By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Myths of Babylonia and Assyria
Author: MacKenzie, Donald A., 1873-1936
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Myths of Babylonia and Assyria" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.


Donald A. Mackenzie


I.              The Races and Early Civilization of Babylonia
II.             The Land of Rivers and the God of the Deep
III.            Rival Pantheons and Representative Deities
IV.             Demons, Fairies, and Ghosts
V.              Myths of Tammuz and Ishtar
VI.             Wars of the City States of Sumer and Akkad
VII.            Creation Legend: Merodach the Dragon Slayer
VIII.           Deified Heroes: Etana and Gilgamesh
IX.             Deluge Legend, the Island of the Blessed, and Hades
X.              Buildings and Laws and Customs of Babylon
XI.             The Golden Age of Babylonia
XII.            Rise of the Hittites, Mitannians, Kassites, Hyksos, and
XIII.           Astrology and Astronomy
XIV.            Ashur the National God of Assyria
XV.             Conflicts for Trade and Supremacy
XVI.            Race Movements that Shattered Empires
XVII.           The Hebrews in Assyrian History
XVIII.          The Age of Semiramis
XIX.            Assyria's Age of Splendour
XX.             The Last Days of Assyria and Babylonia


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) civilization 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 "both the Sumerians and
early Egyptians derived their primeval gods from some common but
exceedingly ancient source". The prehistoric burial customs of these
separate peoples are also remarkably similar and they resemble closely
in turn those of the Neolithic Europeans. The cumulative effect of
such evidence forces us to regard as not wholly satisfactory and
conclusive the hypothesis of cultural influence. A remote racial
connection is possible, and is certainly worthy of consideration when
so high an authority as Professor Frazer, author of _The Golden
Bough_, 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
establish a racial kinship between the Neolithic Europeans, the
proto-Egyptians, the Sumerians, the southern Persians, and the

Throughout this volume comparative notes have been compiled in dealing
with Mesopotamian beliefs with purpose 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
indispensable for their welfare as their implements and domesticated

When consideration is given in this connection to the conservative
element in primitive religion, it is not surprising 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 concern
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 throat.

    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
knowledge 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 Philostratus,[1] Apollonius of Tyana was
worthy of being remembered for two things--his bravery in travelling
among fierce robber tribes, not then subject to Rome, and his wisdom
in learning the language of birds and other animals 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 "deathless 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".[2]

Magic and religion were never separated in Babylonia; not only the
priests but also the gods performed magical ceremonies. 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 contagious 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
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 experiences 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 Babylonian
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 contact with, and were influenced by,
Mesopotamian civilization. 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 Mesopotamian 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
conditions 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 characterize 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 Euphrates.


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 persecution 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
memorable 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 desolated city of
his vision by voicing memories of its beauty and gaiety and bustling

    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_.[3]

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 accumulated myths and
legends. A slim volume contained all that could be derived from
references in the Old Testament and the compilations of classical

It is only within the past half-century that the wonderful 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
Babylonia 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 himself wrote, "enclosed all that remained not only of
the great city of Nineveh, but of Babylon itself".[4]

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 independent 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,
while sojourning 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 investigate the Nineveh mounds; but these he abandoned for a
mound near Khorsabad which proved to be the site of the city erected
by "Sargon the Later", who is referred to by Isaiah. The relics
discovered by Botta and his successor, 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
unrivalled Assyrian collection. He also conducted diggings at Babylon
and Niffer (Nippur). His work was continued by his assistant, Hormuzd
Rassam, a native Christian 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
buildings, 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 Baghdad, 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 complicated Assyro-Babylonian alphabetic and
syllabic characters to record a portion of the history of his reign.
Rawlinson's translation of the famous inscription was an important
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 unsettled political conditions of the ancient land and
the difficulties experienced in dealing with Turkish officials. During
the interval, however, archaeologists and philologists 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 intelligence 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 Shalmaneser.
Sir Henry availed himself of the young investigator's assistance in
producing the third volume of _The Cuneiform Inscriptions_.

In 1867 Smith received an appointment in the Assyriology 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
fragments 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,[5] who took delight, as
he himself recorded, in

    The wisdom of Ea,[6] the art of song, the treasures of science.

This royal patron of learning included in his library collection,
copies and translations of tablets from Babylonia. 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:

    Forever, O Nebo, King of all heaven and earth,
    Look gladly upon this Library
    Of Ashur-bani-pal, his (thy) shepherd, reverencer of thy

Mr. George Smith's expedition to Nineveh in 1873 was exceedingly
fruitful of results. More tablets were discovered and translated. In
the following year he returned 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 19th August he died at Aleppo in his
thirty-sixth year. So was a brilliant career brought to an untimely

Rassam was engaged to continue Smith's great work, and between 1877
and 1882 made many notable discoveries 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 Nabonidus, King of Babylon;
and about fifty thousand tablets.

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 has 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 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 Babylonian 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 Aegean, and Egypt has thrown, and is throwing, much
light on the relations between the various civilizations of antiquity.
In addition 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 intellectual 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 Babylonian 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 Professor Flinders Petrie. Recent discoveries
appear to support the new chronological system. "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, according to which the Sixth (Egyptian) Dynasty
began at _c_. 2540 B.C. and the Twelfth at _c_. 2000 B.C.[8] 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 conclude, 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
they may be due to "a remarkable homogeneity of civilization
throughout Southern Europe and Western Asia in prehistoric times. How
far", he adds, "such homogeneity of civilization may be taken as
evidence of homogeneity of race is a question for the ethnologist."[9]

In Chapter I the reader is introduced to the ethnological 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 fragments 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 _Mahabharata_, and it
is shown that there are undoubted links between the Garuda eagle myths
and those of the Sumerian Zu bird and the Etana eagle, while similar
stories remain attached to the memories of "Sargon of Akkad" and the
Indian hero Karna, 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 calculation
associated with it. It is of interest to note, too, that a portion of
the Gilgamesh epic survives in the _Ramayana_ 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, resembles 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 confronted 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
accounted 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 background 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 progress 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 worship 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 several creation myths is reminiscent of those early
experiences which produced early local beliefs:

    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.[10]

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

    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.[11]

Ea acquired in time, as the divine artisan, various attributes 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 demoniac 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 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 worshippers 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 reflected 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
continued 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 conquerors to exalt the deities they introduced.

Babylonian religion was of twofold character. It embraced 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 "burnings"
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, condemned 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 goddesses.

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 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

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 constellation. 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

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 still 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 Naturalism 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 application of the
evolution theory to the religious phenomena of a country like

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 unwholesome 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 achievements compel
our wonder and admiration, moved statesmen 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



  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--Southward 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"--Goddess who inspired Poets.

Before the dawn of the historical period Ancient Babylonia was
divided into a number of independent city states similar to those
which existed in pre-Dynastic Egypt. Ultimately these were grouped
into loose confederacies. The northern cities were embraced in the
territory known as Akkad, and the southern in the land of Sumer, or
Shumer. 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 affinities. 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 traditions Eridu, originally a seaport,
was their racial cradle. The Semitic Akkadians adopted the distinctive
culture of these Sumerians after settlement, and exercised an
influence 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
agglutinative 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 improbable; 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 languages 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
indication 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 of 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
suggest 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 distinctive 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 distinctive 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.[12] 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 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 communities. 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 excavations 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 Köi 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 evidence obtainable in Egypt is of interest in this
connection. 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 fragments of mammalian bones, including those,
no doubt, of the domesticated sheep and goats and cattle painted on
the pottery.[13] It is therefore apparent that at an extremely remote
period a knowledge of agriculture extended 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 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 possibility 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 somewhere 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 generations
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."[14] This distinguished
ethnologist is frankly of opinion that the Sumerians were the
congeners of the pre-Dynastic Egyptians 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 distinguish them from the
Semites of Jewish type.

Some light may be thrown on the Sumerian problem by giving
consideration to the present-day racial complexion 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 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.[15] It is noteworthy,
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 considerable 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 slenderness 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".[16] The exhaustive study of thousands of ancient crania
in London and Cambridge collections has shown that Mediterranean
peoples, having alien traits, the result of early admixture, were
distributed between Egypt and the Punjab.[17] Where blending took
place, the early type, 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 "is always associated with a tendency to the
development of fat", in contrast to "the lean and sinewy appearance of
most representatives of the Brown race".[18] This change may be
accounted for by the presence of the Semites in northern Babylonia.

Whence, then, came these invading Semitic Akkadians 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 abnormally dry years. In tracing the
Akkadians from Arabia, however, we are confronted at the outset with
the difficulty 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 representatives 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 have been preserved in pre-Dynastic graves in the
Nile valley. "If", writes Professor Elliot Smith, "the generally
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
the 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."[19] 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 Mesopotamia. It can scarcely be supposed
that these invasions of settled districts did not result in the fusion
and crossment 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,
according to Professor Macalister, the well-known Palestinian
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".[20] 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.[21] An interesting problem, however, is raised by the fact
that, in one of the caves, there are evidences that the dead were
cremated. This was not a Mediterranean 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
Mediterraneans mingled in Northern Syria and Asia Minor with the
broad-headed Armenoid peoples who are represented 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 conquests and
settlements. Their pioneers, who were probably traders, appear to have
begun to enter the Delta region before the close of the Late Stone
Age.[22] 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 Anakim, "whose power was broken only by the Hebrew
invaders".[23] Joshua drove them out of Hebron,[24] in the
neighbourhood of which Abraham had purchased a burial cave from
Ephron, the Hittite.[25] 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 multiplication 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 connection 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 considerable
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 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 intellectual 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 Akkadians,
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 bilingual, 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
considerable 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 established had been laid by the ingenious and
imaginative Sumerians who first made the desert to blossom like the

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 mathematical
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 civilizations 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 civilization long ages
before the earliest traces of his activities can be obtained. When
this type of mankind is portrayed 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 developed 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
descendants 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 Neolithic intellectual life still remains. The comparative study of
mythology and folk beliefs reveals that we have inherited certain
modes of thought from our remote ancestors, who were the congeners of
the Ancient Sumerians and the Ancient Egyptians. In this connection 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 especially 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
controlling 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.[26] 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, therefore, 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.
Similarly Shishak, the Egyptian Pharaoh, handed over the city of
Gezer, which he had subdued, to his daughter, Solomon's wife.[27] 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 adaptations 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 position of women
they did not meet with much success, because when Hammurabi codified
existing laws, the ancient rights of women received marked

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, however, 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, perhaps 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 invocation
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:--


    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--
    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 pray'r,
    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, "'Tis 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 unbewitch 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 heaven falls,
    And I am destitute and full of woe.

           *       *       *       *       *

    What have I done that thou 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!



  Fertility of Ancient Babylonia--Rivers, Canals, Seasons, and
  Climate--Early Trade and Foreign Influences--Local Religious
  Cults--Ea, God of the Deep, identical with Oannes 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 an 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[28]". Herodotus found it still flourishing 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; and from millet and
sesame seed, how large a tree grows, I 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[29]." 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 thriving
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 somewhat 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 Alexander the Great broke the power of
the Persian Empire.

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 distributing 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 unvarying, 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 were built of
brick, an excellent clay being found in abundance. When brick walls
were cemented with bitumen they were given great stability. This
resinous substance 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."[30]
Present-day Arabs call it "kiyara", and export it for coating 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 countries. It must, therefore, have had a brisk
and flourishing 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
political ascendancy. It does not follow, however, that the peasant
class was greatly affected by periodic revolutions 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 religious 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 similarly 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
Oannes of Berosus,[31] 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-napishtim, advising him to build a vessel so as to be prepared 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 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 approaching flood, and
afterwards piloted his ship through the weltering waters until it
rested on a mountain top.[32]

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 anthropomorphic 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."[33]

As "Shar Apsi", Ea was the "King of the Watery 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".[34] As Babylonia was
fertilized by its rivers, Ea, the fish god, was a fertilizing 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

    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![35]

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, the Babylonians became expert engineers and
experienced agriculturists, the makers of bricks, the builders of
cities, the framers 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".[36]
Similarly the Vedic Indra, who wielded a hammer like Ptah, fashioned
the universe after the simple manner in which the Aryans made their
wooden dwellings.[37]

Like Ptah, Ea also developed from an artisan god into a sublime
Creator in the highest sense, not merely as 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",
exclaimed a priestly poet. This change from artisan god to creator
(Nudimmud) may have been due to the tendency of early religious cults
to attach to their chief god the attributes of rivals exalted at other

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 identification 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

Ea was "Enki", "lord of the world", or "lord of what is beneath";
Amma-ana-ki, "lord of heaven and earth"; Sa-kalama, "ruler of the
land", 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
'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

It is possible that the Philistine deity Dagon was a specialized form
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 knowledge
regarding him is derived mainly from the Bible. He was a national
rather than a city god. There are references to a Beth-dagon[40],
"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.[41] 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".[42] 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 (dāgo)
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 offering of
golden mice representing "your mice that mar the land",[43] 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 Oannes 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 Eddic 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 Damkina, queen of the deep, illumine thee with her
countenance; 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
references to sea maidens, the Babylonian mermaids, or Nereids. We
have a glimpse of sea giants, which resemble the Indian Danavas and
Daityas of ocean, in the chant:

    Seven are 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....[44]

A suggestion of the Vedic Vritra and his horde of monsters.

These seven demons were also "the messengers of Anu", who, although
specialized as a sky god in more than one pantheon, appears to have
been closely associated 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.[45]

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 conditions.

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 Rimman, 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 "mountain" and "land" was used in the earliest times, as
King shows, with reference to foreign countries,[46] 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 Babylonians.

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

Associated with Bel Enlil was Beltis, later known as "Beltu--the
lady". She appears to be identical with the other great goddesses,
Ishtar, Nana, Zerpanituᵐ, &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".[47]

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 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

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

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 attributes 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 of nature. In brief, he was the
dragon slayer, a distinction, 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 husband.

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 conditions.

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 Sumerian 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 exercised 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 (Somaliland),
which some regard as the cradle of the Mediterranean 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.[49] 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".



  Why Different Gods were Supreme at Different Centres--Theories
  regarding Origin of Life--Vital Principle in Water--Creative Tears
  of Weeping 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--Tammuz 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 regarded 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 states.

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 officially 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

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 commingling 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,
revolutionized Brahmanic religion in India.

A mythology was an attempt to solve the riddle of the Universe, 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, therefore, 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
Babylonia 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 administrative 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 esteem.

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
community had its own intellectual life and immemorial tribal
traditions, which reflected ancient habits of life and perpetuated 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, 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
fertilized parched and sunburnt wastes through rivers and irrigating
canals, and conferred upon man the sustaining "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

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

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 worship 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, Prajápati, wept at the beginning, "that (the
tears) which fell into the water became the air. That which he wiped
away, upwards, became the sky."[50] The ancient Egyptians believed
that all men were born from the eyes of Horus except negroes, who came
from other parts of his body.[51] 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.[52]

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
connection 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 of 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 Tum, 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.[53]

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,
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 referred 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 Discovery 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.[54] 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.

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."[55]

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 sacrificed to the goddess Kali, are believed to
be temporarily possessed by her spirit, and thus enabled to
prophesy.[56] Malayan exorcists still expel demons while they suck the
blood from a decapitated fowl.[57]

Similar customs were prevalent in Ancient Greece. A woman who drank
the blood of a sacrificed lamb or bull uttered prophetic sayings.[58]

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

    The gods which seize on men
      Came forth from the grave;
    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.[59]

The Hebrew "nephesh ruach" and "neshamah" (in Arabic "ruh" and "nefs")
pass from meaning "breath" to "spirit".[60] 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 prophetic
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 worshippers, 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 worshippers cremated
their dead so that the spirits might be 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 resembled 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".[61] 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".[62] In _Leviticus_ it is laid down: "Thou shalt not
let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Moloch".[63] 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 or 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) 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 consume the universe.[64] 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 of 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".[65]

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 prevalent. 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 Babylonia. 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 the west bank of the
Euphrates and the low hills bordering 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 excavations
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 limbs".

His name Sin is believed to be a corruption of "Zu-ena", which
signifies "knowledge lord".[66] 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 mountains of
Sinai and the desert of Sin are called after this deity.

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.

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.[67] 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 Tammuz.

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

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.[68]

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 _Mahabharata_" 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."[69]

In Persian mythology Mitra, as Mithra, is the patron of Truth, and
"the Mediator" between heaven and earth[70]. 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 are seen issuing from the wound inflicted with the
knife".[71] The Assyrian word "metru" signifies rain[70]. 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 atmospheric deity with Anu, and as a god of
truth, righteousness, and law with Shamash. We seem to trace in the
sublime Vedic hymns addressed by the Indian Aryans to Mitra and Varuna
the impress of Babylonian religious thought:

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

            _Rigveda_, iv, 16.[72]

    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, 89.[73]

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.[74]

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.[75] 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 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 'mother' of all things".[76]

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 pantheon, 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 individual deity depended on local conditions, experiences, and
influences. Ceremonial practices no doubt varied 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 "no return"
was regarded as a place of gloom and misery.

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 worshipped either with prayers
or burnt sacrifices, but in their case we perform ceremonies of

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.



  Spirits in Everything and Everywhere--The Bringers of Luck and
  Misfortune--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 Dead--Fate 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 God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto
gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device."[78]

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
controlled Nature: they brought light and darkness, sunshine and
storm, summer and winter; they were manifested 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 Babylonians" 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 supposing that they thought
otherwise. The early folks based their theories on the accumulated
knowledge of their age. They knew nothing regarding the composition 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 discoveries, 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 originally associated with magical
ceremonies, are still practised 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 investigators.

