Mesopotamia Babylon Goddess Ishtar Lilitu Biblical Lilith 1800BC Shrine Plaque

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Verkoper: ancientgifts (4.543) 100%, Objectlocatie: Ferndale, Washington, Verzending naar: Worldwide, Objectnummer: 382635919648 "The Queen of the Night" by Dominique Collon. NOTE: We have 75,000 books in our library, almost 10,000 different titles. Odds are we have other copies of this same title in varying conditions, some less expensive, some better condition. We might also have different editions as well (some paperback, some hardcover, oftentimes international editions). If you don’t see what you want, please contact us and ask. We’re happy to send you a summary of the differing conditions and prices we may have for the same title. DESCRIPTION: Softcover. Publisher: British Museum (2005). Pages: 48. Size: 8¼ x 5¾ inches. Summary: This large Old Babylonian plaque, found in southern Iraq, was made between 1800 and 1750 B.C. It is made of baked straw-tempered clay, modeled in high relief, and probably stood in a shrine. The figure could be an aspect of the goddess Ishtar, Mesopotamian goddess of sexual love and war; or Ishtar's sister and rival, the goddess Ereshkigal who ruled over the Underworld; or the demoness Lilitu, known in the Bible as Lilith. This book explores the symbolism and history behind this beautiful relief. The figure wears the horned headdress characteristic of a Mesopotamian deity and holds a rod and ring of justice, symbols of her divinity. Her long multi-colored wings hang downwards, indicating that she is a goddess of the Underworld. Her legs end in the talons of a bird of prey, similar to those of the two owls that flank her. The background was originally painted black, suggesting that she was associated with the night. She stands on the backs of two lions, and a scale pattern indicates mountains. The relief may have come to England as early as 1924, and was brought to the British Museum in 1933 for scientific testing. The relief was in private hands until its acquisition by the Museum in 2003. CONDITION: NEW. New oversized softcover. British Museum (2005) 48 pages. Unblemished, unmarked, pristine in every respect. Pages are pristine; clean, crisp, unmarked, unmutilated, tightly bound, unambiguously unread. Satisfaction unconditionally guaranteed. In stock, ready to ship. No disappointments, no excuses. PROMPT SHIPPING! HEAVILY PADDED, DAMAGE-FREE PACKAGING! Meticulous and accurate descriptions! Selling rare and out-of-print ancient history books on-line since 1997. We accept returns for any reason within 14 days! #9170a. PLEASE SEE DESCRIPTIONS AND IMAGES BELOW FOR DETAILED REVIEWS AND FOR PAGES OF PICTURES FROM INSIDE OF BOOK. PLEASE SEE PUBLISHER, PROFESSIONAL, AND READER REVIEWS BELOW. PUBLISHER REVIEWS: REVIEW: A concise and beautifully designed book exploring the symbolism behind an exquisite Ancient Babylonian plaque found in southern Iraq. This spectacular terracotta plaque was the principal acquisition for the British Museum's 250th anniversary, and in 2004 was exhibited in various museums around the U.K. Made between 1800 and 1859 B.C., it is made from baked straw-tempered clay and modeled in high relief. It probably stood in a shrine and could represent the demoness Lilitu, known in the Bible as Lilith, or a Mesopotamian goddess. The figure wears the horned headdress characteristic of a Mesopotamian deity, and holds a rod and ring of justice, symbols of her divinity. Her long multi-colored wings hang downwards, indicating that she is a goddess of the Underworld. The book explores the history and symbolism behind this beautiful and highly unusual relief. REVIEW: Burney Relief/Queen of the Night. Rectangular, fired clay relief panel; modelled in relief on the front depicting a nude female figure with tapering feathered wings and talons, standing with her legs together; shown full frontal, wearing a headdress consisting of four pairs of horns topped by a disc; wearing an elaborate necklace and bracelets on each wrist; holding her hands to the level of her shoulders with a rod and ring in each; figure supported by a pair of addorsed lions above a scale-pattern representing mountains or hilly ground, and flanked by a pair of standing owls; fired clay, heavily tempered with chaff or other organic matter; highlighted with red and black pigment and possibly white gypsum; flat back; repaired. Scientific analysis of the pigments reveals extensive use of red ochre on the body of the main female figure. It is probable that gypsum was used as a white pigment in some areas although the possibility that it is present as the result of efflorescence from salts contained in ground water cannot be firmly excluded. The dark areas on the background all contained carbon rather than bitumen as previously assumed. The shape and basic composition of a large central figure flanked by a pair of small figures is reminiscent of a gypsum plaque attributed an early second millennium B.C. and found at Assur in 1910. Other evidence for early 2nd mill. painted clay sculptures from Mesopotamia include a head in the National Museum in Copenhagen. A similar motif occurs on terracotta plaques for which a mould also survives. This motif, curiously, also recurs on reproduction Roman terracotta lamps sold in western Turkey (of which there is one example in the registered ANE Ephemera collection) as well as in popular modern western cults. The term "Queen of the Night" has also been previously applied to a character in Mozart's "Magic Flute" ["Die Zauberflote"], for which David Hockney did Egyptianizing sets for in the 1978 Glyndebourne production; features in a song by Whitney Houston, and is the name of at least one species of night-blooming orchid cactus, the Epiphyllum oxypetallum. Mr. Sakamoto added a Japanese inscription and the date 1975 onto the bottom edge of the object when it was in his personal possession. [British Museum]. REVIEW: This large Old Babylonian plaque, found in southern Iraq, was made between 1800 and 1750 BC. It is made of baked straw-tempered clay, modeled in high relief, and probably stood in a shrine. This book explores the symbolism and history behind this beautiful relief. REVIEW: Dominique Collon is an Assistant Keeper in the Department of the Ancient Near East at the British Museum. She is the author of "Ancient Near Eastern Art", "First Impressions: Cylinder Seals in the Ancient Near East", "Interpreting the Past: Near Eastern Seals", and two catalogues of the cylinder seals in the British Museum's collection. REVIEW: Dominique Collon is curator of the Mesopotamian collections in the British Museum. TABLE OF CONTENTS: Maps. 1. From “Burney Relief” to “Queen of the Knight”. 2. Creating the “Queen of the Night”. 3. The “Queen of the Night” and her Attendants. 4. Who was the “Queen of the Night”? Further Reading. Photographic Credits. PROFESSIONAL REVIEWS: REVIEW: A large Old Babylonian plaque was found in Iraq. This book explores the symbolism and history behind this beautiful relief. The figure wears the horned headdress characteristic of a Mesopotamian deity and holds a rod and ring of justice, symbols of her divinity. Her legs end in the talons of a bird of prey and she stands on the backs of two lions. Highly recommended. Compact, erudite text, stunning photography. [The Telegraph (UK)]. REVIEW: Who is this lady? The answers are to be found in this exceptional and amply illustrated little book. [ArtNewsletter.com]. READER REVIEWS: REVIEW: This book is part of a series of short guides produced by the British Museum. It is very informative, though final identification of the winged and bird-footed goddess proved inconclusive. The main contenders were Ištar, Lilith and Erishkigal. The photos are excellent and the color reconstruction of the plaque is truly striking. My own belief is that the figure in the relief is a divine lilu. They were renown for visiting men and women in the night and making love to them. Their love-making could, it seems, lead to children, as the Sumerian King List actually states that a lilu demon was the father of Gilgamesh. REVIEW: The series of books of which this is a part are fabulous. The British Museum certainly knows its customers. An interesting focus on just one item in the museum. And there are many more that cover the most interesting pieces in the museum. A well written booklet about "The Queen of the Night" with archaeological and historical information, as well as great illustrations. REVIEW: A good short guide to the Queen of the Night. It is a booklet, not a full-length book. With that in mind, the information is very good and the pictures are of excellent quality. ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND: REVIEW: The Queen of the Night (also known as the Burney Relief) is a high relief terracotta plaque of baked clay, measuring 19.4 inches (49.5 cm) high, 14.5 inches (37 cm) wide, with a thickness of 1.8 inches (4.8 cm) depicting a naked winged woman flanked by owls and standing on the backs of two lions. It originated in southern Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) most probably in Babylonia, during the reign of Hammurabi (1792-1750 B.C.) as it shares qualities in craftsmanship and technique with the famous diorite stele of Hammurabi’s laws and also with the piece known as 'The god of Ur' from that same period. The woman depicted is acknowledged to be a goddess as she wears the horned headdress of a deity and holds the sacred rod-and-ring symbol in her raised hands. Who the winged woman is, however, has not been agreed upon, though scholars generally believe her to be either Inanna (Ishtar), Lilith, or Ereshkigal. [The British Museum]. REVIEW: The Queen of the Night (also known as the Burney Relief) was a major acquisition for the British Museum's 250th anniversary. This large plaque is made of baked straw-tempered clay, modeled in high relief. The figure of the curvaceous naked woman was originally painted red. She wears the horned headdress characteristic of a Mesopotamian deity and holds a rod and ring of justice, symbols of her divinity. Her long multi-colored wings hang downwards, indicating that she is a goddess of the Underworld. Her legs end in the talons of a bird of prey, similar to those of the two owls that flank her. The background was originally painted black, suggesting that she was associated with the night. She stands on the backs of two lions, and a scale pattern indicates mountains. The figure could be an aspect of the goddess Ishtar, Mesopotamian goddess of sexual love and war, or Ishtar's sister and rival, the goddess Ereshkigal who ruled over the Underworld, or the demoness Lilitu, known in the Bible as Lilith. The plaque probably stood in a shrine. The same goddess appears on small, crude, mould-made plaques from Babylonia from about 1850 to 1750 BC. Thermoluminescence tests confirm that the 'Queen of the Night' relief was made between 1765 and 45 B.C. The relief may have come to England as early as 1924, and was brought to the British Museum in 1933 for scientific testing. It has been known since its publication in 1936 in the Illustrated London News as the "Burney Relief", after its owner at that time. Until 2003 it has been in private hands. The Director and Trustees of the British Museum decided to make this spectacular terracotta plaque the principal acquisition for the British Museum's 250th anniversary. [The British Museum]. REVIEW: The Queen of the Night (also known as the `Burney Relief’) is a high relief terracotta plaque of baked clay, measuring 19.4 inches (49.5 cm) high, 14.5 inches (37 cm) wide, with a thickness of 1.8 inches (4.8 cm) depicting a naked winged woman flanked by owls and standing on the backs of two lions. It originated in southern Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) most probably in Babylonia, during the reign of Hammurabi (1792-1750 B.C.) as it shares qualities in craftsmanship and technique with the famous diorite stele of Hammurabi’s laws and also with the piece known as `The god of Ur’ from that same period. The woman depicted in the relief is acknowledged to be a goddess as she wears the horned headdress of a deity and holds the sacred rod-and-ring symbol in her raised hands. Not only is the woman winged but her legs taper to bird talons (which seem to grip the lion’s backs) and she is shown with a dew claw on her calves. Along the base of the plaque runs a motif which represents mountains, indicating high ground. Who the winged woman is, however, has not been agreed upon though scholars generally believe her to be either Inanna (Ishtar), Lilith, or Ereshkigal. The piece is presently part of the collection of the British Museum, Room 56, in London. In 1936 A.D. the Burney Relief was featured in the Illustrated London News highlighting the collection of one Sydney Burney who purchased the plaque after the British Museum passed on the offer to buy it. Since the piece was not archaeologically excavated, but rather simply removed from Iraq sometime between the 1920’s and 1930’s, its origin and context are unknown. How the plaque arrived in London is also unknown, but it was in the possession of a Syrian antiquities dealer before coming to the attention of Sydney Burney. Not much is known of Sydney Burney other than that he was a Captain in the English Army during World War I and was President of the Antique Dealers Association in London. The plaque was broken in three pieces and some fragments when originally purchased but, once repaired, was found to be mostly intact. The Burney Relief was analyzed in 1933 and authenticated in 1935 prior to the offer made to the British Museum. The plaque then changed hands twice before the British Museum finally acquired it in 2003 for the sum of 1,500,000 pounds, a considerably higher price than what was asked in 1935. It was at this time that the piece known as the Burney Relief came to be called `The Queen of the Night’ due to the dark black pigment of the plaque’s original background and the iconography (the downward pointing wings, the talon feet etc.) associating the female figure with the underworld. The name is therefore a modern, not an ancient, designation for the plaque. There is no way to know what the piece was originally called or what purpose it was created for. The relief was made of clay with chaff added to bind the material and prevent cracking. The fact that the piece was fired in an oven, and not sun dried, testifies to its importance as only the most significant works of art and architecture were created in this way. Since timber was scarce in southern Mesopotamia, it was not used lightly for firing clay objects. According to Dr. Dominique Collon of the British Museum the plaque was made by: "...clay pressed into a mould and allowed to dry in the sun…the figure was made from fairly stiff clay which was folded and pushed into a specially shaped mould, with more clay added and pressed in behind to form the plaque. Thus the Queen’s figure is an integral part of the plaque and was not added to it later. " "After drying, the plaque was removed from the mould, the details were carved into the leather-hard clay and the surface was smoothed. This smoothed surface is still visible in certain places, notably near the Queen’s navel...The edges of the plaque were trimmed with a knife. Then the plaque was baked." Once the piece was done baking and had cooled, it was painted with a black background, the woman and the owls in red, and lions in white with black manes. The rod-and-ring symbols, the woman’s necklace, and her headdress were gold. The original color traces may still be detected on the piece today even though they have largely worn away over the centuries. While it may never be known exactly where the piece was made, for what purpose, or which goddess it represents, the similarities in technique between it and the so-called `God of Ur’, are so striking that it has been speculated that the Sumerian city of Ur is its place of origin. Dr. Collon notes: "The god from Ur is so close the Queen of the Night in quality, workmanship and iconographical details that it could well have come from the same workshop, perhaps at