt West Highland Tak^ vol. ili, 80, 

The quest of the plant, flower, or fruit of life is 
referred to in many folk tales. In the Mahdbhdrata^ 
Bhima, the Indian Gilgamesh or Hercules, journeys to 
north-eastern Celestial regions to find the lake of the 
god Kuvera (Kubera), on which grow the " most beauti- 
ful and unearthly lotuses ", which restore health and give 
strength to the weary. As Gilgamesh meets with Pir- 
napishtim, who relates the story of the Deluge which 
destroyed the "elder race*', Bhima meets with Hanuman, 
who infprms him regarding the Ages of the Universe 
and the races which were periodically destroyed by 
deluges. When Bhima reaches the lotus lake he fights 
with demons. To heal his wounds and recover strength 
he plunges into the lake. "As he drank of the waters, 
like unto nectar, his energy and strength were again 
fully restored/' 1 

Hercules similarly sets out to search for the golden 
apples which grow in 

those Hesperian gardens famed of old, 
Fortunate fields, and groves and flowery vales. 

As Bhima slew Yakshas which guarded the lotuses, Her- 
cules slew Ladon, the guardian of the apples. Other 
heroes kill treasure-protecting dragons of various kinds. 
There is a remarkable resemblance between the Baby- 
lonian account of Gilgamesh's journey through the moun- 
tain tunnel to the garden and seashore, and the Indian 
story of the demigod Hanuman passing through the long 

1 Vana Parva section of the Mah&bh&rata (Roy's trans.), pp. 435-60, and Indian 
Myth and Legend^ pp. 105-9. 

( 642 > 16 


cavern to the shoreland palace of the female ascetic, when he 
was engaged searching for Sita, the wife of Rama, who had 
been carried away by Ravana, the demon king of Ceylon. 
In the version of the latter narrative which is given in the 
Mahdbhdrata, Hanuman says: "I bring thee good news, 
O Rama; for Janaka's daughter hath been seen by me. 
Having searched the southern region with all its hills, 
forests, and mines for some time, we became very weary. 
At length we beheld a great cavern. And having beheld 
it, we entered that cavern which extended over many 
yojanas. It was dark and deep, and overgrown with trees 
and infested by worms. And having gone a great way 
through it, we came upon sunshine and beheld a beautiful 
palace. It was the abode of the Daitya (sea demon) 
Maya. And there we beheld a female ascetic named 
Parbhdvati engaged in ascetic austerities. And she gave 
us food and drink of various kinds. And having refreshed 
ourselves therewith and regained our strength, we pro- 
ceeded along the way shown by her. At last we came 
out of the cavern and beheld the briny sea, and on its 
shores, the Sahya> the Malaya, and the great Dardura 
mountains. And ascending the mountains of Malaya^ 
we beheld before us the vast ocean (or, "the abode of 
Varuna"). And beholding it, we felt sorely grieved in 
mind. . . . We despaired of returning with our lives. 
. . . We then sat together, resolved to die there of 

Hanuman and his friends, having had, so far, experi- 
ences similar to those of Gilgamesh, next discovered the 
eagle giant which had burned its wings when endeavouring 
to soar to the sun. This great bird, which resembles the 
Etana eagle, expressed the opinion that Sita was in Lanka 
(Ceylon), whither she must have been carried by Ravana. 
But no one dared to cross the dangerous ocean. Hanuman 


at length, however, obtained the assistance of Vayu, the 
wind god, his divine father, and leapt over the sea, slaying 
monsters as he went. He discovered where the fair lady 
was concealed by the king of demons. 1 

The dark tunnel is met with in many British stories 
of daring heroes who set out to explore it, but never 
return. In the Scottish versions the adventurers are 
invariably pipers who are accompanied by dogs. The 
sound of the pipes is heard for a time; then the music 
ceases suddenly, and shortly afterwards the dog returns 
without a hair upon its body. It has evidently been in 
conflict with demons. 

The tunnel may run from a castle to the seashore, 
from a cave on one side of a hill to a cave on the other, 
or from a seashore cave to a distant island. 

It is possible that these widespread tunnel stories had 
origin among the cave dwellers of the Palaeolithic Age, 
who believed that deep caverns were the doors of the 
underground retreats of dragons and giants and other 
supernatural enemies of mankind. 

In Babylonia, as elsewhere, the priests utilized the 
floating material from which all mythologies were framed, 
and impressed upon it the stamp of their doctrines. The 
symbolized stories were afterwards distributed far and 
wide, as were those attached to the memory of Alexander 
the Great at a later period. Thus in many countries may 
be found at the present day different versions of im- 
memorial folk tales, which represent various stages of 
culture, and direct and indirect contact at different periods 
with civilizations that have stirred the ocean of human 
thought, and sent their ideas rippling in widening circles 
to far-distant shores. 

1 Vana Parva section of the Mahabh&rata (Roy's translation), pp. 832, 833. 


Deluge Legend, the Island of the 
Blessed, and Hades 

Babylonian Story of the Flood The Two Immortals on the Island of the 
Blessed Deluge Legends in the Old and New Worlds How Babylonian 
Culture reached India Theory of Cosmic Periods Gilgamesh resembles the 
Indian Yama and Persian Yimeh Links with Varuna and Mitra The Great 
Winter in Persian and Teutonic Mythologies Babylonian Hades compared 
with the Egyptian, Greek, Indian, Teutonic, and Celtic Otherworlds Legend 
of Nergal and the Queen of Death Underworld originally the Grave Why 
Weapons, &c., were Buried with the Dead Japanese and Roman Beliefs 
Palaeolithic Burial Customs " Our Graves are our Houses " Importance of 
Babylonian Funerary Ceremonies Doctrine of Eternal Bliss in Egypt and 
India Why Suppressed in Babylonia Heavy Burial Fees Various Burial 

THE story of the Deluge which was related to Gilgamesh 
by Pir-napishtim runs as follows: 

" Hear me, O Gilgamesh, and I will make revelation 
regarding the hidden doings of the high gods. As thou 
knowest, the city of Shurippak is situated upon the bank 
of the Euphrates. The gods were within it : there they 
assembled together in council. Anu, the father, was 
there, and Bel the counsellor and warrior, Ninip the 
messenger, and Ennugi the governor. Ea, the wise 
lord, sat also with them. In their hearts the gods agreed 
together to send a great deluge. 

"Thereafter Ea made known the purpose of the 
divine rulers in the hut of reeds, saying: 1 C O hut of 

1 Ea addresses the hut in which his human favourite, Pir-napishtim, slept. His 
message was conveyed to this man in a dream. 



reeds, hear; O wall, understand . . . O man of Shurippak, 
son of Umbara Tutu, tear down thy house and build 
a ship ; leave all thou dost possess and save thy life, 
and preserve in the ship the living seed of every kind. 
The ship that thou wilt build must be of goodly pro- 
portions in length and height* It must be floated on 
the great deep.' 

" I heard the command of Ea and understood, and 
I made answer, saying, *O wise lord, as thou hast said 
so will I do, fqr thy counsel is most excellent* But how 
shall I give reason for my doings to the young men and 
the elders ? ' 

" Ea opened his mouth and said unto me, his ser- 
vant: c What thou shalt say unto them is this . . . // 
hath been revealed unto me that Eel doth hate me, there- 
fore I cannot remain any longer In his domain, this city of 
Shurippak, so I must depart unto the domain of Ea and 
dwell with him . . . Unto you will Bel send abundance 
of rain, so that you may obtain birds and fishes in plenty 
and have a rich harvest. But Shamash hath appointed 
a time for Ramman to pour down destruction from the 
heavens' " * 

Ea then gave instructions to Pir-napishtim how to 
build the ship in which he should find refuge. So far 
as can be gathered from the fragmentary text, it appears 
that this vessel was to have a deck house six stories 
high, with nine apartments in each story. According 
to another account, Ea drew a plan of the great ship 
upon the sand. 

Pir-napishtim set to work and made a flat-bottomed 
vessel, which was 120 cubits wide and 120 cubits in 
height. He smeared it with bitumen inside and pitch 
outside ; and on the seventh day it was ready. Then 

1 The second sentence of Ea's speech is conjectural, as the lines are mutilated. 


he carried out Ea's further instructions. Continuing 
his narrative to Gilgamesh, he said: 

"1 gathered together all that I possessed, my silver 
and gold and seeds of every kind, and my goods also. 
These I placed in the ship. Then I caused to go aboard 
all my family and house servants, the animals of the 
field and the beasts of the field and the workers every 
one of them I sent up. 

"The god Shamash appointed the time, saying: C I 
will cause the Night Lord to send much rain and bring 
destruction. Then enter thou the ship and shut thy 

u At the appointed time the Night Lord sent at even- 
time much rain. I saw the beginning of the deluge and 
I was afraid to look up. I entered the ship and shut 
the door. I appointed Buzur-Kurgala, the sailor, to be 
captain, and put under his command the great vessel and 
all that it contained. 

"At the dawn of day I saw rising athwart the heavens 
a dark cloud, and in the midst of it Ramman thundered. 
Nebo and Merodach went in front, speeding like emis- 
saries over hills and plains. The cables of the ship were 
let loose. 

"Then Ninip, the tempest god, came nigh, and the 
storm broke in fury before him. All the earth spirits 
leapt up with flaming torches and the whole land was 
aflare. The thunder god swept over the heavens, 
blotting out the sunlight and bringing thick darkness. 
Rain poured down the whole day long, and the earth 
was covered with water ; the rivers were swollen ; the 
land was in confusion ; men stumbled about in the dark- 
ness, battling with the elements. Brothers were unable 
to see brothers; no man could recognize his friends. . . . 
The spirits above looked down and beheld the rising 


From the Painting by E. Wallcomim 


flood and were afraid : they fled away, and in the heaven 
of Ami they crouched like to hounds in the protecting 

" In time Ishtar, the lady of the gods, cried out dis- 
tressfully, saying : * The elder race hath perished and 
turned to clay because that I have consented to evil 
counsel in the assembly of the gods. Alas! I have 
allowed my people to be destroyed. I gave being to 
man, but where is he? Like the offspring of fish he 
cumbers the deep/ 

" The earth spirits were weeping with Ishtar : they 
sat down cowering with tightened lips and spake not ; 
they mourned in silence. 

" Six days and six nights went past, and the tempest 
raged* over the waters which gradually covered the land. 
But when the seventh day came, the wind fell, the whirl- 
ing waters grew peaceful, and the sea retreated. The 
storm was over and the rain of destruction had ceased. 
I looked forth. I called aloud over the waters. But 
all mankind had perished and turned to clay. Where 
fields had been I saw marshes only. 

" Then I opened wide the window of the ship, and 
the sunlight suffused my countenance. I was dazzled 
and sank down weeping and the tears streamed over 
my face. Everywhere I looked I saw water. 

"At length, land began to appear. The ship drifted 
towards the country of Nitsir, and then it was held fast 
by the mountain of Nitsir. Six days went past and the 
ship remained stedfast. On the seventh day I sent forth 
a dove, and she flew away and searched this way and that, 
but found no resting place, so she returned. I then sent 
forth a swallow, and she returned likewise. Next 1 sent 
forth a raven, and she flew away. She saw that the waters 
were shrinking, and gorged and croaked and waded, but 


did not come back. Then I brought forth all the animals 
into the air of heaven. 

"An offering 1 made on the mountain. I poured 
out a libation. I set up incense vessels seven by seven 
on heaped-up reeds and used cedar wood with incense. 
The gods smelt the sweet savour, and they clustered like 
flies about the sacrificer. 

"Thereafter Ishtar (Sirtu) drew nigh. Lifting up the 
jewels, which the god Anu had fashioned for her accord- 
ing to her desire, she spake, saying : c Oh ! these gods ! 
1 vow by the lapis lazuli gems upon my neck that I will 
never forget 1 I will remember these days for ever and 
ever. Let all the gods come hither to the offering, save 
Bel (Enlil) alone, because that he ignored my counsel, 
and sent a great deluge which destroyed my people.' 

"But Bel Enlil came also, and when he beheld the 
ship he paused. His heart was filled with wrath against 
the gods and the spirits of heaven. Angrily he spake 
and said: 'Hath one escaped? It was decreed that no 
human being should survive the deluge.' 

"Ninip, son of Bel, spoke, saying: c Who hath done 
this save Ea alone ? He knoweth all things/ 

" Ea, god of the deep, opened his mouth and said 
unto the warrior Bel: 'Thou art the lord of the gods, O 
warrior. But thou wouldst not hearken to my counsel 
and caused the deluge to be. Now punish the sinner 
for his sins and the evil doer for his evil deed, but be 
merciful and do not destroy all mankind. May there 
never again be a flood. Let the lion come and men will 
decrease. May there never again be a flood. Let the 
leopard come and men will decrease. May there never 
again be a flood. Let famine come upon the land; let 
Ura, god of pestilence, come and snatch off mankind. . . . 
I did not reveal the secret purpose of the mighty gods, 


but I caused Atra-chasis (Pir-napishtim) to dream a dream 
in which he had knowledge of what the gods had decreed/ 

" Having pondered a time over these words, Bel entered 
the ship alone. He grasped my hand (and led rne forth, 
even me, and he led forth my wife also, and caused her 
to kneel down beside me. Then he stood between us 
and gave his blessing. He spoke, saying: 'In time past 
Pir-napishtim was a man. Henceforth Pir-napishtim and 
his wife will be like unto deities, even us. Let them 
dwell apart beyond the river mouths.' 

"Thereafter Bel carried me hither beyond the mouths 
of rivers." 


Flood myths are found in many mythologies both in 
the Old World and the New. 

The violent and deceitful men of the mythical Bronze 
Age of Greece were destroyed by a flood. It is related 
that Zeus said on one occasion to Hermes: " I will send 
a great rain, such as hath not been since the making of 
the world, and the whole race of men shall perish. I am 
weary of their iniquity." 

For receiving with hospitable warmth these two gods 
in human guise, Deucalion, an old man, and his wife 
Pyrrha were spared, however. Zeus instructed his host 
to build an ark of oak, and store it well with food. 
When this was done, the couple entered the vessel and 
shut the door. Then Zeus " broke up all the fountains 
of the deep, and opened the well springs of heaven, and 
it rained for forty days and forty nights continually". 
The Bronze folk perished : not even those who fled to 
the hilltops could escape. The ark rested on Parnassus, 
and when the waters ebbed the old couple descended the 
mountain and took up their abode in a cave. 1 

1 The Muses* Pageant, W. M. L. Hutchinson, pp. 5 e t scq. 


In Indian mythology the world is destroyed by a 
flood at the end of each Age of the Universe. There 
are four ages : the Krita or Perfect Age, the Treta Age, 
the Dwapara Age, and the Kali or Wicked Age. These 
correspond closely to the Greek and Celtic ages. 1 There 
arc also references in Sanskrit literature to the destruction 
of the world because too many human beings lived upon 
it, "When the increase of population had been so 
frightful," a sage related, " the Earth, oppressed with the 
excessive burden, sank down for a hundred Yojanas. 
Suffering pain in all her limbs, and being deprived of her 
senses by excessive pressure, the Earth in distress sought 
the protection of Narayana, the foremost of the gods/' 2 

Manu's account of the flood has been already referred 
to (Chapter II). The god in fish shape informed him: 
u The time is ripe for purging the world. . . . Build a 
strong and massive ark, and furnish it with a long rope. 
. . ." When the waters rose the horned fish towed the 
ark over the roaring sea, until it grounded on the highest 
peak of the Himavat, which is still called Naubandha 
(the harbour). Manu was accompanied by seven rishis. 3 

In the Celtic (Irish) account of the flood, Cessair, 
granddaughter of Noah, was refused a chamber for herself 
in the ark, and fled to the western borders of the world 
as advised by her idol. 4 Her fleet consisted of three 
ships, but two foundered before Ireland was reached. 
The survivors in addition to Cessair were, her father Bith, 
two other men, Fintan and Ladru, and fifty women. 
All of these perished on the hills except Fintan, who 
slept on the crest of a great billow, and lived to see 
Partholon, the giant, arriving from Greece. 

1 Indian Myth and Legend^ pp. 107 et scq. 

2 Vana Parva section of the Mahabharata (Roy's trans.), p. 425. 

3 Indian Myth and Legend^ p. 141. 

4 Book of Ltinster, and Keating' s History of Ireland, p. 150 (181 1 ed.). 


There is a deluge also in Egyptian mythology. 
When Ra, the sun god, grew old as an earthly king, men 
began to mutter words against him. He called the gods 
together and said : " I will not slay them (his subjects) 
until I have heard what ye say concerning them." Nu, 
his father, who was the god of primeval waters, advised 
the wholesale destruction of mankind. 

Said Ra: "Behold men flee unto the hills; their heart 
is full of fear because of that which they said." 

The goddess Hathor-Sekhet, the Eye of Ra, then 
went forth and slew mankind on the hills. Thereafter 
Ra, desiring to protect the remnant of humanity, caused 
a great offering to be made to the goddess, consisting of 
corn beer mixed with herbs and human blood. This 
drink was poured out during the night. " And the god- 
dess came in the morning; she found the fields inundated, 
she rejoiced thereat, she drank thereof, her heart was 
rejoiced, she went about drunken and took no more 
cognizance of men." 1 

It is obvious that the Egyptian myth refers to the 
annual inundation of the Nile, the " human blood " in 
the " beer " being the blood of the slain corn god, or of 
his earthly representative. It is probable that the flood 
legends of North and South America similarly reflected 
local phenomena, although the possibility that they Were 
of Asiatic origin, like the American Mongoloid tribes, 
cannot be overlooked. Whether or not Mexican civiliza- 
tion, which was flourishing about the time of the battle 
of Hastings, received any cultural stimulus from Asia is a 
question regarding which it would be unsafe to dogmatize, 
owing to the meagre character of the available data. 

The Mexican deluge was caused by the "water sun", 
which suddenly discharged the moisture it had been 

1 Religion of the Ancient Egyptians^ A. Wiedemann, pp. 58 et seq. 


drawing from the earth in the form of vapour through 
long ages. All life was destroyed. 

A flood legend among the Nahua tribes resembles 
closely the Babylonian story as told by Pir-napishtim. 
The god Titlacahuan instructed a man named Nata to 
make a boat by hollowing out a cypress tree, so as to 
escape the coming deluge with his wife Nena. This pair 
escaped destruction. They offered up a fish sacrifice in 
the boat and enraged the deity who visited them, dis- 
playing as much indignation as did Bel when he discovered 
that Pir-napishtim had survived the great disaster. Nata 
and Nena had been instructed to take with them one ear 
of maize only, which suggests that they were harvest 

In Brazil, Monan, the chief god, sent a great fire to 
burn up the world and its wicked inhabitants. To extin- 
guish the flames a magician caused so much rain to fall 
that the earth was flooded. 

The Californian Indians had a flood legend, and 
believed that the early race was diminutive ; and the 
Athapascan Indians of the north-west professed to be 
descendants of a family who escaped the deluge. Indeed, 
deluge myths were widespread in the " New World ". 

The American belief that the first beings who were 
created were unable to live on earth was shared by the 
Babylonians. According to Berosus the first creation was 
a failure, because the animals could not bear the light and 
they all died. 1 Here we meet with the germs of the 
Doctrine of the World's Ages, which reached its highest 
development in Indian, Greek, and Celtic (Irish) myth- 

The Biblical account of the flood is familiar to readers. 
"It forms", says Professor Pinches, "a good subject for 

1 Pinches' The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria^ p. 42. 


comparison with the Babylonian account, with which it 
agrees so closely in all the main points, and from which 
it differs so much in many essential details/' l 

The drift of Babylonian culture was not only directed 
westward towards the coast of Palestine, and from thence 
to Greece during the Phoenician period, but also eastward 
through Elam to the Iranian plateau and India, Refer- 
ence has already been made to the resemblances between 
early Vedic and Sumerian mythologies. When the " new 
songs " of the Aryan invaders of India were being com- 
posed, the sky and ocean god, Varuna, who resembles 
Ea-Oannes, and Mitra, who links with Shamash, were 
already declining in splendour. Other cultural influences 
were at work. Certain of the Aryan tribes, for instance, 
buried their dead in Varuna' s " house of clay ", while a 
growing proportion cremated their dead and worshipped 
Agni, the fire god. At the close of the Vedic period 
there were fresh invasions into middle India, and the 
"late comers" introduced new beliefs, including the 
doctrines of the Transmigration of Souls and of the Ages 
of the Universe. Goddesses also rose into prominence, 
and the Vedic gods became minor deities, and subject to 
Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. These " late comers " had 
undoubtedly been influenced by Babylonian ideas before 
they entered India. In their Doctrine of the World's 
Ages or Yugas, for instance, we are forcibly reminded 
of the Euphratean ideas regarding space and time. Mr. 
Robert Brown, junr., who is an authority in this con- 
nection, shows that the system by which the "Day of 
Brahma" was calculated in India resembles closely an 

1 The problems involved are discussed from different points of view by Mr. L. W. 
King in Babylonian Religion (Books on Egypt and Chaldaea, vol. iv), Professor Pinches 
in The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records and Legends of Assyria and 
Babylonia^ and other vols. 


astronomical system which obtained in Babylonia, where 
apparently the theory of cosmic periods had origin. 1 

The various alien peoples, however, who came under 
the spell of Babylonian modes of thought did not remain 
in a state of intellectual bondage. Thought was stimu- 
lated rather than arrested by religious borrowing, and the 
development of ideas regarding the mysteries of life and 
death proceeded apace in areas over which the ritualistic 
and restraining priesthood of Babylonia exercised no sway. 
As much may be inferred from the contrasting conceptions 
of the Patriarchs of Vedic and Sumerian mythologies. 
Pir-napishtim, the Babylonian Noah, and the semi-divine 
Gilgamesh appear to be represented in Vedic mythology 
by Yama, god of the dead, Yama was " the first man ", 
and, like Gilgamesh, he set out on a journey over 
mountains and across water to discover Paradise. He 
is lauded in the Vedic hymns as the explorer of " the 
path" or "way" to the "Land of the Pitris" (Fathers), 
the Paradise to which the Indian uncremated dead walked 
on foot. Yama never lost his original character. He is 
a traveller in the Epics as in the Vedas. 2 

Him who along the mighty heights departed, 
Him who searched and spied the path for many, 
Son of Vivasvat, gatherer of the people, 
Yama, the King, with sacrifices worship. 

Rigveda, x, 14, i. 3 

To Yama, mighty King, be gifts and homage paid, 
He was the first of men that died, the first to brave 
Death's rapid rushing stream, the first to point the road 
To heaven, and welcome others to that bright abode. 

Sir M. Monier Williams' Translation* 

Yama and his sister Yarn! were the first human pair. 

1 Primitive Constellations, vol. i, pp. 334-5. 2 Indian Myth and Legend, chap. iii. 
3 Professor Macdoncll's translation. 4 Indian Wisdom. 


They are identical with the Persian Celestial twins, Yima 
and Yimeh, Yima resembles Mitra (Mithra); Varuna, 
the twin brother of Mitra, in fact, carries the noose 
associated with the god of death. 1 

The Indian Yama, who was also called Pitripatt, " lord 
of the fathers ", takes Mitra's place in the Paradise of 
Ancestors beside Varuna, god of the sky and the deep, 
He sits below a tree, playing on a flute and drinking 
the Soma drink which gives immortality. When the 
descendants of Yama reached Paradise they assumed 
shining forms " refined and from all taint set free". 2 

In Persian mythology "Yima* ', says Professor Moulton, 
"reigns over a community which may well have been 
composed of his own descendants, for he lived yet longer 
than Adam. To render them immortal, he gives them to 
eat forbidden food, being deceived by the Daevas (demons). 
What was this forbidden food ? May we connect it with 
another legend whereby, at the Regeneration, Mithra is to 
make men immortal by giving them to eat the fat of 
the Ur-Kuk, the primeval cow from whose slain body, 
according to the Aryan legends adopted by Mithraism, 
mankind was first created?" 

Yima is punished for "presumptuously grasping at 
immortality for himself and mankind, on the suggestion 
of an evil power, instead of waiting Ahura's good time ". 
Professor Moulton wonders if this story, which he 
endeavours to reconstruct, "owed anything to Babylon?" 

Yima, like the Babylonian Pir-napishtim, is also a 
revealer of the secrets of creation. He was appointed to 
be " Guardian, Overseer, Watcher over my Creation " by 
Ahura, the supreme god. Three hundred years went 

1 " Varuna, the deity bearing the noose as his weapon ", Sabha Parva section of the 
Mah&bh&rata (Roy's trans.), p. 29. 2 Indian Myth and Legendy pp. 38-42. 


Then the earth became abounding, 
Full of flocks and full of cattle, 
Full of men, of birds, dogs likewise, 
Full of fires all bright and blazing, 
Nor did men, flocks, herds of cattle, 
Longer find them places in it. 

Jachorf$ Translation. 

The earth was thereafter cloven with a golden arrow. 
Yima then built a refuge in which mankind and the 
domesticated animals might find shelter during a terrible 
winter* " The picture H , says Professor Moulton, " strongly 
tempts us to recognize the influence of the Babylonian 
Flood Legend." 1 The " Fimbul winter " of Germanic 
mythology is also recalled. Odin asks in one of the 
Icelandic Eddie poems : 

What beings shall live when the long dread winter 
Comes o'er the people of earth ? 2 

In another Eddie poem, the Voluspa, the Vala tells of 
a Sword Age, an Axe Age, a Wind Age, and a Wolf Age 
which is to come "ere the world sinks". After the battle 
of the gods and demons, 

The sun is darkened, earth sinks in the sea. 

In time, however, a new world appears.. 

I see uprising a second time 
Earth from the Ocean, green anew; 
The waters fall, on high the eagle 
Flies o'er the fell and catches fish. 

When the surviving gods return, they will talk, according 
to the Vala (prophetess), of " the great world serpent " 
(Tiamat). The fields will be sown and "Balder will 

1 Early Religious Poetry of Persia, J. H. Moulton, pp. 41 et seq. and 154 et seq. 

2 The Elder Edda, O. Bray, p. 55. 


come" 1 apparently as Tammuz came, The association 
of Balder with corn suggests that, like Nata of the Nahua 
tribes, he was a harvest spirit, among other things. 

Leaving, meantime, the many problems which arise 
from consideration of the Deluge legends and their con- 
nection with primitive agricultural myths, the attention of 
readers may be directed to the Babylonian conception of 
the Otherworld. 

Pir-napishtim, who escaped destruction at the Flood, 
resides in an Island Paradise, which resembles the Greek 
" Islands of the Blessed 7 V an ci the Irish "Tir nan og" or 
"Land of the Young", situated in the western ocean, and 
identical with the British 2 

island-valley of Avilion, 
Where falls not hail, or rain, or any snow, 
Nor ever wind blows loudly, but it lies 
Deep meadow'd, happy, fair with orchard lawns 
And bowery hollows crowned with summer sea. 3 

Only two human beings were permitted to reside on 
the Babylonian island paradise, however. These were 
Pir-napishtim and his wife. Apparently Gilgamesh could 
not join them there. His gods did not transport heroes 
and other favoured individuals to a happy isle or isles 
like those of the Greeks and Celts and Aryo-Indians. 
There was no Heaven for the Babylonian dead. All 
mankind were doomed to enter the gloomy Hades of the 
Underworld, "the land of darkness and the shadow of 
death; a land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the 
shadow of death, without any order, and where the light 
is darkness ", as Job exclaimed in the hour of despair, 
lamenting his fate. 4 

1 The Elder Edda^ O. Bray, pp. 291 et seq. 

2 Celtic Myth and Legend, pp. 133 et seq. 

fi Tennyson' s The Passing of Arthur. 4 Job, x, i-za. 

CO 642) 16 


This gloomy habitation of the dead resembles the 
Greek Hades, the Teutonic Nifelhel, and the Indian 
"Put", No detailed description of it has been found. 
The references, however, in the " Descent of Ishtar " and 
the Gilgamesh epic suggest that it resembled the hidden 
regions of the Egyptians, in which souls were tortured by 
demons who stabbed them, plunged them in pools of 
fire, and thrust them into cold outer darkness where they 
gnashed their teeth, or into places of horror swarming 
with poisonous reptiles. 

Ishtar was similarly tortured by the plague demon, 
Namtar, when she boldly entered the Babylonian Under- 
world to search for Tammuz. Other sufferings were, no 
doubt, in store for her, resembling those, perhaps, with 
which the giant maid in the Eddie poem " Skirnismal " 
was threatened when she refused to marry Frey, the god 
of fertility and harvest : 

Trolls shall torment thee from morn till eve 

In the realms of the Jotun race, 
Each day to the dwellings of Frost giants must thou 

Creep helpless, creep hopeless of love ; 
Thou shalt weeping have in the stead of joy, 

And sore burden bear with tears. . . . 
May madness and shrieking, bondage and yearning 

Burden thee with bondage and tears. 1 

In like manner, too, the inhabitants of the Indian Hell 
suffered endless and complicated tortures. 2 

The Persephone of the Babylonian Underworld was 
Eresh-ki-gal, who was also called Allatu. A myth, which 
was found among the Egyptian Tel-el- Amarna "Letters", 
sets forth that on one occasion the Babylonian gods held 
a feast. All the deities attended it, except Eresh-ki-gal. 

1 The Elder Edda, O. Bray, pp. 150-1. 3 Indian Myth and Legend, p. 326. 


She was unable to leave her gloomy Underworld, and sent 
her messenger, the plague demon Namtar, to obtain her 
share. x The various deities honoured Namtar, except 
Nergal, by standing up to receive him. When Eresh-ki- 
gal was informed of this slight she became very angry, 
and demanded that Nergal should be delivered up to her 
so that he might be put to death. The storm god at 
once hastened to the Underworld, accompanied by his 
own group of fierce demons, whom he placed as guardians 
at the various doors so as to prevent the escape of Eresh- 
ki-gal. Then he went boldly towards the goddess, 
clutched her by the hair, and dragged her from her 
throne. After a brief struggle, she found herself over- 
powered. Nergal made ready to cut off her head, but 
she cried for mercy and said : " Do not kill me, my 
brother! Let me speak to thee." 

This appeal indicated that she desired to ransom her 
life like the hags in the European folk tales so Nergal 
unloosed his hold. 

Then Eresh-ki-gal continued: "Be thou my husband 
and I will be thy wife. On thee I confer sovereignty 
over the wide earth, giving thee the tablet of wisdom. 
Thou shalt be my lord and I will be thy lady." 

Nergal accepted these terms by kissing the goddess. 
Affectionately drying her tears, he spoke, saying: "Thou 
shalt now have from me what thou hast demanded during 
these past months." 

In other words, Nergal promises to honour her as 
she desired, after becoming her husband and equal. 

In the "Descent of Ishtar" the Babylonian Under- 
world is called Cuthah. This city had a famous cemetery, 
like Abydos in Egypt, where many pious and orthodox 
worshippers sought sepulture. The local god was Nergal, 
who symbolized the destructive power of the sun and the 


sand storm; he was a gloomy, vengeful deity, attended 
by the spirits of tempest, weariness, pestilence, and dis- 
ease, and was propitiated because he was dreaded. 

In Nether Cuthah, as Ea-bani informed Gilgamesh, 
the worm devoured the dead amidst the dust and thick 

It is evident that this Underworld was modelled on 
the grave. In early times men believed that the spirits 
of the dead hovered in or about the place of sepulture. 
They were therefore provided with "houses" to protect 
them, in the same manner as the living were protected in 
their houses above the ground. 

The enemies of the human ghosts were the earth 
spirits* Weapons were laid beside the dead in their 
graves so that they might wage war against demons when 
necessary. The corpse was also charmed, against attack, 
by the magical and protecting ornaments which were 
worn by the living necklaces, armlets, ear-rings, &c. 
Even face paint was provided, probably as a charm 
against the evil eye and other subtle influences. 

So long as corpses were left in their graves, the spirits 
of the dead were, it would appear, believed to be safe. 
But they required food and refreshment. Food vessels 
and drinking urns were therefore included in the funerary 
furniture, and the dead were given food offerings at 
regular intervals. Once a year the living held feasts in 
the burial ground, and invited the ghosts to share in the 
repast. This custom was observed in Babylonia, and is 
not yet obsolete in Egypt; Moslems and Coptic Chris- 
tians alike hold annual all-night feasts in their cemeteries. 

The Japanese "Land of Yomi" is similarly an under- 
world, or great grave, where ghosts mingle with the 
demons of disease and destruction. Souls reach it by 
"the pass of Yomi". The Mikado, however, may be 


privileged to ascend to heaven and join the gods in the 
"Eternal Land". 

Among the ancient Romans the primitive belief sur- 
vived that the spirit of the dead "just sank into the earth 
where it rested, and returned from time to time to the 
upper world through certain openings in the ground 
(mundi), whose solemn uncovering was one of the regular 
observances of the festal calendar". 1 

According to Babylonian belief, the dead who were 
not properly buried roamed through the streets searching 
for food, eating refuse and drinking impure water. 

Prior to the period of ceremonial burials, the dead 
were interred in the houses in which they had lived a 
custojm which has made it possible for present-day 
scientists to accumulate much valuable data regarding 
primitive races and their habits of life. The Palaeolithic 
cave-dwellers of Europe were buried in their caves. 
These were then deserted and became the haunts of wild 
animals. After a long interval a deserted cave was occu- 
pied by strangers. In certain characteristic caves the 
various layers containing human remains represent distinct 
periods of the vast Pleistocene Age. 

When Mediterranean man moved northward through 
Europe, he utilized some of these caves, and constructed 
in them well-built graves for his dead, digging down 
through older layers. In thus making a "house" within 
a "house", he has provided us with a link between an old 
custom and a new. Apparently he was influenced by 
local practices and beliefs, for he met and mingled in 
certain localities with the men of the Late Palaeolithic 

The primitive house-burial rite is referred to in the 
Ethiopic version of the life of Alexander the Great. The 

1 The Religion of Ancient Rome, Cyril Bailey, p. 50. 


"Two-horned", as the hero was called, conversed with 
Brahmans when he reached India, He spoke to one of 
thenrij " saying : c Have ye no tombs wherein to bury any 
man among ye who may die ? * And an interpreter made 
answer to him, saying: 'Man and woman and child grow 
up, and arrive at maturity, and become old, and when 
any one of them dieth we bury him in the place wherein 
he lived; thus our graves are our houses. And our God 
knoweth that we desire this more than the lust for food 
and meat which all men have: this is our life and manner 
of living in the darkness of our tombs.' " When Alex- 
ander desired to make a gift to these Brahmans, and asked 
them what they desired most, their answer was, " Give us 
immortality'*. 1 

In the Gilgamesh epic the only ray of hope which 
relieves the gloomy closing passages is Ea-bani's sugges- 
tion that the sufferings endured by the dead may be 
alleviated by the performance of strict burial rites. Com- 
menting on this point Professor Jastrow says: "A proper 
burial with an affectionate care of the corpse ensures at 
least a quiet repose. 

Such a one rests on a couch and drinks pure water ; 

But he whose shade has no rest in the earth, as I have seen 

and you will see, 
His shade has no rest in the earth 
Whose shade no one cares for . . . 
What is left over in the pot, remains of rood 
That are thrown in the street, he eats." 2 

Gilgamesh Epic. 

1 The Life and Exploits of Alexander the Great (Ethiopic version of the Pseudo Callis- 
thenes), pp. 133-4. The conversation possibly never took place, but it is of interest in 
so far as it reflects beliefs which were familiar to the author of this ancient work. His 
Brahmans evidently believed that immortality was denied to ordinary men, and reserved 
only for the king, who was the representative of the deity, of course. 

* Aspects of Religious Belief and Practice in Babylonia and Assyria, Morris Jastrow, pp. 


By disseminating the belief that the dead must be 
buried with much ceremony, the priests secured great 
power over the people, and extracted large fees* 

In Egypt, on the other hand, the teachers of the 
sun cult sold charms and received rewards to perform 
ceremonies so that chosen worshippers might enter the 
sun-barque of Ra; while the Osirian priests promised 
the just and righteous that they would reach an agricul- 
tural Paradise where they could live and work as on earth, 
but receive a greater return for their labour, the harvests 
of the Otherworld being of unequalled abundance. 

In the sacred books of India a number of Paradises 
are referred to. No human beings, however, entered 
the Paradise of Varuna, who resembles the Sumerian 
Ea-Oannes. The souls of the dead found rest and en- 
joyment in the Paradise of Yama, while "those kings 
that yield up their lives, without turning their backs on 
the field of battle, attain ", as the sage told a hero, " to 
the mansion of Indra", which recalls the Valhal of Odin. 
It will thus be seen that belief in immortality was a tenet 
of the Indian cults of Indra and Yama. 

It is possible that the Gilgamesh epic in one of its 
forms concluded when the hero reached the island of 
Pir-napishtim, like the Indian Yama who " searched and 
spied the path for many". The Indian "Land of the 
Pitris " (Ancestors), over which Yama presided, may be 
compared to the Egyptian heaven of Osiris. It contains, 
we are told, " all kinds of enjoyable articles ", and also 
"sweet, juicy, agreeable and delicious edibles . . . floral 
wreaths of the most delicious fragrance, and trees that 
yield fruits that are desired of them". Thither go "all 
sinners among human beings, as also (those) that have 
died during the winter solstice" 1 a suggestion that this 

1 The Mah&bh&rata (Sabha Parva section), Roy's translation, pp. 25-7. 


Paradise was not unconnected with the Tammuz-like 
deity who took up his abode in the spirit land during the 
barren season. 

The view may be urged that in the Gilgamesh epic 
we have a development of the Tammuz legend in its 
heroic form. Like Ishtar, when she descended to Hades, 
the King of Erech could not return to earth until he 
had been sprinkled by the water of life. No doubt, an 
incident of this character occurred also in the original 
Tammuz legend. The life of the god had to be renewed 
before he could return. Did he slumber, like one of the 
Seven Sleepers, in Ea's house, and not awake again until 
he arrived as a child in his crescent moon boat "the 
sunken boat " of the hymns like Scef, who came over 
the waves to the land of the Scyldings ? 

It seems remarkable that the doctrine of Eternal 
Bliss, which obtained in Egypt on the one hand and in 
India on the other, should never have been developed 
among the Babylonians. Of course, our knowledge in 
this connection is derived from the orthodox religious 
texts. Perhaps the great thinkers, whose influence can be 
traced in the tendencies towards monotheism which be- 
came marked at various periods, believed in a Heaven for 
the just and good. If they did, their teachings must have 
been suppressed by the mercenary priests. It was ex- 
tremely profitable for these priests to perpetuate the belief 
that the spirits of the dead were consigned to a gloomy 
Hades, where the degree of suffering which they endured 
depended on the manner in which their bodies were dis- 
posed or upon earth. An orthodox funeral ceremony was 
costly at all times. This is made evident by the inscrip- 
tions which record the social reforms of Urukagina, the 
ill-fated patesi of Lagash. When he came to the throne 
he cut down the burial fees by more than a half. "In 


the case of an ordinary burial/' writes Mr. King, " when 
a corpse was laid in a grave, it had been the custom for 
the presiding priest to demand as a fee for himself seven 
urns of wine or strong drink, four hundred and twenty 
loaves of bread, one hundred and twenty measures of 
corn, a garment, a kid, a bed, and a seat." The reformer 
reduced the perquisites to " three urns of wine, eighty 
loaves of bread, a bed, and a kid, while the fee of his 
(the priest's) assistant was cut down from sixty to thirty 
measures of corn". 1 

The conservative element in Babylonian religion is 
reflected by the burial customs. These did not change 
greatly after the Neolithic period. Prehistoric Sumerian 
graves resemble closely those of pre-Dynastic Egypt. 
The bodies of the dead were laid on their sides in 
crouching posture, with a " beaker ", or " drinking 
cup " urn, beside the right hand. Other vessels were 
placed near the head. In this connection it may be noted 
that the magic food prepared for Gilgamesh by Pir- 
napishtim's wife, when he lay asleep, was also placed near 
his head. 

The corpse was always decked with various ornaments, 
including rings, necklaces, and armlets. As has been 
indicated, these were worn by the living as charms, and, 
no doubt, they served the same purpose for the dead. 
This charm - wearing custom was condemned by the 
Hebrew teachers. On one occasion Jacob commanded 
his household to " put away the strange gods which were 
in their hand, and all the ear-rings which were in their 
ears ; and Jacob buried them under the oak which was 
by Shechem ", 2 To Jacob, personal ornaments had quite 
evidently an idolatrous significance. 

" A very typical class of grave furniture ", writes Mr. 

1 A Hhtory ofSumer and Akkad, L. W. King, pp. 181-2. 2 Genesis, xxxv, 2-4. 


King, "consisted of palettes, or colour dishes, made of 
alabaster, often of graceful shape, and sometimes standing 
on four feet. . . . There is no doubt as to their use, for 
colour still remains in many of them, generally black and 
yellow, but sometimes a light rose and light green." 
Palettes for face paint have also been found in many early 
Egyptian graves. 

The gods had their faces painted like the living and 
the dead and were similarly adorned with charms. In the 
course of the daily service in the Egyptian temples an 
important ceremony was " dressing the god with white, 
green, bright-red, and dark-red sashes, and supplying two 
kinds of ointment and black and green eye paint 'V In 
the word-picture of the Aryo-Indian Varuna's heaven in 
the Mah&bh&rata the deity is depicted "attired in celestial 
robes and decked with celestial ornaments and jewels". 
His attendants, the Adityas, appear " adorned with celestial 
garlands and perfumed with celestial scents and besmeared 
with paste of celestial fragrance". 2 Apparently the 
"paste", like the face paint of the Babylonians and 
Egyptians, had protective qualities. The Picts of Scot- 
land may have similarly painted themselves to charm their 
bodies against magical influences and the weapons of their 
enemies. A painted man was probably regarded as one 
who was likely to have good luck, being guarded against 
bad luck. 

Weapons and implements were also laid in the 
Sumerian graves, indicating a belief that the spirits of 
the dead could not only protect themselves against their 
enemies but also provide themselves with food. The 
funerary gifts of fish-hooks suggests that spirits were 
expected to catch fish and thus obtain clean food, instead 

1 The Religion of Ancient Egypt, W. M. Flinders Petrie, p. 72. 

2 Sabha Parva section of the Mah&bh&rata (Roy's trans.), p. 29. 


of returning to disturb the living as they searched for the 
remnants of the feast, like the Scottish Gunna, 

perched alone 

On a chilly old grey stone, 
Nibbling, nibbling at a bone 
That we '11 maybe throw away. 

Some bodies which were laid in Sumerian graves were 
wrapped up in reed matting, a custom which suggests 
that the reeds afforded protection or imparted magical 
powers. Magical ceremonies were performed in Baby- 
lonian reed huts. As we have seen, Ea revealed the 
" purpose " of the gods, when they resolved to send a 
flood, by addressing the reed hut in which Pir-napishtim 
lay asleep. Possibly it was believed that the dead might 
also have visions in their dreams which would reveal the 
"purpose" of demons who were preparing to attack them. 
In Syria it was customary to wrap the dead in a sheep 
skin. 1 As priests and gods were clad in the skins of 
animals from which their powers were derived, it is prob- 
able that the dead were similarly supposed to receive 
inspiration in their skin coverings. The Highland seer 
was wrapped in a bull's skin and left all night beside a 
stream so as to obtain knowledge of the future. This 
was a form of the Taghairm ceremony, which is referred 
to by Scott in his " Lady of the Lake ". 2 The belief in 
the magical influence of sacred clothing gave origin to 
the priestly robes. When David desired to ascertain what 
Saul intended to do he said, "Bring hither the ephod". 

1 Egyptian Myth and Legend^ p. 214. 

2 Canto iv: 

Last eventide 

Brian an augury hath tried. . * . 
The Taghairm called; by which afar 
Our sires foresaw the events of war. 
Duncraggan's milk-white bull they slew. . , 


Then he came to know that his enemy had resolved to 
attack Keilah. 1 Elisha became a prophet when Tie re- 
ceived Elijah's mantle. 2 

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 in Third 
and Fourth Dynasty tombs in rock chambers near Nuerat. 
Certain designs on wooden coffins, and tombs as early as 
the First Dynasty, have direct analogies in Babylonia. 3 

No great tombs were erected in Sumeria. The 
coffins were usually laid in brick vaults below dwellings, 
or below temples, or in trenches outside the city walls. 
On the " stele of victory ", which belongs to the period 
of Eannatum, patesi of Lagash, the dead bodies on the 
battlefield are piled up in pairs quite naked, and earth 
is being heaped over them ; this is a specimen of mound 

According to Herodotus the Babylonians "buried 
their dead in honey, and had funeral lamentations like the 
Egyptians ". 4 The custom of preserving the body in this 
manner does not appear to have been an ancient one, and 
may have resulted from cultural contact with the Nile 
valley during the late Assyrian period. So long as the 
bones were undisturbed, the spirit was supposed to be 
assured of rest in the Underworld. This archaic belief 
was widespread, and finds an echo in the quaint lines 
over Shakespeare's grave in Stratford church : 

1 / Samuel, xxiii, 9-11. 2 / Kings, xix, 19 and 2 Kings, ii, 13-15. 

3 The Burial Customs of Ancient Egypt, John Garstang, pp. 28, 29 (London, 1907). 

4 Herod., book i, 198. 


Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbeare 
To dig the dust enclosed heare ; 
Blest be the man that spares these stones, 
And curst be he that moves my bones. 

In Babylonia the return of the spirits of the dead was 
greatly dreaded. Ishtar once uttered the terrible threat: 
" I will cause the dead to rise ; they will then eat and live. 
The dead will be more numerous than the living." When 
a foreign country was invaded, it was a common custom 
to break open the tombs and scatter the bones they con- 
tained. Probably it was believed, when such acts of 
vandalism were committed, that the offended spirits would 
plague their kinsfolk. Ghosts always haunted the homes 
they once lived in, and were as malignant as demons. It 
is significant to find in this connection that the bodies of 
enemies who were slain in battle were not given decent 
burial, but mutilated and left for birds and beasts of prey 
to devour. 

The demons that plagued the dead might also attack 
the living. A fragmentary narrative, which used to be 
referred to as the "Cuthean Legend of Creation'*, 1 
and has been shown by Mr. L. W. King to have no con- 
nection with the struggle between Merodach and the 
dragon, 2 deals with a war waged by an ancient king 
against a horde of evil spirits, led by " the lord of heights, 
lord of the Anunaki (earth spirits)". Some of the super- 
natural warriors had bodies like birds; others had "raven 
faces ", and all had been " suckled by Tiamat ". 

For three years the king sent out great armies to 
attack the demons, but " none returned alive ". Then 
he decided to go forth himself to save his country from 
destruction. So he prepared for the conflict, and took 

1 Records of the Past (old series), xi, pp. 109 et seq. y and (new series), vol. i, pp. 149 
et seq. 2 L. W. King's The Seven Tablets of Creation. 


the precaution of performing elaborate and therefore costly 
religious rites so as to secure the co-operation of the gods. 
His expedition was successful, for he routed the super- 
natural army. On his return home, he recorded his great 
victory on tablets which were placed in the shrine of 
Nergal at Cuthah. 

This myth may be an echo of Nergal's raid against 
Eresh-ki-gal. Or, being associated with Cuthah, it may 
have been composed to encourage burial in that city's 
sacred cemetery, which had been cleared by the famous 
old king of the evil demons which tormented the dead 
and made seasonal attacks against the living. 


Buildings and Laws and Customs 
of Babylon 

Decline and Fall of Sumerian Kingdoms Elamites and Semites strive for 
Supremacy Babylon's Walls, Gates, Streets, and Canals The Hanging Gardens 
Merodach's Great Temple The Legal Code of Hammurabi The Marriage 
Market Position of Women Marriage brought Freedom Vestal Virgins 
Breach of Promise and Divorce -Rights of Children Female Publicans 
The Land Laws Doctors legislated out of Existence Folk Cures Spirits of 
Disease* expelled by Magical Charms The Legend of the Worm "Touch 
Iron" Curative Water Magical Origin of Poetry and Music. 

THE rise of Babylon inaugurated a new era in the history 
of Western Asia. Coincidentally the political power of 
the Sumerians came to an end. It had been paralysed 
by the Elamites, who, towards the close of the Dynasty of 
Isin, successfully overran the southern district and en- 
deavoured to extend their sway over the whole valley. 
Two Elamite kings, Warad-Sin and his brother Rim-Sin, 
struggled with the rulers of Babylon for supremacy, and 
for a time it appeared as if the intruders from the East 
were to establish themselves permanently as a military 
aristocracy over Sumer and Akkad. But the Semites 
were strongly reinforced by new settlers of the same 
blended stock who swarmed from the land of the Amo- 
rites. Once again Arabia was pouring into Syria vast 
hordes of its surplus population, with the result that 
ethnic disturbances were constant and widespread. This 
migration is termed the Canaanitic or Amorite: it flowed 
into Mesopotamia and across Assyria, while it supplied 



the "driving power" which secured the ascendancy of 
the Hammurabi Dynasty at Babylon. Indeed, the ruling 
family which came into prominence there is believed to 
have been of Canaanitic origin. 

Once Babylon became the metropolis it retained its 
pre-eminence until the end. Many political changes took 
place during its long and chequered history, but no rival 
city in the south ever attained to its splendour and great- 
ness. Whether its throne was occupied by Amorite or 
Kassite, Assyrian or Chaldean, it was invariably found 
to be the most effective centre of administration for the 
lower Tigro-Euphrates valley. Some of the Kassite 
monarchs, however, showed a preference for Nippur. 

Of its early history little is known. It was over- 
shadowed in turn by Kish and Umrna, Lagash and Erech, 
and may have been little better than a great village when 
Akkad rose into prominence. Sargon I, the royal gar- 
dener, appears to have interested himself in its develop- 
ment, for it was recorded that he cleared its trenches 
and strengthened its fortifications. The city occupied 
a strategic position, and probably assumed importance 
on that account as well as a trading and industrial centre. 
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 secure treasure for Ea's 
temple at Eridu, which he specially favoured. His van- 
dalistic raid, like that of the Gutium, or men of Kutu, 
was remembered for long centuries afterwards, and the 
city god was invoked at the time to cut short his days. 

No doubt, Hammurabi's Babylon closely resembled 
the later city so vividly described by Greek writers, 
although it was probably not of such great dimensions. 


According to Herodotus, it occupied an exact square on 
the broad plain, and had a circumference of sixty of our 
miles. "While such is its size/' the historian wrote, 
"in magnificence there is no other city that approaches 
to it." Its walls were eighty-seven feet thick and three 
hundred and fifty feet high, and each side of the square 
was fifteen miles in length. The whole city was sur- 
rounded by a deep, broad canal or moat, and the river 
Euphrates ran through it. 

"Here", continued Herodotus, "I may not omit to 
tell the use to which the mould dug out of the great 
moat was turned, nor the manner in which the wall was 
wrought. As fast as they dug the moat the soil which 
they got from the cutting was made into bricks, and 
when a sufficient number were completed they baked the 
bricks in kilns. Then they set to building, and began 
with bricking the borders of the moat, after which they 
proceeded to construct the wall itself, using throughout 
for their cement hot bitumen, and interposing a layer of 
wattled reeds at every thirtieth course of the bricks. On 
the top, along the edges of the wall, they constructed 
buildings of a single chamber facing one another, leaving 
between them room for a four-horse chariot to turn. In 
the circuit of the wall are a hundred gates, all of brass, 
with brazen lintels and side posts." 1 These were the 
gates referred to by Isaiah when God called Cyrus : 

I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two 
leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut: I will go before 
thee, and make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces 
the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron. 2 

The outer wall was the main defence of the city, but 
there was also an inner wall less thick but not much 

1 Herodotus, book i, 179 (Rawlinson's translation). 2 haiah, xlv, i, z. 

I c 642 ) 1 7 


inferior in strength. In addition, a fortress stood in each 
division of the city. The king's palace and the temple of 
Bel Merodach were surrounded by walls. 

All the main streets were perfectly straight, and each 
crossed the city from gate to gate, a distance of fifteen 
miles, half of them being interrupted by the river, which 
had to be ferried. As there were twenty-five gates on 
each side of the outer wall, the great thoroughfares num- 
bered fifty in all, and there were six hundred and seventy- 
six squares, each over two miles in circumference. From 
Herodotus we gather that the houses were three or four 
stories high, suggesting that the tenement system was 
not unknown, and according to Q. Curtius, nearly half 
of the area occupied by the city was taken up by gardens 
within the squares. 

x In Greek times Babylon was famous for the hanging 
or terraced gardens of the "new palace' 7 , 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 hundred and 
fifty feet, and the whole structure was strengthened by 
a surrounding wall over twenty feet in thickness. So 
deep were the layers of mould on each terrace that fruit 
trees were grown amidst the plants of luxuriant foliage 
and the brilliant Asian flowers. Water for irrigating the 
gardens was raised from the river by a mechanical con- 
trivance to a great cistern situated on the highest terrace, 
and it was prevented from leaking out of the soil by 
layers of reeds and bitumen and sheets of lead. Spacious 
apartments, luxuriously furnished and decorated, were 
constructed in the spaces between the arches and were 
festooned by flowering creepers. A broad stairway 
ascended from terrace to terrace. 


From the Painting by E. Wallcousins 


The old palace stood in a square nearly four miles in 
circumference, and was strongly protected by three walls, 
which were decorated by sculptures in low relief, repre- 
senting battle scenes and scenes of the chase and royal 
ceremonies. Winged bulls with human heads guarded 
the main entrance. 

Another architectural feature of the city was E-sagila, 
the temple of Bel Merodach, known to the Greeks as 
" Jupiter-Belus ". The high wall which enclosed it had 
gates of solid brass. "In the middle of the precinct", 
wrote Herodotus, " there was a tower of solid masonry, a 
furlong in length and breadth, upon which was raised a 
second tower, and on that a third, and so on up to eight. 
The ascent to the top is on the outside, by a path which 
winds round all the towers. When one is about halfway 
up, one finds a resting-place and seats, where persons are 
wont to sit some time on their way to the summit. On 
the topmost tower there is a spacious temple, and inside 
the temple stands a couch of unusual size, richly adorned, 
with a golden table by its side. There is no statue of 
any kind set up in the place, nor is the chamber occupied 
of nights by anyone but a single native woman, who, as 
the Chaldaeans, the priests of this god, affirm, is chosen for 
himself by the deity out of all the women of the land." 

A woman who was the " wife of Amon " also slept in 
that god's temple at Thebes in Egypt. A similar custom 
was observed in Lycia. 

" Below, in the same precinct," continued Herodotus, 
" there is a second temple, in which is a sitting figure of 
Jupiter, all of gold. Before the figure stands a large 
golden table, and the throne whereon it sits, and the base 
on which the throne is placed, are likewise of pure 
gold. . . . Outside the temple are two altars, one of 
solid gold, on which it is only lawful to offer sucklings ; 


the other, a common altar, but of great size, on which 
the full-grown animals are sacrificed. If is also on the 
great altar that the Chaldaeans burn the frankincense, 
which is offered to the amount of a thousand talents' 
weight, every year, at the festival of the god. In the 
time of Cyrus there was likewise in this temple a figure 
of a man, twelve cubits high, entirely of solid gold. . . . 
Besides the ornaments which I have mentioned, there 
are a large number of private offerings in this holy 
precinct." l 

The city wall and river gates were closed every night, 
and when Babylon was besieged the people were able to 
feed themselves. The gardens and small farms were 
irrigated by canals, and canals also controlled the flow of 
the river Euphrates. A great dam had been formed 
above the town to store the surplus water during inunda- 
tion and increase the supply when the river sank to its 

In Hammurabi's time the river was crossed by ferry 
boats, but long ere the Greeks visited the city a great 
bridge had been constructed. So completely did the fierce 
Sennacherib destroy the city, that most of the existing 
ruins date from the period of Nebuchadnezzar II. 2 

Our knowledge of the social life of Babylon and the 
territory under its control is derived chiefly from the 
Hammurabi Code of laws, of which an almost complete 
copy was discovered at Susa, towards the end of 1901, 
by the De Morgan expedition. The laws were inscribed 
on a stele of black diorite 7 ft. 3 in. high, with a circum- 
ference at the base of 6 ft. 2 in. and at the top of 5 ft. 
4 in. This important relic of an ancient law-abiding 
people"*had been broken in three pieces, but when these 

1 Herodotus, book i, 181-3 (Rawlinson's translation). 

2 History of Sumer and Akkad, L. W., p. 37. 

Photo. Giraudon 


(Louvre, Paris) 


were joined together it was found that the text was not 
much impaired. On one side are twenty-eight columns 
and on the other sixteen. Originally there were in all 
nearly 4000 lines of inscriptions, but five columns, com- 
prising about 300 lines, had been erased to give space, 
it is conjectured, for the name of the invader who carried 
the stele away, but unfortunately the record was never 

On the upper part of the stele, which is now one of 
the treasures of the Louvre, Paris, King Hammurabi 
salutes, with his right hand reverently upraised, the sun 
god Shamash, seated on his throne, at the summit of 
E-sagila, by whom he is being presented with the stylus 
with which to inscribe the legal code. Both figures are 
heavily bearded, but have shaven lips and chins. The god 
wears a conical headdress and a flounced robe suspended 
from his left shoulder, while the king has assumed a 
round dome-shaped hat and a flowing garment which 
almost sweeps the ground. 

It is gathered from the Code that there were three 
chief social grades the aristocracy, which included land- 
owners, high officials and administrators; the freemen, who 
might be wealthy merchants or small landholders; and 
the slaves. The fines imposed for a given offence upon 
wealthy men were much heavier than those imposed upon 
the poor. Lawsuits were heard in courts, Witnesses 
were required to tell the truth, "affirming before the god 
what they knew", and perjurers were severely dealt with; 
a man who gave false evidence in connection with a capital 
charge was put to death. A strict watch was also kept 
over the judges, and if one was found to have willingly 
convicted a prisoner on insufficient evidence he was fined 
and degraded. 

Theft was regarded as a heinous crime, and was invari- 


ably punished by death. Thieves included those who made 
purchases from minors or slaves without the sanction of 
elders or trustees. Sometimes the accused was given the 
alternative of paying a fine, which might exceed by ten or 
even thirty fold the value of the article or animal he had 
appropriated. It was imperative that lost property should 
be restored. If the owner of an article of which he had 
been wrongfully deprived found it in possession of a man 
who declared that he had purchased it from another, evi- 
dence was taken in court. When it happened that the 
seller was proved to have been the thief, the capital 
penalty was imposed. On the other hand, the alleged 
purchaser was dealt with in like manner if he failed to 
prove his case. Compensation for property stolen by a 
brigand was paid by the temple, and the heirs of a man 
slain by a brigand within the city had to be compensated 
by the local authority. 

Of special interest are the laws which relate to the 
position of women. In this connection reference rnay 
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 a circle. Then a herald called up the damsels, one 
by one, and offered them for sale. He began with 
the most beautiful. When she was sold for no small 
sum of money, he offered for sale the one who came 
next to her in beauty. All of them were sold to be 
wives. The richest of the Babylonians who wished to 
wed bid against each other for the loveliest maidens, while 
the humbler wife - seekers, who were indifferent about 
beauty, took the more homely damsels with marriage 
portions. For the custom was that when the herald 
had gone through the whole number of the beautiful 


O ^ 




damsels, he should then call up the ugliest a cripple, 
if there chanced to be one and offer her to the men, 
asking who would agree to take her with the smallest 
marriage portion. And the man who offered to take 
the smallest sum had her assigned to him. The marriage 
portions were furnished by the money paid for the beauti- 
ful damsels, and thus the fairer maidens portioned out 
the uglier. No one was allowed to give his daughter in 
marriage to the man of his choice, nor might anyone carry 
away the damsel whom he had purchased without finding 
bail really and truly to make her his wife; if, however, it 
turned out that they did not agree, the money might be 
paid back. All who liked might come, even from distant 
villages, and bid for the women." 1 

This custom is mentioned by other writers, but it is 
impossible to ascertain at what period it became prevalent 
in Babylonia and by whom it was introduced. Herodotus 
understood that it obtained also in "the lllyrian tribe of 
the Eneti", which was reputed to have entered Italy with 
Antenor after the fall of Troy, and has been identified 
with the Venetians of later times. But the ethnic clue 
thus afforded is exceedingly vague. There is no direct 
reference to the custom in the Hammurabi Code, which 
reveals a curious blending of the principles of " Father 
right" and "Mother right". A girl was subject to 
her father's will; he could dispose of her as he thought 
best, and she always remained a member of his family; 
after marriage she was known as the daughter of so and 
so rather than the wife of so and so. But marriage 
brought her freedom and the rights of citizenship. The 
power vested in her father was never transferred to her 

A father had the right to select a suitable spouse for 

1 Herodotus, book i, 196 (Rawlinson's translation). 


his daughter, and she could not marry without his con- 
sent. That this law did not prevent "love matches" is 
made evident by the fact that provision was made in the 
Code for the marriage of a free woman with a male slave, 
part of whose estate in the event of his wife's death could 
be claimed by his master. 

When a betrothal was arranged, the father fixed the 
"bride price", which was paid over before the contract 
could be concluded, and he also provided a dowry. The 
amount of the "bride price" might, however, be refunded 
to the young couple to give them a start in life. If, 
during the interval between betrothal and marriage, the 
man "looked upon another woman", and said to his 
father-in-law, "I will not marry your daughter", he 
forfeited the "bride price" for breach of promise of 

A girl might also obtain a limited degree of freedom 
by taking vows of celibacy and becoming one of the vestal 
virgins, or nuns, who were attached to the temple of the 
sun god. She did not, however, live a life of entire 
seclusion. If she received her due proportion of hei 
father's estate, she could make business investments withir 
certain limits. She was not, for instance, allowed to owr 
a wineshop, and if she even entered one she was burne( 
at the stake. Once she took these vows she had to observ< 
them until the end of her days. If she married, as sh 
might do to obtain the legal status of a married womai 
and enjoy the privileges of that position, she denied he 
husband conjugal rites, but provided him with a concubin 
who might bear him children, as Sarah did to Abrahan 
These nuns must not be confused with the unmor; 
women who were associated with the temples of Isht; 
and other love goddesses of shady repute. 

The freedom secured by a married woman had i 

From the Painting by E. Walkomini 


legal limitations. If she became a widow, for instance, 
she could not remarry without the consent of a judge, 
to whom she was expected to show good cause for the 
step she proposed to take. Punishments for breaches 
of the marriage law were severe. Adultery was a capital 
crime; the guilty parties were bound together and thrown 
into the river. If it happened, however, that the Wife of 
a prisoner went to reside with another man on account of 
poverty, she was acquitted and allowed to return to her 
husband after his release. In cases where no plea of 
poverty could be urged the erring women were drowned. 
The wife of a soldier who had been taken prisoner by 
an enemy was entitled to a third part of her husband's 
estate if her son was a minor, the remainder was held 
in trust. The husband could enter into possession 
of all his property again if he happened to return 

Divorce was easily obtained. A husband might send 
his wife away either because she was childless or because 
he fell in love with another woman. Incompatibility of 
temperament was also recognized as sufficient reason for 
separation. A woman might hate her husband and wish 
to leave him. " If", the Code sets forth, "she is careful 
and is without blame, and is neglected by her husband 
who has deserted her", she can claim release from the 
marriage contract. But if she is found to have another 
lover, and is guilty of neglecting her duties, she is liable 
to be put to death. 

A married woman possessed her own property. In- 
deed, the value of her marriage dowry was always vested 
in her. When, therefore, she divorced her husband, or 
was divorced by him, she was entitled to have her dowry 
refunded and to return to her father's house. Apparently 
she could claim maintenance from her father. 


A woman could have only one husband, but a man 
could have more than one wife. He might marry a 
secondary wife, or concubine, because he was without 
offspring, but "the concubine 7 ', the Code lays down, 
" shall not rank with the wife ". Another reason for 
second marriage recognized by law was a wife's state of 
health. In such circumstances a man could not divorce 
his sickly wife. He had to support her in his house as 
long as she lived. 

Children were the heirs of their parents, but if a man 
during his lifetime gifted his property to his wife, and 
confirmed it on "a sealed tablet", the children could have 
no claim, and the widow was entitled to leave her estate 
to those of her children she preferred; but she could not 
will any portion of it to her brothers. In ordinary cases 
the children of a first marriage shared equally tjie estate 
of a father with those of a second marriage. If a slave 
bore children to her employer, their right to inheritance 
depended on whether or not the father had recognized 
them as his offspring during his lifetime. A father might 
legally disown his son if the young man was guilty of 
criminal practices. 

The legal rights of a vestal virgin were set forth in 
detail. If she had received no dowry from her father 
when she took vows of celibacy, she could claim after his 
death one-third of the portion of a son. She could will 
her estate to anyone she favoured, but if she died intestate 
her brothers were her heirs. When, however, her estate 
consisted of fields or gardens allotted to her by her father, 
she could not disinherit her legal heirs. The fields or gar- 
dens might be worked during her lifetime by her brothers 
if they paid rent, or she might employ a manager on the 
<c share system ". 

Vestal virgins and married women were protected 


against the slanderer. Any man who "pointed the finger " 
against them unjustifiably was charged with the offence 
before a judge, who could sentence him to have his fore- 
head branded. It was not difficult, therefore, in ancient 
Babylonia to discover the men who made malicious and 
unfounded statements regarding an innocent woman. 
Assaults on women were punished according to the vic- 
tim's rank; even slaves were protected. 

Women appear to have monopolized the drink traffic. 
At any rate, there is no reference to male wine sellers. A 
female publican had to conduct her business honestly, and 
was bound to accept a legal tender. If she refused corn 
and demanded silver, when the value of the silver by 
" grand weight " was below the price of corn, she was 
prosecuted and punished by being thrown into the water. 
Perhaps she was simply ducked. As much may be in- 
ferred from the fact that when she was found guilty of 
allowing rebels to meet in her house, she was put to 

The land laws were strict and exacting. A tenant 
could be penalized for not cultivating his holding pro- 
perly. The rent paid was a proportion of the crop, but 
the proportion could be fixed according to the average 
yield of a district, so that a careless or inefficient tenant 
had to bear the brunt of his neglect or want of skill. 
The punishment for allowing a field to lie fallow was to 
make a man hoe and sow it and then hand it over to 
his landlord, and this applied even to a man who leased 
unreclaimed land which he had contracted to cultivate. 
Damage done to fields by floods after the rent was paid 
was borne by the cultivator; but if it occurred before the 
corn was reaped the landlord's share was calculated in 
proportion to the amount of the yield which was recovered. 
Allowance was also made for poor harvests, when the 


shortage was not due to the neglect of the tenant, but 
to other causes, and no interest was paid for borrowed 
money even if the farm suffered from the depredations 
of the tempest god; the moneylender had to share risks 
with borrowers. Tenants who neglected their dykes, 
however, were not exempted from their legal liabilities, 
and their whole estates could be sold to reimburse their 

The industrious were protected against the careless. 
Men who were negligent about controlling the water 
supply, and caused floods by opening irrigation ditches 
which damaged the crops of their neighbours, had to pay 
for the losses sustained, the damages being estimated 
according to the average yield of a district. A tenant 
who allowed his sheep to stray on to a neighbour's 
pasture had to pay a heavy fine in corn at the harvest 
season, much in excess of the value of the grass cropped 
by his sheep. Gardeners were similarly subject to strict 
laws. All business contracts had to be conducted accord- 
ing to the provisions of the Code, and in every case it 
was necessary that a proper record should be made on 
clay tablets. As a rule a dishonest tenant or trader had 
to pay sixfold the value of the sum under dispute if the 
judge decided in court against his claim. 

The law of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth 
was strictly observed in Babylonia. A freeman who 
destroyed an eye of a freeman had one of his own 
destroyed; if he broke a bone, he had a bone broken. 
Fines were imposed, however, when a slave was injured. 
For striking a gentleman, a commoner received sixty 
lashes, and the son who smote his father had his hands 
cut off. A slave might have his ears cut off for assaulting 
his master's son. 

Doctors must have found their profession an extremely 


risky one. No allowance was made for what is nowadays 
known as a "professional error". A doctor's hands were 
cut off if he opened a wound with a metal knife and his 
patient afterwards died, or if a man lost his eye as the 
result of an operation. A slave who died under a doctor's 
hands had to be replaced by a slave, and if a slave lost 
his eye, the doctor had to pay half the man's market 
value to the owner. Professional fees were fixed accord- 
ing to a patient's rank. Gentlemen had to pay five shekels 
of silver to a doctor who set a bone or restored diseased 
flesh, commoners three shekels, and masters for their 
slaves two shekels. There was also a scale of fees for 
treating domesticated animals, and it was not over- 
generous. An unfortunate surgeon who undertook to 
treat an ox or ass suffering from a severe wound had to 
pay a quarter of its price to its owner if it happened to 
die. A shrewd farmer who was threatened with the loss 
of an animal must have been extremely anxious to engage 
the services of a surgeon. 

It is not surprising, after reviewing this part of the 
Hammurabi Code, to find Herodotus stating bluntly that 
the Babylonians had no physicians. "When a man is 
ill", he wrote, "they lay him in the public square, and 
the passers-by come up to him, and if they have ever had 
his disease themselves, or have known anyone who has 
suffered from it, they give him advice, recommending 
him to do whatever they found good in their own case, 
or in the case known to them; and no one is allowed to 
pass the sick man in silence without asking him what 
his ailment is." One might imagine that Hammurabi 
had legislated the medical profession out of existence, 
were it not that letters have been found in the Assyrian 
library of Ashur-banipal which indicate that skilled phy- 
sicians were held in high repute. It is improbable, how- 


ever, that they were numerous. The risks they ran in 
Babylonia may account for their ultimate disappearance 
in that country. 

No doubt patients received some benefit from ex- 
posure in the streets in the sunlight and fresh air, and 
perhaps, too, from some of the old wives' remedies which 
were gratuitously prescribed by passers-by. In Egypt, 
where certain of the folk cures were recorded on papyri, 
quite effective treatment was occasionally given, although 
the "medicines" were exceedingly repugnant as a rule; 
ammonia, for instance, was taken with the organic sub- 
stances found in farmyards. Elsewhere some wonderful 
instances of excellent folk cures have come to light, 
especially among isolated peoples, who have received 
them interwoven in their immemorial traditions. A medi- 
cal man who has investigated this interesting subject in 
the Scottish Highlands has shown that "the simple obser- 
vation of the people was the starting-point of our fuller 
knowledge, however complete we may esteem it to be ". 
For dropsy and heart troubles, foxglove, broom tops, and 
juniper berries, which have reputations "as old as the 
hills ", are " the most reliable medicines in our scientific 
armoury at the present time ". These discoveries of the 
ancient folks have been "merely elaborated in later days". 
Ancient cures for indigestion are still in use. "Tar water, 
which was a remedy for chest troubles, especially for those 
of a consumptive nature, has endless imitations in our 
day"; it was also "the favourite remedy for skin diseases". 
No doubt the present inhabitants of Babylonia, who utilize 
bitumen as a germicide, are perpetuating an ancient folk 

This medical man who is being quoted adds: "The 
whole matter may be summed up, that we owe infinitely 
more to the simple nature study of our people in the 


great affair of health than we owe to all the later 

science." 1 

Herodotus, commenting on the custom of patients 
taking a census of folk cures in the streets, said it was 
one of the wisest institutions of the Babylonian people, 
It is to be regretted that he did not enter into details 
regarding the remedies which were in greatest favour in 
his day. His data would have been useful for compara- 
tive purposes. 