In peopling the Universe with spirits, the Babylonians, like other
ancient folks, betrayed that tendency to symbolize 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
impressions, 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

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._[79]

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 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 composite
monster god Sokar was "the lord of fear".[80] 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.[81] 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 represented 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"--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, sunstroke, 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.

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".[82] The grandmother 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, 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 beautiful.

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 destruction 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 howling 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".[83] In
these islands, according to an old rhyme,

    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:

    I 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_[84] a sailor exclaims: "Your fairy, which,
you say, is a harmless fairy, has done little better than played the
Jack with us". Dr. Johnson commented 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.[85]

"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.[86]

Pliny referred to the wandering lights as stars.[87] The Sumerian
"mulla" was undoubtedly an evil spirit. In some countries the "fire
drake" 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
lshtar. Like the Indian "Dasyu" and "Dasa",[88] 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; 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 _Ramayana_, who made
love to Rama and Lakshmana, and the sister of the demon Hidimva, who
became enamoured of Bhima, one of the heroes of the _Mahabharata_,[89]
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 similarly wooed young women, like the Germanic Laurin of the
"Wonderful Rose Garden",[90] 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 European folk tales, and the goddess Ganga, who for a
time was the wife of King Shantanu of the _Mahabharata_.[91]

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 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 Babylonia 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 impurity
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.[92] 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 children.

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 dreaded in the Scottish
Highlands.[93] 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.
Do 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.[94] In his _Arabia Deserta_[95] 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 libations poured out,
to be fed, so that they might not prowl 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 performed 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 reference to a priest who was not allowed to enter
Paradise, although he had performed rigid penances, because he had no

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.[97]

These furies did not confine their unwelcomed attentions to mankind

    They hunt the doves from their cotes,
    And drive the birds from their nests,
    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. Mankind heard them "loudly roaring
above, gibbering below".[98] 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 Jötun in eagle form;
    From his wings, they say, comes the wind which fares
      Over all the dwellers of earth.[99]

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 and summoned him to the Celestial Court. Adapa,
however, 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 death.

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 thunderer.

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 mountain top in Arabia. Anu called on Ramman, the
thunderer, 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 survives in fragmentary form. There is a
reference, however, 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 ascertain. 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, however, 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 _Mahabharata_, "mocked the wind with his fleetness".

It would appear that the Babylonian Zu bird symbolized 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 triumphant sun when
it broke through the darkening sand drift and 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,
pronounces the Eagle's doom. He instructs the Mother Serpent to slay a
wild ox and conceal herself in its entrails. 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.

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.[100] 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 resembling 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, "rushing loose over the land" like to the wind. Bel called
upon his messenger, whom he sent to Ea in the ocean depths, saying:
"My son Sin ... hath been grievously bedimmed". Ea lamented, and
dispatched his son Merodach 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".[101]

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 and 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".[102]

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 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
irresistible 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 apparitions 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 misleading 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 remained
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 mankind 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."[103] 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" (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".[104] Similarly 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.



  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--Goddesses as Mothers, Sisters, and Wives--Great
  Mothers of Babylonia--Immortal Goddesses 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

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 addition 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 name.

When Ezekiel detailed the various idolatrous practices 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 Babylonia--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".[105]

The weeping ceremony was connected with agricultural 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 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."[106] 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.[107]

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 agriculture as involving the violent extinction of a
particle of divine life."[108] By observing their ritual, the
worshippers 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 Professor Sayce, Tammuz is identical with
"Daonus or Daos, the shepherd of Pantibibla", referred to by Berosus
as the ruler of one of the mythical ages of Babylonia. We have
therefore to 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 pursued 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, committed 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 developed 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 Mesopotamian 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 "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 "a white kid of the god Tammuz", which, however,
might be substituted by a sucking pig. Osiris had also associations
with swine, and the Egyptians, according to Herodotus, sacrificed a
pig to him annually. When Set at full moon hunted the boar in the
Delta marshes, he probably 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,[109] 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.

In his character as a long-lived patriarch, Tammuz, the King Daonus or
Daos of Berosus, reigned in Babylonia 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 evidence, however, to connect Tammuz's
slayer with the boar which killed Adonis. Ishtar's innocence is
emphasized by the fact that she mourned for her youthful lover,

    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.[110]

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 attributes, was slain by "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.[111]

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.[112]

Tammuz died with the dying vegetation, and Diarmid expired when the
hills apparently were assuming their purple tints.[113] The month of
Tammuz wailings was from 20th June till 20th 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
    The shepherd, the wise one, the man of sorrows, why have they
    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
    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 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)[114]:--

    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 returned 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 surpassingly
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 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 handsome 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.[115]

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 Egyptian 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-Mother-worshipping peoples,
it was believed that agricultural 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 remote period an
agricultural myth regarding a Patriarch of divine origin who was
rescued from a boat in his childhood, is suggested by the legend which
was attached to the memory 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
    mountain.... When my mother had conceived me, she bare
    me in a hidden place. She laid me in a vessel of rushes, stopped
    the 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 connected 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
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 Mediterranean 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 Ethelweard, William of Malmesbury, and others adhered to
"Sceaf" as the name of the Patriarch of the Western Saxons.

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.[116]

Sceaf or Scyld is identical with Yngve, the patriarch of the Ynglings;
with Frey, the harvest and boar god, son of Njord,[117] the sea god;
and with Hermod, referred to as follows in the Eddic "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 offspring, his son Thrall being the
ancestor of the Thralls, his son Churl of churls, and Jarl of

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, "recall
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 'sheep of the sky'.
The name of Tammuz in Sumerian is Dumu-zi, or in its rare fullest
form, Dumuzida, meaning 'true or faithful son'. There is probably some
legend attached to this which is at present unknown."[118]

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.[119]

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.
_Rigveda_, i, 98.[120]

Tammuz, like the Egyptian lunar and solar god Khonsu, is "the healer",
and Agni "drives away all disease". 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".[121] 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, 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;
    I will raise up the dead to devour the living,
    Above 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

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 here".

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,[122] 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,

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 Heaven.

    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
    With himself he adorned me; may men mourners and women
    On a bier place him, and assemble the wake.[124]

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.[125]

Mr. Langdon also translates a hymn (Tammuz III) which appears to
contain the narrative on which the Assyrian version was founded. The
goddess who descends 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 conversation 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.

Probably two goddesses originally lamented for Tammuz, 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", ... "I 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."[126]

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."[127]

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 Ishtar".[128] 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

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, Ishtaráte, 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. Originally 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 Zerpanituᵐ.
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 accompanied 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.

As has been shown, Ishtar is referred to in a Tammuz 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".[129] Sri or Lakshmi, the Indian goddess, who
became the wife of Vishnu, as the mother goddess Saraswati, a tribal
deity, became the wife of Brahma, was, according to a Purana
commentator, "the mother of the world ... eternal and

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.[131]
In the _Mahabharata_ 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.[132]

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 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.[133]

Freyja, the Germanic mother goddess, whose car was drawn by cats, had
similarly many lovers. In the Icelandic 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 addressed:

    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.

Frigg, wife of Odin, is satirized as well:

    Silence, Frigg! Earth's spouse for a husband,
      And hast ever yearned after men![134]

The goddesses of classic mythology had similar reputations. Aphrodite
(Venus) had many divine and mortal lovers. She links closely with
Astarte and Ashtoreth (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.[135]

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,

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 Oeneus, king of Calydon. Human sacrifices were frequently
offered to the bloodthirsty "mothers". The most famous victim of
Artemis was the daughter of Agamemnon, "divinely tall and most
divinely fair".[136] 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 "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 Aegean 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."[137]

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 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-Indians worshipped father gods,[138] 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 Mongolian 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."[139] As in
Egypt, the beliefs of the father worshippers, 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 of Damkina, "Lady of the
Deep", as was Tammuz 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 four pairs in Egypt, and apparently in
Babylonia also, the female in the first pair was more strongly
individualized 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 controlling 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
censured 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 famine". 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?"[140] That the husbands, and the
children even, assisted at the ceremony is made evident in another
reference to goddess worship: "The children gather wood, and the
fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead the dough, to make cakes
to the queen of heaven".[141]

Jastrow suggests that the women of Israel wept for Tammuz, offered
cakes to the mother goddess, &c., because "in all religious bodies ...
women represent the conservative element; among them religious customs
continue in practice after they have been abandoned by men".[142] 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 apparently 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 recognition 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.[143]

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
"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.



  Civilization well advanced--The Patesi--Prominent City
  States--Surroundings 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 Purchased 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 contemporaries in the south, but
it is difficult at times to say whether a city is controlled by the
descendants of the indigenous 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

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 unfrequently these wage war one against another.
Occasionally 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

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 Testament--"The words of Nehemiah.... I was in Shushan the
palace".[144] 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 ".[145] Beyond Elam were the plains,
plateaus, and grassy steppes occupied by the Medes and other peoples
of Aryan speech. Cultural influences came and went like spring winds
between the various ancient communities.

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 Caesar. But our knowledge of the leading
historical events of this vast period is exceedingly fragmentary. 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 resembling that of Keats, who

                       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

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. Historical 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.
Another may be found to have made an illuminating statement 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 cumulative
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' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and
Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited; neither shall the Arabian pitch
tent there; neither shall the shepherds 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."[146]

The curtain rises, as has been indicated, after civilization had been
well advanced. To begin with, our interests abide with Akkad, and
during a period dated approximately 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 youth.

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 floating
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
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 supposed 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 independence. The cumulative efforts of a succession of energetic
rulers elevated Lagash to the position of a metropolis in Ancient

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 the several goddesses 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. Evidently the religion of Lagash was
based on the popular worship of the "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 developing 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 foundations 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, perhaps royal sons, accompany the
prominent crown prince. The cup-bearer is in attendance behind the

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 Nin-Girsu.

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 grandfather, 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 acknowledged
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 Zuzu.

Eannatum's activities, however, were not confined to battlefields. At
Lagash he carried out great improvements 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 tendencies.

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 Ili, who was duly installed with great ceremony.
Other military successes followed, including the sacking of Opis and
Kish, which assured the supremacy of Lagash for many years. Entemena,
with characteristic 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 decorations 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 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 patesi, 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 hostile.

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 apparently remembered and execrated as tyrants and
oppressors of the people. To maintain many endowed temples and a
standing army the traders and agriculturists had been heavily taxed.
Each successive monarch who undertook 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

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 readjusting 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 reproach, 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, remembering 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 defend 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 committed 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 standing 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 Urukagina 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 successes. 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 associated with unpleasant memories in
Umma. The sacking and burning of the temples of Lagash suggests as

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. Anu'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 influence of alien settlers, has
been dealt with in a previous chapter.

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 contemporary
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 Karna, the
Hector of that great Sanskrit epic the _Mahabharata_. 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 Karna
became a great warrior, and was crowned King of Anga by the Kaurava

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 goddess of Kish appears to have been a form of Bau, as is
testified by the name of Queen Azag-Bau, the legendary founder of the

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 conquests 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, known 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 victory.

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 2600 B.C.) even a conquering monarch
considered it advisable to observe existing land laws. Urumush,[148]
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. According 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 exquisitely 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 clutching 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 conquered 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 opponents of the city states. The
two most prominent were the Gutium, or men of Kutu, and the Lulubu.
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 perpetrated 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 architect, 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 Elam, 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 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 excavators.

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.[149]

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 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 recognition. 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, "the shining
one", the solar deity of Akkadian Sippar, whose Semitic name was
Shamash. As Shamash was ultimately developed 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 successors, 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 afterwards displaced by Merodach of Babylon.

Before 2200 B.C. there occurred a break in the supremacy of Isin.
Gungunu, King of Ur, combined with Larsa, whose sun temple he
restored, and declared himself 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 grandson 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 palace.

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 undisputed possession. A rival
named Sin-ikisha, evidently a moon worshipper and perhaps connected
with Ur, displaced 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 strengthening 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
Hammurabi. Rim Sin was an Elamite.

Afterwards the old order of things passed away. Babylon became the
metropolis, the names of Sumer and Akkad dropped out of use, and the
whole country between the rivers was called Babylonia.[150] The
various systems of law which obtained in the different states were
then codified 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 (Marduk), 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.[151] In framing this myth from the fragments 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 administration.

An interesting problem, which should be referred to here, arises in
connection with the sculptured representations 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 pointed.

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 Sumerian animal and composite monster gods of
animistic 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
retained. The explanation suggested is that the Sumerians gave their
deities human shape before they themselves were clean shaven, and that
the retention of the characteristic facial hair growth of the
Mediterranean Race is another example of the conservatism of the
religious instinct. In Egypt the clean-shaven Pharaohs, who
represented 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, however, 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 influence.

The Semitic folks were not so highly thought of in the early Sumerian
period. It is not likely that the agricultural people regarded as
models of gods the plunderers who descended from the hills, and, after
achieving successes, 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



  Elder Spirits of the Primordial Deep--Apsu and the Tiamat
  Dragon--Plot to Destroy the Beneficent Gods--Ea overcomes Apsu and
  Muminu--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 Tendency--Bi-sexual

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 primordial 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.[152] 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.[153] 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 undisturbed by

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 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 evil.

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

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,[155] the creator of all, provided irresistible weapons.
She also brought into being eleven kinds of fierce monsters--giant
serpents, sharp of tooth with unsparing 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
lifted themselves up; vipers and pythons, and the Lachamu, hurricane
monsters, raging hounds, scorpion men, tempest 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. Robing Kingu in splendour, she seated him on high and spoke,

"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."

Then had Ea knowledge of Tiamat's doings, how she had gathered her
forces together, and how she had prepared 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
aforetime to battle; thou didst bind Mummu and smite Apsu. Now Kingu
is exalted, and there is none who can oppose Tiamat."[156]

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.[157]

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 thee."

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?"

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." 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 Upshukinaku (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 desires, 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

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 command 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 Universe. 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 reproduced.

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[158] 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 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.

Tiamat 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 weapons.

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
Anu 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

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[159], 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[160]. With the other half he made the earth[161]. 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 gates,
fixing bolts on the left and on the right. He set the zenith in the

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.[162]

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
goddess 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." He also created the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, grass,
reeds, herbs and trees, lands, marshes and swamps, cows, goats,

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 monotheism appears to have been most marked
among the priestly theorists of Babylon.

Merodach is hailed to begin with as Asari, the introducer 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 "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_[164]

    Tutu as Aga-azag may mankind fourthly magnify!
    "The Lord of the Pure Incantation", "the Quickener of the Dead ",
    "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._[165]

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 (_ili_ gods) He prohibited return;
    He stopped their service; He removed them unto the gods (_ili_) who
        were His enemies.
    In their room he created mankind.[166]

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.
Another 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

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.[167]

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 which swallows
the dead. "The worm shall eat them like wool", exclaimed Isaiah in
symbolic language.[168] It lies in the ocean which surrounds the world
in Egyptian, Babylonian, Greek, Teutonic, Indian, and other
mythologies. The Irish call it "morúach", 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.[169]

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
"watching for its tail and hinder parts to appear".[170] An
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 continued 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 disappearing."[171] 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.[172] 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

There can be little doubt but that in this Babylonian story of
Creation we have a glorified variation of the widespread 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.

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, Mummu. 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, 'What little speck do I see here?'" Finn, aided
by his fairy dog, slew the water monster. On 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. '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

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 exclaimed, "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".[175] 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_,[176] 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 sky 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 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".[177] 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,
    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 Highlands. These contrast sharply with
characteristic Germanic 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 stories 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 worship 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".[178] 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, the "Eye of Ra".[179]
Similarly in India, the post-Vedic goddess Kali is a destroyer, while
as Durga she is a guardian of heroes.[180] Kali, Durga, and
Hathor-Sekhet link with the classical goddesses of war, and also with
the Babylonian 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?"[181] "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";[182] "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";[183] "Thou hast broken Rahab in pieces
as one that is slain: thou hast scattered thine enemies with thy
strong arm";[184] "In that day the 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".[185]

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 rebellious 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 development is "of
extreme importance for studying the growth of the idea of father and
son, as creative and active principles of the world".[186] 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.[187] 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
primeval 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 development
of Tammuz in his character as a demon slayer. When he was raised to
the position of Bel, "the Lord" by the Babylonian conquerors, Merodach
supplanted 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 was also "the bull of goring horns ... Enlil the bull", the god of
fertility as well as of battle.[188]

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
prophesied 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 fisherman on the island of Seriphos. This hero
afterwards slew Medusa, one of the three terrible sisters, the
Gorgons--a demon group which links with Tiamat. In time, Perseus
returned home, and while an athletic contest 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, 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-panituᵐ 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-panituᵐ 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 associated 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 goddesses.

As all goddesses became forms of Ishtar, so did all gods become forms
of Merodach. Sin was "Merodach 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 _Yauᵐ-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."[189]

In one of the hymns Merodach is addressed as follows:--

    Who shall escape from before thy power?
    Thy will is an eternal mystery!
    Thou makest 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 Hades.

Perhaps it was due to the monotheistic tendency, if not to the fusion
of father-worshipping and mother-worshipping 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.



  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 according 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 upon.

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,[190] 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 alternately 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 Gilgamesh, 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 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 Otherworld. Etana secures the assistance or 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.[191]

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 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

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[192] 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 _Ramayana_ and
the _Mahabharata_, there are interesting references in this connection
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 outstripping
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."[193]

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".
Commentators identify the monarch with Nimrod, who afterwards 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.[194]

Alexander the Great was also reputed to have ascended on the back of
an eagle. Among the myths attached to his memory 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".[195]

In a Gaelic story a hero is carried off by a Cromhineach, "a vast bird
like an eagle". He tells that it "sprang to the clouds with me, and I
was a while that I 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. "I grew stronger and more active", he
adds, "than I had ever been before."[196]

The eagle figures in various mythologies, and appears to have been at
one time worshipped as the god or goddess 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 identified with
"Eileithyia, the goddess of birth; she was usually represented as a
vulture hovering over the king".[197]

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 incarnation 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 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

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 _Mahabharata_ 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

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.[199] This custom was probably
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[200] 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 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.[201] Doves were burned to
Adonis. The burning of straw figures, representing gods of fertility,
on May-Day bonfires may have been a fertility rite, and perhaps
explains the use of straw birth-girdles.