Ur, where extensive remains of the Old Babylonian period were excavated between 1922 and 1934. The individual who originally removed the plaque, then, could have been a member of one of the excavating teams during that time or simply someone who came upon the piece once it was uncovered. Theories as to its original placement and significance have been suggested by every scholar who has studied it. As sacred prostitution was practiced throughout Mesopotamia, the historian Thorkild Jacobsen believed that the plaque formed a part of a shrine in a brothel. Dr. Collon notes, however, that “if this were so, it must have been a very high-class establishment, as demonstrated by the exceptional quality of the piece”. She further theorizes that the plaque would have been hung on a wall of mud brick, probably in an enclosure, and that, when the mud brick wall collapsed, the fired terracotta plaque would have remained relatively intact. The fact that the piece has survived for over 3000 years attests to its having been buried fairly early after the building which housed it fell or was abandoned because it was thereby protected from the elements and from vandalism. The identity of the Queen is the most intriguing aspect of the piece and, as noted above, three candidates have been proposed: Inanna, Lilith, and Ereshkigal. The nude woman motif was popular throughout Mesopotamia. The historian Jeremy Black notes: "Hand-made clay figurines of nude females appear in Mesopotamia in prehistoric times; they have applied and painted features. Figurines of nude women impressed from a pottery or stone mould first appear at the beginning of the second millennium BC...It is very unlikely that they represent a universal mother goddess, although they may have been intended to promote fertility." Inanna would be the goddess in keeping with a plaque encouraging fertility as she presided over love and sex (and also war) but there are a number of problems with this identification. If one accepts the findings of Dr. Black and others who agree with him, then that poses a problem with Inanna as Queen of the Night since she was not universally regarded as a mother goddess in the way that Ninhursag (also known as Ninhursaga) was. Ninhursag was the mother of the gods and was regarded by the people as the great mother goddess. There are also problems with Inanna as the Queen stemming from the iconography of the piece. While Inanna is associated with lions, she is not linked with owls. The headdress and the rod-and-ring symbols would fit with Inanna, as would the necklace, but not the wings or the talon-feet and dew claw. The scholar Thorkild Jacobsen, arguing for Inanna as the Queen, presents four aspects of the plaque which point to the Queen’s identity: 1) Lions are an attribute of Inanna. 2) The mountains beneath the lions are a reflection of the fact that Inanna’ s original home was on the mountaintops to the east of Mesopotamia. 3) Inanna took the rod-and-ring with her in her descent to the underworld and her necklace identified her as a harlot. 4) Her wings, bird talons and owls show that Inanna is pictured in her aspect of Owl goddess and goddess of harlots. Dr. Collon, however, dismisses these claims pointing out that Inanna “is associated with one lion, not two” and the point regarding the rod-and-ring symbol and necklace can be discounted as they “could have been worn or held by any goddess”. Dr. Collon also points out that the “first published photograph of the Queen of the Night relief in 1936 read: `Ishtar…the Sumerian goddess of love, whose supporting owls present a problem’”. Ishtar was the later name for Inanna and, while owls have been mentioned in tales concerning the goddess, they were never a part of her iconography. Further, Inanna is never depicted frontally in any ancient art but, always, in profile and the mountain range at the bottom of the plaque could argue as well for identification with Ereshkigal or Lilith. Lilith is a demon, not a goddess, and although there is some association of the Lilith demon with owls, they are not the same kind of owls that appear on the relief. Further, Lilith comes from the Hebrew tradition, not the Mesopotamian, and corresponds only to the Mesopotamian female demons known as lilitu. The lilitu and the so-called ardat lili demons were especially dangerous to men whom they would seduce and destroy. The male demons of this sort, the lilu, preyed on women and were an especial threat to those who were pregnant or had just given birth and also to infants. The article, "The Burney Relief: Inanna, Ishtar, or Lilith?" states why the Lilith identification is a probability. Rafael Patai ("The Hebrew Goddess" third edition) relates that in the Sumerian poem Gilgamesh and the Huluppu Tree, a she-demon named Lilith built her house in the Huluppu tree on the banks of the Euphrates before being routed by Gilgamesh. Patai then describes the Burney plaque: “A Babylonian terra-cotta relief, roughly contemporary with the above poem, shows in what form Lilith was believed to appear to human eyes. She is slender, well-shaped, beautiful and nude, with wings and owl-feet. She stands erect on two reclining lions which are turned away from each other and are flanked by owls. On her head she wears a cap embellished by several pairs of horns. In her hands she holds a ring and rod combination. Evidently this is no longer a lowly she-demon, but a goddess who tames wild beasts and, as shown by the owls on the reliefs, rules by night. Even so, the possibility that the Queen of the Night plaque, with its high degree of skill in craftsmanship and attention to detail would be a representation of a lilitu is highly unlikely. According to the Hebrew tradition, Lilith was the first woman made by God who refused to submit to Adam’s sexual demands and flew away, thus rebelling against God and his plans for human beings. She was thought to have then occupied the wastelands and, like the lilitu, to have preyed on unsuspecting men ever since. In either tradition, the lilitu was not a popular enough figure to have been portrayed on a plaque such as the Queen of the Night. Dr. Black notes, “Evil gods and demons are only very rarely depicted in art, perhaps because it was thought that their images might endanger people”. The mountain range depicted at the bottom of the relief is also thought to suggest lilitu identification in representing the wilderness the spirit inhabits but the headdress, the necklace, the rod-and-ring symbols and the significance of the plaque all go to argue against Lilith as a possibility. The third contender is Inanna’s older sister, Ereshkigal, the Queen of the Great Below. Her name means “Lady of the Great Place” referring to the land of the dead and there are a number of aspects of the plaque which seem to suggest Ereshkigal as the best candidate for Queen. The motif of the downward pointing wings was used throughout Mesopotamia to indicate a deity or spirit-being associated with the underworld and the Queen has such wings. Ereshkigal lived in the underworld palace of Ganzir, thought to be located in the eastern mountains, which would account for the mountain range depicted running along the bottom of the plaque. Regarding Ganzir and the underworld, Dr. Collon writes, “It was a dark place and the dead, naked or clothed with wings like birds, wandered with nothing to drink and only dust to eat. Whatever they had achieved in life, the only sentence was death, pronounced by Ereshkigal”. Ereshkigal is famously depicted in the poem Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld as naked: “No linen was spread over her body. Her breasts were uncovered. Her hair swirled around her head like leeks” (Wolkstein and Kramer, 65) and the Queen on the plaque is nude. Further, unlike depictions of Inanna in profile, the Queen is shown from the front. Dr. Collon writes: "As a goddess, Ereshkigal was entitled to the horned headdress and the rod-and-ring symbol. Her frontality is static and immutable and, as Queen of the Underworld where `fates were determined’, hers was the ultimate judgment: she might well have been entitled to two rod-and-ring symbols." In this same way the lions the Queen stands on could represent Ereshkigal’ s supremacy over even the mightiest of living things and the owls, with their association with darkness, could be linked to the land of the dead. All of the iconography of the Queen of the Night plaque seems to indicate the deity represented is Ereshkigal but, as Dr. Collon states, “no definite connection with Ereshkigal can be made as she has no known iconography: her association with death made her an unpopular subject” (45). With no known iconography of Ereshkigal to compare the Queen of the Night with, the identity of the Queen remains a mystery. [Ancient History Encyclopedia] REVIEW: Room 56 of the British Museum; Mesopotamia: A large display case houses the “Queen of the Night Relief.” It is one of the masterpieces of the British Museum, also known as the “Burney Relief”. This terracotta plaque came from Mesopotamia (mostly modern-day Iraq) and dates back to the Old Babylonian period, 1800-1750 B.C. I stood a meter away from the case and watched the British Museum’s visitors; what will they do when they meet this “Queen?” Generally, they took some pictures of her and some selfies. A minute, more or less, they spent. It was my turn now. I approached the case; the glass was very clean and transparent. I will express my thoughts as a physician who examined the anatomical details of an approximately 4000 year-old woman. I’m a consultant neurologist, not an anatomist, but I studied anatomy in medical school. I scrutinized each and every centimeter of the Queen’s Relief and shot quite a few pictures. The female figure is portrayed as if she is alive; a very attractive and naked woman. The orbits (eye sockets) are hollow (might well have been inlaid with another material). The eyebrows are relatively thick and join each other at the mid-line; a style that is still used by many Iraqi women. The cheeks are full and her lips are thin and their corners are turned up (with a shy smile). The tips of her nose and chin are broken. The right external ear (or auricle) has survived, and its length spans the distance from the outer eye canthus (the outer angle where both eyelids meet each other) down to the corner of the mouth (perfect human anatomy). A close-up examination of the face of the female deity highlights the hollow eyes, full cheeks, and joined eyebrows. The upper left horn of her headdress and the left hair bun are lost. Part of her forehead is visible because she wears a four-tiered headdress of horns (symbol of divinity). The headdress is topped by a disc. The left upper horn is lost. The hair of the scalp is underneath the headdress. However, the bulk of her “long” hair is divided into two buns, on either side (the left one is lost). The rest of the hair is joined into two braids which extend down on either side of the upper chest wall and on a single broad necklace. What a versatile hairstyle she has! Part of the right half of the necklace is lost. The neck is relatively narrow and not that short. The shoulders are narrow and relatively down-sloping. The breasts are full and elevated and their outer margins extend beyond the outer (lateral) chest wall. There is no cleavage. Although there are no nipples, both areolae (the small pigmented circle around the nipple) were highlighted by a dark pigment. Both armpits are depicted clearly. The arms are symmetrically lifted up and the inner aspect of both hands face the viewer; the palm creases are very clearly demarcated. The thumbs are in an adducted position (adduct: to draw inward toward the median axis of the body or toward an adjacent part or limb) and hold a rod-and-ring symbol (the right one is lost), which is also a symbol of divine power. At both wrists there are bracelets of rings; traces of red color can still be seen at the base of the left thumb. Below the chest, the abdomen starts and it becomes narrow and its outer margins are concave. Then the pelvis is depicted wider than the mid-abdominal area; a very feminine attitude. The umbilicus (navel; belly button) is in its perfect anatomical position; it lies at the mid-point of an imaginary horizontal line, which joins the upper surface of both iliac crests (the upper outer margin of the boney pelvis). These boney crests are shown as convex curves on the outer margin of the upper pelvis. The pubic area is perfectly triangular in shape and curves inward. Both thighs are adducted very closely and meet at the midline. There is a small fusiform space between the inner aspects of both knee joints. We can find a patella (kneecap) at each knee joint. A short distance below the knee joints, small triangle protrusions stem off the lateral surface of both upper legs; they appear as dewclaws. At the ankles, the female’s feet become those of a bird. Each foot is composed of three equally long but separated toes. On the ankle and toes, we can find several scratches; these most likely represent scutes. The toes are fanned out and the feet rest on the backs of two lions that are flanked by two large owls. The queen has two wings. The wings are partially spread in a triangular shape. The wings are shown in a very well-demarcated and stylized register of feathers. Both wings extend from just above the shoulders down to the upper part of both thighs. The wings are very similar but they are not symmetrical; they differ in the number of the feathers and their color. The upper register has covert feathers while the remaining lower registers contain long flight feathers. Both lions are in a supine position and face the viewer with their mouths closed. The overall shape of the owls indicate that they are not from the Fertile Crescent. All of them, the female deity and her companions, face the viewer, at the same time, in dignity. The overall scene is breath-taking, especially if you see it in profile. I spent more than an hour at this relief only! Who was the artist/sculptor who created this wonderful, charming, charismatic, and lovely woman? Did the artist make this work while a nude woman was lying in front of him or her as a model? Did the artist study anatomy? I like Kim Kardashian, but I love this Queen of the Night! If you visit the British Museum, don’t forget to go upstairs (room 56) and meet her majesty! [Ancient History Encyclopedia]. REVIEW: The Burney Relief (also known as the Queen of the Night relief) is a Mesopotamian terracotta plaque in high relief of the Isin-Larsa- or Old-Babylonian period, depicting a winged, nude, goddess-like figure with bird's talons, flanked by owls, and perched upon two lions. The relief is displayed in the British Museum in London, which has dated it between 1800 and 1750 B.C. It originates from southern Mesopotamia, but the exact find-site is unknown. Apart from its distinctive iconography, the piece is noted for its high relief and relatively large size, which suggest that it was used as a cult relief, making it a very rare survival from the period. However, whether it represents Lilitu, Inanna/Ishtar, or Ereshkigal is under debate. The authenticity of the object has been questioned from its first appearance in the 1930s, but opinion has generally moved in its favor over the subsequent decades. Initially in the possession of a Syrian dealer, who may have acquired the plaque in southern Iraq in 1924, the relief was deposited at the British Museum in London and analyzed by Dr. H.J. Plenderleith in 1933. However, the Museum declined to purchase it in 1935, whereupon the plaque passed to the London antique dealer Sidney Burney; it subsequently became known as the "Burney Relief". The relief was first brought to public attention with a full-page reproduction in The Illustrated London News, in 1936. From Burney, it passed to the collection of Norman Colville, after whose death it was acquired at auction by the Japanese collector Goro Sakamoto. British authorities, however, denied him an export license. The piece was loaned to the British Museum for display between 1980 and 1991, and in 2003 the relief was purchased by the Museum for