So far as can be gathered from the clay tablets, faith 
cures were not unknown, and there was a good deal of 
quackery. If surgery declined, as a result of the severe 
restrictions which hampered progress in an honourable 
profession, magic flourished like tropical fungi. Indeed, 
the worker of spells was held in high repute, and his 
operations were in most cases allowed free play. There 
are only two paragraphs in the Hammurabi Code which 
deal with magical practices. It is set forth that if one 
man cursed another and the curse could not be justified, 
the perpetrator of it must suffer the death penalty. Pro- 
vision was also made for discovering whether a spell had 
been legally imposed or not. The victim was expected 
to plunge himself in a holy river. If the river carried 
him away it was held as proved that he deserved his 
punishment, and "the layer of the spell" was given 
possession of the victim's house. A man who could 
swim was deemed to be innocent ; he claimed the resi- 
dence of " the layer of the spell ", who was promptly put 
to death. With this interesting glimpse of ancient super- 
stition the famous Code opens, and then strikes a modern 
note by detailing the punishments for perjury and the 
unjust administration of law in the courts. 

1 Home Life of the Highlanders (Dr. Cameron Gillies on Medical Knowledge), pp. 85 
et seq. Glasgow, 1911. 


The poor sufferers who gathered at street corners in 
Babylon to make mute appeal for cures believed that they 
were possessed by evil spirits. Germs of disease were 
depicted by lively imaginations as invisible demons, who 
derived nourishment from the human body. When a 
patient was wasted with disease, growing thinner and 
weaker and more bloodless day by day, it was believed 
that a merciless vampire was sucking his veins and de- 
vouring his flesh. It had therefore to be expelled by 
performing a magical ceremony and repeating a magical 
formula. The demon was either driven or enticed away. 

A magician had to decide in the first place what par- 
ticular demon was working evil. He then compelled its 
attention and obedience by detailing its attributes and 
methods of attack, and perhaps by naming it. Thereafter 
he suggested how it should next act by releasing a raven, 
so that it might soar towards the clouds like that bird, or 
by offering up a sacrifice which it received for nourish- 
ment and as compensation. Another popular method 
was to fashion a waxen figure of the patient and prevail 
upon the disease demon to enter it. The figure was 
then carried away to be thrown in the river or burned 
in a fire. 

Occasionally a quite effective cure was included in 
the ceremony. As much is suggested by the magical 
treatment of toothache. First of all the magician identi- 
fied the toothache demon as " the worm ". Then he re- 
cited its history, which is as follows : After Anu created 
the heavens, the heavens created the earth, the earth 
created the rivers, the rivers created the canals, the canals 
created the marshes, and last of all the marshes created 
"the worm ". 

This display of knowledge compelled the worm to 
listen, and no doubt the patient was able to indicate to 


what degree it gave evidence of its agitated mind. The 
magician continued : 

Came the worm and wept before Shamash, 
Before Ea came her tears : 
"What wilt thou give me for my food, 
What wilt thou give me to devour?" 

One of the deities answered : " I will give thee dried 
bones and scented . . . wood"; but the hungry worm 
protested : 

" Nay, what are these dried bones of thine to me ? 
Let me drink among the teeth ; 
And set me on the gums 
That I may devour the blood of the teeth, 
And of their gums destroy their strength 
Then shall I hold the bolt of the door." 

The magician provided food for a the worm ", and 
the following is his recipe : " Mix beer, the plant sa-kil- 
bir, and oil together ; put it on the tooth and repeat In- 
cantation." No doubt this mixture soothed the pain, and 
the sufferer must have smiled gladly when the magician 
finished his incantation by exclaiming : 

" So must thou say this, O Worm ! 
May Ea smite thee with the might of his fist." l 

Headaches were no doubt much relieved when damp 
cloths were wrapped round a patient's head and scented 
wood was burned beside him, while the magician, in 
whom so much faith was reposed, droned out a mystical 
incantation. The curative water was drawn from the 
confluence of two streams and was sprinkled with much 
ceremony. In like manner the evil-eye curers, who still 

1 Translations by R. C. Thompson in The Devils and Spirits of Babylon, vol. i, pp. 
Ixiii et seq. 

(c(542) 18 


operate in isolated districts in these islands, draw water 
from under bridges " over which the dead and the living 
pass ",* and mutter charms and lustrate victims. 

Headaches were much dreaded by the Babylonians. 
They were usually the first symptoms of fevers, and the 
demons who caused them were supposed to be blood- 
thirsty and exceedingly awesome. According to the 
charms, these invisible enemies of man were of the brood 
of Nergal. No house could be protected against them. 
They entered through keyholes and chinks of doors and 
windows ; they crept like serpents and stank like mice ; 
they had lolling tongues like hungry dogs. 

Magicians baffled the demons by providing a charm. 
If a patient "touched iron " meteoric iron, which was 
the " metal of heaven " relief could be obtained. Or, 
perhaps, the sacred water would dispel the evil one ; as 
the drops trickled from the patient's face, so would the 
fever spirit trickle away. When a pig was offered up in 
sacrifice as a substitute for a patient, the wicked spirit was 
commanded to depart and allow a kindly spirit to take 
its place an indication that the Babylonians, like the 
Germanic peoples, believed that they were guarded by 
spirits who brought good luck. 

The numerous incantations which were inscribed on 
clay tablets and treasured in libraries, do not throw much 
light on the progress of medical knowledge, for the 
genuine folk cures were regarded as of secondary im- 
portance, and were not as a rule recorded. But these 
metrical compositions are of special interest, in so far as 
they indicate how poetry originated and achieved wide- 
spread popularity among ancient peoples. Like the 
religious dance, the earliest poems were used for magical 
purposes. They were composed in the first place by men 

1 Bridges which lead to graveyards. 


and women who were supposed to be inspired in the 
literal sense ; that is, possessed by spirits. Primitive 
man associated "spirit" with "breath", which was the 
" air of life ", and identical with wind. The poetical 
magician drew in a " spirit ", and thus received inspira- 
tion, as he stood on some sacred spot on the mountain 
summit, amidst forest solitudes, beside a whispering 
stream, or on the sounding shore. As Burns has sung : 

The muse, nae poet ever fand her, 
Till by himsel' he learn'd to wander, 
Adown some trottin' burn's meander, 

An' no think lang : 
O sweet to stray, an' pensive ponder 

A heart-felt sang! 

Or, perhaps, the bard received inspiration by drinking 
magic water from the fountain called Hippocrene, or the 
skaldic mead which dripped from the moon. 

The ancient poet did not sing for the mere love of 
singing: he knew nothing about "Art for Art's sake". 
His object in singing appears to have been intensely 
practical. The world was inhabited by countless hordes 
of spirits, which were believed to be ever exercising them- 
selves to influence mankind. The spirits caused suffer- 
ing; they slew victims; they brought misfortune; they 
were also the source of good or "luck". Man regarded 
spirits emotionally; he conjured them with emotion; he 
warded off their attacks with emotion ; and his emotions 
were given rhythmical expression by means of metrical 
magical charms. 

Poetic imagery had originally a magical significance ; 
if the ocean was compared to a dragon, it was because it 
was supposed to be inhabited by a storm-causing dragon ; 
the wind whispered because a spirit whispered in it. 


Love lyrics were charms to compel the love god to 
wound or possess a maiden's heart to fill it, as an Indian 
charm sets forth, with " the yearning of the Apsaras 
(fairies)"; satires conjured up evil spirits to injure a 
victim ; and heroic narratives chanted at graves were state- 
ments made to the god of battle, so that he might award 
the mighty dead by transporting him to the Valhal of 
Odin or Swarga of Indra. 

Similarly, music had magical origin as an imitation 
of the voices of spirits of the piping birds who were 
" Fates ", of the wind high and low, of the thunder roll, 
of the bellowing sea. So the god Pan piped on his reed 
bird-like notes, Indra blew his thunder horn, Thor used 
his hammer like a drumstick, Neptune imitated on his 
" wreathed horn " the voice of the deep, the Celtic oak 
god Dagda twanged his windy wooden harp, and Angus, 
the Celtic god of spring and love, came through budding 
forest ways with a silvern harp which had strings of gold, 
echoing the tuneful birds, the purling streams, the whis- 
pering winds, and the rustling of scented fir and blossom- 
ing thorn. 

Modern-day poets and singers, who voice their moods 
and cast the spell of their moods over readers and 
audiences, are the representatives of ancient magicians 
who believed that moods were caused by the spirits 
which possessed them the rhythmical wind spirits, those 
harpers of the forest and songsters of ocean. 

The following quotations from Mr. R. C. Thompson's 
translations of Babylonian charms will serve to illustrate 
their poetic qualities : 

Fever like frost hath come upon the land. 

Fever hath blown upon the man as the wind blast, 
It hath smitten the man and humbled his pride. 


Headache lieth like the stars of heaven in the desert and hath no 

praise ; 
Pain in the head and shivering like a scudding cloud turn unto 

the form of man. 

Headache whose course like the dread windstorm none knoweth. 

Headache roareth over the desert, blowing like the wind, 
Flashing like lightning, it is loosed above and below, , 
It cutteth off him, who feareth not his god, like a reed . . . 
From amid mountains it hath descended upon the land. 

Headache ... a rushing hag-demon, 
Granting no rest, nor giving kindly sleep . . . 
Whose shape is as the whirlwind. 
Its appearance is as the darkening heavens, 
And its face as the deep shadow of the forest. 

Sickness . . . breaking the fingers as a rope of wind . . . 
Flashing like a heavenly star, it cometh like the dew. 

These early poets had no canons of Art, and there 
were no critics to disturb their meditations. Many singers 
had to sing and die ere a critic could find much to say. 
In ancient times, therefore, poets had their Golden Age 
they were a law unto themselves. Even the "minors" 
were influential members of society. 

The Golden Age of Babylonia 

Rise of the Sun God Amorites and Elamites struggle for Ascendancy 
The Conquering Ancestors of Hammurabi Sumerian Cities Destroyed 
Widespread Race Movements- Phoenician Migration from Persian Gulf 
Wanderings of Abraham and Lot Biblical References to Hittites and Amorites 
Battles of Four Kings with Five Amraphel, Arioch, and Tidal Ham- 
murabi's Brilliant Reign Elamite Power Stamped Out Babylon's Great 
General and Statesman The Growth of Commerce, Agriculture, and Educa- 
tion An Ancient School Business and Private Correspondence A Love 
Letter Postal System Hammurabi's Successors The Earliest Kassites 
The Sealand Dynasty Hittite Raid on Babylon and Hyksos Invasion of 

SUN worship came into prominence in its most fully 
developed form during the obscure period which followed 
the decline of the Dynasty of Isin. This was probably 
due to the changed political conditions which brought 
about the ascendancy for a time of Larsa, the seat of the 
Sumerian sun cult, and of Sippar, the seat of the Akkadian 
sun cult. Larsa was selected as the capital of the Ela- 
mite conquerors, while their rivals, the Amorites, appear to 
have first established their power at Sippar. 

Babbar, the sun god of Sippar, whose Semitic name 
was Shamash, must have been credited with the early 
successes of the Amorites, who became domiciled under 
his care, and it was possibly on that account that the ruling 
family subsequently devoted so much attention to his 
worship in Merodach's city of Babylon, where a sun 
temple was erected, and Shamash received devout recog- 



nition as an abstract deity of righteousness and law, who 
reflected the ideals of well organized and firmly governed 

The first Amoritic king was Sumu-abum, but little is 
known regarding him except that he reigned at Sippar. 
He was succeeded by Sumu-la-ilu, a deified monarch, 
who moved from Sippar to Babylon, the great wall of 
which he either repaired or entirely reconstructed in his 
fifth year. With these two monarchs began the brilliant 
Hammurabi, or First Dynasty of Babylonia, which endured 
for three centuries. Except Sumu-abum, who seems to 
stand alone, all its kings belonged to the same family, and 
son succeeded father in unbroken succession. 

Sumu-la-ilu was evidently a great general and con- 
queror of the type of Thothmes III of Egypt. His 
empire, it is believed, included the rising city states of 
Assyria, and extended southward as far as ancient Lagash. 

Of special interest on religious as well as political 
grounds was his association with Kish. That city had 
become the stronghold of a rival family of Amoritic kings, 
some of whom were powerful enough to assert their 
independence. They formed the Third Dynasty of Kish. 
The local god was Zamama, the Tammuz-like deity, who, 
like Nin-Girsu of Lagash, was subsequently identified 
with Merodach of Babylon. But prominence was also 
given to the moon god Nannar, to whom a temple had 
been erected, a fact which suggests that sun worship was 
not more pronounced among the Semites than the 
Arabians, and may not, indeed, have been of Semitic 
origin at all. Perhaps the lunar temple was a relic of the 
influential Dynasty of Ur. 

Sumu-la-ilu attacked and captured Kish, but did not 
slay Bunutakhtunila, its king, who became his vassal. 
Under the overlordship of Sumu-la-ilu, the next ruler of 


Kish, whose name was Immerum, gave prominence to the 
public worship of Shamash. Politics and religion went 
evidently hand in hand. 

Sumu-la-ilu strengthened the defences of Sippar, re- 
stored the wall and temple of Cuthah, and promoted the 
worship of Merodach and his consort Zerpanitu m at 
Babylon. He was undoubtedly one of the forceful per- 
sonalities of his dynasty. His son, Zabium, had a short 
but successful reign, and appears to have continued the 
policy of his father in consolidating the power of Babylon 
and securing the allegiance of subject cities. He en- 
larged Merodach's temple, E-sagila, restored the Kish 
temple of Zamama, and placed a golden image of himself 
in the temple of the sun god at Sippar. Apil-Sin, his 
son, surrounded Babylon with a new wall, erected a 
temple to Ishtar, and presented a throne of gold and 
silver to Shamash in that city, while he also strengthened 
Borsippa, renewed Nergal's temple at Cuthah, and dug 

The next monarch was Sin-muballit, son of Apil-Sin 
and father of Hammurabi. He engaged himself in ex- 
tending and strengthening the area controlled by Babylon 
by building city fortifications and improving the irrigation 
system. It is recorded that he honoured Shamash" with 
the gift of a shrine and a golden altar adorned with jewels. 
Like Sumu-la-ilu, he was a great battle lord, and was 
specially concerned in challenging the supremacy of Elam 
in Sumeria and in the western land of the Amorites. 

For a brief period a great conqueror, named Rim- 
Anum, had established an empire which extended from 
Kish to Larsa, but little is known regarding him. Then 
several kings flourished at v Larsa who claimed to have 
ruled over Ur. The first monarch with an Elamite 
name who became connected with Larsa was Kudur- 


Mabug, son of Shimti-Shilkhak, the father of Warad-Sin 
and Rim-Sin. 

It was from one of these Elamite monarchs that Sin- 
muballit captured Isin, and probably the Elamites were 
also the leaders of the army of Ur which he had routed 
before that event took place. He was not successful, 
however, in driving the Elamites from the land, and 
possibly he arranged with them a treaty of peace or per- 
haps of alliance. 

Much controversy has been waged over the historical 
problems connected with this disturbed age. The records 
are exceedingly scanty, because the kings were not in the 
habit of commemorating battles which proved disastrous 
to them, and their fragmentary references to successes are 
not sufficient to indicate what permanent results accrued 
from their various campaigns. All we know for certain 
is that for a considerable period, extending perhaps over 
a century, a tremendous and disastrous struggle was 
waged at intervals, which desolated middle Babylonia. 
At least five great cities were destroyed by fire, as is testi- 
fied by the evidence accumulated by excavators. These 
were Lagash, Umma, Shurruppak, Kisurra, and Adab. 
The ancient metropolis of Lagash, whose glory had been 
revived by Gudea and his kinsmen, fell soon after the rise 
of Larsa, and lay in ruins until the second century B.C., 
when, during the Seleucid Period, it was again occupied 
for a time. From its mound at Tello, and the buried 
ruins of the other cities, most of the relics of ancient 
Sumerian civilization have been recovered. 

It was probably during one of the intervals of this 
stormy period that the rival kings in Babylonia joined 
forces against a common enemy and invaded the Western 
Land. Probably there was much unrest there. Great 
ethnic disturbances were in progress which were changing 


the political complexion of Western Asia. In addition to 
the outpourings of Arabian peoples into Palestine and 
Syria, which propelled other tribes to invade Mesopotamia, 
northern Babylonia, and Assyria, there was also much un- 
rest all over the wide area to north and west of Elam. 
Indeed, the Elamite migration into southern Babylonia may 
not have been unconnected with the southward drift of 
roving bands from Media and the Iranian plateau. 

It is believed that these migrations were primarily due 
to changing climatic conditions, a prolonged " Dry Cycle'* 
having caused a shortage of herbage, with the result that 
pastoral peoples were compelled to go farther and farther 
afield in quest of "fresh woods and pastures new'*. In- 
numerable currents and cross currents were set in motion 
once these race movements swept towards settled districts 
either to flood them with human waves, or surround them 
like islands in the midst of tempest-lashed seas, fretting 
the frontiers with restless fury, and ever groping for an 
inlet through which to flow with irresistible force. 

The Elamite occupation of Southern Babylonia ap- 
pears to have propelled migrations of not inconsiderable 
numbers of its inhabitants. No doubt the various 
sections moved towards districts which were suitable for 
their habits of life. Agriculturists, for instance, must 
have shown preference for those areas which were capable 
of agricultural development, while pastoral folks sought 
grassy steppes and valleys, and seafarers the shores of 
alien seas. 

Northern Babylonia and Assyria probably attracted 
the tillers of the soil. But the movements of seafarers 
must have followed a different route. It is possible that 
about this time the Phoenicians began to migrate towards 
the " Upper Sea". According to their own traditions 
their racial cradle was on the northern shore of the Persian 


Gulf. So far as we know, they first made their appear- 
ance on the Mediterranean coast about 2000 B.C., where 
they subsequently entered into competition as sea traders 
with the mariners of ancient Crete. Apparently the 
pastoral nomads pressed northward through Meso- 
potamia and towards Canaan. As much is suggested by 
the Biblical narrative which deals with the wanderings of 
Terah, Abraham, and Lot. Taking with them their 
" flocks and herds and tents ", and accompanied by wives, 
and families, and servants, they migrated, it is stated, from 
the Sumerian city of Ur northwards to Haran "and 
dwelt there". After Terah's death the tribe wandered 
through Canaan and kept moving southward, unable, it 
would seem, to settle permanently in any particular dis- 
trict. At length "there was a famine in the land" an 
interesting reference to the " Dry Cycle " and the 
wanderers found it necessary to take refuge for a time in 
Egypt. There they appear to have prospered. Indeed, 
so greatly did their flocks and herds increase that when 
they returned to Canaan they found that "the land was 
not able to bear them", although the conditions had 
improved somewhat during the interval. "There was", 
as a result, "strife between the herdmen of Abram's 
cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle." 

It is evident that the area which these pastoral flocks 
were allowed to occupy must have been strictly circum- 
scribed, for more than once it is stated significantly that 
"the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled in the land". 
The two kinsmen found it necessary, therefore, to part 
company. Lot elected to go towards Sodom in the 
plain of Jordan, and Abraham then moved towards the 
plain of Mamre, the Amorite, in the Hebron district, 1 
With Mamre, and his brothers, Eshcol and Aner, the 

1 Genesis, xii and xiii. 


Hebrew patriarch formed a confederacy for mutual pro- 
tection. 1 

Other tribes which were in Palestine at this period 
included the Horites, the Rephaims, the Zuzims, the 
Zamzummims, and the Emims. These were probably 
representatives of the older stocks. Like the Amorites, 
the Hittites or " children of Heth " were evidently " late 
comers", and conquerors. When Abraham purchased the 
burial cave at Hebron, the landowner with whom he had 
to deal was one Ephron, son of Zohar, the Hittite. 2 This 
illuminating statement agrees with what we know regard- 
ing Hittite expansion about 2000 B.C. The "Hatti" or 
" Khatti" had constituted military aristocracies throughout 
Syria and extended their influence by forming alliances. 
Many of their settlers were owners of estates, and traders 
who intermarried with the indigenous peoples and the 
Arabian invaders. As has been indicated (Chapter I), 
the large-nosed Armenoid section of the Hittite con- 
federacy appear to have contributed to the racial blend 
known vaguely as the Semitic. Probably the particular 
group of Amorites with whom Abraham became associated 
had those pronounced Armenoid traits which can still be 
traced in representatives of the Hebrew people. Of 
special interest in this connection is Ezekiel's declaration 
regarding the ethnics of Jerusalem : " Thy birth and thy 
nativity ", he said, "is of the land of Canaan; thy father 
was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite." 3 

It was during Abraham's residence in Hebron that 
the Western Land was raided by a confederacy of Baby- 
lonian and Elamite battle lords. The Biblical narrative 
which deals with this episode is of particular interest and 
has long engaged the attention of European scholars: 

"And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel 

1 Genesis, xiv, 13. a /&/</., xxiii, 8 Exekiel, xvi, 3. 


(Hammurabi) king of Shinar (Sumer), Arioch (Eri-aku 
or Warad-Sin) king of Ellasar (Larsa), Chedor-laomer 
(Kudur-Mabug) king of Elam, and Tidal (Tudhula) 
king of nations ; that these made war with Bera king 
of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab 
king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and 
the king of Bela, which is Zoar. All these joined to- 
gether in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea. 
Twelve years they served Chedor-laomer, and in the 
thirteenth year they rebelled.'' 1 Apparently the Elamites 
had conquered part of Syria after entering southern Baby- 

Chedor-laomer and his allies routed the Rephaims, 
the Zuzims, the Emims, the Horites and others, and 
having sacked Sodom and Gomorrah, carried away Lot 
and "his goods". On hearing of this disaster, Abraham 
collected a force of three hundred and eighteen men, all 
of whom were no doubt accustomed to guerrilla warfare, 
and delivered a night attack on the tail of the victorious 
army which was withdrawing through the area afterwards 
allotted to the Hebrew tribe of Dan. The surprise was 
complete; Abraham "smote" the enemy and "pursued 
them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. 
And he brought back all the goods, and also brought 
again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, 
and the people." 2 

The identification of Hammurabi with Amraphel is 
now generally accepted. At first the guttural " h n , which 
gives the English rendering " Khammurabi ", presented a 
serious difficulty, but in time the form "Ammurapi" 
which appears on a tablet became known, and the con- 
clusion was reached that the softer "h" sound was used 
and not the guttural. The "1" in the Biblical Amraphel 

1 Genesis^ xiv, 1-4. 8 //V., 5-24. 


has suggested " Ammurapi-ilu", "Hammurabi, the god", 
but it has been argued, on the other hand, that the change 
may have been due to western habitual phonetic conditions, 
or perhaps the slight alteration of an alphabetical sign. 
Chedor-laomer, identified with Kudur-Mabug, may have 
had several local names. One of his sons, either Warad- 
Sin or Rim-Sin, but probably the former, had his name 
Semitized as Eri-Aku, and this variant appears in inscrip- 
tions. " Tidal, king of nations ", has not been identified. 
The suggestion that he was " King of the Gutium " re- 
mains in the realm of suggestion. Two late tablets have 
fragmentary inscriptions which read like legends with 
some historical basis. One mentions Kudur-lahmal 
(? Chedor-laomer) and the other gives the form "Kudur- 
lahgumal", and calls him "King of the land of Elam". 
Eri-Eaku (?Eri-aku) and Tudhula (? Tidal) are also men- 
tioned. Attacks had been delivered on Babylon, and the 
city and its great temple E-sagila were flooded. It is 
asserted that the Elamites "exercised sovereignty in Baby- 
lon" for a period. These interesting tablets have been 
published by Professor Pinches. 

The fact that the four leaders of the expedition to 
Canaan are all referred to as "kings" in the Biblical 
narrative need nof present any difficulty. Princes and 
other subject rulers who governed under an overlord 
might be and, as a matter of fact, were referred to as 
kings. "I am a king, son of a king", an unidentified 
monarch recorded on one of the two tablets just referred 
to. Kudur-Mabug, King of Elam, during his lifetime 
called his son Warad-Sin (Eri-Aku = Arioch) " King of 
Larsa". It is of interest to note, too, in connection with 
the Biblical narrative regarding the invasion of Syria and 
Palestine, that he styled himself " overseer of the Amurru 
(Amorites) ". 

Photo. Giraudou 


(Louvre, Paris] 


No traces have yet been found in Palestine of its con- 
quest by the Elamites, nor have the excavators been able 
to substantiate the claim of Lugal-zaggizi of a previous 
age to have extended his empire to the shores of the 
Mediterranean. Any relics which these and other eastern 
conquerors may have left were possibly destroyed by the 
Egyptians and Hittites. 

When Hammurabi came to the throne he had appar- 
ently to recognize the overlordship of the Elamite king 
or his royal son at Larsa. Although Sin-muballit had 
captured Isin, it was retaken, probably after the death of 
the Babylonian war-lord, by Rim-Sin, who succeeded his 
brother Warad-Sin, and for a time held sway in Lagash, 
Nippur, and Erech, as well as Larsa. 

It was not until the thirty-first year of his reign that 
Hammurabi achieved ascendancy over his powerful rival. 
Having repulsed an Elamite raid, which was probably 
intended to destroy the growing power of Babylon, he 
"smote down Rim-Sin ", whose power he reduced almost 
to vanishing point. For about twenty years afterwards 
that subdued monarch lived in comparative obscurity; 
then he led a force of allies against Hammurabi's son and 
successor, Samsu-iluna, who defeated him and put him to 
death, capturing, in the course of his campaign, the re- 
volting cities of Emutbalum, Erech, and Isin. So was 
the last smouldering ember of Elamite power stamped 
out in Babylonia. 

Hammurabi, statesman and general, is one of the great 
personalities of the ancient world. No more celebrated 
monarch ever held sway in Western Asia. He was proud 
of his military achievements, but preferred to be remem- 
bered as a servant of the gods, a just ruler, a father of his 
people, and "the shepherd that gives peace". In the 
epilogue to his code of laws he refers to "the burden 


of royalty", and declares that he "cut off the enemy" 
and "lorded it over the conquered" so that his subjects 
might have security. Indeed, his anxiety for their welfare 
was the most pronounced feature of his character. "I 
carried all the people of Sumer and Akkad in my bosom ", 
he declared in his epilogue. " By my protection, I guided 
in peace its brothers. By my wisdom I provided for 
them." He set up his stele, on which the legal code 
was inscribed, so "that the great should not oppress the 
weak" and "to counsel the widow and orphan", and "to 
succour the injured . . . The king that is gentle, king of 
the city, exalted am I." 1 

Hammurabi was no mere framer of laws but a practical 
administrator as well. He acted as supreme judge, and 
his subjects could appeal to him as the Romans could to 
Caesar. Nor was any case too trivial for his attention. 
The humblest man was assured that justice would be 
done if his grievance were laid before, the king. Ham- 
murabi was no respecter of persons, and treated alike all 
his subjects high and low. He punished corrupt judges, 
protected citizens against unjust governors, reviewed the 
transactions of moneylenders with determination to curb 
extortionate demands, and kept a watchful eye on the 
operations of taxgatherers. 

There can be little doubt but that he won the hearts 
of his subjects, who enjoyed the blessings of just adminis- 
tration under a well-ordained political system. He must 
also have endeared himself to them as an exemplary ex- 
ponent of religious tolerance. He respected the various 
deities in whom the various groups of people reposed their 
faith, restored despoiled temples, and re-endowed them 
with characteristic generosity. By so doing he not only 

1 Babylonian and Assyrian Laws, Contracts, and Letters, C. H. W. Johns, pp. 392 
et seq. 


afforded the pious full freedom and opportunity to per- 
form their religious ordinances, but also promoted the 
material welfare of his subjects, for the temples were 
centres of culture and the priests were the teachers of 
the young. Excavators have discovered at Sippar traces 
of a school which dates from the Hammurabi Dynasty. 
Pupils learned to read and write, and received instruction 
in arithmetic and mensuration. They copied historical 
tablets, practised the art of composition, and studied 

Although there were many professional scribes, a not 
inconsiderable proportion of the people of both sexes were 
able to write private and business letters. Sons wrote 
from a distance to their fathers when in need of money 
then as now, and with the same air of undeserved martyr- 
dom and subdued but confident appeal. One son indited 
a long complaint regarding the quality of the food he was 
given in his lodgings. Lovers appealed to forgetful ladies, 
showing great concern regarding their health. " Inform 
me how it fares with thee," one wrote four thousand years 
ago. " I went up to Babylon so that I might meet thee, 
but did not, and was much depressed. Let me know why 
thou didst go away so that I may be made glad. And do 
come hither. Ever have care of thy health, remembering 
me." Even begging -letter writers were not unknown. 
An ancient representative of this class once wrote to his 
employer from prison. He expressed astonishment that 
he had been arrested, and, having protested his innocence, 
he made touching appeal for little luxuries which were 
denied to him, adding that the last consignment which 
had been forwarded had never reached him. 

Letters were often sent by messengers who were 
named, but there also appears to have been some sort 
of postal system. Letter carriers, however, could not 

(0642) 19 


have performed their duties without the assistance of 
beasts of burden* Papyri were not used as in Egypt. 
Nor was ink required. Babylonian letters were shapely 
little bricks resembling cushions. The angular alpha- 
betical characters, bristling with thorn -like projections, 
were impressed with a wedge-shaped stylus on tablets of 
soft clay which were afterwards carefully baked in an 
oven. Then the letters were placed in baked clay 
envelopes, sealed and addressed, or wrapped in pieces 
of sacking transfixed by seals. If the ancient people had 
a festive season which was regarded, like the European 
Yuletide or the Indian Durga fortnight, as an occasion 
suitable for the general exchange of expressions of good- 
will, the Babylonian streets and highways must have been 
greatly congested by the postal traffic, while muscular 
postmen worked overtime distributing the contents of 
heavy and bulky letter sacks. Door to door deliveries 
would certainly have presented difficulties. Wood being 
dear, everyone could not afford doors, and some houses 
were entered by stairways leading to the flat and partly 
open roofs. 

King Hammurabi had to deal daily with a voluminous 
correspondence. He received reports from governors in 
all parts of his realm, legal documents containing appeals, 
and private communications from relatives and others. 
He paid minute attention to details, and was probably 
one of the busiest men in Babylonia. Every day while 
at home, after worshipping Merodach at E-sagila, he 
dictated letters to his scribes, gave audiences to officials, 
heard legal appeals and issued interlocutors, and dealt 
with the reports regarding his private estates. He looks 
a typical man of affairs in sculptured representations 
shrewd, resolute, and unassuming, feeling "the burden 
of royalty ", but ever ready and well qualified to discharge 


his duties with thoroughness and insight. His grasp of 
detail was equalled only by his power to conceive of great 
enterprises which appealed to his imagination. It was a 
work of genius on his part to weld together that great 
empire of miscellaneous states extending from southern 
Babylonia to Assyria, and from the borders of Elam to the 
Mediterranean coast, by a universal legal Code which 
secured tranquillity and equal rights to all, promoted busi- 
ness, and set before his subjects the ideals of right thinking 
and right living. 

Hammurabi recognized that conquest was of little 
avail unless followed by the establishment of a just and 
well-arranged political system, and the inauguration of 
practical measures to secure the domestic, industrial, and 
commercial welfare of the people as a whole. He engaged 
himself greatly, therefore, in developing the natural 
resources of each particular district. The network of 
irrigating canals was extended in the homeland so that 
agriculture might prosper : these canals also promoted 
trade, for they were utilized for travelling by boat and 
for the distribution of commodities. As a result of his 
activities Babylon became not only the administrative, 
but also the commercial centre of his Empire the Lon- 
don of Western Asia and it enjoyed a spell of prosperity 
which was never surpassed in subsequent times. Yet it 
never lost its pre-eminent position despite the attempts of 
rival states, jealous of its glory and influence, to suspend 
its activities. It had been too firmly established during 
the Hammurabi Age, which was the Golden Age of 
Babylonia, as the heartlike distributor and controller of 
business life through a vast network of veins and arteries, 
to be displaced by any other Mesopotamian city to plea- 
sure even a mighty monarch. For two thousand years, 
from the time of Hammurabi until the dawn of the 


Christian era, the city of Babylon remained amidst many 
political changes the metropolis of Western Asiatic com- 
merce and culture, and none was more eloquent in its 
praises than the scholarly pilgrim from Greece who won- 
dered at its magnificence and reverenced its antiquities. 

Hammurabi's reign was long as it was prosperous. 
There is no general agreement as to when he ascended 
the throne some say in 2123 B.C., others hold that it 
was after 2000 B.C.- but it is certain that he presided 
over the destinies of Babylon for the long period of forty- 
three years. 

There are interesting references to the military suc- 
cesses of his reign in the prologue to the legal Code. It 
is related that when he "avenged Larsa", the seat of Rim- 
Sin, he restored there the temple of the sun god. Other 
temples were built up at various ancient centres, so that 
these cultural organizations might contribute to the 
welfare of the localities over which they held sway. At 
Nippur he thus honoured Enlil, at Eridu the god Ea, at 
Ur the god Sin, at Erech the god Anu and the goddess 
Nana (Ishtar), at Kish the god Zamama and the goddess 
Ma-ma, at Cuthah the god Nergal, at Lagash the god 
Nin-Girsu, while at Adab and Akkad, " celebrated for its 
wide squares", and other centres he carried out religious 
and public works. In Assyria he restored the colossus of 
Ashur, which had evidently been carried away by a con- 
queror, and he developed the canal system of Nineveh. 

Apparently Lagash and Adab had not been completely 
deserted during his reign, although their ruins have not 
yielded evidence that they flourished after their fall 
during the long struggle with the aggressive and plun- 
dering Elaniites. 

Hammurabi referred to himself in the Prologue as 
"a king who commanded obedience in all the four 


quarters". He was the sort of benevolent despot whom 
Carlyle on one occasion clamoured vainly for -not an 
Oriental despot in the commonly accepted sense of the 
term. As a German writer puts it, his despotism was a 
form of Patriarchal Absolutism. " When Marduk (Mero- 
dach)", as the great king recorded, "brought me to 
direct all people, and commissioned me to give judgment, 
I laid down justice and right in the provinces, I made all 
flesh to prosper." 1 That was the keynote of his long 
life; he regarded himself as the earthly representative of 
the Ruler of all Merodach, "the lord god of right", 
who carried out the decrees of Anu, the sky god of 

The next king, Samsu-iluna, reigned nearly as long as 
his illustrious father, and similarly lived a strenuous and 
pious life. Soon after he came to the throne the forces 
of disorder were let loose, but, as has been stated, he 
crushed and slew his most formidable opponent, Rim-Sin, 
the Elamite king, who had gathered together an army of 
allies. During his reign a Kassite invasion was repulsed. 
The earliest Kassites, a people of uncertain racial affinities, 
began to settle in the land during Hammurabi's lifetime. 
Some writers connect them with the Hittites, and others 
with the Iranians, vaguely termed as Indo-European or 
Indo-Germanic folk. Ethnologists as a rule regard them 
as identical with the Cossaei, whom the Greeks found 
settled between Babylon and Media, east of the Tigris 
and north of Elam. The Hittites came south as raiders 
about a century later. It is possible that the invading 
Kassites had overrun Elam and composed part of Rim- 
Sin's army. After settled conditions were secured many 
of them remained in Babylonia, where they engaged like 

1 Translation by Johns in Babylonian and Assyrian Latvs, Contracts, and Letters, pp. 
390 et seq. 


their pioneers in agricultural pursuits. No doubt they 
were welcomed in that capacity, for owing to the con- 
tinuous spread of culture and the development of com- 
merce, rural labour had become scarce and dear. Farmers 
had a long-standing complaint, "The harvest truly is 
plenteous, but the labourers are few'*. 1 "Despite the 
existence of slaves, who were for the most part domestic 
servants, there was", writes Mr. Johns, "considerable 
demand for free labour in ancient Babylonia. This is 
clear from the large number of contracts relating to hire 
which have come down to us. ... As a rule, the man 
was hired for the harvest and was free directly after. 
But there are many examples in which the term of service 
was different one month, half a year, or a whole year. 
. . . Harvest labour was probably far dearer than any 
other, because of its importance, the skill and exertion 
demanded, and the fact that so many were seeking for it 
at once." When a farm worker was engaged he received 
a shekel for "earnest money" or arles, and was penalized 
for non-appearance or late arrival. 2 

So great was the political upheaval caused by Rim-Sin 
and his allies and imitators in southern Babylonia, that it 
was not until the seventeenth year of his reign that Samsu- 
iluna had recaptured Erech and Ur and restored * their 
walls. Among other cities which had to be chastised was 
ancient Akkad, where a rival monarch endeavoured to 
establish himself. Several years were afterwards spent 
in building new fortifications, setting up memorials in 
temples, and cutting and clearing canals. On more than 
one occasion during the latter part of his reign he had to 
deal with aggressive bands of Amorites. 

The greatest danger to the Empire, however, was 
threatened by a new kingdom which had been formed in 

1 Matthew, ix, 37. 2 Johns' a Babylonian and Assyrian Laws, &c. 9 pp. 371-2. 


Bit-Jakin, a part of Sealand which was afterwards controlled 
by the mysterious Chaldeans. Here may have collected 
evicted and rebel bands of Elamites and Sumerians and 
various "gentlemen of fortune" who were opposed to 
the Hammurabi regime. After the fall of Rim-Sin it 
became powerful under a king called Ilu-ma-ilu* Samsu- 
iluna conducted at least two campaigns against his rival, 
but without much success. Indeed, he was in the end 
compelled to retreat with considerable loss owing to the 
difficult character of that marshy country. 

Abeshu, the next Babylonian king, endeavoured to 
shatter the cause of the Sealanders, and made it possible 
for himself to strike at them by damming up the Tigris 
canal. He achieved a victory, but the wily Ilu-ma-ilu 
eluded him, and after a reign of sixty years was succeeded 
by his son, Kiannib. The Sealand Dynasty, of which 
little is known, lasted for over three and a half centuries, 
and certain of its later monarchs were able to extend their 
sway over part of Babylonia, but its power was strictly 
circumscribed so long as Hammurabi's descendants held 

During Abeshu's reign of twenty-eight years, of which 
but scanty records survive, he appears to have proved 
an able statesman and general. He founded a new city 
called Lukhaia, and appears to have repulsed a Kassite 

His son, Ammiditana, who succeeded him, apparently 
inherited a prosperous and well-organized Empire, for 
during the first fifteen years of his reign he attended 
chiefly to the adornment of temples and other pious 
undertakings. He was a patron of the arts with archaeo- 
logical leanings, and displayed traits which suggest that 
he inclined, like Sumu-la-ilu, to ancestor worship. Ente- 
mena, the pious patesi of Lagash, whose memory is 


associated with the famous silver vase decorated with the 
lion-headed eagle form of Nin-Girsu, had been raised to 
the dignity of a god, and Ammiditana caused his statue to 
be erected so that offerings might be made to it. He set 
up several images of himself also, and celebrated the 
centenary of the accession to the throne of his grand- 
father, Samsu-iluna, "the warrior lord", by unveiling 
his statue with much ceremony at Kish. About the 
middle of his reign he put down a Sumerian rising, 
and towards its close had to capture a city which is 
believed to be Ism, but the reference is too obscure 
to indicate what political significance attached to this 
incident. His son, Ammizaduga, reigned for over 
twenty years quite peacefully so far as is known, and 
was succeeded by Samsuditana, whose rule extended over 
a quarter of a century. Like Ammiditana, these two 
monarchs set up images of themselves as well as of the 
gods, so that they might be worshipped, no doubt. They 
also promoted the interests of agriculture and commerce, 
and incidentally increased the revenue from taxation by 
paying much attention to the canals and extending the 
cultivatable areas. 

But the days of the brilliant Hammurabi Dynasty 
were drawing to a close. It endured for about a century 
longer than the Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt, which came 
to an end, according to the Berlin calculations, in 1788 B.C. 
Apparently some of the Hammurabi and Amenemhet 
kings were contemporaries, but there is no evidence that 
they came into direct touch with one another. It was not 
until at about two centuries after Hammurabi's day that 
Egypt first invaded Syria, with which, however, it had 
for a long period previously conducted a brisk trade. 
Evidently the influence of the Hittites and their Amoritic 
allies predominated between Mesopotamia and the Delta 


frontier of Egypt, and it is significant to find in this con- 
nection that the " Khatti " or " Hatti " were referred to 
for the first time in Egypt during the Twelfth Dynasty, 
and in Babylonia during the Hammurabi Dynasty, some- 
time shortly before or after 2000 B.C, About 1800 B.C. 
a Hittite raid resulted in the overthrow of the last 
king of the Hammurabi family at Babylon. The Hyksos 
invasion of Egypt took place after 1788 B,C, 


Rise of the Hittites, Mitannians, Kassites, 
Hyksos, and Assyrians 

The War God of Mountaineers Antiquity of Hittite Civilization 
Prehistoric Movements of "Broad Heads" Evidence of Babylon and Egypt 
- Hittites and Mongolians Biblical References to Hittites in Canaan 
Jacob's Mother and her Daughters-in-law Great Father and Great Mother 
Cults History in Mythology The Kingdom of Mitanni Its Aryan 
Aristocracy The Hyksos Problem The Horse in Warfare Hittites and 
Mitannians Kassites and Mitannians Hyksos Empire in Asia Kassites 
overthrow Sealand Dynasty Egyptian Campaigns in Syria Assyria in the 
Making Ethnics of Genesis Nimrod as Merodach Early Conquerors of 
Assyria Mitannian Overlords Tell-el-Amarna Letters Fall of Mitanni 
Rise of Hittite and Assyrian Empires Egypt in Eclipse Assyrian and 
Babylonian Rivalries. 

WHEN the Hammurabi Dynasty, like the Twelfth Dynasty 
of Egypt, is found to be suffering languid decline, the 
gaps in the dulled historical records are filled with the 
echoes of the thunder god, whose hammer beating re- 
sounds among the northern mountains. As this deity 
comes each year in Western Asia when vegetation has 
withered and after fruits have dropped from trees, bring- 
ing tempests and black rainclouds to issue in a new 
season of growth and fresh activity, so he descended from 
the hills in the second millennium before the Christian era 
as the battle lord of invaders and the stormy herald of 
a new age which was to dawn upon the ancient world. 
He was the war god of the Hittites as well as of the 


northern Amorites, the Mitannians, and the Kassites; and 
he led the Aryans from the Iranian steppes towards the 
verdurous valley of the Punjab. His worshippers engraved 
his image with grateful hands on the beetling cliffs of 
Cappadocian chasms in Asia Minor, where his sway was 
steadfast and pre-eminent for long centuries, In one 
locality he appears mounted on a bull wearing a fringed 
and belted tunic with short sleeves, a conical helmet, and 
upturned shoes, while he grasps in one hand the light- 
ning symbol, and in the other a triangular bow resting 
on his right shoulder. In another locality he is the 
bringer of grapes and barley sheaves. But his most 
familiar form is the bearded and thick-set mountaineer, 
arnxed with a ponderous thunder hammer, a flashing 
trident, and a long two-edged sword with a hemispherical 
knob on the hilt, which dangles from his belt, while an 
antelope or goat wearing a pointed tiara prances beside 
him. This deity is identical with bluff, impetuous Thor 
of northern Europe, Indra of the Himalayas, Tarku of 
Phrygia, and Teshup or Teshub of Armenia and northern 
Mesopotamia, Sandan, the Hercules of Cilicia, Adad or 
Hadad of Amurru and Assyria, and Ramman, who at an 
early period penetrated Akkad and Sumer in various 
forms. His Hittite name is uncertain, but in the time 
of Rameses II he was identified with Sutekh (Set). He 
passed into southern Europe as Zeus, and became "the 
lord " of the deities of the -flSgean and Crete. 

The Hittites who entered Babylon about 1800 B.C., 
and overthrew the last king of the Hammurabi Dynasty, 
may have been plundering raiders, like the European 
Gauls of a later age, or a well-organized force of a strong, 
consolidated power, which endured for a period of un- 
certain duration. They were probably the latter, for 
although they carried off Merodach and Zerpanitu m , these 


idols were not thrust into the melting pot, but retained 
apparently for political reasons. 

These early Hittites are "a people of the mist". 
More than once in ancient history casual reference is 
made to them ; but on most of these occasions they 
soon vanish suddenly behind their northern mountains. 
The explanation appears to be that at various periods 
great leaders arose who were able to weld together the 
various tribes, and make their presence felt in Western 
Asia. But when once the organization broke down, either 
on account of internal rivalries or the influence of an out- 
side power, they lapsed back again into a state of political 
insignificance in the* affairs of the ancient world. It is 
possible that about 1800 B.C. the Hittite confederacy was 
controlled by an ambitious king who had dreams of a 
great empire, and was accordingly pursuing a career of 

Judging from what we know of the northern wor- 
shippers of the hammer god in later times, it would 
appear that when they were referred to as the Hatti 
or Khatti, the tribe of that name was the dominating 
power in Asia Minor and north Syria. The Hatti are 
usually identified with the broad-headed mountaineers of 
Alpine or Armenoid type the ancestors of the modern 
Armenians. Their ancient capital was at Boghaz-Koi, 
the site of Pteria, which was destroyed, according to the 
Greeks, by Croesus, the last King of Lydia, in the sixth 
century B.C. It was strongly situated in an excellent 
pastoral district on the high, breezy plateau of Cappa- 
docia, surrounded by high mountains, and approached 
through narrow river gorges, which in winter were 
blocked with snow. 

Hittite civilization was of great antiquity. Excavations 
which have been conducted at an undisturbed artificial 


mound at Sakje-Geuzi have revealed evidences of a con- 
tinuous culture which began to flourish before 3000 n.c. 1 
In one of the lower layers occurred that particular type 
of Neolithic yellow-painted pottery, with black geometric 
designs, which resembles other specimens of painted fabrics 
found in Turkestan by the Pumpelly expedition; in Susa, 
the capital of Elam, and its vicinity, by De Morgan; in 
the Balkan peninsula by Schliemann; in a First Dynasty 
tomb at Abydos in Egypt by Petrie; and in the late 
Neolithic and early Bronze Age (Minoan) strata of Crete 
by Evans. It may be that these interesting relics were 
connected with the prehistoric drift westward of the 
broad-headed pastoral peoples who ultimately formed the 
Hittite military aristocracy. 

According to Professor Elliot Smith, broad-headed 
aliens from Asia Minor first reached Egypt at the dawn 
of history. There they blended with the indigenous tribes 
of the Mediterranean or Brown Race. A mesocephalic 
skull then became common. It is referred to as the Giza 
type, and has been traced by Professor Elliot Smith from 
Egypt to the Punjab, but not farther into India. 2 

During the early dynasties this skull with alien traits 
was confined chiefly to the Delta region and the vicinity 
of Memphis, the city of the pyramid builders. It is not 
improbable that the Memphite god Ptah may have been 
introduced into Egypt by the invading broad heads. 
This deity is a world artisan like Indra, and is similarly 
associated with dwarfish artisans; he hammers out the 
copper sky, and therefore links with the various thunder 
gods Tarku, Teshup, Adad, Ramman, &c., of the 
Asian mountaineers. Thunderstorms were of too rare 
occurrence in Egypt to be connected with the food supply, 

1 The Land of the Hitfites, John Garstang, pp. 312 et seq. and 315 et seq. 

2 The Ancient Egyptians, pp. 106 et seq. 


which has always depended on the river Nile. Ptah's 
purely Egyptian characteristics appear to have been ac- 
quired after fusion with Osiris-Seb, the Nilotic gods of 
inundation, earth, and vegetation. The ancient god Set 
(Sutekh), who became a demon, and was ultimately re- 
exalted as a great deity during the Nineteenth Dynasty, 
may also have had some connection with the prehistoric 

Professor Elliot Smith, who has found alien traits in 
the mummies of the Rameses kings, is convinced that the 
broad-headed folks who entered Europe by way of Asia 
Minor, and Egypt through the Delta, at the close of the 
Neolithic Age, represent "two streams of the same 
Asiatic folk". 1 The opinion of such an authority cannot 
be lightly set aside. 

The earliest Egyptian reference to the Kheta, as the 
Hittites were called, was made in the reign of the first 
Amenemhet of the Twelfth Dynasty, who began to reign 
about 2000 B.C. Some authorities, including Maspero, 2 
are of opinion that the allusion to the Hatti which is 
found in the Babylonian Book of Omens belongs to the 
earlier age of Sargon of Akkad and Naram-Sin, but Sayce 
favours the age of Hammurabi. Others would connect 
the Gutium, or men of Kutu, with the Kheta or Hatti. 
Sayce has expressed the opinion that the Biblical Tidal, 
identified with Tudkhul or Tudhula, " king of nations ", 
the ally of Arioch, Amraphel, and Chedor-laomer, was a 
Hittite king, the " nations " being the confederacy of 
Asia Minor tribes controlled by the Hatti. " In the 
fragments of the Babylonian story of Chedor-laomer 
published by Dr. Pinches", says Professor Sayce, "the 
name of Tid c al is written Tudkhul, and he is described 
as King of the Umman Manda^ or Nations of the North, 

1 The Ancient Egyptians, p. 130. a Struggle of the Nations (1896), p. 19. 


of which the Hebrew Goyyim is a literal translation. Now 
the name is Hittite. In the account of the campaign 
of Rameses II against the Hittites it appears as Tid c al, 
and one of the Hittite kings of Boghaz-Koi bears 
the same name, which is written as Dud-khaliya in cunei- 
form. 1 

One of the racial types among the Hittites wore 
pigtails. These head adornments appear on figures in 
certain Cappadocian sculptures and on Hittite warriors 
in the pictorial records of a north Syrian campaign of 
Rameses II at Thebes. It is suggestive, therefore, to 
find that on the stele of Naram-Sin of Akkad, the moun- 
taineers who are conquered by that battle lord wear pig- 
tails also. Their split robes are unlike the short fringed 
tunics of the Hittite gods, but resemble the long split 
mantles worn over their tunics by high dignitaries like 
King Tarku-dimme, who figures on a famous silver boss 
of an ancient Hittite dagger. Naram-Sin inherited the 
Empire of Sargon of Akkad, which extended to the 
Mediterranean Sea. If his enemies were not natives of 
Cappadocia, they may have been the congeners of the 
Hittite pigtailed type in another wooded and mountainous 

It has been suggested that these wearers of pigtails 
were Mongolians. But although high cheek bones and 
oblique eyes occurred in ancient times, and still occur, in 
parts of Asia Minor, suggesting occasional Mongolian 
admixture with Ural-Altaic broad heads, the Hittite pig- 
tailed warriors must not be confused with the true small- 
nosed Mongols of north-eastern Asia. The Egyptian 
sculptors depicted them with long and prominent noses, 
which emphasize their strong Armenoid affinities. 

Other tribes in the Hittite confederacy included the 

1 Note contributed to The Land of the Hittite^ J. Garstang, p. 324. 


representatives of the earliest settlers from North Africa 
of Mediterranean racial stock. These have been identi- 
fied with the Canaanites, and especially the agriculturists 
among them, for the Palestinian Hittites are also referred 
to as Canaanites in the Bible, and in one particular con- 
nection under circumstances which afford an interesting 
glimpse of domestic life in those far-off times. When 
Esau, Isaac's eldest son, was forty years of age, " he took 
to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and 
Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite " l . Appar- 
ently the Hittite ladies considered themselves to be of 
higher caste than the indigenous peoples and the settlers 
from other countries, for when Ezekiel declared that the 
mother of Jerusalem was a Hittite he said : " Thou art 
thy mother's daughter, that lotheth her husband and her 
children." 2 Esau's marriage was " a grief of mind unto 
Isaac and to Rebekah ".* The Hebrew mother seems to 
have entertained fears that her favourite son Jacob would 
fall a victim to the allurements of other representatives of 
the same stock as her superior and troublesome daughters- 
in-law, for she said to Isaac : " I am weary of my life 
because of the daughters of Heth ; if Jacob take a wife 
of the daughters of Heth, such as these which are of the 
daughters of the land, what good shall my life do me?" 3 
Isaac sent for Jacob, "and charged him, and said unto 
him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of 
Canaan. Arise, go to Padan-aram, to the house of 
Bethuel, thy mother's father ; and take thee a wife from 
thence of the daughters of Laban, thy mother's brother." 4 
From these quotations two obvious deductions may be 
drawn : the Hebrews regarded the Hittites "of the land" 
as one with the Canaanites, the stocks having probably 

1 Genesis, xxvi, 34, 35, 2 Exekifl, xvi, 45. 

8 Genesis^ xxvii, 46. 4 Genesis^ xxviii, i, 2. 


been so well fused, and the worried Rebekah had the 
choosing of Jacob's wife or wives from among her own 
relations in Mesopotamia who were of Sumerian stock 
and kindred of Abraham. 1 It is not surprising to find 
traces of Sumerian pride among the descendants of the 
evicted citizens of ancient Ur, especially when brought 
into association with the pretentious Hittites. 

Evidence of racial blending in Asia Minor is also 
afforded by Hittite mythology. In the fertile agricultural 
valleys and round the shores of that great Eur- Asian 
"land bridge'* the indigenous stock was also of the 
Mediterranean race, as Sergi and other ethnologists have 
demonstrated. The Great Mother goddess was wor- 
shipped from the earliest times, and she bore various 
local names. At Comana in Pontus she was known to 
the Greeks as Ma, a name which may have been as old as 
that of the Sumerian Mama (the creatrix), or Mamitu m 
(goddess of destiny) ; in Armenia she was Anaitis; in 
Cilicia she was Ate (' Atheh of Tarsus) ; while in Phrygia 
she was best known as Cybele, mother of Attis, who links 
with Ishtar as mother and wife of Tammuz, Aphrodite 
as mother and wife of Adonis, and Isis as mother and 
wife of Osiris. The Great Mother was in Phoenicia 
called Astarte ; she was a form of Ishtar, and identical 
with the Biblical Ashtoreth. In the Syrian city of Hiera- 
polis she bore the name of Atargatis, which Meyer, with 
whom Frazer agrees, considers to be the Greek rendering 
of the Aramaic 'Athar-' Atheh the god 'Athar and the 
goddess 'Atheh. Like the "bearded Aphrodite", Atar- 
gatis may have been regarded as a bisexual deity. Some 
of the specialized mother goddesses, whose outstanding 
attributes reflected the history and politics of the states 
they represented, were imported into Egypt the land of 

1 Genesis, xxiv. 
(0642) 20 


ancient mother deities during the Empire period, by 
the half-foreign Rameses kings ; these included the 
voluptuous Kadesh and the warlike Anthat. In every 
district colonized by the early representatives of the Medi- 
terranean race, the goddess cult came into prominence, 
and the gods ?ind the people were reputed to be descen- 
dants of the great Creatrix. This rule obtained as far 
distant as Ireland, where the Danann folk and the Danann 
gods were the children of the goddess Danu. 

Among the Hatti proper that is, the broad-headed 
military aristocracy the chief deity of the pantheon was 
the Great Father, the creator, u the lord of Heaven ", the 
Baal. As Sutekh, Tarku, Adad, or Ramman, he was the 
god of thunder, rain, fertility, and war, and he ultimately 
acquired solar attributes. A famous rock sculpture at 
Boghaz-Kfti depicts a mythological scene which is be- 
lieved to represent the Spring marriage of the Great 
Father and the Great Mother, suggesting a local fusion 
of beliefs which resulted from the union of tribes of the 
god cult with tribes of the goddess cult. So long as 
the Hatti tribe remained the predominant partner in 
the Hittite confederacy, the supremacy was assured of the 
Great Father who symbolized their sway. But when, 
in the process of time, the power of the Hatti declined, 
their chief god <c fell . . . from his predominant place in 
the religion of the interior ", writes Dr. Garstang. " But 
the Great Mother lived on, being the goddess of the 
land." 1 

In addition to the Hittite confederacy of Asia Minor 
and North Syria, another great power arose in northern 
Mesopotamia. This was the Mitanni Kingdom. Little is 
known regarding it, except what is derived from indirect 
sources. Winckler believes that it was first established 

1 The Syrian Goddess, John Garstang (London, 1913), pp. 17-8. 


by early "waves" of Hatti people who migrated from 
the east. 

The Hittite connection is based chiefly on the follow- 
ing evidence. One of the gods of the Mitanni rulers 
was Teshup, who is identical with Tarku, the Thor of 
Asia Minor, The raiders who in 1800 B.C. entered 
Babylon, set fire to E-sagila, and carried off Merodach 
and his consort Zerpanitu m , were called the Hatti. The 
images of these deities were afterwards obtained from 
Khani (Mitanni). 

At a later period, when we come to know more about 
Mitanni from the letters of one of its kings to two 
Egyptian Pharaohs, and the Winckler tablets from Bog- 
ha^-Kfti, it is found that its military aristocracy spoke an 
Indo-European language, as is shown by the names of 
their kings Saushatar, Artatama, Sutarna, Artashshumara, 
Tushratta, and Mattiuza. They worshipped the follow- 
ing deities : 

Mi-it-ra, Uru-w-na, In-da-ra, and Na-sa-at-ti-ia 

Mitra, Varuna, Indra, and Nasatyau (the "Twin Aswins" 
= Castor and Pollux) whose names have been deciphered 
by Winckler. These gpds were also imported into 
India by the Vedic Aryans. The Mitanni tribe (the 
military aristocracy probably) was called " Kharri ", and 
some philologists are of opinion that it is identical with 
"Arya", which was "the normal designation in Vedic 
literature from the Rigveda onwards of an Aryan of the 
three upper classes". 1 Mitanni signifies " the river lands ", 
and the descendants of its inhabitants, who lived in 
Cappadocia, were called by the Greeks " Mattienoi ". 
" They are possibly ", says Dr. Haddon, " the ancestors 

1 Vedic Index of Names and Subjects, Macdonald & Keith, vol. i, pp. 64-5 (London, 


of the modern Kurds'*, 1 a conspicuously long-headed 
people, proverbial, like the ancient Aryo-Indians and 
the Gauls, for their hospitality and their raiding pro- 

It would appear that the Mitannian invasion of 
northern Mesopotamia and the Aryan invasion of India 
represented two streams of diverging migrations from a 
common cultural centre, and that the separate groups of 
wanderers mingled with other stocks with whom they 
came into contact. Tribes of Aryan speech were associ- 
ated with the Kassite invaders of Babylon, who took 
possession of northern Babylonia soon after the disastrous 
Hittite raid. It is believed that they carne from the east 
through the highlands of Elam. 

For a period, the dating of which is uncertain, the 
Mitannians were overlords of part of Assyria, including 
Nineveh and even Asshur, as well as the district called 
" Musri " by the Assyrians, and part of Cappadocia. 
They also occupied the cities of Harran and Kadesh. 
Probably they owed their great military successes to their 
cavalry. The horse became common in Babylon during 
the Kassite Dynasty, which followed the Hammurabi, and 
was there called " the ass ofgthe east ", a name which 
suggests whence the Kassites and Mitannians came. 

The westward movement of the Mitannians in the 
second millennium B.C. may have been in progress prior 
to the Kassite conquest of Babylon and the Hyksos in- 
vasion of Egypt. Their relations in Mesopotamia and 
Syria with the Hittites and the Amorites are obscure. 
Perhaps they were for a time the overlords of the Hittites. 
At any rate it is of interest to note that when Thothmes 
III struck at the last Hyksos stronghold during his long 
Syrian campaign of about twenty years' duration, his 

1 The Wanderings of Peoples, p. 21. 



operations were directly against Kadesh on the Qrontes, 
which was then held by his fierce enemies the Mitannians 
of Naharjna. 1 

During the Hyksos Age the horse was introduced 
into Egypt. Indeed the Hyksos conquest was probably 
due to the use of the horse, which was domesticated, as 
the Pumpelly expedition has ascertained, at a remote 
period in Turkestan, whence it may have been obtained 
by the horse-sacrificing Aryo-Indians and the horse- 
sacrificing ancestors of the Siberian Buriats, 

If the Mitanni rulers were not overlords of the Hittites 
about 1800 B.C., the two peoples may have been military 
allies of the Kassites. Some writers suggest, indeed, that 
the, Kassites came from Mitanni. Another view is that 
the Mitannians were the Aryan allies of the Kassites who 
entered Babylon from the Elamite highlands, and that 
they afterwards conquered Mesopotamia and part of 
Cappadocia prior to the Hyksos conquest of Egypt. A 
third solution of the problem is that the Aryan rulers of 
the Mitannian Hittites were the overlords of northern 
Babylonia, which they included in their Mesopotamian 
empire for a century before the Kassites achieved political 
supremacy in the Tigro-Euphrates valley, and that they 
were also the leaders of the Hyksos invasion of Egypt, 
which they accomplished with the assistance of their Hittite 
and Amoritic allies. 

The first Kassite king of Babylonia of whom we have 
knowledge was Gandash. He adopted the old Akkadian 
title,, "king of the four quarters' 1 , as well as the title 
"king of Sumer and Akkad", first used by the rulers of 
the Dynasty of Ur. Nippur appears to have been selected 
by Gandash as his capital, which suggests that his war and 
storm god, Shuqamuna, was identified with Bel Enlil, who 

1 Breasted's History of Egypt, pp. 219-20. 


as a " world giant" has much in common with the north- 
ern hammer gods. After reigning for sixteen years, 
Gandash was succeeded by his son, Agum the Great, who 
sat on the throne for twenty-two years. The great- 
grandson of Agum the Great was Agum II, and not until 
his reign were the statues of Merodach and his consort 
Zerpanitu m brought back to the city of Babylon. This 
monarch recorded that, in response to the oracle of 
Shamash, the sun god, he sent to the distant land oi 
Khani (Mitanni) for the great deity and his consort. 
Babylon would therefore appear to have been deprived 
of Merodach for about two centuries. The Hittite- 
Mitanni raid is dated about 1800 B.C., and the rise of 
Gandash, the Kassite, about 1700 B.C. At least a cen- 
tury elapsed between the reigns of Gandash and Agum II. 
These calculations do not coincide, it will be noted, 
with the statement in a Babylonian hymn, that Merodach 
remained in the land of the Hatti for twenty-four years, 
which, however, may be either a priestly fiction or a refer- 
ence to a later conquest. The period which followed the 
fall of the Hammurabi Dynasty of Babylonia is as obscure 
as the Hyksos Age of Egypt. 

Agum II, the Kassite king, does not state whether or 
not he waged war against Mitanni to recover Babylon's 
god Merodach. If, however, he was an ally of the 
Mitanni ruler, the transference of the deity may have 
been an ordinary diplomatic transaction. The possibility 
may also be suggested that the Hittites of Mitanni were 
not displaced by the Aryan military aristocracy until after 
the Kassites were firmly established in northern Babylonia 
between 1700 B.C. and 1600 B.C. This may account for 
the statements that Merodach was carried off by the Hatti 
and returned from the land of Khani. 

The evidence afforded by Egypt is suggestive in this 


connection. There was a second Hyksos Dynasty in that 
country. The later rulers became "Egyptianized" as 
the Kassites became " Babylonianized ", but they were 
all referred to by the exclusive and sullen Egyptians as 
"barbarians" and "Asiatics". They recognized the sun 
god of Heliopolis, but were also concerned in promoting 
the worship of Sutekh, a deity of sky and thunder, with 
solar attributes, whom Rameses II identified with the 
" Baal" of the Hittites. The Mitannians, as has been 
stated, recognized a Baal called Teshup, who was identical 
with Tarku of the Western Hittites and with their own 
tribal Indra also. One of the Hyksos kings, named Ian 
or Khian, the lanias of Manetho, was either an overlord 
or. the ally of an overlord, who swayed a great empire in 
Asia. His name has been deciphered on relics found as 
far apart as Knossos in Crete and Baghdad on the Tigris, 
which at the time was situated within the area of Kassite 
control. Apparently peaceful conditions prevailed during 
his reign over a wide extent of Asia and trade was brisk 
between far -distant centres of civilization. The very 
term Hyksos is suggestive in this connection. According 
to Breasted it signifies "rulers of countries ", which com- 
pares with the Biblical "Tidal king of nations", whom 
Sayce, as has been indicated, regards as a Hittite monarch. 
When the Hittite hieroglyphics have been read and 
Mesopotamia thoroughly explored, light may be thrown 
on the relations of the Mitannians, the Hittites, the 
Hyksos, and the Kassites between 1 800 B.C. and 1 500 B.C. 
It is evident that a fascinating volume of ancient history 
has yet to be written. 

The Kassites formed the military aristocracy of Baby- 
lonia, which was called Karduniash, for nearly six cen- 
turies. Agum II was the first of their kings who became 
thoroughly Babylonianized, and although he still gave 


recognition to Shuqamuna, the Kassite god of battle, he 
re-exalted Merodach, whose statue he had taken back 
from " Khani ", and decorated E-sagila with gifts of gold, 
jewels, rare woods, frescoes, and pictorial tiles ; he also 
re-endowed the priesthood. During the reign of his 
successor, Burnaburiash I, the Dynasty of Sealand came 
to an end. 

Little is known regarding the relations between Elam 
and Babylonia during the Kassite period. If the Kassite 
invaders crossed the Tigris soon after the raid of the 
Mitannian Hittites they must have previously overrun 
a great part of Elam, but strongly situated Susa may 
have for a, time withstood their attacks. At first the 
Kassites held northern Babylonia only, while the ancient 
Sumerian area was dominated by the Sealand power, which 
had gradually regained strength during the closing years 
of the Hammurabi Dynasty. No doubt many northern 
Babylonian refugees reinforced its army. 

The Elamites, or perhaps the Kassites of Elam, appear 
to have made frequent attacks on southern Babylonia. 
At length Ea-gamil, king of Sealand, invaded Elam with 
purpose, no doubt, to shatter the power of his restless 
enemies. He was either met there, however, by an army 
from Babylon, or his country was invaded during his 
absence. Prince Ulamburiash, son of Burnaburiash I, 
defeated Ea-gamil and brought to an end the Sealand 
Dynasty which had been founded by Ilu-ma-ilu, the con- 
temporary and enemy of Samsu-la-ilu, son of Hammurabi. 
Ulamburiash is referred to on a mace-head which was 
discovered at Babylon as "king of Sealand ", and he prob- 
ably succeeded his father at the capital. The whole of 
Babylonia thus came under Kassite sway. 

Agum III, a grandson of Ulamburiash, found it 
necessary, however, to invade Sealand, which must 


therefore have revolted. It was probably a centre of 
discontent during the whole period of Kassite ascend- 

After a long obscure interval we reach the period 
when the Hyksos power was broken in Egypt, that is, 
after 1580 B.C. The great Western Asiatic kingdoms 
at the time were the Hittite, the Mitannian, the Assyrian, 
and the Babylonian (Kassite). Between 1557 B.C. and 
1501 B.C. Thothmes I of Egypt was asserting his sway 
over part of Syria. Many years elapsed, however, before 
Thothmes III, who died in 1447 B.C., established firmly, 
after waging a long war of conquest, the supremacy of 
Egypt between the ** Euphrates and the Mediterranean 
coast as far north as the borders of Asia Minor. 

" At this period ", as Professor Flinders Petrie 
emphasizes, "the civilization of Syria was equal or 
superior to that of Egypt." Not only was there in the 
cities "luxury beyond that of the Egyptians", but also 
"technical work which could teach them". The Syrian 
soldiers had suits of scale armour, which afterwards were 
manufactured in Egypt, and they had chariots adorned 
with gold and silver and highly decorated, which were 
greatly prized by the Egyptians when they captured them, 
and reserved for royalty. "In the rich wealth of gold 
and silver vases", obtained from captured cities by the 
Nilotic warriors, " we see also ", adds Petrie, " the sign of 
a people who were their (the Egyptians') equals, if not 
their superiors in taste and skill. J>1 It is not to be wondered 
at, therefore, when the Pharaohs received tribute from 
Syria that they preferred it to be carried into Egypt by 
skilled workmen. "The keenness with which the 
Egyptians record all the beautiful and luxurious pro- 
ducts of the Syrians shows that the workmen would 

1 A History of Egypt, W. M. Flinders Petrie, vol. ii, p. 146 et sey. (1904 ed.). 


probably be more in demand than other kinds of slave 
tribute/' 1 

One of the monarchs with whom Thothmes III corre- 
sponded was the king of Assyria. The enemies of Egypt 
in northern Mesopotamia were the Hittites and Mi- 
tannians, and their allies, and these were also the enemies 
of Assyria. But to .enable us to deal with the new situa- 
tion which was created by Egypt in Mesopotamia, it is 
necessary in the first place to trace the rise of Assyria, 
which was destined to become for a period the dominating 
power in Western Asia, and ultimately in the Nile valley 

The Assyrian group of cities grew up on the banks of 
the Tigris to the north of Babylonia, the mother country. 
The following Biblical references regarding the origins of 
the two states are of special interest: 

Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, 
and Japheth. . . . The sons of Ham: Cush, and Mizraim, and 
Phut, and Canaan. . . . And Cush begat Nimrod; he began to be 
a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the 
Lord; wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter 
before the Lord. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, 
and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. Out of 
that land went forth Asshur and builded Nineveh, and the city 
Rehoboth, and Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the 
same is a great city. 

The children of Shem: Elam and Asshur . . . (Genesis, x, 1-22). 

The land of Assyria . . . and the land of Nimrod in the 
entrances thereof (Micah, v, 6). 

It will be observed that the Sumero-Babylonians are 
Cushites or Hamites, and therefore regarded as racially 
akin to the proto-Egyptians of the Mediterranean race an 
interesting confirmation of recent ethnological conclusions. 

1 A History of Egypt, W. M. Flinders Pctrie, vol. ii, p. 147 (1904 ed.). 


Nimrod, the king of Babel (Babylon), in Shinar 
(Sumer), was, it would appear, a deified monarch who 
became ultimately identified with the national god of 
Babylonia. Professor Pinches has shown 1 that his name 
is a rendering of that of Merodach. In Sumerian Mero- 
dach was called Amaruduk or Amarudu, and in the 
Assyro- Babylonian language Marduk. By a process 
familiar to philologists the suffix " uk " was dropped and 
the rendering became Marad. The Hebrews added " ni " 
= " ni-marad ", assimilating the name "to a certain extent 
to the 'niphal forms' pf the Hebrew verbs and making 
a change", says Pinches, "in conformity with the genius 
of the Hebrew language". 

