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Mesopotamia: Religion
Mesopotamia: Religion

praying figure

Gods and Goddesses

Early Mesopotamians worshipped many gods which shifted in number and place and time. The gods usually represented forces of nature. Humans were created to serve the gods. There was no reward for a virtuous life and upon death there was only a gloomy, dark underworld to look forward to—and more work for the gods of the underworld. Their concept of creation was as follows: The primeval sea, which existed eternally, begat a cosmic mountain consisting of heaven and earth united. The Sumerian word for universe An-ki means heaven and earth. The god An and goddess Ki. from whom was born Enlil (god of air) who was the most powerful. An and Ki also produced Ninhursag (Aruru) the great mother of creation , Enki, god of flowing water. many others as well but also Shamash, the sun god and Ishtar, goddess of love and war. Humans were created as servants for the gods. Humans are depicted as being created out of clay.


The Ziggurat was a temple tower, like a step ziggurat in bagdadpyramid. The Temple was the most important building in the city. Each temple had a staff, from high priest to slave. They functioned almost like independent factories that provide goods for the god and the people though their associated artists. They symbolized sacred mountains, a symbolic place where earth gods could live and where sky gods could visit, an in between kind of place. These tall places were for the gods to descend, temples, but they also functioned as government offices and store houses too. No dead bodies were buried there. Priests and priestess who managed these complexes were important in the ruling hierarchy before the invention of the king. The convinced citizens that they lived at the mercy of the gods. Click the following link for further information on ziggurats.


The sculptural artifacts most closely associated with ancient Sumaria are the praying figures from Tell Asmarpraying figures of Tell Asmar. They are associated with the temple and the rites of worship. Mesopotamians believed that in order to achieve a long and prosperous life constant prayers to the gods were imperative. But this is impractical and impossible. So they devised the idea of the "stand in." These stone statues are left in front of the alter in the permanent disposition of prayer, insuring their owners maximum prosperity. For more on the figures of Tell Asmar, follow the link.

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