the sum of £1,500,000 as part of its 250th anniversary celebrations. The Museum also renamed the plaque the "Queen of the Night Relief". Since then, the object has toured museums around Britain. Unfortunately, its original provenance remains unknown. The relief was not archaeologically excavated, and thus we have no further information where it came from, or in which context it was discovered. An interpretation of the relief thus relies on stylistic comparisons with other objects for which the date and place of origin have been established, on an analysis of the iconography, and on the interpretation of textual sources from Mesopotamian mythology and religion. Detailed descriptions were published by Henri Frankfort (1936), by Pauline Albenda (2005), and in a monograph by Dominique Collon, curator at the British Museum, where the plaque is now housed. The composition as a whole is unique among works of art from Mesopotamia, even though many elements have interesting counterparts in other images from that time. The relief is a terracotta (fired clay) plaque, 50 by 37 centimeters (20 × 15 inches) large, 2 to 3 centimeters (3/4 to 1 1/4 inches) thick, with the head of the figure projecting 4.5 centimeters (1 3/4 inches) from the surface. To manufacture the relief, clay with small calcareous inclusions was mixed with chaff; visible folds and fissures suggest the material was quite stiff when being worked. The British Museum's Department of Scientific Research reports, "it would seem likely that the whole plaque was molded" with subsequent modeling of some details and addition of others, such as the rod-and-ring symbols, the tresses of hair and the eyes of the owls. The relief was then burnished and polished, and further details were incised with a pointed tool. Firing burned out the chaff, leaving characteristic voids and the pitted surface we see now; Curtis and Collon believe the surface would have appeared smoothed by ochre paint in antiquity. In its dimensions, the unique plaque is larger than the mass-produced terracotta plaques – popular art or devotional items – of which many were excavated in house ruins of the Isin-Larsa and Old Babylonian periods. Overall, the relief is in excellent condition. It was originally received in three pieces and some fragments by the British Museum; after repair, some cracks are still apparent, in particular a triangular piece missing on the right edge, but the main features of the deity and the animals are intact. The figure's face has damage to its left side, the left side of the nose and the neck region. The headdress has some damage to its front and right hand side, but the overall shape can be inferred from symmetry. Half of the necklace is missing and the symbol of the figure held in her right hand; the owls' beaks are lost and a piece of a lion's tail. A comparison of images from 1936 and 2005 shows that some modern damage has been sustained as well: the right hand side of the crown has now lost its top tier, and at the lower left corner a piece of the mountain patterning has chipped off and the owl has lost its right-side toes. However, in all major aspects, the relief has survived intact for more than 3,500 years. Traces of red pigment still remain on the figure's body that was originally painted red overall. The feathers of her wings and the owls' feathers were also colored red, alternating with black and white. By Raman spectroscopy the red pigment is identified as red ochre, the black pigment, amorphous carbon ("lamp black") and the white pigment gypsum. Black pigment is also found on the background of the plaque, the hair and eyebrows, and on the lions' manes. The pubic triangle and the areola appear accentuated with red pigment but were not separately painted black. The lions' bodies were painted white. The British Museum curators assume that the horns of the headdress and part of the necklace were originally colored yellow, just as they are on a very similar clay figure from Ur. They surmise that the bracelets and rod-and-ring symbols might also have been painted yellow. However, no traces of yellow pigment now remain on the relief. The nude female figure is realistically sculpted in high-relief. Her eyes, beneath distinct, joined eyebrows, are hollow, presumably to accept some inlaying material – a feature common in stone, alabaster, and bronze sculptures of the time, but not seen in other Mesopotamian clay sculptures. Her full lips are slightly upturned at the corners. She is adorned with a four-tiered headdress of horns, topped by a disk. Her head is framed by two braids of hair, with the bulk of her hair in a bun in the back and two wedge-shaped braids extending onto her breasts. The stylized treatment of her hair could represent a ceremonial wig. She wears a single broad necklace, composed of squares that are structured with horizontal and vertical lines, possibly depicting beads, four to each square. This necklace is virtually identical to the necklace of the god found at Ur, except that the latter's necklace has three lines to a square. Around both wrists she wears bracelets which appear composed of three rings. Both hands are symmetrically lifted up, palms turned towards the viewer and detailed with visible life-, head- and heart lines, holding two rod-and-ring symbols of which only the one in the left hand is well preserved. Two wings with clearly defined, stylized feathers in three registers extend down from above her shoulders. The feathers in the top register are shown as overlapping scales (coverts), the lower two registers have long, staggered flight feathers that appear drawn with a ruler and end in a convex trailing edge. The feathers have smooth surfaces; no barbs were drawn. The wings are similar but not entirely symmetrical, differing both in the number of the flight feathers and in the details of the coloring scheme. Her wings are spread to a triangular shape but not fully extended. The breasts are full and high, but without separately modeled nipples. Her body has been sculpted with attention to naturalistic detail: the deep navel, structured abdomen, "softly modeled pubic area", the recurve of the outline of the hips beneath the iliac crest, and the bony structure of the legs with distinct knee caps all suggest "an artistic skill that is almost certainly derived from observed study". A spur-like protrusion, fold, or tuft extends from her calves just below the knee, which Collon interprets as dewclaws. Below the shin, the figure's legs change into those of a bird. The bird-feet are detailed, with three long, well-separated toes of approximately equal length. Lines have been scratched into the surface of the ankle and toes to depict the scutes, and all visible toes have prominent talons. Her toes are extended down, without perspective foreshortening; they do not appear to rest upon a ground line and thus give the figure an impression of being dissociated from the background, as if hovering. The two lions have a male mane, patterned with dense, short lines; the manes continue beneath the body. Distinctly patterned tufts of hair grow from the lion's ears and on their shoulders, emanating from a central disk-shaped whorl. They lie prone, their heads are sculpted with attention to detail, but with a degree of artistic liberty in their form, e.g., regarding their rounded shapes. Both lions look towards the viewer, and both have their mouths closed. The owls shown are recognizable, but not sculpted naturalistically: the shape of the beak, the length of the legs, and details of plumage deviate from those of the owls that are indigenous to the region. Their plumage is colored like the deity's wings in red, black and white; it is bilaterally similar but not perfectly symmetrical. Both owls have one more feather on the right-hand side of their plumage than on the left-hand side. The legs, feet and talons are red. The group is placed on a pattern of scales, painted black. This is the way mountain ranges were commonly symbolized in Mesopotamian art. Stylistic comparisons place the relief at the earliest into the Isin–Larsa period, or slightly later, to the beginning of the Old Babylonian period. Frankfort especially notes the stylistic similarity with the sculpted head of a male deity found at Ur, which Collon finds to be "so close to the Queen of the Night in quality, workmanship and iconographical details, that it could well have come from the same workshop." Therefore, Ur is one possible city of origin for the relief, but not the only one. Edith Porada points out the virtual identity in style that the lion's tufts of hair have with the same detail seen on two fragments of clay plaques excavated at Nippur. And Agnès Spycket reported on a similar necklace on a fragment found in Isin. A creation date at the beginning of the second millennium B.C. places the relief into a region and time in which the political situation was unsteady, marked by the waxing and waning influence of the city states of Isin and Larsa, an invasion by the Elamites, and finally the conquest by Hammurabi in the unification in the Babylonian empire in 1762 B.C. Three to five hundred years earlier, the population for the whole of Mesopotamia was at its all-time high of about 300,000. Elamite invaders then toppled the third Dynasty of Ur and the population declined to about 200,000; it had stabilized at that number at the time the relief was made. Cities like Nippur and Isin would have had on the order of 20,000 inhabitants and Larsa maybe 40,000; Hammurabi's Babylon grew to 60,000 by 1700 B.C. A well-developed infrastructure and complex division of labor is required to sustain cities of that size. The fabrication of religious imagery might have been done by specialized artisans: large numbers of smaller, devotional plaques have been excavated that were fabricated in molds. Even though the fertile crescent civilizations are considered the oldest in history, at the time the Burney Relief was made other late bronze age civilizations were equally in full bloom. Travel and cultural exchange were not commonplace, but nevertheless possible. To the east, Elam with its capital Susa was in frequent military conflict with Isin, Larsa and later Babylon. Even further, the Indus Valley Civilization was already past its peak, and in China, the Erlitou culture blossomed. To the southwest, Egypt was ruled by the 12th dynasty, further to the west the Minoan civilization, centerd on Crete with the Old Palace in Knossos, dominated the Mediterranean. To the north of Mesopotamia, the Anatolian Hittites were establishing their Old Kingdom over the Hattians; they brought an end to Babylon's empire with the sack of the city in 1531 B.C. Indeed, Collon mentions this raid as possibly being the reason for the damage to the right-hand side of the relief. The size of the plaque suggests it would have belonged in a shrine, possibly as an object of worship; it was probably set into a mud-brick wall. Such a shrine might have been a dedicated space in a large private home or other house, but not the main focus of worship in one of the cities' temples, which would have contained representations of gods sculpted in the round. Mesopotamian temples at the time had a rectangular cella often with niches to both sides. According to Thorkild Jacobsen, that shrine could have been located inside a brothel. Compared with how important religious practice was in Mesopotamia, and compared to the number of temples that existed, very few cult figures at all have been preserved. This is certainly not due to a lack of artistic skill: the "Ram in a Thicket" shows how elaborate such sculptures could have been, even 600 to 800 years earlier. It is also not due to a lack of interest in religious sculpture: deities and myths are ubiquitous on cylinder seals and the few steles, kudurrus, and reliefs that have been preserved. Rather, it seems plausible that the main figures of worship in temples and shrines were made of materials so valuable they could not escape looting during the many shifts of power that the region saw. The Burney Relief is comparatively plain, and so survived. In fact, the relief is one of only two existing large, figurative representations from the Old Babylonian period. The other one is the top part of the Code of Hammurabi, which was actually discovered in Elamite Susa, where it had been brought as booty. A static, frontal image is typical of religious images intended for worship. Symmetric compositions are common in Mesopotamian art when the context is not narrative. Many examples have been found on cylinder seals. Three-part arrangements of a god and two other figures are common, but five-part arrangements exist as well. In this respect, the relief follows established conventions. In terms of representation, the deity is sculpted with a naturalistic but "modest" nudity, reminiscent of Egyptian goddess sculptures, which are sculpted with a well-defined navel and pubic region but no details; there, the lower hemline of a dress indicates that some covering is intended, even if it does not conceal. In a typical statue of the genre, Pharao Menkaura and two goddesses, Hathor and Bat are shown in human form and sculpted naturalistically, just as in the Burney Relief; in fact, Hathor has been given the features of Queen Khamerernebty II. Depicting an anthropomorphic god as a naturalistic human is an innovative artistic idea that may well have diffused from Egypt to Mesopotamia, just like a number of concepts of religious rites, architecture, the "banquet plaques", and other artistic innovations previously. In this respect, the Burney Relief shows a clear departure from the schematic style of the worshiping men and women that were found in temples from periods about 500 years earlier. It is also distinct from the next major style in the region: Assyrian art, with its rigid, detailed representations, mostly of scenes of war and hunting. The extraordinary survival of the figure type, though interpretations and cult context shifted over the intervening centuries, is expressed by the cast terracotta funerary figure of the 1st century B.C., from Myrina on the coast of Mysia in Asia Minor, where it was excavated by the French School at Athens, 1883; the terracotta is conserved in the Musée du Louvre. Similarly sophisticated sculpture would include the Sumerian "Ram in a Thicket", excavated in the royal cemetery of Ur by Leonard Woolley and dated to about 2600–2400 B.C., and constructed of wood, gold leaf, lapis lazuli and shell. The only other surviving large image from the time: top part of the Code of Hammurabi, circa 1760 B.C. Hammurabi before the sun-god Shamash. This also featured a four-tiered, horned headdress, the rod-and-ring symbol and the mountain-range pattern beneath Shamash' feet, all of black basalt. Similiar goddess representation occur in Egyptian monuments. For instance, found in the Cairo Museum, the triad of the Egyptian goddess Hathor and the nome goddess Bat leading Pharaoh Menkaura; of fourth dynasty origin, about 2400 B.C. A typical representation of a third millennium B.C. Mesopotamian worshipper, Eshnunna, dated to about 2700 B.C., in alabaster, may be found in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. Another Assyrian relief deity representation may be found at the Louvre. Known as a "blessing genie", the origin the palace of Sargon II, and dated to about 716 B.C. Compared to visual artworks from the same time, the relief fits quite well with its style of representation and its rich iconography. Other similar representations from the same time period include a woman at the Ishtar temple at Mari (between 2500 B.C. and 2400 B.C.), found in the Louvre. The Neo-Sumerian Goddess Bau, also found in the Louvre, the origin Telloh, about 2100 B.C. Also a molded plaque of Ishtar, likewise found in the Louvre, origin early second millennium, Eshnunna. The "Ishtar Vase", early 2nd millennium B.C., Larsa, also at the Louvre. And finally at the British Museum, a depiction of a woman from an Old Babylonian period temple. Mesopotamian religion recognizes literally thousands of deities, and distinct iconographies have been identified for about a dozen. Less frequently, gods