According to the commentators of the _Koran_, Nimrod, the Babylonian
king, who cast victims in his annual bonfires at Cuthah, died on the
eighth day of the Tammuz month, which, according to the Syrian
calendar, fell on 13th July.[202] 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

    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.

    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 Oeta, and was borne to
Olympus amidst peals of thunder.

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 Aelian,[204] "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 clefts of
the rocks"[205] 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 "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. "Ignorant 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 make rain, by lighting a fire they make
sunshine, and so on."[206] 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

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, 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

Aruru 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". 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."[207]

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 friendship. 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, who had been endowed with
great knowledge by Bel and Anu 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,[208] 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 prosperous and happy. But
in the hour of triumph a shadow falls. Gilgamesh is robed in royal
splendour and wears his dazzling crown. He is admired by all men, but
suddenly 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 example.

    O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
      Alone and palely loitering?
    The sedge is withered from the lake
      And no birds sing.

           *       *       *       *       *

    I 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

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 affliction."

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[209] 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 Shamash 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 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 confronted 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 Underworld.[210] 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 monsters 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 wonderful
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![211]

This is the philosophy of the Egyptian "Lay of the Harper". The
following quotations are from two separate 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.[212]

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
    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
    is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest
    under the sun.[213]

"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".[214]

Gilgamesh did not accept the counsel of the fatalistic sea lady. He
asked her how he could reach Pir-napishtim, his ancestor, saying he
was prepared to cross the Sea of Death: if he could not cross it he
would die of grief.

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

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.

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

Pir-napishtim made answer, reminding the pilgrim that all men must
die. Men built houses, sealed contracts, 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

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-napishtim 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."[215]

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

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

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 administered 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 revealed unto him the secret of a
magic plant which had power to renew life and give youth and strength
unto those who were old.

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

So Gilgamesh and Arad Ea went on their way together, nor paused until
they came to a well of pure water. The hero stooped down to draw
water.[216] 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 should 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, performing 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 country.

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, "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 hated."

In vain Gilgamesh appealed to his mother goddess to restore Ea-bani to
him. Then he turned to the gods, and Ea heard him. Thereafter Nergal,
god of death, caused the grave to yawn, and the spirit of Ea-bani
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 thee, my friend.
If I were to tell thee all, thou wouldst sit down and weep."

Said Gilgamesh: "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-bani
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 Gjõll.
Svipdag, according 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".[217] Thorkill crosses a stormy ocean to the region of perpetual
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".[218] 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 ".[219] When Odin "downward 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
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 "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 England and Scotland. This
fortunate man kept his secret. His name was Matun, but he was
afterwards nicknamed "'El-Khidr', that is to say, 'Green'". What
explanation he offered for his sudden change of appearance has not
been recorded.[220] 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 "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

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:

    Give me a draught from thy palms, O Finn,
    Son of my king for my succour,
    For my life and my dwelling.

            _Campbell's West Highland Tales_, vol. iii, 80.

The quest of the plant, flower, or fruit of life is referred to in
many folk tales. In the _Mahabharata_, 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 beautiful 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 informs 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."[222]

Hercules similarly sets out to search for the golden apples which grow

      those Hesperian gardens famed of old,
    Fortunate fields, and groves and flowery vales.

As Bhima slew Yakshas which guarded the lotuses, Hercules slew Ladon,
the guardian of the apples. Other heroes kill treasure-protecting
dragons of various kinds.

There is a remarkable resemblance between the Babylonian account of
Gilgamesh's journey through the mountain tunnel to the garden and
seashore, and the Indian story of the demigod Hanuman passing through
the long 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 _Mahabharata_, 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
Parbhàvati engaged in ascetic austerities. And she gave us food and
drink of various kinds. And having refreshed ourselves therewith and
regained our strength, we proceeded 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 starvation."

Hanuman and his friends, having had, so far, experiences 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.[223]

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 immemorial 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.



  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 Customs.

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:[224] 'O hut of 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 proportions 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, for 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 servant: 'What thou shalt
say unto them is this.... _It hath been revealed unto me that Bel doth
hate me, therefore 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

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 he
carried out Ea's further instructions. Continuing his narrative to
Gilgamesh, he said:

"I 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: 'I will cause the Night
Lord to send much rain and bring destruction. Then enter thou the ship
and shut thy door.'

"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

"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 emissaries 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 darkness, 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 flood and were afraid: they fled
away, and in the heaven of Anu they crouched like to hounds in the
protecting enclosures.

"In time Ishtar, the lady of the gods, cried out distressfully,
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 whirling 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 I 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 I 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 according to her desire, she spake,
saying: 'Oh! these gods! I vow by the lapis lazuli gems upon my neck
that I will never forget! 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: '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 me 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.[226]

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.[227] There are 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."[228]

Manu's account of the flood has been already referred to (Chapter II).
The god in fish shape informed him: "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.[229]

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.[230] 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.

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 goddess 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."[231]

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 civilization, 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 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, displaying 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 spirits.

In Brazil, Monan, the chief god, sent a great fire to burn up the
world and its wicked inhabitants. To extinguish 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.[232] 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) mythologies.

The Biblical account of the flood is familiar to readers. "It forms",
says Professor Pinches, "a good subject for 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

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. Reference 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 composed, 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 connection, shows that the system by which the "Day of Brahma"
was calculated in India resembles closely an astronomical system which
obtained in Babylonia, where apparently the theory of cosmic periods
had origin.[234]

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 stimulated 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

    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, 1.[236]
    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_.[237]

Yama and his sister Yami were the first human pair. 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.[238]

The Indian Yama, who was also called Pitripati, "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".[239]

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-Kuh_, 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 past--

    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.

            _Jackson's 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", says Professor
Moulton, "strongly tempts us to recognize the influence of the
Babylonian Flood-Legend."[240] The "Fimbul winter" of Germanic
mythology is also recalled. Odin asks in one of the Icelandic Eddie

    What beings shall live when the long dread winter
      Comes o'er the people of earth?[241]

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 come"[242]--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 connection 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",
and the Irish "Tir nan og" or "Land of the Young", situated in the
western ocean, and identical with the British[243]

      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.[244]

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.[245]

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 Underworld to search for Tammuz. Other
sufferings were, no doubt, in store for her, resembling those,
perhaps, with which the giant maid in the Eddic poem "Skirnismal" was
threatened when she refused to marry Frey, the god of fertility and

    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.[246]

In like manner, too, the inhabitants of the Indian Hell suffered
endless and complicated tortures.[247]

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. She was unable to leave her gloomy Underworld, and sent
her messenger, the plague demon Namtar, to obtain her share. 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 overpowered. 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 Underworld 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 disease, 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 darkness.

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

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 Christians alike hold annual all-night feasts in their

The Japanese "Land of Yomi" is similarly an underworld, 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

Among the ancient Romans the primitive belief survived 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".[248]

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 custom 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 occupied 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 Age.

The primitive house-burial rite is referred to in the Ethiopic version
of the life of Alexander the Great. The "Two-horned", as the hero was
called, conversed with Brahmans when he reached India. He spoke to one
of them, "saying: '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
Alexander desired to make a gift to these Brahmans, and asked them
what they desired most, their answer was, "Give us immortality".[249]

In the Gilgamesh epic the only ray of hope which relieves the gloomy
closing passages is Ea-bani's suggestion that the sufferings endured
by the dead may be alleviated by the performance of strict burial
rites. Commenting 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 food
    That are thrown in the street, he eats."[250]

            _Gilgamesh Epic_.

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 agricultural 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 enjoyment
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"[251]--a suggestion that this 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 became 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 extremely 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
disposed of upon earth. An orthodox funeral ceremony was costly at all
times. This is made evident by the inscriptions 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".[252]

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

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".[253] To Jacob, personal ornaments had quite evidently an
idolatrous significance.

"A very typical class of grave furniture", writes Mr. 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".[254] In the word-picture
of the Aryo-Indian Varuna's heaven in the _Mahabharata_ 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".[255] Apparently the
"paste", like the face paint of the Babylonians and Egyptians, had
protective qualities. The Picts of Scotland 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 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'll 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
Babylonian 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.[256] As priests and
gods were clad in the skins of animals from which their powers were
derived, it is probable 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".[257] 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". Then he
came to know that his enemy had resolved to attack Keilah.[258] Elisha
became a prophet when he received Elijah's mantle.[259]

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.[260]

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 burial.

According to Herodotus the Babylonians "buried their dead in honey,
and had funeral lamentations like the Egyptians".[261] 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:--

    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
contained. 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",[262] and has been shown by Mr. L.W. King to have
no connection with the struggle between Merodach and the dragon,[263]
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 supernatural 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 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 supernatural 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.



  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
endeavoured 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 Amorites. 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 greatness. 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

Of its early history little is known. It was overshadowed in turn by
Kish and Umma, Lagash and Erech, and may have been little better than
a great village when Akkad rose into prominence. Sargon I, the royal
gardener, appears to have interested himself in its development, 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 vandalistic
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 surrounded 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."[264] 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.[265]

The outer wall was the main defence of the city, but there was also an
inner wall less thick but not much 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 numbered 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.

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

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, representing 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. It
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

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 inundation and
increase the supply when the river sank to its lowest.

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.[267]

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 circumference 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 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, comprising 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 landowners, 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 invariably 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, evidence 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

Of special interest are the laws which relate to the position of
women. In this connection reference may first be made to the
marriage-by-auction custom, which Herodotus described as follows:
"Once a year in each village the maidens of age to marry were
collected all together into one place, while the men stood round them
in 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 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 beautiful 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."[268]

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
Illyrian 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 husband.

A father had the right to select a suitable spouse for his daughter,
and she could not marry without his consent. 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 marriage.

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 her
father's estate, she could make business investments within certain
limits. She was not, for instance, allowed to own a wineshop, and if
she even entered one she was burned at the stake. Once she took these
vows she had to observe them until the end of her days. If she
married, as she might do to obtain the legal status of a married woman
and enjoy the privileges of that position, she denied her husband
conjugal rites, but provided him with a concubine who might bear him
children, as Sarah did to Abraham. These nuns must not be confused
with the unmoral women who were associated with the temples of Ishtar
and other love goddesses of shady repute.

The freedom secured by a married woman had its 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 home.

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. Indeed, 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", 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 the 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 gardens might be
worked during her lifetime by her brothers if they paid rent, or she
might employ a manager on the "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 forehead 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 victim'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 inferred from the fact that when she was found
guilty of allowing rebels to meet in her house, she was put to death.

The land laws were strict and exacting. A tenant could be penalized
for not cultivating his holding properly. 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 creditors.

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 according 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 according 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
physicians were held in high repute. It is improbable, however, 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 exposure 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 substances 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 medical man who has investigated
this interesting subject in the Scottish Highlands has shown that "the
simple observation 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

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 comparative 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. Provision 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 residence of "the layer of the spell", who was promptly
put to death. With this interesting glimpse of ancient superstition
the famous Code opens, and then strikes a modern note by detailing the
punishments for perjury and the unjust administration of law in the

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 devouring 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 particular 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 nourishment 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 identified the toothache demon as "the worm ". Then he
recited 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 "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 Incantation." 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."[270]

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 operate in isolated districts in these
islands, draw water from under bridges "over which the dead and the
living pass",[271] 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 bloodthirsty 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 importance, 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 widespread 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 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
inspiration, 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
themselves to influence mankind. The spirits caused suffering; 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

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 statements 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 whispering
winds, and the rustling of scented fir and blossoming 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
    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.



  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--Hammurabi's Brilliant Reign--Elamite Power
  Stamped Out--Babylon's Great General and Statesman--The Growth of
  Commerce, Agriculture, and Education--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 Egypt.

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 Elamite 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 recognition as an abstract deity of
righteousness and law, who reflected the ideals of well organized and
firmly governed communities.

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 conqueror 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

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, restored the wall and
temple of Cuthah, and promoted the worship of Merodach and his consort
Zerpanituᵐ at Babylon. He was undoubtedly one of the forceful
personalities 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 enlarged 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 canals.

The next monarch was Sin-muballit, son of Apil-Sin and father of
Hammurabi. He engaged himself in extending 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 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 perhaps of

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 testified 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 unrest 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".
Innumerable 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

The Elamite occupation of Southern Babylonia appears 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 appearance 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 Mesopotamia
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 district. 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 circumscribed, 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.[272] With Mamre, and his brothers, Eshcol and Aner,
the Hebrew patriarch formed a confederacy for mutual protection.[273]

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.[274] This illuminating statement agrees with what
we know regarding 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
confederacy 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

It was during Abraham's residence in Hebron that the Western Land was
raided by a confederacy of Babylonian 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 (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 together in the
vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea. Twelve years they served
Chedor-laomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled."[276]
Apparently the Elamites had conquered part of Syria after entering
southern Babylonia.

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."[277]

The identification of Hammurabi with Amraphel is now generally
accepted. At first the guttural "h", 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 conclusion
was reached that the softer "h" sound was used and not the guttural.
The "l" in the Biblical Amraphel 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
inscriptions. "Tidal, king of nations", has not been identified. The
suggestion that he was "King of the Gutium" remains 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 mentioned. 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 Babylon" for a
period. These interesting tablets have been published by Professor

The fact that the four leaders of the expedition to Canaan are all
referred to as "kings" in the Biblical narrative need not 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)".

No traces have yet been found in Palestine of its conquest 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

When Hammurabi came to the throne he had apparently 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
revolting 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 remembered 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."[278]

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. Hammurabi 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

There can be little doubt but that he won the hearts of his subjects,
who enjoyed the blessings of just administration under a well-ordained
political system. He must also have endeared himself to them as an
exemplary exponent 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 afforded the pious full freedom
and opportunity to perform 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
martyrdom 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 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 alphabetical 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 goodwill, 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 business, 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 London 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 pleasure 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 commerce and culture, and
none was more eloquent in its praises than the scholarly pilgrim from
Greece who wondered at its magnificence and reverenced its

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 successes 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 conqueror, 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 plundering Elamites.

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 (Merodach)", 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."[279] 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 Destiny.

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 their pioneers in
agricultural pursuits. No doubt they were welcomed in that capacity,
for owing to the continuous spread of culture and the development of
commerce, rural labour had become scarce and dear. Farmers had a
long-standing complaint, "The harvest truly is plenteous, but the
labourers are few".[280] "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.[281]

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 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 sway.

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 raid.

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
archaeological leanings, and displayed traits which suggest that he
inclined, like Sumu-la-ilu, to ancestor worship. Entemena, 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 grandfather, 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 Isin, 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 connection 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, sometime
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.



  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

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 resounds among the northern mountains. As this
deity comes each year in Western Asia when vegetation has withered and
after fruits have dropped from trees, bringing 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 lightning 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, armed 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 Aegean 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 uncertain
duration. They were probably the latter, for although they carried off
Merodach and Zerpanituᵐ, 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 outside 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 conquest.

Judging from what we know of the northern worshippers 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-Köi, 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 Cappadocia, 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 continuous culture which began to flourish
before 3000 B.C.[282] 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.[283]

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, which has always depended on the
river Nile. Ptah's purely Egyptian characteristics appear to have been
acquired 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 Hatti.

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".[284] 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,[285] 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, 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-Köi bears the same
name, which is written as Dud-khaliya in cuneiform."[286]

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 mountaineers who are conquered by
that battle lord wear pigtails 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 country.

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
pigtailed 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

Other tribes in the Hittite confederacy included the representatives
of the earliest settlers from North Africa of Mediterranean racial
stock. These have been identified 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
connection 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"[287].
Apparently 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."[288] Esau's marriage was "a grief of mind
unto Isaac and to Rebekah".[287] 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?"[289]
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."[290]
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
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.[291] 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 worshipped 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 Mamituᵐ (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 Hierapolis 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", Atargatis 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 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 Mediterranean
race, the goddess cult came into prominence, and the gods and the
people were reputed to be descendants 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, "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-Köi depicts a mythological scene which is believed 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 "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."[292]

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
by early "waves" of Hatti people who migrated from the east.

The Hittite connection is based chiefly on the following 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 Zerpanituᵐ, 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-haz-Köi, 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 following 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 gods 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".[293] 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 of the modern
Kurds",[294] a conspicuously long-headed people, proverbial, like the
ancient Aryo-Indians and the Gauls, for their hospitality and their
raiding propensities.

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 associated with the Kassite
invaders of Babylon, who took possession of northern Babylonia soon
after the disastrous Hittite raid. It is believed that they came 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 of the 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 invasion 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
operations were directly against Kadesh on the Orontes, which was then
held by his fierce enemies the Mitannians of Naharina.[295]

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", 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 as a "world
giant" has much in common with the northern 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 Zerpanituᵐ 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 of 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 century 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 reference 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 Ianias 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 compares 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
1800 B.C. and 1500 B.C. It is evident that a fascinating volume of
ancient history has yet to be written.

The Kassites formed the military aristocracy of Babylonia, which was
called Karduniash, for nearly six centuries. 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
contemporary 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 probably 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 ascendancy.

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."[296] 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 products of the Syrians shows
that the workmen would probably be more in demand than other kinds or
slave tribute."[297]

One of the monarchs with whom Thothmes III corresponded was the king
of Assyria. The enemies of Egypt in northern Mesopotamia were the
Hittites and Mitannians, and their allies, and these were also the
enemies of Assyria. But to enable us to deal with the new situation
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 also.

