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~Homer

A picture is worth a thousand words.

~Napoleon Bonaparte

Monday, 2 April 2012

Mesopotamia


 

Mesopotamia  is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.
Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the Akkadian, Babylonian and Assyrian empires. In the Iron Age, it was controlled by the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian empires. The indigenous Sumerians and Akkadians (including Assyrians and Babylonians) dominated Mesopotamia from the beginning of written history (c. 3100 BC) to the fall of Babylon in 539 BC, when it was conquered by the Achaemenid Empire. It fell to Alexander the Great in 332 BC and, after his death, it became part of the Greek Seleucid Empire.
Around 150 BC, Mesopotamia was under the control of the Parthians. Mesopotamia became a battleground between the Romans and Parthians, with parts of Mesopotamia coming under ephemeral Roman control. In AD 226, it fell to the Sassanid Persians, and remained under Persian rule until the 7th century Arab Islamic conquest of the Sassanid Empire. A number of primarily neo Assyrian and Christian native Mesopotamian states existed between the 1st century BC and 3rd century AD, including Adiabene, Osroene and Hatra.

 Periodization

Pre- and protohistory
Pre-Pottery Neolithic A  (10,000–8700 BC)
Hassuna (~6000 bc–? BC), Samarra (~5700 BC–4900 BC) and Halaf (~6000 BC–5300 BC) 
Ubaid period (~5900–4400 BC)
Uruk period (~4400–3100 BC)
Jemdet Nasr period ((~3100–2900 BC)

Early Bronze Age 
Early Dynastic period (~2900–2350 BC)
Akkadian Empire (~2350–2100 BC)
Ur III period (2112–2004 BC)
Early Assyrian kingdom (22nd to 18th c. BC)


Middle Bronze Age
Early Babylonia (19th to 18th c. BC)
First Babylonian Dynasty (18th to 17th c. BC)
collapse: Minoan Eruption (c. 1620 BC)

Late Bronze Age
Middle Assyrian period (16th to 11th c. BC)
Assyrian Empire (ca. 1365 BC–1076 BC)
Kassite dynasty in Babylon, (ca. 1595 BC–1155 BC)
collapse: Bronze Age collapse (12th to 11th c. BC)

 

Neo-Hittite or Syro-Hittite regional states (11th to 7th c. BC)
Neo-Assyrian Empire (10th to 7th c. BC)
Neo-Babylonian Empire (7th to 6th c. BC)
 
ClassicalAntiquity
Seleucid Mesopotamia (4th to 3rd c. BC) 
Parthian Babylonia (3rd c. BC to 3rd c. AD)
Osroene (2nd c. BC to 3rd c. AD)  
Adiabene (1st to 2nd c. AD) 
Hatra (1st to 2nd c. AD) 

Late Antiquity 
Persian Mesopotamia (3rd to 7th c. AD) 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesopotamia

The main source of information about the religion of Mesopotamia were found during archeological research text written on clay tables cuneiform:


Sumerian Sources 
  • list of  gifts to the temple E-anna at Uruk (the end of the fourth millennium BC) 
  • texts  of Shuruppak (about 2600 BC) 
  • texts found during excavations at the archaeological site of Abu Salabich (about 2600 BC)
  • archives of Nippur
  • inscriptions  of the kings of Girsu , including texts from the reign of Gudea (XXII century BC) 

Akkadian Sources 
  • hymns  Enheduanny (XXIV century BC) 
  • administrative texts from the period of Ur III dynasty , containing references to the activities of temples  and religious festivals
  • Myths and hymns in honor of the rulers 
  • texts Isin-Larsa period , including a description of the rituals associated with the feast of the marriage of Inanna and Dumuzi 
  • hymns Isin-Larsa period 
  • religious texts from the archives of the palace at Mari 
  • personal letters on individual religiosity (and half of the second millennium BC) 
  • texts from the archives of Ashur , Nineveh library and archive in Uruk (magical texts for protection) and esoteric (second half of the second millennium BC -The second half of I millennium BC)
  • religious and mythological texts, found during excavations in Ebla , Hattusas , Elam , Achetatonie 
Knowledge of the religion of Mesopotamia complement studies in art architecture, sculptures, reliefs, including kudurru and cylindrical seal, as well as temples and shrines.