are identified by a written label or dedication; such labels would only have been intended for the literate elites. In creating a religious object, the sculptor was not free to create novel images: the representation of deities, their attributes and context were as much part of the religion as the rituals and the mythology. Indeed, innovation and deviation from an accepted canon could be considered a cultic offense. The large degree of similarity that is found in plaques and seals suggests that detailed iconographies could have been based on famous cult statues; they established the visual tradition for such derivative works but have now been lost. It appears, though, that the Burney Relief was the product of such a tradition, not its source, since its composition is unique. The frontal presentation of the deity is appropriate for a plaque of worship, since it is not just a "pictorial reference to a god" but "a symbol of his presence". Since the relief is the only existing plaque intended for worship, we do not know whether this is generally true. But this particular depiction of a goddess represents a specific motif: a nude goddess with wings and bird's feet. Similar images have been found on a number of plaques, on a vase from Larsa (described above), and on at least one cylinder seal. They are all from approximately the same time period. In all instances but one, the frontal view, nudity, wings, and the horned crown are features that occur together; thus, these images are iconographically linked in their representation of a particular goddess. Moreover, examples of this motif are the only existing examples of a nude god or goddess; all other representations of gods are clothed. The bird's feet have not always been well preserved, but there are no counter-examples of a nude, winged goddess with human feet. The horned crown, usually four-tiered, is the most general symbol of a deity in Mesopotamian art. Male and female gods alike wear it. In some instances, "lesser" gods wear crowns with only one pair of horns, but the number of horns is not generally a symbol of "rank" or importance. The form we see here is a style popular in Neo-Sumerian times and later; earlier representations show horns projecting out from a conical headpiece. Winged gods, other mythological creatures, and birds are frequently depicted on cylinder seals and steles from the 3rd millennium all the way to the Assyrians. Both two-winged and four-winged figures are known and the wings are most often extended to the side. Spread wings are part of one type of representation for Ishtar. However, the specific depiction of the hanging wings of the nude goddess may have evolved from what was originally a cape. The rod and ring symbol may depict the measuring tools of a builder or architect or a token representation of these tools. It is frequently depicted on cylinder seals and steles, where it is always held by a god, usually either Shamash, Ishtar, and in later Babylonian images also Marduk. The symbol was also often extended to a king. Lions are chiefly associated with Ishtar or with the male gods Shamash or Ningirsu. In Mesopotamian art, lions are nearly always depicted with open jaws. H. Frankfort suggests that The Burney Relief shows a modification of the normal canon that is due to the fact that the lions are turned towards the worshipper: the lions might appear inappropriately threatening if their mouths were open. No other examples of owls in an iconographic context exist in Mesopotamian art, nor are there textual references that directly associate owls with a particular god or goddess. A god standing on or seated on a pattern of scales is a typical scenery for the depiction of a theophany. It is associated with gods who have some connection with mountains but not restricted to any one deity in particular. The figure has initially been identified as a depiction of Ishtar (Inanna), but almost immediately other arguments have been put forward. The identification of the relief as depicting "Lilith" has become a staple of popular writing on that subject. Raphael Patai believes the relief to be the only extant depiction of a Sumerian female demon called lilitu and thus to define lilitu's iconography. Citations regarding this assertion lead back to Henri Frankfort (in 1936). Frankfort himself based his interpretation of the deity as the demon Lilith on the presence of wings, the birds' feet and the representation of owls. He cites the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh as a source that such "creatures are inhabitants of the land of the dead". In that text Enkidu's appearance is partially changed to that of a feathered being, and he is led to the nether world where creatures dwell that are "birdlike, wearing a feather garment". This passage reflects the Sumerians' belief in the nether world, and Frankfort cites evidence that Nergal, the ruler of the underworld, is depicted with bird's feet and wrapped in a feathered gown. However Frankfort did not himself make the identification of the figure with Lilith; rather he cites Emil Kraeling (1937) instead. Kraeling believes that the figure "is a superhuman being of a lower order"; he does not explain exactly why. He then goes on to state "Wings...regularly suggest a demon associated with the wind" and "owls may well indicate the nocturnal habits of this female demon". He excludes Lamashtu and Pazuzu as candidate demons and states: "Perhaps we have here a third representation of a demon. If so, it must be Lilîtu...the demon of an evil wind", named ki-sikil-lil-la (literally "wind-maiden" or "phantom-maiden", not "beautiful maiden", as Kraeling asserts. This ki-sikil-lil is an antagonist of Inanna (Ishtar) in a brief episode of the epic of Gilgamesh, which is cited by both Kraeling and Frankfort as further evidence for the identification as Lilith, though this appendix too is now disputed. In this episode, Inanna's holy Huluppu tree is invaded by malevolent spirits. Frankfort quotes a preliminary translation by Gadd (1933): "in the midst Lilith had built a house, the shrieking maid, the joyful, the bright queen of Heaven". However modern translations have instead: "In its trunk, the phantom maid built herself a dwelling, the maid who laughs with a joyful heart. But holy Inanna cried." The earlier translation implies an association of the demon Lilith with a shrieking owl and at the same time asserts her god-like nature; the modern translation supports neither of these attributes. In fact, Cyril J. Gadd (1933), the first translator, writes: "ardat lili (kisikil-lil) is never associated with owls in Babylonian mythology" and "the Jewish traditions concerning Lilith in this form seem to be late and of no great authority". This single line of evidence was taken as virtual proof of the identification of the Burney Relief with "Lilith" may have been motivated by later associations of "Lilith" in later Jewish sources. The association of Lilith with owls in later Jewish literature such as the Songs of the Sage (1st century B.C.) and Babylonian Talmud (5th century A.D.) is derived from a reference to a liliyth among a list of wilderness birds and animals in Isaiah (7th century B.C.), though some scholars, such as Blair (2009) consider the pre-Talmudic Isaiah reference to be non-supernatural, and this is reflected in some modern Bible translations: Isaiah 34:13 "Thorns shall grow over its strongholds, nettles and thistles in its fortresses. It shall be the haunt of jackals, an abode for ostriches. And wild animals shall meet with hyenas; the wild goat shall cry to his fellow; indeed, there the night bird (lilit or lilith) settles and finds for herself a resting place. There the owl nests and lays and hatches and gathers her young in her shadow; indeed, there the hawks are gathered, each one with her mate." Today, the identification of the Burney Relief with Lilith is questioned, and the figure is now generally identified as the goddess of love and war. Fifty years later, Thorkild Jacobsen substantially revised this interpretation and identified the figure as Inanna (Akkadian: Ishtar) in an analysis that is primarily based on textual evidence. According to Jacobsen: "The hypothesis that this tablet was created for worship makes it unlikely that a demon was depicted. Demons had no cult in Mesopotamian religious practice since demons 'know no food, know no drink, eat no flour offering and drink no libation.' Therefore, 'no relationship of giving and taking could be established with them'". The horned crown is a symbol of divinity, and the fact that it is four-tiered suggests one of the principal gods of the Mesopotamian pantheon. Inanna was the only goddess that was associated with lions, for example a hymn by En-hedu-ana specifically mentions "Inanna, seated on crossed (or harnessed) lions". The goddess is depicted standing on mountains. According to text sources, Inanna's home was on Kur-mùsh, the mountain crests. Iconographically, other gods were depicted on mountain scales as well, but there are examples in which Inanna is shown on a mountain pattern and another god is not, i.e. the pattern was indeed sometimes used to identify Inanna. The rod-and-ring symbol, her necklace and her wig are all attributes that are explicitly referred to in the myth of Inanna's descent into the nether world. Jacobsen quotes textual evidence that the Akkadian word eššebu (owl) corresponds to the Sumerian word ninna, and that the Sumerian Dnin-ninna (Divine lady ninna) corresponds to the Akkadian Ishtar. The Sumerian ninna can also be translated as the Akkadian kilili, which is also a name or epithet for Ishtar. Inanna/Ishtar as harlot or goddess of harlots was a well known theme in Mesopotamian mythology and in one text, Inanna is called kar-kid (harlot) and ab-ba-[šú]-šú, which in Akkadian would be rendered kilili. Thus there appears to be a cluster of metaphors linking prostitute and owl and the goddess Inanna/Ishtar; this could match the most enigmatic component of the relief to a well known aspect of Ishtar. Jacobsen concludes that this link would be sufficient to explain talons and wings, and adds that nudity could indicate the relief was originally the house-altar of a bordello. In contrast, the British Museum does acknowledge the possibility that the relief depicts either Lilith or Ishtar, but prefers a third identification: Ishtar's antagonist and sister Ereshkigal, the goddess of the underworld.] This interpretation is based on the fact that the wings are not outspread and that the background of the relief was originally painted black. If this were the correct identification, it would make the relief (and by implication the smaller plaques of nude, winged goddesses) the only known figurative representations of Ereshkigal. Edith Porada, the first to propose this identification, associates hanging wings with demons and then states: "If the suggested provenience of the Burney Relief at Nippur proves to be correct, the imposing demonic figure depicted on it may have to be identified with the female ruler of the dead or with some other major figure of the Old Babylonian pantheon which was occasionally associated with death." No further supporting evidence was given by Porada, but another analysis published in 2002 comes to the same conclusion. E. von der Osten-Sacken describes evidence for a weakly developed but nevertheless existing cult for Ereshkigal; she cites aspects of similarity between the goddesses Ishtar and Ereshkigal from textual sources – for example they are called "sisters" in the myth of "Inanna's descent into the nether world" – and she finally explains the unique doubled rod-and-ring symbol in the following way: "Ereshkigal would be shown here at the peak of her power, when she had taken the divine symbols from her sister and perhaps also her identifying lions". The 1936 London Illustrated News feature had "no doubt of the authenticity" of the object which had "been subjected to exhaustive chemical examination" and showed traces of bitumen "dried out in a way which is only possible in the course of many centuries". But stylistic doubts were published only a few months later by D. Opitz who noted the "absolutely unique" nature of the owls with no comparables in all of Babylonian figurative artifacts. In a back-to-back article, E. Douglas Van Buren examined examples of Sumerian art, which had been excavated and provenanced and she presented examples: Ishtar with two lions, the Louvre plaque of a nude, bird-footed goddess standing on two Ibexes and similar plaques, and even a small haematite owl, although the owl is an isolated piece and not in an iconographical context. A year later Frankfort acknowledged Van Buren's examples, added some of his own and concluded "that the relief is genuine". Opitz (1937) concurred with this opinion, but reasserted that the iconography is not consistent with other examples, especially regarding the rod-and-ring symbol. These symbols were the focus of a communication by Pauline Albenda (1970) who again questioned the relief's authenticity. Subsequently the British Museum performed thermoluminescence dating which was consistent with the relief being fired in antiquity; but the method is imprecise when samples of the surrounding soil are not available for estimation of background radiation levels. A rebuttal to Albenda by Curtis and Collon (1996) published the scientific analysis; the British Museum was sufficiently convinced of the relief to purchase it in 2003. The discourse continued however: in her extensive reanalysis of stylistic features, Albenda once again called the relief "a pastiche of artistic features" and "continue[d] to be unconvinced of its antiquity". Her arguments were rebutted in a rejoinder by Collon (2007), noting in particular that the whole relief was created in one unit, i.e. there is no possibility that a modern figure or parts of one might have been added to an antique background. Collon also reviewed the iconographic links to provenanced pieces. In concluding Collon states: "[Edith Porada] believed that, with time, a forgery would look worse and worse, whereas a genuine object would grow better and better...Over the years [the Queen of the Night] has indeed grown better and better, and more and more interesting. For me she is a real work of art of the Old Babylonian period." In 2008/9 the relief was included in exhibitions on Babylon at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, the Louvre in Paris, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. [Wikipedia]. REVIEW: Ishtar was the Mesopotamian goddess of love, beauty, sex, desire, fertility, war, combat, and political power, the East Semitic (Akkadian, Assyrian, and Babylonian) counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna, and a cognate of the Northwest Semitic goddess Astarte and the Armenian goddess Astghik. Ishtar was an important deity in Mesopotamian religion from around 3500 B.C., until its gradual decline between the 1st and 5th centuries CE with the spread of Christianity. Ishtar's primary symbols were the lion and the eight-pointed star of Ishtar. She was associated with the planet Venus and subsumed many important aspects of her character and her cult from the earlier Sumerian goddess Inanna. Ishtar's most famous myth is the story of her descent into the underworld, which is largely based on an older, more elaborate Sumerian version involving Inanna. In the standard Akkadian version of the Epic of Gilgamesh, Ishtar is portrayed as a spoiled and hot-headed femme fatale who demands Gilgamesh to become her consort. When he refuses, she unleashes the Bull of Heaven, resulting in the death of Enkidu. This stands in sharp contrast with Inanna's radically different portrayal in the earlier Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Netherworld. Ishtar also appears in the Hittite creation myth and in the Neo-Assyrian Birth Legend of Sargon. Although various publications have claimed that Ishtar's name is the root behind the modern English word Easter, this has been rejected by reputable scholars, and such etymologies are not listed in standard reference works. Ishtar is a Semitic name of uncertain