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

    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.

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[298] that his
name is a rendering of that of Merodach. In Sumerian Merodach 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' of the Hebrew verbs and making a change", says Pinches, "in
conformity with the genius of the Hebrew language".

Asshur, 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

According to Herodotus, Nineveh was founded by King Ninus and Queen
Semiramis. This lady was reputed 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 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 goddess.

All the deities of Assyria were imported from Babylonia except, as
some hold, Ashur, the national god.[299] 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 connection. Asshur was the first
capital of Assyria. Its city god may have become the national god on
that account.

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
consort of Teshup, the Hittite-Mitanni hammer god. As many of the
Mitannian names "are", according to Mr. Johns, "really Elamitic", he
suggests an ethnic connection between the early conquerors of Assyria
and the people of Elam.[300] Were the pre-Semitic Elamites originally
speakers of an agglutinative language, like the Sumerians and
present-day Basques, who were conquered in prehistoric times by a
people of Aryan speech?

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 contemporary of Thothmes III of

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 Egyptian 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 relations.

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
territory, the Hittites were ever hovering on his north-western
frontier, ready when opportunity offered to win back Cappadocia.
Eastward, Assyria was threatening to become 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, Amenhotep II, ascended the Egyptian throne.

Nothing is known from contemporary records regarding this campaign;
but it can be gathered from the references of a later period that the
city of Asshur was captured and plundered; its king, Ashur-nadin-akhe,
ceased corresponding 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 successive 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-Köi 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 cuneiform 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 forgeries, 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 Akhenaton, "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 quantity 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 statement
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". 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 Amenhotep'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 kingdom.

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-Köi. Sweeping through Cappadocia, at the head of
a finely organized army, remarkable 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 murdered by Sutarna II,
who was recognized by Subbi-luliuma. The crown prince, Mattiuza, fled
to Babylon, 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 Akhenaton, was, like the
Hittite king, Subbi-luliuma, a distinguished 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 formidable 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 plundered 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 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."[301]

Ashur-uballit's grandson extended his Babylonian frontier into Amurru,
where he dug wells and erected forts to protect traders. The Kassite
aristocracy, however, 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 excellent relations with his kinsman Kurigalzu II, but
ultimately 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 the borders of Mitanni as far as Babylonia". The
struggle of the future was to be for the possession of Mesopotamia, so
as to secure control over the trade routes.

Thus Assyria rose from a petty state in a comparatively 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.



  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 protection 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 perpetuate 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.[302] 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 remained
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 education necessitated by the
centralization of business in the 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 themselves
greatly regarding the exact construction and measurements 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 astronomers 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 importance 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".[303]

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."[304] 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 conscious existence survived in the religion of the
Aryo-Indians. In the Nala story of the Indian epic, the _Mahabharata_,
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 ...
    Hast thou seen the kingly Nala in this dark and awful wood....
    Why repliest thou not, O Mountain?"

She similarly addresses the Asoka tree:

    "Hast thou seen Nishadha's monarch, hast thou seen my only
    That I may depart ungrieving, fair Asoka, answer me...."
    Many a tree she stood and gazed on....[305]

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 mountains, trees, or wild animals.

Aesop'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.[306]

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,

    I approach him without fear.
    "Of the beasts art thou the monarch, all this forest thy
    Thou, O king of beasts, console me, if my Nala thou hast

A tribal totem exercised sway over a tribal district. In Egypt, as
Herodotus recorded, the crocodile was worshipped in one district and
hunted down in another. Tribes fought against tribes when totemic
animals were slain. The Babylonian and Indian myths about the
conflicts 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
commemorated 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 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 became 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 development, 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
howling 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 individuals.

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

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[308]. 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 Babylonian 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 appeared 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 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 elsewhere, stories were told to account for the "lost
Pleiad", a fact which suggests that primitive men were more constant
observers of the heavenly bodies than might otherwise 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 coincided 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 recognition 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 Tum--he died each
day as an old man; he appeared in heaven at night as the constellation
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
        begetteth emanations,--
    The day when offerings upon offerings are made to thy spirit,
        which causeth the gods and men likewise to live.[309]

This extract emphasizes how unsafe it is to confine certain deities
within narrow limits by terming them simply "solar gods", "lunar
gods", "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 instance, might be addressed at once in the
singular and plural, perhaps because he had developed from an
animistic 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
connected that, though addressed in the plural, they could in the same
sentence be regarded as forming a single personality".[310]

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 "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
associations 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 confused with the monotheistic identification of him with
other gods. Merodach changed his forms with Ishtar, and had similarly
many forms. This goddess, for instance, 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 sunset and a male
at sunrise[311]"--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 Osiris:

    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_.[312]

Merodach, like Osiris-Sokar, was a "lord of many existences", and
likewise "the mysterious one, he who is unknown to mankind[313]". It
was impossible for the human mind "a greater than itself to know".

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 Hammurabi 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 identified not only with the sun but
also with Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars.[314] 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 astronomers. Probably they were, like the
Aryo-Indians of the Vedic period, "not very accurate observers".[315]

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 companies of seven took place, for references are made to
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 order:--

    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, Â, or Ai, which recalls the
Egyptian Aâh 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 bisexual 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 posthumous 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[316].

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[317]". Nebo's original character is obscure. 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 Merodach, and had probably much in common with Merodach. Indeed,
Merodach was also identified with the planet Mercury. Like the Greek
Hermes, Nebo was a messenger 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 particularly associated with him.
A common form of his name designates him as the 'god of the
stylus'."[318] 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.[319]
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

The god of Mars was Nergal, the patron deity of Cuthah,[320] 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 'lord of the great
habitation', which would be a parallel to that of his spouse,
Eresh-ki-gal".[321] 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 called Herdesher, "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 members of an organized
pantheon. But before this development took place certain of the
prominent heavenly bodies, perhaps all the planets, were evidently
regarded as manifestations of one deity, the primeval Tammuz, who was
a form of Ea, or of the twin deities Ea and Anu. Tammuz 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[322]". 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 constellation. 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 several stations", and "also created their images, the stars
of the Zodiac,[323] 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
Babylonian civilization, religion, and art...." They "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 civilization
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 Mykenae 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."[324]

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.[325] In
studying its movements they observed that it always travelled from
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 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 _Bull_, 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[326] tails.

The table on p. 308 shows that our signs are derived from ancient

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 themselves "kings of the four quarters",
the reference was to the countries associated with the three divine
fields and to Gutium[327](east = our north-east). Was Gutium
associated with demons, as in Scandinavia the north-east was
associated with the giants against whom Thor waged war?

|               | Date of Sun's Entry |                               |
|Constellations.|(Babylonian Month in |    Babylonian Equivalent.     |
|               |     brackets).      |                               |
|Aries (the     |20th March (Nisan =  |The Labourer or Messenger.     |
|Ram).          |March-April)         |                               |
|Taurus (the    |20th April (Iyyar =  |A divine figure and the "bull  |
|Bull).         |April-May)           |of heaven".                    |
|Gemini (the    |21st May (Sivan =    |The Faithful Shepherd and Twins|
|Twins).        |May-June).           |side by side, or head to head  |
|               |                     |and feet to teet.              |
|Cancer (the    |21st June (Tammuz =  |Crab or Scorpion.              |
|Crab).         |June-July).          |                               |
|Leo (the Lion).|22nd July (Ab =      |The big dog (Lion).            |
|               |July-August).        |                               |
|Virgo (the     |23rd August (Elul =  |Ishtar, the Virgin's ear of    |
|Virgin).       |August-Sept.).       |corn.                          |
|Libra (the     |23rd September (Tisri|The Balance.                   |
|Balance).      |= Sept.-Oct.).       |                               |
|Scorpio (the   |23rd October         |                               |
|Scorpion).     |(Marcheswan =        |Scorpion of darkness.          |
|               |Oct.-Nov.).          |                               |
|Sagittarius    |22nd November        |Man or man-horse with bow, or  |
|(the Archer).  |(Chisleu =           |an arrow symbol.               |
|               |Nov.-Dec.).          |                               |
|Capricornus    |21st December (Tebet |Ea's goat-fish.                |
|(the Goat).    |= Dec.-Jan.).        |                               |
|Aquarius (the  |19th January (Sebat =|God with water urn.            |
|Water Carrier).|Jan.-Feb.).          |                               |
|Pisces (the    |18th February (Adar =|Fish tails in canal.           |
|Fishes).       |Feb.-March).         |                               |

The Babylonian Creation myth states that Merodach, having fixed the
stars of the Zodiac, made three stars for 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.: (1) the central or zodiacal constellations, (2) the
northern constellations, and (3) the southern constellations. 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 résumé of Babylonian
astronomico-astrology, in this connection. He said that "the five
planets were called 'Interpreters'; and in subjection to these were
marshalled 'Thirty Stars', which were styled '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."[328] 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

The three constellations associated with each month had each a
symbolic significance: they reflected the characters 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.

Of special interest among the many problems presented 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 120 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 extended 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;[329] 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 1 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 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.[330] "Lunar chronology", wrote Professor Max Mailer,
"seems everywhere to have preceded solar chronology."[331] The later
Semitic Babylonian system had twelve solar chambers and the thirty-six

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); 60x10
gave him 600 (ner), and 600x6, 3600 (sar), while 3600x10 gave him
36,000, and 36,000x12, 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 6x10 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 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 years.

The influence of Babylonia is apparent in these calculations. During
the Vedic period "Yuga" usually signified a "generation", and there
are no certain references to the four Ages as such. The names "Kali",
"Dvapara", "Treta", and "Krita" "occur as the designations of throws
of dice".[332] It was after the arrival of the "late comers", the
post-Vedic Aryans, that the Yuga system was developed in India.[333]

In _Indian Myth and Legend[334] it is shown that the Indian and Irish
Ages have the same colour sequence: (1) White or Silvern, (2) Red or
Bronze, (3) Yellow or Golden, and (4) Black or Iron. The Greek order
is: (1) 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, blue.

As the ten antediluvian kings who reigned for 120 saroi had an astral
significance, their long reigns corresponding "with the distances
separating certain of the principal stars in or near the
ecliptic",[335] it seems highly 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

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.[336]
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. 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

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 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 "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

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 mankind. 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.[337] 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."[338] 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."[339] 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, which might appear as beasts or birds, or be heard
knocking 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 command mankind was named (created)! Give thou the Word, and with
thee let the great gods stand! Give thou my judgment, make my

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
Babylonian 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 ".[341] "Nakshatras" are
stars in the _Rigveda_ and later, and "lunar mansions" in Brahmanical
compositions.[342] "Rohini, 'ruddy', is the name of a conspicuously
reddish star, ɑ Tauri or Aldebaran, and denotes the group of the
Hyades."[343] This reference may be dated before 600 B.C., perhaps 800

From Greece comes the evidence of Plutarch regarding 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 comments, "an astrologer would say,
these three are propitious with the good, and may be malign with the

Jastrow's views in this connection seem highly controversial. 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
intellectual 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 borrowers from other civilizations. That astronomy had
humble beginnings in Greece as elsewhere is highly probable. The late
Mr. Andrew Lang wrote in this connection: "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: 'Is not the
story true, then, that we become stars when we die?' The answer is,
'Certainly'; and Trygaeus 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, Germans, New Zealanders, and others had a similar

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 medicine and other sciences, and the credit of having
discovered 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."[346] Undoubtedly 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, "_it 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
ecliptic."[347] 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
discoveries 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 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 determine the bearing of their movements
upon human destinies."[348]

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 Babylon 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, Borsippa, 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, near Sippara; one
at Nippur, now Niffer; and one at Borsippa, within sight of Babylon.
As Borsippa possessed a university, it was natural that one of the
three observatories should be established there."[349]

It is evident that before the astronomers at Nineveh could foretell
eclipses, they had achieved considerable progress as scientists. The
data at their disposal probably covered nearly two thousand years. Mr.
Brown, junior, calculates that the signs of the Zodiac were fixed in
the year 2084 B.C.[350] 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 constellations were named by the Babylonians. It
is by calculating 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 20th, 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 days
each[351], and equated with the solar year by intercalating 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."[352]

The sundial of Ahaz was probably of Babylonian design. When the shadow
went "ten degrees backward" (_2 Kings_, xx, II) 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 11th 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

The Babylonian astrologers in their official documents were more
concerned regarding international omens than those which affected
individuals. They made observations 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 the moon was dim at the particular phase which was
connected 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 misfortune. 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 stars".

Biblical references to the stars make mention of well-known Babylonian

    Canst thou 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? _Job_, 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

    In my stars I am above thee; but be not afraid of greatness: some
    are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness
    thrust upon 'em. Thy Fates open their hands....[353]

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....[354]

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 are 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.



  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 Gilgamesh--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

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 consequently 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

If Ashur is to be regarded as an abstract solar deity, who was
developed from a descriptive place name, it follows that he had a
history, like Anu 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
manifestations 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."[355]
Asshur, or Ashur (identical, Delitzsch and Jastrow believe, with
Ashir),[356] 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, where the worship of the mother goddess
was also given prominence.

Damascius rendered Anshar's name as "Assōros", a fact usually cited to
establish Ashur's connection with that deity. This writer stated that
the Babylonians passed over "Sige,[357] the mother, that has begotten
heaven and earth", 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 Assōros (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"[358] (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 manifestations 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, 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
Pyramid 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

Before a single act of creation was conceived of, however, 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 Babylonia and India,
and the vulture, falcon, and mysterious 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.[360]

Associated with the Polar Star was the constellation Ursa Minor, "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", or "Shar the most high". It
seemed to be situated at the summit of the vault of heaven. The god
Shar, therefore, 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 planet 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
incarnation 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."[361] The king is identified with Lucifer as the deity of fire
and the morning star; he is the younger god who aspired to occupy the
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 Brahma". In Teutonic mythology the heavens revolve
round the Polar Star, which is called "Veraldar nagli",[362] 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: "ded" means "firm", "established";[363] 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".[364] 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 Mountain", 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, derived 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".[365] Ursa Minor (the "Little Bear" constellation) may have
been "the goat with six heads", referred to by Professor Sayce.[366]
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 were 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_".[367] In other words, there would be no people
left to perform religious dances beside the "desolate houses"; the
stars only would be seen dancing round Polaris.

Tammuz, like Anshar, as sentinel of the night heaven, was a goat, as
was also Nin-Girsu of Lagash. A Sumerian 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 Merodach. 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 Teutonic
fertility and thunder god, had a chariot drawn by goats. It is of
interest to note that the sacred Sumerian 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 "six
divinities of council".

Other deities who were similarly exalted as "high heads" at various
centres and at various periods, included Anu, 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 as 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 (1) 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 discharge 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".[368]

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
away, 'he has been cut off (his life or life string has been
severed)'."[369] The human figure did not indicate a process of
"despiritualization" either in Egypt or in India. The Horus "winged
disc" was besides a symbol of destruction and battle, as well as of
light and fertility. Horus assumed that form in one legend to destroy
Set and his followers.[370] 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.[371] In the
Greek Hipparcho-Ptolemy star list Hercules was the constellation of
the "Kneeler", and in Babylonian-Assyrian astronomy he was (as
Gilgamesh or Merodach) "Sarru", "the king". The astral "Arrow"
(constellation of Sagitta) was pointed against the constellations of
the "Eagle", "Vulture", and "Swan". In Phoenician astronomy the
Vulture was "Zither" (Lyra), a weapon with which Hercules (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.[372] 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 differed 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 "new country" than among the conservative
ritualists 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 character 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 introduced by
missionaries. In the homeland it was submerged by the revival of
Brahmanism, from which it sprung, and which it was intended
permanently to displace. 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 embraced and
established as a national religion by Akhenaton, the so-called
"dreamer". That migrations were sometimes 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 themselves 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.[373]

It may be, therefore, that the cult of Ashur was influenced 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 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 god.

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 great, 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."[374]

Asshur, the ancient capital, was famous for its merchants. It is
referred to in the Bible as one of the cities which traded with Tyre
"in all sorts of things, in blue clothes, and broidered work, and in
chests of rich apparel, bound with cords, and made of cedar".[375]

As a military power, Assyria's name was dreaded. "Behold," Isaiah
said, addressing King Hezekiah, "thou hast heard what the kings of
Assyria have done to all lands by destroying them utterly."[376] The
same prophet, when foretelling how Israel would suffer, exclaimed: "O
Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine
indignation. I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and
against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the
spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of
the streets."[377]

We expect to find Ashur reflected in these three phases of Assyrian
civilization. If we recognize him in the first place as a god of
fertility, his other attributes are at once included. A god of
fertility is a corn god and a water god. The river as a river was a
"creator" (p. 29), and Ashur was therefore closely associated with the
"watery place", with the canals or "rivers running round about his
plants". The rippling water-rays, or fertilizing tears, appear on the
solar discs. As a corn god, he was a god of war. Tammuz's first act
was to slay the demons of winter and storm, as Indra's in India was to
slay the demons of drought, and Thor's in Scandinavia was to
exterminate the frost giants. The corn god had to be fed with human
sacrifices, and the people therefore waged war against foreigners to
obtain victims. As the god made a contract with his people, he was a
deity of commerce; he provided them with food and they in turn fed him
with offerings.