^Lsshur, who went out of Nimrod's country to build 
Nineveh, was a son of Shem a Semite, and so far as is 
known it was after the Semites achieved political supremacy 
in Akkad that the Assyrian colonies were formed. 
Asshur may have been a subject ruler who was deified 
and became the god of the city of Asshur, which probably 
gave its name to Assyria. 

According to Herodotus, Nineveh was founded by 
King Ninus and Queen Semiramis. This lady was re- 
puted to be the daughter of Derceto, the fish goddess, 
whom Pliny identified with Atargatis. Semiramis was 
actually an Assyrian queen of revered memory. She was 
deified and took the place .of a goddess, apparently Nina, 
the prototype of Derceto. This Nina, perhaps a form 
of Damkina, wife of Ea, was the great mother of the 
Sumerian city of Nina, and there, and also at Lagash, 
received offerings of fish. She was one of the many 
goddesses of maternity absorbed by Ishtar. The Greek 
Ninus is regarded as a male form of her name; like 

1 The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records and Legends of Assyria and 
Babylonia^ pp. 126 et seq. 


Atargatis, she may have become a bisexual deity, if she 
was not always accompanied by a shadowy male form. 
Nineveh (Ninua) was probably founded or conquered by 
colonists from Nina or Lagash, and called after the fish 

All the deities of Assyria were imported from Baby- 
lonia except, as some hold, Ashur, the national god. 1 
The theory that Ashur was identical with the Aryo- 
Indian Asura and the Persian Ahura is not generally 
accepted. One theory is that he was an eponymous hero 
who became the city god of Asshur, although the early 
form of his name, Ashir, presents a difficulty in this con- 
nection. Asshur was the first capital of Assyria. Its 
city god may have become the national god on that 

At an early period, perhaps a thousand years before 
Thothmes III battled with the Mitannians in northern 
Syria, an early wave of one of the peoples of Aryan 
speech may have occupied the Assyrian cities. Mr. Johns 
points out in this connection that the names of Ushpia, 
Kikia, and Adasi, who, according to Assyrian records, 
were early rulers in Asshur, "are neither Semitic nor 
Sumerian ". An ancient name of the goddess of Nineveh 
was Shaushka, which compares with Shaushkash, the con- 
sort of Teshup, the Hittite-Mitanni hammer god. As 
many of the Mitannian names "are", according to Mr. 
Johns, "really Elamitic", he suggests an ethnic connec- 
tion between the early conquerors of Assyria and the 
people of Elam. 2 Were the pre-Semitic Elamites origi- 
nally speakers of an agglutinative language, like the 
Sumerians and present-day Basques, who were conquered 
in prehistoric times by a people of Aryan speech ? 

1 His connection with Anu is discussed in chapter xiv. 

2 Ancient Assyria, C. H. W. Johns, p. 1 1 (London, 1912). 


The possibility is urged by Mr, Johns's suggestion 
that Assyria may have been dominated in pre-Semitic 
times by the congeners of the Aryan military aristocracy 
of Mitanni. As has been shown, it was Semitized by the 
Amoritic migration which, about 2000 B,c., brought into 
prominence the Hammurabi Dynasty of Babylon, 

A long list of kings with Semitic names held sway in 
the Assyrian cities during and after the Hammurabi Age. 
But not until well on in the Kassite period did any of 
them attain prominence in Western Asia. Then Ashur- 
bel-nish-eshu, King of Asshur, was strong enough to deal 
on equal terms with the Kassite ruler Kara-indash I, with 
whom he arranged a boundary treaty. He was a contem- 
porary of Thothmes III of Egypt. 

After Thothmes III had secured the predominance of 
Egypt in Syria and' Palestine he recognized Assyria as 
an independent power, and supplied its king with Egyp- 
tian gold to assist him, no doubt, in strengthening his 
territory against their common enemy. Gifts were also 
sent from Assyria to Egypt to fan the flame of cordial 

The situation was full of peril for Saushatar, king 
of Mitanni. Deprived by Egypt of tribute-paying cities 
in Syria, his exchequer must have been sadly depleted. 
A standing army had to be maintained, for although 
Egypt made no attempt to encroach further on his terri- 
tory, the Hittites were ever hovering on his north-western 
frontier, ready when opportunity offered to win back 
Cappadocia. Eastward, Assyria was threatening to be- 
come a dangerous rival. He had himself to pay tribute 
to Egypt, and Egypt was subsidizing his enemy. It was 
imperative on his part, therefore, to take action without 
delay. The power of Assyria had to be crippled ; its 
revenues were required for the Mitannian exchequer. So 


Saushatar raided Assyria during the closing years of the 
reign of Thothmes III, or soon after his successor. Amen- 
hotep II, ascended the Egyptian throne. 

Nothing is known from contemporary records regard- 
ing this campaign; but it can be gathered from the refer- 
ences of a later period that the city of Asshur was captured 
and plundered; its king, Ashur-nadin-akhe, ceased corre- 
sponding and exchanging gifts with Egypt. That Nineveh 
also fell is made clear by the fact that a descendant of 
Saushatar (Tushratta) was able to send to a descendant 
of Thothmes III at Thebes (Amenhotep III) the image 
of Ishtar (Shaushka) of Nineveh. Apparently five suc- 
cessive Mitannian kings were overlords of Assyria during 
a period which cannot be estimated at much less than a 
hundred years. 

Our knowledge regarding these events is derived 
chiefly from the Tell-el-Amarna letters, and the tablets 
found by Professor Hugo Winckler at Boghaz-K5i in 
Cappadocia, Asia Minor. 

The Tell-el-Amarna letters were discovered among 
the ruins of the palace of the famous Egyptian Pharaoh, 
Akhenaton, of the Eighteenth Dynasty, who died about 
1358 B.C. During the winter of 1887-8 an Egyptian 
woman was excavating soil for her garden, when she 
happened upon the cellar of Akhenaton's foreign office in 
which the official correspondence had been stored. The 
" letters " were baked clay tablets inscribed with cunei- 
form alphabetical signs in the Babylonian - Assyrian 
language, which, like French in modern times, was the 
language of international diplomacy for many centuries in 
Western Asia after the Hyksos period. 

The Egyptian natives, ever so eager to sell antiquities 
so as to make a fortune and retire for life, offered some 
specimens of the tablets for sale. One or two were sent 


to Paris, where they were promptly declared to be for- 
geries, with the result that for a time the inscribed bricks 
were not a marketable commodity. Ere their value was 
discovered, the natives had packed them into sacks, with 
the result that many were damaged and some completely 
destroyed. At length, however, the majority of them 
reached the British Museum and the Berlin Museum, 
while others drifted into the museums at Cairo, St. 
Petersburg, and Paris. When they were deciphered, 
Mitanni was discovered, and a flood of light thrown on 
the internal affairs of Egypt and its relations with various 
kingdoms in Asia, while glimpses were also afforded of 
the life and manners of the times. 

The letters covered the reigns of Amenhotep III, the 
great-grandson of Thothmes III, and of his son Akhena- 
ton, " the dreamer king ", and included communications 
from the kings of Babylonia, Assyria, Mitanni, Cyprus, 
the Hittites, and the princes of Phoenicia and Canaan. 
The copies of two letters from Amenhotep III to Kallima- 
Sin, King of Babylonia, had also been preserved. One 
deals with statements made by Babylonian ambassadors, 
whom the Pharaoh stigmatizes as liars. Kallima-Sin had 
sent his daughter to the royal harem of Egypt, and 
desired to know if she was alive and well. He also asked 
for " much gold " to enable him to carry on the work of 
extending his temple. When twenty minas of gold was 
sent to him, he complained in due course that the quan- 
tity received was not only short but that the gold was not 
pure; it had been melted in the furnace, and less than 
five minas came out. In return he sent to Akhenaton 
two minas of enamel, and some jewels for his daughter, 
who was in the Egyptian royal harem. 

Ashur-uballit, king of Ashur, once wrote intimating 
to Akhenaton that he was gifting him horses and chariots 


and a jewel seal. He asked for gold to assist in building 
his palace. "In your country'*, he added, "gold is as 
plentiful as dust." He also made an illuminating state- 
ment to the effect that no ambassador had gone from 
Assyria to Egypt since the days of his ancestor Ashur- 
nadin-akhe. It would therefore appear that Ashur-uballit 
had freed part of Assyria from the yoke of Mitanni. 

The contemporary king of Mitanni was Tushratta. 
He corresponded both with his cousin Amenhotep III 
and his son-in-law Akhenaton. In his correspondence 
with Amenhotep III Tushratta tells that his kingdom had 
been invaded by the Hittites, but his god Teshup had 
delivered them into his hand, and he destroyed them; 
"not one of them", he declared, "returned to his own 
country' 1 . Out of the booty captured he sent Amenhotep 
several chariots and horses, and a boy and a girl. To his 
sister Gilu-khipa, who was one of the Egyptian Pharaoh's 
wives, he gifted golden ornaments and a jar of oil. In 
another letter Tushratta asked for a large quantity of 
gold "without measure ". He complained that he did 
not receive enough on previous occasions, and hinted that 
some of the Egyptian gold looked as if it were alloyed 
with copper. Like the Assyrian king, he hinted that 
gold was as plentiful as dust in Egypt. His own presents 
to the Pharaoh included precious stones, gold ornaments, 
chariots and horses, and women (probably slaves). This 
may have been tribute. It was during the third Amen- 
hotep's illness that Tushratta forwarded the Nineveh 
image of Ishtar to Egypt, and he made reference to its 
having been previously sent thither by his father, Sutarna. 

When Akhenaton came to the throne Tushratta wrote 
to him, desiring to continue the friendship which had 
existed for two or three generations between the kings of 
Mitanni and Egypt, and made complimentary references 


to " the distinguished Queen Tiy ", Akhenaton's mother, 
who evidently exercised considerable influence in shaping 
Egypt's foreign policy. In the course of his long 
correspondence with the Pharaohs, Tushratta made those 
statements regarding his ancestors which have provided 
so much important data for modern historians of his 

During the early part of the Tell-el-Amarna period, 
Mitanni was the most powerful kingdom in Western 
Asia. It was chiefly on that account that the daughters 
of its rulers were selected to be the wives and mothers of 
great Egyptian Pharaohs. But its numerous enemies 
were ever plotting to accomplish its downfall. Among 
these the foremost and most dangerous were the Hittites 
and the Assyrians. 

The ascendancy of the Hittites was achieved in 
northern Syria with dramatic suddenness. There arose 
in Asia Minor a great conqueror, named Subbi-luliuma, 
the successor of Hattusil I, who established a strong 
Hittite empire which endured for about two centuries. 
His capital was at Boghaz-Kfti. Sweeping through 
Cappadocia, at the head of a finely organized army, re- 
markable for its mobility, he attacked the buffer states 
which owed allegiance to Mitanni and Egypt. City after 
city fell before him, until at length he invaded Mitanni ; 
but it is uncertain whether or not Tushratta met him in 
battle. Large numbers of the Mitannians were, however, 
evicted and transferred to the land of the Hittites, where 
the Greeks subsequently found them, and where they are 
believed to be represented by the modern Kurds, the 
hereditary enemies of the Armenians. 

In the confusion which ensued, Tushratta was mur- 
dered by Sutarna II, who was recognized by Subbi- 
luliuma. The crown prince, Mattiuza, fled to Babylon, 

(0642) 21 


where he found protection, but was unable to receive any 
assistance. Ultimately, when the Hittite emperor had 
secured his sway over northern Syria, he deposed 
Sutarna II and set Mattiuza as his vassal on the throne 
of the shrunken Mitanni kingdom. 

Meanwhile the Egyptian empire in Asia had gone to 
pieces. When Akhenaton, the dreamer king, died in his 
palace at Tell-el-Amarna, the Khabiri were conquering 
the Canaanite cities which had paid him tribute, and the 
Hittite ruler was the acknowledged overlord of the 

The star of Assyria was also in the ascendant. Its 
king, Ashur-uballit, who had corresponded with Akhen- 
aton, was, like the Hittite king, Subbi-luliuma, a distin- 
guished statesman and general, and similarly laid the 
foundations of a great empire. Before or after Subbi- 
luliuma invaded Tushratta's domains, he drove the 
Mitannians out of Nineveh, and afterwards overcame the 
Shubari tribes of Mitanni on the north-west, with the 
result that he added a wide extent of territory to his 
growing empire. 

He had previously thrust southward the Assyro- 
Babylonian frontier. In fact, he had become so formid- 
able an opponent of Babylonia that his daughter had been 
accepted as the wife of Karakhardash, the Kassite king of 
that country. In time his grandson, Kadashman-Kharbe, 
ascended the Babylonian throne. This young monarch 
co-operated with his grandfather in suppressing the Suti, 
who infested the trade routes towards the west, and plun- 
dered the caravans of merchants and the messengers of 
great monarchs with persistent impunity. 

A reference to these bandits appears in one of the 
Tell-el-Amarna letters. Writing to Akhenaton, Ashur- 
uballit said: "The lands (of Assyria and Egypt) are 

. 2155 

remote, therefore let our messengers come and go. That 
your messengers were late in reaching you, (the reason is 
that) if the Suti had waylaid them, they would have been 
dead men. For if I had sent them, the Suti would have 
sent bands to waylay them ; therefore I have retained 
them. My messengers (however), may they not (for 
this reason) be delayed." 1 

Ashur-uballit's grandson extended his Babylonian 
frontier into Amurru, where he dug wells and erected 
forts to protect traders. The Kassite aristocracy, how- 
ever, appear to have entertained towards him a strong 
dislike, perhaps because he was so closely associated with 
their hereditary enemies the Assyrians. He had not 
reigned for long when the embers of rebellion burst into 
flame and he was murdered in his palace. The Kassites 
then selected as their king a man of humble origin, named 
Nazibugash, who was afterwards referred to as "the son 
of nobody ". Ashur-uballit deemed the occasion a fitting 
one to interfere in the affairs of Babylonia. He suddenly 
appeared at the capital with a strong army, overawed the 
Kassites, and seized and slew Nazibugash. Then he set 
on the throne his great grandson the infant Kurigalzu II, 
who lived to reign for fifty-five years. 

Ashur-uballit appears to have died soon after this 
event. He was succeeded by his son Bel-nirari, who 
carried on the policy of strengthening and extending the 
Assyrian empire. For many years he maintained excel- 
lent relations with his kinsman Kurigalzu II, but ulti- 
mately they came into conflict apparently over disputed 
territory. A sanguinary battle was fought, in which the 
Babylonians suffered heavily and were put to rout. A 
treaty of peace was afterwards arranged, which secured for 
the Assyrians a further extension of their frontier " from 

1 The Tell-cl-Amarna Letters, Hugo Winckler, p. 31. 


the borders of Mitanni as far as Babylonia ". The struggle 
of the future was to be for the possession of Mesopo- 
tamia, so as to secure control over the trade routes. 

Thus Assyria rose from a petty state in a compara- 
tively brief period to become the rival of Babylonia, at a 
time when Egypt at the beginning of its Nineteenth 
Dynasty was endeavouring to win back its lost empire in 
Syria, and the Hittite empire was being consolidated in 
the north. 

Astrology and Astronomy 

Culture and Superstition Primitive Star Myths Naturalism, Totemism, 
and Animism Stars as Ghosts of Men, Giants, and Wild Animals Gods 
as Constellations and Planets Babylonian and Egyptian Mysticism Osiris, 
Tammuz, and Merodach Ishtar and Isis as Bisexual Deities The Babylonian 
Planetary Deities Planets as Forms of Tammuz and Ghosts of Gods The 
Signs of the Zodiac The "Four Quarters" Cosmic Periods in Babylonia, 
India, Greece, and Ireland Babylonian System of Calculation Traced in 
Indian Yuga System Astrology Beliefs of the Masses Rise of Astronomy 
Conflicting Views of Authorities Greece and Babylonia Eclipses Foretold 
The Dial of Ahaz Omens of Heaven and Air Biblical References to 
Constellations The Past in the Present. 

THE empire builders of old who enriched themselves 
with the spoils of war and the tribute of subject States, 
not only satisfied personal ambition and afforded pro- 
tection for industrious traders and workers, but also 
incidentally promoted culture and endowed research. 
When a conqueror returned to his capital laden with 
treasure, he made generous gifts to the temples. He 
believed that his successes were rewards for his piety, that 
his battles were won for him by his god or goddess of 
war. It was necessary, therefore, that he should continue 
to find favour in the eyes of the deity who had been 
proved to be more powerful than the god of his enemies. 
Besides, he had to make provision during his absence on 
long campaigns, or while absorbed in administrative work, 
for the constant performance of religious rites, so that the 
various deities of water, earth, weather, and corn might be 



sustained or propitiated with sacrificial offerings, or held 
in magical control by the performance of ceremonial rites. 
Consequently an endowed priesthood became a necessity 
in all powerful and well-organized states. 

Thus came into existence in Babylonia, as elsewhere, 
as a result of the accumulation of wealth, a leisured 
official class, whose duties tended to promote intellectual 
activity, although they were primarily directed to per- 
petuate gross superstitious practices* Culture was really 
a by-product of temple activities ; it flowed forth like 
pure gold from furnaces of thought which were walled up 
by the crude ores of magic and immemorial tradition. 

No doubt in ancient Babylonia, as in Europe during 
the Middle Ages, the men of refinement and intellect 
among the upper classes were attracted to the temples, 
while the more robust types preferred the outdoor life, 
and especially the life of the soldier. 1 The permanent 
triumphs of Babylonian civilization were achieved either 
by the priests, or in consequence of the influence they 
exercised. They were the grammarians and the scribes, 
the mathematicians and the philosophers of that ancient 
country, the teachers of the young, and the patrons of the 
arts and crafts. It was because the temples were centres 
of intellectual activity that the Sumerian language re- 
mained the language of culture for long centuries after it 
ceased to be the everyday speech of the people. 

Reference has already been made to the growth of art, 
and the probability that all the arts had their origin in 
magical practices, and to the growth of popular educa- 
tion necessitated by the centralization of business in the 

1 " It may be worth while to note again", says Beddoe, "how often finely developed 
skulls are discovered in the graveyards of old monasteries, and how likely seems Galton's 
conjecture, that progress was arrested in the Middle Ages, because the celibacy of the 
clergy brought about the extinction of the best strains of blood." The Anthropological 
History of Europe, p. 161 (1912). 


temples. It remains with us to deal now with priestly 
contributions to the more abstruse sciences. In India 
the ritualists among the Brahmans, who concerned them- 
selves greatly regarding the exact construction and mea- 
surements of altars, gave the world algebra ; the pyramid 
builders of Egypt, who erected vast tombs to protect 
royal mummies, had perforce to lay the groundwork of 
the science of geometry ; and the Babylonian priests who 
elaborated the study of astrology became great astron- 
omers because they found it necessary to observe and 
record accurately the movements of the heavenly bodies. 

From the earliest times of which we have knowledge, 
the religious beliefs of the Sumerians had vague stellar 
associations. But it does not follow that their myths 
were star myths to begin with. A people who called 
constellations " the ram ", " the bull ", " the lion ", or 
"the scorpion", did not do so because astral groups 
suggested the forms of animals, but rather because the 
animals had an earlier connection with their religious life. 

At the same time it should be recognized that the 
mystery of the stars must ever have haunted the minds 
of primitive men. Night with all its terrors appealed 
more strongly to their imaginations than refulgent day 
when they felt more secure ; they were concerned most 
regarding what they feared most. Brooding in darkness 
regarding their fate, they evidently associated the stars 
with the forces which influenced their lives the ghosts 
of ancestors, of totems, the spirits that brought food or 
famine and controlled the seasons. As children see 
images in a fire, so they saw human life reflected in the 
starry sky. To the simple minds of early folks the great 
moon seemed to be the parent of the numerous twinkling 
and moving orbs. In Babylon, indeed, the moon was 
regarded as the father not only of the stars but of the sun 


also; there, as elsewhere, lunar worship was older than 
solar worship. 

Primitive beliefs regarding the stars were of similar 
character in various parts of the world. But the impor- 
tance which they assumed in local mythologies depended 
in the first place on local phenomena. On the northern 
Eur-Asian steppes, for instance, where stars vanished 
during summer's blue nights, and were often obscured by 
clouds in winter, they did not impress men's minds so 
persistently and deeply as in Babylonia, where for the 
greater part of the year they gleamed in darkness through 
a dry transparent atmosphere with awesome intensity. 
The development of an elaborate system of astral myths, 
besides, was only possible in a country where the people 
had attained to a high degree of civilization, and men 
enjoyed leisure and security to make observations and 
compile records. It is not surprising, therefore, to find 
that Babylonia was the cradle of astronomy. But before 
this science had destroyed the theory which it was 
fostered to prove, it lay smothered for long ages in the 
debris of immemorial beliefs. It is necessary, therefore, 
in dealing with Babylonian astral myths to endeavour 
to approach within reasonable distance of the point of 
view, or points of view, of the people who framed them. 

Babylonian religious thought was of highly complex 
character. Its progress was ever hampered by blended 
traditions. The earliest settlers in the Tigro- Euphrates 
valley no doubt imported many crude beliefs which they 
had inherited from their Palaeolithic ancestors the modes 
of thought which were the moulds of new theories 
arising from new experiences. When consideration is 
given to the existing religious beliefs of various peoples 
throughout the world, in low stages of culture, it is 
found that the highly developed creeds of Babylonia, 


Egypt, and other countries where civilization flourished 
were never divested wholly of their primitive traits. 

Among savage peoples two grades of religious ideas 
have been identified, and classified as Naturalism and 
Animism. In the plane of Naturalism the belief obtains 
that a vague impersonal force, which may have more than 
one manifestation and is yet manifested in everything, 
controls the world and the lives of human beings. An 
illustration of this stage of religious consciousness is 
afforded by Mr. Risley, who, in dealing with the religion 
of the jungle dwellers of Chota Nagpur, India, says that 
"in most cases the indefinite something which they fear 
and attempt to propitiate is not a person at all in any 
sense of the word; if one must state the case in positive 
terms, I should say that the idea which lies at the root of 
their religion is that of a power rather than many powers". 1 

Traces of Naturalism appear to have survived in 
Sumeria in the belief that " the spiritual, the Zi, was that 
which manifested life. . . . The test of the manifestation 
of life was movement." 2 All things that moved, it was 
conceived in the plane of Naturalism, possessed " self 
power"; the river was a living thing, as was also the 
fountain; a stone that fell from a hill fell of its own 
accord; a tree groaned because the wind caused it to 
suffer pain. This idea that inanimate objects had con- 
scious existence survived in the religion of the Aryo- 
Indians. In the Nala story of the Indian epic, the 
Mahdbhdrata, the disconsolate wife Damayanti addresses 
a mountain when searching for her lost husband: 

This, the monarch of all mountains, ask I of the king of men; 
O all-honoured Prince of Mountains, with thy heavenward 
soaring peaks ... 

1 Census of Indict) vol. i, part i, pp. 3^2 et seq, 

2 Hibbcrt Lectures, Professor Sayce, p. 328. 


Hast thou seen the kingly Nala in this dark and awful wood?. . . 
Why replicst thou not, O Mountain?" 

She similarly addresses the Asoka tree: 

" Hast thou seen Nishadha's monarch, hast thou seen my only 

love? . . . 

That I may, depart ungrieving, fair Asoka, answer me. . . ." 
Many a tree she stood and gazed on. . . .* 

It will be recognized that when primitive men gave 
names to mountains, rivers, or the ocean, these possessed 
for them a deeper significance than they do for us at the 
present day. The earliest peoples of Indo-European 
speech who called the sky "dyeus", and those of 
Sumerian speech who called it "ana", regarded it not 
as the sky "and nothing more", but as something which 
had conscious existence and "self power". Our remote 
ancestors resembled, in this respect, those imaginative 
children who hold conversations with articles of furniture, 
and administer punishment to stones which, they believe, 
have tripped them up voluntarily and with desire to 
commit an offence. 

In this early stage of development the widespread 
totemic beliefs appear to have had origin. Families 
or tribes believed that they were descended from moun- 
tains, trees, or wild animals. 

JEsop's fable about the mountain which gave birth to 
a mouse may be a relic of Totemism ; so also may be the 
mountain symbols on the standards of Egyptian ships 
which appear on pre-dynastic pottery; the black dwarfs 
of Teutonic mythology were earth children. 2 

1 The Story of Nala, Monicr Williams, pp. 68-9 and 77. 

2 " In Ymer's flesh (the earth) the dwarfs were engendered and began to move and 
live. . . . The dwarfs had been bred in the mould of the earth, just as worms are in 
a dead body." The Prose Edda. 

"The gods . . . took counsel whom they should make the lord of dwarfs out of 


Adonis sprang from a tree; his mother may have, 
according to primitive belief, been simply a tree; Dagda, 
the patriarchal Irish corn god, was an oak; indeed, the 
idea of a "world tree", which occurs in Sumerian, Vedic- 
Indian, Teutonic, and other mythologies, was probably 
a product of Totemism. 

Wild animals were considered to be other forms of 
human beings who could marry princes and princesses as 
they do in so many fairy tales. Damayanti addressed 
the tiger, as well as the mountain and tree, saying: 

I approach him without fear. 

" Of the beasts art thou the monarch, all this forest thy domain; . . . 
Thou, O king of beasts, console me, if my Nala thou hast seen." 1 

A tribal totem exercised sway over a tribal district. In 
Egypt, as Herodotus recorded, the crocodile was wor- 
shipped in one district and hunted down in another. 
Tribes fought against tribes when totemic animals were 
slain. The Babylonian and Indian myths about the con- 
flicts between eagles and serpents may have originated as 
records of battles between eagle clans and serpent clans. 
Totemic animals were tabooed. The Set pig of Egypt 
and the devil pig of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales were 
not eaten except sacrificially. Families were supposed to 
be descended from swans and were named Swans, or from 
seals and were named Seals, like the Gaelic " Mac 
Codrums", whose surname signifies "son of the seal"; 
the nickname of the Campbells, "sons of the pig", may 
refer to their totemic boar's head crest, which commemo- 
rated the slaying, perhaps the sacrificial slaying, of the 
boar by their ancestor Diarmid. Mr. Garstang, in The 
Syrian Goddess^ thinks it possible that the boar which killed 

Ymer'a blood (the sea) and his swarthy limbs (the earth)/' The Elder Edda (Voluspay 
stanza 9). 

1 The Story of Nala, Monier Williams, p. 67. 


Adonis was of totemic origin. So may have been the 
fish form of the Sumerian god Ea. When an animal 
totem was sacrificed once a year, and eaten sacrificially 
so that the strength of the clan might be maintained, the 
priest who wrapped himself in its skin was supposed to 
have transmitted to him certain magical powers ; he be- 
came identified with the totem and prophesied and gave 
instruction as the totem. Ea was depicted clad in the 
fish's skin. 

Animism, the other early stage of human develop- 
ment, also produced distinctive modes of thought. Men 
conceived that the world swarmed with spirits, that a 
spirit groaned in the wind-shaken tree, that the howl- 
ing wind was an invisible spirit, that there were spirits 
in fountains, rivers, valleys, hills, and in ocean, and in 
all animals; and that a hostile spirit might possess an 
individual and change his nature. The sun and the 
moon were the abodes of spirits, or the vessels in which 
great spirits sailed over the sea of the sky ; the stars 
were all spirits, the "host of heaven". These spirits 
existed in groups of seven, or groups of three, and the 
multiple of three, or in pairs, or operated as single indi- 

Although certain spirits might confer gifts upon 
mankind, they were at certain seasons and in certain 
localities hostile and vengeful, like the grass-green fairies 
in winter, or the earth-black elves when their gold was 
sought for in forbidden and secret places. These 
spirits were the artisans of creation and vegetation, like 
the Egyptian Khnumu and the Indian Rhibus ; they 
fashioned the grass blades and the stalks of corn, 
but at times of seasonal change they might ride on 
their tempest steeds, or issue forth from flooding rivers 
and lakes. Man was greatly concerned about striking 


bargains with them to secure their services, and about 
propitiating them, or warding off their attacks with 
protective charms, and by performing "ceremonies of 
riddance". The ghosts of the dead, being spirits, were 
similarly propitious or harmful on occasion; as emissaries 
of Fate they could injure the living. 

Ancestor worship, the worship of ghosts, had origin 
in the stage of Animism. But ancestor worship was not 
developed in Babylonia as in China, for instance, although 
traces of it survived in the worship of stars as ghosts, in 
the deification of kings, and the worship of patriarchs, 
who might be exalted as gods or identified with a 
supreme god. The Egyptian Pharaoh Unas became the 
sun god and the constellation of Orion by devouring his 
predecessors. 1 He ate his god as a tribe ate its animal 
totem; he became the "bull of heaven". 

There were star totems as well as mountain totems. 
A St. Andrew's cross sign, on one of the Egyptian ship 
standards referred to, may represent a star. The Baby- 
lonian goddess Ishtar was symbolized as a star, and she 
was the "world mother". Many primitive currents of 
thought shaped the fretted rocks of ancient mythologies. 

In various countries all round the globe the belief 
prevailed that the stars were ghosts of the mighty dead 
of giants, kings, or princes, or princesses, or of pious 
people whom the gods loved, or of animals which were 
worshipped. A few instances may be selected at random. 
When the Teutonic gods slew the giant Thjasse, he ap- 
peared in the heavens as Sirius. In India the ghosts of 
the "seven Rishis" , who were semi -divine Patriarchs, 
formed the constellation of the Great Bear, which in Vedic 
times was called the "seven bears". The wives of the 
seven Rishis were the stars of the Pleiades. In Greece 

n Myth and"Legtnd^ pp. 1 68 et seq. 


the Pleiades were the ghosts of the seven daughters of 
Atlas and Pleione, and in Australia they were and are 
a queen and six handmaidens. In these countries, as else- 
where, stories were told to account for the "lost Pleiad ", 
a fact which suggests that primitive men were more con- 
stant observers of the heavenly bodies than might other- 
wise be supposed. The Arcadians believed that they were 
descended, as Hesiod recorded, from a princess who was 
transformed by Zeus into a bear ; in this form Artemis 
slew her and she became the " Great Bear" of the sky. 
The Egyptian Isis was the star Sirius, whose rising co- 
incided with the beginning of the Nile inundation. Her 
first tear for the dead Osiris fell into the river on "the 
night of the drop". The flood which ensued brought 
the food supply. Thus the star was not only the Great 
Mother of all, but the sustainer of all. 

The brightest stars were regarded as being the greatest 
and most influential. In Babylonia all the planets were 
identified with great deities, Jupiter, for instance, was 
Merodach, and one of the astral forms of Ishtar was 
Venus. Merodach was also connected with "the fish of 
Ea" (Pisces), so that it is not improbable that Ea worship 
had stellar associations. Constellations were given recog- 
nition before the planets were identified. 

A strange blending of primitive beliefs occurred when 
the deities were given astral forms. As has been shown 
(Chapter III) gods were supposed to die annually. The 
Egyptian priests pointed out to Herodotus the grave of 
Osiris and also his star. There are " giants' graves " also 
in those countries in which the gods were simply ferocious 
giants. . A god might assume various forms ; he might 
take the form of an insect, like Indra, and hide in a plant, 
or become a mouse, or a serpent, like the gods of Erech 
in the Gilgamesh epic. The further theory that a god 


could exist in various forms at one and the same time 
suggests that it had its origin among a people who 
accepted the idea of a personal god while yet in the stage 
of Naturalism. In Egypt Osiris, for instance, was the 
moon, which came as a beautiful child each month and was 
devoured as the wasting "old moon" by the demon Set; 
he was the young god who was slain in his prime each year; 
he was at once the father, husband, and son of Isis; he 
was the Patriarch who reigned over men and became the 
Judge of the Dead; he was the earth spirit, he was the 
bisexual Nile spirit, he was the spring sun; he was the 
Apis bull of Memphis, and the ram of Mendes; he was 
the reigning Pharaoh. In his fusion with Ra, who was 
threefold Khepera, Ra, and Turn he died each day as 
an old man; he appeared in heaven at night as the con- 
stellation Orion, which was his ghost, or was, perhaps, 
rather the Sumerian Zi, the spiritual essence of life. 
Osiris, who resembled Tammuz, a god of many forms 
also, was addressed as follows in one of the Isis chants: 

There proceedeth from thee the strong Orion in heaven at evening, 

at the resting of every day ! 
Lo it is I (Isis), at the approach of the Sothis (Sirius) period, who 

doth watch for him (the child Osiris), 
Nor will I leave off watching for him; for that which proceedeth 

from thee (the living Osiris) is revered. 
An emanation from thee causeth life to gods and men, reptiles and 

animals, and they live by means thereof. 
Come thou to us from thy chamber, in the day when thy soul be- 

getteth emanations, 
The day when offerings upon offerings are made to thy spirit, 

which causeth the gods and men likewise to live. 1 

This extract emphasizes how unsafe it is to confine 
certain deities within narrow limits by terming them simply 

1 The Burden of /m, Dennis, p, 24. 


"solar gods", "lunar gods' 1 , "astral gods", or "earth 
gods". One deity may have been simultaneously a sun 
god and moon god, an air god and an earth god, one who 
was dead and also alive, unborn and also old. The priests 
of Babylonia and Egypt were less accustomed to concrete 
and logical definitions than their critics and expositors of 
the twentieth century. Simple explanations of ancient 
beliefs are often by reason of their very simplicity highly 
improbable. Recognition must ever be given to the 
puzzling complexity of religious thought in Babylonia 
and Egypt, and to the possibility that even to the priests 
the doctrines of a particular cult, which embraced the 
accumulated ideas of centuries, were invariably confusing 
and vague, and full of inconsistencies ; they were mystical 
in the sense that the understanding could not grasp them 
although it permitted their acceptance. A god, for in- 
stance, might be addressed at once in the singular and 
plural, perhaps because he had developed from an ani- 
mistic group of spirits, or, perhaps, for reasons we cannot 
discover. This is shown clearly by the following pregnant 
extract from a Babylonian tablet: "Powerful^ O Sevenfold, 
one are ye". Mr. L. W. King, the translator, comments 
upon it as follows : " There is no doubt that the name 
was applied to a group of gods who were so closely con- 
nected that, though addressed in the plural, they could 
in the same sentence be regarded as forming a single 
personality". 1 

Like the Egyptian Osiris, the Babylonian Merodach 
was a highly complex deity. He was the son of Ea, god 
of the deep; he died to give origin to human life when 
he commanded that his head should be cut off so that the 
first human beings might be fashioned by mixing his 
blood with the earth; he was the wind god, who gave 

1 Babylonian Magic and Sorcery, p. 117. 


"the air of life"; he was the deity of thunder and the 
sky; he was the sun of spring in his Tammuz character; 
he was the daily sun, and the planets Jupiter and Mercury 
as well as Sharru (Regulus); he had various astral associa- 
tions at various seasons. Ishtar, the goddess, was Iku 
(Capella), the water channel star, in January-February, 
and Merodach was Iku in May-June. This strange 
system of identifying the chief deity with different stars 
at different periods, or simultaneously, must not be con- 
fused with the monotheistic identification of him with 
other gods. Merodach changed his forms with Ishtar, 
and had similarly many forms. This goddess, for in- 
stance, was, even when connected with one particular 
heavenly body, liable to change. According to a tablet 
fragment she was, as the planet Venus, " a female at sun- 
set and a male at sunrise " 1 that is, a bisexual deity like 
Nannar of Ur, the father and mother deity combined, and 
Isis of Egypt. Nannar is addressed in a famous hymn: 

Father Nannar, Lord, God Sin, ruler among the gods. . . . 
Mother body which produceth all things. . . . 
Merciful, gracious Father, in whose hand the life of the 
whole land is contained. 

One of the Isis chants of Egypt sets forth, addressing 
There cometh unto thee Isis, lady of the horizon, who hath 

begotten herself alone in the image of the gods . . . 
She hath taken vengeance before Horus, the woman who was made 

a male by her father Osiris. 2 

Merodach, like Osiris-Sokar, was a "lord of many 
existences", and likewise "the mysterious one, he who 
is unknown to mankind". 3 It was impossible for the 
human mind "a greater than itself to know". 

1 Babylonian and Assyrian Religion^ T. G. Pinches, p. 100. 

2 The Burden of Isis, J. T. Dennis, p. 49. s Ibid., p. 52. 
(0642) 22 


Evidence has not yet been forthcoming to enable us 
to determine the period at which the chief Babylonian 
deities were identified with the planets, but it is clear 
that Merodach's ascendancy in astral form could not have 
occurred prior to the rise of that city god of Babylon as 
chief of the pantheon by displacing Enlil. At the same 
time it must be recognized that long before the Ham- 
murabi age the star-gazers of the Tigro-Euphrates valley 
must have been acquainted with the movements of the 
chief planets and stars, and, no doubt, they connected 
them with seasonal changes as in Egypt, where Isis was 
identified with Sirius long before the Ptolemaic age, when 
Babylonian astronomy was imported. Horus was identi- 
fied not only with the sun but also with Saturn, Jupiter, 
and Mars. 1 Even the primitive Australians, as has been 
indicated, have their star myths ; they refer to the stars 
Castor and Pollux as two young men, like the ancient 
Greeks, while the African Bushmen assert that these 
stars are two girls. It would be a mistake, however, to 
assume that the prehistoric Sumerians were exact astron- 
omers. Probably they were, like the Aryo-Indians of the 
Vedic period, "not very accurate observers ". 2 

It is of special interest to find that the stars were 
grouped by the Babylonians at the earliest period in 
companies of seven. The importance of this magical 
number is emphasized by the group of seven demons 
which rose from the deep to rage over the land (p. 71). 
Perhaps the sanctity of Seven was suggested by Orion, 
the Bears, and the Pleiad, one of which constellations may 
have been the "Sevenfold" deity addressed as "one". 
At any rate arbitrary groupings of other stars into com- 
panies of seven took place, for references are made to 

1 Religion of the Ancient Egyptian^ A. Wiedemann, p. 30. 

2 Vedic Index, Macdoncll & Keith, vol. i, pp. 423 et scq. 


the seven Tikshi, the seven Lumashi, and the seven 
Mashi, which are older than the signs of the Zodiac; 
so far as can be ascertained these groups were selected 
from various constellations. When the five planets were 
identified, they were associated with the sun and moon 
and connected with the chief gods of the Hammurabi 
pantheon. A bilingual list in the British Museum 
arranges the sevenfold planetary group in the following 

The moon, Sin. 

The sun, Shamash. 

Jupiter, Merodach. 

Venus, Ishtar. 

Saturn, Ninip (Nirig). 

Mercury, Nebo. 

Mars, Nergal. 

An ancient name of the moon was Aa, A, or Ai, which 
recalls the Egyptian A&h or Ah. The Sumerian moon 
was Aku, "the measurer ", like Thoth of Egypt, who in 
his lunar character as a Fate measured out the lives of 
men, and was a god of architects, mathematicians, and 
scribes. The moon was the parent of the sun or its 
spouse; and might be male, or female, or both as a bi- 
sexual deity. 

As the "bull of light" Jupiter had solar associations; 
he was also the shepherd of the stars, a title shared by 
Tammuz as Orion ; Nin-Girsu, a developed form of 
Tammuz, was identified with both Orion and Jupiter. 

Ishtar's identification with Venus is of special interest. 
When that planet was at its brightest phase, its rays were 
referred to as "the beard" of the goddess; she was the 
" bearded Aphrodite " a bisexual deity evidently. The 
astrologers regarded the bright Venus as lucky and the 
rayless Venus as unlucky. 


Saturn was Nirig, who is best known as Ninip, a deity 
who was displaced by Enlil, the elder Bel, and afterwards 
regarded as his son. His story has not been recovered, 
but from the references made to it there is little doubt 
that it was a version of the widespread myth about the 
elder deity who was slain by his son, as Saturn was by 
Jupiter and Dyaus by Indra. It may have resembled the 
lost Egyptian myth which explained the existence of the 
two Horuses Horus the elder, and Horus, the posthu- 
mous son of Osiris. At any rate, it is of interest to find 
in this connection that in Egypt the planet Saturn was 
Her-Ka, "Horus the Bull". Ninip was also identified 
with the bull. Both deities were also connected with the 
spring sun, like Tammuz, and were terrible slayers of their 
enemies. Ninip raged through Babylonia like a storm 
flood, and Horus swept down the Nile, slaying the 
followers of Set. As the divine sower of seed, Ninip 
may have developed from Tammuz as Horus did from 
Osiris. Each were at once the father and the son, 
different forms of the same deity at various seasons of 
the year. The elder god was displaced by the son 
(spring), and when the son grew old his son slew him 
in turn. As the planet Saturn, Ninip was the ghost of 
the elder god, and as the son of Bel he was the solar war 
god of spring, the great wild bull, the god of fertility. 
He was also as Ber "lord of the wild boar", an animal 
associated with Rimmon. 1 

Nebo (Nabu), who was identified with Mercury, was 
a god of Borsippa. He was a messenger and "announcer" 
of the gods, as the Egyptian Horus in his connection with 
Jupiter was Her-ap-sheta, "Horus the opener of that 
which is secret'*. 2 Nebo's original character is obscure. 

1 Religion of the Ancient Babylonians, Sajrce, p. 153, n. 6. 

2 Religion of the Ancient Egyptians, A. Wiedcmann, p. 30. 


Marble slab from Kouyunjik (Nineveh}: noiv in the British Museum 


He appears to have been a highly developed deity of a 
people well advanced in civilization when he was exalted 
as the divine patron of Borsippa. Although Hammurabi 
ignored him, he was subsequently invoked with Mero- 
dach, and had probably much in common with Merodach. 
Indeed, Merodach was also identified with the planet 
Mercury* Like the Greek Hermes, Nebo was a messen- 
ger of the gods and an instructor of mankind. Jastrow 
regards him as "a counterpart of Ea", and says: "Like 
Ea, he is the embodiment and source of wisdom. The 
art of writing and therefore of all literature is more par- 
ticularly associated with him. A common form of his name 
designates him as the ( god of the stylus*." 1 He appears 
also to have been a developed form of Tammuz, who was 
an incarnation of Ea. Professor Pinches shows that one 
of his names, Mermer, was also a non-Semitic name of 
Ramman. 2 Tammuz resembled Ramman in his character 
as a spring god of war. It would seem that Merodach 
as Jupiter displaced at Babylon Nebo as Saturn, the elder 
god, as Bel Enlil displaced the elder Ninip at Nippur. 

The god of Mars was Nergal, the patron deity of 
Cuthah, 3 who descended into the Underworld and forced 
into submission Eresh-ki-gal (Persephone), with whom he 
was afterwards associated. His " name ", says Professor 
Pinches, " is supposed to mean c lord of the great habita- 
tion ', which would be a parallel to that of his spouse, 
Eresh-ki-gal ", 4 At Erech he symbolized the destroying 
influence of the sun, and was accompanied by the demons 
of pestilence. Mars was a planet of evil, plague, and 
death; its animal form was the wolf. In Egypt it was 

1 Aspects of Religious Belief and Practice in Babylonia and Assyria, p. 95. 

2 Babylonian and Assyrian Religion, pp. 63 and 83. 

8 When the King of Assyria transported the Babylonians, &c., to Samaria " the men 
of Cuth made Nergal ", 2 Kings, xvii, 30. 
* Babylonian and Assyrian Religion, p. 80. 


called Hcrdesher, "the Red Horus", and in Greece it 
was associated with Ares (the Roman Mars), the war god, 
who assumed his boar form to slay Adonis (Tammuz). 

Nergal was also a fire god like the Aryo-Indian Agni, 
who, as has been shown, links with Tammuz as a demon 
slayer and a god of fertility. It may be that Nergal was 
a specialized form of Tammuz, who, in a version of the 
myth, was reputed to have entered the Underworld as a 
conqueror when claimed by Eresh-ki-gal, and to have 
become, like Osiris, the lord of the dead. If so, Nergal 
was at once the slayer and the slain. 

The various Babylonian deities who were identified with 
the planets had their characters sharply defined as mem- 
bers of an organized pantheon. But before this develop- 
ment took place certain of the prominent heavenly bodies, 
perhaps all the planets, were evidently regarded as mani- 
festations of one deity, the primeval Tammuz, who was 
a form of Ea, or of the twin deities Ea and Anu. Tam- 
muz may have been the "sevenfold one'' of the hymns. 
At a still earlier period the stars were manifestations of 
the Power whom the jungle dwellers of Chota Nagpur 
attempt to propitiate the " world soul " of the cultured 
Brahmans of the post-Vedic Indian Age. As much is 
suggested by the resemblances which the conventionalized 
planetary deities bear to Tammuz, whose attributes they 
symbolized, and by the Egyptian conception that the sun, 
Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars were manifestations of Horus. 
Tammuz and Horus may have been personifications of 
the Power or World Soul vaguely recognized in the stage 
of Naturalism. 

The influence of animistic modes of thought may be 
traced in the idea that the planets and stars were the 
ghosts of gods who were superseded by their sons. These 
sons were identical with their fathers ; they became, as 


in Egypt, "husbands of their mothers". This idea 
was perpetuated in the Aryo-Indian Laws of Manu> in 
which it is set forth that " the husband, after conception 
by his wife, becomes an embryo and is born again of 
her ".* The deities died every year, but death was simply 
change. Yet they remained in the separate forms they 
assumed in their progress round "the wide circle of 
necessity". Horus was remembered as various planets 
as the falcon, as the elder sun god, and as the son 
of Osiris; and Tammuz was the spring sun, the child, 
youth, warrior, the deity of fertility, and the lord of 
death (Orion-Nergal), and, as has been suggested, all 
the planets. 

The stars were also the ghosts of deities who died 
daily. When the sun perished as an old man at evening, 
it rose in the heavens as Orion, or went out and in among 
the stars as the shepherd of the flock, Jupiter, the planet 
of Merodach in Babylonia, and Attis in Asia Minor. The 
flock was the group of heavenly spirits invisible by day, 
the " host of heaven " manifestations or ghosts of the 
emissaries of the controlling power or powers. 

The planets presided over various months of the 
year. Sin (the moon) was associated with the third 
month; it also controlled the calendar; Ninip (Saturn) 
was associated with the fourth month, Ishtar (Venus) with 
the sixth, Shamash (the sun) with the seventh, Merodach 
(Jupiter) with the eighth, Nergal (Mars) with the ninth, 
and a messenger of the gods, probably Nebo (Mercury), 
with the tenth. 

Each month was also controlled by a zodiacal constel- 
lation. In the Creation myth of Babylon it is stated that 
when Merodach engaged in the work of setting the 
Universe in order he "set all the great gods in their 

1 Indian Myth and Legend^ p. 13. 


several stations ", and " also created their images, the 
stars of the Zodiac, 1 and fixed them all" (p. 147). 

Our signs of the Zodiac are of Babylonian origin. 
They were passed on to the Greeks by the Phoenicians 
and Hittites. " There was a time ", says Professor Sayce, 
"when the Hittites were profoundly affected by Baby- 
lonian civilization, religion, and art. . . ." They cc carried 
the time-worn civilizations of Babylonia and Egypt to 
the furthest boundary of Egypt, and there handed them 
over to the West in the grey dawn of European history. 
. . . Greek traditions affirmed that the rulers of Mykenae 
had come from Lydia, bringing with them the civiliza- 
tion and treasures of Asia Minor. The tradition has been 
confirmed by modern research. While certain elements 
belonging to the prehistoric culture of Greece, as revealed 
at Mykense and elsewhere, were derived from Egypt and 
Phoenicia, there are others which point to Asia Minor 
as their source. And the culture of Asia Minor was 
Hittite." 2 

The early Babylonian astronomers did not know, of 
course, that the earth revolved round the sun. They 
believed that the sun travelled across the heavens 
flying like a bird or sailing like a boat. 8 In studying its 
movements they observed that it always travelled frpm 
west to east along a broad path, swinging from side to 
side of it in the course of the year. This path is the 
Zodiac the celestial " circle of necessity ". The middle 

1 Derived from the Greek z0on, an animal. 

* The Hittitcs, pp. 116, 119, 120, 272. 

3 " The sun ... is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a 
strong man to run a race." (Psalm xix, 4 ef sey.) The marriage of the sun bridegroom 
with the moon bride appears to occur in Hittite mythology. In Aryo-Indian Vedic 
mythology the bride of the sun (Surya) is Ushas, the Dawn. The sun maiden also 
married the moon god. The Vedic gods ran a race and Indra and Agni were the 
winners. The sun was "of the nature of Agni". Indian Myth and l^egend^ pp. 14, 
36, 37- 


Sculptured on a stone recording privileges granted to 
Ritti-Marduk by Nebuchadnezzar I 

(British Aduseutn) 


line of the sun's path is the Ecliptic. The Babylonian 
scientists divided the Ecliptic into twelve equal parts, 
and grouped in each part the stars which formed their 
constellations; these are also called "Signs of the Zodiac". 
Each month had thus its sign or constellation. 

The names borne at the present day by the signs of 
the Zodiac are easily remembered even by children, who 
are encouraged to repeat the following familiar lines: 

The Ram, the Bui/, the heavenly Twins, 
And next the Crab, the Lion shines. 

The Virgin and the Scales-, 
The Scorpion, Archer, and Sea goat, 
The man that holds the water pot, 

And Fish with glitt'ring 1 tails. 

The table on p. 308 shows that our signs are derived 
from ancient Babylonia. 

The celestial regions were also divided into three or 
more parts. Three "fields" were allotted to the ancient 
triad formed by Ea, Anu, and Bel. The zodiacal "path" 
ran through these " fields ". Ea's field was in the west, 
and was associated with Amurru, the land of the Amorites; 
Anu's field was in the south, and was associated with 
Elam; and Bel's central "field" was associated with the 
land of Akkad. When the rulers of Akkad called them- 
selves " kings of the four quarters ", the reference was to 
the countries associated with the three divine fields and 
to Gutium 2 (east = our north-east). Was Gutium asso- 
ciated with demons, as in Scandinavia the north-east was 
associated with the giants against whom Thor waged war ? 

The Babylonian Creation myth states that Merodach, 
having fixed the stars of the Zodiac, made three stars for 

1 Or golden. 

2 The later reference is to Assyria. There was no Assyrian kingdom when these 
early beliefs were developed. 




Aries (the Ram). 

Taurus (the Bull). 

Gemini (the 

Cancer (the Crab). 
Leo (the Lion). 
Virgo (the Virgin). 

Libra (the Bal- 

Scorpio (the Scor- 

Sagittarius (the 

Capricornus (the 

Aquarius (the 
Water Carrier). 

Pisces (the Fishes). 

Date of Sun's Entry 

Month in brackets). 

zoth March 

= March-April). 

zoth April 
(lyyar = April-May). 

2ist May 
(Si van = May-June). 

2ist June 
(Tammuz == June-July), 

23tnd July 
(Ab = July-August). 

23rd August 
(Elul = August-Sept.). 

23rd September 
(Tisri = Scpt.-Oct.). 

23rd October 

= Oct.-Nov.). 

22nd November 
(Chisleu = Nov.-Dec.). 

2ist December 
(Tebet = Dec.-Jan.). 

1 9th January 
(Sebat == Jan.-Feb.). 

i 8th February 
(Adar = Feb.-March). 

Babylonian Equivalent. 

The Labourer or Messenger. 

A divine figure and the 
" bull of heaven ". 

The Faithful Shepherd and 
Twins side by side, or head 
to head and feet to feet. 

Crab or Scorpion. 

The big dog (Lion). 

Ishtar, the Virgin's ear of 

The Balance. 

Scorpion of darkness. 

Man or man-horse with bow, 
or an arrow symbol. 

Ea*s goat-fish. 

God with water urn. 

Fish tails in canal. 

each month (p. 147). Mr. Robert Brown, jun., who has 
dealt as exhaustively with the astronomical problems of 
Babylonia as the available data permitted him, is of opinion 
that the leading stars of three constellations are referred 


to, viz.: (i) the central or zodiacal constellations, (2) the 
northern constellations, and (3) the southern constella- 
tions. We have thus a scheme of thirty-six constellations. 
The " twelve zodiacal stars were flanked on either side by 
twelve non-zodiacal stars ". Mr. Brown quotes Diodorus, 
who gave a rsum of Babylonian astronomico-astrology, 
in this connection. He said that " the five planets were 
called Interpreters'; and in subjection to these were mar- 
shalled c Thirty Stars', which were styled c Divinities of the 
Council'. . . The chiefs of the Divinities are twelve in 
number, to each of whom they assign a month and one 
of the twelve signs of the Zodiac." Through these 
twelve signs sun, moon, and planets run their courses. 
"And with the zodiacal circle they mark out twenty-four 
stars, half of which they say are arranged in the north and 
half in the south." 1 Mr. Brown shows that the thirty stars 
referred to "constituted the original Euphratean Lunar 
Zodiac, the parent of the seven ancient lunar zodiacs which 
have come down to us, namely, the Persian, Sogdian, 
Khorasmian, Chinese, Indian, Arab, and Coptic schemes ". 
The three constellations associated with each month 
had each a symbolic significance: they reflected the char- 
acters of their months. At the height of the rainy season, 
for instance, the month of Ramman, the thunder god, was 
presided over by the zodiacal constellation of the water 
urn, the northern constellation " Fish of the Canal ", and 
the southern "the Horse". In India the black horse 
was sacrificed at rain-getting and fertility ceremonies. The 
months of growth, pestilence, and scorching sun heat were 
in turn symbolized. The "Great Bear" was the "chariot" 
= "Charles's Wain", and the "Milky Way" the "river 
of the high cloud ", the Celestial Euphrates, as in Egypt 
it was the Celestial Nile. 

? Primitive Constellations, R. Brown, jun., vol. ii, p. I et seq. 


Of special interest among the many problems pre- 
sented by Babylonian astronomical lore is the theory of 
Cosmic periods or Ages of the Universe. In the Indian, 
Greek, and Irish mythologies there are four Ages the 
Silvern (white), Golden (yellow), the Bronze (red), and 
the Iron (black). As has been already indicated, Mr. R, 
Brown, jun., shows that "the Indian system of Yugas, or 
ages of the world, presents many features which forcibly 
remind us of the Euphratean scheme*'. The Babylonians 
had ten antediluvian kings, who were reputed to have 
reigned for vast periods, the total of which amounted to 
1 20 saroi, or 432,000 years. These figures at once recall 
the Indian Maha-yuga of 4,320,000 years = 432,000 x 
10. Apparently the Babylonian and Indian systems of 
calculation were of common origin. In both countries 
the measurements of time and space were arrived at 
by utilizing the numerals 10 and 6. 

When primitive man began to count he adopted a 
method which comes naturally to every schoolboy ; he 
utilized his fingers. Twice five gave him ten, and from 
ten he progressed to twenty, and then on to a hundred 
and beyond. In making measurements his hands, arms, 
and feet were at his service. We are still measuring by 
feet and yards (standardized strides) in this country, while 
those who engage in the immemorial art of knitting, and, 
in doing so, repeat designs found on neolithic pottery, 
continue to measure in finger breadths, finger lengths, 
and hand breadths as did the ancient folks who called an 
arm length a cubit. Nor has the span been forgotten, 
especially by boys in their games with marbles; the space 
from the end of the thumb to the end of the little finger 
when the hand is cxtepdcd must have been an important 
measurement from the earliest times. 

As he made progress in calculations, the primitive 


Babylonian appears to have been struck by other details 
in his anatomy besides his sets of five fingers and five 
toes. He observed, for instance, that his fingers were 
divided into three parts and his thumb into two parts 
only; 1 four fingers multiplied by three gave him twelve, 
and multiplying 12 by 3 he reached 36. Apparently the 
figure 6 attracted him. His body was divided into 6 
parts 2 arms, 2 legs, the head, and the trunk; his 2 
ears, 2 eyes, and mouth, and nose also gave him 6. The 
basal 6, multiplied by his 10 fingers, gave him 60, and 
60 x 2 (for his 2 hands) gave him 120. In Babylonian 
arithmetic 6 and 60 are important numbers, and it is not 
surprising to find that in the system of numerals the 
signs for i and 10 combined represent 60. 

In fixing the length of a mythical period his first great 
calculation of 120 came naturally to the Babylonian, and 
when he undertook to measure the Zodiac he equated 
time and space by fixing on 120 degrees. His first 
zodiac was the Sumerian lunar zodiac, which contained 
thirty moon chambers associated with the " Thirty Stars" 
of the tablets, and referred to by Diodorus as " Divinities 
of the Council". The chiefs of the Thirty numbered 
twelve. In this system the year began in the winter 
solstice. Mr. Hewitt has shown that the chief annual 

1 In India "finger counting" (Kaur guna) is associated with prayer or the repeating 
of mantras. The counting is performed by the thumb, which, when the hand is drawn 
up, touches the upper part of the third finger. The two upper "chambers" of the third 
finger are counted, then the two upper "chambers" of the little finger; the thumb then 
touches the tip of each finger from the little finger to the first; when it comes down 
into the upper chamber of the first finger 9 is counted. By a similar process each round 
of 9 on the right hand is recorded by the left up to 12; 12 X 9 = 108 repetitions of a 
mantra. The upper "chambers" of the fingers are the "best" or "highest" (uttama), 
the lower (adhama) chambers are not utilized in the prayer-counting process. When 
Hindus sit cross-legged at prayers, with closed eyes, the right hand is raised from the 
elbow in front of the body, and the thumb moves each time a mantra is repeated; the 
left hand lies palm upward on the left knee, and the thumb moves each time nine 
mantras have been counted. 


festival of the Indian Dravidians begins with the first 
full moon after the winter festival, and Mr. Brown 
emphasizes the fact that the list of Tamil (Dravidian) 
lunar and solar months are named like the Babylonian 
constellations. 1 "Lunar chronology", wrote Professor 
Max M tiller, " seems everywhere to have preceded solar 
chronology." 2 The later Semitic Babylonian system had 
twelve solar chambers and the thirty-six constellations. 

Each degree was divided into sixty minutes, and each 
minute into sixty seconds. The hours of the day and 
night each numbered twelve. 

Multiplying 6 by 10 (pur), the Babylonian arrived at 
60 (soss); 60 x 10 gave him 600 (ner), and 600 x 6, 3600 
(sar), while 3600 x 10 gave him 36,000, and 36,000 x 12, 
432,000 years, or 120 saroi, which is equal to the "sar" 
multiplied by the "soss"x2. "Pur" signifies "heap" 
the ten fingers closed after being counted; and "ner" 
signifies "foot". Mr. George Bertin suggests that when 
6 x 10 fingers gave 60 this number was multiplied by the 
ten toes, with the result that 600 was afterwards associated 
with the feet (ner). The Babylonian sign for 10 resembles 
the impression of two feet with heels closed and toes apart. 
This suggests a primitive record of the first round of 
finger counting. 

In India this Babylonian system of calculation was 
developed during the Brahmanical period. The four 
Yugas or Ages, representing the four fingers used by the 
primitive mathematicians, totalled 12,000 divine years, 
a period which was called a Maha-yuga; it equalled the 
Babylonian 120 saroi, multiplied by 100. Ten times 
a hundred of these periods gave a "Day of Brahma". 

Each day of the gods, it was explained by the 

1 Primitive Constellations, R. Brown, jun., rol. ii, p. 615 and Early History of Northern 
India, J. F. Hewitt, pp. 551-2. 2 Rigveda-Samhita, vol. iv (1892), p. 67. 


Brahmans, was a year to mortals. Multiplied by 360 
days, 12,000 divine years equalled 4,320,000 human 
years. This Maha-yuga, multiplied by 1000, gave the 
"Day of Brahma" as 4,320,000,000 human years. 

The shortest Indian Yuga is the Babylonian 120 saroi 
multiplied by 10= 1200 divine years for the Kali Yuga; 
twice that number gives the Dvapara Yuga of 2400 
divine years; then the Treta Yuga is 2400+ 1200 = 3600 
divine years, and Krita Yuga 3600+ 1200 = 4800 divine 

The influence of Babylonia is apparent in these calcu- 
lations. During the Vedic period "Yuga" usually 
signified a "generation", and there are no certain refer- 
ences to the four Ages as such. The names "Kali", 
"Dvapara", "Treta", and "Krita" "occur as the 
designations of throws of dice". 1 It was after the arrival 
of the "late comers", the post-Vedic Aryans, that the 
Yuga system was developed in India. 2 

In Indian Myth and Legend* it is shown that the Indian 
and Irish Ages have the same colour sequence: (i) White 
or Silvern, (2) Red or Bronze, (3) Yellow or Golden, and 
(4) Black or Iron. The Greek order is: (i) Golden, (2) 
Silvern, (3) Bronze, and (4) Iron. 

The Babylonians coloured the seven planets as follows : 
the moon, silvern; the sun, golden; Mars, red; Saturn, 
black; Jupiter, orange; Venus, yellow; and Mercury, 

As the ten antediluvian kings who reigned for 120 
saroi had an astral significance, their long reigns corre- 
sponding " with the distances separating certain of the 
principal stars in or near the ecliptic", 4 it seems highly 

1 Vedk Index, Macdonell & Keith, vol. ii, pp. 192 et seq. 
' z Indian Myth and Legend. 3 Pp. 107 et seq. 

4 Primitive Constellations, R. Brown, jun., vol. i, I. 333. A table is given showing 
how 120 saroi equals 360 degrees, each king being identified with a star. 


probable that the planets were similarly connected with 
mythical ages which were equated with the " four 
quarters'* of the celestial regions and the four regions of 
the earth, which in Gaelic story are called " the four red 
divisions of the world' 1 . 

Three of the planets may have been heralds of change. 
Venus, as "Dilbat", was the " Proclaimer ", and both 
Jupiter and Mercury were called "Face voices of light", 
and " Heroes of the rising sun " among other names. 
Jupiter may have been the herald of the "Golden Age" 
as a morning star. This planet was also associated with 
bronze, as "Kakkub Urud", "the star of bronze", while 
Mars was "Kakkub Aban Kha-urud", "the star of the 
bronze fish stone". Mercury, the lapis lazuli planet, 
may have been connected with the black Saturn, the 
ghost of the dead sun, the demoniac elder god ; in Egypt 
lapis lazuli was the hair colour of Ra when he grew old, 
and Egyptologists translate it as black. 1 The rare and 
regular appearances of Mercury may have suggested the 
planet's connection with a recurring Age. Venus as an 
evening star might be regarded as the herald of the lunar 
or silver age; she was propitious as a bearded deity and 
interchanged with Merodach as a seasonal herald. 

Connecting Jupiter with the sun as a propitious 
planet, and with Mars as a destroying planet, Venus with 
the moon, and Mercury with Saturn, we have left four 
colour schemes which suggest the Golden, Silvern, Bronze, 
and Iron Ages. The Greek order of mythical ages may 
have had a solar significance, beginning as it does with 
the "golden" period. On the other hand the Indian and 
Irish systems begin with the Silvern or white lunar period. 

1 " Behold, his majesty the god Ra is grown old ; his bones are become silver, his 
limbs gold, and his hair pure lapis lazuli." Religion of the Ancient Egyptians, A. Wiede- 
mann, p. 58. Ra became a destroyer after completing his reign as an earthly king. 


In India the White Age (Treta Yuga) was the age of 
perfect men, and in Greece the Golden Age was the age 
of men who lived like gods. Thus the first ages in both 
cases were "Perfect" Ages. The Bronze Age of Greece 
was the age of notorious fighters and takers of life ; in 
Babylonia the bronze planet Mars was the symbol of the 
destroying Nergal, god of war and pestilence, while 
Jupiter was also a destroyer as Merodach, the slayer of 
Tiamat. In India the Black Age is the age of wickedness. 
The Babylonian Saturn, as we have seen, is black, and its 
god, Ninip, was the destroying boar, which recalls the 
black boar of the Egyptian demon (or elder god) Set. 
The Greek Cronos was a destroyer even of his own 
children. All the elder gods had demoniac traits like the 
ghosts of human beings. 

As the Babylonian lunar zodiac was imported into 
India before solar worship and the solar zodiac were 
developed, so too may have been the germs of the Yuga 
doctrine, which appears to have a long history. Greece, 
on the other hand, came under the influence of Babylon 
at a much later period. In Egypt Ra, the sun god, was 
an antediluvian king, and he was followed by Osiris. 
Osiris was slain by Set, who was depicted sometimes red 
and sometimes black. There was also a Horus Age. 

The Irish system of ages suggests an early cultural 
drift into Europe, through Asia Minor, and along the 
uplands occupied by the representatives of the Alpine 
or Armenoid peoples who have been traced from Hindu 
Kush to Brittany. The culture of Gaul resembles that 
of India in certain particulars; both the Gauls and the 
post-Vedic Aryans, for instance, believed in the doctrine 
of Transmigration of Souls, and practised " suttee ". 
After the Roman occupation of Gaul, Ireland appears to 
have been the refuge of Gaulish scholars, who imported 

(0642) 23 


their beliefs and traditions and laid the foundations of 
that brilliant culture which shed lustre on the Green Isle 
in late Pagan and early Christian times. 

The part played by the Mitanni people of Aryan 
speech in distributing Asiatic culture throughout Europe 
may have been considerable, but we know little or 
nothing regarding their movements and influence, nor 
has sufficient evidence been forthcoming to connect them 
with the cremating invaders of the Bronze Age, who 
penetrated as far as northern Scotland and Scandinavia. 
On the other hand it is certain that the Hittites adopted 
the planetary system of Babylonia and passed it on to 
Europeans, including the Greeks. The five planets Ninip, 
Merodach, Nergal, Ishtar, and Nebo were called by the 
Greeks after their gods Kronos, Zeus, Ares, Aphrodite, 
and Hermes, and by the Romans Saturnus, Jupiter, Mars, 
Venus, and Mercurius. It must be recognized, however, 
that these equations were somewhat arbitrary. Ninip 
resembled Kronos and Saturnus as a father, but he was 
also at the same time a son; he was the Egyptian Horus 
the elder and Horus the younger in one. Merodach 
was similarly of complex character a combination of Ea, 
Anu, Enlil, and Tammuz, who acquired, when exalted by 
the Amoritic Dynasty of Babylon, the attributes of the 
thunder god Adad-Ramman in the form of Amurru, 
"lord of the mountains ". During the Hammurabi Age 
Amurru was significantly popular in personal names. It 
is as Amurru-Ramman that Merodach bears comparison 
with Zeus, He also links with Hercules. Too much 
must not be made, therefore, of the Greek and Roman 
identifications of alien deities with their own. Mulla, the 
Gaulish mule god, may have resembled Mars somewhat, 
but it is a a far cry" from Mars-Mulla to Mars-Nergal, 
as it is also from the Gaulish Moccus, the boar, called 


" Mercury ", to Nebo, the god of culture, who was the 
"Mercury" of the Tigro-Euphrates valley. Similarly 
the differences between " Jupiter-Amon" of Egypt and 
" Jupiter-Merodach " of Babylon were more pronounced 
than the resemblances. 

The basal idea in Babylonian astrology appears to be 
the recognition of the astral bodies as spirits or fates, who 
exercised an influence over the gods, the world, and man- 
kind. These were worshipped in groups when they were 
yet nameless. The group addressed, " Powerful, O 
sevenfold, one are ye ", may have been a constellation 
consisting of seven stars. 1 The worship of stars and 
planets, which were identified and named, "seems never to 
have spread ", says Professor Sayce, " beyond the learned 
classes, and to have remained to the last an artificial 
system. The mass of the people worshipped the stars as 
a whole, but it was only as a whole and not individually/* 2 
The masses perpetuated ancient animistic beliefs, like the 
pre-Hellenic inhabitants of Greece. " The Pelasgians, as 
I was informed at Dodona," wrote Herodotus, " formerly 
offered all things indiscriminately to the gods. They 
distinguished them by no name or surname, for they 
were hitherto unacquainted with either ; but they called 
them gods, which by its etymology means disposers, from 
observing the orderly disposition and distribution of the 
various parts of the universe." 3 The oldest deities are 
those which bore no individual names. They were simply 
" Fates " or groups called "Sevenfold". The crude giant 
gods of Scotland are " Fomhairean " (Fomorians), and do 
not have individual names as in Ireland. Families and 
tribes were controlled by the Fates or nameless gods, 

1 As Nin-Girsu, Tammuz was associated with "sevenfold" Orion. 

2 Babylonian and Assyrian Life, pp. 61, 62. 

8 Herodotus (ii, 52) as quoted in Egypt an <* ScytJtia (London, 1886), p. 49. 


which might appear as beasts or birds, or be heard knock- 
ing or screaming. 

In the Babylonian astral hymns, the star spirits are 
associated with the gods, and are revealers of the decrees 
of Fate. "Ye brilliant stars ... ye bright ones . . . 
to destroy evil did Anu create you. ... At thy com- 
mand mankind was named (created) ! Give thou the 
Word, and with thee let the great gods stand! Give 
thou my judgment, make my decision ! " l 

The Indian evidence shows that the constellations, 
and especially the bright stars, were identified before the 
planets. Indeed, in Vedic literature there is no certain 
reference to a single planet, although constellations are 
named. It seems highly probable that before the Baby- 
lonian gods were associated with the astral bodies, the 
belief obtained that the stars exercised an influence over 
human lives. In one of the Indian "Forest Books", for 
instance, reference is made to a man who was "born under 
the Nakshatra Rohini ", 2 " Nakshatras " afe stars in the 
Rigveda and later, and "lunar mansions" in Brahmanical 
compositions. 3 " Rohini, c ruddy ', is the name of a con- 
spicuously reddish star, a Tauri or Aldebaran, and denotes 
the group of the Hyades." 4 This reference may be dated 
before 600 B.C., perhaps 800 B.C. 

From Greece comes the evidence of Plutarch regard- 
ing the principles of Babylonian astrology. " Respecting 
the planets, which they call the birth-ruling divinities, the 
Chaldeans", he wrote, "lay down that two (Venus and 
Jupiter) are propitious, and two (Mars and Saturn) 
malign, and three (Sun, Moon, and Mercury) of a middle 
nature, and one common." " That is," Mr. Brown com- 

1 Babylonian Magic and Sorcery, L. W. King (London, 1896), pp. 43 and 115. 

2 Vedic Index, Macdonell & Keith, vol. ii, p. 229. 

* Ibid., vol. i, pp. 409, 410. 4 Ibid., vol. i, p. 415. 


ments, " an astrologer would say, these three are pro- 
pitious with the good, and may be malign with the bad. 1 ' 1 

Jastrow's views in this connection seem highly con- 
troversial. He holds that Babylonian astrology dealt 
simply with national affairs, and had no concern with " the 
conditions under which the individual was born " ; it did 
not predict " the fate in store for him ". He believes 
that the Greeks transformed Babylonian astrology and 
infused it with the spirit of individualism which is a 
characteristic of their religion, and that they were the first 
to give astrology a personal significance. 