etymology, possibly derived from a Semitic term meaning "to irrigate". George A. Barton, an early scholar on the subject, suggests that the name stems from "irrigating ditch" and "that which is irrigated by water alone", therefore meaning "she who waters", or "is watered" or "the self-waterer".Regardless of which interpretation is correct, the name seems to derive from irrigation and agricultural fertility. The name Ishtar occurs as an element in personal names from both the pre-Sargonic and post-Sargonic eras in Akkad, Assyria, and Babylonia. A few scholars believe that Ishtar may have originated as a female form of the god Attar, who is mentioned in inscriptions from Ugarit and southern Arabia. The morning star may have been conceived as a male deity who presided over the arts of war and the evening star may have been conceived as a female deity who presided over the arts of love. Among the Akkadians, Assyrians, and Babylonians, the name of the male god eventually supplanted the name of his female counterpart, but, due to extensive syncretism with the Sumerian goddess Inanna, the deity remained as female, despite the fact that her name was in the masculine form. The Akkadian poetess Enheduanna, the daughter of Sargon, wrote numerous hymns to the Sumerian goddess Inanna in which she identified her with her native goddess Ishtar. This helped to cement the syncretism between the two. Ishtar was believed to be the daughter of Anu, the god of the sky. Although she was widely venerated, she was particularly worshipped in the Upper Mesopotamian kingdom of Assyria (modern northern Iraq, north east Syria and south east Turkey), particularly at the cities of Nineveh, Ashur and Arbela (modern Erbil), and also in the south Mesopotamian city of Uruk. Ishtar was closely associated with lions and with the eight-pointed star, which were her most common symbols. In the Babylonian pantheon, she "was the divine personification of the planet Venus." The cult of Ishtar may have involved sacred prostitution, though this is debatable. Felix Guirand refers to her holy city Uruk as the "town of the sacred courtesans" and to Ishtar herself as the "courtesan of the gods." Androgynous and hermaphroditic men were heavily involved in the cult of Ishtar. Kurgarrū and assinnu were servants of Ishtar who dressed in female clothing and performed war dances in Ishtar's temples; they also may have engaged in homosexual intercourse. Gwendolyn Leick, an anthropologist known for her writings on Mesopotamia, has compared these individuals to the contemporary Indian hijra. In one Akkadian hymn, Ishtar is described as transforming men into women. During the reign of the Assyrian king Assurbanipal, Ishtar rose to became the most important and widely venerated deity in the Assyrian pantheon, surpassing even the Assyrian national god Ashur. During the Akkadian Period, Ishtar was often depicted as a heavily armed warrior goddess, frequently accompanied by lions, which were among the many symbols Ishtar adopted from the Sumerian goddess Inanna. In Mesopotamian iconography, the most common symbol of Ishtar is an eight-pointed star, though the exact number of points sometimes varies. Six-pointed stars also occur frequently, but their symbolic meaning is unknown. The eight-pointed star was originally associated with Inanna and seems to have originally borne a general association with the heavens, but, by the Old Babylonian Period, it had come to be specifically associated with the planet Venus, with which Ishtar was identified. Starting during this same period, the star of Ishtar was normally enclosed within a circular disc. During later times, slaves who worked in Ishtar's temples were sometimes branded with the seal of the eight-pointed star. On boundary stones and cylinder seals, the eight-pointed star is sometimes shown alongside the crescent moon, which was the symbol of Sin, god of the Moon, and the rayed solar disk, which was a symbol of Shamash, the god of the Sun. The rosette was another important symbol of Ishtar which had originally belonged to Inanna. During the Neo-Assyrian Period, the rosette may have actually eclipsed the eight-pointed star and become Ishtar's primary symbol. The temple of Ishtar in the city of Aššur was adorned with numerous rosettes. Ishtar had many lovers; Guirand writes: "Woe to him whom Ishtar had honoured! The fickle goddess treated her passing lovers cruelly, and the unhappy wretches usually paid dearly for the favours heaped on them. Animals, enslaved by love, lost their native vigour: they fell into traps laid by men or were domesticated by them. 'Thou has loved the lion, mighty in strength', says the hero Gilgamesh to Ishtar, 'and thou hast dug for him seven and seven pits! Thou hast loved the steed, proud in battle, and destined him for the halter, the goad and the whip.'" Even for the gods Ishtar's love was fatal. In her youth the goddess had loved Tammuz, god of the harvest, and—if one is to believe Gilgamesh —this love caused the death of Tammuz." Ishtar's most famous myth is the story of her descent into the Underworld, which is based on an older Sumerian version involving the goddess Inanna. The Sumerian version of the story is nearly three times the length of the later Akkadian version and contains much greater detail. The Akkadian version begins with Ishtar approaching the gates of the Underworld and demanding the gatekeeper to let her in: "If thou openest not the gate to let me enter; I will break the door, I will wrench the lock; I will smash the door-posts, I will force the doors; I will bring up the dead to eat the living, and the dead will outnumber the living." In the Akkadian version, the gatekeeper's name is not given, but in the Sumerian version, his name is Neti. The gatekeeper hurries to tell Ereshkigal, the Queen of the Underworld. Ereshkigal orders the gatekeeper to let Ishtar enter, but tells him to "treat her according to the ancient rites." The gatekeeper lets Ishtar into the underworld, opening one gate at a time. At each gate, Ishtar is forced to shed one article of clothing. When she finally passes the seventh gate, she is naked. In a rage, Ishtar throws herself at Ereshkigal, but Ereshkigal orders her servant Namtar to imprison Ishtar and unleash sixty diseases against her. After Ishtar descends to the underworld, all sexual activity ceases on earth. The god Papsukkal, the Akkadian counterpart to the Sumerian goddess Ninshubur, reports the situation to Ea, the god of wisdom and culture. Ea creates an intersex being called Asu-shu-namir and sends them to Ereshkigal, telling them to invoke "the name of the great gods" against her and to ask for the bag containing the waters of life. Ereshkigal becomes enraged when she hears Asu-shu-namir's demand, but she is forced to give them the water of life. Asu-shu-namir sprinkles Ishtar with this water, reviving her. Then, Ishtar passes back through the seven gates, receiving one article of clothing back at each gate, and exiting the final gate fully clothed. Here there is a break in the text of the myth, which resumes with the following lines: "If she (Ishtar) will not grant thee her release, To Tammuz, the lover of her youth, Pour out pure waters, pour out fine oil; With a festival garment deck him that he may play on the flute of lapis lazuli, That the votaries may cheer his liver. [his spirit] Belili [sister of Tammuz] had gathered the treasure, With precious stones filled her bosom. When Belili heard the lament of her brother, she dropped her treasure, She scattered the precious stones before her, "Oh, my only brother, do not let me perish! On the day when Tammuz plays for me on the flute of lapis lazuli, playing it for me with the porphyry ring. Together with him, play ye for me, ye weepers and lamenting women! That the dead may rise up and inhale the incense." Formerly, scholars believed that the myth of Ishtar's descent took place after the death of Ishtar's lover Tammuz and that Ishtar had gone to the underworld to rescue him. However, the discovery of a corresponding myth about Inanna, the Sumerian counterpart of Ishtar, has shed some light on the myth of Ishtar's descent, including its somewhat enigmatic ending lines. In the Sumerian version of the story, Inanna can only return from the Underworld if someone else is taken there as her replacement. A horde of galla demons follow her out of the Underworld to ensure this. However, each time Inanna runs into someone, she finds him to be a friend and lets him go free. When she finally reaches her home, she finds her husband Dumuzid, the Sumerian equivalent of Tammuz, seated on his throne, not at all grieved by her death. In anger, Inanna allows the demons to take Dumuzid back to the underworld as her replacement. Dumuzid's sister Geshtinanna is grief-stricken and volunteers to spend half the year in the underworld, during which time Dumuzid can go free. The Ishtar myth presumably had a comparable ending, Belili being the Babylonian equivalent of Geshtinanna. The Epic of Gilgamesh contains an episode involving Ishtar, in which she is portrayed as a femme fatale, who is simultaneously petulant, bad-tempered, and spoiled. She asks the hero Gilgamesh to marry her, but he refuses, citing the fate that has befallen all her many lovers: "Listen to me while I tell the tale of your lovers. There was Tammuz, the lover of your youth, for him you decreed wailing, year after year. You loved the many-coloured Lilac-breasted Roller, but still you struck and broke his wing. You have loved the lion tremendous in strength: seven pits you dug for him, and seven. You have loved the stallion magnificent in battle, and for him you decreed the whip and spur and a thong [...] You have loved the shepherd of the flock; he made meal-cake for you day after day, he killed kids for your sake. You struck and turned him into a wolf; now his own herd-boys chase him away, his own hounds worry his flanks." Infuriated by Gilgamesh's refusal, Ishtar goes to heaven and tells her father Anu that Gilgamesh has insulted her. Anu asks her why she is complaining to him instead of confronting Gilgamesh herself. Ishtar demands that Anu give her the Bull of Heaven and swears that if he does not give it to her, she will, in her own words: "...break in the doors of hell and smash the bolts; there will be confusion [i.e., mixing] of people, those above with those from the lower depths. I shall bring up the dead to eat food like the living; and the hosts of the dead will outnumber the living." Anu gives Ishtar the Bull of Heaven, and Ishtar sends it to attack Gilgamesh and his friend Enkidu. Gilgamesh and Enkidu kill the Bull and offer its heart to the Assyro-Babylonian sun-god Shamash. While Gilgamesh and Enkidu are resting, Ishtar stands up on the walls of Uruk and curses Gilgamesh. Enkidu tears off the Bull's right thigh and throws it in Ishtar's face, saying, "If I could lay my hands on you, it is this I should do to you, and lash your entrails to your side." (Enkidu later dies for this impiety.) Ishtar calls together "the crimped courtesans, prostitutes and harlots" and orders them to mourn for the Bull of Heaven. Meanwhile, Gilgamesh holds a celebration over the Bull of Heaven's defeat. Later in the epic, Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh the story of the Great Flood, which was sent by the god Enlil to annihilate all life on earth because the humans, who were vastly overpopulated, made too much noise and prevented him from sleeping. Utnapishtim tells how, when the flood came, Ishtar wept and mourned over the destruction of humanity, alongside the Anunnaki. Later, after the flood subsides, Utnapishtim makes an offering to the gods. Ishtar appears to Utnapishtim wearing a lapis lazuli necklace with beads shaped like flies and tells him that Enlil never discussed the flood with any of the other gods. She swears him that she will never allow Enlil to cause another flood and declares her lapis lazuli necklace a sign of her oath. Ishtar invites all the gods except for Enlil to gather around the offering and enjoy. Ishtar briefly appears in the Hittite Creation myth as the sister of the Hittite storm god Teshub. In the myth, Ishtar attempts to seduce the monster Ullikummi, but fails because the monster is both blind and deaf and is unable to see or hear her. In a pseudepigraphical Neo-Assyrian text written in the seventh century B.C., but which claims to be the autobiography of Sargon of Akkad, Ishtar is claimed to have appeared to Sargon "surrounded by a cloud of doves" while he was working as a gardener for Akki, the drawer of the water. Ishtar then proclaimed Sargon her lover and allowed him to become the ruler of Sumer and Akkad. As Ishtar became more prominent, several lesser or regional deities were assimilated into her, including Aja (eastern mountain dawn goddess), Anatu (a goddess, possibly Ishtar's mother), Anunitu (Akkadian light goddess), Agasayam (war goddess), Irnini (goddess of cedar forests in the Lebanese mountains), Kilili or Kulili (symbol of the desirable woman), Sahirtu (messenger of lovers), Kir-gu-lu (bringer of rain), and Sarbanda (power of sovereignty). The cult of Ishtar gave rise to the later cult of the Phoenician goddess Astarte, which, in turn, gave rise to the cult of the Greek goddess Aphrodite. The myth of Aphrodite and Adonis is likely derived from the myth of Ishtar and Tammuz. Joseph Campbell, a scholar of comparative mythology from the late twentieth century, equates Ishtar, Inanna, and Aphrodite; he also draws a parallel between the legend of Ishtar and Tammuz and the Egyptian story of the goddess Isis and her son Horus. Modern scholars are not alone in associating Ishtar with Aphrodite. Writing in the fifth century B.C., the Greek historian Herodotus reports that the oldest temple to Aphrodite Ourania in the world was located in the city of Ascalon, Syria. In his Description of Greece, the ancient Greek travel writer Pausanias, who lived during the second century CE, affirms Herodotus's report, claiming that the first people to worship Aphrodite Ourania were the "Assyrians." The Romans also identified Ishtar with their goddess Venus. Cicero, in his treatise On the Nature of the Gods, equates Astarte, the later Phoenician version of Ishtar, with Venus. The later writer Hyginus recounts an otherwise unattested tradition regarding the birth of Venus, demonstrating the syncretism between her and Ishtar: "Into the Euphrates River an egg of wonderful size is said to have fallen, which the fish rolled to the bank. Doves sat on it, and when it was heated, it hatched out Venus, who was later called the Syrian goddess. Since she excelled the rest in justice and uprightness, by a favour granted by Jove, the fish were put among the number of the stars, and because of this the Syrians do not eat fish or doves, considering them as gods." In his book The Two Babylons, the nineteenth-century pseudohistorian Alexander Hislop attempted to connect the name Ishtar with the word Easter. Mainstream scholars have refuted all of Hislop's major claims. The name Easter is, in fact, most likely derived from the name of Ēostre, a Germanic goddess whose Germanic month bears her name (Northumbrian: Ēosturmōnaþ; West Saxon: Ēastermōnaþ; Old High German: Ôstarmânoth ). She is solely attested by Bede in his 8th-century work The Reckoning of Time, where Bede states that during Ēosturmōnaþ (the equivalent of April), pagan Anglo-Saxons had held feasts in Ēostre's honor, but that this tradition had died out by his time, replaced by the Christian Paschal month, a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. Ēostre may be a reflex of the Proto-Indo-European dawn goddess *Haéusōs. Although the names Ishtar and Ēostre are similar, they are etymologically unrelated; the name Ēostre is derived from the Proto-Indo-European root *aus-, meaning "dawn." The word for Easter in most European languages is usually some variant of the Greek word Pascha, meaning "Passover." [Wikipedia]. REVIEW: Inanna (or Ishtar) is the ancient Sumerian goddess of love, sensuality, fertility, procreation, and also of war. She later became identified by the Akkadians and Assyrians as the goddess Ishtar, and further