In Ezekiel's comparison of Assyria to a mighty tree, there is no doubt
a mythological reference. The Hebrew 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 Babylonian mythology, as
has been indicated. When, therefore, 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 consideration 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[378]
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 overthrow of their Empire.... The flowers were formed by
seven petals."[379]

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-one-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".[380]

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 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.[381]

Layard suggested that the latter deity, with eagle's head, was
Nisroch, "the word Nisr signifying, in all Semitic languages, an eagle
".[382] This deity is referred to in the Bible: "Sennacherib, king of
Assyria, ... was worshipping in the house of Nisroch, his god".[383]
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 probability
ridiculous as well.... Pious and orthodox lips could pronounce them
without fear of defilement."[384] 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-_nebo_, 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 rays, seems rather far-fetched, because
eclipses were disasters and indications of divine wrath;[385] it
certainly does not explain why the "rays" should only stretch out
sideways, 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 symbolism. 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."[386]

Elsewhere, referring to the sisters, Aholah and Aholibah, who had been
in Egypt and had adopted unmoral ways of 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".[387] 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_....[388] 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

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 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."[390]

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 _Mahabharata_, the revolving ring or wheel
protects the Soma[391] (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 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'."[392]

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 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[393], 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".[394] 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",[395] 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.[396]

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 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.[397]

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".[398] According to the
commentators the Chaldaeans 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 Christians were wont to set apart in the Syrian calendar the
25th of January to commemorate Abraham's escape from Nimrod's

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."[400] 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, concubines, 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"[401]. Saul,
another fallen king, was burned after death, and his bones were buried
"under the oak in Jabesh".[402] In Europe the oak was associated with
gods of fertility and lightning, including Jupiter and Thor. The
ceremony of burning Saul is of special interest. 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_, 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, 18, 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 spiritual 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
composed 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 _Mahabharata_ epic.

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. '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)."[403]

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 invoked 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 Pinches adds that in one inscription
"he is identified with Nirig or En-reshtu" (Nin-Girsu = Tammuz).[404]
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 'etymology' of Ashur, proposed by
some learned scribe, to be the nature of a play upon the name."[405]
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."[406] 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
vegetation. 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,
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 perhaps 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. Another possible source of cultural influence is
Persia. The supreme god Ahura-Mazda (Ormuzd) was, as has been
indicated, 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.



  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
  Elamites--End of the Kassite Dynasty--Babylonia contrasted with

It is possible that during the present century Babylonia 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
construction of a great dam to control the distribution of the waters
of the Euphrates, and, if it is energetically promoted 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 Babylonian culture.

With the revival of agriculture will come the revival of commerce.
Ancient trade routes will then be reopened, 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.[407] 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 Rome".

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
Mesopotamia, 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 politics is being strongly influenced by
the problems connected 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 prominence. It began to be a great Power when
Egypt was supreme in the "Western Land" (the land of the Amorites) as
far north as the frontiers of Cappadocia. Under the Kassite regime
Babylonia's political influence had declined 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 possessions of Egypt were easily held in control, and the
Egyptian merchants enjoyed preferential treatment compared with those
of Babylonia. But when Mitanni was overcome, and its territories were
divided between the Assyrians 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 Mediterranean 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 plundering bands of "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 progress 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".[408]

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 Mesopotamia, and opening up a new and direct caravan road to Egypt
across the Arabian desert. The monarch in question 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 probably on account of his pronounced pro-Assyrian
tendencies that the Kassites murdered Kadashman-Kharbe, and set the
pretender, known as "the son of nobody", on the throne for a brief

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 opportunity 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 Servia's commerce 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
problems 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 Babylonia.

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[409], also
made an unsuccessful attempt to curb the growing power of the northern

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

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 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

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 completely.

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 enemy.

It is necessary at this point to review briefly the history 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
colonized by the Hittites.[410] 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 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
Mursil, who was known to the Egyptians as "Meraser", or "Maurasar".
The greater part of this monarch's reign appears to have been peaceful
and prosperous. 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 Köi, 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 regarding
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

The closing years of King Mursil's reign were disturbed 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

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 and
narrowly escaped disaster. Advancing impetuously, with but two of his
four divisions, he suddenly 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
territories 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 historians. No reference, for instance, is made
to the boundaries 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, however, is thrown on the
purport of the treaty by a tablet letter which has been discovered by
Professor Hugo Winckler at Boghaz Köi. It is a copy of a communication
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
ourselves brothers. Brothers we are and will [unite against] a common
foe, and with friends in common."[411] 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 common 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 influence
on the borders of Armenia. Shalmaneser'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 Euphrates.

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 Babylonian 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 Köi tablets several letters from
the king of Babylon, who made complaints regarding robberies committed
by Amoritic 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

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

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,
bringing 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 Köi
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 Babylonia 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 demolished, 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 susceptibilities 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[412].

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-shum-utsur.

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. Perhaps he was an
ally of Adad-shum-utsur, the Babylonian 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", "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 Isin. So ended the Kassite Dynasty of
Babylonia, which had endured for a period of 576 years and nine

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 inscriptions. 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

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 constituted the
basis of national and commercial prosperity.

It is evident that great wealth accumulated in Karduniash during the
Kassite period. When the images of Merodach and Zerpanituᵐ 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 priceless works of

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.
Babylonia, on the other hand, could have flourished in comparative
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 geographical formation to
the southern plain, and therefore less suitable for the birth and
growth of a great independent 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 Akkad.

After the Hammurabi period Assyria rose into prominence 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 military 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.

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 Babylonians ever achieved the intellectual conquest
of their conquerors.

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 successfully
revolted against them.

The history of Assyria as a world power is divided into three periods:
(1) 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 conserving his revenues, to command sufficient capital with
purpose 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 adoption of a military career by native
Assyrians, who officered the troops, and these troops had to be
trained and disciplined 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.



  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--Philistines as Overlords of Hebrews--Kingdom of David and
  Saul--Solomon's Relations with Egypt and Phoenicia--Sea Trade with
  India--Aramaean Conquests--The Chaldaeans--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
displacement 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 exercise 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 ultimately submerged the whole of Syria and part
of Mesopotamia. 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 Mesopotamia into Persia and
India, and westward through Egypt along the north African coast to
Morocco, and then into Spain.

When Syria was sustaining the first shocks of Aramaean 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 Ridgeway
identifies this stock, which had been filtering southward for several
centuries, with the tall, fair-haired, and grey-eyed "Keltoi"
(Celts),[413] who, Dr. Haddon believes, were representatives of "the
mixed peoples of northern and Alpine descent".[414] Mr. Hawes,
following Professor Sergi, holds, on the other hand, that the Achaeans
were "fair in comparison with the native (Pelasgian-Mediterranean)
stock, but not necessarily blonde".[415] 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

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
confederacy was broken up by the migrating Europeans, and their
dominant tribe, the Muski[416]--the Moschoi of the Greeks and the
Meshech of the Old Testament--came into conflict with the Assyrians.
The Muski were forerunners of the Phrygians, and were probably of
allied stock.

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 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 Egyptian 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

The land raiders who were thwarted by Rameses III were the
Philistines, a people from Crete.[417] When the prestige of Egypt
suffered decline they overran the coastline of Canaan, and that
country was then called Palestine, "the land of the Philistines",
while the Egyptian overland 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
occupied the soil of Palestine, at least until the time when the
influence of classical Greece asserted itself too strongly 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 'Fenish'."[418]

When the Kassite Dynasty of Babylonia was extinguished, about 1140
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 beginning 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 plundering

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 Namar, famous for its
horses, which was situated to the east of Akkad. The Assyrians, under
Ashur-dan I, were not only reconquering 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 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 companion, was restored to his family
possessions and exempted 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 themselves 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 northward 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 transferred 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. Thereafter 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. Thereafter 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 Carchemish,
which he pillaged. Thereafter his army crossed the Euphrates in boats
of skin, and plundered and destroyed six cities round the base of the
mountain of Bishru.

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."[419] He also claimed to have slain 920 lions,
as well as a number of wild oxen, apparently including 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 Sippar.

Thus once again the Assyrian Empire came into being 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 protected 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 Aramaeans, 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 Assyrian 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 thereafter 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 independence 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 emerging 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 displacing 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".[420] "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 embodiment 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
traditions 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."[421]

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

If the Philistines received the support of the Hittites, 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",[422] and from whom he received the city
of Gezer, which an Egyptian army had captured.[423] Solomon had
previously married a daughter of Sheshonk's.

Phoenicia was also flourishing. Freed from Egyptian, Hittite, and
Assyrian interference, Tyre and Sidon attained 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, Abibaal
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 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

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 Naphtali", who, like
his father, "a man of Tyre", had "understanding and cunning to work
all works in brass".[425]

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."[426] Apparently he traded with India, the land of
peacocks, during the Brahmanical period, when the Sanskrit name
"Samudra", which formerly signified the "collected waters" of the
broadening Indus, was applied to the Indian Ocean.[427]

The Aramaeans of the Third Semitic migration were not slow to take
advantage of the weakness of Assyria and Babylon. They overran the
whole of Syria, and entered into the possession of Mesopotamia, thus
acquiring full control of the trade routes towards the west. From time
to time they ravaged Babylonia from the north to the south. Large
numbers of them acquired permanent settlement in that country, like
the Amorites of the Second Semitic migration in the pre-Hammurabi Age.

In Syria the Aramaeans established several petty States, and were
beginning to grow powerful at Damascus, an important trading centre,
which assumed considerable political importance after the collapse of
Assyria's Old Empire.

At this period, too, the Chaldaeans came into prominence in Babylonia.
Their kingdom of Chaldaea (Kaldu, which signifies Sealand) embraces a
wide stretch of the coast land at the head of the Persian Gulf between
Arabia and Elam. As we have seen, an important dynasty flourished in
this region in the time of Hammurabi. Although more than one king of
Babylon recorded that he had extinguished the Sealand Power, it
continued to exist all through the Kassite period. It is possible that
this obscure kingdom embraced diverse ethnic elements, and that it was
controlled in turn by military aristocracies of Sumerians, Elamites,
Kassites, and Arabians. After the downfall of the Kassites it had
become thoroughly Semitized, perhaps as a result of the Aramaean
migration, which may have found one of its outlets around the head 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, Babylonia was broken up
into a number of petty States, as in early Sumerian times. The feudal
revival of Nebuchadrezzar 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 independence, 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 Chaldaeans 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
reestablished 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

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 persistency
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 civilization; 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 migrations 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 communities
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 instance, was a unifying and therefore a
strengthening influence 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.



  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
  Chaldaea 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 Shalmaneser--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

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."[428]

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 Subbiluliuma 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

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 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[429] 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 conflict
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, inaugurated 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 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 Mesopotamia.

An Aramaean pretender named Akhiababa had established 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 disposed 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 opposition. 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 between the upper
reaches of the Tigris and the southwestern shores of Lake Van. It was
promoted by the Nairi tribes, and even supported by some Assyrian
officials. 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; 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.[430]

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 territory. 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
purposes, 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 on Suru, 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

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 '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 landscape. 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 from 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."[431]

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
ultimately 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 technical 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 activities 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 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.[432] "There were wars between Rehoboam and Jeroboam

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

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".[435] After the raid of the
Egyptian Pharaoh Shishak (Sheshonk) Rehoboam repented, however. "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

Rehoboam was succeeded by his son Abijah, who shattered 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 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."[437]

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."[438]

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".[439] Nadab waged war against the Philistines, and was besieging
Gibbethon 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 north of Jerusalem, "that he might not
suffer any to go out or come in to Asa king of Judah".[440]

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
nominally 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_".[441]

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."[442]

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 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".[443] 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."[444]

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."[445]

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 make thee a
desolation, and the inhabitants thereof an hissing: therefore ye shall
bear the reproach of my people".[446]

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."[447] 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.[448]

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: "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 the 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 at Aphek, but was again defeated. He then found
it necessary to make "a covenant" with Ahab.[449]

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."[450]

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.[451] The two monarchs
plotted together. Apparently Israel and Judah desired 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 an expedition to attack Ramoth in Gilead, which Israel claimed,
and take it "out of the hand of the king of Syria".[452] 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 Joram.

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.[453]
Apparently Jehoshaphat 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
monarch at once hastened to assert his authority in the southern
kingdom. In 851 B.C. Marduk-bel-usate, who was supported by an Aramæan
army, was defeated and put to death.

Marduk-zakir-shum afterwards reigned over Babylonia as the vassal of
Assyria, and Shalmaneser, his overlord, made offerings to the gods at
Babylon, Borsippa, and Cuthah. The Chaldæans were afterwards subdued,
and compelled to pay annual tribute.

In the following year Shalmaneser had to lead an expedition 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 kingdoms, including Damascus,
Israel, and Tyre and Sidon, remained unconquered, and continued to
conspire against him.

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.[454] 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, 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, accompanied 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 furiously".

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.[455]

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 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".[456]

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 defeat; 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 received
tribute from the Tyrians 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.[457]

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, so that the Hebrews must have called him
Yahua (Jehua)".

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 Malatia.

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."[458]
Israel thus came completely under the sway of Damascus.

Jehu appears to have cherished the ambition of uniting 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 the 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."[459] Apparently he found it necessary to secure the support
of the idolators of the ancient cult of the "Queen of Heaven".

The crown of Judah had been seized by the Israelitish Queen mother
Athaliah after the death of her son Ahaziah at the hands of Jehu.[460]
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 bedchamber", in "the house of God". There Joash was
strictly guarded for six years.[461]

In time Jehoiada stirred up a revolt against the Baal-worshipping
queen of Judah. Having secured the support 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.

"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."[462]

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."[463] 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 suppressing 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 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 Mesopotamia, 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 Chaldaeans, 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 conqueror.

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,
Marduk-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
footmen, 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.



  Queen Sammu-rammat the original of Semiramis--"Mother-right" among
  "Mother Worshippers"--Sammu-rammat compared to Queen Tiy--Popularity
  of Goddess Cults--Temple Worship and Domestic Worship--Babylonian
  Cultural Influence in Assyria--Ethical Tendency in Shamash
  Worship--The Nebo 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 Ea--His Spouse Tashmit a Love Goddess and
  Interceder--Traditions of Famous Mother Deities--Adad-nirari IV the
  "Saviour" of Israel--Expansion of the Urartian 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 of 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 literature, 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 arranged with purpose to legitimatize
the succession of the Assyrian overlords to the Babylonian throne. The
principle of "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

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 Mut, 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

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".[465]

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 Hammurabi. Bel-kap-kapu was reputed to have
been an overlord 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 substantial basis. It is not too much to
assume that he was a son of a princess of its ancient royal family.
Sammurammat 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, including parts of Asia Minor,
Egypt, and southern and western Europe. It appears to have been
closely associated with agricultural rites practised among
representative 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 maintained 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 Zerpanituᵐ 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 agricultural valleys were freed from the yoke of
the father-god worshippers.

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 barbarities 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 Babylonian 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

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 Assyria.

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 of 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 Shamshi-Adad, son of Shalmaneser III, have literary
qualities which distinguish them from those of his predecessors, and
may be accounted for by the influence exercised by Babylonian scholars
who migrated northward.

To the reign of Adad-nirari belongs also that important 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

In Babylonia the fish goddess was Nina, a developed form of Damkina,
spouse of Ea of Eridu. In the inscription 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
comparative 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 newborn 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 the child and adopted her.
"Because", he said, "she was surrounded by _Shakuntas_ (birds),
therefore hath she been named by me _Shakuntala_ (bird

Semiramis 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 shepherds, 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 Dushyanta fell in love and married in
Gandharva fashion.[468]

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

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 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."[469] As we have seen, Ishtar
and other mother goddesses had many lovers whom they deserted like La
Belle Dame sans Merci (pp. 174-175).

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."[470] 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.[471] 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.[472] 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 Assyria.[473] 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 "Our Lady of Trees and Doves" in Cyprus, whose shrine at
old Paphos was founded, Herodotus says, by Phoenician colonists from
Askalon.[474] Fish and doves were sacred to Derceto (Attar),[475] 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."[476]

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
    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.[477] 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,
    Beneath are turned to strangeness, above are turned to
    With wailings on the lyre my dwelling-place is surrendered to the
    _The dove cots they wickedly seized, the doves they entrapped_....
    The ravens he (Enlil) caused to fly.[478]

Apparently there were temple and household doves in Babylonia. The
Egyptians had their household dovecots 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 inwards
(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."[479] 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.[480] 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 psalm:

    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
    My sanctuary, shrine of my temple Galmah, thou art destroyed.

            _Langdon's translation._

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

In Indian mythology Purusha, the chaos giant, first divided himself.
"Hence were husband and wife produced." This couple then assumed
various animal forms and thus "created every living pair whatsoever
down to the ants".[482] 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.[483]

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 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."[484] Discussing the attributes and symbols
of this mother goddess, Professor 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".[485] Professor Robertson Smith has demonstrated that the dove
was of great sanctity among the Semites.[486] It figures in Hittite
sculptures and was probably connected with the goddess cult in Asia
Minor. Although Egypt had no dove goddess, the bird was addressed by

    I hear thy voice, O turtle dove--
      The dawn is all aglow--
    Weary am I with love, with love,
      Oh, whither shall I go?[487]

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 innocence, 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 contained 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[488] obtained in other districts. Brand traced this interesting
traditional belief in Yorkshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire, and some of
the Welsh and Irish counties.[489] 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".[490]

The dove was not only a symbol of Semiramis, but 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 earth.

Advocates of the Totemic theory, on the other hand, may hold that the
association of doves with snake goddesses 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 neighbours."[491] 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
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."[492] 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."[493] 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 deathbed 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 certainly was in Crete, long centuries before Assyrian and
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 "points rather to
some remote common element, the nature of which is at present obscure,
than to any definite borrowing by one side or another".[494]

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 renascence 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 Adadnirari found it necessary to win
the support of the Babylonians by proclaiming his descent from one of
their ancient royal families, suggests that he was not only concerned
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" prevailed, 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 the sway of Damascus, and may have not been unconnected 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 fertility.
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 (Marduk), 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,[495] his son, just as Ea passed his traits on to
his son, Marduk".[496]

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 fertility, and with Osiris. In Borsippa he had, like
Merodach 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 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,

    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".[497]

Tashmit, whose name signifies "Obedience", according 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 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 forgotten. 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 Hades.