Jastrow also perpetuates the idea that astronomy began 
with the Greeks. "Several centuries before the days of 
Alexander the Great," he says, "the Greeks had begun 
to cultivate the study of the heavens, not for purposes of 
divination, but prompted by a scientific spirit as an intel- 
lectual discipline that might help them to solve the 
mysteries of the universe." It is possible, however, to 
overrate the " scientific spirit " of the Greeks, who, like 
the Japanese in our own day, were accomplished bor- 
rowers from other civilizations. That astronomy had 
humble beginnings in Greece as elsewhere is highly pro- 
bable. The late Mr. Andrew Lang wrote in this con- 
nection: "The very oddest example of the survival of 
the notion that the stars are men and women is found in 
the Pax of Aristophanes. Trygaeus in that comedy has 
just made an expedition to heaven. A slave meets him, 
and asks him : c Is not the story true, then, that we be- 
come stars when we die?' The answer is, c Certainly'; 
and Trygasus points out the star into which Ion of 
Chios has just been metamorphosed." Mr. Lang added: 
"Aristophanes is making fun of some popular Greek 
superstition ". The Eskimos, Persians, Aryo-Indians, 

1 Primitive Constellations, vol. i, p. 343. 


Germans, New Zealanders, and others had a similar 
superstition. 1 

Jastrow goes on to say that the Greeks "imparted 
their scientific view of the Universe to the East. They 
became the teachers of the East in astronomy as in medi- 
cine and other sciences, and the credit of having dis- 
covered the law of the precession of the equinoxes belongs 
to Hipparchus, the Greek astronomer, who announced 
this important theory about the year 130 B.c." 2 Un- 
doubtedly the Greeks contributed to the advancement of 
the science of astronomy, with which, as other authorities 
believe, they became acquainted after it had become well 
developed as a science by the Assyrians and Babylonians. 

" In return for improved methods of astronomical 
calculation which," Jastrow says, " // may be assumed (the 
italics are ours), contact with Greek science gave to the 
Babylonian astronomers, the Greeks accepted from the 
Babylonians the names of the constellations of the eclip- 
,tic." 8 This is a grudging admission ; they evidently 
accepted more than the mere names. 

Jastrow's hypothesis is certainly interesting, especially 
as he is an Oriental linguist of high repute. But it is 
not generally accepted. The sudden advance made by 
the Tigro-Euphratean astronomers when Assyria was at 
the height of its glory, may have been due to the dis- 
coveries made by great native scientists, the Newtons and 
the Herschels of past ages, who had studied the data 
accumulated by generations of astrologers, the earliest 
recorders of the movements of the heavenly bodies. It 
is hard to believe that the Greeks made much progress 

1 Custom and Myth, pp. 133 et seq. 

2 Dr. Alfred Jercmias gives very forcible reasons for believing that the ancient 
Babylonians were acquainted with the precession of the equinoxes. Das Alter der 
Babylonhchen Astronomic (Hinrichs, Leipzig, 1908), pp. 47 et seq. 

8 Aspects of Religious Belief and Practice in Babylonia and Assyria, pp. 207 et seq. 


as scientists before they had identified the planets, and 
become familiar with the Babylonian constellations through 
the medium of the Hittites or the Phoenicians. What is 
known for certain is that long centuries before the Greek 
science was heard of, there were scientists in Babylonia. 
During the Sumerian period " the forms and relations of 
geometry ", says Professor Goodspeed, "were employed 
for purposes of augury. The heavens were mapped out, 
and the courses of the heavenly bodies traced to de- 
termine the bearing of their movements upon human 
destinies/' 1 

Several centuries before Hipparchus was born, the 
Assyrian kings had in their palaces official astronomers who 
were able to foretell, with varying degrees of accuracy, 
when eclipses would take place. Instructions were sent 
to various observatories, in the king's name, to send in 
reports of forthcoming eclipses. A translation of one of 
these official documents sent from the observatory of Baby- 
lon to Nineveh, has been published by Professor Harper. 
The following are extracts from it : " As for the eclipse 
of the moon about which the king my lord has written to 
me, a watch was kept for it in the cities of Akkad, Bor- 
sippa, and Nippur. We observed it ourselves in the city 
of Akkad. . . . And whereas the king my lord ordered 
me to observe also the eclipse of the sun, I watched to 
see whether it took place or not, and what passed before 
my eyes I now report to the king my lord. It was an 
eclipse of the moon that took place. ... It was total 
over Syria, and the shadow fell on the land of the 
Amorites, the land of the Hittites, and in part on the 
land of the Chaldees." Professor Sayce comments: 
" We gather from this letter that there were no less than 
three observatories in Northern Babylonia : one at Akkad, 

1 A History of the Babylonians and Assyrians, p. 93. 


near Sippara ; one at Nippur, now Niffer ; and one at Bor- 
sippa, within sight of Babylon. As Borsippa possessed 
a university, it was natural that one of the three observa- 
tories should be established there." 1 

It is evident that before the astronomers at Nineveh 
could foretell eclipses, they had achieved considerable 
progress as scientists. The data at their disposal prob- 
ably covered nearly two thousand years. Mr. Brown, 
junior, calculates that the signs of the Zodiac were fixed 
in the year 2084 B.C. 2 These star groups do not now 
occupy the positions in which they were observed by the 
early astronomers, because the revolving earth is rocking 
like a top, with the result that the pole does not always 
keep pointing at the same spot in the heavens. Each 
year the meeting-place of the imaginary lines of the 
ecliptic and equator is moving westward at the rate of 
about fifty seconds. In time ages hence the pole will 
circle round to the point it spun at when the constella- 
tions were named by the Babylonians. It is by calculat- 
ing the period occupied by this world-curve that the date 
2084 B.C. has been arrived at. 

As a result of the world-rocking process, the present- 
day "signs of the Zodiac" do not correspond with the 
constellations. In March, for instance, when the sun 
crosses the equator it enters the sign of the Ram (Aries), 
but does not reach the constellation till the ,2oth, as the 
comparative table shows on p. 308. 

When "the ecliptic was marked off into the twelve 
regions" and the signs of the Zodiac were designated, 
"the year of three hundred sixty-five and one-fourth 
days was known", says Goodspeed, "though the common 
year was reckoned according to twelve months of thirty 

1 Babylonians and Assyrians: Life and Customs, pp. 219, 220. 
* Primitive Constellations, vol. ii, pp. 147 et seq. 


days each, 1 and equated with the solar year by inter- 
calating a month at the proper times. . . . The month 
was divided into weeks of seven days. . . . The clepsydra 
and the sundial were Babylonian inventions for measuring 
time." 2 

The sundial of Ahaz was probably of Babylonian 
design. When the shadow went <c ten degrees back- 
ward" (2 Kings ) xx, n) ambassadors were sent from 
Babylon "to enquire of the wonder that was done in 
the land" (2 Chron., xxxii, 31). It was believed that the 
king's illness was connected with the incident. According 
to astronomical calculation there was a partial eclipse of 
the sun which was visible at Jerusalem on nth January, 
689 B.C., about 11.30 a.m. When the upper part of 
the solar disc was obscured, the shadow on the dial was 
strangely affected. 

The Babylonian astrologers in their official documents 
were more concerned regarding international omens than 
those which affected individuals. They made observa- 
tions not only of the stars, but also the moon, which, as 
has been shown, was one of their planets, and took note 
of the clouds and the wind likewise. 

As portions of the heavens were assigned to various 
countries, so was the moon divided into four quarters for 
the same purpose the upper part for the north, Gutium, 
the lower for the south, Akkad or Babylonia, the eastern 
part for Elam, and the western for Amurru. The crescent 
was also divided in like manner; looking southward the 
astrologers assigned the right horn to the west and the 
left to the east. In addition, certain days and certain 
months were connected with the different regions. Lunar 
astrology was therefore of complicated character. When 

1 The Aryo-Indians had a lunar year of 360 days (Vtdlc Index, ii, 158). 

2 A History of the Babylonians and Assyrians, p. 94. 


the moon was dim at the particular phase which was con- 
nected with Amurru, it was believed that the fortunes of 
that region were in decline, and if it happened to shine 
brightly in the Babylonian phase the time was considered 
auspicious to wage war in the west. Great importance 
was attached to eclipses, which were fortunately recorded, 
with the result that the ancient astronomers were ultimately 
enabled to forecast them. 

The destinies of the various states in the four quarters 
were similarly influenced by the planets. When Venus, 
for instance, rose brightly in the field of Anu, it was a 
" prosperor " for Elam ; if it were dim it foretold mis- 
fortune. Much importance was also attached to the 
positions occupied by the constellations when the planets 
were propitious or otherwise ; no king would venture 
forth on an expedition under a "yoke of inauspicious 

Biblical references to the stars make mention of well- 
known Babylonian constellations: 

Canst them bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the 
bands of Orion? Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth (?the Zodiac) 
in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons? Knowest 
thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof 
in the earth? fob, xxxviii, 31-33. 

Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers 
of the south. Job, ix, 9. 

Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth 
the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark 
with night. Amos, v, 8. 

The so-called science of astrology, which had origin in 
ancient Babylonia and spread eastward and west, is not yet 
extinct, and has its believers even in our own country at 
the present day, although they are not nearly so numerous 
as when Shakespeare made Malvolio read: 


In my stars I am above thee ; but be not afraid of greatness : 
some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have great- 
ness thrust upon 'em. Thy Fates open their hands. . . . l 

or when Byron wrote: 

Ye stars! which are the poetry of heaven! 
If in your bright leaves we would read the fate 
Of men and empires 't is to be forgiven 
That in our aspirations to be great, 
Our destinies o'erleap their mortal state 
And claim a kindred with you. . . . 2 

Our grave astronomers are no longer astrologers, but 
they still call certain constellations by the names given 
them in Babylonia. Every time we look at our watches 
we ar6 reminded of the ancient mathematicians who 
counted on their fingers and multiplied 10 by 6, to give 
us minutes and seconds, and divided the day and the 
night into twelve hours by multiplying six by the two 
leaden feet of Time. The past lives in the present. 

1 Twelfth Night, act ii, scene 5. a Childe Harold, canto iii, v, 88. 

Ashur the National God of Assyria 

Derivation of Ashur Ashur as Anshar and Anu Animal forms of Sky 
God Anshar as Star God on the Celestial Mount Isaiah's Parable Symbols 
of World God and World Hill Dance of the Constellations and Dance of 
Satyrs Goat Gods and Bull Gods Symbols of Gods as "High Heads" The 
Winged Disc Human Figure as Soul of the Sun Ashur as Hercules and 
Gilgamcsh Gods differentiated by Cults Fertility Gods as War Gods 
Ashur's Tree and Animal forms Ashur as Nisroch Lightning Symbol in 
Disc Ezekiel's Reference to Life Wheel Indian Wheel and Discus Wheels 
of Shamash and Ahura-Mazda Hittite Winged Disc Solar Wheel causes 
Seasonal Changes Bonfires to stimulate Solar Deity Burning of Gods and 
Kings Magical Ring and other Symbols of Scotland Ashur's Wheel of Life 
and Eagle Wings King and Ashur Ashur associated with Lunar, Fire, and 
Star Gods The Osirian Clue Hittite and Persian Influences. 

THE rise of Assyria brings into prominence the national god 
Ashur, who had been the city god of Asshur, the ancient 
capital. When first met with, he is found to be a complex 
and mystical deity, and the problem of his origin is conse- 
quently rendered exceedingly difficult. Philologists are "not 
agreed as to the derivation of his name, and present as 
varied views as they do when dealing with the name of 
Osiris. Some give Ashur a geographical significance, urging 
that its original form was Aushar, "water field"; others 
prefer the renderings "Holy", "the Beneficent One", or 
"the Merciful One'*; while not a few regard Ashur as 
simply a dialectic form of the name of Anshar, the god 
who, in the Assyrian version, or copy, of the Babylonian 
Creation myth, is chief of the "host of heaven", and the 
father of Anu, Ea, and Enlil. 


If Ashur is to be regarded as an abstract solar deity, 
who \^as developed from a descriptive place name, it 
follows that he had a history, like Ami or Ea, rooted in 
Naturalism or Animism. We cannot assume that his 
strictly local character was produced by modes of thought 
which did not obtain elsewhere. The colonists who 
settled at Asshur no doubt imported beliefs from some 
cultural area; they must have either given recognition 
to a god, or group of gods, or regarded the trees, hills, 
rivers, sun, moon, and stars, and the animals as manifesta- 
tions of the "self power" of the Universe, before they 
undertook the work of draining and cultivating the "water 
field " and erecting permanent homes. Those who settled 
at Nineveh, for instance, believed that they were protected 
by the goddess Nina, the patron deity of the Sumerian 
city of Nina. As this goddess was also worshipped at 
Lagash, and was one of the many forms of the Great 
Mother, it would appear that in ancient times deities had 
a tribal rather than a geographical significance. 

If the view is accepted that Ashur is Anshar, it can be 
urged that he was imported from Sumeria. " Out of that 
land (Shinar)", according to the Biblical reference, "went 
forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh." 1 Asshur, or Ashur 
(identical, Delitzsch and Jastrow believe, with Ashir), 2 may 
have been an eponymous hero a deified king like Etana, 
or Gilgamesh, who was regarded as an incarnation of an 
ancient god. As Anshar was an astral or early form of 
Anu, the Sumerian city of origin may have been Erech, 

1 Genesis, x, 11. 

2 "A number of tablets have been found in Cappadocia of the time of the Second 
Dynasty of Ur which show marked affinities with Assyria. The divine name Ashir, 
as in early Assyrian texts, the institution of eponyms and many personal names which 
occur in Assyria, are so characteristic that we must assume kinship of peoples. But 
whether they witness to a settlement in Cappadocia from Assyria, or vice versa, is not 
yet clear." Ancient Assyria, C. H. W. Johns (Cambridge, 1912), pp. 12-13. 


where the worship of the mother goddess was also given 

Damascius rendered Anshar's name as "AssOros", a 
fact usually cited to establish Ashur's connection with 
that deity. This writer stated that the Babylonians passed 
over " Sige, 1 the mother, that has begotten heaven and 
earth 'V and made two Apason (Apsu), the husband, and 
Tauthe (Tiawath or Tiamat), whose son was Moymis 
(Mummu). From these another progeny came forth 
Lache and Lachos (Lachmu and Lachamu). These were 
followed by the progeny Kissare and Assoros (Kishar and 
Anshar), " from which were produced Anos (Anu), Illillos 
(Enlil) and Aos (Ea). And of Aos and Dauke (Dawkina 
or Damkina) was born Belos (Bel Merodach), whom they 
say is the Demiurge" 2 (the world artisan who carried out 
the decrees of a higher being). 

Lachmu and Lachamu, like the second pair of the 
ancient group of Egyptian deities, probably symbolized 
darkness as a reproducing and sustaining power. Anshar 
was apparently an impersonation of the night sky, as his 
son Anu was of the day sky. It may have been believed 
that the soul of Anshar was in the moon as Nannar (Sin), 
or in a star, or that the moon and the stars were mani- 
festations of him, and that the soul of Anu was in* the 
sun or the firmament, or that the sun, firmament, and the 
wind were forms of this "self power". 

If Ashur combined the attributes of Anshar and Anu, 
his early mystical character may be accounted for. Like 
the Indian Brahma, he may have been in his highest form 
an impersonation, or symbol, of the "self power" or 
"world soul" of developed Naturalism the "creator", 
"preserver", and "destroyer" in one, a god of water, earth, 

1 Sumerian Ziku, apparently derived from Zi, the spiritual essence of life, the u self 
power " of the Universe. 2 Peri Archon y cxxv 


air, and sky, of sun, moon, and stars, fire and lightning, a 
god of the grove, whose essence was in the fig, or the fir 
cone, as it was in all animals. The Egyptian god Amon of 
Thebes, who was associated with water, earth, air, sky, sun 
and moon, had a ram form, and was " the hidden one", was 
developed from one of the elder eight gods; in the Pyra- 
mid Texts he and his consort are the fourth pair. When 
Amon was fused with the specialized sun god Ra, he was 
placed at the head of the Ennead as the Creator. " We 
have traces", says Jastrow, "of an Assyrian myth of 
Creation in which the sphere of creator is given to 
Ashur." 1 

Before a single act of creation was conceived of, how- 
ever, the early peoples recognized the eternity of matter, 
which was permeated by the "self power " of which the 
elder deities were vague phases. These were too vague, 
indeed, to be worshipped individually. The forms of the 
"self power" which were propitiated were trees, rivers, hills, 
or animals. As indicated in the previous chapter, a tribe 
worshipped an animal or natural object which dominated its 
environment. The animal might be the source of the 
food supply, or might have to be propitiated to ensure the 
food supply. Consequently they identified the self power 
of the Universe with the particular animal with which they 
were most concerned. One section identified the spirit of 
the heavens with the bull and another with the goat. In 
India Dyaus was a bull, and his spouse, the earth mother, 
Prithivi, was a cow. The Egyptian sky goddess Hathor 
was a cow, and other goddesses were identified with the 
hippopotamus, the serpent, the cat, or the vulture. Ra, 
the sun god, was identified in turn with the cat, the ass, 
the bull, the ram, and the crocodile, the various animal 
forms of the local deities he had absorbed. The eagle in 

1 Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, p. 197 ftsefr 


Babylonia and India, and the vulture, falcon, and myste- 
rious Phoenix in Egypt, were identified with the sun, fire, 
wind, and lightning. The animals associated with the god 
Ashur were the bull, the eagle, and the lion. He either 
absorbed the attributes of other gods, or symbolized the 
"Self Power" of which the animals were manifestations. 

The earliest germ of the Creation myth was the idea 
that night was the parent of day, and water of the earth. 
Out of darkness and death came light and life. Life 
was also motion. When the primordial waters became 
troubled, life began to be. Out of the confusion came 
order and organization. This process involved the idea 
of a stable and controlling power, and the succession of 
a group of deities passive deities and active deities. 
When the Babylonian astrologers assisted in developing 
the Creation myth, they appear to have identified with 
the stable and controlling spirit of the night heaven that 
steadfast orb the Polar Star. Anshar, like Shakespeare's 
Caesar, seemed to say: 

I am constant as the northern star, 

Of whose true-fixed and resting quality 

There is no fellow in the firmament. 

The skies are painted with unnumbered sparks ; 

They are all fire, and every one doth shine; 

But there 's but one in all doth hold his place. 1 

Associated with the Polar Star was the constellation Ursa 
Mmor, "the Little Bear", called by the Babylonian 
astronomers, "the Lesser Chariot". There were chariots 
before horses were introduced. A patesi of Lagash had 
a chariot which was drawn by asses. 

The seemingly steadfast Polar Star was called "Ilu 
Sar", "the god Shar", or Anshar, "star of the height'', 

l juliui C*sar 9 act in, acene I. 


or " Shar the most high ". It seemed to be situated at 
the summit of the vault of heaven. The god Shar, there- 
fore, stood upon the Celestial mountain, the Babylonian 
Olympus. He was the ghost of the elder god, who in 
Babylonia was displaced by the younger god, Merodach, 
as Mercury, the morning star, or as the sun, the placet 
of day; and in Assyria by Ashur, as the sun, or Regulus, 
or Arcturus, or Orion. Yet father and son were identical. 
They were phases of the One, the " self power ". 

A deified reigning king was an incarnation of the god; 
after death he merged in the god, as did the Egyptian 
Unas. The eponymous hero Asshur may have similarly 
merged in the universal Ashur, who, like Horus, an 
incarnatipn of Osiris, had many phases or forms. 

Isaiah appears to have been familiar with the Tigro- 
Euphratean myths about the divinity of kings and the 
displacement of the elder god by the younger god, of 
whom the ruling monarch was an incarnation, and with 
the idea that the summit of the Celestial mountain was 
crowned by the "north star", the symbol of Anshar. 
"Thou shalt take up this parable , he exclaimed, making 
use of Babylonian symbolism, " against the king of 
Babylon and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the 
golden city ceased! . . . How art thou fallen from 
heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou 
cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 
For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend unto 
heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; 
I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the 
sides of the north\ I will ascend above the heights of the 
clouds; I will be like the most High." 1 The king is iden- 
tified with Lucifer as the deity of fire and the morning 
star ; he is the younger god who aspired to occupy the 

1 hat ah, xiv, 4-14. 
(0642) 24 


mountain throne of his father, the god Shar the Polar 
or North Star. 

It is possible that the Babylonian idea of a Celestial 
mountain gave origin to the belief that the earth was 
a mountain surrounded by the outer ocean, beheld by 
Etana when he flew towards heaven on the eagle's back. 
In India this hill is Mount Meru, the "world spine", 
which " sustains the earth "; it is surmounted by Indra's 
Valhal, or "the great city of Brahrna". In Teutonic 
mythology the heavens revolve round the Polar Star, 
which is called "Veraldar nagli ",* the "world spike "; 
while the earth is sustained by the "world tree". 
The " ded " amulet of Egypt symbolized the backbone 
of Osiris as a world god : " dcd " means " firm ", 
"established"; 2 while at burial ceremonies the coffin was 
set up on end, inside the tomb, "on a small sandhill 
intended to represent the Mountain of the West the 
realm of the dead ". 8 The Babylonian temple towers 
were apparently symbols of the "world hill". At 
Babylon, the Du-azaga, " holy mound ", was Merodach's 
temple E-sagila, " the Temple of the High Head ". 
E-kur, rendered "the house or temple of the Moun- 
tain ", was the temple of Bel Enlil at Nippur. At 
Erech, the temple of the goddess Ishtar was E-anna, 
which connects her, as Nina or Ninni, with Anu, de- 
rived from "ana", "heaven". Ishtar was "Queen of 
heaven ". 

Now Polaris, situated at the summit of the celestial 
mountain, was identified with the sacred goat, " the highest 
of the flock of night". 4 Ursa Minor (the "Little Bear" 
constellation) may have been " the goat with six heads ", 

1 Eddubrott, ii. 2 Religion of the Ancient Egyptians, A. Wiedemann, pp. 289-90. 

3 /&/</., p. 236. Atlas was also believed to be in the west. 

4 Primitive Constellations, vol. ii, p. 1 84. 


referred to by Professor Sayce. 1 The six astral goats or 
goat-men were supposed to be dancing round the chief 
goat-man or Satyr (Anshar). Even in the dialogues of 
Plato the immemorial belief was perpetuated that the 
constellations were "moving as in a dance". Dancing 
began as a magical or religious practice, and the earliest 
astronomers saw their dancing customs reflected in the 
heavens by the constellations, whose movements wer^ 
rhythmical. No doubt, Isaiah had in mind the belief of 
the Babylonians regarding the dance of their goat-gods 
when he foretold: "Their houses shall be full of doleful 
creatures; and owls (ghosts) shall dwell there, and satyrs 
shall dance there ". 2 In other words, there would be no 
people left to perform religious dances beside the cc deso- 
late houses"; the stars only would be seen dancing round 

Tammuz, like Anshar, as sentinel of the night heaven, 
was a goat, as was also Nin-Girsu of Lagash. A Su- 
merian reference to "a white kid of En Mersi (Nin- 
Girsu) " was translated into Semitic, " a white kid of 
Tammuz". The goat was also associated with Mero- 
dach. Babylonians, having prayed to that god to take 
away their diseases or their sins, released a goat, which 
was driven into the desert. The present Polar Star, 
which was not, of course, the Polar star of the earliest 
astronomers, the world having rocked westward, is called 
in Arabic Al-Jedy, "the kid". In India, the goat was 
connected with Agni and Varuna ; it was slain at funeral 
ceremonies to inform the gods that a soul was about to 
enter heaven. Ea, the Sumerian lord of water, earth, and 
heaven, was symbolized as a " goat fish ". Thor, the 

1 Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia, xxx, 1 1. 

2 Isaiah, xiii, 21. For "Satyrs" the Revised Version gives the alternative transla- 
tion, " or he-goats ". 


Teutonic fertility and thunder god, had a chariot drawn 
by goats. It is of interest to note that the sacred Su- 
merian goat bore on its forehead the same triangular 
symbol as the Apis bull of Egypt. 

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 
cc six divinities of council ". 

Other deities who were similarly exalted as " high 
heads " at various centres and at various periods, included 
Aim, 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 a:s 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 (i) 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 dis- 
charge 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 

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 ".* 

The sun symbol on the sun boat of Ra encloses 
similarly a human figure, which was apparently regarded 
as the soul of the sun: the life of the god was in the 
"sun egg". In an Indian prose treatise it is set forth: 
" Now that man in yonder orb (the sun) and that man 
in the right eye truly are no other than Death (the soul). 
His feet have stuck fast in the heart, and having pulled 
them out he comes forth; and when he comes forth then 
that man dies; whence they say of him who has passed 

1 Aspects of Religious Belief and Practice in Babylonia and Assyria, p. I2O, plate 1 8 
and note. 


away, c he has been cut off (his life or life string has been 
severed)'/' 1 The human figure did not indicate a process 
of c< despiritualization " either in Egypt or in India. The 
Horus cc winged disc " was besides a symbol of destruc- 
tion and battle, as well as of light and fertility. Horus 
assumed that form in one legend to destroy Set and his 
followers. 2 But, of course, the same symbols may not 
have conveyed the same ideas to all peoples. As Blake 
put it: 

What to others a trifle appears 

Fills me full of smiles and tears. . . . 

With my inward Eye, *t is an old Man grey, 

With my outward, a Thistle across my way. 

Indeed, it is possible that the winged disc meant one thing 
to an Assyrian priest, and another thing to a man not 
gifted with what Blake called " double vision ". 

What seems certain, however, is that the archer was 
as truly solar as the "wings" or "rays'*. In Babylonia 
and Assyria the sun was, among other things, a destroyer 
from the earliest times. It is not surprising, therefore, 
to find that Ashur, like Merodach, resembled, in one of 
his phases, Hercules, or rather his prototype Gilgamesh. 
One of Gilgamesh's mythical feats was the slaying of 
three demon birds. These may be identical with the 
birds of prey which Hercules, in performing his sixth 
labour, hunted out of Stymphalus. 8 In the Greek 
Hipparcho-Ptolemy star list Hercules was the constella- 
tion of the " Kneeler ", and in Babylonian -Assyrian 
astronomy he was (as Gilgamesh or Merodach) " Sarru ", 
" the king ". The astral " Arrow " (constellation of Sagitta) 

1 Satapatha Brahmana, translated by Profcuor Eggcling, part iv, 1897, p. 371. (Sacred 
Booh of the East.) 

2 Egyptian Myth and Legend, pp. 165 et seq. 

8 Classic Myth and Legend, p. 105. The birds were called " Stymphalides '*. 


was pointed against the constellations of the " Eagle 1 ', 
" Vulture ", and " Swan ". In Phoenician astronomy the 
Vulture was "Zither 1 ' (Lyra), a weapon with which Her- 
cules (identified with Melkarth) slew Linos, the musician. 
Hercules used a solar arrow, which he received from 
Apollo. In various mythologies the arrow is associated 
with the sun, the moon, and the atmospheric deities, and 
is a symbol of lightning, rain, and fertility, as well as of 
famine, disease, war, and death. The green-faced goddess 
Neith of Libya, compared by the Greeks to Minerva, 
carries in one hand two arrows and a bow. 1 If we knew 
as little of Athena (Minerva), who was armed with a 
lance, a breastplate made of the skin of a goat, a shield, 
and helmet, as we do of Ashur, it might be held that she 
was simply a goddess of war. The archer in the sun disc 
of -the Assyrian standard probably represented Ashur as 
the god of the people a deity closely akin to Merodach, 
with pronounced Tammuz traits, and therefore linking 
with other local deities like Ninip, Nergal, and Shamash, 
and partaking also like these of the attributes of the elder 
gods Anu, Bel Enlil, and Ea. 

All the other deities worshipped by the Assyrians 
were of Babylonian origin. Ashur appears to have dif- 
fered from them just as one local Babylonian deity differed 
from another. He reflected Assyrian experiences and 
aspirations, but it is difficult to decide whether the 
sublime spiritual aspect of his character was due to the 
beliefs of alien peoples, by whom the early Assyrians were 
influenced, or to the teachings of advanced Babylonian 
thinkers, whose doctrines found readier acceptance in a 
a new country" than among the conservative ritualists 

1 The so-called "shuttle" of Neith may be a thunderbolt. Scoiland'i archaic thunder 
deity is a goddess. The bow and arrows suggest a lightning goddess who was a deity of 
war because she was a deity of fertility. 


of ancient Sumerian and Akkadian cities. New cults 
were formed from time to time in Babylonia, and when 
they achieved political power they gave a distinctive char- 
acter to the religion of their city states. Others which did 
not find political support and remained in obscurity at 
home, may have yet extended their influence far and 
wide. Buddhism, for instance, originated in India, but 
now flourishes in other countries, to which it was intro- 
duced by missionaries. In the homeland it was sub- 
merged by the revival of Brahmanism, from which it 
sprung, and which it was intended permanently to dis- 
place. An instance of an advanced cult suddenly achieving 
prominence as a result of political influence is 'afforded by 
Egypt, where the fully developed Aton religion was em- 
braced and established as a national religion by Akhenaton, 
the so-called "dreamer". That migrations were some- 
times propelled by cults, which sought new areas in which 
to exercise religious freedom and propagate their beliefs, 
is suggested by the invasion of India at the close of 
the Vedic period by the " later comers ", who laid the 
foundations of Brahmanism. They established them- 
selves in Madhyadesa, "the Middle Country", "the 
land where the Brahmanas and the later Samhitas were 
produced ". From this centre went forth missionaries/ 
who accomplished the Brahmanization of the rest of 
India. 1 

It may be, therefore, that the cult of Ashur was in- 
fluenced in its development by the doctrines of advanced 
teachers from Babylonia, and that Persian Mithraism was 
also the product of missionary efforts extended from that 
great and ancient cultural area. Mitra, as has been stated, 
was one of the names of the Babylonian sun god, who was 
also a god of fertility. But Ashur could not have been to 

1 Vedic Indexj Macdonell & Keith, vol. ii, pp. 125-6, and vol. i, 168-9. 


begin with merely a battle and solar deity. As the god of 
a city state he must have been worshipped by agriculturists, 
artisans, and traders ; he must have been recognized as a 
deity of fertility, culture, commerce, and law. Even as a 
national god he must have made wider appeal than to the 
cultured and ruling classes. Bel Enlil of Nippur was a 
" world god " and war god, but still remained a local corn 

Assyria's greatness was reflected by Ashur, but he also 
reflected the origin and growth of that greatness. The 
civilization of which he was a product had an agricultural 
basis. It began with the development of the natural 
resources of Assyria, as was recognized by the Hebrew 
prophet, who said: "Behold, the Assyrian was a cedar in 
Lebanon with fair branches. . . . The waters made him 
gfeat, the deep set him up on high with her rivers running 
round about his plants, and sent out her little rivers unto 
all the trees of the field. Therefore his height was exalted 
above all the trees of the field, and his boughs were 
multiplied, and his branches became long because of the 
multitude of waters when he shot forth. All the fowls of 
heaven made their nests in his boughs, and under his 
branches did all the beasts of the field bring forth their 
young, and under his shadow dwelt all great nations. 
Thus was he fair in his greatness, in the length of his 
branches ; for his root was by great waters. The cedars 
in the garden of God could not hide him: the fir trees 
were not like his boughs, and the chestnut trees were not 
like his branches ; nor any tree in the garden of God was 
like unto him in his beauty." 1 

Asshur, the ancient capital, was famous for its mer- 
chants. It is referred to in the Bible as one of the cities 
which traded with Tyre " in all sorts of things, in blue 

1 Exetiel, xxxi, 3-8. 


prophets invariably utilized for their poetic imagery the 
characteristic beliefs of the peoples to whom they made 
direct reference. The "owls", " satyrs ", and "dragons" 
of Babylon, mentioned by Isaiah, were taken from Baby- 
lonian mythology, as has been indicated. When, there- 
fore, Assyria is compared to a cedar, which is greater than 
fir or chestnut, and it is stated that there are nesting birds 
in the branches, and under them reproducing beasts of the 
field, and that the greatness of the tree is due to " the 
multitude of waters ", the conclusion is suggested that 
Assyrian religion, which Ashur's symbols reflect, included 
the worship of trees, birds, beasts, and water. The 
symbol of the Assyrian tree probably the "world tree" 
of its religion appears to be " the rod of mine anger . . . 
the staff in their hand"; that is, the battle standard which 
was a symbol of Ashur. Tammuz and Osiris were tree 
gods as well as corn gods. 

Now, as Ashur was evidently a complex deity, it is 
futile to attempt to read his symbols without giving con- 
sideration to the remnants of Assyrian mythology which 
are found in the ruins of the ancient cities. These either 
reflect the attributes of Ashur, or constitute the material 
from which he evolved. 

As Layard pointed out^many years ago, the Assyrians 
had a sacred tree which became conventionalized. It was 
" an elegant device, in which curved branches, springing 
from a kind of scroll work, terminated in flowers of 
graceful form. As one of the figures last described 1 was 
turned, as if in act of adoration, towards this device, it 
was evidently a sacred emblem ; and I recognized in it 
the holy tree, or tree of life, so universally adored at the 
remotest period in the East, and which was preserved in 
the religious systems of the Persians to the final over- 

1 A winged human figure, carrying in one hand a basket and in another a fir cone. 


throw of their Empire. . . . The flowers were formed by 
seven petals." 1 

This tree looks like a pillar, and is thrice crossed by 
conventionalized bull's horns tipped with ring symbols 
which may be stars, the highest pair of horns having a 
larger ring between them, but only partly shown as if it 
were a crescent. The tree with its many " sevenfold " 
designs may have been a symbol of the " Sevenfold-onc- 
are-ye " deity. This is evidently the Assyrian tree which 
was called "the rod" or " staff". 

What mythical animals did this tree shelter ? Layard 
found that "the four creatures continually introduced on 
the sculptured walls ", were " a man, a lion, an ox, and an 
eagle". 2 

In Sumeria the gods were given human form, but 
before this stage was reached the bull symbolized Nannar 
(Sin), the moon god, Ninip (Saturn, the old sun), and 
Enlil, while Nergal was a lion, as a tribal sun god. The 
eagle is represented by the Zu bird, which symbolized the 
storm and a phase of the sun, and was also a deity of 
fertility. On the silver vase of Lagash the lion and eagle 
were combined as the lion-headed eagle, a form of Nin- 
Girsu (Tammuz), and it was associated with wild goats, 
stags, lions, and bulls. On a mace head dedicated to 
Nin-Girsu, a lion slays a bull as the Zu bird slays serpents 
in the folk tale, suggesting the wars of totemic deities, 
according to one "school", and the battle of the sun with 
the storm clouds according to another. Whatever the 
explanation may be of one animal deity of fertility slaying 
another, it seems certain that the conflict was associated 
with the idea of sacrifice to procure the food supply. 

In Assyria the various primitive gods were combined 
as a winged bull, a winged bull with human head (the 

1 Layard'i Nineveh (1856), p. 44. * lbid, 9 p. 309. 


king's), a winged lion with human head, a winged man, 
a deity with lion's head, human body, and eagle's legs 
with claws, and also as a deity with eagle's head and 
feather headdress, a human body, wings, and feather-fringed 
robe, carrying in one hand a metal basket on which two 
winged men adored the holy tree, and in the other a fir 

cone. 1 

Layard suggested that the latter deity, with eagle's 
head, was Nisroch, "the word Nisr signifying, in all 
Semitic languages, an eagle". 2 This deity is referred to 
in the Bible : " Sennacherib, king of Assyria, * . . was 
worshipping in the house of Nisroch, his god". 3 Professor 
Pinches is certain that Nisroch is Ashur, but considers 
that the " ni " was attached to " Ashur " (Ashuraku or 
Ashurachu), as it was to " Marad " (Merodach) to give 
the reading Ni-Marad = Nimrod. The names of heathen 
deities were thus made " unrecognizable, and in all prob- 
ability ridiculous as well. . . . Pious and orthodox lips 
could pronounce them without fear of defilement." 4 At 
the same time the "Nisr" theory is probable: it may 
represent another phase of this process. The names of 
heathen gods were not all treated in like manner by the 
Hebrew teachers. Abed-#<?0, for instance, became Abed- 
nego (Daniel^ i, 7), as Professor Pinches shows. 

Seeing that the eagle received prominence in the 
mythologies of Sumeria and Assyria, as a deity of fertility 
with solar and atmospheric attributes, it is highly probable 
that the Ashur symbol, like the Egyptian Horus solar disk, 
is a winged symbol of life, fertility, and destruction. The 
idea that it represents the sun in eclipse, with protruding 

1 The fir cone was offered to Attis and Mithra. Its association with Ashur suggests 
that the great Assyrian deity resembled the gods of corn and trees and fertility. 

2 Nineveh, p. 47. 8 Isaiah, xxxvii, 37-8. 

4 The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records and Legends of Assyria and 
Babylonia, pp. 129-30. 


rays, seems rather far-fetched, because eclipses were dis- 
asters and indications of divine wrath; 1 it certainly does 
not explain why the "rays'* should only stretch out side- 
ways, like wings, and downward like a tail, why the "rays" 
should be double, like the double wings of cherubs, bulls, 
&c., and divided into sections suggesting feathers, or why 
the disk is surmounted by conventionalized horns, tipped 
with star-like ring symbols, identical with those depicted in 
the holy tree. What particular connection the five small 
rings within the disk were supposed to have with the 
eclipse of the sun is difficult to discover. 

In one of the other symbols in which appears a feather- 
robed archer, it is significant to find that the arrow he is 
about to discharge has a head shaped like a trident ; it is 
evidently a lightning symbol. 

When Ezekiel prophesied to the Israelitish captives at 
Tel-abib, " by the river of Chebar " in Chaldea (Kheber, 
near Nippur), he appears to have utilized Assyrian sym- 
bolism. Probably he came into contact in Babylonia with 
fugitive priests from Assyrian cities. 

This great prophet makes interesting references to 
" four living creatures ", with " four faces " the face of 
a man, the face of a lion, the face of an ox, and the face 
of an eagle; "they had the hands of a man under their 
wings, . . . their wings were joined one to another; . . . 
their wings were stretched upward: two wings of every 
one were joined one to another. . . . Their appearance 
was like burning coals of fire and like the appearance of 
lamps. . . . The living creatures ran and returned as 
the appearance of a flash of lightning." 2 

Elsewhere, referring to the sisters, Aholah andAholibah, 
who had been in Egypt and had adopted unmoral ways of 

1 An eclipse of the sun in Assyria on June 15, 763 B.C., was followed by an out- 
break of civil war. 2 Ezekicf t i, 414. 

Photo. Manscll 


Marble Slab, British Museum 


life, Ezekiel tells that when Aholibah "doted upon the 
Assyrians " she " saw men pourtrayed upon the wall, the 
images of the Chaldeans pourtrayed with vermilion, girded 
with girdles upon their loins". 1 Traces of the red colour 
on the walls of Assyrian temples and palaces have been 
observed by excavators. The winged gods " like burning 
coals " were probably painted in vermilion. 

Ezekiel makes reference to "ring" and "wheel" 
symbols. In his vision he saw "one wheel upon the 
earth by the living creatures, with his four faces. The 
appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto 
the colour of beryl ; and they four had one likeness ; and 
their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in 
the middle of a wheel. ... As for their rings, they were 
so high that they were dreadful ; and their rings were full 
of eyes round about them four. And when the living 
creatures went, the wheels went by them ; and when the 
living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels 
were lifted up. Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they 
went, thither was their spirit to go; and the wheels were 
lifted up over against them ; for the spirit of the living 
creature was In the wheels? . . . And the likeness of the 
firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the 
colour of terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads 
above. . . . And when they went I heard the noise of 
their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of 
the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host; 
when they stood they let down their wings. . . ," 3 

Another description of the cherubs states: "Their 
whole body, and their backs, and their hands, and their 
wings, and the wheels, were full of eyes (? stars) round 

1 Ezekid, xxiii, 1-15. 

2 As the soul of the Egyptian god was in the surt disk or sun egg. 
8 Ezekiel, i, 15-28. 


about, even the wheels that they four had. As for the 
wheels, it was cried unto them in my hearing, O wheel ! " 
or, according to a marginal rendering, " they were called 
in my hearing, wheel, or Gilgal," i.e. move round. . . . 
" And the cherubims were lifted up." l 

It would appear that the wheel (or hoop, a variant 
rendering) was a symbol of life, and that the Assyrian 
feather-robed figure which it enclosed was a god, not of 
war only, but also of fertility. His trident-headed arrow 
resembles, as has been suggested, a lightning symbol. 
Ezekiel's references are suggestive in this connection. 
When the cherubs " ran and returned " they had " the 
appearance of a flash of lightning", and "the noise of their 
wings " resembled " the noise of great waters ". Their 
bodies were " like burning coals of fire ". Fertility gods 
were associated with fire, lightning, and water. Agni of 
India, Sandan of Asia Minor, and Melkarth of Phoenicia 
were highly developed fire gods of fertility. The fire 
cult was also represented in Sumeria (pp. 49-51). 

In the Indian epic, the MaMbMrata^ the revolving ring 
or wheel protects the Soma 2 (ambrosia) of the gods, on 
which their existence depends. The eagle giant Garuda 
sets forth to steal it. The gods, fully armed, gather 
round to protect the life-giving drink. Garuda approaches 
"darkening the worlds by the dust raised by the hurricane 
of his wings ". The celestials, " overwhelmed by that 
dust", swoon away. Garuda afterwards assumes a fiery 
shape, then looks " like masses of black clouds ", and in 
the end its body becomes golden and bright "as the rays 
of the sun ". The Soma is protected by fire, which the 
bird quenches after " drinking in many rivers " with the 
numerous mouths it has assumed. Then Garuda finds 
that right above the Soma is "a wheel of steel, keen 

1 Exckicl, x, 11-5. 2 Also called " Amrita ". 


edged, and sharp as a razor, revolving incessantly. That 
fierce instrument, of the lustre of the blazing sun and 
of terrible form, was devised by the gods for cutting to 
pieces all robbers of the Soma." Garuda passes "through 
the spokes of the wheel ", and has then to contend against 
" two great snakes of the lustre of blazing fire, of tongues 
bright as the lightning flash, of great energy, of mouth 
emitting fire, of blazing eyes". He slays the snakes. . . . 
The gods afterwards recover the stolen Soma. 

Garuda becomes the vehicle of the god Vishnu, who 
carries the discus, another fiery wheel which revolves and 
returns to the thrower like lightning. "And he (Vishnu) 
made the bird sit on the flagstaff of his car, saying: 'Even 
thus thou shalt stay above me'." 1 

The Persian god Ahura Mazda hovers above the 
king in sculptured representations of that high dignitary, 
enclosed in a winged wheel, or disk, like Ashur, grasping 
a ring in one hand, the other being lifted up as if blessing 
those who adore him. 

Shamash, the Babylonian sun god; Ishtar, the goddess 
of heaven; and other Babylonian deities carried rings as 
the Egyptian gods carried the ankh, the symbol of life. 
Shamash was also depicted sitting on his throne in a 
pillar-supported pavilion, in front of which is a sun wheel. 
The spokes of the wheel are formed by a star symbol and 
threefold rippling " water rays ". 

In Hittite inscriptions there are interesting winged 
emblems; "the central portion" of one "seems to be 
composed of two crescents underneath a disk (which is 
also divided like a crescent). Above the emblem there 
appear the symbol of sanctity (the divided oval) and the 
hieroglyph which Professor Sayce interprets as the name 
of the god Sandes." In another instance " the centre of 

1 The Mahabharata ]Adl Parva), Sections xxxiii-iv. 
(C642) ' 25 


the winged emblem may be seen to be a rosette, with a 
curious spreading object below. Above, two dots follow 
the name of Sandes, and a human arm bent 'in adoration' 
is by the side, . . ." Professor Garstang is here dealing 
with sacred places "on rocky points or hilltops, bearing 
out the suggestion of the sculptures near Boghaz-Keui 1 , 
in which there may be reasonably suspected the surviving 
traces of mountain cults, or cults of mountain deities, 
underlying the newer religious symbolism ". Who the 
deity is it is impossible to say, but " he was identified at 
some time or other with Sandes ". 2 It would appear, too, 
that the god may have been " called by a name which was 
that used also by the priest". Perhaps the priest king 
was believed to be an incarnation of the deity. 

Sandes or Sandan was identical with Sandon of Tarsus, 
" the prototype of Attis ", 8 who links with the Babylonian 
Tammuz. Sandon's animal symbol was the lion, and he 
carried the " double axe " symbol of the god of fertility 
and thunder. As Professor Frazer has shown in The 
Golden Bough^ he links with Hercules and Melkarth/ 

All the younger gods, who displaced the elder gods as 
one year displaces another, were deities of fertility, battle, 
lightning, fire, and the sun; it is possible, therefore, that 
Ashur was like Merodach, son of Ea, god of the deep, a 
form of Tammuz in origin. His spirit was in the solar 
wheel which revolved at times of seasonal change. In 
Scotland it was believed that on the morning of May 
Day (Beltaine) the rising sun revolved three times. The 
younger god was a spring sun god and fire god. Great 

1 Another way of spelling the Turkish name which signifies '* village of the pass". 
The deep"gh" guttural is not usually attempted by English speakers. A common 
rendering is u Bog-haz' Kay-ee", a slight "oo" sound being given to the "a" in "Kay"; 
the "z" sound is hard and hissing. 

2 The Land of the Hittites, J. Garstang, pp. 178 et seq. 

3 lbid.y p. 173. * Adonis, Atris, Osiris, chaps, v and vi. 


bonfires were lit to strengthen him, or as a ceremony of 
riddance; the old year was burned out. Indeed the god 
himself might be burned (that is, the old god), so that he 
might renew his youth. Melkarth was burned at Tyre. 
Hercules burned himself on a mountain top, and his soul 
ascended to heaven as an eagle. 

These fiery rites were evidently not unknown in 
Babylonia and Assyria. When, according to Biblical 
narrative, Nebuchadnezzar "made an image of gold" 
which he set up " in the plain of Dura, in the province 
of Babylon", he commanded: "O people, nations, and 
languages ... at the time ye hear the sound of the 
cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and 'all 
kinds of musick . . . fall down and worship the golden 
image". Certain Jews who had been "set over the 
affairs of the province of Babylonia", namely, "Shadrach, 
Meshach, and Abed-nego", refused to adore the idol. 
They were punished by being thrown into "a burning 
fiery furnace", which was heated "seven times more than 
it was wont to be heated". They came forth uninjured. 1 

In the Koran it is related that Abraham destroyed the 
images of Chaldean gods; he "brake them all in pieces 
except the biggest of them ; that they might lay the blame 
on that". 2 According to the commentators the Chaldseans 
were at the time " abroad in the fields, celebrating a great 
festival ". To punish the offender Nimrod had a great 
pyre erected at Cuthah. "Then they bound Abraham, 
and putting him into an engine, shot him into the midst 
of the fire, from which he was preserved by the angel 
Gabriel, who was sent to his assistance." Eastern Chris- 
tians were wont to set apart in the Syrian calendar the 

1 Daniel, iii, 1-26. 

2 The story that Abraham hung an axe round the neck of Baal after destroying the 
other idols is of Jewish origin. 


25th of January to commemorate Abraham's escape from 
Nimrod's pyre. 1 

It is evident that the Babylonian fire ceremony was 
observed in the spring season, and that human beings 
were sacrificed to the sun god. A mock king may have 
been burned to perpetuate the ancient sacrifice of real 
kings, who were incarnations of the god. 

Isaiah makes reference to the sacrificial burning of 
kings in Assyria : " For through the voice of the Lord 
shall the Assyrian be beaten down, which smote with a 
rod. And in every place where the grounded staff shall 
pass, which the Lord shall lay upon him, it shall be with 
tabrets and harps: and in battles of shaking will he fight 
with it. For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the 
king it is prepared: he hath made it deep and large: the 
pile thereof is fire and much wood : the breath of the 
Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it." 2 When 
Nineveh was about to fall, and with it the Assyrian Empire, 
the legendary king, Sardanapalus, who was reputed to 
have founded Tarsus, burned himself, with his wives, con- 
cubines, and eunuchs, on a pyre in his palace. Zimri, 
who reigned over Israel for seven days, "burnt the king's 
house over him with fire" 8 . Saul, another fallen king, 
was -burned after death, and his bones were buried "under 
the oak in Jabesh". 4 In Europe the oak was associated 
with gods of fertility and lightning, including Jupiter and 
Thor. The ceremony of burning Saul is of special in- 
terest. Asa, the orthodox king of Judah, was, after death, 
"laid in the bed which was filled with sweet odours and 
divers kinds of spices prepared by the apothecaries' art: 
and they made a very great burning for him" (2 Chronicles^ 

1 The Koran, George Sale, pp. 245-6. 

8 Isaiah, xxx, 31-3. See also for Tophet customs 2 Kings, xxiii, 10; Jeremiah, vii, 
31, 32 and xix, 5-12. 8 / Kings, xvi, 18. 

*/ Samuel, xxxi, 12, 13 and / Chronicles, x, II, 12. 


xvi, 14). Jehoram, the heretic king of Judah, who 
"walked in the way of the kings of Israel", died of "an 
incurable disease. And his people made no burning for 
him, like the burning of his fathers " (2 Chronicles, xxi, 
1 8, 19). 

The conclusion suggested by the comparative study 
of the beliefs of neighbouring peoples, and the evidence 
afforded by Assyrian sculptures, is that Ashur was a 
highly developed form of the god of fertility, who was 
sustained, or aided in his conflicts with demons, by the 
fires and sacrifices of his worshippers. 

It is possible to read too much into his symbols. 
These are not more complicated and vague than are the 
symbols on the standing stones of Scotland the crescent 
with the " broken " arrow; the trident with the double 
rings, or wheels, connected by two crescents; the circle 
with the dot in its centre ; the triangle with the dot ; the 
large disk with two small rings on either side crossed by 
double straight lines; the so-called "mirror", and so on. 
Highly developed symbolism may not indicate a process 
of spiritualization so much, perhaps, as the persistence of 
magical beliefs and practices. There is really no direct 
evidence to support the theory that the Assyrian winged 
disk, or disk "with protruding rays", was of more spiri- 
tual character than the wheel which encloses the feather- 
robed archer with his trident-shaped arrow. 

The various symbols may have represented phases of 
the god. When the spring fires were lit, and the god 
"renewed his life like the eagle", his symbol was possibly 
the solar wheel or disk with eagle's wings, which became 
regarded as a symbol of life. The god brought life and 
light to the world; he caused the crops to grow; he gave 
increase; he sustained his worshippers. But he was also 
the god who slew the demons of darkness and storm. 


The Hittite winged disk was Sandes or Sandon, the god 
of lightning, who stood on the back of a bull. As the 
lightning god was a war god, it was in keeping with his 
character to find him represented in Assyria as "Ashur 
the archer" with the bow and lightning arrow. On the 
disk of the Assyrian standard the lion and the bull appear 
with "the archer" as symbols of the war god Ashur, but 
they were also symbols of Ashur the god of fertility. 

The life or spirit of the god was in the ring or wheel, 
as the life of the Egyptian and Indian gods, and of the 
giants of folk tales, was in "the egg". The "dot within 
the circle", a widespread symbol, may have represented 
the seed within "the egg" of more than one mythology, 
or the thorn within the egg of more than one legendary 
story. It may be that in Assyria, as in India, the crude 
beliefs and symbols of the masses were spiritualized by 
the speculative thinkers in the priesthood, but no literary 
evidence has survived to justify us in placing the Assyrian 
teachers on the same level as the Brahmans who com- 
posed the Upanishads. 

Temples were erected to Ashur, but he might be 
worshipped anywhere, like the Queen of Heaven, who 
received offerings in the streets of Jerusalem, for "he 
needed no temple", as Professor Pinches says. Whether 
this was because he was a highly developed deity or a 
product of folk religion it is difficult to decide. One 
important fact is that the ruling king of Assyria was more 
closely connected with the worship of Ashur than the 
king of Babylonia was with the worship of Merodach. 
This may be because the Assyrian king was regarded as 
an incarnation of his god, like the Egyptian Pharaoh. 
Ashur accompanied the monarch on his campaigns: he 
was their conquering war god. Where the king was, 
there was Ashur also. No images were made of him, 


but his symbols were carried aloft, as were the symbols 
of Indian gods in the great war of the Mah&bh&rata 

It would appear that Ashur was sometimes worshipped 
in the temples of other gods. In an interesting inscription 
he is associated with the moon god Nannar (Sin) of Haran. 
Esarhaddon, the Assyrian king, is believed to have been 
crowned in that city. "The writer", says Professor 
Pinches, " is apparently addressing Assur-bani-apli, * the 
great and noble Asnapper ' : 

" When the father of my king my lord went to Egypt, he was 
crowned (?) in the ganni of Harran, the temple (lit. c Bethel ') of 
cedar. The god Sin remained over the (sacred) standard, two 
crowns upon his head, (and) the god Nusku stood beside him. 
The father of the king my lord entered, (and) he (the priest of 
Sin) placed (the crown?) upon his head, (saying) thus: 'Thou shalt 
go and capture the lands in the midst'. (He we)nt, he captured 
the land of Egypt. The rest of the lands not submitting (?) to 
Assur (Ashur) and Sin, the king, the lord of kings, shall capture 
(them)." 1 

Ashur and Sin are here linked as equals. Associated 
with them is Nusku, the messenger of the gods, who was 
given prominence in Assyria. The kings frequently in- 
voked him. As the son of Ea he acted as the messenger 
between Merodach and the god of the deep. He was 
also a son of Bel Enlil, and like Anu was guardian or 
chief of the Igigi, the "host of heaven". Professor 
Pinches suggests that he may have been either identical 
with the Sumerian fire god Gibil, or a brother of the fire 
god, and an impersonation of the light of fire and sun. In 
Haran he accompanied the moon god, and may, therefore, 
have symbolized the light of the moon also. Professor 

1 The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records and Legends of Assyria and 
Babylonia^ pp. 201-2. 


Pinches adds that in one inscription "he is identified 
with Nirig or En-reshtu " (Nin-Girsu = Tammuz). 1 The 
Babylonians and Assyrians associated fire and light with 
moisture and fertility. 

The astral phase of the character of Ashur is highly 
probable. As has been indicated, the Greek rendering of 
Anshar as " Assoros ", is suggestive in this connection. 
Jastrow, however, points out that the use of the characters 
Anshar for Ashur did not obtain until the eighth century 
B.C. " Linguistically ", he says, " the change of Ashir to 
Ashur can be accounted for, but not the transformation of 
An-shar to Ashur or Ashir; so that we must assume the 
c etymology ' of Ashur, proposed by some learned scribe, 
to be the nature of a play upon the name/' 2 On the 
other hand, it is possible that what appears arbitrary to us 
may have been justified in ancient Assyria on perfectly 
reasonable, or at any rate traditional, grounds. Professor 
Pinches points out that as a sun god, and " at the same 
time not Shamash ", Ashur resembled Merodach. "His 
identification with Merodach, if that was ever accepted, 
may have been due to the likeness of the word to Asari, 
one of the deities' names." 8 As Asari, Merodach has been 
compared to the Egyptian Osiris, who, as the Nile god, 
was Asar-Hapi. Osiris resembles Tammuz and was 
similarly a corn deity and a ruler of the living and the 
dead, associated with sun, moon, stars, water, and vegeta- 
tion. We may consistently connect Ashur with Aushar, 
" water field ", Anshar, " god of the height ", or " most 
high", and with the eponymous King Asshur who went 
out on the land of Nimrod and " builded Nineveh ", if 
we regard him as of common origin with Tammuz, Osiris, 

1 Babylonian and Assyrian Religion, pp. 57-8. 

2 Aspects of Religious Belief and Practice in Babylonia and Assyria, p. 121. 
8 Babylonian and Assyrian Religion, p. 86. 


and Attis a developed and localized form of the ancient 
deity of fertility and corn. 

Ashur had a spouse who is referred to as Ashuritu, or 
Beltu, "the lady". Her name, however, is not given, 
but it is possible that she was identified with the Ishtar of 
Nineveh. In the historical texts Ashur, as the royal god, 
stands alone. Like the Hittite Great Father, he was per- 
haps regarded as the origin of life. Indeed, it may have 
been due to the influence of the northern hillmen in the 
early Assyrian period, that Ashur was developed as a father 
god a Baal. When the Hittite inscriptions are read, 
more light may be thrown on the Ashur problem. An- 
other possible source of cultural influence is Persia. The 
supreme god Ahura-Mazda (Ormuzd) was, as has been in- 
dicated, represented, like Ashur, hovering over the king's 
head, enclosed in a winged disk or wheel, and the sacred 
tree figured in Persian mythology. The early Assyrian 
kings had non-Semitic and non-Sumerian names. It seems 
reasonable to assume that the religious culture of the 
ethnic elements they represented must have contributed 
to the development of the city god of Asshur. 

Conflicts for Trade and Supremacy 

Modern Babylonia History repeating itself Babylonian Trade Route 
in Mesopotamia Egyptian Supremacy in Syria Mitanni and Babylonia 
Bandits who plundered Caravans Arabian Desert Trade Route opened 
Assyrian and Elamite Struggles with Babylonia Rapid Extension of Assyrian 
Empire Hittites control Western Trade Routes Egypt's Nineteenth Dynasty 
Conquests Campaigns of Rameses II Egyptians and Hittites become Allies 
Babylonian Fears of Assyria Shalmaneser's Triumphs Assyria Supreme in 
Mesopotamia Conquest of Babylonia Fall of a Great King Civil War in 
Assyria Its Empire goes to pieces Babylonian Wars with Elam Revival of 
Babylonian Power Invasions of Assyrians and Elarnites End of the Kassite 
Dynasty Babylonia contrasted with Assyria. 

IT is possible that during the present century Baby- 
lonia may once again become one of the great wheat- 
producing countries of the world. A scheme of land 
reclamation has already been inaugurated by the construc- 
tion of a great dam to control the distribution of the 
waters of the Euphrates, and, if it is energetically pro- 
moted on a generous scale in the years to come, the 
ancient canals, which are used at present as caravan roads, 
may yet be utilized to make the whole country as fertile 
and prosperous as it was in ancient days. When that 
happy consummation is reached, new cities may grow up 
and flourish beside the ruins of the old centres of Baby- 
lonian culture. 

With the revival of agriculture will come the revival 
of commerce. Ancient trade routes will then be re- 
opened, and the slow-travelling caravans supplanted by 



speedy trains. A beginning has already been made in 
this direction. The first modern commercial highway 
which is crossing the threshold of Babylonia's new Age 
is the German railway through Asia Minor, North Syria, 
and Mesopotamia to Baghdad. 1 It brings the land of 
Hammurabi into close touch with Europe, and will solve 
problems which engaged the attention of many rival 
monarchs for long centuries before the world knew aught 
of " the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was 

These sudden and dramatic changes are causing history 
to repeat itself. Once again the great World Powers are 
evincing much concern regarding their respective "spheres 
of influence" in Western Asia, and pressing together 
around the ancient land of Babylon. On the east, where 
the aggressive Elamites and Kassites were followed by the 
triumphant Persians and Medes, Russia and Britain have 
asserted themselves as protectors of Persian territory, and 
the influence of Britain is supreme in the Persian Gulf. 
Turkey controls the land of the Hittites, while Russia 
looms like a giant across the Armenian highlands ; 
Turkey is also the governing power in Syria and Meso- 
potamia, which are being crossed by Germany's Baghdad 
railway. France is constructing railways in Syria, and 
will control the ancient "way of the Philistines". Britain 
occupies Cyprus on the Mediterranean coast, and presides 
over the destinies of the ancient land of Egypt, which, 
during the brilliant Eighteenth Dynasty, extended its 
sphere of influence to the borders of Asia Minor. Once 
again, after the lapse of many centuries, international 

1 At Carchemish a railway bridge spans the mile-wide river ferry which Assyria's 
soldiers were wont to cross with the aid of gkin floats. The engineers have found it 
possible to utilize a Hittite river wall about 3000 years old the oldest engineering 
structure in the world. The ferry was on the old trade route. 


politics is being strongly influenced by the problems con- 
nected with the development of trade in Babylonia and 
its vicinity. 

The history of the ancient rival States, which is 
being pieced together by modern excavators, is, in view of 
present-day political developments, invested with special 
interest to us. We have seen Assyria rising into promi- 
nence. It began to be a great Power when Egypt was 
supreme in the "Western Land" (the land of the Amor- 
ites) as far north as the frontiers of Cappadocia. Under 
the Kassite regime Babylonia's political influence had de- 
clined in Mesopotamia, but its cultural influence remained, 
for its language and script continued in use among traders 
and diplomatists. 

At the beginning of the Pharaoh Akhenaton period, 
the supreme power in Mesopotamia was Mitanni. As 
the ally of Egypt it constituted a buffer state on the 
borders of North Syria, which prevented the southern 
expansion from Asia Minor of the Hittite confederacy 
and the western expansion of aggressive Assyria, while it 
also held in check the ambitions of Babylonia, which still 
claimed the "land of the Amorites". So long as Mitanni 
was maintained as a powerful kingdom the Syrian posses- 
sions of Egypt were easily held in control, and the Egyp- 
tian merchants enjoyed preferential treatment compared 
with those of Babylonia. But when Mitanni was over- 
come, and its territories were divided between the Assy- 
rians and the Hittites, the North Syrian Empire of Egypt 
went to pieces. A great struggle then ensued between 
the nations of western Asia for political supremacy in 
the "land" of the Amorites". 

Babylonia had been seriously handicapped by losing 
control of its western caravan road. Prior to the Kassite 
period its influence was supreme in Mesopotamia and 


middle Syria; from the days of Sargon of Akkad and of 
Naram-Sin until the close of the Hammurabi Age its 
merchants had naught to fear from bandits or petty kings 
between the banks of the Euphrates and the Mediter- 
ranean coast. The city of Babylon had grown rich and 
powerful as the commercial metropolis of Western Asia. 

Separated from the Delta frontier by the broad and 
perilous wastes of the Arabian desert, Babylonia traded 
with Egypt by an indirect route. Its caravan road ran 
northward along the west bank of the Euphrates towards 
Haran, and then southward through Palestine. This was 
a long detour, but it was the only possible way. 

During the early Kassite Age the caravans from 
Babylon had to pass through the area controlled by 
Mitanni, which was therefore able to impose heavy duties 
and fill its coffers with Babylonian gold. Nor did the 
situation improve when the influence of Mitanni suffered 
decline in southern Mesopotamia. Indeed the difficulties 
under which traders operated were then still further 
increased, for the caravan roads were infested by plunder- 
ing bands of cc Suti ", to whom references are made in the 
Tell-el-Amarna letters. These bandits defied all the great 
powers, and became so powerful that even the messengers 
sent from one king to another were liable to be robbed 
and murdered without discrimination. When war broke 
out between powerful States they harried live stock and 
sacked towns in those areas which were left unprotected. 

The "Suti" were Arabians of Aramaean stock. What 
is known as the " Third Semitic Migration " was in pro- 
gress during this period. The nomads gave trouble to 
Babylonia and Assyria, and, penetrating Mesopotamia and 
Syria, sapped the power of Mitanni, until it was unable to 
resist the onslaughts of the Assyrians and the Hittites. 

The Aramaean tribes are referred to, at various periods 


and by various peoples, not only as the " Suti ", but also 
as the "Achlame", the "Arimi", and the "Khabiri". 
Ultimately they were designated simply as " Syrians ", 
and under that name became the hereditary enemies of 
the Hebrews, although Jacob was regarded as being of 
their stock: "A Syrian ready to perish", runs a Biblical 
reference, " was my father (ancestor), and he went down 
into Egypt and sojourned there with a few, and became 
there a nation, great, mighty, and populous". 1 

An heroic attempt was made by one of the Kassite 
kings of Babylonia to afford protection to traders by 
stamping out brigandage between Arabia and Mesopo- 
tamia, and opening up a new and direct caravan road to 
Egypt across the Arabian desert. The monarch in ques- 
tion was Kadashman-Kharbe, the grandson of Ashur- 
uballit of Assyria. As we have seen, he combined forces 
with his distinguished and powerful kinsman, and laid a 
heavy hand on the " Suti ". Then he dug wells and 
erected a chain of fortifications, like " block-houses ", so 
that caravans might come and go without interruption, 
and merchants be freed from the imposts of petty kings 
whose territory they had to penetrate when travelling by 
the Haran route. 

This bold scheme, however, was foredoomed to 
failure. It was shown scant favour by the Babylonian 
Kassites. No record survives to indicate the character of 
the agreement between Kadashman-Kharbe and Ashur- 
uballit, but there can be little doubt that it involved the 
abandonment by Babylonia of its historic claim upon 
Mesopotamia, or part of it, and the recognition of an 
Assyrian sphere of influence in that region. It was prob- 
ably on account of his pronounced pro-Assyrian ten- 
dencies that the Kassites murdered Kadashman-Kharbe, 

1 Deuteronomy, xxvi, 5. 


and set the pretender, known as " the son of nobody ", on 
the throne for a brief period. 

Kadashman-Kharbe's immediate successors recognized 
in Assyria a dangerous and unscrupulous rival, and 
resumed the struggle for the possession of Mesopotamia. 
The trade route across the Arabian desert had to be 
abandoned. Probably it required too great a force to 
keep it open. Then almost every fresh conquest achieved 
by Assyria involved it in war with Babylonia, which 
appears to have been ever waiting for a suitable oppor- 
tunity to cripple its northern rival. 

But Assyria was not the only power which Babylonia 
had to guard itself against. On its eastern frontier Elam 
was also panting for expansion. Its chief caravan roads, 
ran from Susa through Assyria towards Asia Minor, and 
through Babylonia towards the Phoenician coast. It was 
probably because its commerce was hampered by the 
growth of Assyrian power in the north, as Servians com- 
merce in our own day has been hampered by Austria, that 
it cherished dreams of conquering Babylonia. In fact, as 
Kassite influence suffered decline, one of the great prob- 
lems of international politics was whether Elam or Assyria 
would enter into possession of the ancient lands of Sumer 
and Akkad. 

Ashur-uballit's vigorous policy of Assyrian expansion 
was continued, as has been shown, by his son Bel-nirari. 
His grandson, Arik-den-ilu, conducted several successful 
campaigns, and penetrated westward as far as Haran, thus 
crossing the Babylonian caravan road. He captured great 
herds of cattle and flocks of sheep, which were transported 
to Asshur, and on one occasion carried away 250,000 
prisoners. . 

Meanwhile Babylonia waged war with Elam. It is 
related that Khur-batila, King of Elam, sent a challenge 


to Kurigalzu III, a descendant of Kadashman-Kharbe, 
saying: "Come hither; I will fight with thee". The 
Babylonian monarch accepted the challenge, invaded the 
territory of his rival, and won a great victory. Deserted 
by his troops, the Elamite king was taken prisoner, and 
did not secure release until he had ceded a portion of 
his territory and consented to pay annual tribute to 

Flushed with his success, the Kassite king invaded 
Assyria when Adad-nirari I died and his son Arik-den-ilu 
came to the throne. He found, however, that the 
Assyrians were more powerful than the Elamites, and 
suffered defeat. His son, Na / zi-mar-ut / tash 1 , also made 
an unsuccessful attempt to curb the growing power of 
the northern Power. 

These recurring conflicts were intimately associated 
with the Mesopotamian question. Assyria was gradually 
expanding westward and shattering the dreams of the 
Babylonian statesmen and traders who hoped to recover 
control of the caravan routes and restore the prestige of 
their nation in the west. 

Like his father, Adad-nirari I of Assyria had attacked 
the Aramaean "Suti" who were settling about Haran. He 
also acquired a further portion of the ancient kingdom 
of Mitanni, with the result that he exercised * sway over 
part of northern Mesopotamia. After defeating Na'zi- 
mar-ut'tash, he fixed the boundaries of the Assyrian and 
Babylonian spheres of influence much to the advantage 
of his own country. 

At home Adad-nirari conducted a vigorous policy. 
He developed the resources of the city state of Asshur 
by constructing a great dam and quay wall, while he 
contributed to the prosperity of the priesthood and the 

1 Pr. v as 00, 


growth of Assyrian culture by extending the temple of 
the god Ashur. Ere he died, he assumed the proud 
title of "Shar Kishshate", "king of the world", which 
was also used by his son Shalmaneser I. His reign 
extended over a period of thirty years and terminated 
about 1300 B.C. 

Soon after Shalmaneser came to the throne his country 
suffered greatly from an earthquake, which threw down 
Ishtar's temple at Nineveh and Ashur's temple at Asshur. 
Fire broke out in the latter building and destroyed it 

These disasters did not dismay the young monarch. 
Indeed, they appear to have stimulated him to set out on 
a career of conquest, to secure treasure and slaves, so as to 
carry out the work of reconstructing the temples without 
delay. He became as great a builder, and as tireless a 
campaigner as Thothmes III of Egypt, and under his 
guidance Assyria became the most powerful nation in 
Western Asia. Ere he died his armies were so greatly 
dreaded that the Egyptians and Assyrians drew their long 
struggle for supremacy in Syria to a close, and formed 
an alliance for mutual protection against their common 

It is necessary at this point to review briefly the his- 
tory of Palestine and north Syria after the period of Hittite 
expansion under King Subbi-luliuma and the decline of 
Egyptian power under Akhenaton. The western part of 
Mitanni and the most of northern Syria had been colon- 
ized by the Hittites. 1 Farther south, their allies, the 
Amorites, formed a buffer State on the borders of Egypt's 
limited sphere of influence in southern Palestine, and of 
Babylonia's sphere in southern Mesopotamia. Mitanni 

1 The chief cities of North Syria were prior to this period Hittite. This expansion 
did not change the civilization but extended the area of occupation and control. 
(0642) 26 


was governed by a subject king who was expected to 
prevent the acquisition by Assyria of territory in the 

Subbi-luliuma was succeeded on the Hittite throne by 
his son, King MursU, who was known to the Egyptians as 
" Meraser ", or u Maurasar ". The greater part of this 
monarch's, reign appears to have been peaceful and pros- 
perous. His allies protected his frontiers, and he was 
able to devote himself to the work of consolidating his 
empire in Asia Minor and North Syria. He erected a 
great palace at Boghaz Ktti, and appears* to have had 
dreams of imitating the splendours of the royal Courts of 
Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon. 

At this period the Hittite Empire was approaching 
the zenith of its power. It controlled the caravan roads 
of Babylonia and Egypt, and its rulers appear not only to 
have had intimate diplomatic relations with both these 
countries, but even to have concerned themselves regard- 
ing their internal affairs. When Rameses I came to the 
Egyptian throne, at the beginning of the Nineteenth 
Dynasty, he sealed an agreement with the Hittites, and 
at a later date the Hittite ambassador at Babylon, who 
represented Hattusil II, the second son of King Mursil, 
actually intervened in a dispute regarding the selection of 
a successor to the throne. 