with the Hittite Sauska, the Phoenician Astarte and the Greek Aphrodite, among many others. She was also seen as the bright star of the morning and evening, Venus, and identified with the Roman goddess. Inanna is one of the candidates cited as the subject of the Burney Relief (better known as The Queen of the Night), a terracotta relief dating from the reign of Hammurabi of Babylon (1792-1750 B.C.) although her sister Ereshkigal is the goddess most likely depicted. In some myths she is the daughter of Enki, the god of wisdom, fresh water, magic and a number of other elements and aspects of life, while in others she appears as the daughter of Nanna, god of the moon and wisdom. As the daughter of Nanna, she was the twin sister of the sun god Utu/Shamash. Her power and provocation is almost always a defining characteristic in any of the tales told of her. Through the work of the Akkadian poet and high priestess Enheduanna (2285-2250 B.C.), daughter of Sargon of Akkad (2334-2279 B.C.), Inanna was notably identified with Ishtar and rose in prominence from a local vegetative deity of the Sumerian people to the Queen of Heaven and the most popular goddess in all of Mesopotamia. The historian Gwendoly Leick writes: "Inanna was the foremost Sumerian goddess, patron deity of Uruk. Her name was written with a sign that represents a reed stalk tied into a loop at the top. This appears in the very earliest written texts from the mid-fourth millenium B.C. She is also mentioned in all the early god lists among the four main deities, along with Anu, Enki, and Enlil. In the royal inscriptions of the early Dynastic Period, Inanna is often invoked as the special protectress of kings. Sargon of Akkad claimed her support in battle and politics. It appears that it was during the third millenium that the goddess acquired martial aspects that may derive from a syncretism with the Semitic deity Ishtar. Inanna's main sanctuary was the Eanna (`House of Heaven') at Uruk, although she had temples or chapels in most cities." The goddess appears in ancient Mesopotamian myths in which she brings knowledge and culture to the city of Uruk. The goddess appears in many ancient Mesopotamian myths, most notably Inanna and the Huluppu-Tree (an early creation myth), Inanna and the God of Wisdom (in which she brings knowledge and culture to the city of Uruk after receiving the gifts from the god of wisdom, Enki, while he is drunk), The Courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi (the tale of Inanna’s marriage to the vegetation-god), and the best known poem The Descent of Inanna (circa 1900-1600 B.C.) in which the Queen of Heaven journeys to the underworld. Besides these works and short hymns to Inanna, she is also known through the longer, more intricate hymns written by Enheduanna in honor of her personal goddess and the patroness of Uruk: Inninsagurra, Ninmesarra, and Inninmehusa, which translate as 'The Great-Hearted Mistress’, The Exaltation of Inanna’, and 'Goddess of the Fearsome Powers’, all three powerful hymns which influenced generations of Mesopotamians in their understanding of the goddess and elevated her status from a local to a supreme deity. Her personal ambition is attested to in a number of the works which feature her. Dr. Jeremy Black writes: "Violent and lusting after power, she stands beside her favourite kings as they fight. In a Sumerian poem, Inanna campaigns against Mount Egih. Her journey to Eridu to obtain the meh and her descent to the underworld are both described as intended to extend her power". This ambition can also be seen through her manipulation of Gilgamesh in the tale of the Huluppu Tree: when she cannot handle the problem of the pests which infest the tree, and fails to find help from her brother Utu/Shamash, she attracts the attention of Gilgamesh who takes care of the situation for her. Still, her intentions in this story are true. She only wants to cultivate the tree in order to harvest the wood and cannot handle the serious and threatening pests which make it their home. Her gift of the sacred drum and drum sticks to Gilgamesh for helping her eventually result in Enkidu's journey to the underworld to retrieve them and the fascinating revelations his spirit brings back to Gilgamesh. In the famous Sumerian/Babylonian poem The Epic of Gilgamesh (circa 2700 - 1400 B.C.) Inanna appears as Ishtar and, in Phoenician mythology, as Astarte. In the Greek myth The Judgment of Paris, but also in other tales of the ancient Greeks, the goddess Aphrodite is traditionally associated with Inanna through her great beauty and sensuality. Inanna is always depicted as a young woman, never as mother or faithful wife, who is fully aware of her feminine power and confronts life boldly without fear of how she will be perceived by others, especially by men. In The Epic of Gilgamesh, as Ishtar, she is seen as promiscuous, jealous, and spiteful. When she tries to seduce Gilgamesh, he lists her many other lovers who have all met with bad ends at her hands. Enraged at his rejection, she sends the husband of her sister Ereshkigal, Gugulana (the Bull of Heaven) to destroy Gilgamesh's realm. Gugulana is then killed by Enkidu, the best friend and comrade-in-arms of Gilgamesh, for which he is condemned by the gods to die. Enkidu's death is the catalyst for the famous quest Gilgamesh undertakes to discover the meaning of life. Inanna, then, is central to the story of one of the greatest of ancient epics. She is often shown in the company of a lion, denoting courage, and sometimes even riding the lion as a sign of her supremacy over the 'king of beasts’. In her aspect as goddess of war, Inanna is depicted in the armor of a male, in battle dress (statues frequently show her armed with a quiver and bow) and so is also identified with the Greek goddess Athena Nike. She has been further associated with the goddess Demeter as a fertility deity, and with Persephone as a dying-and-reviving god figure, no doubt a carry-over from her original incarnation as a rural goddess of agriculture. Although some writers have claimed otherwise, Inanna was never seen as a Mother Goddess in the way that other deities, such as Ninhursag, were. Dr. Jeremy Black notes: "One aspect of [Inanna's personality] is that of a goddess of love and sexual behaviour, but especially connected with extra-marital sex and - in a way which has not been fully researched - with prostitution. Inanna is not a goddess of marriage, nor is she a mother goddess. The so-called Sacred Marriage in which she participates carries no overtones of moral implication for human marriages." Rather, Inanna is an independent woman who does as she pleases, quite often without regard for consequences, and either manipulates, threatens, or tries to seduce others to fix the difficulties her behaviour creates. There are no poems, tales, or legends which in any way portray her differently and none which depict her in the role of the Mother Goddess. In the Mesopotamian pantheon Inanna's geneology varies with the era of the myth and the tale told. She is the daughter of the supreme god Anu but also is depicted as the daughter of the moon-god Nanna and his consort Ningal. Alternately, she is the daughter of the god of wisdom Enki and sister to Ereshkigal (goddess of the underworld), twin sister of the sun god Utu/Shamash, and sister of Ishkur (also known as Adad), god of storms. She is also sometimes referenced as the daughter of the Supreme God of the Air, Enlil. Her husband Dumuzi - who suffers for her rash choices in the poem The Descent of Inanna - transforms in time into the dying-and-reviving god Tammuz and, annually at the autumn equinox, the people would celebrate the sacred marriage rites of Inanna and Dumuzi (Ishtar and Tammuz) as he returned from the underworld to mate again with her, thus bringing the land to life. The Sacred Marriage of Inanna and Dumuzi was central to the fertility of the land and was re-enacted at important festivals (such as the Akitu Festival at Babylon) by the king and a priestess having sexual intercourse or, perhaps, only symbolically mating in a kind of pantomime. Her temple at Uruk was her central cult center but throughout Mesopotamia her temples and shrines were numerous and sacred prostitutes, of both genders, may have been employed to ensure the fertility of the earth and the continued prosperity of the communities. Inanna continued as a powerful and popular goddess until the decline of the prestige of female deities during the reign of Hammurabi which, according to scholar Samuel Noah Kramer, coincides with women's loss of status and rights in society. Still, as Ishtar of the Assyrians, she continued to be widely venerated and inspired the visions of similar deities in other cultures of the Near East and beyond. Inanna is among the oldest deities whose names are recorded in ancient Sumer. She is listed among the earliest seven divine powers: Anu, Enlil, Enki, Ninhursag, Nanna, Utu, and Inanna. These seven would form the basis for many of the characteristics of the gods who followed. In the case of Inanna, as noted above, she would inspire similar deities in many other cultures. A vastly different personality from that of the traditional Mother Goddess (as exemplified in Ninhursag), Inanna is a brash, independant young woman; impulsive and yet calculating, kind and at the same time careless with other's feelings or property or even their lives. Jeremy Black writes: "The fact that in no tradition does Inanna have a permanent male spouse is closely linked to her role as the goddess of sexual love. Even Dumuzi, who is often described as her `lover', has a very ambiguous relationship with her and she is ultimately responsible for his death." The fact that the Sumerians could conceive of such a goddess speaks to their cultural value and understanding of femininity. In Sumerian culture women were regarded as equals and even a cursory survey of their pantheon shows a number of significant female deities such as Gula, Ninhursag, Nisaba, and Ninkasi, among many others. In time, however, these goddesses lost status to male deities. Under the reign of the Amorite king Hammurabi of Babylon (1792-1750 B.C.) goddesses were increasingly replaced by gods. Inanna kept her position and prestige through her adoption by the Assyrian and Neo-Assyrian empire as Ishtar, goddess of war and sex, but many others did not fare so well. Nisaba, formerly the scribe of the gods and patroness of the written word, was assimilated into the god Nabu under Hammurabi's reign and this was the fate of many others. Inanna endured, however, because she was so accessible and recognizable. Women and men both could relate to this goddess and it was no coincidence that both sexes served her as priests, temple servants, and sacred prostitutes. Inanna made people want to serve her because of who she was, not what she had to offer, and her devotees remained faithful to her long after worship in her temples had ceased. She was closely associated with the morning and evening star and, even the present day, she continues to be - even if few remember her name. [Ancient History Encyclopedia]. REVIEW: Love is a Battlefield: The Legend of Ishtar, First Goddess of Love and War. As singer Pat Benatar once noted, love is a battlefield. Such use of military words to express intimate, affectionate emotions is likely related to love’s capacity to bruise and confuse. So it was with the world’s first goddess of love and war, Ishtar, and her lover Tammuz. In ancient Mesopotamia - roughly corresponding to modern Iraq, parts of Iran, Syria, Kuwait and Turkey - love was a powerful force, capable of upending earthly order and producing sharp changes in status. From Aphrodite to Wonder Woman, we continue to be fascinated by powerful female protagonists, an interest that can be traced back to our earliest written records. Ishtar (the word comes from the Akkadian language; she was known as Inanna in Sumerian) was the first deity for which we have written evidence. She was closely related to romantic love, but also familial love, the loving bonds between communities, and sexual love. She was also a warrior deity with a potent capacity for vengeance, as her lover would find out. These seemingly opposing personalities have raised scholarly eyebrows both ancient and modern. Ishtar is a love deity who is terrifying on the battlefield. Her beauty is the subject of love poetry, and her rage likened to a destructive storm. But in her capacity to shape destinies and fortunes, they are two sides of the same coin. The earliest poems to Ishtar were written by Enheduanna — the world’s first individually identified author. Enheduanna (circa 2300 B.C.) is generally considered to have been an historical figure living in Ur, one of the world’s oldest urban centres . She was a priestess to the moon god and the daughter of Sargon of Akkad (“Sargon the Great”), the first ruler to unite northern and southern Mesopotamia and found the powerful Akkadian empire. The sources for Enheduanna’s life and career are historical, literary and archaeological: she commissioned an alabaster relief, the Disk of Enheduanna, which is inscribed with her dedication. In her poetry, Enheduanna reveals the diversity of Ishtar, including her superlative capacity for armed conflict and her ability to bring about abrupt changes in status and fortune. This ability was well suited to a goddess of love and war — both areas where swift reversals can take place, utterly changing the state of play. On the battlefield, the goddess’s ability to fix fates ensured victory. In love magic, Ishtar’s power could alter romantic fortunes. In ancient love charms, her influence was invoked to win, or indeed, capture, the heart (and other body parts) of a desired lover. Ishtar is described (by herself in love poems, and by others) as a beautiful, young woman. Her lover, Tammuz, compliments her on the beauty of her eyes, a seemingly timeless form of flattery, with a literary history stretching back to around 2100 B.C. Ishtar and Tammuz are the protagonists of one of the world’s first love stories. In love poetry telling of their courtship, the two have a very affectionate relationship. But like many great love stories, their union ends tragically. The most famous account of this myth is Ishtar’s Descent to the Underworld, author unknown. This ancient narrative, surviving in Sumerian and Akkadian versions (both written in cuneiform ), was only deciphered in the 19th Century. It begins with Ishtar’s decision to visit the realm of her sister, Ereshkigal, Queen of the Underworld. Ostensibly, she is visiting her sister to mourn the death of her brother-in-law, possibly the Bull of Heaven who appears in the Epic of Gilgamesh . But the other gods in the story view the move as an attempt at a hostile takeover. Ishtar was known for being extremely ambitious; in another myth she storms the heavens and stages a divine coup. Any questions over Ishtar’s motives are settled by the description of her preparation for her journey. She carefully applies make-up and jewellery, and wraps herself in beautiful clothing. Ishtar is frequently described applying cosmetics and enhancing her appearance before undertaking battle, or before meeting a lover. Much as a male warrior may put on a breast plate before a fight, Ishtar lines her eyes with mascara. She’s the original power-dresser: her enrichment of her beauty and her choice of clothes accentuate her potency. Next, in a humorous scene brimming with irony, the goddess instructs her faithful handmaiden, Ninshubur, on how to behave if Ishtar becomes trapped in the netherworld. First, Ninshubur must clothe herself in correct mourning attire, such as sackcloth, and create a dishevelled appearance. Then, she must go to the temples of the great gods and ask for help to rescue her mistress. Ishtar’s instructions that her handmaiden dress in appropriately sombre mourning-wear are a stark contrast to her own flashy attire. But when Ereshkigal learns that Ishtar is dressed so well, she realises she has come to conquer the underworld. So she devises a plan to literally strip Ishtar of her power. Once arriving at Ereshkigal’s home, Ishtar