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 culture 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 disturbed the land of the god Ashur during the Middle Empire

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. Although 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 Hittites.

The Aramaean state of Damascus, which had withstood 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.[498]

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
Israelites.[499] At any rate Mari was unable to gather together an
army of allies to resist the Assyrian advance, and took 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".[500] Ashtoreth and her golden calf
continued to be venerated, and doves were sacrificed to the local

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 prevented 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 done no
more than limit its southern expansion for a time.

The Urarti were, like the Mitanni, a military aristocracy[501] 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

During the reign of Shamshi-Adad the Assyrians came into conflict with
the Urarti, who were governed at the time by "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.

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[502] 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 prolonged 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 conducted military expeditions to the north beyond the
river 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 Shalmaneser 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

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 regained their independence.

During the first four years of his successor Ashurnirari 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 pursuits 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.



  Tiglath-pileser IV, the Biblical Pul--Babylonian Campaign--Urartian
  Ambitions in North Syria--Battle of Two Kings and Flight of
  Sharduris--Conquest of Syro-Cappadocian States--Hebrew History from
  Jehu to Menahem--Israel subject to Assyria--Urartu's Power
  broken--Ahaz's Appeal to Assyria--Damascus and Israel
  subdued--Babylonia united to Assyria--Shalmaneser 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--Hezekiah and
  Sennacherib--Destruction of Assyrian Army--Sack of Babylon--
  Esarhaddon--A Second Semiramis--Raids of Elamites, Cimmerians,
  Scythians, and Medes--Sack of Sidon--Manasseh and Isaiah's
  Fate--Esarhaddon conquers Lower Egypt--Revolt of Assyrian

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
Esarhaddon, who made Lower Egypt an Assyrian province. We also meet
with notable figures of Biblical fame, including Ahaz, Hezekiah,
Isaiah, and the idolatrous Manasseh.

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.[503] 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

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. Plundering 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.

Tiglath-pileser did not overrun Chaldaea, but he destroyed its
capital, Sarrabanu, and impaled King Nabu-ushabshi. He proclaimed
himself "King of Sumer and Akkad" and "King of the Four Quarters". 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 I 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 acknowledge his suzerainty. A struggle then
ensued between Urartu and Assyria for the possession of the
Syro-Cappadocian 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

Leaving Arpad, Tiglath-pileser advanced to meet Sharduris, who was
apparently hastening southward to attack the Assyrians in the rear.
Tiglath-pileser, however, crossed the Euphrates and, moving northward,
delivered an unexpected attack on the Urartian army in Qummukh. A
fierce battle ensued, and one of its dramatic 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 pursued 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. 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 probably 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 communication 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.[505] Judah thus remained a vassal state of

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."[506]

Tiglath-pileser was operating successfully in middle Syria when he had
dealings with, among others, "Menihimme (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 welcome 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 thousand
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."[507] 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 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 penetrated 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."[508] When Pekah was on the throne, Ahaz
began to reign over Judah.

Judah had taken advantage of the disturbed conditions in Israel to
assert its independence. The walls of Jerusalem 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 prophet Amos, whose eloquent exhortations were couched
in no uncertain terms. He condemned Israel for its idolatries, and

    For thus saith the Lord unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me and
    ye shall live.... Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings
    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.[509]

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 Ben-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.[510] 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."[511]
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
    Rezin 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.[512]

The unstable Ahaz had sought assistance from the Baal, and "made his
son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the
heathen".[513] 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 ".[514] Assyria was the last resource of the
king of Judah.

    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[515] and slew Rezin.[516]

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.[517]

Tiglath-pileser recorded: "They overthrew Paqaha (Pekah), their king,
and placed Ausi'a (Hoshea) over them". He swept through Israel "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.[518] 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 Babylon, which opened its
gates to him, and he had himself 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,[519] and brought no present to the king of Assyria, 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."[520]

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,[521] and is the Arkeanos of Ptolemy. He was the Assyrian
monarch who deported the "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."[522] In all, according to Sargon's record, "27,290 people
dwelling in the midst of it (Samaria) I carried off".

    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
    Sepharvaim, 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-benoth,
    and the men of Cuth (Cuthah) made Nergal, and the men of Hamath
    made Ashima, and the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the
    Sepharites 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

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.[524] 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 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."[525]

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 Chaldaean, 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 evidently connected with the new rising in which he
took part. The throne of Hamath had been seized by an adventurer,
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 Assyrians.

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 southward. At Rapiki (Raphia) he routed an army of allies.
Shabi (?So), the Tartan (commander-in-chief) of Pi´ru[526] (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 Bocchoris of Sais. Another league was about
to be formed against Assyria. King Azuri of Ashdod had been deposed
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-Assyrians to Ahaz
of Judah. That monarch was placed in a difficult position. He knew
that if the allies succeeded 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."[527]

Isaiah warned Ahaz against joining the league, "in the year that
Tartan[528] came unto Ashdod (when Sargon the king of Assyria sent
him)". The Tartan "fought against Ashdod and took it".[529] 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

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 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.

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 tribesmen 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 prudent 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

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, Cappadocia, 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 widespread rising. Pisiris, king of
Carchemish, 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 revolted in 713 B.C.
and was similarly dealt with. In 712 B.C. Milid had to be overcome.
The inhabitants were transported, and "Suti" Aramaean 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

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 southward, 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. Merodach
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 Borsippa, 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 Babylonia 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 promoted 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 principally 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 12th, Sennacherib (sat on the throne).[530]

The fact that Sennacherib lamented his father's sins suggests that the
old king had in some manner offended 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 distinguished 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 exclaimed:

    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_, xxxii.)

Sennacherib found that Ionians 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[531]), the last
Pharaoh of the Ethiopian Dynasty, had dreams of re-establishing
Egyptian supremacy in Palestine and Syria, and leagued himself with
Luli, 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 Merodach Baladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent
letters and a present to Hezekiah.... And Hezekiah was glad of

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 200,150 people. He was unable, however, to enter
Jerusalem, in which Hezekiah was compelled to remain "like a bird in a
cage". It appears that Hezekiah "bought off" the Assyrians on 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

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

According to Berosus, the Babylonian priestly historian, the camp of
Sennacherib was visited in the night by swarms of field mice which ate
up the quivers and bows and the (leather) handles of shields. Next
morning the army fled.

The Biblical account of the disaster is as follows:

    And it came to pass that night, that the angel 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.[535]

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--
    Thelances uplifted--the trumpet unblown.

    And the widows of Asshur are loud in their wail,
    And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
    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 afterwards.

Sennacherib operated in southern Babylonia and invaded 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 Chaldaean named Mushezib-Merodach seized the
Babylonian throne.

In 691 B.C. Sennacherib again struck a blow for Babylonia, 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 dispatched 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 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 destroyed
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."[536]

"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."[537]

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 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 "20th
of Tebet" (early in January) until the 2nd day of Adar (the middle of
February). On the 18th 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 conspirators. The Biblical reference is
as follows: "Sennacherib ... dwelt at Nineveh. And it came to pass, as
he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch (?Ashur) 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 contributed 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 appointed 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 developed
those traits of character which distinguished him from his father and
grandfather. He married a Babylonian 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

As soon as Esarhaddon came to the throne he undertook 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
industrial centre. Withal, he won the hearts of the natives by
expelling Chaldaeans from the private estates which they had seized
during the Merodach-Baladan regime, and restoring them to the rightful

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 diplomatic 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?"[538]
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 Elamites regarded this innovation as a sign of
weakness, and invaded Babylon. Sippar was plundered, and its gods
carried away. The Assyrian governors, however, ultimately 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 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 deported 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 succeeded 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.[539]

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 Jerusalem from one end to another."[540]
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".[541] 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."[542] 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 (Menasê 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 Esarhaddon 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[543] 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 representing 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 necessary
to set his kingdom in order.

During his absence from home the old Assyrian party, who disliked the
emperor because of Babylonian sympathies, had been intriguing
regarding the succession to 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 conspirators. The crown prince
Sinidinabal was dead: perhaps 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 appointments.

Soon after these arrangements were completed Esarhaddon, 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-pal's 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". There was certainly much
which was attractive in his character. He inaugurated many social
reforms, and appears to have held in check his overbearing 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.



  Doom of Nineveh and Babylon--Babylonian Monotheism--Ashur-banipal
  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--Lydia'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 languisheth, 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 be 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

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 prognosticators, 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

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 prancing horses, and of the
jumping chariots. The horseman lifteth up both the bright sword and
the glittering spear.... The valiant men are in scarlet."[546] 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 immemorial superstition; they attained to
higher conceptions of the duties and responsibilities of mankind; they
conceived of divine love and divine guidance; they discovered, 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--

    O 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.
    I 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.[547]

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 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 succession 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
provinces: new rulers were appointed to administer the States of Arvad
and Ammon, but there were no changes elsewhere.

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 grievance
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 depended 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 deposed
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 representative. 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 Babylon."

Thus did Ashur-bani-pal make pious and dignified submission to the
will of the priests. A favourable response 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 observed 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 satisfaction 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
independent 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 intriguing 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 661 B.C. Ashur-bani-pal's
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".[548] 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 development 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 Cimmerians
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 the aid of
mercenaries from the State of Caria in southwestern Asia Minor. The
Greeks of Cilicia, and the Achaeans and Phoenicians of Cyprus remained
faithful to Assyria.

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 sway.

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 Chaldaeans, Aramaeans 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 murder."

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 independence.

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 Chaldeans 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 with his wife and children, his slaves and all his
treasures. Ashur-bani-pal was in 647 B.C. proclaimed King
Kandalanu[549] of Babylon, and reigned over it until his death in 626

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 campaign that the statue of Nana of Erech, which had
been carried off by Elamites 1635 years previously, was recovered 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 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, II), where, however, he was forgiven. The Medes and the Mannai
in the north-west were visited and subdued, and a new alliance 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
himself 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".[550]

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 antiquity.

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 Gilgamesh 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 library.

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 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 defensive alliance
with the Median king, whose daughter he had married to his son
Nebuchadrezzar. He strengthened the fortifications of Babylon, rebuilt
the temple of Merodach, which had been destroyed by Ashur-bani-pal,
and waged war successfully against the Assyrians and their allies in

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 Sardanapalus. 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 dissolved.... Take ye the spoil of
silver, take the spoil of gold.... Behold, I am against thee, saith
the Lord of hosts[551]."

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 Mesopotamia, 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 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."[552] 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".[553]
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.[554] The
Egyptians were routed at Carchemish in 605 B.C. (_Jeremiah,_ xvi, 2).

In 604 B.C. Nabopolassar died, and the famous Nebuchadrezzar 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 Herodotus (pp. 219 _et 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 magnificence 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 priests.
Captives were drafted into Babylonia from various lands, and employed
cleaning out the canals and as farm labourers.

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, "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."[555] 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".[556] He was afterwards sent back to Jerusalem. "And
Jehoiakim became his (Nebuchadrezzar's) servant three years: then he
turned and rebelled against him."[557]

Bands of Chaldaeans, Syrians, Moabites, and Ammonites 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 Jehoiachan, a
youth of eighteen years, succeeded him. Nebuchadrezzar laid siege to
Jerusalem, and the young king submitted to him and was carried off to
Babylon, with "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".[558] Nebuchadrezzar
had need of warriors and workmen.

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, Moab, Edom, and Ammon in favour of Egyptian
suzerainty. 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[559]".

Nebuchadrezzar led a strong army through Mesopotamia, 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

    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[560].

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 Assyrians "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

    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
    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 to 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....[561]

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.[562] 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 reconstructed 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, 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 forth; Merodach "gazed over the surrounding
lands ... looking for a righteous prince, one after his own heart, who
should take his hands.... He called by name Cyrus."

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
Achaemenes of the Greeks), a Persian patriarch who resembled the
Aryo-Indian Manu and the Germanic Mannus. Akhamanish 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 Karna and Krishna.

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 possession 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 Cimmerian 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 defeated 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 himself 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.[563]

On the 16th 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
understanding 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 "took the hands" of Bel Merodach
at E-sagila, and was proclaimed "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 priesthood. 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

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? If I forget thee, O 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.[564]

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
    proclamation 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

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 became identified with Bel Merodach, as, perhaps, he had
previously been with Ashur, and the goddess Anahita absorbed the
attributes of Nina, Ishtar, Zerpanituᵐ, and other Babylonian "mother

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 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
Herodotus, 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."[566] 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 overthrown 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 "Chaldaeans", 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

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, 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, "attended 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."[567]

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 fulfilled:

    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.[568]


[1] _Life of Apollonius of Tyana_, i, 20.

[2] _Egyptian Tales_ (Second Series), W.M. Flinders Petrie, pp. 98 _et

[3] _Revelation_, xviii. The Babylon of the Apocalypse is generally
believed to symbolize or be a mystic designation of Rome.

[4] _Nineveh and Its Remains_, vol. i, p. 17.

[5] _Ezra_, iv, 10.

[6] The culture god.

[7] Langdon's _Sumerian and Babylonian Psalms_, p. 179.

[8] _Crete the Forerunner of Greece_, p. 18.

[9] _The Scapegoat vol._, p. 409 (3rd edition).

[10] _The Seven Tablets of Creation_, L. W. King, p. 129.

[11] _Ibid_, pp. 133-4.

[12] _The Races of Europe_, W.Z. Ripley, p. 203.

[13] _The Ancient Egyptians_, by Elliot Smith, p. 41 _et seq._

[14] _The Ancient Egyptians_, p. 140.

[15] _Crete the Forerunner of Greece_, C. H. and H. B. Hawes, 1911, p.
23 _et seq._

[16] _The Races of Europe_, W. Z. Ripley, p. 443 _et seq._

[17] _The Ancient Egyptians_, pp. 144-5.

[18] _The Ancient Egyptians_, p. 114.

[19] _The Ancient Egyptians_, p. 136.

[20] _A History of Palestine_, R.A.S. Macalister, pp. 8-16.

[21] _The Mediterranean Race_ (1901 trans.), G. Sergi, p. 146 _et seq._

[22] _The Ancient Egyptians_, p. 130.

[23] _A History of Civilization in Palestine, p. 20 et seq._

[24] _Joshua_, xi. 21.

[25] _Genesis_, xxiii.

[26] _Genesis_, xvi. 8, 9.

[27] _1 Kings_, xvi. 16.

[28] _2 Kings_, xviii, 32.

[29] _Herodotus_, i, 193.

[30] Peter's _Nippur_, i, p. 160.

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

[32] _Indian Myth and Legend_, pp. 140, 141.

[33] _The Religion of the Semites_, pp. 159, 160.

[34] _Religion of Babylonia and Assyria_, M. Jastrow, p. 88.

[35] _The Seven Tablets of Creation_, L.W. King, vol. i, p. 129.

[36] _Religious Belief in Babylonia and Assyria_, M. Jastrow, p. 88.

[37] _Cosmology of the Rigveda,_ Wallis, and _Indian Myth and Legend_,
p. 10.

[38] _The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records and
Legends of Assyria and Babylonia_, T.G. Pinches, pp. 59-61.

[39] _The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria_, T.G. Pinches, pp. 91, 92.

[40] _Joshua_, xv, 41; xix, 27.

[41] _Judges_, xvi, 14.

[42] _I Sam_., v, 1-9.

[43] _I Sam_., vi, 5.

[44] _The Devils and Evil Spirits of Babylonia_, R. Campbell Thompson,
London, 1903, vol. i, p. xlii.

[45] _The Devils and Evil Spirits of Babylonia_, R. C. Thompson, vol. i,
p. xliii.

[46] _A History of Sumer and Akkad_, L. W. King, p. 54.

[47] _The Gods of the Egyptians_, E. Wallis Budge, vol. i, p. 290.

[48] _The Gods of the Egyptians_, vol. i, p. 287.

[49] _The Devils and Evil Spirits of Babylonia_, vol. i, _Intro_. See
also Sayce's _The Religion of Ancient Egypt and Babylonia_ (Gifford
Lectures, 1902), p. 385, and Pinches' _The Old Testament in the Light of
Historical Records_, &c., p. 71.

[50] _Indian Myth and Legend_, p. 100.

[51] Maspero's _Dawn of Civilization_, p. 156 _et seq._

[52] _Egyptian Myth and Legend_, p. I _et seq._ The saliva of the frail
and elderly was injurious.

[53] _Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection_, E. Wallis Budge, vol. ii,
p. 203 _et seq._

[54] _Brana's Popular Antiquities_, vol. iii, pp. 259-263 (1889 ed.).

[55] _The Religion of the Semites_, pp. 158, 159.

[56] _Castes and Tribes of Southern India_, E. Thurston, iv, 187.

[57] _Omens and Superstitions of Southern India_, E. Thurston (1912),
pp. 245, 246.

[58] Pausanias, ii, 24, 1.

[59] _Devils and Evil Spirits of Babylonia_, R.C. Thompson, vol. ii,
tablet Y.

[60] _Animism_, E. Clodd, p. 37.

[61] _2 Kings_, xvi, 3.

[62] _Ezekiel_, xx, 31.

[63] _Leviticus_, xviii, 21.

[64] _Indian Myth and Legend_, p. 65.

[65] _Religious Belief in Babylonia and Assyria_, M. Jastrow, pp. 312,

[66] _The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria_, T.G. Pinches, p. 81.

[67] In early times two goddesses searched for Tammuz at different

[68] _Indian Myth and Legend_, p. 30.

[69] _Early Religious Poetry of Persia_, p. 35.

[70] _Early Religious Poetry of Persia_, p. 37.

[71] _The Golden Bough_ (Spirits of the Corn and Wild, vol. ii, p. 10),
3rd edition.