Kudurru (STEL) of King Melishipak I (1186-1172 BC): The king presents his daughter to the goddess Nannaya. The crescent moon represents the god Sin, the Shamash the sun and the star of the goddess Ishtar. Kassite period, taken to Susa in the 12th century BC as war booty.

 
 Cylinder seal and impression: cattle herd at the cowshed. White limestone, Mesopotamia, Uruk Period (4100 BC–3000 BC).

Clay impression of a cylinder seal with monstrous lions and lion-headed eagles, Mesopotamia, Uruk Period (4100 BC–3000 BC).

                                               Babylonian seal impressions

 Cylinder seal and clay imprint, representing a mythological scene: Assur attacking a monster is cheered by a goddess. Steatite, Assyria, 9th-8th centuries BC.

 Cylinder Seal with Scorpion Man Shooting at Winged Creatures Middle Assyrian between 1400 and 1200 BC

 Cylinder Seal with Human-Headed Griffin Attacking a Horse, Middle Assyrian between 1400 and 1200 BC

 Cylinder Seal with Winged Bull, Middle Assyrian between 1400 and 1200 BC

An important role in religious life was astrology , the observation of the movements of celestial bodies in order to predict the future. The Babylonians believed that the movements of the stars  you can read the intentions of the gods in the political and military matters. People feel surrounded by the demons that have always been ready to assault the man. To protect yourself against them wore amulets with them recorded the spells and carved demon which guarded the front of the amulet. When the victim betrayed symptoms of demonic possession, called in an exorcist , who with the help of spells and rituals, casting out evil spirits, or combine them with the procedures surgical and art medical care . This was due to the fact that sin (in their minds - not respect the ethical standards to breaking was not punished by the court) was regarded as a kind of disease to be cured. Thus, the patient could be regarded as possessed.
In addition to astrological predictions deported gods or fortune in the form of dreams , animal behavior, the birth of monsters, and random phenomena. It was predicted from the liver of animals. This last method of divination and astrology served the king , state, and high dignitaries. Private individuals may only use the other methods. In Mesopotamian mythology, man is the servant of the gods and their vicegerent on earth, created in order to relive the gods in their work. The priests lived in the temple.
Wikipedia Religion of Mesopotamia 

 Ram head, An amulet in the shape of a ram's face with curved horns and notches that mark the eyes. There are perforations in the center of the horns, two finished, and one unfinished between horns. ca 3000BC

 Bull-man mastering two man-headed bulls. Gold, Sumer, Archaic Dynasties III (ca. 2500 BCE).

 Bull statuette, bronze inlaid with silver. Early Dynastic III, archaic Mesopotamia.

 Votive relief of Dudu, priest of Ningirsu, in the days of King Entemena of Lagash. Oil shale, ca. 2400 BC. Found in Telloh, ancient city of Girsu. A bas-relief.

 Relief from the north wall of the Palace of king Sargon II at Dur Sharrukin in Assyria (now Khorsabad in Iraq), 716–713 BC.

 Genie with a poppy flower. Relief from the Palace of king Sargon II at Dur Sharrukin in Assyria (now Khorsabad in Iraq), 716–713 BC.

 Depiction of Jehu King of Israel giving tribute to King Shalmaneser III of Assyria, on the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III from Nimrud (circa 827 BC) in the British Museum (London).

  Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III, erected in 825 BC

 pposed goats (detail from a reconstruction of a Phrygian building); Pararli,Turkey; 7th - 6th c. BC; Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara, Turkey

                                                                Urartian Art