descends through the seven gates of the underworld. At each gate she is instructed to remove an item of clothing. When she arrives before her sister, Ishtar is naked, and Ereshkigal kills her at once. Her death has terrible consequences, involving the cessation of all earthly sexual intimacy and fertility. So on the advice of Ishtar’s handmaiden, Ea - the god of wisdom - facilitates a plot to revive Ishtar and return her to the upper world. His plot succeeds, but there is an ancient Mesopotamian saying: "No one comes back from the underworld unmarked." Once a space had been created in the underworld, it was thought that it couldn’t be left empty. Ishtar is instructed to ascend with a band of demons to the upper world, and find her own replacement. In the world above, Ishtar sees Tammuz dressed regally and relaxing on a throne, apparently unaffected by her death. Enraged, she instructs the demons to take him away with them. Ishtar’s role in her husband’s demise has earned her a reputation as being somewhat fickle. But this assessment does not capture the complexity of the goddess’s role. Ishtar is portrayed in the myth of her Descent and elsewhere as capable of intense faithfulness: rather than being fickle, her role in her husband’s death shows her vengeful nature. Women and vengeance proved a popular combination in the myths of ancient Greece and Rome, where powerful women such as Electra, Clytemnestra and Medea brought terrible consequences on those who they perceived as having wronged them. This theme has continued to fascinate audiences to the present day. The concept is encapsulated by the line, often misattributed to Shakespeare, from William Congreve’s The Mourning Bride: "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned." Before she sees her husband relaxing after her death, Ishtar first encounters her handmaiden Ninshubur, and her two sons. One son is described as the goddess’s manicurist and hairdresser, and the other is a warrior. All three are spared by the goddess due to their faithful service and their overt expressions of grief over Ishtar’s death — they are each described lying in the dust, dressed in rags. The diligent behaviour of Ishtar’s attendants is juxtaposed against the actions of Tammuz, a damning contrast that demonstrates his lack of appropriate mourning behaviour. Loyalty is the main criteria Ishtar uses to choose who will replace her in the underworld. This hardly makes her faithless. Ishtar’s pursuit of revenge in ancient myths is an extension of her close connection to the dispensation of justice, and the maintenance of universal order. Love and war are both forces with the potential to create chaos and confusion, and the deity associated with them needed to be able to restore order as well as to disrupt it. Still, love in Mesopotamia could survive death. Even for Tammuz, love was salvation and protection: the faithful love of his sister, Geshtinanna, allowed for his eventual return from the underworld. Love, as they say, never dies — but in the rare cases where it might momentarily expire, it’s best to mourn appropriately. Ishtar was one of the most popular deities of the Mesopotamian pantheon, yet in the modern day she has slipped into almost total anonymity. Ishtar’s legacy is most clearly seen through her influence on later cultural archetypes, with her image contributing to the development of the most famous love goddess of them all, Aphrodite. Ishtar turns up in science fiction, notably as a beautiful yet self-destructive stripper in Neil Gaiman’s comic The Sandman: Brief Lives . Gaiman’s exceptional command of Mesopotamian myth suggests the “stripping” of Ishtar may involve a wink to the ancient narrative tradition of her Descent. She is not directly referenced in the 1987 film that carries her name (received poorly but now something of a cult classic), although the lead female character Shirra, shows some similarities to the goddess. The Descent of Inanna into the Underworld: A 5,500-Year-Old Literary Masterpiece. The Ishtar Gate and the Deities of Babylon. The Sumerian Seven: The Top-Ranking Gods in the Sumerian Pantheon. In the graphic novel tradition, Aphrodite is credited with shaping the image of Wonder Woman, and Aphrodite’s own image was influenced by Ishtar. This connection may partially explain the intriguing similarities between Ishtar and the modern superhero: both figures are represented as warriors who grace the battlefield wearing bracelets and a tiara, brandishing a rope weapon, and demonstrating love, loyalty and a fierce commitment to justice. There are intriguing similarities between Ishtar and Wonder Woman. Ishtar, like other love goddesses, has been linked to in ancient sexual and fertility rituals , although the evidence for this is up for debate, and frequently overshadows the deity’s many other fascinating qualities. Exploring the image of the world’s first goddess provides an insight into Mesopotamian culture, and the enduring power of love through the ages. In the modern day, love is said to conquer all , and in the ancient world, Ishtar did just that. [Ancient Origins]. REVIEW: In Mesopotamian mythology, Ereshkigal ("Queen of the Great Earth") was the goddess of Kur, the land of the dead or underworld in Sumerian mythology. In later East Semitic myths she was said to rule Irkalla alongside her husband Nergal. Sometimes her name is given as Irkalla, similar to the way the name Hades was used in Greek mythology for both the underworld and its ruler, and sometimes it is given as Ninkigal ("Great Lady of the Earth" or "Lady of the Great Earth"). In Sumerian myths, Ereshkigal was the only one who could pass judgment and give laws in her kingdom. The main temple dedicated to her was located in Kutha. In the ancient Sumerian poem Inanna's Descent to the Underworld Ereshkigal is described as Inanna's older sister. The two main myths involving Ereshkigal are the story of Inanna's descent into the Underworld and the story of Ereshkigal's marriage to the god Nergal. In ancient Sumerian mythology, Ereshkigal is the queen of the Underworld. She is the older sister of the goddess, Inanna. Inanna and Ereshkigal represent polar opposites. Inanna is the Queen of Heaven, but Ereshkigal is the queen of Irkalla. Ereshkigal plays a very prominent and important role in two particular myths. The first myth featuring Ereshkigal is described in the ancient Sumerian epic poem of "Inanna's Descent to the Underworld." In the poem, the goddess, Inanna descends into the Underworld, apparently seeking to extend her powers there. Ereshkigal is described as being Inanna's older sister. When Neti, the gatekeeper of the Underworld, informs Ereshkigal that Inanna is at the gates of the Underworld, demanding to be let in, Ereshkigal responds by ordering Neti to bolt the seven gates of the Underworld and to open each gate separately, but only after Inanna has removed one article of clothing. Inanna proceeds through each gate, removing one article of clothing at each gate. Finally, once she has gone through all seven gates she finds herself naked and powerless, standing before the throne of Ereshkigal. The seven judges of the Underworld judge Inanna and declare her to be guilty. Inanna is struck dead and her dead corpse is hung on a hook in the Underworld for everyone to see. Inanna's minister, Ninshubur, however, pleads with Enki and Enki agrees to rescue Inanna from the Underworld. Enki sends two sexless beings down to the Underworld to revive Inanna with the food and water of life. The sexless beings escort Inanna up from the Underworld, but a horde of angry demons follow Inanna back up from the Underworld, demanding to take someone else down to the Underworld as Inanna's replacement. When Inanna discovers that her husband, Dumuzid, has not mourned her death, she becomes ireful towards him and orders the demons to take Dumuzid as her replacement. The other myth is the story of Nergal, the plague god. Once, the gods held a banquet that Ereshkigal, as queen of the Underworld, could not come up to attend. They invited her to send a messenger, and she sent her vizier Namtar in her place. He was treated well by all, but for the exception of being disrespected by Nergal. As a result of this, Nergal was banished to the kingdom controlled by the goddess. Versions vary at this point, but all of them result in him becoming her husband. In later tradition, Nergal is said to have been the victor, taking her as wife and ruling the land himself. It is theorized that the story of Inanna's descent is told to illustrate the possibility of an escape from the Underworld, while the Nergal myth is intended to reconcile the existence of two rulers of the Underworld: a goddess and a god. The addition of Nergal represents the harmonizing tendency to unite Ereshkigal as the queen of the Underworld with the god who, as god of war and of pestilence, brings death to the living and thus becomes the one who presides over the dead. In some versions of the myths, Ereshkigal rules the Underworld by herself, but in other versions of the myths, Ereshkigal rules alongside a husband subordinate to her named Gugalana. In his book, "Sumerian Mythology: A Study of Spiritual and Literary Achievement in the Third Millennium B.C.", the renowned scholar of ancient Sumer, Samuel Noah Kramer writes that, according to the introductory passage of the ancient Sumerian epic poem, "Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Netherworld," Ereshkigal was forcibly abducted, taken down to the Underworld by the Kur, and was forced to become queen of the Underworld against her will. In order to avenge the abduction of Ereshkigal, Enki, the god of water, set out in a boat to slay the Kur. The Kur defends itself by pelting Enki with rocks of many sizes and by sending the waves beneath Enki's boat to attack Enki. The poem never actually explains who the ultimate victor of the battle is, but it is implied that Enki wins. Samuel Noah Kramer relates this myth to the ancient Greek myth of the rape of Persephone, asserting that the Greek story is probably derived from the ancient Sumerian story. In Sumerian mythology, Ereshkigal is the mother of the goddess Nungal. Her son with Enlil is the god Namtar. With Gugalana, her son is Ninazu. In later times, the Greeks and Romans appear to have syncretized Ereshkigal with their own goddess Hecate. In the heading of a spell in the Michigan Magical Papyrus, which has been dated to the late third or early fourth century A.D., Hecate is referred to as "Hecate Ereschkigal" and is invoked using magical words and gestures to alleviate the caster's fear of punishment in the afterlife. [Wikipedia]. REVIEW: Ereshkigal (also known as Irkalla and Allatu) is the Mesopotamian Queen of the Dead who rules the underworld. Her name translates as "Queen of the Great Below" or "Lady of the Great Place". The word 'great' should be understood as 'vast,' not 'exceptional' and referred to the land of the dead which was thought to lie beneath the Mountains of Sunset to the west and was known as Kurnugia ('the Land of No Return'). Kurnugia was an immense realm of gloom under the earth, where the souls of the dead drank from muddy puddles and ate dust. Ereshkigal ruled over these souls from her palace Ganzir, located at the entrance to the underworld, and guarded by seven gates which were kept by her faithful servant Neti. She ruled her realm alone until the war god Nergal (also known as Erra) became her consort and co-ruler for six months of the year. Erishkigal is the older sister of the goddess Inanna and best known for the part she plays in the famous Sumerian poem The Descent of Inanna (circa 1900-1600 B.C.). Her first husband (and father of the god Ninazu) was the Great Bull of Heaven, Gugalana, who was killed by the hero Enkidu in The Epic of Gilgamesh. Her second husband (or consort) was the god Enlil with whom she bore a son, Namtar, and by another consort her daughter Nungal (also known as Manungal) was conceived, an underworld deity who punished the wicked and was associated with healing and retribution. Her fourth consort was Nergal, the only mate who agreed to remain with her in the realm of the dead. There is no known iconography for Ereshkigal or, at least, none universally agreed on. "The Burney Relief" (also known as "The Queen of the Night", dating from Hammurabi's reign of 1792-1750 B.C.) is often interpreted as representing Ereshkigal. The terracotta relief depicts a naked woman with downward-pointing wings standing on the backs of two lions and flanked by owls. She holds symbols of power and, beneath the lions, are images of mountains. This iconography strongly suggests a depiction of Ereshkigal but scholars have also interpreted the work as honoring Inanna or the demon Lilith. Although the relief most likely does depict Ereshkigal, and there are other similar reliefs of this same figure with varying details, it would not be surprising to find few images of her in art. Ereshkigal was the most feared deity in the Mesopotamian pantheon because she represented one's final destination from which there was no returning. In Mesopotamian belief, to create an image of someone or something was to invite the attention of the subject. Statues of the gods were thought to house the gods themselves, for example, and images on people's cylinder seals were thought to have amuletic properties. A statue or image of Ereshkigal, then, would have directed the attention of the Queen of the Dead to the creator or owner, and this was far from desirable. Ereshkigal is first mentioned in the Sumerian poem The Death of Ur-Nammu which dates to the reign of Shulgi of Ur (2029-1982 B.C.). She was undoubtedly known earlier, however, and most likely during the time of the Akkadian Empire (2334-2218 B.C.). Her Akkadian name, Allatu, may be referenced on fragments predating Shulgi's reign. By the time of the Old Babylonian Period (circa 2000-1600 B.C.) Ereshkigal was widely recognized as the Queen of the Dead, lending support to the claim that the Queen of the Night relief from Hammurabi's reign depicts her. Although goddesses lost their status later in Mesopotamian history, early evidence clearly shows the most powerful deities were once female. Inanna (later Ishtar of the Assyrians) was among the most popular deities and may have inspired similar goddesses in many other cultures including Sauska of the Hittites, Astarte of the Phoenicians, Aphrodite of the Greeks, Venus of the Romans, and perhaps even Isis of the Egyptians. The underworld in all these other cultures was ruled by a god, however, and Ereshkigal is unique in being the only female deity to hold this position even after gods supplanted goddesses and Nergal was given to her as consort. Although Ereshkigal was feared, she was also greatly respected. The Descent of Inanna has been widely - and wrongly - interpreted in the modern day as a symbolic journey of a woman becoming her 'true self.' Written works may be interpreted in any reasonable way only insofar as that interpretation can be supported by the text. The Descent of Inanna certainly lends itself to a Jungian interpretation of a journey to wholeness by confronting one's darker half, but this would not have been the original meaning of the poem nor is that interpretation supported by the work itself. Far from praising Inanna, or presenting her as some heroic archetype, the poem shows her as selfish and self-serving and, further, ends with praise for Ereshkigal, not Inanna. Inanna/Ishtar is frequently depicted in Mesopotamian literature as a woman who largely thinks only of herself and her own desires, often at the expense of others. In The Epic of Gilgamesh, her sexual advances are spurned by the hero and so she sends her sister's husband, Gugulana, The Bull of Heaven, to destroy Gilgamesh's realm. After hundreds of people are killed by the bull's rampage, it is killed by Enkidu, the friend and comrade-in-arms of Gilgamesh. Enkidu is condemned by the gods for killing a deity and sentenced to die; the event which then sends Gilgamesh on his quest for immortality. In the Gilgamesh story, Inanna/Ishtar only thinks of herself and the same is true in The Descent of