The closing years of King Mursil's reign were dis- 
turbed by the military conquests of Egypt, which had 
renewed its strength under Rameses I. Seti I, the son 
of Rameses I, and the third Pharaoh of the powerful 
Nineteenth Dynasty, took advantage of the inactivity of 
the Hittite ruler by invading southern Syria. He had 
first to grapple with the Amorites, whom he successfully 
defeated. Then he pressed northward as far as Tunip, 
and won a decisive victory over a Hittite army, which 


secured to Egypt for a period the control of Palestine 
as far north as Phoenicia. 

When Mursil died he was succeeded on the Hittite 
throne by his son Mutallu, whom the Egyptians referred 
to as "Metella" or " Mautinel ". He was a vigorous 
and aggressive monarch, and appears to have lost no 
time in compelling the Amorites to throw off their 
allegiance to Egypt and recognize him as their overlord. 
As a result, when Rameses II ascended the Egyptian 
throne he had to undertake the task of winning back 
the Asiatic possessions of his father. 

The preliminary operations conducted by Rameses on 
the Palestinian coast were attended with much success. 
Then, in his fifth year, he marched northward with a 
great army, with purpose, it would appear, to emulate 
the achievements of Thothmes III and win fame as a 
mighty conqueror. But he underestimated the strength 
of his rival arid narrowly escaped disaster. Advancing 
impetuously, with but two of his four divisions, he sud- 
denly found himself surrounded by the army of the wily 
Hittite, King Mutallu, in the vicinity of the city of 
Kadesh, on the Orontes. His first division remained 
intact, but his second was put to flight by an intervening 
force of the enemy. From this perilous position Rameses 
extricated himself by leading a daring charge against the 
Hittite lines on the river bank, which proved successful. 
Thrown into confusion, his enemies sought refuge in the 
city, but the Pharaoh refrained from attacking them there. 

Although Rameses boasted on his return home of 
having achieved a great victory, there is nothing more 
certain than that this campaign proved a dismal failure. 
He was unable to win back for Egypt the northern terri- 
tories which had acknowledged the, suzerainty of Egypt 
during the Eighteenth Dynasty. Subsequently he was 


kept fully engaged in maintaining his prestige in northern 
Palestine and the vicinity of Phoenicia. Then his Asiatic 
military operations, which extended altogether over a 
period of about twenty years, were brought to a close 
in a dramatic and unexpected manner. The Hittite king 
Mutallu had died in battle, or by the hand of an assassin, 
and was succeeded by his brother Hattusil II (Khetasar), 
who sealed a treaty of peace with the great Rameses. 

An Egyptian copy of this interesting document can 
still be read on the walls of a Theban temple, but it is 
lacking in certain details which interest present-day his- 
torians. No reference, for instance, is made to the boun- 
daries of the Egyptian Empire in Syria, so that it is 
impossible to estimate the degree of success which attended 
the campaigns of Rameses. An interesting light, how- 
ever, is thrown on the purport of the treaty by a tablet 
letter which has been discovered by Professor Hugo 
Winckler at Boghaz Koi. It is a copy of a communi- 
cation addressed by Hattusil II to the King of Babylonia, 
who had made an enquiry regarding it. " I will inform 
my brother," wrote the Hittite monarch ; " the King 
of Egypt and I have made an alliance, and made our- 
selves brothers. Brothers we are and will [unite against] 
a common foe, and with friends in common." 1 The 
common foe could have been no other than Assyria, and 
the Hittite king's letter appears to convey a hint to 
Kadashman-turgu of Babylon that he should make com- 
mon cause with Rameses II and Hattusil. 

Shalmaneser I of Assyria was pursuing a determined 
policy of western and northern expansion. He struck 
boldly at the eastern Hittite States and conquered Malatia, 
where he secured great treasure for the god Ashur. He 
even founded colonies within the Hittite sphere of influ- 

1 Garstang'g The Land of the Hittitcs, p. 349. 


ence on the borders of Armenia. Shalmanescr's second 
campaign was conducted against the portion of ancient 
Mitanni which was under Hittite control. The vassal 
king, Sattuari, apparently a descendant of Tushratta's, 
endeavoured to resist the Assyrians with the aid of 
Hittites and Aramaeans, but his army of allies was put 
to flight. The victorious Shalmaneser was afterwards 
able to penetrate as far westward as Carchemish on the 

Having thus secured the whole of Mitanni, the 
Assyrian conqueror attacked the Aramaean hordes which 
were keeping the territory round Haran in a continuous 
state of unrest, and forced them to recognize him as 
their overlord. 

Shalmaneser thus, it would appear, gained control of 
northern Mesopotamia and consequently of the Baby- 
lonian caravan route to Haran. As a result Hittite 
prestige must have suffered decline in Babylon. For a 
generation the Hittites had had the Babylonian merchants 
at their mercy, and apparently compelled them to pay 
heavy duties. Winckler has found among the Boghaz 
Koi tablets several letters from the king of Babylon, who 
made complaints regarding robberies committed by Amor- 
itic bandits, and requested that they should be punished 
and kept in control. Such a communication is a clear 
indication that he was entitled, in lieu of payment, to 
have an existing agreement fulfilled. 

Shalmaneser found that Asshur, the ancient capital, 
was unsuitable for the administration of his extended 
empire, so he built a great city at Kalkhi (Nimrud), the 
Biblical Calah, which was strategically situated amidst 
fertile meadows on the angle of land formed by the 
Tigris and the Upper Zab. Thither to a new palace 
he transferred his brilliant Court. 


He was succeeded by his son, Tukulti-Ninip I, who 
was the most powerful of the Assyrian monarchs of the 
Old Empire. He made great conquests in the north and 
east, extended and strengthened Assyrian influence in 
Mesopotamia, and penetrated into Hittite territory, bring- 
ing into subjection no fewer than forty kings, whom he 
compelled to pay annual tribute. It was inevitable that 
he should be drawn into conflict with the Babylonian 
king, who was plotting with the Hittites against him. 
One of the tablet letters found by Winckler at Boghaz Kci 
is of special interest in this connection. Hattusil advises 
the young monarch of Babylonia to " go and plunder the 
land of the foe ". Apparently he sought to be freed from 
the harassing attention of the Assyrian conqueror by 
prevailing on his Babylonian royal friend to act as a 
"cat's paw". 

It is uncertain whether or not Kashtiliash II of Baby- 
lonia invaded Assyria with purpose to cripple his rival. 
At any rate war broke out between the two countries, and 
Tukulti-Ninip proved irresistible in battle. He marched 
into Babylonia, and not only defeated Kashtiliash, but 
captured him and carried him off to Asshur, where he 
was presented in chains to the god Ashur. 

The city of Babylon was captured, its wall was de- 
molished, and many of its inhabitants were put to the 
sword. Tukulti-Ninip was evidently waging a war of 
conquest, for he pillaged E-sagila, "the temple of the 
high head", and removed the golden statue of the god 
Merodach to Assyria, where it remained for about sixteen 
years. He subdued the whole of Babylonia as far south 
as the Persian Gulf, and ruled it through viceroys. 

Tukulti-Ninip, however, was not a popular emperor 
even in his own country. He offended national suscepti- 
bilities by showing preference for Babylonia, and founding 


a new city which has not been located. There he built a 
great palace and a temple for Ashur and his pantheon. 
He called the city after himself, Kar-Tukulti-Ninip 1 . 

Seven years after the conquest of Babylonia revolts 
broke out against the emperor in Assyria and Babylonia, 
and he was murdered in his palace, which had been 
besieged and captured by an army headed by his own son, 
Ashur-natsir-pal I, who succeeded him. The Babylonian 
nobles meantime drove the Assyrian garrisons from their 
cities, and set on the throne the Kassite prince Adad- 

Thus in a brief space went to pieces the old Assyrian 
Empire, which, at the close of Tukulti-Ninip's thirty 
years' reign, embraced the whole Tigro-Euphrates valley 
from the borders of Armenia to the Persian Gulf. An 
obscure century followed, during which Assyria was raided 
by its enemies and broken up into petty States. 

The Elamites were not slow to take advantage of the 
state of anarchy which prevailed in Babylonia during the 
closing years of Assyrian rule. They overran a part of 
ancient Sumer, and captured Nippur, where they slew a 
large number of inhabitants and captured many prisoners. 
On a subsequent occasion they pillaged Isin. When, 
however, the Babylonian king had cleared his country of 
the Assyrians, he attacked the Elamites and drove them 
across the frontier. 

Nothing is known regarding the reign of the parricide 
Ashur-natsir-pal I of Assyria. He was succeeded by 
Ninip-Tukulti-Ashur and Adad-shum-lishir, who either 
reigned concurrently or were father and son. After a 
brief period these were displaced by another two rulers, 
Ashur-nirari III and Nabu-dan. 

It is not clear why Ninip-Tukulti-Ashur was deposed. 

1 " Burgh of Tukulti-Ninip." 


Perhaps he was an ally of Adad-shum-utsur, the Baby- 
lonian king, and was unpopular on that account. He 
journeyed to Babylon on one occasion, carrying with him 
the statue of Merodach, but did not return. Perhaps he 
fled from the rebels. At any rate Adad-shum-utsur was 
asked to send him back, by an Assyrian dignitary who 
was probably Ashur-nirari III. The king of Babylon 
refused this request, nor would he give official recognition 
to the new ruler or rulers. 

Soon afterwards another usurper, Bel-kudur-utsur, led 
an Assyrian army against the Babylonians, but was slain 
in battle. He was succeeded by Ninip-apil-esharia, who 
led his forces back to Asshur, followed by Adad-shum- 
utsur. The city was besieged but not captured by the 
Babylonian army. 

Under Adad-shum-utsur, who reigned for thirty years, 
Babylonia recovered much of its ancient splendour. It 
held Elam in check and laid a heavy hand on Assyria, 
which had been paralysed by civil war. Once again it 
possessed Mesopotamia and controlled its caravan road to 
Haran and Phoenicia, and apparently its relations with the 
Hittites and Syrians were of a cordial character. The 
next king, Meli-shipak, assumed the Assyrian title " Shar 
Kishshati ", c< king of the world ", and had a prosperous 
reign of fifteen years. He was succeeded by Marduk- 
aplu-iddin I, who presided over the destinies of Babylonia 
for about thirteen years. Thereafter the glory of the Kassite 
Dynasty passed away. King Zamama-shum-iddin followed 
with a twelvemonth's reign, during which his kingdom 
was successfully invaded from the north by the Assyrians 
under King Ashur-dan I, and from the east by the 
Elamites under a king whose name has not been traced. 
Several towns were captured and pillaged, and rich booty 
was carried off to Asshur and Susa. 


Bel-shum-iddin succeeded Zamama-shum-iddin, but 
three years afterwards he was deposed by a king of Ism. 
So ended the Kassite Dynasty of Babylonia, which had 
endured for a period of 576 years and nine months. 

Babylonia was called Karduniash during the Kassite 
Dynasty. This name was originally applied to the district 
at the river mouths, where the alien rulers appear to have 
first achieved ascendancy. Apparently they were strongly 
supported by the non-Semitic elements in the population, 
and represented a popular revolt against the political 
supremacy of the city of Babylon and its god Merodach. 
It is significant to find in this connection that the early 
Kassite kings showed a preference for Nippur as their 
capital and promoted the worship of Enlil, the elder Bel, 
who was probably identified with their own god of fertility 
and battle. Their sun god, Sachi, appears to have been 
merged in Shamash. In time, however, the kings followed 
the example of Hammurabi by exalting Merodach. 

The Kassite language added to the "Babel of tongues" 
among the common people, but was never used in in- 
scriptions. At an early period the alien rulers became 
thoroughly Babylonianized, and as they held sway for 
nearly six centuries it cannot be assumed that they were 
unpopular. They allowed their mountain homeland, or 
earliest area of settlement in the east, to be seized and 
governed by Assyria, and probably maintained as slight a 
connection with it after settlement in Babylonia as did the 
Saxons of England with their Continental area of origin. 

Although Babylonia was not so great a world power 
under the Kassites as it had been during the Hammurabi 
Dynasty, it prospered greatly as an industrial, agricultural, 
and trading country. The Babylonian language was used 
throughout western Asia as the language of diplomacy 
and commerce, and the city of Babylon was the most 


important commercial metropolis of the ancient world. 
Its merchants traded directly and indirectly with far- 
distant countries. They imported cobalt which was used 
for colouring glass a vivid blue from China, and may 
have occasionally met Chinese traders who came westward 
with their caravans, while a brisk trade in marble and 
limestone was conducted with and through Elam. Egypt 
was the chief source of the gold supply, which was 
obtained from the Nubian mines ; and in exchange for 
this precious metal the Babylonians supplied the Nilotic 
merchants with lapis-lazuli from Bactria, enamel, and their 
own wonderful coloured glass, which was not unlike the 
later Venetian, as well as chariots and horses. The 
Kassites were great horse breeders, and the battle steeds 
from the Babylonian province of Namar were everywhere 
in great demand. They also promoted the cattle trade. 
Cattle rearing was confined chiefly to the marshy districts 
at the head of the Persian Gulf, and the extensive steppes 
on the borders of the Arabian desert, so well known to 
Abraham and his ancestors, which provided excellent 
grazing. Agriculture also flourished; as in Egypt it con- 
stituted the basis of national and commercial prosperity. 

It is evident that great wealth accumulated in Kar- 
duniash during the Kassite period. When the images of 
Merodach and Zerpanitu m were taken back to Babylon, 
from Assyria, they were clad, as has been recorded, in 
garments embroidered with gold and sparkling with gems, 
while E-sagila was redecorated on a lavish scale with price- 
less works of art. 

Assyria presented a sharp contrast to Babylonia, the 
mother land, from which its culture was derived. As a 
separate kingdom it had to develop along different lines. 
In fact, it was unable to exist as a world power without 
the enforced co-operation of neighbouring States. Baby- 


Ionia, on the other hand, could have flourished in com- 
parative isolation, like Egypt during the Old Kingdom 
period, because it was able to feed itself and maintain a 
large population so long as its rich alluvial plain was 
irrigated during its dry season, which extended over 
about eight months in the year. 

The region north of Baghdad was of different geo- 
graphical formation to the southern plain, and therefore 
less suitable for the birth and growth of a great inde- 
pendent civilization. Assyria embraced a chalk plateau 
of the later Mesozoic period, with tertiary deposits, and 
had an extremely limited area suitable for agricultural 
pursuits. Its original inhabitants were nomadic pastoral 
and hunting tribes, and there appears to be little doubt 
that agriculture was introduced along the banks of the 
Tigris by colonists from Babylonia, who formed city 
States which owed allegiance to the kings of Sumer and 

After the Hammurabi period Assyria rose into pro- 
minence as a predatory power, which depended for its 
stability upon those productive countries which it was able 
to conquer and hold in sway. It never had a numerous 
peasantry, and such as it had ultimately vanished, for 
the kings pursued the short-sighted policy of colonizing 
districts on the borders of their empire with their loyal 
subjects, and settling aliens in the heart of the homeland, 
where they were controlled by the military. In this 
manner they built up an artificial empire, which suffered 
at critical periods in its history because it lacked the 
great driving and sustaining force of a population welded 
together by immemorial native traditions and the love of 
country which is the essence of true patriotism. National 
sentiment was chiefly confined to the military aristocracy 
and the priests ; the enslaved and uncultured masses of 


aliens were concerned mainly with their daily duties, and 
no doubt included communities, like the Israelites in 
captivity, who longed to return to their native lands. 

Assyria had to maintain a standing army, which grew 
from an alliance of brigands who first enslaved the native 
population, and ultimately extended their sway over 
neighbouring States. The successes of the army made 
Assyria powerful. Conquering kings accumulated rich 
booty by pillaging alien cities, and grew more and more 
wealthy as they were able to impose annual tribute on 
those States which came under their sway. They even 
regarded Babylonia with avaricious eyes. It was to 
achieve the conquest of the fertile and prosperous mother 
State that the early Assyrian emperors conducted mili- 
tary operations in the north-west and laid hands on 
Mesopotamia. There was no surer way of strangling it 
than by securing control of its trade routes. What the 
command of the sea is to Great Britain at the present 
day, the command of the caravan roads was to ancient 

Babylonia suffered less than Assyria by defeat in 
battle ; its natural resources gave it great recuperative 
powers, and the native population was ever so intensely 
patriotic that centuries of alien sway could not obliterate 
their national aspirations. A conqueror of Babylon had 
to become a Babylonian. The Amorites and Kassites had 
in turn to adopt the modes of life and modes of thought 
of the native population. Like the Egyptians, the Baby- 
lonians ever achieved the intellectual conquest of their 

The Assyrian Empire, on the other hand, collapsed 
like a house of cards when its army of mercenaries 
suffered a succession of disasters. The kings, as we have 
indicated, depended on the tribute of subject States to pay 


their soldiers and maintain the priesthood ; they were 
faced with national bankruptcy when their vassals success- 
fully revolted against them. 

The history of Assyria as a world power is divided 
into three periods : (i) the Old Empire; (2) the Middle 
Empire; (3) the New or Last Empire, 

We have followed the rise and growth of the Old 
Empire from the days of Ashur-uballit until the reign of 
Tukulti-Ninip, when it flourished in great splendour and 
suddenly went to pieces. Thereafter, until the second 
period of the Old Empire, Assyria comprised but a few 
city States which had agricultural resources and were 
trading centres. Of these the most enterprising was 
Asshur. When a ruler of Asshur was able, by conserv- 
ing his revenues, to command sufficient capital with pur- 
pose to raise a strong army of mercenaries as a business 
speculation, he set forth to build up a new empire on 
the ruins of the old. In its early stages, of course, this 
process was slow and difficult. It necessitated the adop- 
tion of a military career by native Assyrians, who officered 
the troops, and these troops had to be trained and dis- 
ciplined by engaging in brigandage, which also brought 
them rich rewards for their services. Babylonia became 
powerful by developing the arts of peace; Assyria became 
powerful by developing the science of warfare. 

Race Movements that Shattered Empires- 

The Third Semitic Migration Achaean Conquest of Greece Fall of 
Crete Tribes of Raiders European Settlers in Asia Minor The Muski 
overthrow the Hittites Sea Raids on Egypt The Homeric Age Israelites 
and Philistines in Palestine Culture of Philistines Nebuchadrezzar I of 
Babylonia Wars against Elamites and Hittites Conquests in Mesopotamia 
and Syria Assyrians and Babylonians at War Tiglath-pileser I of Assyria 
His Sweeping Conquests Muski Power broken Big -game Hunting in 
Mesopotamia Slaying of a Sea Monster Decline of Assyria and Babylonia 
Revival of Hittite Civilization An Important Period in History Philis- 
tines as Overlords of Hebrews Kingdom of David and Saul Solomon's 
Relations with Egypt and Phoenicia Sea Trade with India Aramaean 
Conquests The Chaldseans Egyptian King plunders Judah and Israel 
Historical Importance of Race Movements. 

GREAT changes were taking place in the ancient world 
during the period in which Assyria rose into prominence 
and suddenly suffered decline. These were primarily due 
to widespread migrations of pastoral peoples from the 
steppe lands of Asia and Europe, and the resulting dis- 
placement of settled tribes. The military operations of 
the great Powers were also a disturbing factor, for they 
not only propelled fresh movements beyond their spheres 
of influence, but caused the petty States to combine 
against a common enemy and foster ambitions to achieve 
conquests on a large scale. 

Towards the close of the Eighteenth Dynasty of 
Egypt, of which Amenhotep III and Akhenaton were 
the last great kings, two well-defined migrations were in 



progress. The Aramaean folk-waves had already begun to 
pour in increasing volume into Syria from Arabia, and in 
Europe the pastoral fighting folk from the mountains 
were establishing themselves along the south-eastern coast 
and crossing the Hellespont to overrun the land of the 
Hittites. These race movements were destined to exer- 
cise considerable influence in shaping the history of the 
ancient world. 

The Aramaean, or Third Semitic migration, in time 
swamped various decaying States. Despite the successive 
efforts of the great Powers to hold it in check, it ulti- 
mately submerged the whole of Syria and part of Meso- 
potamia. Aramaean speech then came into common use 
among the mingled peoples over a wide area, and was 
not displaced until the time of the Fourth Semitic or 
Moslem migration from Arabia, which began in the 
seventh century of the Christian era, and swept northward 
through Syria to Asia Minor, eastward across Mesopo- 
tamia into Persia and India, and westward through Egypt 
along the north African coast to Morocco, and then into 

When Syria was sustaining the first shocks of Ara- 
maean invasion, the last wave of Achaeans, " the tamers of 
horses" and "shepherds of the people", had achieved the 
conquest of Greece, and contributed to the overthrow of 
the dynasty of King Minos of Crete. Professor Ridge- 
way identifies this stock, which had been filtering south- 
ward for several centuries, with the tall, fair-haired, and 
grey-eyed "Keltoi" (Celts), 1 who, Dr. Haddon believes, 
were representatives of " the mixed peoples of northern 
and Alpine descent". 2 Mr. Hawes, following Professor 
Sergi, holds, on the other hand, that the Achaeans were 

1 Article "Celts" in Encyclopedia Britannica, eleventh cd. 

2 The Wanderings of Peoples, p. 41. 


"fair in comparison with the native (Pelasgian-Mediter- 
ranean) stock, but not necessarily blonde". 1 The earliest 
Achaeans were rude, uncultured barbarians, but the last 
wave came from some unknown centre of civilization, and 
probably used iron as well as bronze weapons. 

The old Cretans were known to the Egyptians as the 
"Keftiu", and traded on the Mediterranean and the 
Black Sea. It is significant to find, however, that no 
mention is made of them in the inscriptions of the 
Pharaohs after the reign of Amenhotep III. In their 
place appear the Shardana, the Mykenaean people who 
gave their name to Sardinia, the Danauna, believed to be 
identical with the Danaoi of Homer, the Akhaivasha, 
perhaps the Achaeans, and the Tursha and Shakalsha, who 
may have been of the same stock as the piratical Lycians. 

When Rameses II fought his famous battle at Kadesh 
the Hittite king included among his allies the Aramaeans 
from Arabia, and other mercenaries like the Dardanui and 
Masa, who represented the Thraco-Phrygian peoples who 
had overrun the Balkans, occupied Thrace and Macedonia, 
and crossed into Asia Minor. In time the Hittite con- 
federacy was broken up by the migrating Europeans, and 
their dominant tribe, the Muski 2 the Moschoi of the 
Greeks and the Meshech of the Old Testament came 
into conflict with the Assyrians. The Muski were fore- 
runners of the Phrygians, and were probably of allied 

Pharaoh Meneptah, the son of Rameses II, did not 
benefit much by the alliance with the Hittites, to whom 
he had to send a supply of grain during a time of famine. 
He found it necessary, indeed, to invade Syria, where 
their influence had declined, and had to beat back from 
the Delta region the piratical invaders of the same tribes 

1 Crete, the Forerunner of Greece, p. 146. '* Pr. Moosh'kee. 


as were securing a footing in Asia Minor. In Syria 
Meneptah fought with the Israelites, who apparently had 
begun their conquest of Canaan during his reign. 

Before the Kassite Dynasty had come to an end, 
Rameses III of Egypt (1198-1167 B.C.) freed his country 
from the perils of a great invasion of Europeans by land 
and sea. He scattered a fleet on the Delta coast, and 
then arrested the progress of a strong force which was 
pressing southward through Phoenicia towards the Egyp- 
tian frontier. These events occurred at the beginning of 
the Homeric Age, and were followed by the siege of Troy, 
which, according to the Greeks, began about 1194 B.C. 

The land raiders who were thwarted by Rameses III 
were the Philistines, a people from Crete. 1 When the 
prestige of Egypt suffered decline they overran the coast- 
line of Canaan, and that country was then called Palestine, 
"the land of the Philistines", while the Egyptian over- 
land trade route to Phoenicia became known as " the way 
of the Philistines". Their conflicts with the Hebrews 
are familiar to readers of the Old Testament. "The only 
contributions the Hebrews made to the culture of the 
country", writes Professor Macalister, "were their simple 
desert customs and their religious organization. On the 
other hand, the Philistines, sprung from one of the great 
homes of art of the ancient world, had brought with them 
the artistic instincts of their race: decayed no doubt, but 
still superior to anything they met with in the land itself. 
Tombs to be ascribed to them, found in Gezer, contained 
beautiful jewellery and ornaments. The Philistines, in 
fact, were the only cultured or artistic race who ever occu- 
pied the soil of Palestine, at least until the time when the 
influence of classical Greece asserted itself too strongly 

1 " Have I not brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt and the Philistines from 
Caphtor (Crete)?" Amo^ viii, 7. 

( c 642 ) 27 


to be withstood. Whatsoever things raised life in the 
country above the dull animal existence of fellahin were 
due to this people. . . . The peasantry of the modern 
villages . . . still tell of the great days of old when it 
(Palestine) was inhabited by the mighty race of the 
'FenishY' 1 

When the Kassite Dynasty of Babylonia was extin- 
guished, about 1 140 B.C., the Amorites were being displaced 
in Palestine by the Philistines and the Israelitish tribes; 
the Aramaeans were extending their conquests in Syria 
and Mesopotamia ; the Muski were the overlords of the 
Hittites; Assyrian power was being revived at' the begin- 
ning of the second period of the Old Empire; and Egypt 
was governed by a weakly king, Rameses VIII, a puppet 
in the hands of the priesthood, who was unable to protect 
the rich tombs of the Eighteenth Dynasty Pharaohs 
against the bands of professional robbers who were plun- 
dering them. 

A new dynasty the Dynasty of Pashe had arisen at 
the ancient Sumerian city of Isin. Its early kings were 
contemporary with some of the last Kassite monarchs, 
and they engaged in conflicts with the Elamites, who were 
encroaching steadily upon Babylonian territory, and were 
ultimately able to seize the province of Nan>ar, famous 
for its horses, which was situated to the east of Akkad. 
The Assyrians, under Ashur-dan I, were not only recon- 
quering lost territory, but invading Babylonia and carrying 
off rich plunder. Ashur-dan inflicted a crushing defeat 
upon the second-last Kassite ruler. 

There years later Nebuchadrezzar I, of the Dynasty 
of Pashe, seized the Babylonian throne. He was the 
most powerful and distinguished monarch of his line an 
accomplished general and a wise statesman. His name 

1 A History of Civilization in Palestine, p. 58. 


signifies: "May the god Nebo protect my boundary ". 
His first duty was to drive the Elamites from the land, 
and win back from them the statue of Merodach which 
they had carried off from E-sagila. At first he suffered 
a reverse, but although the season was midsummer, and 
the heat overpowering, he persisted in his campaign. 
The Elamites were forced to retreat, and following up 
their main force he inflicted upon them a shattering 
defeat on the banks of the Ula, a tributary of the Tigris. 
He then invaded Elam and returned with rich booty. 
The province of Namar was recovered, and its governor, 
Ritti Merodach, who was Nebuchadrezzar's battle com- 
panion, was restored to his family possessions and ex- 
empted from taxation. A second raid to Elam resulted 
in the recovery of the statue of Merodach. The Kassite 
and Lullume mountaineers also received attention, and 
were taught to respect the power of the new monarch. 
Having freed his country from the yoke of the 
Elamites, and driven the Assyrians over the frontier, 
Nebuchadrezzar came into conflict with the Hittites, who 
appear to have overrun Mesopotamia. Probably the 
invaders were operating in conjunction with the Muski, 
who were extending their sway over part of northern 
Assyria. They were not content with securing control of 
the trade route, but endeavoured also to establish them- 
selves permanently in Babylon, the commercial metropolis, 
which they besieged and captured. This happened in the 
third year of Nebuchadrezzar, when he was still reigning 
at Isin. Assembling a strong force, he hastened north- 
ward and defeated the Hittites, and apparently followed 
up his victory. Probably it was at this time that he 
conquered the " West Land " (the land of the Amorites) 
and penetrated to the Mediterranean coast. Egyptian 
power had been long extinguished in that region. 


The possession of Mesopotamia was a signal triumph 
for Babylonia. As was inevitable, however, it brought 
Nebuchadrezzar into conflict some years later with the 
Assyrian king, Ashur-resh-ishi I, grandson of Ashur-dan, 
and father of the famous Tiglath-pileser I. The northern 
monarch had engaged himself in subduing the Lullume 
and Akhlami hill tribes in the south-east, whose territory 
had been conquered by Nebuchadrezzar. Thereafter he 
crossed the Babylonian frontier. Nebuchadrezzar drove 
him back and then laid siege to the border fortress of 
Zanki, but the Assyrian king conducted a sudden and 
successful reconnaissance in force which rendered perilous 
the position of the attacking force. By setting fire to his 
siege train the Babylonian war lord was able, however, to 
retreat in good order. 

Some time later Nebuchadrezzar dispatched another 
army northward, but it suffered a serious defeat, and its 
general, Karashtu, fell into the hands of the enemy. 

Nebuchadrezzar reigned less than twenty years, and 
appears to have secured the allegiance of the nobility by 
restoring the feudal system which had been abolished by 
the Kassites. He boasted that he was "the sun of his 
country, who restored ancient landmarks and boundaries", 
and promoted the worship of Ishtar, the ancient goddess 
of the people. By restoring the image of Merodach he 
secured the support of Babylon, to which city he trans- 
ferred his Court. 

Nebuchadrezzar was succeeded by his son Ellil-nadin- 
apil, who reigned a few years; but little or nothing is 
known regarding him. His grandson, Marduk-nadin- 
akhe, came into conflict with Tiglath-pileser I of Assyria, 
and suffered serious reverses, from the effects of which 
his country did not recover for over a century, 

Tiglath-pileser I, in one of his inscriptions, recorded 


significantly: "The feet of the enemy I kept from my 
country ". When he came to the throne, northern Assyria 
was menaced by the Muski and their allies, the Hittites 
and the Shubari of old Mitanni. The Kashiari hill tribes 
to the north of Nineveh, whom Shalmaneser I subdued, 
had half a century before thrown off the yoke of Assyria, 
and their kings were apparently vassals of the Muski. 

Tiglath-pileser first invaded Mitanni, where he routed 
a combined force of Shubari hillmen and Hittites. There- 
after a great army of the Muski and their allies pressed 
southward with purpose to deal a shattering blow against 
the Assyrian power. The very existence of Assyria as 
a separate power was threatened by this movement. 
Tiglath-pileser, however, was equal to the occasion. He 
"surprised the invaders among the Kashiari mountains and 
inflicted a crushing defeat, slaying about 14,000 and 
capturing 6000 prisoners, who were transported to 
Asshur. In fact, he wiped the invading army out of 
existence and possessed himself of all its baggage. There- 
after he captured several cities, and extended his empire 
beyond the Kashiari hills and into the heart of Mitanni. 

His second campaign was also directed towards the 
Mitanni district, which had been invaded during his 
absence by a force of Hittites, about 4000 strong. The 
invaders submitted to him as soon as he drew near, and 
he added them to his standing army. 

Subsequent operations towards the north restored the 
pre-eminence of Assyria in the Nairi country, on the 
shores of Lake Van, in Armenia, where Tiglath-pileser 
captured no fewer than twenty-three petty kings. These 
he liberated after they had taken the oath of allegiance 
and consented to pay annual tribute. 

In his fourth year the conqueror learned that the 
Aramaeans were crossing the Euphrates and possessing 


themselves of Mitanni, which he had cleared of the 
Hittites. By a series of forced marches he caught them 
unawares, scattered them in confusion, and entered Car- 
chemish, which he pillaged. Thereafter his army crossed 
the Euphrates in boats of skin, and plundered and de- 
stroyed six cities round the base of the mountain of 

While operating in this district, Tiglath-pileser engaged 
in big-game hunting. He recorded: "Ten powerful bull 
elephants in the land of Haran and on the banks of the 
Khabour I killed; four elephants alive I took. Their 
skins, their teeth, with the living elephants, I brought to 
my city of Asshur." 1 He also claimed to have slain 920 
lions, as well as a number of wild oxen, apparently includ- 
ing in his record the " bags " of his officers and men. 
A later king credited him with having penetrated to the 
Phoenician coast, where he put to sea and slew a sea 
monster called the "nakhiru". While at Arvad, the 
narrative continues, the King of Egypt, who is not named, 
sent him a hippopotamus (pagutu). This story, however, 
is of doubtful authenticity. About this time the prestige 
of Egypt was at so low an ebb that its messengers were 
subjected to indignities by the Phoenician kings. 

The conquests of Tiglath-pileser once more raised the 
Mesopotamian question in Babylonia, whose sphere of 
influence in that region had been invaded. Marduk- 
nadin-akhe, the grandson of Nebuchadrezzar I, " arrayed 
his chariots" against Tiglath-pileser, and in the first 
conflict achieved some success, but subsequently he was 
defeated in the land of Akkad. The Assyrian army 
afterwards captured several cities, including Babylon and 

Thus once again the Assyrian Empire came into being 

1 Pinches' translation. 


as the predominant world Power, extending from the land 
of the Hittites into the heart of Babylonia. Its cities 
were enriched by the immense quantities of booty captured 
by its warrior king, while the coffers of state were glutted 
with the tribute of subject States. Fortifications were 
renewed, temples were built, and great gifts were lavished 
on the priesthood. Artists and artisans were kept fully 
employed restoring the faded splendours of the Old 
Empire, and everywhere thousands of slaves laboured to 
make the neglected land prosperous as of old. Canals 
were repaired and reopened ; the earthworks and quay 
wall of Ashur were strengthened, and its great wall was 
entirely rebuilt, faced with a rampart of earth, and pro- 
tected once again by a deep moat. The royal palace was 
enlarged and redecorated. 

Meanwhile Babylonia was wasted by civil war and 
invasions. It was entered more than once by the Ara- 
maeans, who pillaged several cities in the north and the 
south. Then the throne was seized by Adad-aplu-iddina, 
the grandson of "a nobody ", who reigned for about ten 
years. He was given recognition, however, by the Assy- 
rian king, Ashur-bel-kala, son of Tiglath-pileser I, who 
married his daughter, and apparently restored to him 
Sippar and Babylon after receiving a handsome dowry. 
Ashur-bel-kala died without issue, and was succeeded by 
his brother, Shamshi-Adad. 

An obscure period followed. In Babylonia there were 
two weak dynasties in less than half a century, and there- 
after an Elamite Dynasty which lasted about six years. 
An Eighth Dynasty ensued, and lasted between fifty and 
sixty years. The records of its early kings are exceedingly 
meagre and their order uncertain. During the reign of 
Nabu-mukin-apli, who was perhaps the fourth monarch, 
the Aramaeans constantly raided the land and hovered 


about Babylon. The names of two or three kings who 
succeeded Nabu-mukin-apli are unknown. 

A century and a half after Tiglath-pileser I conquered 
the north Syrian possessions of the Hittites, the Old 
Assyrian Empire reached the close of its second and last 
period. It had suffered gradual decline, under a series 
of inert and luxury-loving kings, until it was unable to 
withstand the gradual encroachment on every side of the 
restless hill tribes, who were ever ready to revolt when 
the authority of Ashur was not asserted at the point of 
the sword. 

After 950 B.C. the Hittites of North Syria, having 
shaken off the last semblance of Assyrian authority, 
revived their power, and enjoyed a full century of inde- 
pendence and prosperity. In Cappadocia their kinsmen 
had freed themselves at an earlier period from the yoke 
of the Muski, who had suffered so severely at the hands 
of Tiglath-pileser I. The Hittite buildings and rock 
sculptures of this period testify to the enduring character 
of the ancient civilization of the "Hatti". Until the 
hieroglyphics can be read, however, we must wait patiently 
for the detailed story of the pre-Phrygian period, which 
was of great historical importance, because the tide of 
cultural influence was then flowing at its greatest volume 
from the old to the new world, where Greece was emer- 
ging in virgin splendour out of the ruins of the ancient 
Mykenaean and- Cretan civilizations. 

It is possible that the conquest of a considerable part 
of Palestine by the Philistines was not unconnected with 
the revival of Hittite power in the north. They may 
have moved southward as the allies of the Cilician State 
which was rising into prominence. For a period they 
were the overlords of the Hebrews, who had been dis- 
placing the older inhabitants of the " Promised Land ", 


and appear to have been armed with weapons of iron. In 
fact, as is indicated by a passage in the Book of Samuel, 
they had made a " corner " in that metal and restricted its 
use among their vassals. "Now", the Biblical narrative 
sets forth, " there was no smith found throughout all the 
land of Israel; for the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrews 
make them swords and spears; but all the Israelites went 
down to the Philistines, to sharpen every man his share, 
and his coulter, and his axe, and his mattock ".* "We are 
inclined ", says Professor Macalister, "to picture the West 
as a thing of yesterday, new fangled with its inventions 
and its progressive civilization, and the East as an em- 
bodiment of hoary and unchanging traditions. But when 
West first met East on the shores of the Holy Land, it 
was the former which represented the magnificent tra- 
ditions of the past, and the latter which looked forward to 
the future. The Philistines were of the remnant of the 
dying glories of Crete ; the Hebrews had no past to speak 
of, but were entering on the heritage they regarded as 
theirs, by right of a recently ratified divine covenant/' 2 

Saul was the leader of a revolt against the Philistines 
in northern Palestine, and became the ruler of the kingdom 
of Israel. Then David, having liberated Judah from the 
yoke of the Philistines, succeeded Saul as ruler of Israel, 
and selected Jerusalem as his capital. He also conquered 
Edom and Moab, but was unsuccessful in his attempt to 
subjugate Ammon. The Philistines were then confined 
to a restricted area on the seacoast, where they fused 
with the Semites and ultimately suffered loss of identity. 
Under the famous Solomon the united kingdom of the 
Hebrews reached its highest splendour and importance 
among the nations. 

If the Philistines received the support of the Hittites, 

1 / Samuel, xiii, 19. 2 A History of Civilization in Palestine, p. 54. 


the Hebrews were strengthened by an alliance with 
Egypt. For a period of two and a half centuries no 
Egyptian army had crossed the Delta frontier into Syria. 
The ancient land of the Pharaohs had been overshadowed 
meantime by a cloud of anarchy, and piratical and robber 
bands settled freely on its coast line. At length a Libyan 
general named Sheshonk (Shishak) seized the throne 
from the Tanite Dynasty. He was the Pharaoh with 
whom Solomon "made affinity", 1 and from whom he 
received the city of Gezer, which an Egyptian army had 
captured. 2 Solomon had previously married a daughter 
of Sheshonk's. 

Phoenicia was also flourishing. Freed from Egyptian, 
Hittite, and Assyrian interference, Tyre and Sidon at- 
tained to a high degree of power as independent city 
States. During the reigns of David and Solomon, Tyre 
was the predominant Phoenician power. Its kings, Abi- 
baal and his son Hiram, had become "Kings of the 
Sidonians", and are believed to have extended their sway 
over part of Cyprus. The relations between the Hebrews 
and the Phoenicians were of a cordial character, indeed 
the two powers became allies. 

And Hiram king of Tyre sent his servants unto Solomon; for 
he had heard that they had anointed him king in the room of his 
father: for Hiram was ever a lover of David. And Solomon sent 
to Hiram, saying, Thou knowest how that David my father could 
not build an house unto the name of the Lord his God for the wars 
which were about him on every side, until the Lord put them 
under the soles of his feet. But now the Lord my God hath given 
me rest on every side, so that there is neither adversary nor evil 
occurrent. And, behold, I purpose to build an house unto the name 
of the Lord my God, as the Lord spake unto David my father, 
saying, Thy son, whom I will set upon thy throne in thy room, 
he shall build an house unto my name. Now therefore command 

1 / Kings, iii, i. 3 //V., ix, 16. 


thou that they hew me cedar trees out of Lebanon; and my servants 
shall be with thy servants: and unto thee will I give hire for thy 
servants according to all that thou shalt appoint: for thou knowest 
that there is not among us any that can skill to hew timber like 
unto the Sidonians. 

And it came to pass, when Hiram heard the words of Solomon, 
that he rejoiced greatly, and said, Blessed be the Lord this day, 
which hath given unto David a wise son over this great people. 

And Hiram sent to Solomon, saying, I have considered the 
things which thou sentest to me for: and I will do all thy desire 
concerning timber of cedar, and concerning timber of fir. My 
servants shall bring them down from Lebanon unto the sea: and I 
will convey them by sea in floats unto the place that thou shalt 
appoint me, and will cause them to be discharged there, and thou 
shalt receive them: and thou shalt accomplish my desire, in giving 
food for my household. So Hiram gave Solomon cedar trees and 
fir trees according to all his desire. 

And Solomon gave Hiram twenty thousand measures of wheat 
for food to his household, and twenty measures of pure oil: thus 
gave Solomon to Hiram year by year. And the Lord gave Solomon 
wisdom, as he promised him: and there was peace between Hiram 
and Solomon; and they two made a league together. 1 

Hiram also sent skilled workers to Jerusalem to assist 
in the work of building the temple and Solomon's palace, 
including his famous namesake, "a widow's son of the 
(Hebrew) tribe of Nap h tali", who, like his father, "a man 
of Tyre", had " understanding and cunning to work all 
works in brass". 2 

Solomon must have cultivated good relations with the 
Chaldaeans, for he had a fleet of trading ships on the 
Persian Gulf which was manned by Phoenician sailors, 
"Once in three years", the narrative runs, "came the 
navy of Tharshish, bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and 
apes, and peacocks." 3 Apparently he traded with India, 
the land of peacocks, during the Brahmanical period, when 

vii, 14 et se$. 3 //'</., x, 22-3. 


the Sanskrit name "Samudra", which formerly signifie< 
the "collected waters" of the broadening Indus, wa 
applied to the Indian Ocean. 1 

The Aramaeans of the Third Semitic migration wer 
not slow to take advantage of the weakness of Assyri 
and Babylon. They overran the whole of Syria, an< 
entered into the possession of Mesopotamia, thus acquir 
ing full control of the trade routes towards the west 
From time to time they ravaged Babylonia from th 
north to the south. Large numbers of them acquire< 
permanent settlement in that country, like the Amorite 
of the Second Semitic migration in the pre-Hammurat 

In Syria the Aramaeans established several petty States 
and were beginning to grow powerful at Damascus, ai 
important trading centre, which assumed considerabl 
political importance after the collapse of Assyria's Ol< 

At this period, too, the Chaldaeans came into promi 
nence in Babylonia. Their kingdom of Chaldaea (Kaldi 
which signifies Sealand) embraces a wide stretch of the coas 
land at the head of the Persian Gulf between Arabia an 
Elam. As we have seen, an important dynasty flourishe 
in this region in the time of Hammurabi. Althoug 
more than one king of Babylon recorded that he ha 
extinguished the Sealand Power, it continued to exis 
all through the Kassite period. It is possible that thi 
obscure kingdom embraced diverse ethnic elements, an 
that it was controlled in turn by military aristocracies c 
Sumerians, Elamites, Kassites, and Arabians. After th 
downfall of the Kassites it had become thoroughl 
Semitized, perhaps as a result of the Aramaean migratior 
which may have found one of its outlets around the hea 

1 Indian Myth and Legend, pp. 83-4. 


of the Persian Gulf. The ancient Sumerian city of Ur, 
which dominated a considerable area of steppe land to the 
west of the Euphrates, was included in the Sealand 
kingdom, and was consequently referred to in after-time 
as Ur of the Chaldees". 

When Solomon reigned over Judah and Israel, Baby- 
lonia was broken up into a number of petty States, as in 
early Sumerian times. The feudal revival of Nebuchad- 
rezzar I had weakened the central power, with the result 
that the nominal high kings were less able to resist the 
inroads of invaders. Military aristocracies of Aramaeans, 
Elamites, and Chaldaeans held sway in various parts of the 
valley, and struggled for supremacy. 

When Assyria began to assert itself again, it laid claim 
on Babylonia, ostensibly as the protector of its indepen- 
dence, and the Chaldaeans for a time made common cause 
with the Elamites against it. The future, however, lay 
with the Chaldaeans, who, like the Kassites, became the 
liberators of the ancient inhabitants. When Assyria was 
finally extinguished as a world power they revived the 
ancient glory of Babylonia, and supplanted the Sumerians 
as the scholars and teachers of Western Asia. The Chal- 
daeans became famous in Syria, and even in Greece, as 
" the wise men from the east ", and were renowned as 

The prestige of the Hebrew kingdom suffered sharp 
and serious decline after Solomon's death. Pharaoh 
Sheshonk fostered the elements of revolt which ultimately 
separated Israel from Judah, and, when a favourable 
opportunity arose, invaded Palestine and Syria and re- 
established Egypt's suzerainty over part of the area 
which had been swayed by Rameses II, replenishing his 
exhausted treasury with rich booty and the tribute he 
imposed. Phoenicia was able, however, to maintain its 


independence, but before the Assyrians moved westward 
again, Sidon had shaken off the yoke of Tyre and become 
an independent State. 

It will be seen from the events outlined in this chapter 
how greatly the history of the ancient world was affected 
by the periodic migrations of pastoral folks from the 
steppe lands. These human tides were irresistible. The 
direction of their flow might be diverted for a time, but 
they ultimately overcame every obstacle by sheer per- 
sistency and overpowering volume. Great emperors in 
Assyria and Egypt endeavoured to protect their countries 
from the "Bedouin peril" by strengthening their frontiers 
and extending their spheres of influence, but the dammed- 
up floods of humanity only gathered strength in the 
interval for the struggle which might be postponed but 
could not be averted. 

These migrations, as has been indicated, were due to 
natural causes. They were propelled by climatic changes 
which caused a shortage of the food supply, and by the 
rapid increase of population under peaceful conditions. 
Once a migration began to flow, it set in motion many 
currents and cross currents, but all these converged 
towards the districts which offered the most attractions 
to mankind. Prosperous and well-governed States were 
ever in peril of invasion by barbarous peoples. The fruits 
of civilization tempted them; the reward of conquest 
was quickly obtained in Babylon and Egypt with their 
flourishing farms and prosperous cities. Waste land was 
reclaimed then as now by colonists from centres of civili- 
zation; the migrating pastoral folks lacked the initiative 
and experience necessary to establish new communities in 
undeveloped districts. Highly civilized men sowed the 
harvest and the barbarians reaped it. 

It must not be concluded, however, that the migra^ 


tions were historical disasters, or that they retarded the 
general advancement of the human race. In time the 
barbarians became civilized and fused with the peoples 
whom they conquered. They introduced, too, into com- 
munities which had grown stagnant and weakly, a fresh 
and invigorating atmosphere that acted as a stimulant in 
every sphere of human activity. The Kassite, for in- 
stance, was a unifying and therefore a strengthening influ- 
ence in Babylonia. He shook ofF the manacles of the 
past which bound the Sumerian and the Akkadian alike 
to traditional lines of policy based on unforgotten ancient 
rivalries. His concern was chiefly with the future. The 
nomads with their experience of desert wandering promoted 
trade, and the revival of trade inaugurated new eras of 
prosperity in ancient centres of culture, and brought them 
into closer touch than ever before with one another. The 
rise of Greece was due to the blending of the Achaeans 
and other pastoral fighting folks with the indigenous 
Pelasgians. Into the early States which fostered the 
elements of ancient Mykenaean civilization, poured the 
cultural influences of the East through Asia Minor and 
Phoenicia and from the Egyptian coast. The conquerors 
from the steppes meanwhile contributed their genius for 
organization, their simple and frugal habits of life, and 
their sterling virtues; they left a deep impress on the 
moral, physical, and intellectual life of Greece. 

The Hebrews in Assyrian History 

Revival of Assyrian Power The Syro-Cappadocian Hittites The 
Aramaean State of Damascus Reign of Terror in Mesopotamia Barbarities 
of Ashur-natsir-pal III Babylonia and Chaldsea subdued Glimpse of the 
Kalkhi Valley The Hebrew Kingdoms of Judah and Israel Rival Monarchs 
and their Wars How Judah became subject to Damascus Ahab and the 
Phoenician Jezebel Persecution of Elijah and other Prophets Israelites fight 
against Assyrians Shalmaneser as Overlord of Babylonia Revolts of Jehu in 
Israel and Hazael in Damascus Shalmaneser defeats Hazael Jehu sends 
Tribute to Shaimaneser Baal Worship Supplanted by Golden Calf Worship 
in Israel Queen Athaliah of Judah Crowning of the Boy King Joash 
Damascus supreme in Syria and Palestine Civil War in Assyria Triumphs 
of Shamshi-Adad VII Babylonia becomes an Assyrian Province. 

IN one of the Scottish versions of the Seven Sleepers 
legend a shepherd enters a cave, in which the great heroes 
of other days lie wrapped in magic slumber, and blows 
two blasts on the horn which hangs suspended from the 
roof. The sleepers open their eyes and raise themselves 
on their elbows. Then the shepherd hears a warning 
voice which comes and goes like the wind, saying: "If 
the horn is blown once again, the world will be upset 
altogether". Terrified by the Voice and the ferocious 
appearance of the heroes, the shepherd retreats hurriedly, 
locking the door behind him; he casts the key into the 
sea. The story proceeds: "If anyone should find the 
key and open the door, and blow but a single blast on 
the horn, Finn and all the Feans would come forth. And 
that would be a great day in Alban." 1 

1 Finn and Hfi Warrigr Band, pp. 245 et seq. (London, 1911). 


After the lapse of an obscure century the national 
heroes of Assyria were awakened as if from sleep by the 
repeated blasts from the horn of the triumphant thunder 
god amidst the northern and western mountains Adad 
or Rimmon of Syria, Teshup of Armenia, Tarku of the 
western Hittites. The great kings who came forth to 
"upset the world" bore the familiar names, Ashur-natsir- 
pal, Shalmaneser, Shamash-Adad, Ashur-dan, Adad-nirari, 
and Ashur-nirari. They revived and increased the ancient 
glory of Assyria during its Middle Empire period. 

The Syro-Cappadocian Hittites had grown once again 
powerful and prosperous, but no great leader like Subbi- 
luliuma arose to weld the various States into an Empire, 
so as to ensure the protection of the mingled peoples 
"from the operations of the aggressive and ambitious 
war-lords of Assyria. One kingdom had its capital at 
Hamath and another at Carchemish on the Euphrates. 
The kingdom of Tabal flourished in Cilicia (Khilakku) ; 
it included several city States like Tarsus, Tiana, and 
Comana (Kammanu). Farther west was the dominion 
of the Thraco-Phrygian Muski. The tribes round the 
shores of Lake Van had asserted themselves and extended 
their sphere of influence. The State of Urartu was of 
growing importance, and the Nairi tribes had spread 
round the south-eastern shores of Lake Van. The 
northern frontier of Assyria was continually menaced by 
groups of independent hill States which would have been 
irresistible had they operated together against a common 
enemy, but were liable to be extinguished when attacked 
in detail. 

A number of Aramaean kingdoms had come into 
existence in Mesopotamia and throughout Syria. The 
most influential of these was the State of Damascus, 
the king of which was the overlord of the Hebrew 

(C642) 28 


kingdoms of Israel and Judah when Ashur-natsir-pal III 
ascended the Assyrian throne about 885 B.C. Groups of 
the Aramaeans had acquired a high degree of culture and 
become traders and artisans. Large numbers had filtered, 
as well, not only into Babylonia but also Assyria and the 
north Syrian area of Hittite control* Accustomed for 
generations to desert warfare, they were fearless warriors. 
Their armies had great mobility, being composed mostly 
of mounted infantry, and were not easily overpowered by 
the Assyrian forces of footmen and charioteers. Indeed, 
it was not until cavalry was included in the standing 
army of Assyria that operations against the Aramaeans 
were attended with permanent success. 

Ashur-natsir-pal III l was preceded by two vigorous 
Assyrian rulers, Adad-nirari III (911-890 B.C.) and 
Tukulti-Ninip II (890-885 B.C.). The former had raided 
North Syria and apparently penetrated as far as the 
Mediterranean coast. In consequence he came into con- 
flict with Babylonia, but he ultimately formed an alliance 
with that kingdom. His son, Tukulti-Ninip, operated in 
southern Mesopotamia, and apparently captured Sippar. 
In the north he had to drive back invading bands of 
the Muski. Although, like his father, he carried out 
great works at Asshur, he appears to have transferred his 
Court to Nineveh, a sure indication that Assyria was once 
again becoming powerful in northern Mesopotamia and 
the regions towards Armenia. 

Ashur-natsir-pal III, son of Tukulti-Ninip II, inaugu- 
rated a veritable reign of terror in Mesopotamia and 
northern Syria. His methods of dealing with revolting 
tribes were of a most savage character. Chiefs were 
skinned alive, and when he sacked their cities, not only 
fighting -men but women and children were either 

1 Also rendered Ashur-na'sir-pal. 

Photo. Mansell 


From S.W. Palace of Nimroud : noiv in British Museum 


slaughtered or burned at the stake. It is not surprising 
to find therefore that, on more than one occasion, the 
kings of petty States made submission to him without 
resistance as soon as he invaded their domains. 

In his first year he overran the mountainous district 
between Lake Van and the upper sources of the Tigris. 
Bubu, the rebel son of the governor of Nishtun, who had 
been taken prisoner, was transported to Arbela, where he 
was skinned alive. Like his father, Ashur-natsir - pal 
fought against the Muski, whose power was declining. 
Then he turned southward from the borders of Asia 
Minor and dealt with a rebellion in northern Meso- 

An Aramaean pretender named Akhiababa had estab- 
lished himself at Suru in the region to the east of the 
Euphrates, enclosed by its tributaries the Khabar and the 
Balikh. He had come from the neighbouring Aramaean 
State of Bit-Adini, and was preparing, it would appear, 
to form a powerful confederacy against the Assyrians. 

When Ashur-natsir-pal approached Suru, a part of its 
population welcomed him. He entered the city, seized 
the pretender and many of his followers. These he dis- 
posed of with characteristic barbarity. Some were skinned 
alive and some impaled on stakes, while others were 
enclosed in a pillar which the king had erected to remind 
the Aramaeans of his determination to brook no opposi- 
tion. Akhiababa the pretender was sent to Nineveh with 
a few supporters; and when they had been flayed their 
skins were nailed upon the city walls. 

Another revolt broke out in the Kirkhi district be- 
tween the upper reaches of the Tigris and the south- 
western shores of Lake Van. It was promoted by the 
Nairi tribes, and even supported by some Assyrian offi- 
cials. Terrible reprisals were meted out to the rebels. 


When the city of Kinabu was captured, no fewer than 
3000 prisoners were burned alive, the unfaithful governor 
being flayed. The city of Damdamusa was set on fire. 
Then Tela was attacked. Ashur-natsir-pal's own account 
of the operations runs as follows: 

The city (of Tello) was very strong ; three walls surrounded 
it. The inhabitants trusted to their strong walls and numerous 
soldiers j they did not come down or embrace my feet. With 
battle and slaughter I assaulted and took the city. Three thousand 
warriors I slew in battle. Their booty and possessions, cattle, 
sheep, I carried away; many captives I burned with fire. Many 
of their soldiers I took alive; of some I cut off hands and limbs; 
of others the noses, ears, and arms; of many soldiers I put out the 
eyes, I reared a column of the living and a column of heads. I 
hung on high their heads on trees in the vicinity of their city. 
Their boys and girls I burned up in flames. I devastated the city, 
dug it up, in fire burned it; I annihilated it. 1 

The Assyrian war-lord afterwards forced several Nairi 
kings to acknowledge him as their overlord. He was 
so greatly feared by the Syro-Cappadocian Hittites that 
when he approached their territory they sent him tribute, 
yielding without a struggle. 

For several years the great conqueror engaged himself 
in thus subduing rebellious tribes and extending his terri- 
tory. His military headquarters were at Kalkhi, to which 
city the Court had been transferred. Thither he drafted 
thousands of prisoners, the great majority of whom he 
incorporated in the Assyrian army. Assyrian colonies 
were established in various districts for strategical pur- 
poses, and officials supplanted the petty kings in certain of 
the northern city States. 

The Aramaeans of Mesopotamia gave much trouble 
to Ashur-natsir-paL Although he had laid a heavy hand 

1 A History of the Batyloniant and Assyrian^ G. S. Goodspeed, p. 197. 


on Sum, the southern tribes, the Sukhi, stirred up revolts 
in Mesopotamia as the allies of the Babylonians. On one 
occasion Ashur-natsir-pal swept southward through this 
region, and attacked a combined force of Sukhi Aramaeans 
and Babylonians. The Babylonians were commanded by 
Zabdanu, brother of Nabu-aplu-iddin, king of Babylonia, 
who was evidently anxious to regain control of the western 
trade route. The Assyrian war-lord, however, proved to 
be too powerful a rival. He achieved so complete a 
victory that he captured the Babylonian general and 3000 
of his followers. The people of Kashshi (Babylonia) and 
Kaldu (Chaldaea) were "stricken with terror ", and had to 
agree to pay increased tribute. 

Ashur-natsir-pal reigned for about a quarter of a 
century, but his wars occupied less than half of that 
period. Having accumulated great booty, he engaged 
himself, as soon as peace was secured throughout his 
empire, in rebuilding the city of Kalkhi, where he erected 
a great palace and made records of his achievements. He 
also extended and redecorated the royal palace at Nineveh, 
and devoted much attention to the temples. 

Tribute poured in from the subject States. The 
mountain and valley tribes in the north furnished in 
abundance wine and corn, sheep and cattle and horses, 
and from the Aramaeans of Mesopotamia and the Syro- 
Cappadocian Hittites came much silver and gold, copper 
and lead, jewels and ivory, as well as richly decorated 
furniture, armour and weapons. Artists and artisans 
were also provided by the vassals of Assyria. There are 
traces of Phoenician influence in the art of this period. 

Ashur-natsir-pal's great palace at Kalkhi was excavated 
by Layard, who has given a vivid description of the verdant 
plain on which the ancient city was situated, as it appeared 
in spring. " Its pasture lands, known as the c Jaif ', are 


renowned ", he wrote, " for their rich and luxuriant 
herbage. In times of quiet, the studs of the Pasha and 
of the Turkish authorities, with the horses of the cavalry 
and of the inhabitants of Mosul, are sent here to graze. 
. . . Flowers of every hue enamelled the meadows; not 
thinly scattered over the grass as in northern climes, but 
in such thick and gathering clusters that the whole plain 
seemed a patchwork of many colours. The dogs, as they 
returned from hunting, issued from the long grass dyed 
red, yellow, or blue, according to the flowers through 
which they had last forced their way. ... In the evening, 
after the labour of the day, I often sat at the door of my 
tent, giving myself up to the full enjoyment of that calm 
and repose which are imparted to the senses by such 
scenes as these. ... As the sun went down behind the 
low hills which separate the river from the desert even 
their rocky sides had struggled to emulate the verdant 
clothing of the plain its receding rays were gradually 
withdrawn, like a transparent veil of light from the land- 
scape. Over the pure cloudless sky was the glow of the 
last light. In the distance and beyond the Zab, Keshaf, 
another venerable ruin, rose indistinctly into the evening 
mist. Still more distant, and still more indistinct, was a 
solitary hill overlooking the ancient city of Arbela. The 
Kurdish mountains, whose snowy summits cherished the 
dying sunbeams, yet struggled with the twilight. The 
bleating of sheep and lowing of cattle, at first faint, became 
louder as the flocks returned from their pastures and 
wandered amongst the tents. Girls hurried over the 
greensward to seek their fathers' cattle, or crouched down 
to milk those which had returned alone to their well- 
remembered folds. Some were coming rrom the river 
bearing the replenished pitcher on their heads or shoulders; 
others, no less graceful in their form, and erect in their 


carriage, were carrying the heavy loads of long grass which 
they had cut in the meadows/' 1 

Across the meadows so beautiful in March the great 
armies of Ashur-natsir-pal returned with the booty of 
great campaigns horses and cattle and sheep, bales of 
embroidered cloth, ivory and jewels, silver and gold, the 
products of many countries ; while thousands of prisoners 
were assembled there to rear stately buildings which ulti- 
mately fell into decay and were buried by drifting sands. 

Layard excavated the emperor's palace and dispatched 
to London, among other treasures of antiquity, the sublime 
winged human-headed lions which guarded the entrance, 
and many bas reliefs. 

The Assyrian sculptures of this period lack the tech- 
nical skill, the delicacy and imagination of Sumerian and 
Akkadian art, but they are full of energy, dignified and 
massive, and strong and lifelike. They reflect the spirit 
of Assyria's greatness, which, however, had a materialistic 
basis. Assyrian art found expression in delineating the 
outward form rather than in striving to create a "thing 
of beauty" which is "a joy for ever". 

When Ashur-natsir-pal died, he was succeeded by his 
son Shalmaneser III (860-825 B.C.), whose military activi- 
ties extended over his whole reign. No fewer than thirty- 
two expeditions were recorded on his famous black obelisk. 

As Shalmaneser was the first Assyrian king who came 
into direct touch with the Hebrews, it will be of interest 
here to review the history of the divided kingdoms of 
Israel and Judah, as recorded in the Bible, because of the 
light it throws on international politics and the situation 
which confronted Shalmaneser in Mesopotamia and Syria 
in the early part of his reign. 

After Solomon died, the kingdom of his son Rehoboam 

1 Discoveries at Nineveh, Sir A. H. Layard (London, 1856), pp. 55, 56. 


was restricted to Judah, Benjamin, Moab, and Edom. 
The " ten tribes " of Israel had revolted and were ruled 
over by Jeroboam, whose capital was at Tirzah. 1 "There 
were wars between Rehoboam and Jeroboam continually." 2 

The religious organization which had united the 
Hebrews under David and Solomon was thus broken up. 
Jeroboam established the religion of the Canaanites and 
made "gods and molten images ". He was condemned 
for his idolatry by the prophet Ahijah, who declared, 
" The Lord shall smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the 
water; and he shall root up Israel out of this good land, 
which he gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them 
beyond the river, because they have made their groves, 
provoking the Lord to anger. And he shall give Israel 
up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who did sin, and 
who made Israel to sin." 8 

In Judah Rehoboam similarly " did evil in the sight 
of the Lord"; his subjects "also built them high places 
and images and groves, on every high hill, and under 
every green tree ".* After the raid of the Egyptian 
Pharaoh Shishak (Sheshonk) Rehoboam repented, how- 
ever. "And when he humbled himself, the wrath of the 
Lord turned from him, that he would not destroy him 
altogether : and also in Judah things went well." 6 

Rehoboam was succeeded by his son Abijah, who shat- 
tered the power of Jeroboam, defeating that monarch in 
battle after he was surrounded as Rameses II had been 
by the Hittite army. " The children of Israel fled before 
Judah : and God delivered them into their hand. And 
Abijah and his people slew them with a great slaughter: 
so there fell down slain in Israel five hundred thousand 

lu Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem." Solomon* t 
Son g 9 vi, 4. 3 2 Chronicles, xii, 15. 

*/ Kings, xiv, I ~2O. 4 Ibid., 21-3. 5 2 Chronicles, xii, I-I2. 


chosen men. Thus the children of Israel were brought 
under at that time, and the children of Judah prevailed, 
because they relied upon the Lord God of their fathers. 
And Abijah pursued after Jeroboam, and took cities from 
him, Bethel with the towns thereof, and Jeshanah with the 
towns thereof, and Ephraim with the towns thereof. 
Neither did Jeroboam recover strength again in the days 
of Abijah, and the Lord struck him and he died." 1 

Ere Jeroboam died, however, "Abijah slept with his 
fathers, and they buried him in the city of David : and 
Asa his son reigned in his stead. In his days the land 
was quiet ten years. And Asa did that which was good 
and right in the eyes of the Lord his God. For he took 
away the altars of the strange gods, and the high places, 
and brake down the images, and cut down the groves. 
And commanded Judah to seek the Lord God of their 
fathers and to do the law and the commandment. Also 
he took away out of all the cities of Judah the high places 
and the images : and the kingdom was quiet before him. 
And he built fenced cities in Judah : for the land had 
rest, and he had no war in those years; because the Lord 
had given him rest." 2 

Jeroboam died in the second year of Asa's reign, and 
was succeeded by his son Nadab, who " did evil in the 
sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of his father, 
and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin". 3 Nadab 
waged war against the Philistines, and was besieging Gib- 
bethon when Baasha revolted and slew him. Thus ended 
the First Dynasty of the Kingdom of Israel. 

Baasha was declared king, and proceeded to operate 
against Judah. Having successfully waged war against 

Asa, he proceeded to fortify Ramah, a few miles to the 


1 2 Chronicles, xiii, 1-20. 2 Ibid., xiv, 1-6. 

3 1 Kings, xv, 25-6. 


north of Jerusalem, " that he might not suffer any to go 
out or come in to Asa king of Judah 'V 

Now Israel was at this time one of the allies of the 
powerful Aramaean State of Damascus, which had resisted 
the advance of the Assyrian armies during the reign of 
Ashur-natsir-pal I, and apparently supported the rebellions 
of the northern Mesopotamian kings. Judah was nomi- 
nally subject to Egypt, which, however, was weakened 
by internal troubles, and therefore unable either to assert 
its authority in Judah or help its king to resist the advance 
of the Israelites. 

In the hour of peril Judah sought the aid of the king 
of Damascus. "Asa took all the silver and the gold that 
were left in the treasures of the house of the Lord, and 
the treasures of the king's house, and delivered them into 
the hand of his servants: and King Asa sent them to 
Ben-hadad, the son of Tabrimon, the son of Hezion, 
king of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus, saying, There is 
a league between me and thee, and between my father 
and thy father : behold, I have sent unto thee a present 
of silver and gold : come and break thy league with Baasha 
king of Israel, that he may depart from me 9 '. 2 

Ben-hadad accepted the invitation readily. He waged 
war against Israel, and Baasha was compelled to abandon 
the building of the fortifications at Ramah. " Then king 
Asa made a proclamation throughout all Judah; none was 
exempted : and they took away the stones of Ramah, and 
the timber thereof, wherewith Baasha had builded ; and 
king Asa built with them Geba of Benjamin, and Mizpah." 3 

Judah and Israel thus became subject to Damascus, 
and had to recognize the king of that city as arbiter in 
all their disputes. 

After reigning about twenty-four years, Baasha of 

1 / Kings, xv, 16-7. 3 Ibid., 18-9. s //</., 20-2. 


Israel died in 886 B.C. and was succeeded by his son 
Elah, who came to the throne "in the twenty and sixth 
year of Asa". He had ruled a little over a year when he 
was murdered by " his servant Zimri, captain of half his 
chariots", while he was "drinking himself drunk in the 
house of Arza steward of his house in Tirzah ".* Thus 
ended the Second Dynasty of the Kingdom of Israel. 

Zimri' s revolt was shortlived. He reigned only 
"seven days in Tirzah". The army was "encamped 
against Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines. 
And the people that were encamped heard say, Zimri hath 
conspired and hath also slain the king; wherefore all 
Israel made Omri, the captain of the host, king over 
Israel that day in the camp. And Omri went up from 
Gibbethon and all Israel with him, and they besieged 
Tirzah. And it came to pass when Zimri saw that the 
city was taken, that he went into the palace of the king's 
house, and burnt the king's house over him with fire, and 
died." 2 

Omri's claim to the throne was disputed by a rival 
named Tibni. "But the people that followed Omri 
prevailed against the people that followed Tibni, son of 
Ginath: so Tibni died, and Omri reigned." 3 

Omri was the builder of Samaria, whither his Court 
was transferred from Tirzah towards the close of his 
six years reign. He was followed by his son Ahab, who 
ascended the throne "in the thirty and eighth year of Asa 
king of Judah . . . And Ahab . . . did evil in the 
sight of the Lord above all that were before him." So 
notorious indeed were father and son that the prophet 
Micah declared to the backsliders of his day, " For the 
statutes of Omri are kept, and all the works of the house 
of Ahab, and ye walk in their counsel; that I should 

/ Kings, xvi, 9-10. a Ibid., 15-8. 8 Ibid., 21-2. 


make thee a desolation, and the inhabitants thereof an 
hissing : therefore ye shall bear the reproach of my 
people". 1 

Ahab was evidently an ally of Sidon as well as a 
vassal of Damascus, for he married the notorious princess 
Jezebel, the daughter of the king of that city State. He 
also became a worshipper of the Phoenician god Baal, to 
whom a temple had been erected in Samaria. "And Ahab 
made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the Lord 
God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that 
were before him/' 2 Obadiah, who " feared the Lord 
greatly", was the governor of Ahab's house, but the 
outspoken prophet Elijah, whose arch enemy was the 
notorious Queen Jezebel, was an outcast like the hundred 
prophets concealed by Obadiah in two mountain caves. 3 

Ahab became so powerful a king that Ben-hadad II 
of Damascus picked a quarrel with him, and marched 
against Samaria. It was on this occasion that Ahab sent 
the famous message to Ben-hadad : cc Let not him that 
girdeth on his harness (armour) boast himself as he 
that putteth it off". The Israelites issued forth from 
Samaria and scattered the attacking force. "And Israel 
pursued them: and Ben-hadad the king of Syria escaped 
on a horse with the horseman. And the king of Israel 
went out, and smote the horses and chariots, and slew 
the Syrians with a great slaughter." Ben-hadad was 
made to believe afterwards by his counsellors that he 
owed his defeat to thfi fact that the gods of Israel were 
"gods of the hills; therefore they are stronger than we". 
They added : " Let us fight against them in the plain, 
and surely we shall be stronger than they". In the 
following year Ben-hadad fought against the Israelites 

1 Micah, vi, 16. 2 7 AT ; j, xvi, 29-33. 

* Ibid^ xviii, 1-4. 


at Aphek, but was again defeated. He then found it 
necessary to make "a covenant" with Ahab. 1 

In 854 B.C. Shalmaneser III of Assyria was engaged 
in military operations against the Aramaean Syrians. Two 
years previously he had broken the power of Akhuni, 
king of Bit-Adini in northern Mesopotamia, the leader 
of a strong confederacy of petty States. Thereafter the 
Assyrian monarch turned towards the south-west and 
attacked the Hittite State of Hamath and the Aramaean 
State of Damascus. The various rival kingdoms of Syria 
united against him, and an army of 70,000 allies 
attempted to thwart his progress at Qarqar on the 
Orontes. Although Shalmaneser claimed a victory on 
this occasion, it was of no great advantage to him, for he 
was unable to follow it up. Among the Syrian allies 
were Bir-idri (Ben-hadad II) of Damascus, and Ahab of 
Israel ("Akhabbu of the land of the Sir'ilites"). The 
latter had a force of 10,000 men under his command. 

Four years after Ahab began to reign, Asa died at 
Jerusalem and his son Jehoshaphat was proclaimed king 
of Judah. "And he walked in all the ways of Asa his 
father; he turned not aside from it, doing that which 
was right in the eyes of the Lord : nevertheless the high 
places were not taken away ; for the people offered and 
burnt incense yet in the high places." 2 

There is no record of any wars between Israel and 
Judah during this period, but it is evident that the two 
kingdoms had been drawn together and that Israel was 
the predominating power. Jehoshaphat "joined affinity 
with Ahab", and some years afterwards visited Samaria, 
where he was hospitably entertained. 3 The two monarchs 
plotted together. Apparently Israel and Judah desired 

1 1 Kings, xx. . 3 Ibid.) xxii, 43. 