[72] _Indian Wisdom_, Sir Monier Monier-Williams.

[73] _A History of Sanskrit Literature_, Professor Macdonell.

[74] _Religious Belief and Practice in Babylonia and Assyria_, M.
Jastrow, pp. 111, 112.

[75] _Indian Myth and Legend_, pp. xxxii, and 38 _et seq._

[76] _The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria_, T.G. Pinches, p. 94.

[77] _The Religion of Ancient Greece_, J.E. Harrison, p. 46, and Isoc.
_Orat._, v, 117

[78] _The Acts_, xvii, 22-31.

[79] _Devils and Evil Spirits of Babylonia_, vol. ii, p. 149 _et seq._

[80] _Egyptian Myth and Legend_, xxxix, _n._

[81] _Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt_, J.H.
Breasted, pp. 38, 74.

[82] _Custom and Myth_, p. 45 _et seq._

[83] _The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria_, p. 108.

[84] Act iv, scene 1.

[85] _Paradise Lost_, book ix.

[86] Chapman's _Caesar and Pompey_.

[87] _Natural History_, 2nd book.

[88] _Indian Myth and Legend_, 70, n.

[89] _Indian Myth and Legend_, pp. 202-5, 400, 401.

[90] _Teutonic Myth and Legend_, p. 424 et seq.

[91] _Indian Myth and Legend_, p. 164 et seq.

[92] _Popular Religion and Folk Lore of Northern India_, W. Crooke, vol.
i, p. 254.

[93] 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 attempted 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.

[94] _A Journey in Southern Siberia_, Jeremiah Curtin, pp. 103, 104.

[95] Vol. i, p. 305.

[96] _Adi Parva_ section of _Mahàbhàrata_, Roy's trans., p. 635.

[97] Jastrow's _Aspects of Religious Belief in Babylonia_, &c., p. 312.

[98] R.C. Thompson's trans.

[99] _The Elder or Poetic Edda_, Olive Bray, part i, p. 53.

[100] _Babylonian Religion_, L.W. King, pp. 186-8.

[101] _The Devils and Evil Spirits of Babylonia_, R. Campbell Thompson,
vol. i, p. 53 et seq.

[102] _Omens and Superstitions of Southern India_, E. Thurston, p. 124.

[103] _The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria_, p. 110.

[104] _Beowulf_, Clark Hall, p. 14.

[105] _Ezekiel_, viii.

[106] _Psalms_, cxxvi.

[107] _The Burden of Isis_, J.T. Dennis _(Wisdom of the East_ series),
pp. 21, 22.

[108] _Religion of the Semites_, pp. 412, 414.

[109] _Egyptian Myth and Legend_, pp. 45 et seq.

[110] Langdon's _Sumerian and Babylonian Psalms_, pp. 319-321.

[111] Campbell's _West Highland Tales_, vol. iii, p. 74.

[112] _West Highland Tales_, vol. iii, pp. 85, 86.

[113] 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 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".

[114] Isaiah condemns a magical custom connected with the worship of
Tammuz in the garden, _Isaiah_, xvii, 9, 11. This "Garden of Adonis" is
dealt with in the next chapter.

[115] Quotations are from _Sumerian and Babylonian Psalms_, translated
by Stephen Langdon, Ph.D. (Paris and London, 1909), pp. 299-341.

[116] _Beowulf_, translated by J.R. Clark Hall (London, 1911), pp. 9-11.

[117] For Frey's connection with the Ynglings see Morris and Magnusson's
_Heimskringla_ (_Saga Library_, vol. iii, pp. 23-71.

[118] _The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria_, p. 72.

[119] Langdon's _Sumerian and Babylonian Psalms_, pp. 325, 339.

[120] Professor Oldenberg's translation.

[121] Osiris is also invoked to "remove storms and rain and give
fecundity in the nighttime". As a spring sun god he slays demons; as a
lunar god he brings fertility.

[122] Like the love-compelling girdle of Aphrodite.

[123] A wedding bracelet of crystal is worn by Hindu women; they break
it when the husband dies.

[124] Quotations from the translation in _The Chaldean Account of
Genesis_, by George Smith.

[125] Langdon's _Sumerian and Babylonian Psalms_, p. 329 _et seq._

[126] _The Burden of Isis_, translated by J.T. Dennis (_Wisdom of the
East_ series), pp. 24, 31, 32, 39, 45, 46, 49.

[127] _The Burden of Isis_, pp. 22, 46.

[128] _Aspects of Religious Belief and Practice in Babylonia and
Assyria_, p. 137, and _Herodotus_, book i, 199.

[129] _The Burden of Isis_, p. 47.

[130] _Original Sanskrit Texts_, J. Muir, London, 1890, vol. i, p. 67.

[131] _Original Sanskrit Texts_, vol. i, p. 44.

[132] _Adi Parva_ section of _Mahàbhàrata_ (Roy's translation), pp. 553,

[133] _Ancient Irish Poetry_, Kuno Meyer (London, 1911), pp. 88-90.

[134] Translations from _The Elder Edda_, by O. Bray (part i), London,

[135] _Babylonian Religion_, L.W. King, pp. 160, 161.

[136] Tennyson's _A Dream of Fair Women._

[137] _Greece and Babylon_, L.R. Farnell (Edinburgh, 1911), p. 35.

[138] The goddesses did not become prominent until the "late invasion"
of the post-Vedic Aryans.

[139] _Greece and Babylon_, p. 96.

[140] _Jeremiah_, xliv.

[141] _Jeremiah, vii, 18._

[142] _Aspects of Religious Belief and Practice in Babylonia and
Assyria_, pp. 348, 349.

[143] _Jeremiah, vii, 17._

[144] _Nehemiah_, i, 1.

[145] _Esther_, i, 6.

[146] _Isaiah_, xiii, 19-22.

[147] _Indian Myth and Legend_, pp. 173-175 and 192-194.

[148] Or Rimush.

[149] _Genesis_, xiv.

[150] That is, the equivalent of Babylonia. During the Kassite period
the name was Karduniash.

[151] The narrative follows _The Seven Tablets of Creation_ and other
fragments, while the account given by Berosus is also drawn upon.

[152] The elder Bel was Enlil of Nippur and the younger Merodach of
Babylon. According to Damascius the elder Bel came into existence before
Ea, who as Enki shared his attributes.

[153] This is the inference drawn from fragmentary texts.

[154] A large portion of the narrative is awaiting here.

[155] A title of Tiamat; pron. _ch_ guttural.

[156] There is another gap here which interrupts the narrative.

[157] This may refer to Ea's first visit when he overcame Kingu, but did
not attack Tiamat.

[158] The lightning trident or thunderstone.

[159] 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

[160] The waters above the firmament.

[161] According to Berosus.

[162] 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

[163] _The Seven Tablets of Creation_, L.W. King, pp. 134, 135.

[164] _The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria_, T.G. Pinches, p. 43.

[165] _The Seven Tablets of Creation_, L. W. King, vol. i, pp. 98, 99.

[166] _Trans. Soc. Bib. Arch_., iv, 251-2.

[167] Shakespeare's _Julius Caesar_, i, 3, 8.

[168] _Isaiah_, li, 8.

[169] Campbell's _West Highland Tales_, pp. 136 _et seq._

[170] _The Life and Exploits of Alexander the Great_, E. A. Wallis
Budge, pp. 284, 285.

[171] Campbell's _West Highland Tales_.

[172] _Nehemiah_, ii, 13.

[173] _The Tempest_, i, 2, 212.

[174] _Waifs and Strays of Celtic Tradition_, vol. iv, p. 176 et seq.

[175] From unpublished folk tale.

[176] _Beowulf_, translated by Clark Hall, London, 1911, p. 18 et seq.

[177] _Beowulf_, translated by Clark Hall, London, 1911, p. 69, lines

[178] _Egyptian Myth and Legend_, pp. 260, 261.

[179] _Egyptian Myth and Legend_, pp. 8, 9.

[180] _Indian Myth and Legend_, pp. xli, 149, 150.

[181] _Isaiah_, li, 9.

[182] _Psalms_, lxxiv, 13, 14. It will be noted that the Semitic dragon,
like the Egyptian, is a male.

[183] _Job_, xxvi, 12, 13.

[184] _Psalms_, lxxxix, 10.

[185] _Isaiah_, xxvii, I.

[186] _Sumerian and Babylonian Psalms_, p. 204.

[187] _Custom and Myth_, pp. 45 et seq.

[188] Translation by Dr. Langdon, pp. 199 _et seq._

[189] _The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria_, T.G. Pinches, pp. 118,

[190] 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.

[191] See "Lady in the Straw" beliefs in _Brand's Popular Antiquities_,
vol. ii, 66 _et seq._ (1899 ed.).

[192] Like the Etana "mother eagle" Garuda was a slayer of serpents
(Chapter III).

[193] _Vana Parva_ section of the _Mahábhárata_ (Roy's trans.), p. 818
_et seq._, and _Indian Myth and Legend_, p. 413.

[194] _The Koran_ (with notes from approved commentators), trans. by
George Sale, P-246, _n_.

[195] _The Life and Exploits of Alexander the Great_, E. Wallis Budge
(London, 1896), pp. 277-8, 474-5.

[196] Campbell's _West Highland Tales_, vol. iii, pp. 251-4 (1892 ed.).

[197] _Religion of the Ancient Egyptians_, A. Wiedemann, p. 141.

[198] _Adi Parva_ section of the _Mahàbhàrata_ (Hymn to Garuda), Roy's
trans., p. 88, 89.

[199] Herodian, iv, 2.

[200] 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.

[201] The Assyrian and Phoenician Hercules is discussed by Raoul
Rochette in _Mémoires de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres_
(Paris, 1848), pp. 178 et seq.

[202] G. Sale's _Koran_, p. 246, n.

[203] In the Eddic poem "Lokasenna" the god Byggvir (Barley) is
addressed by Loki, "Silence, Barleycorn!" _The Elder Edda_, translation
by Olive Bray, pp. 262, 263.

[204] _De Nat. Animal_., xii, 21, ed. Didot, p. 210, quoted by Professor
Budge in _The Life and Exploits of Alexander the Great_, p. 278, n.

[205] _Isaiah_, lvii, 4 and 5.

[206] _The Golden Bough (Adonis, Attis, Osiris_ vol.), "The Gardens of
Adonis", pp. 194 _et seq._ (3rd ed.).

[207] _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 wilds like Ea-bani.

[208] Pronounce _ch_ guttural.

[209] On a cylinder seal the heroes each wrestle with a bull.

[210] 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_.

[211] Jastrow's trans., _Aspects of Religious Belief and Practice in
Babylonia and Assyria_, p. 374.

[212] _Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt_ (1912),
J.H. Breasted, pp. 183-5.

[213] _Ecclesiastes_, ix, 7-9.

[214] Ibid., xii, 13.

[215] Perhaps brooding and undergoing penance like an Indian Rishi with
purpose to obtain spiritual power.

[216] Probably to perform the ceremony of pouring out a libation.

[217] _Saxo_, iii, 71.

[218] Ibid., viii, 291.

[219] _The Elder Edda_, O. Bray, pp. 157 et seq. See also _Teutonic Myth
and Legend_.

[220] _The Life and Exploits of Alexander the Great_, E. Wallis Budge,
pp. xl et seq., 167 et seq.

[221] _The Koran_, trans, by G. Sale, pp. 222, 223 (chap. xviii).

[222] _Vana Parva_ section of the _Mahàbhàrata_ (Roy's trans.), pp.
435-60, and _Indian Myth and Legend_, pp. 105-9.

[223] _Vana Parva_ section of the _Mahàbhàrata_ (Roy's translation), pp.
832, 833.

[224] Ea addresses the hut in which his human favourite, Pir-napishtim,
slept. His message was conveyed to this man in a dream.

[225] The second sentence of Ea's speech is conjectural, as the lines
are mutilated.

[226] _The Muses' Pageant_, W.M.L. Hutchinson, pp. 5 _et seq._

[227] _Indian Myth and Legend_, pp. 107 _et seq._

[228] _Vana Parva_ section of the _Mahábhárata_ (Roy's trans.), p. 425.

[229] _Indian Myth and Legend_, p. 141.

[230] _Book of Leinster_, and Keating's _History of Ireland_, p. 150
(1811 ed.).

[231] _Religion of the Ancient Egyptians_, A. Wiedemann, pp. 58 _et

[232] Pinches' _The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria_, p. 42.

[233] 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

[234] _Primitive Constellations_, vol. i, pp. 334-5.

[235] _Indian Myth and Legend_, chap. iii.

[236] Professor Macdonell's translation.

[237] _Indian Wisdom_.

[238] "Varuna, the deity bearing the noose as his weapon", _Sabha Parva_
section of the _Mahábhárata_ (Roy's trans.), p. 29.

[239] _Indian Myth and Legend_, pp. 38-42.

[240] _Early Religious Poetry of Persia_, J.H. Moulton, pp. 41 _et seq._
and 154 _et seq._

[241] _The Elder Edda_, O. Bray, p. 55.

[242] _The Elder Edda_, O. Bray, pp. 291 _et seq._

[243] _Celtic Myth and Legend_, pp. 133 _et seq._

[244] Tennyson's _The Passing of Arthur_.

[245] _Job_, x, 1-22.

[246] _The Elder Edda_, O. Bray, pp. 150-1.

[247] _Indian Myth and Legend_, p. 326.

[248] _The Religion of Ancient Rome_, Cyril Bailey, p. 50.

[249] _The Life and Exploits of Alexander the Great (Ethiopic version of
the Pseudo Callisthenes)_, 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.

[250] _Aspects of Religious Belief and Practice in Babylonia and
Assyria_, Morris Jastrow, pp. 358-9.

[251] The _Mahàbhàrata_ (_Sabha Parva_ section), Roy's translation, pp.

[252] _A History of Sumer and Akkad_, L.W. King, pp. 181-2.

[253] _Genesis_, xxxv, 2-4.

[254] _The Religion of Ancient Egypt_, W.M. Flinders Petrie, p. 72.

[255] _Sabha Parva_ section of the _Mahàbhàrata_ (Roy's trans.), p. 29.

[256] _Egyptian Myth and Legend_, p. 214.

[257] Canto iv:--

[258] _1 Samuel_, xxiii, 9-11.

[259] _1 Kings_, xix, 19 and _2 Kings_, ii, 13-15.

[260] _The Burial Customs of Ancient Egypt_, John Garstang, pp. 28, 29
(London, 1907).

[261] _Herod._, book i, 198.

[262] _Records of the Past_ (old series), xi, pp. 109 et seq., and (new
series), vol. i, pp. 149 et seq.

[263] L.W. King's _The Seven Tablets of Creation_.

[264] _Herodotus_, book i, 179 (Rawlinson's translation).

[265] _Isaiah_, xlv, 1, 2.

[266] _Herodotus_, book i, 181-3 (Rawlinson's translation).

[267] _History of Sumer and Akkad_, L.W. King, p. 37.

[268] _Herodotus_, book i, 196 (Rawlinson's translation).

[269] _Home Life of the Highlanders_ (Dr. Cameron Gillies on _Medical
Knowledge_,) pp. 85 _et seq._ Glasgow, 1911.

[270] Translations by R.C. Thompson in _The Devils and Spirits of
Babylon_, vol. i, pp. lxiii _et seq._

[271] Bridges which lead to graveyards.

[272] _Genesis_, xii and xiii.

[273] _Genesis_, xiv, 13.

[274] _Ibid_., xxiii.

[275] _Ezekiel_, xvi, 3.

[276] _Genesis_, xiv, 1-4.

[277] _Ibid_., 5-24.

[278] _Babylonian and Assyrian Laws, Contracts, and Letters_, C.H.W.
Johns, pp. 392 _et seq._

[279] Translation by Johns in _Babylonian and Assyrian Laws, Contracts,
and Letters_, pp. 390 _et seq._

[280] _Matthew_, ix, 37.

[281] Johns's _Babylonian and Assyrian Laws, &c._, pp. 371-2.

[282] _The Land of the Hittites_, John Garstang, pp. 312 _et seq._ and
315 _et seq._

[283] _The Ancient Egyptian_, pp. 106 _et seq._

[284] _The Ancient Egyptians_, p. 130.

[285] _Struggle of the Nations_ (1896), p. 19.

[286] Note contributed to _The Land of the Hittites_, J. Garstang, p.

[287] _Genesis_, xxvi, 34, 35.

[288] _Ezekiel_, xvi, 45.

[289] _Genesis_, xxvii, 46.

[290] _Genesis_, xxviii, 1, 2.

[291] _Genesis_, xxiv.

[292] _The Syrian Goddess_, John Garstang (London, 1913), pp. 17-8.

[293] _Vedic Index of Names and Subjects_, Macdonald & Keith, vol. i,
pp. 64-5 (London, 1912).

[294] _The Wanderings of Peoples_, p. 21.

[295] Breasted's _History of Egypt_, pp. 219-20.

[296] _A History of Egypt_, W.M. Flinders Petrie, vol. ii, p. 146 _et
seq._ (1904 ed.).

[297] _A History of Egypt_, W.M. Flinders Petrie, vol. ii, p. 147 (1904

[298] _The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records and
Legends of Assyria and Babylonia,_ pp. 126 _et seq._

[299] His connection with Anu is discussed in chapter xiv.

[300] _Ancient Assyria_, C.H.W. Johns, p. 11 (London, 1912).

[301] _The Tell-el-Amarna Letters_, Hugo Winckler, p. 31.

[302] "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).

[303] _Census of India_, vol. I, part i, pp. 352 et seq.

[304] _Hibbert Lectures_, Professor Sayce, p. 328.

[305] _The Story of Nala_, Monier Williams, pp. 68-9 and 77.