* 2 Chronicles, xviii, 1-2. 


to throw off the yoke of Damascus, which was being kept 
constantly on the defence by Assyria. It is recorded in 
the Bible that they joined forces and set out on aa 
expedition to attack Ramoth in Gilead, which Israel 
claimed, and take it "out of the hand of the king of 
Syria". 1 In the battle which ensued (in 853 B.C.) Ahab 
was mortally wounded, "and about the time of the sun 
going down he died". He was succeeded by his son 
Ahaziah, who acknowledged the suzerainty of Damascus. 
After a reign of two years Ahaziah was succeeded by 

Jehoshaphat did not again come into conflict with 
Damascus. He devoted himself to the development of 
his kingdom, and attempted to revive the sea trade on 
the Persian gulf which had flourished under Solomon. 
" He made ships of Tharshish to go to Ophir for gold ; 
but they went not ; for the ships were broken (wrecked) 
at Ezion-geber." Ahaziah offered him sailors probably 
Phoenicians but they were refused. 2 Apparently Jehosha- 
phat had close trading relations with the Chaldaeans, who 
were encroaching on the territory of the king of Babylon, 
and menacing the power of that monarch. Jehoram 
succeeded Jehoshaphat and reigned eight years. 

After repulsing the Syrian allies at Qarqar on the 
Orontes in 854 B.C., Shalmaneser III of Assyria found 
it necessary to invade Babylonia. Soon after he came to 
the throne he had formed an alliance with Nabu-aplu- 
iddin of that kingdom, and was thus able to operate in 
the north-west without fear of complications with the 
rival claimant of Mesopotamia. When Nabu-aplu-iddin 
died, his two sons Marduk-zakir-shum and Marduk-bel- 
usate were rivals for the throne. The former, the 
rightful heir, appealed for help to Shalmaneser, and that 

1 / Kings, xxii and 2 Chronicle^ xviii. 2 / King*, xxii, 48-9. 


monarch at once hastened to assert his authority in the 
southern kingdom. In 851 B.C, Marduk-bel-usate, who 
was supported by an Aramaean army, was defeated and 
put to death. 

Marduk-zakir-shum afterwards reigned over Baby- 
lonia as the vassal of Assyria, and Shalmaneser, his over- 
lord, made offerings to the gods at Babylon, Borsippa, 
and Cuthah. The Chaldaeans were afterwards subdued, 
and compelled to pay annual tribute. 

In the following year Shalmaneser had to lead an ex- 
pedition into northern Mesopotamia and suppress a fresh 
revolt in that troubled region. But the western allies 
soon gathered strength again, and in 846 B.C. he found 
it necessary to return with a great army, but was not 
successful in achieving any permanent success, although 
he put his enemies to flight. The various western king- 
doms, including Damascus, Israel, and Tyre and Sidon, 
remained unconquered, and continued to conspire against 

The resisting power of the Syrian allies, however, was 
being greatly weakened by internal revolts, which may 
have been stirred up by Assyrian emissaries. Edom 
threw off the yoke of Judah and became independent. 
Jehoram, who had married Athaliah, a royal princess of 
Israel, was dead. His son Ahaziah, who succeeded him, 
joined forces with his cousin and overlord, King Joram 
of Israel, to assist him in capturing Ramoth-gilead from 
the king of Damascus. Joram took possession of the 
city, but was wounded, and returned to Jezreel to be 
healed. 1 He was the last king of the Omri Dynasty of 
Israel. The prophet Elisha sent a messenger to Jehu, 
a military leader, who was at Ramoth-gilead, with a box 
of oil and the ominous message, " Thus saith the Lord, 

1 / Kings, viii. 


I have anointed thee king over Israel. And thou shalt 
smite the house of Ahab thy master, that I may avenge 
the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood 
of all the servants of the Lord, at the hand of Jezebel 
. . . And the dogs shall eat Jezebel in the portion of 
Jezreel, and there shall be none to bury her." 

Jehu "conspired against Joram", and then, accom- 
panied by an escort, " rode in a chariot and went to 
Jezreel", so that he might be the first to announce the 
revolt to the king whom he was to depose. 

The watchman on the tower of Jezreel saw Jehu and 
his company approaching and informed Joram, who twice 
sent out a messenger to enquire, " Is it peace ?" Neither 
messenger returned, and the watchman informed the 
wounded monarch of Israel, " He came even unto them, 
and cometh not again ; and the driving is like the 
driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi ; for he driveth 

King Joram went out himself to meet the famous 
charioteer, but turned to flee when he discovered that 
he came as an enemy. Then Jehu drew his bow and 
shot Joram through the heart. Ahaziah endeavoured to 
conceal himself in Samaria, but was slain also. Jezebel 
was thrown down from a window of the royal harem and 
trodden under foot by the horsemen of Jehu; her body 
was devoured by dogs. 1 

The Syrian king against whom Joram fought at 
Ramoth-gilead was Hazael. He had murdered Ben- 
hadad II as he lay on a bed of sickness by smothering 
him with a thick cloth soaked in water. Then he had 
himself proclaimed the ruler of the Aramaean State of 
Damascus. The prophet Elisha had previously wept 
before him, saying, " I know the evil that thou wilt do 

1 2 Kings, ix and 3t Chronicles^ xxii. 


unto the children of Israel; their strongholds wilt thou 
set on fire, and their young men wilt thou slay with the 
sword, and wilt dash their children and rip up their 
women with child". 1 

The time seemed ripe for Assyrian conquest. In 
843 B.C. Shalmaneser III crossed the Euphrates into 
Syria for the sixteenth time. His first objective was 
Aleppo, where he was welcomed. He made offerings 
there to Hadad, the local Thor, and then suddenly 
marched southward. Hazael went out to oppose the 
advancing Assyrians, and came into conflict with them 
in the vicinity of Mount Hermon. " I fought with 
him", Shalmaneser recorded, "and accomplished his de- 
feat; I slew with the sword 1600 of his warriors and 
captured 1121 chariots and 470 horses. He fled to 
save his life." 

Hazael took refuge within the walls of Damascus, 
which the Assyrians besieged, but failed, however, to 
capture. Shalmaneser' s soldiers meanwhile wasted and 
burned cities without number, and carried away great 
booty. "In those days", Shalmaneser recorded, "I re- 
ceived tribute from the Tynans and Sidonians and from 
Yaua (Jehu) son (successor) of Khumri (Omri)." The 
following is a translation from a bas relief by Professor 
Pinches of a passage detailing Jehu's tribute: 

The tribute of Yaua, son of Khumri: silver, gold, a golden 
cup, golden vases, golden vessels, golden buckets, lead, a staff for 
the hand of the king (and) sceptres, I received. 2 

The scholarly translator adds, " It is noteworthy that 
the Assyrian form of the name, Yaua, shows that the 
unpronounced aleph at the end was at that time sounded, 

1 2 Kings, viii, 1-15. 

2 The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records and Legends of Astyria and 
Babylonia^ pp. 337 et se<f. 

( 642 ) 29 


so that the Hebrews must have called him Yahua 

Shalmaneser did not again attack Damascus. His 
sphere of influence was therefore confined to North 
Syria. He found it more profitable, indeed, to extend 
his territories into Asia Minor. For several years he 
engaged himself in securing control of the north-western 
caravan road, and did not rest until he had subdued 
Cilicia and overrun the Hittite kingdoms of Tabal and 

Hazael of Damascus avenged himself meanwhile on 
his unfaithful allies who had so readily acknowledged the 
shadowy suzerainty of Assyria. " In those days the 
Lord began to cut Israel short: and Hazael smote them 
in all the coasts of Israel; from Jordan eastward, all the 
land of Gilead, the Gadites, and the Reubenites, and the 
Manassites, from Aroer, which is by the river Arnon, 
even Gilead and Bashan." 1 Israel thus came completely 
under the sway of Damascus. 

Jehu appears to have cherished the ambition of unit- 
ing Israel and Judah under one crown. His revolt received 
the support of the orthodox Hebrews, and he began well 
by inaugurating reforms in the northern kingdom with 
purpose apparently to re-establish thg worship of David's 
God. He persecuted the prophets of Baal, but soon 
became a backslider, for although he stamped out the 
Phoenician religion he began to worship "the golden 
calves that were in Bethel and that were in Dan. . . . 
He departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, which made 
Israel to sin/' 2 Apparently he found it necessary to 
secure the support of the idolaters of the ancient cult 
of the " Queen of Heaven ". 

The crown of Judah had been seized by the Israelitish 

1 2 King*, x, 32-3. 2 Ibid., 1-31. 


Queen mother Athaliah after the death of her son 
Ahaziah at the hands of Jehu. 1 She endeavoured to 
destroy "all the seed royal of the house of Judah". But 
another woman thwarted the completion of her monstrous 
design. This was Jehoshabeath, sister of Ahaziah and 
wife of the priest Jehoiada, who concealed the young 
prince Joash "and put him and his nurse in a bed- 
chamber", in "the house of God 1 '. There Joash was 
strictly guarded for six years. 2 

In time Jehoiada stirred up a revolt against the Baal- 
worshipping queen of Judah. Having secured the sup- 
port of the captains of the royal guard and a portion of 
the army, he brought out from the temple the seven 
years old prince Joash, "the king's son, and put upon 
him the crown, and gave him the testimony, and made 
him king. And Jehoiada and his sons anointed him, 
and said, God save the king. 

" Now when Athaliah heard the noise of the people 
running and praising the king, she came to the people 
into the house of the Lord : and she looked, and, behold 
the king stood at his pillar at the entering in, and the 
princes and the trumpets by the king : and all the people 
of the land rejoiced, and sounded with trumpets, also the 
singers with instruments of musick, and such as taught 
to sing praise. Then Athaliah rent her clothes, and said, 
Treason, Treason. 

"Then Jehoiada the priest brought out the captains 
of hundreds that were set over the host, and said unto 
them, Have her forth of the ranges : and whoso followeth 
her, let him be slain by the sword. For the priest said, 
Slay her not in the house of the Lord. So they laid 
hands on her ; and when she was come to the entering 
of the horse gate by the king's house, they slew her there. 

L 2 Kings, xi, 1-3. 2 ^ Chronicle^ xxii, 10-12. 


"And Jehoiada made a covenant between him, and 
between all the people, and between the king, that they 
should be the Lord's people. Then all the people went 
to the house of Baal, and brake it down, and brake his 
altars and his images in pieces, and slew Mattan the 
priest of Baal before the altars." 1 

When Jehu of Israel died, he was succeeded by 
Jehoahaz. "The Lord was kindled against Israel, and 
he delivered them into the hand of Ben-hadad the son 
of Hazael all their days/' Then Jehoahaz repented. 
He "besought the Lord, and the Lord hearkened unto 
him: for he saw the oppression of Israel, because the 
king of Syria oppressed them. And the Lord gave 
Israel a saviour, so that they went out from under the 
hands of the Syrians." 2 The "saviour", as will be shown, 
was Assyria. Not only Israel, but Judah, under King 
Joash, Edom, the Philistines and the Ammonites were 
compelled to acknowledge the suzerainty of Damascus. 

Shalmaneser III swayed an extensive and powerful 
empire, and kept his generals continually employed sup- 
pressing revolts on his frontiers. After he subdued the 
Hittites, Kati, king of Tabal, sent him his daughter, 
who was received into the royal harem. Tribes of the 
Medes came under his power : the Nairi and Urartian 
tribes continued battling with his soldiers on his northern 
borders like the frontier tribes of India against the British 
troops. The kingdom of Urartu was growing more and 
more powerful. 

In 829 B.C. the great empire was suddenly shaken to 
its foundations by the outbreak of civil war. The party 
of rebellion was led by Shalmaneser's son Ashur-danin- 
apli, who evidently desired to supplant the crown prince 
Shamshi-Adad. He was a popular hero and received 

1 2 Chronicle*, xxiii, 1-17. 2 2 Kings, xiii, 1-5. 


the support of most of the important Assyrian cities, 
including Nineveh, Asshur, Arbela, Imgurbel, and Dur- 
balat, as well as some of the dependencies. Shalmaneser 
retained Kalkhi and the provinces of northern Mesopo- 
tamia, and it appears that the greater part of the army 
also remained loyal to him. 

After four years of civil war Shalmaneser died. His 
chosen heir, Shamshi-Adad VII, had to continue the 
struggle for the throne for two more years. 

When at length the new king had stamped out the 
last embers of revolt within the kingdom, he had to 
undertake the reconquest of those provinces which in the 
interval had thrown off their allegiance to Assyria. 
Urartu in the north had grown more aggressive, the 
Syrians were openly defiant, the Medes were conducting 
bold raids, and the Babylonians were plotting with the 
Chaldseans, Elamites, and Aramaeans to oppose the new 
ruler. Shamshi-Adad, however, proved to be as great a 
general as his father. He subdued the Medes and the 
Nairi tribes, burned many cities and collected enormous 
tribute, while thousands of prisoners were taken and 
forced to serve the cofftjueror. 

Having established his power in the north, Shamshi- 
Adad then turned attention to Babylonia. On his way 
southward he subdued many villages. He fell upon the 
first strong force of Babylonian allies at Dur-papsukal in 
Akkad, and achieved a great victory, killing 13,000 and 
taking 3000 captives. Then the Babylonian king, Mar- 
duk-balatsu-ikbi, advanced to meet him with his mixed 
force of Babylonians, Chaldaeans, Elamites, and Aramaeans, 
but was defeated in a fierce battle on the banks of the 
Daban canal. The Babylonian camp was captured, and 
the prisoners taken by the Assyrians included 5000 foot- 
men, 200 horsemen, and 100 chariots 


Shamshi-Adad conducted in all five campaigns in 
Babylonia and Chaldaea, which he completely subdued, 
penetrating as far as the shores of the Persian Gulf. In 
the end he took prisoner the new king, Bau-akh-iddina, 
the successor of Marduk-balatsu-ikbi, and transported 
him to Assyria, and offered up sacrifices as the overlord 
of the ancient land at Babylon, Borsippa, and Cuthah. 
For over half a century after this disaster Babylonia was 
a province of Assyria. During that period, however, the 
influence which it exercised over the Assyrian Court was 
so great that it contributed to the downfall of the royal 
line of the Second Empire. 


From the Painting by E. 

The Age of Semiramis 

Queen Sammu-rammat the original of Semiramis "Mother-right" among 
" Mother Worshippers" Sammu-ramrnat compared to Queen Tiy Popularity 
of Goddess Cults Temple Worship and Domestic Worship Babylonian 
Cultural Influence in Assyria Ethical Tendency in Shamash Worship The 
Ncbo Religious Revolt Aton Revolt in Egypt The Royal Assyrian Library 
Fish Goddess of Babylonia in Assyria The Semiramis and Shakuntala 
Stories The Mock King: and Queen Dove Goddesses of Assyria, Phoenicia, 
and Cyprus- Ishtar's Dove Form St. Valentine's Day beliefs Sacred Doves 
of Cretans, Hittites, and Egyptians- Pigeon Lore in Great Britain and Ireland 
Deities associated with various Animals The Totemic Theory Common 
Element in Ancient Goddess Cults Influence of Agricultural Beliefs Nebo 
a form of Ka~ His Spouse Tashmit a Love Goddess and Interccder Tra- 
ditions of Famous Mother Deities Adad-nirari IV the "Saviour" of Israel 
Expansion of the Unirtian Empire Its Famous Kings Decline and Fall 
of Assyria's Middle Empire Dynasty. 

ONE of the most interesting figures in Mesopotamian 
history came into prominence during the Assyrian Middle 
Empire period. This was the famous Sammu-rammat, 
the Babylonian wife of an Assyrian ruler. Like Sargon 
cf Akkad, Alexander the Great, and Dietrich von Bern, 
she made, by reason of her achievements and influence, 
a deep impression on the popular imagination, and as 
these monarchs became identified in tradition with gods 
of war and fertility, she had attached to her memory the 
myths associated with the mother goddess of love and 
battle who presided over the destinies of mankind. In 
her character as the legendary Semiramis of Greek litera- 
ture, the Assyrian queen was reputed to have been the 



daughter of Derceto, the dove and fish goddess of Askalon, 
and to have departed from earth in bird form. 

It is not quite certain whether Sammu-rammat was 
the wife of Shamshi-Adad VII or of his son, Adad-nirari 
IV. Before the former monarch reduced Babylonia to 
the status of an Assyrian province, he had signed a treaty 
of peace with its king, and it is suggested that it was 
confirmed by a matrimonial alliance. This treaty was 
repudiated by King Bau-akh-iddina, who was transported 
with his palace treasures to Assyria. 

As Sammu-rammat was evidently a royal princess of 
Babylonia, it seems probable that her marriage was ar- 
ranged with purpose to legitimatize the succession of the 
Assyrian overlords to the Babylonian throne. The prin- 
ciple of <c mother right" was ever popular in those countries 
where the worship of the Great Mother was perpetuated 
if not in official at any rate in domestic religion. Not a 
few Egyptian Pharaohs reigned as husbands or as sons 
of royal ladies. Succession by the female line was also 
observed among the Hittites. When Hattusil II gave 
his daughter in marriage to Putakhi, king of the Amorites, 
he inserted a clause in the treaty of alliance " to the effect 
that the sovereignty over the Amorite should belong to 
the son and descendants of his daughter for evermore". 1 

As queen or queen-mother, Sammu-rammat occupied 
as prominent a position in Assyria as did Queen Tiy of 
Egypt during the lifetime of her husband, Amenhotep III, 
and the early part of the reign of her son, Amenhotep IV 
(Akhenaton). The Tell-el-Amarna letters testify to Tiy's 
influence in the Egyptian "Foreign Office", and we know 
that at home she was joint ruler with her husband and 
took part with him in public ceremonials. During their 
reign a temple was erected to the mother goddess 

1 The Land of the Hittites, J. Garstang, p. 354. 


and beside it was formed a great lake on which sailed 
the " barque of Aton " in connection with mysterious 
religious ceremonials. After Akhenaton's religious revolt 
was inaugurated, the worship of Mut was discontinued 
and Tiy went into retirement. In Akhenaton's time the 
vulture symbol of the goddess Mut did not appear above 
the sculptured figures of royalty. 

What connection the god Aton had with Mut during 
the period of the Tiy regime remains obscure. There is 
no evidence that Aton was first exalted as the son of the 
Great Mother goddess, although this is not improbable. 

Queen Sammu-rammat of Assyria, like Tiy of Egypt, 
is associated with social and religious innovations. She 
was the first, and, indeed, the only Assyrian royal lady, 
to be referred to on equal terms with her royal husband 
in official inscriptions. In a dedication to the god Nebo, 
that deity is reputed to be the protector of " the life of 
Adad-nirari, king of the land of Ashur, his lord, and the 
life of Sammu-rammat, she of the palace, his lady". 1 

During the reign of Adad-nirari IV the Assyrian Court 
radiated Babylonian culture and traditions. The king not 
only recorded his descent from the first Shalmaneser, but 
also claimed to be a descendant of Bel-kap-kapu, an earlier, 
but, to us, unknown, Babylonian monarch than " Sulili ", 
i.e. Sumu-la-ilu, the great-great-grandfather of Hammu- 
rabi. Bel-kap-kapu was reputed to have been an over- 
lord of Assyria. 

Apparently Adad-nirari desired to be regarded as the 
legitimate heir to the thrones of Assyria and Babylonia. 
His claim upon the latter country must have had a sub- 
stantial, basis. It is not too much to assume that he was 
a son of a princess of its ancient royal family. Sammu- 

1 The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records and Legends of Assyria and 
Babylonia, T. G. Pinches, p. 343. 


ramniat may therefore have been his mother. She could 
have been called his "wife" in the mythological sense, 
the king having become " husband of his mother ". If 
such was the case, the royal pair probably posed as the 
high priest and high priestess of the ancient goddess cult 
the incarnations of the Great Mother and the son who 
displaced his sire. 

The worship of the Great Mother was the popular 
religion of the indigenous peoples of western Asia, in- 
cluding parts of Asia Minor, Egypt, and southern and 
western Europe. It appears to have been closely asso- 
ciated with agricultural rites practised among representa- 
tive communities of the Mediterranean race. In Babylonia 
and Assyria the peoples of the goddess cult fused with 
the peoples of the god cult, but the prominence main- 
tained by Ishtar, who absorbed many of the old mother 
deities, testifies to the persistence of immemorial habits 
of thought and antique religious ceremonials among the 
descendants of the earliest settlers in the Tigro-Euphrates 
valley. Merodach's spouse Zerpanitu m was not a shadowy 
deity but a goddess who exercised as much influence as 
her divine husband. As Aruru she took part with him 
in the creation of mankind. In Asia Minor the mother 
goddess was overshadowed by the father god during the 
period of Hatti predominance, but her worship was revived 
after the early people along the coast and in the agricul- 
tural valleys were freed from the yoke of the father-god 

It must be recognized, in this connection, that an 
official religion was not always a full reflection of popular 
beliefs. In all the great civilizations of antiquity it was 
invariably a compromise between the beliefs of the military 
aristocracy and the masses of mingled peoples over whom 
they held sway. Temple worship had therefore a political 


aspect; it was intended, among other things, to strengthen 
the position of the ruling classes. But ancient deities 
could still be worshipped, and were worshipped, in homes 
and fields, in groves and on mountain tops, as the case 
might be. Jeremiah has testified to the persistence of 
the folk practices in connection with the worship of the 
mother goddess among the inhabitants of Palestine. 
Sacrificial fires were lit and cakes were baked and offered 
to the "Queen of Heaven " in the streets of Jerusalem 
and other cities. In Babylonia and Egypt domestic 
religious practices were never completely supplanted by 
temple ceremonies in which rulers took a prominent part. 
It was always possible, therefore, for usurpers to make 
popular appeal by reviving ancient and persistent forms of 
worship. As we have seen, Jehu of Israel, after stamping 
out Phoenician Baal worship, secured a strong following 
by giving official recognition to the cult of the golden 

It is not possible to set forth in detail, or with intimate 
knowledge, the various innovations which Sammu-rammat 
introduced, or with which she was credited, during the 
reigns of Adad-nirari IV (810-782 B.C.) and his father. 
No discovery has been made of documents like the 
Tell-el-Amarna " letters ", which would shed light on 
the social and political life of this interesting period. But 
evidence is not awanting that Assyria was being suffused 
with Babylonian culture. Royal inscriptions record the 
triumphs of the army, but suppress the details of bar- 
barities such as those which sully the annals of Ashur- 
natsir-pal, who had boys and girls burned on pyres and 
the heroes of small nations flayed alive. An ethical 
tendency becomes apparent in the exaltation of the Baby- 
lonian Shamash as an abstract deity who loved law and 
order, inspired the king with wisdom and ordained the 


destinies of mankind. He is invoked on equal terms 
with Ashur. 

The prominence given to Nebo, the god of Borsippa, 
during the reign of Adad-nirari IV is highly significant. 
He appears in his later character as a god of culture and 
wisdom, the patron of scribes and artists, and the wise 
counsellor of the deities. He symbolized the intellectual 
life of the southern kingdom, which was more closely 
associated with religious ethics than that of war-loving 

A great temple was erected to Nebo at Kalkhi, and 
four statues of him were placed within it, two of which 
are now in the British Museum. On one of these was cut 
the inscription, from which we have quoted, lauding the 
exalted and wise deity and invoking him to protect Adad- 
nirari and the lady of the palace, Sammu-rammat, and 
closing with the exhortation, " Whoso cometh in after 
time, let him trust in Nebo and trust in no other god ". 

The priests of Ashur in the city of Asshur must have 
been as deeply stirred by this religious revolt at Kalkhi as 
were the priests of Amon when Akhenaton turned his 
back on Thebes and the national god to worship Aton in 
his new capital at Tell-el-Amarna. 

It would appear that this sudden stream pf Babylonian 
culture had begun to flow into Assyria as early as the 
reign of Shalmaneser III, and it may be that it was on 
account of that monarch's pro-Babylonian tendencies that 
his nobles and priests revolted against him. Shalmaneser 
established at Kalkhi a royal library which was stocked 
with the literature of the southern kingdom. During 
the reign of Adad-nirari IV this collection was greatly 
increased, and subsequent additions were made to it by 
his successors, and especially Ashur-nirari IV, the last 
monarch of the Middle Empire. The inscriptions of 

Photo. Mansell 

Dedicated by Adad-nirari IV, and the Queen, Sammu-rammat 
[British Museum] 


Shamshi-Adad, son of Shalmaneser III, have literary 
qualities which distinguish them from those of his pre- 
decessors, and may be accounted for by the influence 
exercised by Babylonian scholars who migrated northward. 

To the reign of Adad-nirari belongs also that impor- 
tant compilation the "Synchronistic History of Assyria 
and Babylonia ", which deals with the relations of the two 
kingdoms and refers to contemporary events and rulers. 

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. 1 

In Babylonia the fish goddess was Nina, a developed 
form of Damkina, spouse of Ea of Eridu. In the in- 
scription on the Nebo statue, that god is referred to as 
the " son of Nudimmud " (Ea). Nina was the goddess 
who gave her name to Nineveh, and it is possible that 
Nebo may have been regarded as her son during the 
Semiramis period. 

The story of Semiramis's birth is evidently of great 
antiquity. It seems to survive throughout Europe in the 
nursery tale of the " Babes in the Wood ". A striking 
Indian parallel is afforded by the legend of Shakuntala, 
which may be first referred to for the purpose of com- 
parative study. Shakuntala was the daughter of the rishi, 
Viswamitra, and Menaka, the Apsara (celestial fairy). 
Menaka gave birth to her child beside the sacred river 
Malini. " And she cast the new-born infant on the bank 
of that river and went away. And beholding the new- 
born infant lying in that forest destitute of human beings 
but abounding with lions and tigers, a number of vultures 
sat around to protect it from harm/' A sage discovered 

1 Nat. Hisf.) v, 19 and Strabo, xvi, 1-27. 


the child and adopted her. "Because", he said, "she 
was surrounded by Shakuntas (birds), therefore hath she 
been named by me Shakuntala (bird protected)/' 1 

Scmiramis was similarly deserted at birth by her 
Celestial mother* She was protected by doves, and her 
Assyrian name, Sammu-rammat, is believed to be derived 
from "Summat" "dove", and to signify "the dove 
goddess loveth her". Simmas, the chief of royal shep- 
herds, found the child and adopted her. She was of great 
beauty like Shakuntala, the maiden of "perfect symmetry", 
"sweet smiles", and "faultless features", with whom King 
Uushyanta fell in love and married in Gandharva fashion. 2 

Semiramis became the wife of Onnes, governor of 
Nineveh, and one of the generals of its alleged founder, 
King Ninus. She accompanied her husband to Bactria 
on a military campaign, and is said to have instructed the 
king how that city should be taken. Ninus fell in love 
with Semiramis, and Onnes, who refused to give her up, 
went and hanged himself. The fair courtesan then became 
the wife of the king. 

The story proceeds that Semiramis exercised so great 
an influence over the impressionable King Ninus, that she 
persuaded him to proclaim her Queen of Assyria for five 
days. She then ascended the throne decked in royal 
robes. On the first day she gave a great banquet, and on 
the second thrust Ninus into prison, or had him put to 
death. In this manner she secured the empire for herself. 
She reigned for over forty years. 

Professor Frazer inclines to the view that the legend 
is a reminiscence of the custom of appointing a mock king 
and queen to whom the kingdom was yielded up for five 

1 The Mahabharata : Adi Parva, sections Ixxi and Ixxii (Roy's translation, pp. 213- 
216), and Indian Myth and Legend, pp. 157 et scq. 

2 That is, without ceremony but with consent. 



days. Semiramis played the part of the mother goddess, 
and the priestly king died a violent death in the character 
of her divine lover. " The mounds of Semiramis which 
were pointed out all over Western Asia were said to have 
been the graves of her lovers whom she buried alive. . . . 
This tradition is one of the surest indications of the 
identity of the mythical Semiramis with the Babylonian 
goddess Ishtar or Astarte." 1 As we have seen, Ishtar 
and other mother goddesses had many lovers whom they 
deserted like La Belle Dame sans Merci (pp. 174-5). 

As Queen of Assyria, Semiramis was said to have cut 
roads through mountainous districts and erected many 
buildings. According to one version of the legend she 
founded the city of Babylon. Herodotus, however, says 
in this connection: "Semiramis held the throne for five 
generations before the later princess (Nitocris). . . . She 
raised certain embankments, well worthy of inspection, in 
the plain near Babylon, to control the river (Euphrates), 
which, till then, used to overflow and flood the whole 
country round about." 2 Lucian, who associates the 
famous queen with "mighty works in Asia", states that 
she was reputed by some to be the builder of the ancient 
temple of Aphrodite in the Libanus, although others 
credited it to Cinyras, or Deukalion. 3 Several Median 
places bear her name, and according to ancient Armenian 
tradition she was the founder of Van, which was formerly 
called " Shamiramagerd ". Strabo tells that unidentified 
mountains in Western Asia were named after Semiramis. 4 
Indeed, many of the great works in the Tigro-Euphrates 
valley, not excepting the famous inscription of Darius, 
were credited to the legendary queen of Babylonia and 

1 The Golden Bough (Thf Scapegoat), pp. 369 et seq. (3rd edition). Perhaps the 
mythic Semiramis and legends connected were in existence long before the historic 
Sammu-rammat, though the two got mixed up. 

3 fie rodotus, i, 184. s De dea Syria, 9-14. * Strabo, xvi, I, 2, 


Assyria. 1 She was the rival in tradition of the famous 
Sesostris of Egypt as a ruler, builder, and conqueror. 

All the military expeditions of Semiramis were attended 
with success, except her invasion of India. She was 
supposed to have been defeated in the Punjab. After 
suffering this disaster she died, or abdicated the throne in 
favour of her son Ninyas. The most archaic form of the 
legend appears to be that she was turned into a dove 
and took flight to heaven in that form. After her death 
she was worshipped as a dove goddess like cc Our Lady 
of Trees and Doves " in Cyprus, whose shrine at old 
Paphos was founded, Herodotus says, by Phoenician 
colonists from Askalon. 2 Fish and doves were sacred 
to Derceto (Attar), 3 who had a mermaid form. " I have 
beheld", says Lucian, "the image of Derceto in Phoenicia. 
A marvellous spectacle it is. One half is a woman, but 
the part which extends from thighs to feet terminates 
with the tail of a fish/' 4 

Derceto was supposed to have been a woman who 
threw herself in despair into a lake. After death she 
was adored as a goddess and her worshippers abstained 
from eating fish, except sacrificially. A golden image of 
a fish was suspended in her temple. Atargatis, who was 
identical with Derceto, was reputed in another form of 
the legend to have been born of an egg which the sacred 
fishes found in the Euphrates and thrust ashore (p. 28). 
The Greek Aphrodite was born of the froth of the sea 
and floated in a sea-shell. According to Hesiod, 

The wafting waves 
First bore her to Cythera the divine: 
To wave-encircled Cyprus came she then, 
And forth emerged, a goddess, in the charms 

1 Di odor us SiculuSy ii, 3. * Herodotus^ i, 105. s Diodorus Siculus 9 if, 4. 

4 De dca Syria, 14. 


Of awful beauty. Where her delicate feet 

Had pressed the sands, green herbage flowering sprang. 

Her Aphrodite gods and mortals name, 

The foam-born goddess; and her name is known 

As Cytherea with the blooming wreath, 

For that she touched Cythera's flowery coast; 

And Cypris, for that on the Cyprian shore 

She rose, amid the multitude of waves. Elton's translation. 

The animals sacred to Aphrodite included the sparrow, 
the dove, the swan, the swallow, and the wryneck. 1 She 
presided over the month of April, and the myrtle, rose, 
poppy, and apple were sacred to her. 

Some writers connect Semiramis, in her character as a 
dove goddess, with Media and the old Persian mother 
goddess Anaitis, and regard as arbitrary her identification 
with the fish goddess Derceto or Atargatis. The dove 
was certainly not a popular bird in the religious art of 
Babylonia and Assyria, but in one of the hymns translated 
by Professor Pinches Ishtar says, " Like a lonely dove I 
rest ". In another the worshipper tries to touch Ishtar's 
heart by crying, "Like the dove I moan". A Sumerian 
psalmist makes a goddess (Gula, who presided over 
Larak, a part of Isin) lament over the city after it was 
captured by the enemy : 

My temple E-aste, temple of Larak, 
Larak the city which Bel Enlil gave, 

1 This little bird allied to the woodpecker twists its neck strangely when alarmed. 
It may have symbolized the coqucttishness of fair maidens. As love goddesses were 
" Fates ", however, the wryneck may have been connected with the belief that the per- 
petrator of a murder, or a death spell, could be detected when he approached his victim's 
corpse. If there was no wound to "bleed afresh", the "death thraw" (the contortions 
of death) might indicate who the criminal was. In a Scottish ballad regarding a lady, 
who was murdered by her lover, the verse occurs: 

'Twas in the middle o" the night 

The cock began to craw; 
And at the middle o' the night 

The corpse began to thraw. 
( 642 ) 30 


Beneath are turned to strangeness, above are turned to strangeness, 
With wailings on the lyre my dwelling-place is surrendered to the 


The dove cots they wickedly seized y the doves they entrapped . . . 
The ravens he (Enlil) caused to fly. 1 

Apparently there were temple and household doves in 
Babylonia. The Egyptians had their household dove- 
cots in ancient as in modern times. Lane makes reference 
to the large pigeon houses in many villages. They are 
of archaic pattern, "with the walls slightly inclining in- 
wards (like many of the ancient Egyptian buildings) ", 
and are "constructed upon the roofs of the huts with 
crude brick, pottery, and mud* . . . Each pair of pigeons 
occupies a separate (earthen) pot." 2 It may be that the 
dove bulked more prominently in domestic than in official 
religion, and had a special seasonal significance. Ishtar 
appears to have had a dove form. In the Gilgamesh epic 
she is said to have loved the "brilliant Allalu bird" (the 
" bright-coloured wood pigeon ", according to Sayce), and 
to have afterwards wounded it by breaking its wings. 3 
She also loved the lion and the horse, and must therefore 
have assumed the forms of these animals. The goddess 
Bau, "she whose city is destroyed ", laments in a Sumerian 

Like a dove to its dwelling-place, how long to my dwelling-place 

will they pursue me, 

To my sanctuary . . . the sacred place they pursue me ... 
My resting place, the brick walls of my city Isin, thou art destroyed; 
My sanctuary, shrine of my temple Galmah, thou art destroyed. 

Langdorfs translation. 

1 Langdon's Sumerian and Babylonian Psalms, pp. 133, 135. 

2 Introduction to Lane's Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians. 

3 Tammuz is referred to in a Sumerinn psalm as "him of the dovelike voice, yea, 
dovelike". He may have had a dove form. Angus, the Celtic god of spring, love, and 
fertility, had a swan form; he also had his seasonal period of sleep like Tammuz. 


Here the goddess appears to be identified with the doves 
which rest on the walls and make their nests in the 
shrine. The Sumerian poets did not adorn their poems 
with meaningless picturesque imagery; their images were 
stern facts; they had a magical or religious significance 
like the imagery of magical incantations; the worshipper 
invoked the deity by naming his or her various attributes, 
forms, &c. 

Of special interest are the references in Sumerian 
psalms to the ravens as well as the doves of goddesses. 
Throughout Asia and Europe ravens are birds of ill omen. 
In Scotland there still linger curious folk beliefs regarding 
the appearance of ravens and doves after death. Michael 
Scott, the great magician, when on his deathbed told his 
friends to place his body on a hillock. "Three ravens 
and three doves would be seen flying towards it. If the 
ravens were first the body was to be burned, but if the 
doves were first it was to receive Christian burial. The 
ravens were foremost, but in their hurry flew beyond their 
mark. So the devil, who had long been preparing a bed 
for Michael, was disappointed. " x 

In Indian mythology Purusha, the chaos giant, first 
divided himself. " Hence were husband and wife pro- 
duced/' This couple then assumed various animal 
forms and thus "created every living pair whatsoever 
down to the ants M . 2 Goddesses and fairies in the folk 
tales of many countries sometimes assume bird forms. 
The " Fates " appear to Damayanti in the Nala story as 
swans which carry love messages. 3 

According to Aryo-Indian belief, birds were " blessed 
with fecundity". The Babylonian Etana eagle and the 
Egyptian vulture, as has been indicated, were deities of 

1 Campbell's Superstitions of the Scottish Highlands, p. 288. 

2 Indian Myth and Legend, p. 95. * lbid. y pp. 329-30. 


fertility* Throughout Europe birds, which were "Fates", 
mated, according to popular belief, on St. Valentine's Day 
in February, when lots were drawn for wives by rural 
folks* Another form of the old custom is referred to by 
the poet Gay : 

Last Valentine, the day when birds of kind 
Their paramours with mutual chirpings find, 
I early rose . . . 

Thee first I spied, and the first swain we see, 
In spite of fortune, shall our true love be. 

The dove appears to have been a sacred bird in 
various areas occupied by tribes of the Mediterranean 
race. Models of a shrine found in two royal graves at 
Mycenae are surmounted by a pair of doves, suggesting 
twin goddesses like Isis and Nepthys of Egypt and Ishtar 
and Belitsheri of Babylonia. Doves and snakes were 
associated with the mother goddess of Crete, " typifying ", 
according to one view, " her connection with air and 
earth. Although her character was distinctly beneficent 
and pacific, yet as Lady of the Wild Creatures she had a 
more fearful aspect, one that was often depicted on carved 
gems, where lions are her companions/' 1 Discussing 
the attributes and symbols of this mother goddess, Pro- 
fessor Burrows says : " As the serpent, coming from the 
crevices of the earth, shows the possession of the tree 
or pillar from the underworld, so the dove, with which 
this goddess is also associated, shows its possession from 
the world of the sky ", Professor Robertson Smith 
has demonstrated that the dove was of great sanctity 
among the Semites. 8 It figures in Hittite sculptures and 
was probably connected with the goddess cult in Asia 

1 Cretf, the Forerunner of Greece, C. H. and H. B. Hawes, p. 139. 

2 The Discoveries in Crefe t pp. 137-8. * Religion oj the Sfrnifes y p. 294. 


Minor. Although Egypt had no dove goddess, the bird 
was addressed by lovers 

I hear thy voice, O turtle dove 

The dawn is all aglow- 
Weary am I with love, with love, 

Oh, whither shall I go? 1 

Pigeons, as indicated, are in Egypt still regarded as sacred 
birds, and a few years ago British soldiers created a riot 
by shooting them. Doves were connected with the ancient 
Greek oracle at Dodona. In many countries the dove 
is closely associated with love, and also symbolizes inno- 
cence, gentleness, and holiness. 

The pigeon was anciently, it would appear, a sacred 
bird in these islands, and Brand has recorded curious 
folk beliefs connected with it. In some districts the idea 
prevailed that no person could die on a bed which con- 
tained pigeon feathers : "If anybody be sick and lye a 
dying, if they lye upon pigeon feathers they will be 
languishing and never die, but be in pain and torment," 
wrote a correspondent. A similar superstition about the 
feathers of different varieties of wild fowl* obtained in 
other districts. Brand traced this interesting traditional 
belief in Yorkshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire, and some 
of the Welsh and Irish counties. 8 It still lingers in parts 
of the Scottish Highlands. In the old ballad of "The 
Bloody Gardener " the white dove appears to a young 
man as the soul of his lady love who was murdered by 
his mother. He first saw the bird perched on his breast 
and then " sitting on a myrtle tree ". 4 

The dove was not only a symbol of Semiramis, but 

1 Egyptian Myth and Legend, p. 59. 

2 Including the goose, one of the forms of the harvest goddess. 

3 Brand's Popular Antiquities, vol. ii, 230-1 and vol. iii, 232 (1899 ed.). 

4 Ibid., vol. iii, 217. The myrtle was used for love charms. 


also of her mother Derceto, the Phoenician fish goddess. 
The connection between bird and fish may have been 
given an astral significance. In " Poor Robin's Almanack" 
for 1757 a St. Valentine rhyme begins: 

This month bright Phoebus enters Pisces, 
The maids will have good store of kisses, 
For always when the sun comes there, 
Valentine's day is drawing near, 
And both the men and maids incline 
To choose them each a Valentine. 

As we have seen, the example was set by the mating 
birds. The "Almanack" poet no doubt versified an old 
astrological belief: when the spring sun entered the sign 
of the Fishes, the love goddess in bird form returned to 

Advocates of the Totemic theory, on the other hand, 
may hold that the association of doves with snake god- 
desses and fish goddesses of fertility was due to the fusion 
of tribes who had various animal totems. " The Pelew 
Islanders believed ", says Professor Frazer, " that the 
souls of their forefathers lived in certain species of animals, 
which accordingly they held sacred and would not injure. 
For this reason one man would not kill snakes, another 
would not harm pigeons, and so on ; but everyone was 
quite ready to kill and eat the sacred animals of his neigh- 
bours." 1 That the Egyptians had similar customs is 
suggested by what Herodotus tells us regarding their 
sacred animals : " Those who live near Thebes and the 
lake Moeris hold the crocodile in religious veneration. 
. . . Those who live in or near Elephantine, so far from 
considering these beasts as sacred, make them an article 
of food. . . . The hippopotamus is esteemed sacred in the 

1 The Golden Bough (Spirits of the Corn and oj the Wil<f}^ vol. ii, p. 293 (3rd ed.). 


district of Papremis, but in no other part of Egypt. . , . 
They roast and boil . . . birds and fishes . . . excepting 
those which are preserved for sacred purposes." 1 Totemic 
animals controlled the destinies of tribes and families. 
" Grose tells us ", says Brand, " that, besides general 
notices of death, many families have particular warnings 
or notices: some by the appearance of a bird, and others 
by the figure of a tall woman, dressed all in white. . . . 
Pennant says that many of the great families in Scotland 
had their demon or genius, who gave them monitions of 
future events." 2 Members of tribes which venerated the 
pigeon therefore invoked it like the Egyptian love poet 
and drew omens from its notes, or saw one appearing as 
the soul of the dead like the lover in the ballad of " The 
Bloody Gardener ". They refrained also from killing the 
pigeon except sacrificially, and suffered agonies on a death- 
bed which contained pigeon feathers, the " taboo " having 
been broken. 

Some such explanation is necessary to account for the 
specialization of certain goddesses as fish, snake, cat, or 
bird deities. Aphrodite, who like Ishtar absorbed the 
attributes of several goddesses of fertility and fate, had 
attached to her the various animal symbols which were 
prominent in districts or among tribes brought into close 
contact, while the poppy, rose, myrtle, &c., which were 
used as love charms, or for making love potions, were 
also consecrated to her. Anthropomorphic deities were 
decorated with the symbols and flowers of folk religion. 

From the comparative evidence accumulated here, it 
will be seen that the theory of the mythical Semiramis's 
Median or Persian origin is somewhat narrow. It is 
possible that the dove was venerated in Cyprus, as it cer- 
tainly was in Crete, long centuries before Assyrian and 

1 Herodotus, ii, 69, 71, and 77. * Brand's Popular Antiquities, vol. iii, p. 227. 


Babylonian influence filtered westward through Phoenician 
and Hittite channels. In another connection Sir Arthur 
Evans shows that the resemblance between Cretan and 
early Semitic beliefs u points rather to some remote com- 
mon element, the nature of which is at present obscure, 
than to any definite borrowing by one side or another . 1 
From the evidence afforded by the Semiramis legends 
and the inscriptions of the latter half of the Assyrian 
Middle Empire period, it may be inferred that a renas- 
cence of "mother worship" was favoured by the social 
and political changes which were taking place. In the 
first place the influence of Babylon must have been 
strongly felt in this connection. The fact that Adad- 
nirari found it necessary to win the support of the Baby- 
lonians by proclaiming his descent from one of their 
ancient royal families, suggests that he was not only con- 
cerned about the attitude assumed by the scholars of the 
southern kingdom, but also that of the masses of old 
Sumerian and Akkadian stocks who continued to bake 
cakes to the Queen of Heaven so as to ensure good 
harvests. In the second place it is not improbable that 
even in Assyria the introduction of Nebo and his spouse 
made widespread appeal. That country had become 
largely peopled by an alien population ; many of these 
aliens came from districts where " mother worship " pre- 
vailed, and had no traditional respect for Ashur, while 
they regarded with hostility the military aristocracy who 
conquered and ruled in the name of that dreaded deity. 
Perhaps, too, the influence of the Aramaeans, who in 
Babylonia wrecked the temples of the sun god, tended to 
revive the ancient religion of the Mediterranean race. 
Jehu's religious revolt in Israel, which established once 
again the cult of Ashtoreth, occurred after he came under 

1 Cited by Professor Burrows in The Discoveries in Crete, p. 1 34. 


the sway of Damascus, and may have not been uncon- 
nected with the political ascendancy elsewhere of the 
goddess cult. 

Nebo, whom Adad-nirari exalted at Kalkhi, was more 
than a local god of Borsippa. "The most satisfactory 
view ", says Jastrow, " is to regard him as a counterpart 
of Ea. Like Ea, he is the embodiment and source of 
wisdom. . . . The study of the heavens formed part of 
the wisdom which is traced back to Nebo, and the temple 
school at Borsippa became one of the chief centres for the 
astrological, and, subsequently, for the astronomical lore 
of Babylonia. . . . Like Nebo, Ea is also associated with 
the irrigation of the fields and with their consequent fer- 
tility. A hymn praises him as the one who fills the canals 
and the dikes, who protects the fields and brings the 
crops to maturity/' Nebo links with Merodach (Mar- 
duk), who is sometimes referred to as his father. Jastrow 
assumes that the close partnership between Nebo and 
Merodach " had as a consequence a transfer of some of 
the father Marduk's attributes as a solar deity to Nebo, 1 his 
son, just as Ea passed his traits on to his son, Marduk". 2 

As the " recorder " or " scribe " among the gods, 
Nebo resembles the Egyptian god Thoth, who links with 
Khonsu, the lunar and spring sun god of love and fer- 
tility, and with Osiris. In Borsippa he had, like Mero- 
dach in Babylon, pronounced Tammuz traits. Nebo, in 
fact, appears to be the Tammuz of the new age, the son 
of the ancient goddess, who became " Husband of his 
Mother ". If Nebo had no connection with Great 
Mother worship, it is unlikely that his statue would have 

1 Like the Egyptian Horus, Nebo had many phases: he was connected with the sun 
and moon, the planet Mercury, water and crops; he was young and yet old a mystical 

* Aspects of Religious Belief and Practice in Babylonia and Assyria, pp. 94 et scj. 


borne an inscription referring to King Adad-nirari and 
Queen Sammu-rammat on equal terms. The Assyrian 
spouse of Nebo was called Tashmit. This "goddess of 
supplication and love" had a lunar significance. A prayer 
addressed to her in association with Nannar (Sin) and 
Ishtar, proceeds : 

In the evil of the eclipse of the moon which . . . has taken place, 
In the evil of the powers, of the portents, evil and not good, which 

are in my palace and my land, 
(I) have turned towards thee! . . . 
Before Nabu (Nebo) thy spouse, thy lord, the prince, the first-born 

of E-sagila, intercede for me! 
May he hearken to my cry at the word of thy mouth ; may he 

remove my sighing, may he learn my supplication! 

Damkina is similarly addressed in another prayer : 

O Damkina, mighty queen of all the gods, 

O wife of Ea, valiant art thou, 

O Ir-nina, mighty queen of all the gods . . . 

Thou that dwellest in the Abyss, O lady of heaven and earth ! . . . 

In the evil of the eclipse of the moon, etc. 

Bau is also prayed in a similar connection as " mighty 
lady that dwellest in the bright heavens ", i.e. " Queen of 
heaven". 1 

Tashmit, whose name signifies " Obedience ", accord- 
ing to Jastrow, or " Hearing ", according to Sayce, carried 
the prayers of worshippers to Nebo, her spouse. As Isis 
interceded with Osiris, she interceded with Nebo, on 
behalf of mankind. But this did not signify that she 
was the least influential of the divine pair. A goddess 
played many parts : she was at once mother, daughter, 
and wife of the god ; the servant of one god or the 
" mighty queen of all the gods ". The Great Mother 

1 Babylonian Magic and Sorcery, L. W., pp. 6-7 and 26-7. 


was, as has been indicated, regarded as the eternal and 
undecaying one ; the gods passed away, son succeeding 
father; she alone remained. Thus, too, did Semiramis 
survive in the popular memory, as the queen-goddess of 
widespread legends, after kings and gods had been for- 
gotten. To her was ascribed all the mighty works of 
other days in the lands where the indigenous peoples 
first worshipped the Great Mother as Damkina, Nina, Bau, 
Ishtar, or Tashmit, because the goddess was anciently 
believed to be the First Cause, the creatrix, the mighty one 
who invested the ruling god with the powers he possessed 
the god who held sway because he was her husband, 
as did Nergal as the husband of Eresh-ki-gal, queen of 

The multiplication of well-defined goddesses was partly 
due to the tendency to symbolize the attributes of the 
Great Mother, and partly due to the development of the 
great "Lady" in a particular district where she reflected 
local phenomena and where the political influence achieved 
by her worshippers emphasized her greatness. Legends 
regarding a famous goddess were in time attached to other 
goddesses, and in Aphrodite and Derceto we appear to 
have mother deities who absorbed the traditions of more 
than one local " lady " of river and plain, forest and 
mountain. Semiramis, on the other hand, survived as a 
link between the old world and the new, between the 
country from which emanated the stream of ancient cul- 
ture and the regions which received it. As the high 
priestess of the cult, she became identified with the goddess 
whose bird name she bore, as Gilgamesh and Etana became 
identified with the primitive culture-hero or patriarch of 
the ancient Sumerians, and Sargon became identified with 
Tammuz. No doubt the fame of Semiramis was specially 
emphasized because of her close association, as Queen 


Sammu-rammat, with the religious innovations which dis- 
turbed the land of the god Ashur during the Middle 
Empire period, 

Adad-nirari IV, the son or husband of Sammu-rammat, 
was a vigorous and successful campaigner. He was the 
Assyrian king who became the " saviour " of Israel. Al- 
though it is not possible to give a detailed account of his 
various expeditions, we find from the list of these which 
survives in the Eponym Chronicle that he included in the 
Assyrian Empire a larger extent of territory than any of 
his predecessors. In the north-east he overcame the 
Median and other tribes, and acquired a large portion of 
the Iranian plateau ; he compelled Edom to pay tribute, 
and established his hold in Babylonia by restricting the 
power of the Chaldaeans in Sealand. In the north he 
swayed at least, so he claimed the wide domains of the 
Nairi people. He also confirmed his supremacy over the 

The Aramaean state of Damascus, which had with- 
stood the attack of the great Shalmaneser and afterwards 
oppressed, as we have seen, the kingdoms of Israel and 
Judah, was completely overpowered by Adad-nirari. The 
old king, Hazael, died when Assyria's power was being 
strengthened and increased along his frontiers. He was 
succeeded by his son Mari, who is believed to be identical 
with the Biblical Ben-Hadad III. 1 

Shortly after this new monarch came to the throne, 
Adad-nirari IV led a great army against him. The Syrian 
ruler appears to have been taken by surprise ; probably 
his kingdom was suffering from the three defeats which 
had been previously administered by the revolting Israel- 
ites. 2 At any rate Mari was unable to gather together an 
army of allies to resist the Assyrian advance, and took 

1 2 Kings, xiii, 3. * 2 Kings, xiii, 14-25. 


refuge behind the walls of Damascus. This strongly 
fortified city was closely invested, and Mari had at length 
to submit and acknowledge Adad-nirari as his overlord. 
The price of peace included 23,000 talents of silver, 20 
of gold, 3000 of copper, and 5000 of iron, as well as 
ivory ornaments and furniture, embroidered materials, 
and other goods " to a countless amount ". Thus " the 
Lord gave Israel a saviour, so that they went out from 
under the hand of the Syrians : and the children of Israel 
dwelt in their tents, as beforetime ". This significant 
reference to the conquest of Damascus by the Assyrian 
king is followed by another which throws light on the 
religious phenomena of the period : " Nevertheless they 
departed not from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, who 
made Israel sin, but walked therein : and there remained 
the grove also in Samaria ". 1 Ashtoreth and her golden 
calf continued to be venerated, and doves were sacrificed 
to the local Adonis. 

It is not certain whether Adad-nirari penetrated 
farther than Damascus. Possibly all the states which 
owed allegiance to the king of that city became at once 
the willing vassals of Assyria, their protector. The 
tribute received by Adad-nirari from Tyre, Sidon, the 
land of Omri (Israel), Edom, and Palastu (Philistia) may 
have been gifted as a formal acknowledgment of his 
suzerainty and with purpose to bring them directly 
under Assyrian control, so that Damascus might be pre- 
vented from taking vengeance against them. 

Meagre details survive regarding the reign of the 
next king, Shalmaneser IV (781-772 B.C.). These are, 
however, supplemented by the Urartian inscriptions. 
Although Adad-nirari boasted that he had subdued the 
kingdom of Urartu in the north, he appears to have 

1 2 Kings, xiii, 5, 6. 


done no more than limit its southern expansion for a 

The Urarti were, like the Mitanni, a military aristoc- 
racy 1 who welded together by conquest the tribes of the 
eastern and northern Highlands which several Assyrian 
monarchs included in their Empire. They acquired the 
elements of Assyrian culture, and used the Assyrian 
script for their own language. Their god was named 
Khaldis, and they called their nation Khaldia. During 
the reign of Ashur-natsir-pal their area of control was 
confined to the banks of the river Araxes, but it was 
gradually extended under a succession of vigorous kings 
towards the south-west until they became supreme round 
the shores of Lake Van. Three of their early kings were 
Lutipris, Sharduris I, and Arame. 

During the reign of Shamshi-Adad the Assyrians 
came into conflict with the Urarti, who were governed at 
the time by c< Ushpina of Nairi " (Ishpuinis, son of 
Sharduris II). The Urartian kingdom had extended 
rapidly and bordered on Assyrian territory. To the 
west were the tribes known as the Mannai, the northern 
enemies of the Medes, a people of Indo-European speech. 

When Adad-nirari IV waged war against the Urarti, 
their king was Menuas, the son of Ishpuinis. Menuas 
was a great war-lord, and was able to measure his strength 
against Assyria on equal terms. He had nearly doubled 
by conquest the area controlled by his predecessors. 
Adad-nirari endeavoured to drive his rival northward, but 
all along the Assyrian frontier from the Euphrates to the 
Lower Zab, Menuas forced the outposts of Adad-nirari 
to retreat southward. The Assyrians, in short, were 
unable to hold their own. 

1 The masses of the Urartian folk appear to have been of Hatti stock "broad 
heads ", like their descendants, the modern Armenians. 


Having extended his kingdom towards the south, 
Menuas invaded Hittite territory, subdued Malatia and 
compelled its king to pay tribute. He also conquered 
the Mannai and other tribes. Towards the north and 
north-west he added a considerable area to his kingdom, 
which became as large as Assyria. 

Menuas's capital was the city of Turushpa or Dhuspas 
(Van), which was called Khaldinas l after the national god. 
For a~ century it was the seat of Urartian administration. 
The buildings erected there by Menuas and his successors 
became associated in after-time with the traditions of 
Semiramis, who, as Queen Sammu-rammat of Assyria, 
was a contemporary of the great Urartian conqueror. 
Similarly a sculptured representation of the Hittite god 
was referred to by Herodotus as a memorial of the 
Egyptian king Sesostris. 

The strongest fortification at Dhuspas was the citadel, 
which was erected on a rocky promontory jutting into 
Lake Van. A small garrison could there resist a pro- 
longed siege. The water supply of the city was assured 
by the construction of subterranean aqueducts. Menuas 
erected a magnificent palace, which rivalled that of the 
Assyrian monarch at Kalkhi, and furnished it with the rich 
booty brought back from victorious campaigns. He was 
a lover of trees and planted many, and he laid out gardens 
which bloomed with brilliant Asian flowers. The palace 
commanded a noble prospect of hill and valley scenery 
on the south-western shore of beautiful Lake Van. 

Menuas was succeeded by his son Argistis, who 
ascended the throne during the lifetime of Adad-nirari 
of Assyria. During the early part of his reign he con- 
ducted military expeditions to the north beyond the river 

1 It is uncertain whether this city or Kullani in north Syria is the Biblical Calno. 
haiah 9 x, 9. 


Araxes. He afterwards came into conflict with Assyria, 
and acquired more territory on its northern frontier. 
He also subdued the Mannai, who had risen in revolt. 

For three years (781-778 B.C.) the general of Shal- 
mancser IV waged war constantly with Urartu, and again 
in 776 B.C. and 774 B.C. attempts were made to prevent 
the southern expansion of that Power. On more than 
one occasion the Assyrians were defeated and compelled 
to retreat. 

Assyria suffered serious loss of prestige on account 
of its inability to hold in check its northern rival. 
Damascus rose in revolt and had to be subdued, and 
northern Syria was greatly disturbed. Hadrach was 
visited in the last year of the king's reign. 

Ashur-dan III (771-763 B.C.) occupied the Assyrian 
throne during a period of great unrest. He was unable 
to attack Urartu. His army had to operate instead on 
his eastern and southern frontiers. A great plague broke 
out in 765 B.C., the year in which Hadrach had again to 
be dealt with. On June 15, 763 B.C., there was a total 
eclipse of the sun, and that dread event was followed by 
a revolt at Asshur which was no doubt of priestly origin. 
The king's son Adad-nirari was involved in it, but it is 
not certain whether or not he displaced his father for a 
time. In 758 B.C. Ashur-dan again showed signs of 
activity by endeavouring to suppress the revolts which 
during the period of civil war had broken out in Syria. 

Adad-nirari V came to the throne in 763 B.C. He 
had to deal with revolts in Asshur in other cities. Indeed 
for the greater part of his reign he seems to have been 
kept fully engaged endeavouring to establish his authority 
within the Assyrian borders. The Syrian provinces re- 
gained their independence. 

During the first four years of his successor Ashur- 


nirari IV (753-746 B.C.) the army never left Assyria. 
Namri was visited in 749-748 B.C., but it is not certain 
whether he fought against the Urartians, or the Aramaeans 
who had become active during this period of Assyrian 
decline. In 746 B.C. a revolt broke out in the city of 
Kalkhi and the king had to leave it. Soon afterwards he 
died perhaps he was assassinated and none of his sons 
came to the throne. A year previously Nabu-natsir, 
known to the Greeks as Nabonassar, was crowned king 
of Babylonia. 

Ashur-nirari IV appears to have been a monarch of 
somewhat like character to the famous Akhenaton of 
Egypt an idealist for whom war had no attractions. 
He kept his army at home while his foreign possessions 
rose in revolt one after another. Apparently he had 
dreams of guarding Assyria against attack by means of 
treaties of peace. He arranged one with a Mesopotamian 
king, Mati-ilu of Agusi, who pledged himself not to go 
to war without the consent of his Assyrian overlord, and 
it is possible that there were other documents of like 
character which have not survived to us. During his 
leisure hours the king engaged himself in studious pur- 
suits and made additions to the royal library. In the 
end his disappointed soldiers found a worthy leader in 
one of its generals who seized the throne and assumed 
the royal name of Tiglath-pileser. 

Ashur-nirari IV was the last king of the Middle 
Empire of Assyria. He may have been a man of high 
character and refinement and worthy of our esteem, 
although an unsuitable ruler for a predatory State. 

(0642) 31 


Assyria's Age of Splendour 

Tiglath-pileser IV, the Biblical Pul Babylonian Campaign ITrartian 
Ambitions in North Syria Battle of Two Kings and Flight of Shard uris 
Conquest of Syro-Cappadocian States Hebrew History from Jehu to Mena- 
hern Israel subject to Assyria Urartu's Power broken Ahaz's Appeal to 
Assyria Damascus and Israel subdued Babylonia united to Assyria Shal- 
maneser and Hoshea Sargon deports the "Lost Ten Tribes" Merodach 
Baladan King of Babylonia Egyptian Army of Allies routed Ahaz and 
Isaiah Frontier Campaigns Merodach Baladan overthrown Sennacherib 
and the Hittite States Merodach Baladan's second and brief Reign Heze- 
kiah and Sennacherib Destruction of Assyrian Army Sack of Babylon 
Esarhaddon A Second Scmiramis Raids of Elamites, Cimmerians, Scythians, 
and Medes Sack of Sidon Manasseh and Isaiah's Fate Esarhaddon con- 
quers Lower Egypt Revolt of Assyrian Nobles Ashurbanipal. 

WE now enter upon the last and most brilliant phase of 
Assyrian civilization the period of the Third or New 
Empire during which flourished Tiglath-pileser IV, the 
mighty conqueror ; the Shalmaneser of the Bible; "Sargon 
the Later", who transported the "lost ten tribes" of 
Israel ; Sennacherib, the destroyer of Babylon, and Esar- 
haddon, who made Lower Egypt an Assyrian province. 
We also meet with notable figures of Biblical fame, in- 
cluding Ahaz, Hezekiah, Isaiah, and the idolatrous Man- 

Tiglath-pileser IV, who deposed Ashur-nirari IV, was 
known to the Babylonians as Pulu, which, some think, 
was a term of contempt signifying "wild animal". In 
the Bible he is referred to as Pul, Tiglath-pilneser, and 


Tiglath-pileser. 1 He came to the Assyrian throne towards 
the end of April in 745 B.C. and reigned until 727 B.C. 
We know nothing regarding his origin, but it seems clear 
that he was not of royal descent. He appears to have 
been a popular leader of the revolt against Ashur-nirari, 
who, like certain of his predecessors, had pronounced 
pro-Babylonian tendencies. It is significant to note in 
this connection that the new king was an unswerving 
adherent of the cult of Ashur, by the adherents of 
which he was probably strongly supported. 

Tiglath-pileser combined in equal measure those 
qualities of generalship and statesmanship which were 
necessary for the reorganization of the Assyrian state and 
the revival of its military prestige. At the beginning of 
his reign there was much social discontent and suffering. 
The national exchequer had been exhausted by the loss 
of tribute from revolting provinces, trade was paralysed, 
and the industries were in a languishing condition. Plun- 
dering bands of Aramaeans were menacing the western 
frontiers and had overrun part of northern Babylonia. 
New political confederacies in Syria kept the north-west 
regions in a constant state of unrest, and the now powerful 
Urartian kingdom was threatening the Syro-Cappadocian 
states as if its rulers had dreams of building up a great 
world empire on the ruins of that of Assyria. 

Tiglath-pileser first paid attention to Babylonia, and 
extinguished the resistance of the Aramaeans in Akkad. 
He appears to have been welcomed by Nabonassar, who 
became his vassal, and he offered sacrifices in the cities of 
Babylon, Sippar, Cuthah, and Nippur. Sippar had been 
occupied by Aramaeans, as on a previous occasion when 
they destroyed the temple of the sun god Shamash which 
was restored by Nabu-aplu-iddina of Babylon, 

1 2 Kings t xv, 19 and 295 2 Chronicle^ xxviii, 20. 


Tiglath-pileser did not overrun Chaldaea, but he 
destroyed its capital, Sarrabanu, and impaled King Nabu- 
ushabshi. He proclaimed himself <c King of Sumer and 
Akkad" and " King of the Four Quarters' 1 . The frontier 
states of Elam and Media were visited and subdued. 

Having disposed of the Aramaeans and other raiders, 
the Assyrian monarch had next to deal with his most 
powerful rival, Urartu. Argistis 1 had been succeeded 
by Sharduris III, who had formed an alliance with the 
north Mesopotamian king, Mati-ilu of Agusi, on whom 
Ashur-nirari had reposed his faith. Ere long Sharduris 
pressed southward from Malatia and compelled the north 
Syrian Hittite states, including Carchemish, to acknow- 
ledge his suzerainty. A struggle then ensued between 
Urartu and Assyria for the possession of the Syro-Cappa- 
docian states. 

At this time the reputation of Tiglath-pileser hung 
in the balance. If he failed in his attack on Urartu, his 
prestige would vanish at home and abroad and Sharduris 
might, after establishing himself in northern Syria, invade 
Assyria and compel its allegiance. 

Two courses lay before Tiglath-pileser. He could 
either cross the mountains and invade Urartu, or strike 
at his rival in north Syria, where the influence of Assyria 
had been completely extinguished. The latter appeared 
to him to be the most feasible and judicious procedure, 
for if he succeeded in expelling the invaders he would at 
the same time compel the allegiance of the rebellious 
Hittite states. 

In the spring of 743 B.C, Tiglath-pileser led his army 
across the Euphrates and reached Arpad without meeting 
with any resistance. The city appears to have opened its 
gates to him although it was in the kingdom of Mati-ilu, 
who acknowledged Urartian sway. Its foreign garrison 


was slaughtered. Well might Sharduris exclaim, in the 
words of the prophet, " Where is the king of Arpad ? 
where are the gods of Arpad?*' 1 

Leaving Arpad, Tiglath-pileser advanced to meet 
Sharduris, who was apparently hastening southward to 
attack the Assyrians in the rear. Tiglath-pileser, how- 
ever, crossed the Euphrates and, moving northward, 
delivered an unexpected attack on the Urartian army in 
Qummukh. A fierce battle ensued, and one of its dra- 
matic incidents was a single combat between the rival 
kings. The tide of battle flowed in Assyria's favour, and 
when evening was falling the chariots and cavalry of 
Urartu were thrown into confusion. An attempt was 
made to capture King Sharduris, who leapt from his 
chariot and made hasty escape on horseback, hotly pur- 
sued in the gathering darkness by an Assyrian contingent 
of cavalry. Not until "the bridge of the Euphrates" 
was reached was the exciting night chase abandoned. 

Tiglath-pileser had achieved an overwhelming victory 
against an army superior to his own in numbers. Over 
70,000 of the enemy were slain or taken captive, while 
the Urartian camp with its stores and horses and followers 
fell into the hands of the triumphant Assyrians. Tiglath- 
pileser burned the royal tent and throne as an offering to 
Ashur, and carried Sharduris's bed to the temple of the 
goddess of Nineveh, whither he returned to prepare a 
new plan of campaign against his northern rival. 

Despite the blow dealt against Urartu, Assyria did 
not immediately regain possession of north Syria. The 
shifty Mati-ilu either cherished the hope that Sharduris 
would recover strength and again invade north Syria, or 
that he might himself establish an empire in that region. 
Tiglath-pileser had therefore to march westward again. 

1 2 Kings^ xviii, 34 and xlx, 13. 


For three years he conducted vigorous campaigns in "the 
western land", where he met with vigorous resistance. In 
740 B.C. Arpad was captured and Mati-ilu deposed and prob- 
ably put to death. Two years later Kullani and Hamath 
fell, and the districts which they controlled were included 
in the Assyrian empire and governed by Crown officials. 

Once again the Hebrews came into contact with 
Assyria. The Dynasty of Jehu had come to an end by 
this time. Its fall may not have been unconnected with 
the trend of events in Assyria during the closing years 
of the Middle Empire. 

Supported by Assyria, the kings of Israel had become 
powerful and haughty. Jehoash, the grandson of Jehu, 
had achieved successes in conflict with Damascus. In 
Judah the unstable Amaziah, son of Joash, was strong 
enough to lay a heavy hand on Edom, and flushed with 
triumph then resolved to readjust his relations with his 
overlord, the king of Israel. Accordingly he sent a com- 
munication to Jehoash which contained some proposal 
regarding their political relations, concluding with the 
offer or challenge, " Come, let us look one another in the 
face ". A contemptuous answer was returned. 

Jehoash the king of Israel sent to Amaziah king of Judah, 
saying, The thistle that was in Lebanon sent to the cedar that was 
in Lebanon, saying, Give thy daughter to my son to wife : and 
there passed by a wild beast that was in Lebanon, and trode down 
the thistle. Thou hast indeed smitten Edom, and thine heart 
hath lifted thee up: glory of this, and tarry at home, for why 
shouldest thou meddle to thy hurt, that thou shouldest fall, even 
thou, and Judah with thee? 

But Amaziah would not hear. Therefore Jehoash king of 
Israel went up; and he and Amaziah king of Judah looked one 
another in the face at Beth-shemesh [city of Shamash, the sun god], 
which belongeth to Judah. And Judah was put to the worse 
before Israel; and they fled every man to their tents. 


Jehoash afterwards destroyed a large portion of the 
wall of Jerusalem and plundered the temple and palace, 
returning home to Samaria with rich booty and hostages. 1 
Judah thus remained a vassal state of Israel's. 

Jeroboam, son of Jehoash, had a long and prosperous 
reign. About 773 B.C. he appears to have co-operated 
with Assyria and conquered Damascus and Hamath, His 
son Zachariah, the last king of the Jehu Dynasty of Israel, 
came to the throne in 740 B.C. towards the close of the 
reign of Azariah, son of Amaziah, king of Judah, Six 
months afterwards he was assassinated by Shallum. This 
usurper held sway at Samaria for only a month. " For 
Menahem the son of Gadi went up from Tirzah, and 
came to Samaria, and smote Shallum the son of Jabesh 
in Samaria, and slew him, and reigned in his stead." 2 

Tiglath-pileser was operating successfully in middle 
Syria when he had dealings with, among others, " Meni- 
himme (Menahem) of the city of the Samarians ", who 
paid tribute. No resistance was possible on the part of 
Menahem, the usurper, who was probably ready to wel- 
come the Assyrian conqueror, so that, by arranging an 
alliance, he might secure his own position. The Biblical 
reference is as follows: "And Pul the king of Assyria 
came against the land : and Menahem gave Pul a thou- 
sand talents of silver, that his hand might be with him to 
confirm the kingdom in his hand. And Menahem exacted 
the money of Israel, even of all the mighty men of wealth, 
of each man fifty shekels of silver, to give to the king of 
Assyria. So the king of Assyria turned back, and stayed 
not there in the land." 8 Rezin of Damascus, Hiram of 
Tyre, and Zabibi, queen of the Arabians, also sent gifts 
to Tiglath-pileser at this time (738 B.C.). Aramaean 
revolts on the borders of Elam were suppressed by 

1 2 Kings, xiv, i 14. * 3 King$) xv, 1-14. * 2 King** xv *9> 2O - 


Assyrian governors, and large numbers of the inhabitants 
were transported to various places in Syria. 

Tiglath-pileser next operated against the Median and 
other hill tribes in the north-east. In 735 B.C. he invaded 
Urartu, the great Armenian state which had threatened 
the supremacy of Assyria in north Syria and Cappadocia. 
King Sharduris was unable to protect his frontier or 
hamper the progress of the advancing army, which pene- 
trated to his capital. Dhuspas was soon captured, but 
Sharduris took refuge in his rocky citadel which he and 
his predecessors had laboured to render impregnable. 
There he was able to defy the might of Assyria, for the 
fortress could be approached on the western side alone 
by a narrow path between high walls and towers, so that 
only a small force could find room to operate against the 
numerous garrison. 

Tiglath-pileser had to content himself by devastating 
the city on the plain and the neighbouring villages. He 
overthrew buildings, destroyed orchards, and transported 
to Nineveh those of the inhabitants he had not put to 
the sword, with all the live stock he could lay hands 
on. Thus was Urartu crippled and humiliated : it never 
regained its former prestige among the northern states. 

In the following year Tiglath-pileser returned to Syria. 
The circumstances which made this expedition necessary 
are of special interest on account of its Biblical associations. 
Menahem, king of Israel, had died, and was succeeded 
by his son Pekahiah. " But Pekah the son of Remaliah, 
a captain of his, conspired against him and smote him in 
Samaria, in the palace of the king's house, . . . and he 
killed him, and reigned in his room." 1 When Pekah 
was on the throne, Ahaz began to reign over Judah. 

Judah had taken advantage of the disturbed conditions 

1 2 Kings, xv, 25. 


in Israel to assert its independence. The walls of Jeru- 
salem were repaired by Jotham, father of Ahaz, and a 
tunnel constructed to supply it with water. Isaiah refers 
to this tunnel : " Go forth and meet Ahaz ... at the 
end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of 
the fuller's field " (Isaiah^ vii, 3). 

Pekah had to deal with a powerful party in Israel 
which favoured the re-establishment of David's kingdom 
in Palestine. Their most prominent leader was the pro- 
phet Amos, whose eloquent exhortations were couched in 
no uncertain terms. He condemned Israel for its idola- 
tries, and cried : 

For thus saith the Lord unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me 
and ye shall live. . . . Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offer- 
ings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel ? But ye have 
borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the 
star of your god, which ye made to yourselves. 1 

Pekah sought to extinguish the orthodox party's 
movement by subduing Judah. So he plotted with 
Rezin, king of Damascus. Amos prophesied, 

Thus saith the Lord. ... I will send a fire into the house of 
Hazael, which will devour the palaces of Bcn-hadad. I will break 
also the bar of Damascus . . . and the people of Syria shall go 
into captivity unto Kir. . . . The remnant of the Philistines shall 

Tyre, Edom, and Ammon would also be punished. 2 
Judah was completely isolated by the allies who 
acknowledged the suzerainty of Damascus. Soon after 
Ahaz came to the throne he found himself hemmed in on 
every side by adversaries who desired to accomplish his 
fall. "At that time Rezin, king of Syria, and Pekah 
. . came up to Jerusalem to war : and they besieged 


Ahaz, but could not overcome him." 1 Judah, however, 
was overrun ; the city of Elath was captured and restored 
to Edom, while the Philistines were liberated from the 
control of Jerusalem. 

Isaiah visited Ahaz and said, 

Take heed, and be quiet ; fear not, neither be faint-hearted 
for the two tails of these smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger 
of Rczin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah. Because Syria, 
Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah, have taken evil counsel 
against thee, saying, Let us go up against Judah, and vex it, and 
let us make a breach therein for us, and set a king in the midst of 
it, even the son of Tabeal : Thus saith the Lord God, It shall 
not stand, neither shall it come to pass. 2 

The unstable Ahaz had sought assistance from the 
Baal, and " made his son to pass through the fire, accord- 
ing to the abominations of the heathen". 3 Then he 
resolved to purchase the sympathy of one of the great 
Powers. There was no hope of assistance from " the fly 
that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt ", for 
the Ethiopian Pharaohs had not yet conquered the Delta 
region, so he turned to " the bee that is in the land of 
Assyria ", 4 Assyria was the last resource of the king of 

So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, 
saying, I am thy servant and thy son: come up and save me out of 
the hand of Syria and out of the hand of the king of Israel, which 
rise up against me. And Ahaz took the silver and gold that was 
found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasures of the king's 
house, and sent it for a present to the king of Assyria. 

And the king of Assyria hearkened unto him : for the king of 
Assyria went up against Damascus, and took it, and carried the 
people of it captive to Kir 5 and slew Rezin. 6 

1 2 Kings, xvi, 5. * Isaiah, vii, 3-7. 8 2 Kings, xv, 3. 4 Isaiah, vii, 18. 

6 Kir was probably on the borders of Elam. G 2 Kings, xvi, 79. 


Tiglath-pileser recorded that Rezin took refuge in his 
city like "a mouse". Israel was also dealt with. 

In the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglath-pileser king 
of Assyria, and took Ijon and Abel-beth-maachah, and Janoah 
and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of 
Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria. And Hoshea the 
son of Elah made a conspiracy against Pekah the son of Remaliah, 
and smote him, and slew him, and reigned in his stead. 1 

Tiglath-pileser recorded : " They overthrew Paqaha 
(Pekah), their king, and placed Ausi'a (Hoshea) over 
them ". He swept through Israel a like a hurricane ". 
The Philistines and the Arabians of the desert were also 
subdued. Tribute was sent to the Assyrian monarch by 
Phoenicia, Moab, Ammon, and Edom. It was a proud 
day for Ahaz when he paid a visit to Tiglath-pileser at 
Damascus. 2 An Assyrian governor was appointed to rule 
over Syria and its subject states. 

Babylon next claimed the attention of Tiglath-pileser. 
Nabonassar had died and was succeeded by his son Nabu- 
nadin-zeri, who, after reigning for two years, was slain in 
a rebellion. The throne was then seized by Nabu-shum- 
ukin, but in less than two months this usurper was 
assassinated and the Chaldaeans had one of their chiefs, 
Ukinzer, proclaimed king (732 B.C.). 

When the Assyrian king returned from Syria in 731 
B.C. he invaded Babylonia. He was met with a stubborn 
resistance. Ukinzer took refuge in his capital, Shapia, 
which held out successfully, although the surrounding 
country was ravaged and despoiled. Two years afterwards 
Tiglath-pileser returned, captured Shapia, and restored 
peace throughout Babylonia. He was welcomed in Baby- 
lon, which opened its gates to him, and he had himself 

1 2 Kings, xv, 29, 30. 2 2 Kingtj xvi, 10. 


proclaimed king of Sumer and Akkad. The Chaldaeans 
paid tribute. 

Tiglath-pileser had now reached the height of his 
ambition. He had not only extended his empire in the 
west from Cappadocia to the river of Egypt, crippled 
Urartu and pacified his eastern frontier, but brought 
Assyria into close union with Babylonia, the mother 
land, the home of culture and the land of the ancient 
gods. He did not live long, however, to enjoy his final 
triumph, for he died a little over twelve months after he 
"took the hands of Bel (Merodach)" at Babylon. 

He was succeeded by Shalmaneser V (727-722 B.C.), 
who may have been his son, but this is not quite certain. 
Little is known regarding his brief reign. In 725 B.C. he 
led an expedition to Syria and Phoenicia. Several of the 
vassal peoples had revolted when they heard of the death 
of Tiglath-pileser. These included the Phoenicians, the 
Philistines, and the Israelites who were intriguing with 
either Egypt or Mutsri. 

Apparently Hoshea, king of Israel, pretended when the 
Assyrians entered his country that he remained friendly. 
Shalmaneser, however, was well informed, and made 
Hoshea a prisoner. Samaria closed its gates against him 
although their king had been dispatched to Assyria. 

The Biblical account of the campaign is as follows : 
"Against him (Hoshea) came up Shalmaneser king of 
Assyria ; and Hoshea became his servant, and gave him 
presents. And the king of Assyria found conspiracy in 
Hoshea : for he had sent messengers to So king of 
Egypt, 1 and brought no present to the king of Assyria, 

1 In the Hebrew text this monarch is called Sua, Seveh, and So, says Maspero. The 
Assyrian texts refer to him as Sebek, Shibahi, Shabe, &c. He has been identified 
with Pharaoh Shabaka of the Twenty-fifth Egyptian Dynasty- that monarch may have 
been a petty king before he founded his Dynasty. Another theory is that he was Seve, 


as he had done year by year ; therefore the king of 
Assyria shut him up and bound him in prison. 

"Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all 
the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three 
years/' 1 

Shalmaneser died before Samaria was captured, and 
may have been assassinated. The next Assyrian monarch, 
Sargon II (722-705 B.C.), was not related to either of his 
two predecessors. He is referred to by Isaiah, 2 and is 
the Arkeanos of Ptolemy. He was the Assyrian monarch 
who deported the u Lost Ten Tribes". 

"In the ninth year of Hoshea " (and the first of 
Sargon) " the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried 
Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and 
in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the 
Medes." 3 In all, according to Sargon's record, "27,290 
people dwelling in the midst of it (Samaria) I carried 

They (the Israelites) left all the commandments of the Lord 
their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and 
made a grove, and worshipped all the host of heaven (the stars), 
and served BaaL And they caused their sons and their daughters 
to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, 
and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke 
him to anger. Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, 
and removed them out of his sight : there was none left but the 
tribe of Judah only. 

And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from 
Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaiin, 
and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of 
Israel : and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof. 
. . . And the men of Babylon made Succoth-benqth, and the men 
of Cuth (Cuthah) made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made 

king of Mutsri, and still another that he was a petty king of an Egyptian *tate in the 
Delta and not Shabaka. 

1 2 Kings, xvii, 3 5. * Isaiah, xx, i. * 2 Kings, xvri, 6. 


Ashima, and the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepha- 
rites burnt their children in fire to Adram-melech and Anam- 
melech, the gods of Sepharvaim. 

A number of the new settlers were slain by lions, and 
the king of Assyria ordered that a Samaritan priest should 
be sent to " teach them the manner of the God of the 
land". This man was evidently an orthodox Hebrew, 
for he taught them " how they should fear the Lord. . . . 
So they feared the Lord", but also "served their own 
gods . . . their graven images". 1 

There is no evidence to suggest that the " Ten Lost 
Tribes", "regarding whom so many nonsensical theories 
have been formed ", were not ultimately absorbed by the 
peoples among whom they settled between Mesopotamia 
and the Median Highlands. 2 The various sections must 
have soon lost touch with one another. They were not 
united like the Jews (the people of Judah), who were 
transported to Babylonia a century and a half later, by 
a common religious bond, for although a few remained 
faithful to Abraham's God, the majority of the Israelites 
worshipped either the Baal or the Queen of Heaven. 

The Assyrian policy of transporting the rebellious 
inhabitants of one part of their empire to another was 
intended to break their national spirit and compel them 
to become good and faithful subjects amongst the aliens, 
who must have disliked them. "The colonists," says 
Professor Maspero, "exposed to the same hatred as the 
original Assyrian conquerors, soon forgot to look upon 
the latter as the oppressors of all, and, allowing their 
present grudge to efface the memory of past injuries, did 

1 2 Kings, xvii, 16-41. 

2 The people carried away would not be the whole of the inhabitants only, one 
would suppose, the more important personages, enough to make up the number 27,190 
given above. 

Photo. M.nsell 


From doorway in Palace of Sargon at Khorsabad : now in British Museum 


not hesitate to make common cause with them. In time 
of peace the (Assyrian) governor did his best to protect 
them against molestation on the part of the natives, and 
in return for this they rallied round him whenever the 
latter threatened to get out of hand, and helped him to 
stifle the revolt, or hold it in check until the arrival of 
reinforcements. Thanks to their help, the empire was 
consolidated and maintained without too many violent 
outbreaks in regions far removed from the capital, and 
beyond the immediate reach of the sovereign." 1 

While Sargon was absent in the west, a revolt broke 
out in Babylonia. A Chaldaean king, Merodach Baladan 
III, had allied himself with the Elamites, and occupied 
Babylon. A battle was fought at Dur-ilu and the Elamites 
retreated. Although Sargon swept triumphantly through 
the land, he had to leave his rival, the tyrannous Chaldoean, 
in possession of the capital, and he reigned there for over 
eleven years. 

Trouble was brewing in Syria. It was apparently 
fostered by an Egyptian king probably Bocchoris of Sais, 
the sole Pharaoh so far as can be ascertained of the 
Twenty-fourth Dynasty, who had allied himself with the 
local dynasts of Lower Egypt and apparently sought to 
extend his sway into Asia, the Ethiopians being supreme 
in Upper Egypt. An alliance had been formed to cast 
off the yoke of Assyria. The city states involved Arpad, 
Simirra, Damascus, Samaria, and Gaza. Hanno of Gaza 
had fled to Egypt after Tiglath-pileser came to the relief 
of Judah and broke up the league of conspirators by 
capturing Damascus, and punishing Samaria, Gaza, and 
other cities. His return in Sargon's reign was v evidently 
connected with the new rising in which he took part. 
The throne of Hamath had been seized by an adventurer, 

1 Passing of the Empires, pp. 2OO-I, 


named Ilu-bi'di, a smith. The Philistines of Ashdod and 
the Arabians being strongly pro-Egyptian in tendency, 
were willing sympathizers and helpers against the hated 

Sargon appeared in the west with a strong army before 
the allies had matured their plans. He met the smith 
king of Hamath in battle at Qarqar, and, having defeated 
him, had him skinned alive. Then he marched south- 
ward. At Rapiki (Raphia) he routed an army of allies. 
Shabi (?So), the Tartan (commander-in-chief) of Pi'ru l 
(Pharaoh), King of Mutsri (an Arabian state confused, 
perhaps, with Misraim = Egypt), escaped "like to a 
shepherd whose sheep have been taken ". Piru and 
other two southern kings, Samsi and Itamara, afterwards 
paid tribute to Sargon. Hanno of Gaza was transported 
to Asshur. 

In 715 B.C. Sargon, according to his records, appeared 
with his army in Arabia, and received gifts in token of 
homage from Piru of Mutsri, Samsi of Aribi, and Itamara 
of Saba. 

Four years later a revolt broke out in Ashdod which 
was, it would appear, directly due to the influence of 
Shabaka, the Ethiopian Pharaoh, who had deposed Boc- 
choris of Sais. Another league was about to be formed 
against Assyria. King Azuri of Ashdod had been de- 
posed because of his Egyptian sympathies by the Assyrian 
governor, and his brother Akhimiti was placed on the 
throne. The citizens, however, overthrew Akhimiti, and 
an adventurer from Cyprus was proclaimed king (711 B.C.). 

It would appear that advances were made by the anti- 

1 Those who, like Breasted, identify ** Piru of Mutsri " with " Pharaoh of Egypt " 
adopt the view that Bocchoris of Sais paid tribute to Sargon. Piru, however, is sub- 
sequently referred to with two Arabian kings as tribute payers to Sargon apparently after 
Lower Egypt had come under the sway of Shabaka, the first king of the Ethiopian or 
Twenty-fifth Dynasty. 


Assyrians to Ahaz of Judah. That monarch was placed 
in a difficult position. He knew that if the allies suc- 
ceeded in stamping out Assyrian authority in Syria and 
Palestine they would certainly depose him, but if on the 
other hand he joined them and Assyria triumphed, its 
emperor would show him small mercy. As Babylon 
defied Sargon and received the active support of Elam, 
and there were rumours of risings in the north, it must 
have seemed to the western kings as if the Assyrian 
empire was likely once again to go to pieces. 

Fortunately for Ahaz he had a wise counsellor at this 
time in the great statesman and prophet, the scholarly 
Isaiah. The Lord spake by Isaiah saying, " Go and 
loose the sackcloth from off thy loins, and put off thy 
shoe from thy foot. And he did so, walking naked and 
barefoot. And the Lord said, Like as my servant Isaiah 
hath walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign 
and wonder upon Egypt and upon Ethiopia; so shall the 
king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians prisoners. . . . 
And they (the allies) shall be afraid and ashamed of 
Ethiopia their expectation, and of Egypt their glory/' 1 

Isaiah warned Ahaz against joining the league, "in 
the year that Tartan 2 came unto Ashdod (when Sargon 
the king of Assyria sent him)". The Tartan "fought 
against Ashdod and took it". 3 According to Sargon's 
record the Pretender of Ashdod fled to Arabia, where 
he was seized by an Arabian chief and delivered up to 
Assyria. The pro -Egyptian party in Palestine went 
under a cloud for a period thereafter. 

Before Sargon could deal with Merodach Baladan of 
Babylon, he found it necessary to pursue the arduous task 
of breaking up a powerful league which had been formed 
against him in the north. The Syro-Cappadocian Hittite 

1 haiahy xx, 2-5. * Commander-in-chief. s Isaiah, xx, I. 

( o 642 ) 32 


states, including Tabal in Asia Minor and Carchemish in 
north Syria, were combining for the last time against 
Assyria, supported by Mita (Midas), king of the Muski- 
Phrygians, and Rusas, son of Sharduris III, king of 

Urartu had recovered somewhat from the disasters 
which it had suffered at the hands of Tiglath-pileser, and 
was winning back portions of its lost territory on the 
north-east frontier of Assyria. A buffer state had been 
formed in that area by Tiglath-pileser, who had assisted 
the king of the Mannai to weld together the hill tribes- 
men between Lake Van and Lake Urmia into an organized 
nation. Iranzu, its ruler, remained faithful to Assyria 
and consequently became involved in war with Rusas of 
Urartu, who either captured or won over several cities 
of the Mannai. Iranzu was succeeded by his son Aza, 
and this king was so pronounced a pro-Assyrian that his 
pro-Urartian subjects assassinated him and set on the 
throne Bagdatti of Umildish. 

Soon after Sargon began his operations in the north 
he captured Bagdatti and had him skinned alive. The 
flag of revolt, however, was kept flying by his brother, 
Ullusunu, but ere long this ambitious man found it pru- 
dent to submit to Sargon on condition that he would 
retain the throne as a faithful Assyrian vassal. His 
sudden change of policy appears to have been due to the 
steady advance of the Median tribes into the territory of 
the Mannai. Sargon conducted a vigorous and successful 
campaign against the raiders, and extended Ullusunu's 
area of control. 

The way was now clear to Urartu. In 714 B.C. 
Sargon attacked the revolting king of Zikirtu, who was 
supported by an army led by Rusas, his overlord. A 
fierce battle was fought in which the Assyrians achieved 


a great victory. King Rusas fled, and when he found 
that the Assyrians pressed home their triumph by laying 
waste the country before them, he committed suicide, 
according to the Assyrian records, although those of 
Urartu indicate that he subsequently took part in the 
struggle against Sargon. The Armenian peoples were 
compelled to acknowledge the suzerainty of Assyria, and 
the conqueror received gifts from various tribes between 
Lake Van and the Caspian Sea, and along the frontiers 
from Lake Van towards the south-east as far as the 
borders of Elam. 

Rusas of Urartu was succeeded by Argistes II, who 
reigned over a shrunken kingdom. He intrigued with 
neighbouring states against Assyria, but was closely 
watched. Ere long he found himself caught between 
two fires. During his reign the notorious Cimmerians 
and Scythians displayed much activity in the north and 
raided his territory. 

The pressure of fresh infusions of Thraco-Phrygian 
tribes into western Asia Minor had stirred Midas of the 
Muski to co-operate with the Urartian power in an 
attempt to stamp out Assyrian influence in Cilicia, Cappa- 
docia, and north Syria. A revolt in Tabal in 718 B.C. 
was extinguished by Sargon, but in the following year 
evidences were forthcoming of a more serious and wide- 
spread rising. Pisiris, king of Carchcmish, threw off the 
Assyrian yoke. Before, however, his allies could hasten 
to his assistance he was overcome by the vigilant Sargon, 
who deported a large proportion of the city's inhabitants 
and incorporated it in an Assyrian province. Tabal re- 
volted in 713 B.C. and was similarly dealt with. In 
712 B.C. Milid had to be overcome. The inhabitants 
were transported, and "Suti" Aramsean peoples settled 
in their homes. The king of Commagene, having 


remained faithful, received large extensions of territory. 
Finally in 709 B.C. Midas of the Muski-Phrygians was 
compelled to acknowledge the suzerainty of Assyria. The 
northern confederacy was thus completely worsted and 
broken up. Tribute was paid by many peoples, including 
the rulers of Cyprus. 

Sargon was now able to deal with Babylonia, which 
for about twelve years had been ruled by Merodach 
Baladan, who oppressed the people and set at defiance 
ancient laws by seizing private estates and transferring 
them to his Chaldaean kinsmen. He still received the 
active support of Elam. 

Sargon's first move was to interpose his army between 
those of the Babylonians and Elamites. Pushing south- 
ward, he subdued the Aramaeans on the eastern banks 
of the Tigris, and drove the Elamites into the mountains. 
Then he invaded middle Babylonia from the east. Mero- 
dach Baladan hastily evacuated Babylon, and, moving 
southward, succeeded in evading Sargon's army. Finding 
Elam was unable to help him, he took refuge in the 
Chaldaean capital, Bit Jakin, in southern Babylonia. 

Sargon was visited by the priests of Babylon and Bor- 
sippa, and hailed as the saviour of the ancient kingdom. 
He was afterwards proclaimed king at E~sagila, where 
he " took the hands of Bel ". Then having expelled the 
Aramaeans from Sippar, he hastened southward, attacked 
Bit Jakin and captured it. Merodach Baladan escaped 
into Elam. The whole of Chaldaea was subdued. 

Thus " Sargon the Later " entered at length into full 
possession of the empire of Sargon of Akkad. In Baby- 
lonia he posed as an incarnation of his ancient namesake, 
and had similarly Messianic pretensions which were no 
doubt inspired by the Babylonian priesthood. Under 
him Assyria attained its highest degree of splendour. 


He recorded proudly not only his great conquests but 
also his works of public utility: he restored ancient cities, 
irrigated vast tracts of country, fostered trade, and pro- 
moted the industries. Like the pious Pharaohs of Egypt 
he boasted that he fed the hungry and protected the weak 
against the strong. 

Sargon found time during his strenuous career as a 
conqueror to lay out and build a new city, called Dur- 
Sharrukin, " the burgh of Sargon ", to the north of 
Nineveh,, It was completed before he undertook the 
Babylonian campaign. The new palace was occupied in 
708 B.C. Previous to that period he had resided prin- 
cipally at Kalkhi, in the restored palace of Ashur-natsir- 
pal III. 

He was a worshipper of many gods. Although he 
claimed to have restored the supremacy of Asshur "which 
had come to an end", he not only adored Ashur but 
also revived the ancient triad of Anu, Bel, and Ea, and 
fostered the growth of the immemorial " mother-cult " of 
Ishtar. Before he died he appointed one of his sons, 
Sennacherib, viceroy of the northern portion of the 
empire. He was either assassinated at a military review 
or in some frontier war. As much is suggested by the 
following entry in an eponym list. 

Eponymy of Upahhir-belu, prefect of the city of Amedu . . . 

According to the oracle of the Kulummite(s) . . . 

A soldier (entered) the camp of the king of Assyria (and 

killed him?), month Ab, day I2th, Sennacherib (sat on 

the throne). 1 

The fact that Sennacherib lamented his father's sins 
suggests that the old king had in some manner offended 

1 The Old Testament in the of (he Historical Records and Legends of Assyria and 
Babylonia, T. G. Pinches, p. 372. 


the priesthood. Perhaps, like some of the Middle Empire 
monarchs, he succumbed to the influence of Babylon 
during the closing years of his life. It is stated that " he 
was not buried in his house", which suggests that the 
customary religious rites were denied him, and that his 
lost soul was supposed to be a wanderer which had to eat 
offal and drink impure water like the ghost of a pauper 
or a criminal. 

The task which lay before Sennacherib (705-680 B.C.) 
was to maintain the unity of the great empire of his dis- 
tinguished father. He waged minor wars against the 
Kassite and Illipi tribes on the Elamite border, and the 
Muski and Hittite tribes in Cappadocia and Cilicia. The 
Kassites, however, were no longer of any importance, and 
the Hittite power had been extinguished, for ere the 
states could recover from the blows dealt by the Assyrians 
the Cimmerian hordes ravaged their territory. Urartu 
was also overrun by the fierce barbarians from the north. 
It was one of these last visits of the Assyrians to Tabal of 
the Hittites and the land of the Muski (Meshech) which 
the Hebrew prophet referred to in after-time when he 

Asshur is there and all her company: his graves are about him: 
all of them slain, fallen by the sword. . . . There is Meshech, 
Tubal, and all her multitude: her graves are round about him: all 
of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword, though they caused 
their terror in the land of the living. . . . (Ezekiel y xxxii.) 

Sennacherib found that lonians had settled in Cilicia, and 
he deported large numbers of them to Nineveh. The 
metal and ivory work at Nineveh show traces of Greek 
influence after this period. 

A great conspiracy was fomented in several states 
against Sennacherib when the intelligence of Sargon's 


death was bruited abroad. Egypt was concerned in it. 
Taharka (the Biblical Tirhakah 1 ), the last Pharaoh of the 
Ethiopian Dynasty, had dreams of re-establishing Egyptian 
supremacy in Palestine and Syria, and leagued himself 
with Lull, king of Tyre, Hezekiah, king of Judah, and 
others. Merodach Baladan, the Chaldaean king, whom 
Sargon had deposed, supported by Elamites and Aramaeans, 
was also a party to the conspiracy. " At that time Mero- 
dach Baladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent 
letters and a present to Hezekiah . . . And Hezekiah 
was glad of them/* 2 

Merodach Baladan again seized the throne of Babylon. 
Sargon's son, who had been appointed governor, was 
murdered and a pretender sat on the throne for a brief 
period, but Merodach Baladan thrust him aside and 
reigned for nine months, during which period he busied 
himself by encouraging the kings of Judah and Tyre to 
revolt. Sennacherib invaded Babylonia with a strong 
army, deposed Merodach Baladan, routed the Chaldaeans 
and Aramaeans, and appointed as vassal king Bel-ibni, a 
native prince, who remained faithful to Assyria for about 
three years. 

In 707 B.C. Sennacherib appeared in the west. When 
he approached Tyre, Luli, the king, fled to Cyprus. The 
city was not captured, but much of its territory was ceded 
to the king of Sidon. Askalon was afterwards reduced. 
At Eltekeh Sennacherib came into conflict with an army 
of allies, including Ethiopian, Egyptian, and Arabian 
Mutsri forces, which he routed. Then he captured a 
number of cities in Judah and transported 200, 1 50 people, 
He was unable, however, to enter Jerusalem, in which 
Hezekiah was compelled to remain "like a bird in a rage**. 
It appears that Hezekiah "bought ofF" the Assyrians on 

1 haiah t xxxvii, 9. * haiah, xxxix, I, 2, 


this occasion with gifts of gold and silver and jewels, 
costly furniture, musicians, and female slaves. 

In 689 B.C. Sennacherib found it necessary to penetrate 
Arabia. Apparently another conspiracy was brewing, for 
Hezekiah again revolted. On his return from the south 
according to Berosus he had been in Egypt the 
Assyrian king marched against the king of Judah. 

And when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib was come, and that 
he was purposed to fight against Jerusalem, he took counsel with 
the princes and his mighty men to stop the waters of the fountains 
which were without the city: and they did help him. . . . Why 
should the kings of Assyria come and find much water ? 

Sennacherib sent messengers to Jerusalem to attempt 
to stir up the people against Hezekiah. " He wrote also 
letters to rail on the Lord God of Israel, and to speak 
against him, saying, As the gods of the nations of other 
lands have not delivered their people out of mine hand, 
so shall not the God of Hezekiah deliver his people out 
of mine hand." 1 

Hezekiah sent his servants to Isaiah, who was in 
Jerusalem at the time, and the prophet said to them: 

Thus shall ye say to your master. Thus saith the Lord, Be 
not afraid of the words which thou hast heard, with which the 
servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. Behold, I 
will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumour, and shall 
return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword 
in his own land. 2 

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. 

1 2 Chronicle^ xxxii, 9-17. a 2 ^ings, xix, 6, 7. 


The Biblical account of the disaster is as follows: 

And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord 
went out, and smote the camp of the Assyrians an hundred and 
four score and five thousand : and when they arose early in the 
morning, behold, they were all dead corpses. So Sennacherib king of 
Assyria departed, and went and returned and dwelt at Nineveh. 1 

A pestilence may have broken out in the camp, the 
infection, perhaps, having been carried by field mice. 
Byron's imagination was stirred by the vision of the 
broken army of Assyria. 

The Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold, 
And his cohorts were gleaming with purple and gold ; 
And the sheen of their spears was like stars of the sea, 
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee. 

Like the leaves of the forest when summer is green, 
That host with their banners at sunset were seen; 
Like the leaves of the forest when autumn hath blown, 
That host on the morrow lay withered and strown. 

For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, 
And breathed on the face of the foe as he passed; 
And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, 
And their hearts but once heaved and forever grew still! 

And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide, 
But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride; 
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf, 
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf. 

And there lay the rider distorted and pale, 
With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail; 
And the tents were all silent the banners alone 
The lances uplifted the trumpet unblown. 

And the widows of Asshur are loud in their wail, 
And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal; 

1 2 King*) xix, 35, 36. 


And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword, 
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord. 

Before this disaster occurred Sennacherib had to invade 
Babylonia again, for the vassal king, Bel-ibni, had allied 
himself with the Chaldaeans and raised the standard of 
revolt. The city of Babylon was besieged and captured, 
and its unfaithful king deported with a number of nobles 
to Assyria. Old Merodach Baladan was concerned in the 
plot and took refuge on the Elamite coast, where the 
Chaldaeans had formed a colony. He died soon after- 

Sennacherib operated in southern Babylonia and in- 
vaded Elam. But ere he could return to Assyria he was 
opposed by a strong army of allies, including Babylonians, 
Chaldaeans, Aramaeans, Elamites, and Persians, led by 
Samunu, son of Merodach Baladan. A desperate battle 
was fought. Although Sennacherib claimed a victory, he 
was unable to follow it up. This was in 692 B.C. A Chal- 
daean named Mushezib-Merodach seized the Babylonian 

In 691 B.C. Sennacherib again struck a blow for Baby- 
lonia, but was unable to depose Mushezib-Merodach. 
His opportunity came, however, in 689 B.C. Elam had 
been crippled by raids of the men of Parsua (Persia), 
and was unable to co-operate with the Chaldaean king 
of Babylon. Sennacherib captured the great commercial 
metropolis, took Mushezib-Merodach prisoner, and dis- 
patched him to Nineveh. Then he wreaked his vengeance 
on Babylon. For several days the Assyrian soldiers looted 
the houses and temples, and slaughtered the inhabitants 
without mercy. E-sagila was robbed of its treasures, 
images of deities were either broken in pieces or sent to 
Nineveh: the statue of Bel-Merodach was dispatched to 


The besieging archers are protected by wicker sere-ens 
Marble Slab from Kouyunjik (Nineveh]: noiv in British Museum 


Asshur so that he might take his place among the gods 
who were vassals of Ashur. " The city and its houses/* 
Sennacherib recorded, " from foundation to roof, I de- 
stroyed them, I demolished them, I burned them with 
fire ; walls, gateways, sacred chapels, and the towers of 
earth and tiles, I laid them low and cast them into the 
Arakhtu." 1 

cc So thorough was Sennacherib's destruction of the 
city in 689 B.C.," writes Mr. King, "that after several 
years of work, Dr. Koldewey concluded that all traces 
of earlier buildings had been destroyed on that occasion. 
More recently some remains of earlier strata have been 
recognized, and contract-tablets have been found which 
date from the period of the First Dynasty. Moreover, 
a number of earlier pot-burials have been unearthed, but 
a careful examination of the greater part of the ruins has 
added little to our knowledge of this most famous city 
before the Neo-Babylonian period." 2 

It is possible that Sennacherib desired to supplant 
Babylon as a commercial metropolis by Nineveh. He 
extended and fortified that city, surrounding it with two 
walls protected by moats. According to Diodorus, the 
walls were a hundred feet high and about fifty feet wide. 
Excavators have found that at the gates they were about 
a hundred feet in breadth. The water supply of the 
city was ensured by the construction of dams and canals, 
and strong quays were erected to prevent flooding. 
Sennacherib repaired a lofty platform which was isolated 
by a canal, and erected upon it his great palace. On 
another platform he had an arsenal built. 

Sennacherib's palace was the most magnificent building 
of its kind ever erected by an Assyrian emperor. It was 

1 Smith Sayce, History of Sennacherib, pp, 132-5, 

2 A History of Sumer and Akkad t p. 37. 


lavishly decorated, and its bas-reliefs display native art 
at its highest pitch of excellence. The literary remains of 
the time also give indication of the growth of culture: the 
inscriptions are distinguished by their prose style. It is 
evident that men of culture and refinement were numerous 
in Assyria. The royal library of Kalkhi received many 
additions during the reign of the destroyer of Babylon. 

Like his father, Sennacherib died a violent death. 
According to the Babylonian Chronicle he was slain in 
a revolt by his son "on the twentieth day of Tebet" 
(680 B.C.). The revolt continued from the U 2oth of 
Tebet " (early in January) until the 2nd day of Adar (the 
middle of February). On the i8th of Adar, Esarhaddon, 
son of Sennacherib, was proclaimed king. 

Berosus states that Sennacherib was murdered by two 
of his sons, but Esarhaddon was not one of the con- 
spirators. The Biblical reference is as follows : " Senna- 
cherib . . . dwelt at Nineveh. And it came to pass, as 
he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch (PAshur) his 
god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer (Ashur-shar-etir) 
his sons smote him with the sword : and they escaped 
into the land of Armenia (Urartu). And Esarhaddon 
his son reigned in his stead." Ashur-shar-etir appears 
to have been the claimant to the throne. 

Esarhaddon (680-668 B.C.) was a man of different type 
from his father. He adopted towards vassal states a policy 
of conciliation, and did much to secure peace within the 
empire by his magnanimous treatment of rebel kings who 
had been intimidated by their neighbours and forced to 
entwine themselves in the meshes of intrigue. His wars 
were directed mainly to secure the protection of outlying 
provinces against aggressive raiders. 

The monarch was strongly influenced by his mother, 
Naki'a, a Babylonian princess who appears to have been 


as distinguished a lady as the famous Sammu-rammat. 
Indeed, it is possible that traditions regarding her con- 
tributed to the Semiramis legends. But it was not only 
due to her that Esarhaddon espoused the cause of the 
pro-Babylonian party. He appears to be identical with 
the Axerdes of Berosus, who ruled over the southern 
kingdom for eight years. Apparently he had been ap- 
pointed governor by Sennacherib after the destruction of 
Babylon, and it may be that during his term of office in 
Babylonia he was attracted by its ethical ideals, and de- 
veloped those traits of character which distinguished him 
from his father and grandfather. He married a Baby- 
lonian princess, and one of his sons, Shamash-shum-ukin, 
was born in a Babylonian palace, probably at Sippar. He 
was a worshipper of the mother goddess Ishtar of Nineveh 
and Ishtar of Arbela, and of Shamash, as well as of the 
national god Ashur. 

As soon as Esarhaddon came to the throne he under- 
took the restoration of Babylon, to which many of the 
inhabitants were drifting back. In three years the city 
resumed its pre-eminent position as a trading and indus- 
trial centre. Withal, he won the hearts of the natives 
by expelling Chaldasans from the private estates which 
they had seized during the Merodach-Baladan regime, 
and restoring them to the rightful heirs. 

A Chaldaean revolt was inevitable. Two of Merodach 
Baladan's sons gave trouble in the south, but were routed 
in battle. One fled to Elam, where he was assassinated ; 
the other sued for peace, and was accepted by the diplo- 
matic Esarhaddon as a vassal king, 

Egypt was intriguing in the west. Its Ethiopian 
king, Taharka (the Biblical Tirhakah) had stirred up 
Hezekiah to revolt during Sennacherib's reign. An 
Assyrian ambassador who had visited Jerusalem " heard 


say concerning Tirhakah. . . . He sent messengers to 
Hezekiah saying . . . Let not thy God, in whom thou 
trustest, deceive thee saying, Jerusalem shall not be given 
into the hand of the king of Assyria. Behold, thou hast 
heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands 
by destroying them utterly; and shalt thou be delivered? 
Have the gods of the nations delivered them which my 
fathers have destroyed, as Gozan, and Haran, and Rezeph, 
and the children of Eden which were in Telassar ? Where 
is the king of Hamath, and the king of Arphad, and the 
king of the city of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah?" 1 
Sidon was a party to the pro-Egyptian league which had 
been formed in Palestine and Syria. 

Early in his reign Esarhaddon conducted military 
operations in the west, .and during his absence the queen- 
mother Naki'a held the reins of government. The Elam- 
ites regarded this innovation as a sign of weakness, and 
invaded Babylon. Sippar was plundered, and its gods 
carried away. The Assyrian governors, however, ulti- 
mately repulsed the Elamite king, who was deposed soon 
after he returned home. His son, who succeeded him, 
restored the stolen gods, and cultivated good relations 
with Esarhaddon. There was great unrest in Elam at 
this period: it suffered greatly from the inroads of Median 
and Persian pastoral fighting folk. 

In the north the Cimmerians and Scythians, who were 
constantly warring against Urartu, and against each other, 
had spread themselves westward and east. Esarhaddon 
drove Cimmerian invaders out of Cappadocia, and they 
swamped Phrygia. 

The Scythian peril on the north-east frontier was, 
however, of more pronounced character. The fierce 
mountaineers had allied themselves with Median tribes 

1 Isaiah, xxxvii, 8-13. 


and overrun the buffer State of the Mannai. Both Urartu 
and Assyria were sufferers from the brigandage of these 
allies. Esarhaddon's generals, however, were able to deal 
with the situation, and one of the notable results of the 
pacification of the north-eastern area was the conclusion 
of an alliance with Urartu. 

The most serious situation with which the emperor 
had to deal was in the west. The King of Sidon, who 
had been so greatly favoured by Sennacherib, had espoused 
the Egyptian cause. He allied himself with the King of 
Cilicia, who, however, was unable to help him much. 
Sidon was besieged and captured ; the royal allies escaped, 
but a few years later were caught and beheaded. The 
famous seaport was destroyed, and its vast treasures de- 
ported to Assyria (about 676 B.C.). Esarhaddon replaced 
it by a new city called Kar-Esarhaddon, which formed the 
nucleus of the new Sidon. 

It is believed that Judah and other disaffected States 
were dealt with about this time, Manasseh had suc- 
ceeded Hezekiah at Jerusalem when but a boy of twelve 
years. He appears to have come under the influence of 
heathen teachers. 

For he built up again the high places which Hezekiah his 
father had destroyed; and he reared up altars for Baal, and made a 
grove, as did Ahab king of Israel; and worshipped all the host of 
heaven, and served them. . . . And he built altars for all the host 
of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. And he 
made his son pass through the fire, and observed times, and used 
enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he 
wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord, to provoke 
him to anger. And he set a graven image of the grove that he 
had made in the house, of which the Lord said to David, and to 
Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have 
chosen out of all tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever. 1 

1 2 Kirtgt) xxi, 3-7. 


Isaiah ceased to prophesy after Manasseh came to 
the throne. According to Rabbinic traditions he was 
seized by his enemies and enclosed in the hollow trunk 
of a tree, which was sawn through. Other orthodox 
teachers appear to have been slain also. " Manasseh 
shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jeru- 
salem from one end to another.*' 1 It is possible that 
there is a reference to Isaiah's fate in an early Christian 
lament regarding the persecutions of the faithful : "Others 
had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover 
of bonds and imprisonment : they were stoned, they were 
sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword". 2 
There is no Assyrian evidence regarding the captivity of 
Manasseh. "Wherefore the Lord brought upon them 
(the people of Judah) the captains of the host of the king 
of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and 
bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. 
And when he was in affliction, he besought the Lord his 
God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his 
fathers, and prayed unto him : and he was intreated of 
him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again 
to Jerusalem into his kingdom. " 8 It was, however, in 
keeping with the policy of Esarhaddon to deal in this 
manner with an erring vassal. The Assyrian records 
include Manasseh of Judah (Menas6 of the city of Yaudu) 
with the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, Ashdod, 
Gaza, Byblos, &c., and " twenty-two kings of Khatti " as 
payers of tribute to Esarhaddon, their overlord. Hazael 
of Arabia was conciliated by having restored to him his 
gods which Sennacherib had carried away. 

Egypt continued to intrigue against Assyria, and Esar- 

1 2 Kings, xxi, 16. 2 Hchreivs, xi, 36, 37. 

8 2 Chronicles, xxxiii, 11-3. It may be that Manasseh was taken to Babylon during 
Ashur-bani-pal's reign. See next chapter. 


haddon resolved to deal effectively with Taharka, the last 
Ethiopian Pharaoh. In 674 B.C. he invaded Egypt, but 
suffered a reverse and had to retreat. Tyre revolted soon 
afterwards (673 B.C.). 

Esarhaddon, however, made elaborate preparations for 
his next campaign. In 671 B.C. he went westward with 
a much more powerful army. A detachment advanced to 
Tyre and invested it. The main force meanwhile pushed 
on, crossed the Delta frontier, and swept victoriously as 
far south as Memphis, where Taharka suffered a crushing 
defeat. That great Egyptian metropolis was then occupied 
and plundered by the soldiers of Esarhaddon. Lower 
Egypt became an Assyrian province; the various petty 
kings, including Necho of Sais, had set over them Assyrian 
governors. Tyre was also captured. 

When he returned home Esarhaddon erected at the 
Syro-Cappadocian city of Singirli 1 a statue of victory, which 
is now in the Berlin museum. On this memorial the 
Assyrian " King of the kings of Egypt " is depicted as a 
giant. With one hand he pours out an oblation to a god; 
in the other he grasps his sceptre and two cords attached 
to rings, which pierce the lips of dwarfish figures repre- 
senting the Pharaoh Taharka of Egypt and the unfaithful 
King of Tyre. 

In 668 B.C. Taharka, who had fled to Napata in 
Ethiopia, returned to Upper Egypt, and began to stir up 
revolts. Esarhaddon planned out another expedition, so 
that he might shatter the last vestige of power possessed 
by his rival. But before he left home he found it neces- 
sary to set his kingdom in order. 

During his absence from home the old Assyrian party, 
who disliked the emperor because of Babylonian sym- 
pathies, had been intriguing regarding the succession to 

1 Pronounce g as in gem, 
(OC42) 33 


the throne. According to the Babylonian Chronicle, "the 
king remained in Assyria " during 669 B.C., "and he slew 
with the sword many noble men". Ashur-bani~pal was 
evidently concerned in the conspiracy, and it is significant 
to find that he pleaded on behalf of certain of the con- 
spirators. The crown prince Sinidinabal was dead: per- 
haps he had been assassinated. 

At the feast of the goddess Gula (identical with Bau, 
consort of Ninip), towards the end of April in 668 B.C., 
Esarhaddon divided his empire between two of his sons. 
Ashur-bani-pal was selected to be King of Assyria, and 
Shamash-shum-ukin to be King of Babylon and the vassal 
of Ashur-banipaL Other sons received important priestly 

Soon after these arrangements were completed Esar- 
haddon, who was suffering from bad health, set out for 
Egypt. He died towards the end of October, and the 
early incidents of his campaign were included in the 
records of Ashur-bani-paFs reign. Taharka was defeated 
at Memphis, and retreated southward to Thebes. 

So passed away the man who has been eulogized as 
"the noblest and most sympathetic figure among the 
Assyrian kings' 7 . There was certainly much which was 
attractive in his character. He inaugurated many social 
reforms, and appears to have held in check his overbear- 
ing nobles. Trade flourished during his reign. He did 
not undertake the erection of a new city, like his father, 
but won the gratitude of the priesthood by his activities 
as a builder and restorer of temples. He founded a new 
"house of Ashur" at Nineveh, and reconstructed several 
temples in Babylonia. His son Ashur-bani-pal was the 
last great Assyrian ruler. 

The Last Days of Assyria and Babylonia 

Doom of Nineveh and Babylon Babylonian Monotheism Ashur-bani- 
pal and his Brother, King of Babylon Ceremony of " Taking the Hands of 
Bel" Merodach restored to E-sagila Assyrian Invasion of Egypt and Sack 
of" Thebes Lydiu's Appeal to Assyria Elam subdued Revolt of Babylon 
Death of Babylonian King Sack of Susa Psamtik of Egypt Cimmerians 
crushed Ashur-bani-pal's Literary Activities The Sardanapalus Legend 
Last Kings of Assyria Fall of Nineveh The New Babylonian Empire 
Necho of Egypt expelled from Syria King Jehoaikin of Judah deposed 
Zedekiah's Revolt and Punishment Fall of Jerusalem and Hebrew Captivity 
Jeremiah laments over Jerusalem Babylonia's Last Independent King- 
Rise of Cyrus the Conqueror The Persian Patriarch and Eagle Legend 
Cyrus conquers Lydia Fall of Babylon Jews return to Judah Babylon 
from Cyrus to Alexander the Great, 

THE burden of Nineveh . . . The Lord is slow to anger, and 
great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked : the Lord 
hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds 
are the dust of his feet. He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, 
and drieth up all the rivers : Bashan languished!, and Carmel, and 
the flower of Lebanon languisheth. . . . He that dasheth in pieces 
is come up before thy face. . . . The gates of the rivers shall he 
opened, and the palace shall be dissolved. And Huzzab shall be 
led away captive, she shall be brought up, and her maids shall lead 
her as with the voice of doves, tabering upon their breasts. . . . 
Draw thee waters for the siege, fortify thy strong holds: go into 
clay, and tread the morter, make strong the brick-kiln. There 
shall the fire devour thee; the sword shall cut thee off. . . . Thy 
shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria: thy nobles shall dwell in 
the dust: thy people is scattered upon the mountains, and no man 
gathereth them. There is no healing of thy bruise; thy wound 
is grievous: all that hear the bruit of thee shall clap the hands 



over thee; for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed con- 
tinually? 1 

The doom of Babylon was also foretold : 

Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth. . . . Come down, and sit 
in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground: 
there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans. . . . Stand now 
with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of thy sorceries, 
wherein thou hast laboured from thy youth; if so be thou shalt be 
able to profit, if so be thou mayest prevail. Thou art wearied in 
the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the star- 
gazers, the monthly prognosticates, stand up, and save thee from 
these things that shall come upon thee. Behold, they shall be as 
stubble ; the fire shall burn them. . . . Thus shall they be unto 
thee with whom thou hast laboured, even thy merchants, from 
thy youth: they shall wander every one to his quarter; none shall 
save thee. 2 

Against a gloomy background, dark and ominous as 
a thundercloud, we have revealed in the last century of 
Mesopotamian glory the splendour of Assyria and the 
beauty of Babylon. The ancient civilizations ripened 
quickly before the end came. Kings still revelled in 
pomp and luxury. Cities resounded with "the noise of 
a whip, and the noise of the rattling of the wheels, and 
of the pransing horses, and of the jumping chariots. The 
horseman lifteth up both the bright sword and the glitter- 
ing spear. . . . The valiant men are in scarlet." 8 But 
the minds of cultured men were more deeply occupied 
than ever with the mysteries of life and creation. In the 
libraries, the temples, and observatories, philosophers and 
scientists were shattering the unsubstantial fabric of im- 
memorial superstition ; they attained to higher concep- 
tions of the duties and responsibilities of mankind ; they 

1 Nahum, i, ii, and iii. 2 Isaiah, xlvi, i; xlvii, 1-15. 

*Nahum, iii, 2, 3; ii, 3. 


conceived of divine love and divine guidance; they dis- 
covered, like Wordsworth, that the soul has 

An obscure sense 
Of possible sublimity, whereto 
With growing faculties she doth aspire. 

One of the last kings of Babylon, Nebuchadrezzar, 
recorded a prayer which reveals the loftiness of religious 
thought and feeling attained by men to whom graven 
images were no longer worthy of adoration and reverence 
men whose god was not made by human hands 

eternal prince! Lord of all being! 
As for the king whom thou lovest, and 
Whose name thou hast proclaimed 

As was pleasing to thee, 
Do thou lead aright his life, 
Guide him in a straight path. 

1 am the prince, obedient to thee, 
The creature of thy hand; 
Thou hast created me, and 
With dominion over all people 
Thou hast entrusted me. 
According to thy grace, O Lord, 
Which thou dost bestow on 

All people, 

Cause me to love thy supreme dominion, 

And create in my heart 

The worship of thy godhead 

And grant whatever is pleasing to thee, 

Because thou hast fashioned my life. 1 

The " star-gazers " had become scientists, and foretold 
eclipses : in every sphere of intellectual activity great 
men were sifting out truth from the debris of superstition. 
It seemed as if Babylon and Assyria were about to cross 

1 Goodspeed's A History of the Babylonians and Assyrians, p. 348. 


the threshold of a new age, when their doom was sounded 
and their power was shattered for ever. Nineveh perished 
with dramatic suddenness: Babylon died of " senile decay". 

When, in 668 B.C., intelligence reached Nineveh that 
Esarhaddon had passed away, on the march through 
Egypt, the arrangements which he had made for the suc- 
cession were carried out smoothly and quickly. Naki'a, 
the queen mother, was acting as regent, and completed 
her lifework by issuing a proclamation exhorting all loyal 
subjects and vassals to obey the new rulers, her grandsons, 
Ashur-bani-pal, Emperor of Assyria, and Shamash-shum- 
ukin, King of Babylon. Peace prevailed in the capital, 
and there was little or no friction throughout the pro- 
vinces: new rulers were appointed to administer the States 
of Arvad and Ammon, but there were no changes else- 

Babylon welcomed its new king a Babylonian by 
birth and the son of a Babylonian princess. The ancient 
kingdom rejoiced that it was no longer to be ruled as a 
province; its ancient dignities and privileges were being 
partially restored. But one great and deep-seated griev- 
ance remained. The god Merodach was still a captive in 
the temple of Ashur. No king could reign aright if 
Merodach were not restored to E-sagila. Indeed he 
could not be regarded as the lord of the land until he 
had "taken the hands of Bel". 

The ceremony of taking the god's hands was an act 
of homage. When it was consummated the king became 
the steward or vassal of Merodach, and every day he 
appeared before the divine one to receive instructions and 
worship him. The welfare of the whole kingdom de- 
pended on the manner in which the king acted towards 
the god. If Merodach was satisfied with the king he sent 
blessings to the land ; if he was angry he sent calamities. 


A pious and faithful monarch was therefore the protector 
of the people. 

This close association of the king with the god gave 
the priests great influence in Babylon. They were the 
power behind the throne. The destinies of the royal 
house were placed in their hands ; they could strengthen 
the position of a royal monarch, or cause him to be de- 
posed if he did not satisfy their demands. A king who 
reigned over Babylon without the priestly party on his 
side occupied an insecure position. Nor could he secure 
the co-operation of the priests unless the image of the 
god was placed in the temple. Where king was, there 
Merodach had to be also. 

Shamash-shum-ukin pleaded with his royal brother 
and overlord to restore Bel Merodach to Babylon. Ashur- 
bani-pal hesitated for a time; he was unwilling to occupy 
a less dignified position, as the representative of Ashur, 
than his distinguished predecessor, in his relation to the 
southern kingdom. At length, however, he was prevailed 
upon to consult the oracle of Shamash, the solar lawgiver, 
the revealer of destiny. The god was accordingly asked 
if Shamash-shum-ukin could " take the hands of Bel " in 
Ashur's temple, and then proceed to Babylon as his repre- 
sentative. In response, the priests of Shamash informed 
the emperor that Bel Merodach could not exercise sway 
as sovereign lord so long as he remained a prisoner in a 
city which was not his own. 

Ashur-bani-pal accepted the verdict, and then visited 
Ashur's temple to plead with Bel Merodach to return to 
Babylon. "Let thy thoughts", he cried, "dwell in 
Babylon, which in thy wrath thou didst bring to naught. 
Let thy face be turned towards E-sagila, thy lofty and 
divine temple. Return to the city thou hast deserted for 
a house unworthy of thee. O Merodach ! lord of the 


gods, issue thou the command to return again to 

Thus did Ashur-bani-pal make pious and dignified 
submission to the will of the priests. A favourable re- 
sponse was, of course, received from Merodach when 
addressed by the emperor, and the god's image was carried 
back to E-sagila, accompanied by a strong force. Ashur- 
bani-pal and Shamash-shum-ukin led the procession of 
priests and soldiers, and elaborate ceremonials were ob- 
served at each city they passed, the local gods being 
carried forth to do homage to Merodach. 

Babylon welcomed the deity who was thus restored 
to his temple after the lapse of about a quarter of a 
century, and the priests celebrated with unconcealed satis- 
faction and pride the ceremony at which Shamash-shum- 
ukin "took the hands of Bel". The public rejoicings 
were conducted on an elaborate scale. Babylon believed 
that a new era of prosperity had been inaugurated, and 
the priests and nobles looked forward to the day when 
the kingdom would once again become free and indepen- 
dent and powerful. 

Ashur-bani-pal (668-626 B.C.) made arrangements to 
complete his father's designs regarding Egypt. His 
Tartan continued the campaign, and Taharka, as has been 
stated, was driven from Memphis. The beaten Pharaoh 
returned to Ethiopia and did not again attempt to expel 
the Assyrians. He died in 666 B.C. It was found that 
some of the petty kings of Lower Egypt had been in- 
triguing with Taharka, and their cities were severely dealt 
with. Necho of Sais had to be arrested, among others, 
but was pardoned after he appeared before Ashur-bani-pal, 
and sent back to Egypt as the Assyrian governor. 

Tanutamon, a son of Pharaoh Shabaka, succeeded 
Taharka, and in 663 B.C. marched northward from Thebes 


with a strong army. He captured Memphis. It is 
believed Necho was slain, and Herodotus relates that his 
son Psamtik took refuge in Syria. In 66 1 B.C. Ashur- 
bani-paTs army swept through Lower Egypt and expelled 
the Ethiopians. Tanutamon fled southward, but on this 
occasion the Assyrians followed up their success, and 
besieged and captured Thebes, which they sacked. Its 
nobles were slain or taken captive. According to the 
prophet Nahum, who refers to Thebes as No (Nu-Amon 
= city of Amon), " her young children also were dashed 
in pieces at the top of all the streets: and they (the 
Assyrians) cast lots for her honourable men, and all her 
great men were bound in chains". 1 Thebes never again 
recovered its prestige. Its treasures were transported to 
Nineveh. The Ethiopian supremacy in Egypt was finally 
extinguished, and Psamtik, son of Necho, who was 
appointed the Pharaoh, began to reign as the vassal of 

When the kings on the seacoasts of Palestine and 
Asia Minor found that they could no longer look to 
Egypt for help, they resigned themselves to the inevitable, 
and ceased to intrigue against Assyria. Gifts were sent to 
Ashur-bani-pal by the kings of Arvad, Tyre, Tarsus, and 
Tabal. The Arvad ruler, however, was displaced, and his 
son set on his throne. But the most extraordinary de- 
velopment was the visit to Nineveh of emissaries from 
Gyges, king of Lydia, who figures in the legends of 
Greece. This monarch had been harassed by the Cim- 
merians after they accomplished the fall of Midas of 
Phrygia in 676 B.C., and he sought the help of Ashur- 
bani-pal. It is not known whether the Assyrians operated 
against the Cimmerians in Tabal, but, as Gyges did not 
send tribute, it would appear that he held his own with 

1 Nahum t iii, 8-1 1. 


the aid of mercenaries from the State of Caria in south- 
western Asia Minor. The Greeks of Cilicia, and the 
Achaeans and Phoenicians of Cyprus remained faithful to 

Elam gave trouble in 665 B.C. by raiding Akkad, but 
the Assyrian army repulsed the invaders at Dur-ilu and 
pushed on to Susa. The Elamites received a crushing 
defeat in a battle on the banks of the River Ula. King 
Teumman was slain, and a son of the King of Urtagu was 
placed on his throne. Elam thus came under Assyrian 

The most surprising and sensational conspiracy against 
Ashur-bani-pal was fomented by his brother Shamash- 
shum-ukin of Babylon, after the two had co-operated 
peacefully for fifteen years. No doubt the priestly party 
at E-sagila were deeply concerned in the movement, and 
the king may have been strongly influenced by the fact 
that Babylonia was at the time suffering from severe 
depression caused by a series of poor harvests. Merodach, 
according to the priests, was angry ; it was probably 
argued that he was punishing the people because they 
had not thrown off the yoke of Assyria. 

The temple treasures of Babylon were freely drawn 
upon to purchase the allegiance of allies. Ere Ashur- 
bani-pal had any knowledge of the conspiracy his brother 
had won over several governors in Babylonia, the Chal- 
dseans, Aramasans and Elamites, and many petty kings in 
Palestine and Syria: even Egypt and Libya were prepared 
to help him. When, however, the faithful governor of 
Ur was approached, he communicated with his superior 
at Erech, who promptly informed Ashur-bani-pal of the 
great conspiracy. The intelligence reached Nineveh like 
a bolt from the blue. The emperor's heart was filled 
with sorrow and anguish. In after-time he lamented in 


an inscription that his "faithless brother" forgot the 
favours he had shown him. " Outwardly with his lips 
he spoke friendly things, while inwardly his heart plotted 

In 652 B.C. Shamash-shum-ukin precipitated the crisis 
by forbidding Ashur-bani-pal to make offerings to the 
gods in the cities of Babylonia. He thus declared his 

War broke out simultaneously. Ur and Erech were 
besieged and captured by the Chaldaeans, and an Elamite 
army marched to the aid of the King of Babylon, but it 
was withdrawn before long on account of the unsettled 
political conditions at home. The Assyrian armies swept 
through Babylonia, and the Chaldaeans in the south were 
completely subjugated before Babylon was captured. 
That great commercial metropolis was closely besieged 
for three years, and was starved into submission. When 
the Assyrians were entering the city gates a sensational 
happening occurred. Shamash-shum-ukin, the rebel king, 
shut himself up in his palace and set fire to it, and 
perished there amidst the flames withuhis wife and chil- 
dren, his slaves and all his treasures. Ashur-bani-pal was 
in 647 B.C. proclaimed King Kandalanu 1 of Babylon, and 
reigned over it until his death in 626 B.C. 

Elam was severely dealt with. That unhappy country 
was terribly devastated by Assyrian troops, who besieged 
and captured Susa, which was pillaged and wrecked. It 
was recorded afterwards as a great triumph of this cam- 
paign that the statue of Nana of Erech, which had been 
carried off by Elamites 1635 years previously, was re- 
covered and restored to the ancient Sumerian city. Elam's 
power of resistance was finally extinguished, and the 
country fell a ready prey to the Medes and Persians, who 

1 Ptolemy's Kineladanus, 


soon entered into possession of it. Thus, by destroying 
a buffer State, Ashur-bani-pal strengthened the hands of 
the people who were destined twenty years after his death 
to destroy the Empire of Assyria. 

The western allies of Babylon were also dealt with, 
and it may be that at this time Manasseh of Judah was 
taken to Babylon (2 Chronicles^ xxxiii, n), where, how- 
ever, he was forgiven. The Medes and the Mannai in 
the north-west were visited and subdued, and a new alli- 
ance was formed with the dying State of Urartu. 

Psamtik of Egypt had thrown off the yoke of Assyria, 
and with the assistance of Carian mercenaries received 
from his ally, Gyges, king of Lydia, extended his sway 
southward. He made peace with Ethiopia by marrying 
a princess of its royal line. Gyges must have weakened 
his army by thus assisting Psamtik, for he was severely 
defeated and slain by the Cimmerians. His son, Ardys, 
appealed to Assyria for help. Ashur-bani-pal dispatched 
an army to Cilicia. The joint operations of Assyria and 
Lydia resulted in the extinction of the kingdom of the 
Cimmerians about 645 B.C. 

The records of Ashur-bani-pal cease after 640 B.C., 
so that we are unable to follow the events of his reign 
during its last fourteen years. Apparently peace prevailed 
everywhere. The great monarch, who was a pronounced 
adherent of the goddess cults, appears to have given him- 
self up to a life of indulgence and inactivity. Under the 
name Sardanapalus he went down to tradition as a sensual 
Oriental monarch who lived in great pomp and luxury, and 
perished in his burning palace when the Medes revolted 
against him. It is evident, however, that the memory of 
more than one monarch contributed to the Sardanapalus 
legend, for Ashur-bani-pal had lain nearly twenty years in 
his grave before the siege of Nineveh took place. 


In the Bible he is referred to as " the great and noble 
Asnapper", and he appears to have been the emperor who 
settled the Babylonian, Elamite, and other colonists " in 
the cities of Samaria". 1 

He erected at Nineveh a magnificent palace, which 
was decorated on a lavish scale. The sculptures are the 
finest productions of Assyrian art, and embrace a wide 
variety of subjects battle scenes, hunting scenes, and 
elaborate Court and temple ceremonies. Realism is 
combined with a delicacy of touch and a degree of 
originality which raises the artistic productions of the 
period to the front rank among the artistic triumphs of 

Ashur-bani-pal boasted of the thorough education 
which he had received from the tutors of his illustrious 
father, Esarhaddon. In his palace he kept a magnificent 
library. It contained thousands of clay tablets on which 
were inscribed and translated the classics of Babylonia, 
To the scholarly zeal of this cultured monarch is due the 
preservation of the Babylonian story of creation, the Gil- 
gamesh and Etana legends, and other literary and religious 
products of remote antiquity. Most of the literary tablets 
in the British Museum were taken from Ashur-bani-pal's 

There are no Assyrian records of the reigns of Ashur- 
bani-pal's two sons, Ashur-etil-ilani who erected a small 
palace and reconstructed the temple to Nebo at Kalkhi 
and Sin-shar-ishkun, who is supposed to have perished in 
Nineveh. Apparently Ashur-etil-ilani reigned for at least 
six years, and was succeeded by his brother. 

A year after Ashur-bani-pal died, Nabopolassar, who 
was probably a Chaldaean, was proclaimed king at Babylon. 
According to Babylonian legend he was an Assyrian general 

1 Exra, iv, 10. 


who had been sent southward with an army to oppose 
the advance of invaders from the sea. Nabopolassar's 
sway at first was confined to Babylon and Borsippa, but 
he strengthened himself by forming an offensive and de- 
fensive alliance with the Median king, whose daughter he 
had married to his son Nebuchadrezzar. He strengthened 
the fortifications of Babylon, rebuilt the temple of Mero- 
dach, which had been destroyed by Ashur-bani-pal, and 
waged war successfully against the Assyrians and their 
allies in Mesopotamia. 

About 606 B.C. Nineveh fell, and Sin-shar-ishkun may 
have burned himself there in his palace, like his uncle, 
Shamash-shum-ukin of Babylon, and the legendary Sar- 
danapalus. It is not certain, however, whether the Scythians 
or the Medes were the successful besiegers of the great 
Assyrian capital. "Woe to the bloody city! it is all full 
of lies and robbery", Nahum had cried. "... The gates 
of the rivers shall be opened, and the palace shall be dis- 
solved. . . . Take ye the spoil of silver, take the spoil 
of gold. . . . Behold, I am against thee, saith the Lord 
of hosts." 1 

According to Herodotus, an army of Medes under 
Cyaxares had defeated the Assyrians and were besieging 
Nineveh when the Scythians overran Media. Cyaxares 
raised the siege and went against them, but was defeated. 
Then the Scythians swept across Assyria and Mesopo- 
tamia, and penetrated to the Delta frontier of Egypt. 
Psamtik ransomed his kingdom with handsome gifts. 
At length, however, Cyaxares had the Scythian leaders 
slain at a banquet, and then besieged and captured 

Assyria was completely overthrown. Those of its 
nobles and priests who escaped the sword no doubt 

1 Nahum, iii and ii. 


escaped to Babylonia. Some may have found refuge also 
in Palestine and Egypt. 

Necho, the second Pharaoh of the Twenty -sixth 
Egyptian Dynasty, did not hesitate to take advantage of 
Assyria's fall. In 609 B.C. he proceeded to recover the 
long-lost Asiatic possessions of Egypt, and operated with 
an army and fleet. Gaza and Askalon were captured. 
Josiah, the grandson of Manasseh, was King of Judah, 
" In his days Pharaoh-nechoh king of Egypt went up 
against the king of Assyria to the river Euphrates: and 
king Josiah went against him; and he (Necho) slew him 
at Megiddo." 1 His son, Jehoahaz, succeeded him, but 
was deposed three months later by Necho, who placed 
another son of Josiah, named Eliakim, on the throne, 
"and turned his name to Jehoiakim'Y 2 The people were 
heavily taxed to pay tribute to the Pharaoh. 

When Necho pushed northward towards the Euphrates 
he was met by a Babylonian army under command of 
Prince Nebuchadrezzar. 3 The Egyptians were routed at 
Carchemish in 605 B.C. (Jeremiah^ xvi, 2). 

In 604 B.C. Nabopolassar died, and the famous Nebu- 
chadrezzar II ascended the throne of Babylon. He lived 
to be one of its greatest kings, and reigned for over forty 
years. It was he who built the city described by Hero- 
dotus (pp. 2 1 9 e t seq.\ and constructed its outer wall, which 
enclosed so large an area that no army could invest it. 
Merodach's temple was decorated with greater magni- 
ficence than ever before. The great palace and hanging 
gardens were erected by this mighty monarch, who no 
doubt attracted to the city large numbers of the skilled 
artisans who had fled from Nineveh. He also restored 
temples at other cities, and made generous gifts to the 

1 2 Kings, xxiii, 29. 2 Ibid., 33-5. 

8 Nebuchadrezzar is more correct than Nebuchadnezzar. 


priests. Captives were drafted into Babylonia from various 
lands, and employed cleaning out the canals and as farm 

The trade and industries of Babylon flourished greatly, 
and Nebuchadrezzar's soldiers took speedy vengeance on 
roving bands which infested the caravan roads. "The 
king of Egypt ", after his crushing defeat at Carchemish, 
<c came not again any more out of his land : for the king 
of Babylon had taken from the river of Egypt unto the 
river Euphrates all that pertained to the king of Egypt." 1 
Jehoiakim of Judah remained faithful to Necho until he 
was made a prisoner by Nebuchadrezzar, who " bound 
him in fetters to carry him to Babylon". 2 He was after- 
wards sent back to Jerusalem. "And Jehoiakim became 
his (Nebuchadrezzar's) servant three years: then he turned 
and rebelled against him." 3 

Bands of Chaldaeans, Syrians, Moabites, and Ammon- 
ites were harassing the frontiers of Judah, and it seemed 
to the king as if the Babylonian power had collapsed. 
Nebuchadrezzar hastened westward and scattered the 
raiders before him. Jehoiakim died, and his son Jehoi- 
achan, a youth of eighteen years, succeeded him. Nebu- 
chadrezzar laid siege to Jerusalem, and the young king 
submitted to him and was carried off to Babylon, with 
cc all the princes, and all the mighty men of valour, even 
ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths: 
none remained save the poorest sort of the people of the 
land". 4 Nebuchadrezzar had need of warriors and work- 

Zedekiah was placed on the throne of Judah as an 
Assyrian vassal. He remained faithful for a few years, 
but at length began to conspire with Tyre and Sidon, 

1 2 Kings, xxiv, 7. 2 2 Chronicles, xxxvi, 6. 

8 2 Kings, xxiv, I. 4 2 Kings^ xxiv, 8-15. 


Moab, Edom, and Ammon in favour of Egyptian suze- 
rainty. Pharaoh Hophra (Apries), the fourth king of 
the Twenty-sixth Dynasty, took active steps to assist the 
conspirators, and " Zedekiah rebelled against the king of 
Babylon". 1 

Nebuchadrezzar led a strong army through Meso- 
potamia, and divided it at Riblah, on the Orontes River. 
One part of it descended upon Judah and captured 
Lachish and Azekah. Jerusalem was able to hold out 
for about eighteen months. Then " the famine was sore 
in the city, so that there was no bread for the people of 
the land. Then the city was broken up, and all the men 
of war fled, and went forth out of the city by night by 
way of the gate between the two walls, which was by the 
king's garden." Zedekiah attempted to escape, but was 
captured and carried before Nebuchadrezzar, who was at 
Riblah, in the land of Hamath. 

And the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah before his 
eyes. . . . Then he put out the eyes of Zedekiah; and the king 
of Babylon bound him in chains and carried him to Babylon and 
put him in prison till the day of his death. 2 

The majority of the Jews were deported to Babylonia, 
where they were employed as farm labourers. Some rose 
to occupy important official positions. A remnant escaped 
to Egypt with Jeremiah. 

Jerusalem was plundered and desolated. The Assy- 
rians " burned the house of the Lord and the king's 
house, and all the houses of Jerusalem ", and " brake 
down all the walls of Jerusalem round about". Jeremiah 
lamented : 

How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! how is 
she become as a widow ! she that was great among the nations, and 

1 Jeremiah, lii, 3. 2 Jeremiah, lii, 4-11. 

(0642) 34 


princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary! She 
weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks: among 
all her lovers she hath none ta comfort her: all her friends have 
dealt treacherously with her, they are become her enemies. 

Judah is gone into captivity because of affliction, and because 
of great servitude : she dwelleth among the heathen, she findeth 
no rest: all her persecutors overtook her between the straits. . . . 

Jerusalem remembered in the days of her affliction and of her 
miseries all her pleasant things that she had in the days of old. . . , l 

Tyre was besieged, but was not captured. Its king, 
however, arranged terms of peace with Nebuchadrezzar. 

Amel-Marduk, the "Evil Merodach " of the Bible, 
the next king of Babylon, reigned for a little over two 
years. He released Jehoiachin from prison, and allowed 
him to live in the royal palace. 2 Berosus relates that 
Amel-Marduk lived a dissipated life, and was slain by his 
brother-in-law, Nergal-shar-utsur, who reigned two years 
(559-6 B.C.). Labashi-Marduk, son of Nergal-shar-utsur, 
followed with a reign of nine months. He was deposed 
by the priests. Then a Babylonian prince named Nabu- 
na'id (Nabonidus) was set on the throne. He was the 
last independent king of Babylonia. His son Belshazzar 
appears to have acted as regent during the latter part of 
the reign. 

Nabonidus engaged himself actively during his reign 
(556-540 B.C.) in restoring temples. He entirely recon- 
structed the house of Shamash, the sun god, at Sippar, and, 
towards the end of his reign, the house of Sin, the moon 
god, at Haran. The latter building had been destroyed 
by the Medes. 