[306] "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 Ymer's blood
(the sea) and his swarthy limbs (the earth)." _The Elder Edda (Voluspa_,
stanza 9).

[307] _The Story of Nala_, Monier Williams, p. 67.

[308] _Egyptian Myth and Legend_, pp. 168 _it seq._

[309] _The Burden of Isis_, Dennis, p. 24.

[310] _Babylonian Magic and Sorcery_, p. 117.

[311] _Babylonian and Assyrian Religion_, T.G. Pinches, p. l00.

[312] _The Burden of Isis_, J.T. Dennis, p. 49.

[313] _Ibid_., p. 52.

[314] _Religion of the Ancient Egyptians_, A. Wiedemann, p. 30.

[315] _Vedic Index_, Macdonell & Keith, vol. i, pp. 423 _et seq._

[316] _Religion of the Ancient Babylonians_, Sayce, p. 153, n. 6.

[317] _Religion of the Ancient Egyptians_, A. Wiedemann, p. 30.

[318] _Aspects of Religious Belief and Practice in Babylonia and
Assyria_, p. 95.

[319] _Babylonian and Assyrian Religion_, pp. 63 and 83.

[320] When the King of Assyria transported the Babylonians, &c., to
Samaria "the men of Cuth made Nergal", _2 Kings_, xvii, 30.

[321] _Babylonian and Assyrian Religion_, p. 80.

[322] _Indian Myth and Legend_, p. 13.

[323] Derived from the Greek zōon, an animal.

[324] _The Hittites_, pp. 116, 119, 120, 272.

[325] "The sun... is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and
rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race." (_Psalm_ xix, 4 _et seq._) 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 Legend_, pp. 14, 36, 37.

[326] Or golden.

[327] The later reference is to Assyria. There was no Assyrian kingdom
when these early beliefs were developed.

[328] _Primitive Constellations_, R. Brown, jun., vol. ii, p. 1 _et

[329] 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.

[330] _Primitive Constellations_, R. Brown, jun., vol. ii, p. 61; and
_Early History of Northern India,_ J.F. Hewitt, pp. 551-2.

[331] _Rigveda-Samhita,_ vol. iv (1892), p. 67.

[332] _Vedic Index_, Macdonell & Keith, vol. ii, pp. 192 _et seq._

[333] _Indian Myth and Legend_

[334] Pp. 107 _et seq._

[335] _Primitive Constellation_, R. Brown, jun., vol. i, 1. 333. A table
is given showing how 120 saroi equals 360 degrees, each king being
identified with a star.

[336] "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. Wiedemann, p. 58. Ra became a destroyer after
completing his reign as an earthly king.

[337] As Nin-Girau, Tammuz was associated with "sevenfold" Orion.

[338] _Babylonian and Assyrian Life_, pp. 61, 62.

[339] Herodotus (ii, 52) as quoted in _Egypt and Scythia_ (London,
1886), p. 49.

[340] _Babylonian Magic and Sorcery_, L.W. King (London, 1896), pp. 43
and 115.

[341] _Vedic Index_, Macdonell & Keith, vol. ii, p. 229.

[342] _Ibid_ vol. i, pp. 409, 410.

[343] _Ibid_ vol. i, p. 415.

[344] _Primitive Constellations_, vol. i, p. 343.

[345] _Custom and Myth_, pp. 133 _et seq._

[346] Dr. Alfred Jeremias gives very forcible reasons for believing that
the ancient Babylonians were acquainted with the precession of the
equinoxes. _Das Alter der Babylonischen Astronomie_ (Hinrichs, Leipzig,
1908), pp. 47 _et seq._

[347] _Aspects of Religious Belief and Practice in Babylonia and
Assyria_, pp. 207 _et seq._

[348] _A History of the Babylonians and Assyrians_, p. 93.

[349] _Babylonians and Assyrians: Life and Customs_, pp. 219, 220.

[350] _Primitive Constellations_, vol. ii, pp. 147 et seq.

[351] The Aryo-Indians had a lunar year of 360 days (_Vedic Index_, ii,

[352] _A History of the Babylonians and Assyrians_, p. 94.

[353] _Twelfth Night_, act ii, scene 5.

[354] _Childe Harold_, canto iii, v, 88.

[355] _Genesis_, x, 11.

[356] "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.

[357] Sumerian Ziku, apparently derived from Zi, the spiritual essence
of life, the "self power" of the Universe.

[358] _Peri Archon_, cxxv.

[359] _Religion of Babylonia and Assyria_, p. 197 et seq.

[360] _Julius Caesar_, act iii, scene I.

[361] _Isaiah_, xiv, 4-14.

[362] _Eddubrott_, ii.

[363] _Religion of the Ancient Egyptians_, A. Wiedemann, pp. 289-90.

[364] _Ibid_., p. 236. Atlas was also believed to be in the west.

[365] _Primitive Constellations_, vol. ii, p. 184.

[366] _Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia,_ xxx, II.

[367] _Isaiah_, xiii, 21. For "Satyrs" the Revised Version gives the
alternative translation, "or he-goats".

[368] _Aspects of Religious Belief and Practice in Babylonia and
Assyria_, p. 120, plate 18 and note.

[369] _Satapatha Brahmana_, translated by Professor Eggeling, part iv,
1897, p. 371. _(Sacred Books of the East_.)

[370] _Egyptian Myth and Legend_, pp. 165 et seq.

[371] _Classic Myth and Legend_, p. 105. The birds were called

[372] The so-called "shuttle" of Neith may be a thunderbolt. Scotland's
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

[373] _Vedic Index_, Macdonell & Keith, vol. ii, pp. 125-6, and vol. i,

[374] _Ezekiel_, xxxi, 3-8.

[375] _Ezekiel_, xxvii, 23, 24.

[376] _Isaiah_, xxxvii, 11.

[377] _Ibid_., x, 5, 6.

[378] A winged human figure, carrying in one hand a basket and in
another a fir cone.

[379] Layard's _Nineveh_ (1856), p. 44.

[380] _Ibid_., p. 309.

[381] 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.

[382] _Nineveh_, p. 47.

[383] _Isaiah_, xxxvii, 37-8.

[384] _The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records and
Legends of Assyria and Babylonia,_ pp. 129-30.

[385] An eclipse of the sun in Assyria on June 15, 763 B.C., was
followed by an outbreak of civil war.

[386] _Ezekiel_, i, 4-14.

[387] _Ezekiel,_ xxiii, 1-15.

[388] As the soul of the Egyptian god was in the sun disk or sun egg.

[389] _Ezekiel,_, i, 15-28.

[390] _Ezekiel_, x, 11-5.

[391] Also called "Amrita".

[392] The _Mahabharata_ (_Adi Parva_), Sections xxxiii-iv.

[393] 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 "Bog-haz' Kay-ee", a slight "oo" sound
being given to the "a" in "Kay"; the "z" sound is hard and hissing.

[394] _The Land of the Hittites_, J. Garstang, pp. 178 _et seq._

[395] _Ibid_., p. 173.

[396] _Adonis, Attis, Osiris_, chaps. v and vi.

[397] _Daniel_, iii, 1-26.

[398] The story that Abraham hung an axe round the neck of Baal after
destroying the other idols is of Jewish origin.

[399] _The Koran_, George Sale, pp. 245-6.

[400] _Isaiah_, xxx, 31-3. See also for Tophet customs _2 Kings_, xxiii,
10; _Jeremiah_, vii, 31, 32 and xix, 5-12.

[401] _1 Kings_, xvi, 18.

[402] _1 Samuel_, xxxi, 12, 13 and _1 Chronicles_, x, 11, 12.

[403] _The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records and
Legends of Assyria and Babylonia,_ pp. 201-2.

[404] _Babylonian and Assyrian Religion_, pp. 57-8.

[405] _Aspects of Religious Belief and Practice in Babylonia and
Assyria_, p. 121.

[406] _Babylonian and Assyrian Religion_, p. 86.

[407] At Carchemish a railway bridge spans the mile-wide river ferry
which Assyria's soldiers were wont to cross with the aid of skin 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.

[408] _Deuteronomy_, xxvi, 5

[409] Pr. _u_ as _oo_.

[410] 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.

[411] Garstang's _The Land of the Hittites,_ p. 349.

[412] "Burgh of Tukulti-Ninip."

[413] Article "Celts" in _Encyclopaedia Britannica_, eleventh ed.

[414] _The Wanderings of Peoples_, p. 41.

[415] _Crete, the Forerunner of Greece_, p. 146.

[416] Pr. Moosh´kee.

[417] "Have I not brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt and the
Philistines from Caphtor (Crete)?" _Amos_, viii, 7.

[418] _A History of Civilization in Palestine_, p. 58.

[419] Pinches' translation.

[420] _I Samuel_, xiii, 19.

[421] _A History of Civilization in Palestine_, p. 54.

[422] _1 Kings_, iii, 1.

[423] _Ibid_., ix, 16.

[424] _1 Kings_, v, 1-12.

[425] _Ibid_., vii, 14 _et seq._

[426] _Ibid_., x, 22-3.

[427] _Indian Myth and Legend_, pp. 83-4.

[428] _Finn and His Warrior Band_, pp. 245 _et seq._ (London, 1911).

[429] Also rendered Ashur-na'sir-pal.

[430] _A History of the Babylonians and Assyrians_, G.S. Goodspeed, p.

[431] _Discoveries at Nineveh_, Sir A.H. Layard (London, 1856), pp. 55,

[432] "Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem."
_Solomon's Song_, vi, 4.

[433] _2 Chronicles_, xii, 15.

[434] _1 Kings_, xiv, 1-20.

[435] _Ibid._, 21-3.

[436] _2 Chronicles_, xii, 1-12.

[437] _2 Chronicles_, xiii, 1-20.

[438] _Ibid._, xiv, 1-6.

[439] _1 Kings_, xv, 25-6.

[440] _1 Kings_, xv, 16-7.

[441] _Ibid._, 18-9.

[442] _Ibid._, 20-2.

[443] _1 Kings_, xvi, 9-10.

[444] _Ibid._, 15-8.

[445] _Ibid._, 21-2.

[446] _Micah_, vi, 16.

[447] _1 Kings_, xvi, 29-33.

[448] _Ibid._, xviii, 1-4.

[449] _1 Kings_, xx.

[450] _Ibid._, xxii, 43.

[451] _2 Chronicles_, xviii, 1-2.

[452] _1 Kings_, xxii and _2 Chronicles_, xviii.

[453] _1 Kings_, xxii, 48-9.

[454] _1 Kings_, viii.

[455] _2 Kings_, ix and _2 Chronicles_, xxii.

[456] _2 Kings_, viii, 1-15.

[457] _The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records and
Legends of Assyria and Babylonia_, pp. 337 _et seq._

[458] _2 Kings_, x, 32-3.

[459] _Ibid._, 1-31.

[460] _2 Kings_, xi, 1-3.

[461] _2 Chronicles_, xxii, 10-12.

[462] _2 Chronicles_, xxiii, 1-17.

[463] _2 Kings_, xiii, 1-5.

[464] _The Land of the Hittites_, J. Garstang, p. 354.

[465] _The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records and
Legends of Assyria and Babylonia,_ T.G. Pinches, p. 343.

[466] _Nat. Hist_., v, 19 and _Strabo_ xvi, 1-27.

[467] _The Mahabharata: Adi Parva_, sections lxxi and lxxii (Roy's
translation), pp. 213 216, and _Indian Myth and Legend_, pp. 157 _et

[468] That is, without ceremony but with consent.

[469] _The Golden Bough_ (_The 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.

[470] _Herodotus_, i, 184.

[471] _De dea Syria_, 9-14.

[472] _Strabo_, xvi, 1, 2.

[473] _Diodorus Siculus_, ii, 3.

[474] _Herodotus_, i, 105.

[475] _Diodorus Siculus_, ii, 4.

[476] _De dea Syria_, 14.

[477] This little bird allied to the woodpecker twists its neck
strangely when alarmed. It may have symbolized the coquettishness of
fair maidens. As love goddesses were "Fates", however, the wryneck may
have been connected with the belief that the perpetrator 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

[478] Langdon's _Sumerian and Babylonian Psalms_, pp. 133, 135.

[479] Introduction to Lane's _Manners and Customs of the Modern

[480] Tammuz is referred to in a Sumerian 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.

[481] Campbell's _Superstitions of the Scottish Highlands_, p. 288.

[482] _Indian Myth and Legend_, p. 95.

[483] _Ibid_., pp. 329-30.

[484] _Crete, the Forerunner of Greece_, C.H. and H.B. Hawes, p. 139

[485] _The Discoveries in Crete_, pp. 137-8.

[486] _Religion of the Semites_, p. 294.

[487] _Egyptian Myth and Legend_, p. 59.

[488] Including the goose, one of the forms of the harvest goddess.

[489] _Brand's Popular Antiquities_, vol. ii, 230-1 and vol. iii, 232
(1899 ed.).

[490] _Ibid_., vol. iii, 217. The myrtle was used for love charms.

[491] _The Golden Bough_ (_Spirits of the Corn and of the Wild_), vol.
ii, p. 293 (3rd ed.).

[492] _Herodotus_, ii, 69, 71, and 77.

[493] _Brand's Popular Antiquities_, vol. iii, p. 227.

[494] Cited by Professor Burrows in _The Discoveries in Crete_, p. 134.

[495] 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 god.

[496] _Aspects of Religious Belief and Practice in Babylonia and
Assyria_, pp. 94 _et seq._

[497] _Babylonian Magic and Sorcery_, L.W. King, pp. 6-7 and 26-7.

[498] _2 Kings_, xiii, 3.

[499] _2 Kings_, xiii, 14-25.

[500] _3 Kings_, xiii, 5, 6.

[501] The masses of the Urartian folk appear to have been of Hatti
stock--"broad heads", like their descendants, the modern Armenians.

[502] It is uncertain whether this city or Kullani in north Syria it the
Biblical Calno. _Isaiah_, x, 9.

[503] _2 Kings_, xv, 19 and 29; _2 Chronicles_, xxviii, 20.

[504] _2 Kings_, xviii, 34 and xix, 13.

[505] _2 Kings_, xiv, 1-14.

[506] _2 Kings_, xv, 1-14.

[507] _2 Kings_, xv, 19, 20.

[508] _2 Kings_, xv, 25.

[509] _Amos_, v.

[510] _Amos_, i.

[511] _2 Kings_, xvi, 5.

[512] _Isaiah_, vii, 3-7.

[513] _2 Kings_, xv, 3.

[514] _Isaiah_, vii, 18.

[515] Kir was probably on the borders of Elam.

[516] _2 Kings_, xvi, 7-9.

[517] _2 Kings_, xv, 29, 30.

[518] _2 Kings_, xvi, 10.

[519] In the Hebrew text this monarch is called Sua, Seveh, and So, says
Maspero. The Assyrian texts refer to him as Sebek, Shibahi, Shabè, &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, king of Mutsri, and still
another that he was a petty king of an Egyptian state in the Delta and
not Shabaka.

[520] _2 Kings_, xvii, 3-5.

[521] _Isaiah_, xx, 1.

[522] _2 Kings_, xvii, 6.

[523] _2 Kings_, xvii, 16-41.

[524] 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 27,290 given above.

[525] _Passing of the Empires_, pp. 200-1.

[526] 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 subsequently 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

[527] _Isaiah_, xx, 2-5.

[528] Commander-in-chief.

[529] _Isaiah_, xx, 1.

[530] _The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records and
Legends of Assyria and Babylonia,_ T.G. Pinches, p. 372.

[531] _Isaiah_, xxxvii, 9.

[532] _Isaiah_, xxix, 1, 2.

[533] _2 Chronicles_, xxxii, 9-17.

[534] _2 Kings_, xix, 6, 7.

[535] _2 Kings_, xix, 35, 36.

[536] Smith-Sayce, _History of Sennacherib_, pp. 132-5.

[537] _A History of Sumer and Akkad_, p. 37.

[538] _Isaiah_, xxxvii, 8-13.

[539] _2 Kings_, xxi, 3-7.

[540] _2 Kings_, xxi, 16.

[541] _Hebrews_, xi, 36, 37.

[542] _2 Chronicles_, xxxiii, 11-3. It may be that Manasseh was taken to
Babylon during Ashur-bani-pal's reign. See next chapter.

[543] Pronounce _g_ as in _gem_.

[544] _Nahum_, i, ii, and iii.

[545] _Isaiah_, xlvi, 1; xlvii, 1-15.

[546] _Nahum_, iii, 2, 3; ii, 3.

[547] Goodspeed's _A History of the Babylonians and Assyrians_, p. 348.

[548] _Nahum_, iii, 8-11.

[549] Ptolemy's Kineladanus.

[550] _Ezra_, iv, 10.

[551] _Nahum_, iii and ii.

[552] 2 _Kings_, xxiii, 29.

[553] _Ibid._, 33-5.

[554] Nebuchadrezzar is more correct than Nebuchadnezzar.

[555] _2 Kings_, xxiv, 7.

[556] _2 Chronicles_, xxxvi, 6.

[557] _2 Kings_, xxiv, 1.

[558] _2 Kings_, xxiv, 8-15.

[559] _Jeremiah_, lii, 3.

[560] _Jeremiah_, lii, 4-11.

[561] _The Laminations of Jeremiah_, i, 1-7.

[562] _Jeremiah_, lii, 31-4.

[563] _Daniel_, v, I et seq.

[564] _Psalms_, cxxxvii, 1-6.

[565] _Ezra_, i, 1-3.

[566] _Herodotus_, i, 183; _Strabo_, xvi, 1, 5; and _Arrian_, vii, 17.

[567] _Strabo_, xvi, 1-5.

[568] _Isaiah_, xxiiv, 11-4.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Myths of Babylonia and Assyria" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.