The religious innovations of Nabonidus made him 
exceedingly unpopular throughout Babylonia, for he 
carried away the gods of Ur, Erech, Larsa, and Eridu, 

J The Lamentations of JeremiaJt^ i, 1-7. a Jr remiah, lii, 31-4. 


and had them placed in E-sagila. Merodach and his 
priests were displeased: the prestige of the great god was 
threatened by the policy adopted by Nabonidus. As an 
inscription composed after the fall of Babylon sets forthj 
Merodach " gazed over the surrounding lands . . . look- 
ing for a righteous prince, one after his own heart, 
who should take his hands. . . . He called by name 

Cyrus was a petty king of the shrunken Elamite 
province of Anshan, which had been conquered by the 
Persians. He claimed to be an Achaemenian that is a 
descendant of the semi-mythical Akhamanish (the Achae- 
menes of the -Greeks), a Persian patriarch who resembled 
the Aryo-Indian Manu and the Germanic Mannus. Akha- 
manish was reputed to have been fed and protected in 
childhood by an eagle the sacred eagle which cast its 
shadow on born rulers. Probably this eagle was remotely 
Totemic, and the Achaemenians were descendants of an 
ancient eagle tribe. Gilgamesh was protected by an eagle, 
as we have seen, as the Aryo-Indian Shakuntala was by 
vultures and Semiramis by doves. The legends regarding 
the birth and boyhood of Cyrus resemble those related 
regarding Sargon of Akkad and the Indian Kama and 

Cyrus acknowledged as his overlord Astyages, king 
of the Medes. He revolted against Astyages, whom he 
defeated and took prisoner. Thereafter he was proclaimed 
King of the Medes and Persians, who were kindred peoples 
of Indo-European speech. The father of Astyages was 
Cyaxares, the ally of Nabopolassar of Babylon. When 
this powerful king captured Nineveh he entered into pos- 
session of the northern part of the Assyrian Empire, which 
extended westward into Asia Minor to the frontier of the 
Lydian kingdom ; he also possessed himself of Urartu 


(Armenia). Lydia had, after the collapse of the Cim- 
merian power, absorbed Phrygia, and its ambitious king, 
Alyattes, waged war against the Medes. At length, owing 
to the good offices of Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon and 
Syennesis of Cilicia, the Medes and Lydians made peace 
in 585 B.C. Astyages then married a daughter of the 
Lydian ruler. 

When Cyrus overthrew Cyaxares, king of the Medes, 
Croesus, king of Lydia, formed an alliance against him 
with Amasis, king of Egypt, and Nabonidus, king of 
Babylon. The latter was at first friendly to Cyrus, who 
had attacked Cyaxares when he was advancing on Babylon 
to dispute Nabonidus's claim to the throne, and perhaps 
to win it for a descendant of Nebuchadrezzar, his father's 
ally. It was after the fall of the Median Dynasty that 
Nabonidus undertook the restoration of the moon god's 
temple at Haran. 

Cyrus advanced westward against Croesus of Lydia 
before that monarch could receive assistance from the 
intriguing but pleasure-loving Amasis of Egypt ; he de- 
feated and overthrew him, and seized his kingdom (547- 
546 B.C.). Then, having established himself as supreme 
ruler in Asia Minor, he began to operate against Babylonia. 
In 539 B.C. Belshazzar was defeated near Opis. Sippar 
fell soon afterwards. Cyrus's general, Gobryas, then 
advanced upon Babylon, where Belshazzar deemed him- 
self safe. One night, in the month of Tammuz 

Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his 
lords, and drank, wine before the thousand. Belshazzar, whiles he 
tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels 
which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple 
which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, 
and his concubines, might drink therein. . . . They drank wine, 
and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of 


wood, and of stone, ... In that night was Belshazzar the king 
of the Chaldeans slain. 1 

On the 1 6th of Tammuz the Investing army under 
Gobryas entered Babylon, the gates having been opened 
by friends within the city. Some think that the Jews 
favoured the cause of Cyrus. It is quite as possible, 
however, that the priests of Merodach had a secret under- 
standing with the great Achaemenian, the " King of kings ". 

A few days afterwards Cyrus arrived at Babylon. 
Belshazzar had been slain, but Nabonidus still lived, and 
he was deported to Carmania. Perfect order prevailed 
throughout the city, which was firmly policed by the 
Persian soldiers, and there was no looting. Cyrus was 
welcomed as a deliverer by the priesthood. He u took 
the hands'* of Bel Merodach at E-sagila, and was pro- 
claimed " King of the world, King of Babylon, King of 
Sumer and Akkad, and King of the Four Quarters ". 

Cyrus appointed his son Cambyses as governor of 
Babylon. Although a worshipper of Ahura-Mazda and 
Mithra, Cambyses appears to have conciliated the priest- 
hood. When he became king, and swept through Egypt, 
he was remembered as the madman who in a fit of passion 
slew a sacred Apis bull. It is possible, however, that he 
performed what he considered to be a pious act : he may 
have sacrificed the bull to Mithra. 

The Jews also welcomed Cyrus. They yearned for 
their native land. 

By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, 
when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the 
willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away 
captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of 
us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How shall 
we sing the Lord's song in a strange land! 5 If I forget thee, O 

1 Daniel^ v, I et seq. 


Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not 
remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if 
I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy. 1 

Cyrus heard with compassion the cry of the captives. 

Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word 
of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord 
stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a pro- 
clamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, 
saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The Lord God of heaven 
hath given me all kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me 
to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is 
there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let 
him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of 
the Lord God of Israel (he is the God) which is in Jerusalem. 2 

In 538 B.C. the first party of Jews who were set free 
saw through tears the hills of home, and hastened their 
steps to reach Mount Zion. Fifty years later Ezra led 
back another party of the faithful. The work of restoring 
Jerusalem was undertaken by Nehemiah in 445 B.C. 

The trade of Babylon flourished under the Persians, 
and the influence of its culture spread far and wide. 
Persian religion was infused with new doctrines, and their 
deities were given stellar attributes. Ahura-Mazda be- 
came identified with Bel Merodach, as, perhaps, he had 
previously been with Ashur, and the goddess Anahita 
absorbed the attributes of Nina, Ishtar, Zerpanitu m , and 
other Babylonian "mother deities'*. 

Another " Semiramis " came into prominence. This 
was the wife and sister of Cambyses. After Cambyses 
died she married Darius I, who, like Cyrus, claimed to 
be an Achaemenian. He had to overthrow a pretender, 
but submitted to the demands of the orthodox Persian 

1 Psalms, cxxxvii, 1-6. * Ezra, i, 1-3. 


party to purify the Ahura-Mazda religion of its Babylonian 
innovations. Frequent revolts in Babylon had afterwards 
to be suppressed. The Merodach priesthood apparently 
suffered loss of prestige at Court. According to Herod- 
otus, Darius plotted to carry away from E-sagila a great 
statue of Bel " twelve cubits high and entirely of solid 
gold". He, however, was afraid "to lay his hands upon 
it". Xerxes, son of Darius (485-465 B.C.), punished 
Babylon for revolting, when intelligence reached them of 
his disasters in Greece, by pillaging and partly destroying 
the temple. "He killed the priest who forbade him to 
move the statue, and took it away/' 1 The city lost its 
vassal king, and was put under the control of a governor. 
It, however, regained some of its ancient glory after the 
burning of Susa palace, for the later Persian monarchs 
resided in it, Darius II died at Babylon, and Artaxerxes 
II promoted in the city the worship of Anaitis. 

When Darius III, the last Persian emperor, was over- 
thrown by Alexander the Great in 331 B.C., Babylon 
welcomed the Macedonian conqueror as it had welcomed 
Cyrus. Alexander was impressed by the wisdom and 
accomplishments of the astrologers and priests, who had 
become known as " Chaldseans", and added Bel Merodach 
to his extraordinary pantheon, which already included 
Amon of Egypt, Melkarth, and Jehovah. Impressed by 
the antiquity and magnificence of Babylon, he resolved to 
make it the capital of his world-wide empire, and there 
he received ambassadors from countries as far east as 
India and as far west as Gaul. 

The canals of Babylonia were surveyed, and building 
operations on a vast scale planned out. No fewer than 
ten thousand men were engaged working for two months 
reconstructing and decorating the temple of Merodach, 

1 Hcrodofusy i, 183; Straboy xvi, I, 5; and Arrian, vii, 17, 


which towered to a height of 607 feet. It looked as if 
Babylon were about to rise to a position of splendour 
unequalled in its history, when Alexander fell sick, after 
attending a banquet, and died on an evening of golden 
splendour sometime in June of 323 B.C. 

One can imagine the feelings of the Babylonian priests 
and astrologers as they spent the last few nights of the 
emperor's life reading "the omens of the air" taking 
note of wind and shadow, moon and stars and planets, 
seeking for a sign, but unable to discover one favourable. 
Their hopes of Babylonian glory were suspended in the 
balance, and they perished completely when the young 
emperor passed away in the thirty-third year of his life. 
For four days and four nights the citizens mourned in 
silence for Alexander and for Babylon. 

The ancient city fell into decay under the empire of 
the Seleucidae. Seleucus I had been governor of Babylon, 
and after the break-up of Alexander's empire he returned 
to the ancient metropolis as a conqueror. " None of the 
persons who succeeded Alexander", Strabo wrote, "at- 
tended to the undertaking at Babylon" the reconstruction 
of Merodach's temple. " Other works were neglected, 
and the city was dilapidated partly by the Persians and 
partly by time and through the indifference of the Greeks, 
particularly after Seleucus Nicator fortified Seleukeia on 
the Tigris." 1 

Seleucus drafted to the city which bore his name the 
great bulk of the inhabitants of Babylon. The remnant 
which was left behind continued to worship Merodach 
and other gods after the walls had crumbled and the great 
temple began to tumble down. Babylon died slowly, but 
at length the words of the Hebrew prophet were ful- 

3 Straho,. xvi, i-$. 


The cormorant and the bittern shall possess it; the owl also and 
the raven shall dwell in it. ... They shall call the nobles thereof 
to the kingdom, but none shall be there, and all her princes shall 
be nothing. And thorns shall come up in her palaces, nettles and 
brambles in the fortresses thereof: and it shall be an habitation of 
dragons, and a court for owls. The wild beasts of the desert shall 
also meet with the wild beasts of the island, and the satyr shall 
cry to his fellow: the screech owl also shall rest there, and find for 
herself a place of rest. 1 

s haiah, xxxiv, 11-4. 


owcl Sounds : , as in f>ahn ; d, as in late ; if, almost like u in fur ; e, like a in fate ; <?, as; 
in he\ t' t as e in me; 2, as in sigh; d, as in shore; u, as in ;*#//; w, as in sun; y, as in dye. 

A, Aa, Ai, Sumerian names of moon, 

.. 301 ; Ea as, 31. 

Aa, the goddess, consort of Shamash, 

57, 100. 

Aah, Egyptian name of moon, 301. 
Abijah (a-bi'jah), King of Judah, 402, 


Abraham, 12; the Isaac sacrifice, 50; 
period of migration from Ur, 131, 
245; association of with Amorites, 
246 ; conflict with Atnraphel (Ham- 
murabi) and his allies, 246, 247 ; 
Babylonian monotheism in age of, 
1 60; Nimrod and in Koran^ 166, 

167, 349 350- 

Achneans (a-ke'ans), the Celts and, 
377; in Crete and Egypt, 378; 
Pelasgians and, 393 ; the Cyprian and 
Assyria, 484. 

Achaemenian (a-ke-m^n'ian), Cyrus 
called an, 493 ; Darius I claims to 
be an, 496. See Akhamanish. 

Adad (au ad), deities that link with, 35, 
57, 261, 395; in demon war, 76. 

Adad-nirari I (ad'ad-ni-ra'ri), of As- 
syria, 362, 363. 

Adad-nirari III, 396. 

Adad-nirari IV, King of Assyria, Baby- 
lonian influence in court of, 419; as 
"husband of his mother", 420; in- 
novations of, 421 ; Kalkhi library, 
422; "synchronistic history", 423; 
Nebo worship, 435, 436 ; as "saviour" 
of Israel, 438, 439; Urartu problem, 

439. 440 : 

Adad-nirari V, 442. 
Adad - shum - utsur (ad'ad-shiim-u'tsur), 

King of Babylonia, as overlord of 

Assyria, 370. 

Adam, "first wife" of a demon, 67; 

the shining jewel of, 185. 
Adapa (a'da-pii), the Babylonian Thor, 

72 7 ?: 
Addu (ad'dii), as form of Merodach, 

1 60. 

Adonis (a-do'nis), Tammuz and myth 
of, 83, 84 ; antiquity of myth of, 84 ; 
blood of in river, 85 ; the boat or 
chest of, 90, 103; "the Garden of", 
171, 172; slain by boar, 294, 304. 

Afghans, skull forms of, 8. 

Ages, the mythical, Tammuz as ruler 
of one of the, 83, 84; Greek flood 
legend and, 195, 196; the Indian 
and Celtic, 196 ; in American myths, 
198; Babylonian and Indian links, 
199; in Persian and Germanic my- 
thologies, 202, 203; various systems 
compared, 310 et seq. 

Agni (ag'nee), Indian fire and fertility 
god, 49; Nusku and, 50; links with 
Tammuz, 94; eagle as, 168, 169; 
Nergal and, 304 ; the goat and, 333 ; 
Melkarth and, 346. 

Agriculture, mother worship and, xxix, 
xxx ; cults of Osiris-Isis and Tam- 
muz - Ishtar, xxxi ; early Sumerians 
and, 2 j in Turkestan and Egypt, 6 ; 
early civilizations and, 14 ; Herodotus 
on Babylonian, 21, 22; irrigation and 
river floods, 23, 24, 26; deities and 
water supply, 33 ; Tammuz - Adonis 
myth, 85; weeping ceremonies, 82 
et $eq.\ Nimrod myth, 170; demand 
for harvesters in Babylonia, 256. 

Agum (a'gum), Kassite kings named, 
272 et seq. 

Agum the Great, Kassite king, recovers 



from Mitanni Merodach and his 
spouse, 272. 

Ahab, King of Israel, 405-7, 408, 473. 

Ahaz, King of Judah, fire ceremony 
practised by, 50; sundial of and 
eclipse record, 323, 450; relations 
with Assyria, 452/453* 459- 

Ahaziah (a-ha-zi'ah), King of Israel, 

Ahiir'a Maz'da, eagle and ring symbol 
of, 347 ; Ashur and, 355 ; Cambyses 
and, 495; identified with Merodach, 
496 ; reform of cult of, 497. 

Air of Life, Breath and spirit as, 48, 49. 

Akhamanish (a-kha-man'ish), the Per- 
sian Patriarch, 493; Germanic Man- 
nus and Indian Manu and, 493 ; eagle 
and, 493. 

Akhcnaton (a-khen-a'ton), foreign cor- 
respondence of, 280 et seq. ; Assyrian 
King's relations with, 285; Aton 
cult of, 338, 422; attitude of to 
mother worship, 418, 419. 

Akkad (ak'kad). Its racial and geo- 
graphical significance, I ; early name 
of Uri or Kiuri, 2; early history of, 
109 et seq. 

Akkad, City of, Sargon of, 125 et seq.*, 
Naram-Sin and, 128, 129; in Ham- 
murabi Age, 256; observatory at, 
321. Also rendered Agade". 

Akkadians, characteristics of, 2; culture 
of Sumerian, 2, 3, 13; the conquerors 

.. of Sumerians, 12. 

Aku, moon as the "measurer", 301. 

Akurgal (a-kiir'gal), King of Lagash, 
son of Ur-Nina, 118. 

Alban, the British ancestral giant,, 42. 

Aleppo (a-Iep'po), Hadad worshipped 
at, 411. 

Alexander the Great, Southern Baby- 
lonia in age of, 22, 23; his vision of 
Tiamat, 151; myths of, 164; the 
eagle and, 167; Gilgamesh and, 172; 
water of life, 185, 186; Brahmans 
and, 207, 208; welcomed in Baby- 
lon, 497; Pantheon of, 497; death of, 

Algebra, Brahmans formulated, 289. 

Allatu (al'Ia-ttt). See Eresh-ki-gal. 

Alu (a'lii), the, tempest and nightmare 
demon, 65, 68, 69. 

Alyat'tes, King of -Lydia, war against 
Medes, 494; Median marriage al- 

.. liance, 494. 

A'ma, the mother goddess, 57, 100. 

Amaziah, King of Judah, 448, 449. 
Amel-marduk (a'mel-mar'duk), "Evil 

Merodach ", King of Babylon, 492. 
Amenhotep III (a-men-ho'tep) of Egypt, 

280; Tushratta's appeals to, 282. 
Amon, wife of, 221 ; the " world soul" 

belief and, 329. 

Amorites, Land of. See Amurru. 
Amorites, Sargon of Akkad and, 125-7; 

in pre- Hammurabi Age, 217; Sun 

cult favoured by in Babylon, 240; 

Moon cult of in Kish, 241 ; blend of 

in Jerusalem, 246; raids of, 256; as 

allies of Hittites, 284, 363, 364; 

Philistines and, 380 ; * ' mother right " 

amongst, 418. 

Amphitrite, the sea goddess, 33. 
Amraphel (am'ra-phel), the Biblical, 

identified with Hammurabi, 131, 246, 

Amurru (am'ur-rii), land of Amorites, 

127; Sargon and Naram Sin in, 127-9; 

Gudea of Lagash trades with, 130; 

Elamite overlordship of, 248. 
Amurru, the god called, Merodach and 

Adad-Ramman and, 316. 
Anahita (ana-bi'ta), Persian goddess, 

identified with Nina-Ishtar, 496. 
An'akim, "sons of Anak", the Hittites 

and, n, 12. 

Anatu (an-a'tii), consort of Anu, 138. 
Anau, Turkestan, civilization of and the 

Sumerian, 5; votive statuettes found 

at, 5. 
Ancestral totems, annual sacrifice of, 

294; in Babylonia and China, 295. 
Andromeda (an-drom'e-da), legend of, 


Angus, the Irish love god, 90, 238. 
Animal forms of gods, 134, 135. 
Animism, xxxiii; spirit groups and 

gods, 35, 294 et seq, ; fairies and elves 

relics of, 79, 80 ; stars and planets as 

ghosts, 295, 304; star worship, 317; 

Pelasgian gods as Fates, 317. 
"Annie, Gentle", the Scottish wind 

hag, 73- 
Annis, Black, Leicester wind hag, 73, 

An'shan, Province of, Sargon of Akkad 

conquers, 127; Cyrus, King of, 493. 
An'shar, the god, in group of elder 

deities, 37; Anu becomes like, 124; 

in Creation legend, 138 et seq. ; Ashur 

a form of, 326, 354; as " Assoros", 

328; as night sky god, 328; identified 



with Polar star, 330, 331; as astral 
Satyr (goat-man), 333; Tammuzand, 
333; his six divinities of council, 334. 

An that (anth'at), goddesses that link 
with, 268. 

Anthropomorphic gods, the Sumerian, 

Ami (a'nit), god of the sky, demons as 
messengers of, 34, 77 ; in early triad, 
35> 36 J among early gods, 37; Brahma 
and, 38; links with Mithra, 55; other 
gods and, 53, 57; as father of demons, 
63 ; solar and lunar attributes of, 53, 
55; wind spirits and, 72, 73, 74; in 
demon war, 76 ; as father of Isis, 100; 
Ur-Nina and, 1 16; as father of Enlil, 
124; as form of Anshar, 125, 328; 
high priest of and moon god, 130; 
during Isin Dynasty, 132; in Creation 
legend, 138 et scq.\ Merodach directs 
decrees of, 149; Ktana and eagle in 
heaven of, 166; in Gilgamesh legend, 
173 et seq*\ in Deluge legend, 190 et 
seq.\ planetary gods and, 304; zodiacal 
" field of", 307; the star spirits and, 
318; as Anos, 328; as the "high 
head ", 334; Sargon II and, 463. 

An'zan. See Ansfian. 

Apep (a' pep), the Egyptian serpent 
demon, 46, 156. 

Aphrodite (af-ro-dl'te), boar lover of 
slays Adonis, 87 ; lovers of, 103 ; the 
"bearded" form of, 267, 301; birds 
and plants sacred to, 427; as a fate, 
427, 433; legends attached to, 437. 

Apil-Sin (a'pil-sin), King, grandfather of 
Hammurabi, 242. 

Apis bull (a-pis), inspiration from breath 
of, 49; Cambyses sacrifices to Mithra, 

495- . 

Apsu-Rishtu (ap'sii-rish'tii), god of the 
deep, like Egyptian Nu, 37, 64; as 
enemy of the gods, 38 ; Tiamal and, 
106; in Creation legend, 138 et seq.\ 
reference to by Damascius, 328. 

Apuatu (a-pu'a-tii) (Osiris) as the Patri- 
arch, xxxii. 

Arabia, moon worship in, 52; owl a 
mother ghost in, 70; in Zu bird myth, 
74, 75; invaded by Naram Sin, 129; 
Etana myth in, 166, 167; water of 
life myth, 186; Sargon II and kings 
of, 458; Sennacherib in, 466. 

Arabians, the, of Mediterranean race, 7; 
Semites of Jewish type and, 7, 10; 
prehistoric migrations of, n, 12. 

Arad Ea (iir-ad-c'a), "ferryman" ol 
Hades water, 34; Gilgamesh crosses 
sea of death with, 180 et seg. 

Aramoe'ans, migrations of, 359; called 
" Suti ", " Achlame ", "" Arimi ", 
"Khabiri", and "Syrians", 360; 
Assyria and the, 367; as allies of 
Hittites, 377, 378; state of Damascus 
founded by, 390; Ashur-natsir-pal III 
and, 398, 399; "mother worship" 
and, 434; as opponents of sun wor- 
ship, 445; settled in Asia Minor, 461. 

Archer, the Astral, Ashur, Gilgamesh, 
and Hercules as, 336, 337; robed 
with feathers, 344; Ashur and San- 
dan as, 352. 

Ardat Lili (ar'dat li-li), a demon lover, 

Ardys, King of Lydia, Assyria helps, 

Ares, Greek war god, as boar slayer of 
Adonis, 87, 304, 

Argistis I (ar'gist-is), King of Urartu, 
campaigns of, 441, 442, or, Argistes. 

Argistis II of Urartu, raids of Cim- 
merians and Scythians, 461. 

Arioch (a'ri-ok), the Biblical, Warad- 
Sin as, 247, 248. 

Arithmetic, finger counting in Babylonia 
and India, 310; development of, 312. 

Ark, in flood legend, 191 et seq. 

Aries money, Babylonian farm labourers 
received, 256. 

Armenia, Thunder god of, 261, 395; 
goddess Anaitis in, 267. See Urartu. 

Armenians, the use of cradle board by, 
4, 5; ancestors of, 283. 

Armenoid Race, the, in Semitic blend, 
jo; in Asia Minor, Syria, and Europe, 
II, 262; traces of in prehistoric 
Egypt, n, 263, 264; in Palestine, 12; 
culture of, 315. 

Arnold, Edwin, xxii. 

Arpad (ar'pad) in reign of Tiglath- 
pileser IV, 446, 447. 

Arrow, a symbol of lightning and fer- 
tility, 337; Ashur's and the goddess 
Neith's, 337 it. See Archer, the 

Art, magical origin of, 288. 

Artaxerxes, 497. 

Artemis (ar'te-mis), the goddess, lovers 
slain by, 104; as wind hag, 104; the 
"Great Bear" myth and, 296. 

Artisan gods, Ea, Ptah, Khnumu, and 
Indra as, 30. 



Aruru (ar'ii-rii), the mother goddess, 

100, 1 60, 420; assists Merodach to 

create mankind, 148; in Gilgamesh 

legend, 172 et $eg. 
Aryans (a'ri-ans), Mitannians as, 269, 

270; Kassites and, 270. 
A$a, King of Judah, burning at grave 

of, 350; images destroyed by, 403; 

appeal for aid to Damascus, 404; 

death of, 407. 
Asari (a-sa'ri), Merodach as, and Osiris, 


Ash'dod, Cyprian King of, 458, 459. 

Ashtoreth (ash-to'reth), Ishtar and, 100; 
lovers of, 103; goddesses that link 
with, 267; worship of at Samaria, 439; 
also rendered Ash'ta-roth. 

Ashur (a'shur), Asura theory, 278; as 
Aushar, "water field", the "Holy 
One", and Anshar, 326; the Biblical 
patriarch, 327; " Ashir" and Cappa- 
docia, 327; Brahma and, 328; as 
Creator, 329; bull, eagle, and lion 
identified with, 330; connected with 
sun, Regulus, Arcturus, and Orion, 
331; King and, 331; Isaiah's parable, 
331; as bull of heaven, 334; winged 
disk or "wheel" of, 334, 335; stan- 
dard of as "world spine 5 ', 335; the 
archer in "wheel", 335; despiritual- 
ization theory, 335, 336; the solar 
archer as Merodach, Hercules, and 
Gilgamesh, 336; the arrow of, 337; 
Babylonian deities and, 337; Baby- 
lonian and Persian influences, 338; 
as god of fertility, &c., 339; Assyrian 
civilization reflected by, 340; as corn 
god and war god, 340; the Biblical 
Nisroch, 341; the eagle and, 343; 
Ezekiel's references to life wheel, 344 
et seg.\ fire cult and, 346; Indian 
wheel symbol, 346, 347 ; Persian 
wheel or disk, 347; wheels of Shamash 
and Ishtar, 347; the Egyptian Ankh, 
347 ; Hittite winged disk, 347, 348 ; 
Sandan and, 347, 348; Attis and, 348; 
son of Ea like Merodach, 348; aided 
by fires and sacrifices, 351; disk a 
symbol of life, fertility, &c., 351; the 
lightning arrow, 352 ; temples of and 
worship of, 352; close association of 
with kings, 352, 353 ; association of 
with moon god, 353; astral phase of, 
354; Jastrow's view, 354; Pinches on 
Merodach and Osiris links, 354; as 
patriarch, corn god, &c., 354, 355; 

spouse of, 355 ; a Baal, 355 ; earth- 
quake destroys temple of, 363; Shal- 
maneser I obtains treasure for, 366; 
Esarhaddon builds temple to, 476; 
Sennacherib murdered in temple of, 
470; Ahuza Mazda and, 496, See 
Asihur, the Biblical Patriarch. 

Ashur-bani-pal (a'shur-ban'i-pal), dis- 
covery of library of, xxii, xxiii ; doc- 
tors and, 231, 232; worship of Ashur 
and Sin, 353 ; Merodach restored to 
Babylon by, 481, 482; Egyptian cam- 
paign, 482 ; sack of Thebes, 483 ; 
emissaries from Gyges of Lydia visit, 
483 ; Shamash shum - ukin's revolt 
against, 484; suicide of Shamash - 
shum-ukin, 485; Lydia aided by, 486; 
Sardanapalus legend, 486; the Bibli- 
cal "Asnapper", 487; palace of, 487. 

A'shur-dan' I, of Assyria, 370. 

Ashur-dan III, reign of, 442. 

Ashur-danin-apli (a'shur-dan-in'apli ), re- 
volt of in Assyria, 414, 415. 

Ashur-elit-ilani (a'shur-e'lit-il-a'm), King 
of Assyria, 487, 488. 

Ashur-natsir-pal I (a'shur-na'tsir-pal) of 
Assyria, 369. 

Ashur-natsir-pal III, his "reign of 
terror ", 396 ; conquests and atro- 
cities of, 397, 398; Babylonians over- 
awed by, 399; death of, 401. 

Ashur-nirari IV (a'shur-ni-ra'ri), last 
king of Assyria's "Middle Empire", 
442, 443. 

Ashur-uballit (a'shur-u-bal-lit), King of 
Assyria, Egypt and, 281, 282, 285; 
conquests of, 284; grandson of as 
King of Babylon, 284; Arabian desert 
trade route, 360. 

Asia Minor, hill god of, 136; prehistoric 
alien pottery in, 263. 

Ass, the sun god as, 329; in Lagash 
chariot, 330. 

"Ass of the East", horse called in 

.. Babylonia, 270. 

As'shur, City of, Ashur the god of, 277; 
Mitanni king plunders, 280; imported 
beliefs in, 327 ; Biblical reference to, 
339; development of god of, 355; 
Merodach's statue deported to, 469. 

As'shur, the Biblical Patriarch of As- 
syria, 276, 277, 327. See Ashur. 

Assyria, excavations in, xix et seq.\ 
Amorite migration to, 217; Ham- 
murabi kings as overlords of, 241, 
419; Thothmes III corresponds with 



king of, 276; Biblical reference to 
rise of, 276, 277; Aryan names of 
early kings of, 278; Mitanni kings as 
overlords of, 279, 280 ; Semitized by 
Amorites, 279; in TeU-el-Amarna 
letters, 281, 282; rise of after fall of 
Mitanni, 284; struggles with Baby- 
lonia for Mesopotamia, 284-6; 361 et 
seq.\ the national god, Ashur, 326 et 
seq. ; Isaiah's reference to, 340; Egyp- 
tians and Ilittites allied against, 366, 
368 ; Old Empire Kings, 366 et seq. ; 
Babylonia controls, 370; character 
of, 372-5; periods of history of, 375; 
at close of Kassite period, 380; end 
of Old Empire, 386; Second Empire 
of, 391 et seq.\ sculpture of and 
Sumerian, 401 ; mother worship in, 
420 et teg.; Urartu's struggle with, 
440-2 ; end of Second Empire, 443 ; 
Third Empire, 444 et seq.'j Egypt 
becomes a province of, 475 et sey.; 
last king of, 487; fall of Nineveh, 488; 
Cyaxares rules over, 493. 

Astarte (as-lar'te), lovers of, 103; ani- 
mals of on Lagash vase, 120; god- 
desses that link with, 267; Semiramis 
and, 425. 

Astrology, basal idea in Babylonian, 
317; Babylonian and Grecian, 318 et 
seq. ; literary references to, 325. 

Astrology and astronomy, 287 et seq. 
See Start) Planet 's, and Constellations. 

Astronomers, eclipses foretold by in late 
Assyrian period, 321, 322. 

Astronomy, Merodach fixes stars, &c., 
in Creation legend, 147, 148; dis- 
covery that moon is lit by sun, 148 . ; 
Mythical Ages and, $iQetseq. ; theory 
of Greek origin of, 319 et seq,\ pre- 
cession of the equinoxes, 320, 320 n. ; 
Assyro - Babylonian observatories, 
320-2 ; Hittites pass Babylonian dis- 
coveries to Europe, 316; in late As- 
syrian and neo-Baby Ionian period, 479, 

Astyages (as-ty'a-jez), King of the 
Medes, Cyrus displaces, 493 ; wife of 
a Lydian princess, 494. 

Asura fire (a-shoo'ra), in the sea, 50, 51. 

Atargatis (at-ar-ga'tis), the goddess, 
legend of origin of, 28; as a bi-sexual 
deity, 267; Derceto and, 277, 426, 
427; Nina and, 277, 278. 

Ate (a'te), mother goddess of Cilicia, 

Athaliah (ath-a-li'ah), Queen, ot Judah, 
409; reign of, 413; Joash crowned, 
413; soldiers slay, 413, 414. 

Athena (ath/na), indigenous goddess of 
Athens, 105 ; goat and, 337. 

Athens, imported gods in, 105. 

Atmospheric deities, Enlil, Indra, Ram- 
man, c., as, 35; "air of life" from, 
48, 49. 

A ton, Akhenaton's god, the goddess 
Mut and, 419, 422. 

Attis (at'tis), the Phrygian god, Tam- 
muz and, 84 ; death of, 87 ; as lover 
of Cybele, 103, 104; deities that link 
with, 267; as Jupiter, 305; Ashur 
and, 354-5; symbols of, 348. 

Ati-Aa, Jah as Ea, 31. 

Australia, star myths in, 296, 300. 

Axe, the double, symbol of god, 348. 

Azag-Bau (ii'zag ba'ii), legendary queen 
of Kish, 114; humble origin of, 115. 

Azariah (az-a-rl'ah), King of Judah, 

Baal, the moon god as, 51 ; shadowy 
spouse of, 100; Ashur as, 355; wor- 
ship of the Phoenician in Israel, 406. 

Baal-dag'on, the god, symbols of, 32. 

Ba'asha, King of Israel, 403; Damascus 
aids Judah against, 404, 405. 

Ba'a-ii, the Phoenician mother goddess, 

Babbar (bab'bar), sun god, 125; Nin 
Girsu and, 132; of Sippar, 240. 
See Shamash. 

Babylon, in early Christian literature, 
xvii; German excavations at, xxiv ; 
Isaiah foretells doom of, 113, 114, 
478; sack of by Gutium, 129; politi- 
cal rise of, 217 et seq.\ early history 
of, 218; Greek descriptions of late 
city of, 219 et seg,; "hanging gar- 
dens" of, 220 ; date of existing ruins 
of, 222; marriage market of, 224, 
225; sun worship in, 240; the Lon- 
don of Western Asia, 253 ; return ot 
Merodach from Mitanni to, 272; 
observatory at, 321 ; destruction of 
by Sennacherib, 468, 469; restored 
by Esarhaddon, 471; Ashur-bani-pal 
restores Merodach to, 481, 482; 
Shamash-sum-ukin's revolt in, 484, 
485 ; Belshazzar's feast in, 494, 495 ; 
under the Persians, 496; Xerxes 
pillages Merodach's temple in, 497 ; 
Alexander the Great in, 497, 498; 



under empire oi Seleucidse, 498; 
slow death of, 498, 499. 
Babylonia, excavations in, xix et seq. ; 
religion of, xxviii, xxxi; debt of 
modern world to, xxxv; early divi- 
sions of, I et seq.; harvests of, 21, 
22; the two seasons of, 23, 24; rise 
of empire of, 133; Amoritc migra- 
tion into, 217; Golden Age of, 253; 
Hittite invasion of, 259; Tell-el- 
Amarna letters and, 281 ; early 
struggles with Assyria, 284-6; star 
myths of, 290 et seq. ; ancestor wor- 
ship in, 295 ; beginning of arithmetic 
in, 310 et scq.\ Kassites and Meso- 
potamia, 358, 359, 361 etseq. ; Arabian 
desert route, 360; influence of Hittites 
in, 364, 366, 368 ; Assyria controlled 
by, 370; Kassite dynasty ends, 370-1 ; 
compared with Assyria, 371-5; Tig- 
lath-pileser land, 385; Ashur-natsir- 
pal III overawes, 399; Shamshi- 
Adad VII subdues, 414, 415 ; Tiglath- 
pileser IV, the "Pulu" of, 444-6; 
Esarhaddon and, 471-6; Neo-Baby- 
lonian Age, 478 ct seq. ; Alexander 
the Great and, 497. 

Baghdad railway, following ancient 
trade route, 357, 357 

Balder, the Germanic god, Gilgamesh 
and, 184; new age of, 202, 203. 

Ba-neb-tet'tu, Egyptian god, 29. 

Barley, husks of in Egyptian pre- 
Dynastic bodies, 6. 

Barleycorn, John, Nimrod and Ice- 
landic god Barleycorn and, 170, 

Barque of Ra, sun as and the Baby- 
lonian "boat", 56, 57. 

Basques, the, language of and the 
Sumerian, 3 ; shaving customs of, 4. 

Bast, the Egyptian serpent mother, 76. 

Ba'ta, the Egyptian tale of, 85. 

Bats, ghosts as, 65. 

Battle, the Everlasting, 65. 

Bau (ba'ii), mother goddess, 100; Gula 
and Ishtar and, 116; in Kish, 114, 
126, 127; associated with Nin-Girsu, 
115, 116; Tiamat and, 150; doves 
and, 428 ; creatrix and, 437. 

Bear, as a clan totem, 164. 

Bearded gods, the Sumerian, 135, 136, 
137; Egyptian customs, 136. 

"Beare, the Old Woman of", as the 
eternal goddess, 101, 102. 

Behistun, rock inscription at, xx. 

Bel, the, Merodach as, 34; Enlil as the 
"elder", 35; demons as "beloved 
sons " of, 63 ; Zu bird strives to be, 
74 ; in demon war, 77 ; as son of Ea, 
139; decapitated to create mankind, 
148; Etana visits heaven of, 166; in 
Gilgamesh legend, 172; in flood 
legend, igoetsep.; Zodiacal "field" 
f> 37; Saigon II and the "elder", 

Bel'-Kap-Ka'pii, King of Babylonia, as 
overlord of Assyria, 419. 

Bel-nirari (bel'-ni-ra/ri), King of Assyria, 
285, 286. 

Bel-snum-id'din, last Kassite king, 371. 

Beli (ba'le), "the Howler", enemy of 
Germanic corn god, 95. 

Belit-sheri (bel-it-sh/ri), sister of Tam- 
rnuz, in Hades, 98, 117. 

Belshaz'zar, King of Babylon, over- 
throw of, 494, 495. 

Beltane Day, fire ceremony of, 5- 

Beltu (bal'tii), the goddess, 36, 100. 

Ben-ha'dad I, King of Damascus, as 
overlord of Judah and Israel, 404. 

Ben-hadad II, Ahab defeats twice, 406, 
407; murder of by Hazael, 410. 

Ben-hadad III, Assyrians overcome, 
438, 439. 

Beowulf (ba-o-wulf), brood of Cain in, 
80; Scyld myth, 92, 93; sea monsters, 
152; mother-monster in like Sumerian 
and Scottish, 154, 155. 

Ber, "lord of the wild boar", Ninip 
as, 302. 

Bero'sus, 27, 30, 83, 148, 164, 170, 198, 

Bhima (bhee'ma), the Indian, like Gil- 
gamesh and Hercules, 187. 

Birds, as ghosts and fates, 65 ; owl as 
mother's ghost, 70; demons enter the, 
71; Sumerian Zu bird and Indian 
Garuda, 74, 75, 168, 169; in Ger- 
manic legends, 147 n.\ as symbols of 
fertility, 169; birth eagle, 1 68, 169, 
171; imitation of and musical culture, 
238; associated with goddesses, 423 
et seq. i fairies as, 429. See Doves,, 
Eag'le, Raven^ Swan, Vulture^ Wry- 

Birth, magical aid for, 165; straw girdles, 
serpent skins, eagle stones, and magi- 
cal plant, 165. 

Bi-sexual deities, Nannar, moon god, 
Ishtar, Isis, and Hapi as, 161, 162; 
Nina and Atargatis as, 277, 278; 



Merodach and Ishtar change forms, 
299; Venus both male and female, 
299; mother body of moon father, 
299; Isis as a male, 299. 

Bitumen, Mesopotamian wells of, 25. 

Blake, W., double vision, 336. 

Blood, as vehicle of life, 45, 47, 48; 
inspiration from, 48; corn stalks as, 
55; sap of trees as, 47. 

Boann (bo'an), Irish river and corn 
goddess, 33. 

Boar, offered to sea god, 33; demon 
Set as, 85 ; Babylonian Ninshach as, 
86; Adonis slayer as, 86, 87; Attis 
slain by, 87; Diarmid slain by, 87; 
the Irish "green boar", 87; the 
Totemic theory, 293, 294; Ninip-Ber 
as lord of the wild, 302; Nergal as, 
304; Ares as, 304; Ninip and Set as, 
315 ; the Gaulish boar god and Mer- 
cury, 316, 317, 

Boghaz-Koi (bog-haz'-ketii), prehistoric 
pottery at, 5; Hittite capital, 262; 
mythological sculptures near, 268; 
Winckler cuneiform tablets from, 280, 

Bones, why taken from graves, 214; 

Shakespeare's curse, 215. 
Borsippa (bor'sip-pa), observatory at, 


Botta, P. C., excavations of, xix, xx. 
Bracelet, the wedding, Ish tar's, 98; the 

Hindu, 98 n. 
Brahma, the Indian god, like Ea, 27; 

Ann and, 38 ; wife of, 101 ; eagle as, 

169; Ashur and, 328. 
Brahmans, algebra formulated by, 289; 

Assyrian teachers and, 352. 
Breath of Apis bull, inspiration from, 

Britain, the ancestral giant of, 42 ; 

Tammuz myth in, 85; birth girdles 

in, 165; " Island of the Blessed" of, 

203; in Egypt and Persia, 357. 
Brood of Tiamat, in Creation legend, 

Brown, Robert, on Babylonian culture 

in India, 199, 200, 308, 309, 310, 

318, 322. 
Brown Race, the. See Mediterranean 

Buddha (biid'ha), Babylonian teachers 

like, 42. 
Budge, E. Wallis, on oldest, companies 

of Babylonian and Egyptian gods, 36, 


( C 642 ) 

Bull, offered to sea god, 33; Ninip as 
tne > 53 3 02 > 334 J f Mithra, 55; 
the winged, 41, 65; Osiris as, 85, 
89, 99 ; Tammuz as, 85 ; Attis and 
the, 89; Enlil as, 159; of Ishtar in 
Gilgamesh myth, 176; seers wrapped 
in skin of, 213; Horus as, 301, 302; 
as sky god, 329; Ashur as, 334; the 
lunar, 135, 334. 

Burial customs, cremation ceremony, 
49, 50, 350; "house of clay", 56; 
"houses" and charms for dead. 206, 
207, 212; Palaeolithic and Neolithic, 
207; the Egyptian, 209; religious 
need for ceremonies, 208, 209; Su- 
merian like early Egyptian, 211, 214; 
priestly fees, 210, 211; food, fish- 
hooks and weapons in graves, 212; 
why dead were clothed, 213; honey 
in coffins, 214; disturbance of bones, 
214, 215; burnings at Hebrew graves, 

350, 351- 
Buriats, the, "calling back" of ghosts 

by, 69, 70; earth and air elves of, 

Burkans (boor'kans), "the masters", 

spirits or elves of Siberians, 105. 
Burnaburiash I (biir'na-bUr'i-ash), Kas- 

site king, 274. 
Burns, Robert, 72; the John Barleycorn 

myth, 170. 
Burrows, Professor, Cretan snake and 

dove goddess, 430. 
Byron, star lore, 325. 

Cailleach (kaTyak), the Gaelic, a wind 
hag, 73; as eternal goddess, 101. 

Calah (ka'lah), the Biblical. See Kalkhi. 

Calendar, the early Egyptian, 14; the 
Babylonian, 305. 

Cambyses (kam-bi'sez), as King of 
Babylon, 495; sacrifice of Apis bull 
to Mithra by, 495 ; wife of a Semi- 
ramis, 496. 

Canaan, Abraham arrives in, 245; tribes 
in, 245, 246; Elamite conquest of, 
247, 248, 249; first reference to 
Israelites in, 379. 

Canaanites, Hittites identified with, 266. 

Canals of Ancient Babylonia, 22, 23. 

Cappadocia, Cimmerians in, 472. 

Captivity, the Hebrew, Chebar river 
(Kheber canal) at Nippur, 344. 

Carchemish (kar'k^-mish), German rail- 
way bridge and Hittite wall at, 357 n. ; 
Hittite city state of, 395; revolt of, 


461; Nebuchadrezzar defeats Pharaoh 

Necho at, 489. 
Caria (kar'i-a), assists Lydia against 

Cimmerians, 484; mercenaries from 

in Egypt, 486. 
Cat, sun god as, 329* 
Caucasus, the, skull forms in, 8. 
Cave dwellers, the Palestinian, 10. 
Celtic goddesses, of Iberian origin, 105. 
Celtic water demon myths, 28. 
Celts, Achseans and, 377. 
Ceres (se-rez), 103. 
Chaldse'ans, Babylonian priests called, 

222, 497; in Hammurabi Age, 257; 

history of, 390; Aramaeans and, 390; 

Judah's relations with, 408; Mero- 

dach Baladan King of, 457 et seq.\ 

revolt of against Esarhaddon, 471 ; 

revolt of against Ashur-bani-pal, 484; 

Nabo-polassar King of Babylon, 487. 
Charms, the burial, 206; ornaments as, 

2ii; the metrical and poetic de- 
velopment, 237-9. 
Checlor-laomer (ched'or-La'o-mer), the 

Biblical, 247, 248. 
Chellean (shel'le-an) flints, in Palestine, 


Cherubs, the four-faced, 344, 
Child god, Tarn muz and Osiris as the, 

89, 90; Sargon of Akkad as, 91 ; 

Germanic Scyld or Sceaf as, 92, 93. 
Children, stolen by hags and fairies, 68; 

in mother worship, 107, 108. 
China, spitting customs in, 47; dragons 

of, 152; ancestor worship in, 295. 
Chinese, language of and the Sumerian, 

Chronology, inflated dating and Berlin 
system, xxiv, xxv. 

Cilicia, thunder god of, 261; Ate, god- 
dess of, 267; Hittite Kingdom of, 
395; loniansin, 464; in anti-Assyrian 
league, 473; Ashur-bani-pal expels 
Cimmerians from, 484, 486. 

Cimmerians, raids of in Asia Minor, 461, 
464; Esarhaddon and, 472; Gyges 
of Lydia and, 483, 484, 486; Lydians 
break power of, 486. 

Clans, Totemic names and symbols of, 


Clepsydra, a Babylonian invention, 323. 

Clothing, magical significance of, 212; 
the reed mats and sheepskins in graves, 
213; the bull skin, 213; the ephod 
and prophet's mantle, 213, 214. 

Comana (k5-ma'na), Hittite city of, 395. 

Constellations, the Zu bird, 74; why 
animal forms were adopted, 289 ; the 
" Great Bear" in various mythologies, 
295, 296, 309; the Pleiades, 296, 
297; Pisces as "fish of Ea w , 296; 
the "sevenfold one", 298, 300; 
Merodach's forms, 299; Castor and 
Pollux myths in Australia, Africa, and 
Greece, 300; Tammuz and Orion, 
301; months controlled by, 305; signs 
of Zodiac, 305; Babylonian and 
modern signs, 308; the central, 
northern, and southern, 309; "Fish 
of the Canal" and "the Horse", 
309; the "Milky Way", 309; identi- 
fied before planets, 318; Biblical and 
literary references to, 324, 325; the 
' ' Arrow", " Eagle ", " Vulture ", 
"Swan", and "Lyra", 336, 337. 

Copper, Age of in Palestine, 1 1 ; first 
use of, 12 ; in Northern Mesopotamia, 
25; Gudea of Lagash takes from 
Elam, 130. 

Corn child god, Tammuz and Osiris as, 
89, 90; Sargon as, 91 ; the Germanic 
Scyld or Scef, 92, 93, 94 ; Frey and 
Heimdal as, 94. 

Corn Deities, as river and fish gods and 
goddesses, 29, 32, 33. 

Corn god, moon god as, 52 ; Mithra as, 
55; the thunder god as, 57, 340; 
Tammuz and Osiris as, 81 et seq.\ 
Khonsu as, 90; Frey and Agni as, 
94; fed with sacrificed children, 171. 

Corn goddess, Isis as, 90; fish goddess 
as, 117. 

Cow goddesses, Isis, Nepthys, and 
Hathor as, 99, 329. 

Creation, local character of Babylonian 
conception, xxix; of mankind at 
Eridu, 38 ; legend of, 134, 138 et seq. ; 
night as parent of day, 330. 

Creative tears, 45 et seq. 

Creator gods, Ea and Ptah as, 30; 
eagle god as, 169. 

Creatress, the goddess Mama as, 57; 
Aruru as, 100, 148; forms of, 437. 

Cremation, traces of in Gezer caves, 1 1 ; 
the ceremony of, 49 ; not Persian or 
Sumerian, 50; in European Bronze 
Age, 316; Saul burned, 350; Sar- 
danapalus legend, 350. 

Crete, chronology of, xxv, 114; no 
temples, xxxi; women's high social 
status in, 16; Dagon's connection 
with, 33 ; prehistoric pottery in, 263 ; 



Ilyksos trade with, 273; Achaeans 
invade, 376, 377; Philistine raiders 
from, 379; dove and snake sacred 
in, 430; dove goddess not Baby- 
lonian, 433, 434. 

Crocodile god of Egypt, 29; sun god 
as, 329. 

Croesus of Lydia, Cyrus defeats, 494. 

Cromarty, the south-west wind hag or, 


Cronos, as the Destroyer, 64; Ninip 

and Set and, 315. 

Cuneiform writing, earliest use of, 7- 

Cushites, Biblical reference to, 276. 

Cuthah (kii'thah), Nergal, god of, 54; 
annual fires at, 170; the Underworld 
city of, 205; demon legend of, 215, 
216; men of in Samaria, 455, 456. 

"Cuthean Legend of Creation ", 215, 

Cyaxares (sy-ax'iir-es), Median King, 
Nineveh captured by, 488; ally of 
Nabopolassar, 493. 

Cybele (ky-b/le), Attis lover of, 103, 
104, 267. 

Cyprus, dove goddess not Babylonian, 
433, 434 ; dove goddess of, 426, 427, 
43 3 5 434J Ashur-bani-pal and, 484. 

Cyrus, Merodach calls, 493 ; the Patri- 
arch of, 493 ; the eagle tribe of, 493 ; 
Astyages defeated by, 493; Egypto- 
Lydian alliance against, 494; Na- 
bonidus and, 494 ; Croesus of Lydia 
overthrown by, 494 ; fall of Babylon, 
494, 495 ; the King of Babylonia, 
495 ; welcomed by Jews, 495 ; re- 
building of Jerusalem temple, 496. 

Dadu (da'dvi), Ramman as, 57- 

Dagan (diig'an),, the Babylonian, iden- 
tical with Ea, 31 ; Nippur temple of, 
131 ; under Isin Dynasty, 132. 

Dagda (dag'da), the Irish corn god, 
33. 238. 

Dagon (dag'on), Jah and Ea as, 31 ; 
Dagan and, 31, 32; as a fish and 
corn deity, 32 ; Baal-dagon and, 32 ; 
offering of mice to, 32, 33. 

Daguna (dag'u-na), Dagon and Dagan 
and, 31. 

Daityas (dait'yas), the Indian, like Baby- 
lonian demons, 34. 

Damascius, on Babylonian deities, 328. 

Damascus, Aramsean state of, 390; 
Israel and Judah subject to, 395, 396; 
Asa's appeal to, 404; conflict with 

Assyria, 407; Judah and Israel allied 
against, 408; murder of Ben-hadad 
II, 410; Palestine subject to, 414; 
Israel overcomes, 449; conquered by 
Adad-nirari IV, 438, 439. 

Damik-ilishu (dam-ik-il-i'shii), last king 
of Isin Dynasty, 133. 

Damkina (dam'ki-na), wife of Ea, 33, 34; 
demon attendants of, 63; as mother 
of Ea, 105; as mother of Enlil, 139; 
Zerpanitu and, 160; association of 
with moon, 436; creatrix and, 437. 

Damu (da'mu), the fairy goddess of 
dreams, 77, 78. 

Danavas (dan'avas), the Indian, like 
Babylonian demons, 34. 

Dancing, the constellations, 333. 

Danes, harvest god as patriarch of, 92. 

Daniel, Nebuchadrezzar's "fiery fur- 
nace", 349. 

Danu (da-mi), the Irish goddess, 268. 

Daonus or Daos, the shepherd, Tamrnuz 
as, 83, 86. 

Dari'us I, claims to be Achoemenian, 
496; plots against Merodach cult, 


Darius II, death of at Babylon, 497. 

Darius III, Alexander the Great over- 
throws, 497. 

Dasa (dii'sa), the Indian, as "foreign 
devil", 67. 

Dasyu (dash'yoo), the Indian, as * ' foreign 
devil", 67, 

Date palm, in Babylonia, 25. 

David, the ephod used by, 213, 214, 

Dead, the, Nergal lord of, 56; ghosts 
of searching for food, 70, 7 1 ; Osiris 
lord of, 86; charms, weapons, and 
food for, 206; "houses" of, 206-8; 
spirits of as warriors and fishermen, 


Death, eagle of, 1 68; the Roman, 169; 

Hercules and, 170, 
Death, the sea of, in Gilgamesh epic, 

178 et scq. 

Death, the stream of, 56. 
Deer, associated with Lagash goddess, 

Deities, the local, 43, 44; food and 

water required by, 44; the mead of, 

45; early groups of in Egypt and 

Sumeria, 105, 106; made drunk at 

banquet, 144. 
Deluge Legend, Smith translates, xxii. 

See Flood Legends. 

5 io 


Demeter (d^-nVter), the goddess, Posei- 
don as lover of, 33, 103. 
Demons, the Babylonian Ocean, 34; 
gods as, 35, 62, 135; Enlil lord of, 
35> 63 ; Tiamat and Apsu as, 37, 38, 
64; Tiamat's brood, 140, 141, 214, 
215; "ceremonies of riddance", 58; 
as sources of misfortune, 60; in images, 
61; the winged bull, &c., 65; the 
44 will-o'-the-wisp", 66, 67; Anu as 
father of, 63, 68; as lovers, 67, 68; 
Adam's first wife Lilith, 67; ghosts 
as, 69, 215; penetrate everywhere, 71, 
72; as pigs, horses, goats, &c., 71; 
Set pig of Egypt, 85 ; as wind hags, 
72, 73; the Zu bird, 74; Indian eagle, 
166; association of with gods, 76; the 
serpent mother one of the, 74-6 ; the 
Jinn, 78 ; as composite monsters, 79 ; 
the Teutonic Beli, 95; in mythology 
and folk lore, 151 etseq. ; the Gorgons, 
159 ; King of Cuthah's battle against, 
214, 215; disease germs as, 234. 
De Morgan, pottery finds by, 263. 
Derceto (der-k/to), fish goddess, Semi- 
ramis and, 277, 418, 423; mermaid 
form of, 426; Atargatis legend, 426, 
427; dove symbol of, 432; legends 
attached to, 437. 
De Sarzec, M., xxiii. 
" Descent of Ishtar ", poem, 95 et seq. 
Destroyer, the, "World Mother" as, 
xxx, 100; Ninip as, 53; goddess Nin- 
sun as, 57; Enlil and Nergal as, 62, 
63, 303; Egyptian and Indian deities 
as, 63, 85, 157, 336; Cronos as, 64; 
"Shedu" bull as, 65; Set boar as, 
85 ; Babylonian boar god as, 86 ; 
eagle as, 168, 169; "winged disk" 
as, 336; sun as, 336; Thor, Ashur, 
Tammuz, and Indra each as, 340. 
Diarmid, the Celtic, Tammuz-Adonis 
and, 84, 87; water of life myth, 186, 
187; Totemic boar and, 293. 
Dietrich (det'rech : * ch ' as in loch} as 

the thunder god, 74, 164. 
Diodo'rus, on Babylonian star lore, 309. 
Disease, Nergal the god of, 53, 54; 
goddess of, 77; demons of, 60, 63, 77. 
Divorce, in Babylonia, 227. 
Doctors, laws regarding, 230, 231 ; 
Herodotus on, 231 ; Assyrian king 
and, 231, 232. 

Doves, goddesses and, 418; Semiramis 
protected after birth by, 424; goddess 
of Cyprus and, 426 ; Aphrodite and, 

427; Ishtar and Gula and, 427, 428; 
associated with temples and homes, 
428; in Gilgamesh epic, 428; deities 
identified with, 429; ravens and, 429; 
sacred at Mycenae, 430; snakes and 
in Crete, 430; sacred among Semites 
and Hittites, 430; Egyptian lovers 
and, 431 ; pigeon lore in England, 
Ireland, and Scotland, 431; fish and, 
432; Totemic theory, 432 et seg.\ 
antiquity of veneration of, 433, 434; 
sacrificed in Israel, 439 ; the Persian 
eagle legend and, 493. 

Dragon, the, of Babylon, 62 ; in group 
of seven spirits, 63; Tiamat as the 
female, 38, 64; Tiamat as ocean, 15, 
as " fire drake ", " worm ", &c., 151; 
"Ku-pu" of Tiamat, 147; heart of, 
147 n. ; liver vulnerable part of, 153 ; 
the male, 156 (see Apsu); Biblical 
references to, 114, 157, 158; Eur- 
Asian variations of myth of, 151, 152; 
well of at Jerusalem, 152; the Egyp- 
tian, 156; Sutekh as slayer of, 157; 
Merodach as slayer of (see Merodach}. 

Drake, the Fire, the Babylonian, 66, 67; 
dragon as, 151. 

Dreams, the fairy goddess of, 77, 78. 

Drink traffic, women monopolized in 
Babylonia, 229. 

Drinking customs, religious aspect of, 
45; inspiration from blood, 48; the 
gods drunk at Anshar's banquet, 144. 

Dungi (dun'gi), King of Ur, 130; daugh- 
ters of as rulers, 130; an Ea wor- 
shipper, 131. 

Dyaus (rhymes with "mouse"), dis- 
placed by Indra, 302. 

Dying gods, the eternal goddess and 
the, IOI et seq,\ death a change of 
form, 305. 

Ea (a'a), god of the deep, Ashur-bani- 
pal and, xxii, xxiii; a typical Baby- 
lonian god, xxviii, xxix, 27; Cannes 
and, 27, 30; as world artisan like 
Ptah and Indra, 30; connection of 
with sea and Euphrates, 28, 29, 39; 
as sea-demon, 62; names of, 30, 39; 
as fish and corn god, 32; Dagon, 
Poseidon, Neptune, Frey, Shony,&c., 
and, 31, 33; Dagon and Dagan, 31; 
Ea as Dagan at Nippur, 131; as Ya, 
or Jah, of Hebrews, 31; Totemic 
fish of, 294; Indian Varuna and, 31, 
34, 209; wife of as earth lady, 33; 


5 11 

wife of as mother, 105; Anu and, 34; 
Enlil and, 35; demons of, 35, 63; 
in early triad, 36, 37, 463; Indian 
Vishnu and, 38; as dragon slayer, 38, 
140, 153, 157; Adapa, son of, a 
demon slayer, 72, 73; in demon war, 
77; as "great magician", 38, 46; 
moon god and, 40, 50, 51, 53; solar 
attributes of, 50, 51, 53; food supply 
and, 43; beliefs connected with, 44; 
Nusku as messenger of, 50; Nebo a 
form of, 303, 435; gods that link 
with, 57, 58; as form of Anshar, 125; 
family of including Merodach and 
Tammuz, 72, 73, 82; daughter of, 
117; Merodach supplants, 158; Enlil 
as son of, 139; Ashur as son of, 348; 
planetary gods and, 304; worshipped 
at Lagash, 116; earliest form of, 134; 
under Isin Dynasty, 132; in Creation 
legend, 138 et seq. ; astral " field " of, 
147, 307; constellations and, 296; 
Merodach directs decrees of, 149; 
Etana and eagle visit heaven of, 166; 
in flood legend, 190 et seq. ; as Aos, 
328; the goat and, 333; as "high 
head", 334; Sargon II and, 463. 

Ea-bnni (a'a-ba'ni), 41, 42; ghost of as 
*' wind gust ", 48, 49; goat demi-god, 
135; lured from the wilds, 173; as 
ally of Gilgamesh, 174; Ishtar's woo- 
ing, 174, 175; slaying of Ishtar's bull, 
176: death of, 176, 177; ghost of in- 
voked by Gilgamesh, 183, 184. 

Eagle, the, Sumerian Zu bird and 
Indian Garuda eagle, 74, 75, 165, 
166, 168, 169, 330, 346, 347; the 
lion headed as Nin-Girsu (Tammuz), 
120, 135; in Etana myth, 165; in 
Nimrod myth, 1 66, 167; in Alexander 
the Great legend, 167 ; in Scottish 
folk tale, 167, 168; as soul carrier, 
168; Roman Emperor's soul and, 169; 
Hercules and, 170, 349; Gilgamesh 
protected at birth by, 171; Persian 
patriarch protected at birth by, 493 ; 
the Totemic theory, 293, 493; wheel 
of life and, 346, 347; Ashur and 
Horus and, 343 ; wings of on Ashur 
disk, 351, 352. 

Eagle stone, as a birth charm, 165. 

Eagle tribe, the ancient, 493. 

Eannatum (a'an-na'turn), King of 
Lagash, a great conqueror, 1 1 8, 119; 
rules Ur and Erech, 119; works of, 
119; mound burial in period of, 214. 

Earth children, elves and dwarfs as, 
292, 292 n. 

Earth spirits, males among father wor- 
shippers, 105 ; the Egyptian, Teu- 
tonic, Aryan, and Siberian, 105; elves 
and fairies as, 294, 295. 

Earth worship, moon and stone wor- 
ship and, 52. 

Ecclesiastes, "Lay of the Harper", 
"Song of the Sea Lady" and, 179, 
i So. 

Ecke (eck-a), Tyrolese storm demon, 


Eclipse foretold by Assyrian and Baby 
Ionian astronomers, 321, 322; the 
Ahaz sundial record, 323; Babylonian 
records of, 324; in reign of Ashur- 
dan III, 442. 

Ecliptic, when divided, 322. 

Edinburgh, the giant Arthur of, 164. 

Edom, Judah and, 402, 409, 448 ; trib- 
ute from to Assyria, 439. 

Education, in Hammurabi Age, 251. 

Egg, the, goddess Atargatis born of, 28, 
426; thorn as life in, 352. 

Egypt, agricultural festivals in, xxxi; 
debt of modern world to, xxxv ; pre- 
historic agriculture in, 6; Mediter- 
ranean race in, 7 ; early shaving 
customs, 5, 9, 10 ; theory copper first 
used in, 12; social status of women 
in, 16; early gods of and Sumerian, 
2 6 36, 37 ; creative tears of deities 
of, 45; lunar worship in, 52; god 
and goddess cults in, 105; Great 
Mother Nut of, 106; at dawn of 
Sumerian history, 114; bearded 
deities of, 136; dragon of, 156; 
" Lay of Harper " and Sumerian 
"Song of Sea Lady", 178, 179; 
flood legend of, 197 ; feast of dead 
in, 206 ; burial customs and Sumerian, 
209-14; Hyksos invasion and Hittite 
raid on Babylon, 259 ; culture debt of 
to Syria, 275 ; prehistoric Armenoid 
invasion of, II, 263 ; prehistoric black 
foreign pottery, 263; Totemism in, 
292-5, 432-3 ; Syrian empire of lost, 
284; fairies and elves of, 294; Pharaoh 
displaces gods in, 295 ; doctrine of 
mythical ages in, 315; the phoenix, 
330; the "man in the sun", 336; 
Neith as a thunder goddess, 337, 
337 n. ; Ankh symbol, 347 ; influence 
of Hittites in, 364; wars with Hittites, 
365, 366; Cretans and sea raiders, 


378; Hebrews and, 388; "mother 
right" in, 418; sacred pigeons in, 
428 ; fosters revolt against Sargon II, 
457; Pharaoh and Piru of Mutsri, 
458 and n. ; Sennacherib defeats army 
of, 465; intrigues against Assyria, 
465, 471 ; as Assyrian province, 475; 
Ashur-bani-pal and, 482, 484; As- 
syrian yoke shaken off, 486; Scythians 
on frontier of, 488; after Assyria's 
fall, 489; Hophra plots against Nebu- 
chadrezzar II, 491. 

El'ah, King of Israel, 405. 

Elam, prehistoric pottery of, 5, 263; 
copper from, 130; British influence 
i n > 357 caravan routes of, 361. 

Elamites, relations with early Sumerians, 
Hi; defeated by Eannatum of Lagash, 
118; raid on Lagash by, 121 ; Sargon 
of Akkad defeats, 127; Ur dynasty 
overthrown by, 131 ; in Hammurabi 
Age, 217; conquests of Warad-Sin 
and Rim-Sin, 217; King Sin-mubal- 
lit's struggle with, 242, 243; Medes 
and, 244; King of and Abraham, 
247 ; in Syria, 247 ; driven from 
Babylonia, 249; in Kassite period, 
2 74 37Q> 380, 381 ; connection of 
with early Assyria, 278; struggle for 
trade expansion, 361 et seq, ; Baby- 
lonian raid, 369; during Solomon 
period, 391 ; Esarhaddon and, 472 ; 
Ashur-bani-pal subdues, 484, 485, 

Elisha, call of Jehu, 409, 410; call of 
Hazael, 410, 411. 

Elves, the Babylonian, 67 ; as lovers, 
68 ; origin of conception of, 79> 80, 
292 ; like Indian Ribhus and Siberian 
"masters", 105; the European, 
Egyptian, and Indian, 294; human 
bargains with, 294, 295. 

Enannatum I (en-an-na'tum) of Lagash, 
defeats Um ma force, 119. 

Enannatum II, King of Lagash, last of 
Ur-Nina's line, 1 20. 

England, the ancestral giant of, 42; 
spitting customs in, 47; return of 
dead dreaded in, 70, 70^.; Black 
Annis, the wind hag, 73, IOI ; fairies 
and elves of, 80, 1 86; the "fire 
drake" of, 151; "Long Meg" a 
hag of, 156; "Long Tom" a giant 
of, 156; pigeon lore in, 431. 

Enki (an'ki), "lord of the world ", Ea 
as, 31. See Ea. 

En'lil, god of Nippur and elder Bel, 

lord of demons, 35; spouse of, 36; 
in early group of deities, 37 ; like 
Indian Shiva, 38; deities that link 
with, 35, 57, 271, 272; as destroyer, 
62, 63; "fates" as sons of, 80; Ur 
Nina worshipped, 116; as son of 
Ami, 124; as son of Ea, 139; Ninip 
as son and father of, 53, 158, 302; 
during Isis Dynasty, 132; astral 
"field" of, 147; Merodach directs 
decrees of, 149; as corn god, 159; 
monotheism of cult of, 161 ; temple 
of as "world house", 35, 332; as 
bull and "high head", 334; Etana 
in heaven of, 1 66; also rendered El lil. 
See Bel. 

Enlil-bani (en'lil-ba'ni), King of Isin, a 
usurper like Sargon, 133. 

En-Mersi (en-m^r'si), a form of Tam- 
muz, 116. 

Enneads, the Babylonian and Egyptian, 

Entemena(en-te'men-a), King of Lagash, 
Umma subdued by, 119, 120; famous 
silver vase of, I2O; worshipped as a 
god, 257, 258. 

Ephod, the, used by David, 213, 214. 

Ephron the Hittite, 12. 

Equinoxes, precession of, where law of 
discovered: Greece or Babylonia? 320, 
320 ., 322. 

Erech, Ami god of, 34; gods of be- 
come flies and mice, 41; destroying 
sun goddess of, 57; Ur-Nina and, 
116; under Lagash, 119; an ancient 
capital, 124, 125; rise of after Akkad, 
129 ; moon god at, 130 ; in Gilgamesh 
epic, 172 et seq. ; in revolt against 
Ashur-bani-pal, 484; Nabonidus and, 

Eresh-ki-gal (eresh-ki'gal), goddess of 
death, 53 ; Nergal husband and con- 
queror of, 53, 54, 204, 205, 303; as 
a Norn, 77; " Fates" as sons of, 80; 
as wife of Enlil, 80; Germanic hag 
like, 95 ; punishment of Ishtar by, 
96, 97; as destroyer, 100. 

Eridu (/ri-dii), once a seaport, 22, 25, 
38; Ea the god of, 27; sanctity of, 

38, 39- 

Erosi Greek love god, 90. 

E-sagila (<2-sag'i-la), Merodach's temple, 
221; Hammurabi and, 252; in Kassite 
Age, 274; as symbol of world hill, 
332 ; sacked by Sennacherib, 468 ; 
gods of Ur, Erech, Larsa, and Eridu 


in, 492, 493 ; Xerxes pillages, 497 ; 

Alexander the Great repairs, 497 ; 

decay of, 498. 
Esarhaddon (e'sar-had'don), character 

of, 470; Babylonian wife of, 471; 

Egypto- Syrian league against, 471, 

472; Queen Nakia regent of, 472; 

alliance with Urartu, 473; sack of 

Sidon, 473; Manasseh's revolt, 474; 

invasion of Egypt, 475; revolt in 

Assyria, 476; successors chosen by, 

476; death of, 476. 
Esau, Hittite wives of, 266. 
Etana (tf-ta'na), Zu bird myth and, 

74-6 ; quest of the " Plant of Birth ", 

164, 165; flight with eagle to 

heavens, 165, 166. 
Eternal goddess, the, husbands of die 

annually, 101 et scq. 
Ethnology, folk beliefs and, xxvi. 
Euphrates, the river, 22; as "the soul 

of the land ", 23; rise and fall of, 24; 

as the creator, 29. 
Europe, lunar worship in, 52; Armenoid 

invasion of, 264. 

Evans, Sir Arthur, pottery finds by, 263. 
Evil eye, the, 235, 236. 
"Evil Merodach", King of Babylon, 


Evolution, in Babylonian religion, xxxiv. 
Ezekiel, on fire-worshipping ceremony, 

50; Tammuz weeping, 82; on ethnics 
- of Jerusalem, 246; on Hittite char- 
acteristics, 266; Assyria the cedar, 

340, 341 ; the wheel of life symbol, 

344 et seq. 
Ezra, return of Jewish captives with, 


Face paint, for the dead, 206; why 
used for dead, living, and gods, 212. 

Fafncr dragon, 156. 

Fairies, the Babylonian, 67; origin of, 
79, 80; green like other spirits, 1 86; 
the European, Egyptian, and Indian, 
294; human bargains with, 294, 295; 
birds as, 429. 

Farm labourers, scarcity of in Babylonia, 

Farnell, Dr., on pre-Hellenic religion, 
104; on racial gods in Greece, 105. 

Fates, the birds as, 65, 147 . , 427 n . , 430; 
as servants of Anu, 77; moon as chief 
of the, 301; oldest deities as, 317; 
on St. Valentine's Day, 430; Aphro- 
dite and Ishtar as, 433. 

Father, the Great, Arm as, 38; Ram- 
man- Hadad as, 57 ; Apsu, the chaos 
demon as, 64; Osiris as, 99; shadowy 
spouse of, 100; nomadic people and, 
105; worshipped by Haiti, xxx, 268, 

Father and son conflict; younger god 
displaces elder, Ninip and Enlil, 
Merodach and Ea, Indra and Dyaus 
myths, 158; Osiris and Horus, 159; 
in astral myths, 302, 303, 304, 305, 

Feast of Dead, 206. 

Fig tree, in Babylonia, 25. 

Finger counting, in Babylonia and India, 
31 1 et seg. 

Finn-mac-Coul (finn'mac-cool), as hero 
and god, 87, 87 ., 88 .; as mother 
monster slayer, 153, 154; Beowulf 
and, 155; as a "sleeper", 164, 394; 
water of life myth, 186, 187. 

Finns, language of and the Sumerians, 
3; of Ural-Altaic stock, 4. 

Fire, as vital principle, 50, 5 1 ; fire and 
water ceremonies, 50, 51 ; the ever- 
lasting fire in the sea, 50, 51; the 
Babylonian " Will-o'-the-wisp", 66; 
Eagle and, 169 ; the May Day, 348 ; 
ceremony of riddance, 349; Baby- 
lonian burnings, 348; Nimrod's pyre, 
349> 35; Tophet, 350; royal burn- 
ings in Israel and Judah, 350, 351. 

Fire drake, the Babylonian, 66, 151. 

Fire gods, the Babylonian and Indian, 

First born, sacrifice of, 50. 

Fish deities, Sumerian Ea and Indian 
Brahma and Vishnu as, 27, 28; in 
Eur- Asian legends, 28 ; Sumerian and 
Egyptian, 29; connection of with 
corn, 29, 32; goddess of Lagash, 117; 
Western Asian fish goddesses, 277, 
418, 423, 426; dove symbol of, 431, 
432; Totemism and, 294. 

Flies, gods turn to, 41. 

Flood legend, the Babylonian, 24, 55, 
190 et seq.\ the Greek, 195; the 
Indian, xxvi, 196; the Irish, 196; 
the Egyptian, 197 ; the American, 
197, 198; the Biblical, 198, 199. 

Folk cures, the ancient, 61, 231, 232-4. 

Folk lore, mythology and, xxv, xxxiv, 
42, 151 et scg., 189; ethnology in, 

Food of death, 44.