Inanna. The work begins by stating how Inanna chooses to travel to the underworld to attend Gugulana's funeral - a death she brought about - and details how she is treated when she arrives. Ereshkigal is not happy to hear her sister is at the gates and instructs Neti to make her remove various articles of clothing and ornaments at each of the seven gates before admitting her to the throne room. By the time Inanna stands before Ereshkigal she is naked, and after the Annuna of the Dead pass judgment against her, Ereshkigal kills her sister and hangs her corpse on the wall. It is only through Inanna's cleverness in previously instructing her servant Ninshubur what to do, and Ninshubur's ability to persuade the gods in favor of her mistress, that Inanna is resurrected. Even so, Inanna's consort Dumuzi and his sister (agricultural dying and reviving deities) then need to take her place in the underworld because it is the land of no return and no soul can come back without finding a replacement. The main character of the piece is not Inanna but Ereshkigal. The queen acts on the judgment of her advisors, the Annuna, who recognize that Inanna is guilty of causing Gugulana's death. The text reads: "The annuna, the judges of the underworld, surrounded her. They passed judgment against her. Then Ereshkigal fastened on Inanna the eye of death. She spoke against her the word of wrath. She uttered against her the cry of guilt. She struck her. Inanna was turned into a corpse. A piece of rotting meat. And was hung from a hook on the wall." Inanna is judged and executed for her crime, but she has obviously foreseen this possibility and left instructions with her servant Ninshubur. After three days and three nights waiting for Inanna, Ninshubur follows the commands of the goddess, goes to Inanna’s father-god Enki for help, and receives two galla (androgynous demons) to help her in returning Inanna to the earth. The galla enter the underworld "like flies" and, following Enki’s specific instructions, attach themselves closely to Ereshkigal. The Queen of the Dead is seen in distress: "No linen was spread over her body. Her breasts were uncovered. Her hair swirled around her head like leeks." The poem continues to describe the queen experiencing the pains of labor. The galla sympathize with the queen’s pains, and she, in gratitude, offers them whatever gift they ask for. As ordered by Enki, the galla respond, "We wish only the corpse that hangs from the hook on the wall" (Wolkstein and Kramer, 67) and Ereshkigal gives it to them. The galla revive Inanna with the food and water of life, and she rises from the dead. It is at this point, after Inanna leaves and is given back all that Neti took from her at the seven gates, that someone else must be found to take Inanna's place. Her husband Dumuzi is chosen by Inanna and his sister Geshtinanna volunteers to go with him; Dumuzi will remain in the underworld for six months and Geshtinanna for the other six while Inanna, who caused all the problems in the first place, goes on to do as she pleases. "The Descent of Inanna" would have resonated with an ancient audience in the same way it does today if one understands who the central character actually is. The poem ends with the lines: "Holy Ereshkigal! Great is your renown! Holy Ereshkigal! I sing your praises!" Ereshkigal is chosen as the main character of the work because of her position as the formidable Queen of the Dead, and the message of the poem relates to injustice: if a goddess as powerful as Ereshkigal can be denied justice and endure the sting then so can anyone reading or hearing the poem recited. Ereshkigal reigns over her kingdom alone until the war god Nergal becomes her consort. In one version of the story, Nergal is seduced by the queen when he visits the underworld, leaves her after seven days of love-making, but then returns to stay with her for six months of the year. Versions of the story have been found in Egypt (among the Amarna Letters) dating to the 15th century B.C. and at Sultantepe, site of an ancient Assyrian city, dated to the 7th century B.C.; but the best-known version, dating from the Neo-Babylonian Period (circa 626-539 B.C.), has Enki manipulating the events which send Nergal to the underworld as consort to the Queen of the Dead. One day the gods prepared a great banquet to which everyone was invited. Ereshkigal could not attend, however, because she could not leave the underworld and the gods could not descend to hold their banquet there because they would afterwards be unable to leave. The god Enki sent a message to Ereshkigal to send a servant who could bring her back her share of the feast, and she sent her son Namtar. When Namtar arrived at the gods' banquet hall, they all stood out of respect for his mother except for the war god Nergal. Namtar was insulted and wanted the wrong redressed, but Enki told him to simply return to the underworld and tell his mother what happened. When Ereshkigal hears of the disrespect of Nergal, she tells Namtar to send a message back to Enki demanding that Nergal be sent so she could kill him. The gods confer on this request and recognize its legitimacy and so Nergal is told he must journey to the underworld. Enki has understood this would happen, of course, and provides Nergal with 14 demon escorts to assist him at each of the seven gates of the underworld. When Nergal arrives, his presence is announced by Neti, and Namtar tells his mother that the god who would not rise has come. Ereshkigal gives orders that he is to be admitted through each of the seven gates which should then be barred behind him and she will kill him when he reaches the throne room. After passing through each gate, however, Nergal posts two of his demon escorts to keep it open and marches to the throne room where he overpowers Namtar and drags Ereshkigal to the floor. He raises his great axe to cut off her head, but she pleads with him to spare her, promising to be his wife if he agrees and share her power with him. Nergal consents and seems to feel sorry for what he has done. The poem ends with the two kissing and the promise that they will remain together. Since Nergal was often causing problems on earth by losing his temper and causing war and strife, it has been suggested that Enki arranged the entire scenario to get him out of the way. War was recognized as a part of the human experience, however, and so Nergal could not remain in the underworld permanently but had to return to the surface for six months out of the year. Since he had posted his demon escorts at the gates, had arrived of his own free will, and been invited to stay as consort by the queen, Nergal was able to leave without having to find a replacement. As in "The Descent of Inanna", the symbolism of The Marriage of Ereshkigal and Nergal (either version) touches on the same themes as the Greek story of the Demeter, goddess of nature and bounty, and her daughter Persephone who is abducted by Hades. In the Greek tale, having eaten of the fruit of the dead, Persephone must spend half a year in the underworld with Hades and, during this time, Demeter mourned the loss of her daughter. This story explained the seasons in that when Demeter and Persephone were together, the world was in bloom, but when Persephone returned to the underworld, nothing would grow and the earth was cold. The Descent of Inanna corresponds directly while The Marriage of Ereshkigal and Nergal explains the seasons of war since conflicts were waged only in certain seasons. Ereshkigal is always represented in prayers and rituals as a formidable goddess of great power but often in stories as one who forgives an injustice or a wrong in the interests of the greater good. In this role, she encouraged piety in the people who should follow her example in their own lives. If Ereshkigal could suffer injustice and continue to perform her tasks in accordance with the will of the gods, then human beings should do no less. Her further significance was as the ruler of the underworld by which she was understood to reward the good and punish the evil, of course, but more importantly to keep the dead in the realm where they belonged. The seven gates of the underworld were not constructed to keep anyone out but rather to keep everyone who belonged there in. A cult of the dead grew up around Ereshkigal to honor those who had passed into her realm and continue to remember and care for them. Since the dead had nothing but muddy water to drink and dust to eat, food was placed and fresh water poured on tombs, which was thought to trickle down to the mouth of the departed. Scholar E. A. Wallis Budge writes: "The tears of the living comforted the dead and their lamentations and dirges consoled them. To satisfy the cravings of the dead these offerings were sometimes made by priests who devoted their lives to the cult of the dead, and the kinsmen of the dead often employed them to recite incantations that would have the effect of bettering the lot of the dead in the dread kingdom of Ereshkigal...The chief object of all such pious acts was to benefit the dead but underneath it all was the fervent desire of the living to keep the dead in the underworld. The living were afraid lest the dead should return to this world and it was necessary to avoid such a calamity at all costs." Ereshkigal, as with all the gods of Mesopotamia, maintained order and stood against the forces of chaos. Those souls who had left the world of the living were not supposed to return, and Ereshkigal made certain they remained where they belonged. If a ghost should come back to haunt the living, one could be sure it was for a good reason and with Ereshkigal's permission. As in other cultures, the main reasons for a haunting were improper burial of the dead or impious acts which had gone unpunished. As queen and guardian of the dead, Ereshkigal stood as a potent reminder to the living to observe the proper rites and rituals in their lives and to act in the best interests of their immediate and larger communities. [Ancient History Encyclopedia]. REVIEW: Lilith (evolved from the Baylonian Lilitu) is a figure in Jewish mythology, developed earliest in the Babylonian Talmud (3rd to 5th centuries). Lilith is often envisioned as a dangerous demon of the night, who is sexually wanton, and who steals babies in the darkness. The character is generally thought to derive in part from a historically far earlier class of female demons (lilītu) in ancient Mesopotamian religion, found in cuneiform texts of Sumer, the Akkadian Empire, Assyria, and Babylonia. In Jewish folklore, from the satirical book Alphabet of Sirach (circa 700–1000) onwards, Lilith appears as Adam's first wife, who was created at the same time (Rosh Hashanah) and from the same dirt as Adam – compare Genesis 1:27. This contrasts with Eve, who was created from one of Adam's ribs: Genesis 2:22. The legend developed extensively during the Middle Ages, in the tradition of Aggadah, the Zohar, and Jewish mysticism. For example, in the 13th-century writings of Isaac ben Jacob ha-Cohen, Lilith left Adam after she refused to become subservient to him and then would not return to the Garden of Eden after she had coupled with the archangel Samael. Evidence in later Jewish materials is plentiful, but little information has survived relating to the original Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian view of these demons. REVIEW: Babylon is the most famous city from ancient Mesopotamia whose ruins lie in modern-day Iraq 59 miles (94 kilometers) southwest of Baghdad. The name is thought to derive from bav-il or bav-ilim which, in the Akkadian language of the time, meant ‘Gate of God’ or `Gate of the Gods’ and `Babylon’ coming from the Greek. The city owes its fame (or infamy) to the many references the Bible makes to it; all of which are unfavorable. In the Book of Genesis, chapter 11, Babylon is featured in the story of The Tower of Babel and the Hebrews claimed the city was named for the confusion which ensued after God caused the people to begin speaking in different languages so they would not be able to complete their great tower to the heavens (the Hebrew word bavel means "confusion"). Babylon also appears prominently in the biblical books of Daniel, Jeremiah, and Isaiah, among others, and, most notably, The Book of Revelation. It was these biblical references which sparked interest in Mesopotamian archaeology and the expedition by the German archaeologist Robert Koldewey who first excavated the ruins of Babylon in 1899 A.D. Outside of the sinful reputation given it by the Bible, the city is known for its impressive walls and buildings, its reputation as a great seat of learning and culture, the formation of a code of law which pre-dates the Mosaic Law, and for the Hanging Gardens of Babylon which were man-made terraces of flora and fauna, watered by machinery, which were cited by Herodotus as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Babylon was founded at some point prior to the reign of Sargon of Akkad (also known as Sargon the Great) who ruled from 2334-2279 B.C. and claimed to have built temples at Babylon (other ancient sources seem to indicate that Sargon himself founded the city). At that time, Babylon seems to have been a minor city or perhaps a large port town on the Euphrates River at the point where it runs closest to the river Tigris. Whatever early role the city played in the ancient world is lost to modern-day scholars because the water level in the region has risen steadily over the centuries and the ruins of Old Babylon have become inaccessible. The ruins which were excavated by Koldewey, and are visible today, date only to well over one thousand years after the city was founded. The historian Paul Kriwaczek, among other scholars, claims it was established by the Amorites following the collapse of the Third Dynasty of Ur. This information, and any other pertaining to Old Babylon, comes to us today through artifacts which were carried away from the city after the Persian invasion or those which were created elsewhere. The known history of Babylon, then, begins with its most famous king: Hammurabi (1792-1750 B.C.). This obscure Amorite prince ascended to the throne upon the abdication of his father, King Sin-Muballit, and fairly quickly transformed the city into one of the most powerful and influential in all of Mesopotamia. Hammurabi’s law codes are well known but are only one example of the policies he implemented to maintain peace and encourage prosperity. He enlarged and heightened the walls of the city, engaged in great public works which included opulent temples and canals, and made diplomacy an integral part of his administration. So successful was he in both diplomacy and war that, by 1755 B.C., he had united all of Mesopotamia under the rule of Babylon which, at this time, was the largest city in the world, and named his realm Babylonia. Following Hammurabi’s death, his empire fell apart and Babylonia dwindled in size and scope until Babylon was easily sacked by the Hittites in 1595 B.C. The Kassites followed the Hittites and re-named the city Karanduniash. The meaning of this name is not clear. The Assyrians then followed the Kassites in dominating the region and, under the reign of the Assyrian ruler Sennacherib (reigned 705-681 B.C.), Babylon revolted. Sennacherib had the city sacked, razed, and the ruins scattered as a lesson to others. His extreme measures were considered impious by the people generally and Sennacherib’s court specifically and he was soon after assassinated by his sons. His successor, Esarhaddon, re-built Babylon and returned it to its former glory. The city later rose in revolt against Ashurbanipal of Nineveh who besieged and defeated the city but did not damage it to any great extent and, in fact, personally purified Babylon of the evil spirits which were thought to have led to the trouble. The reputation of the city as a center of learning and culture was already well established by this time. After the fall of the Assyrian Empire, a Chaldean named Nabopolassar took the throne of Babylon and, through careful alliances, created the Neo-Babylonian Empire. His son, Nebuchadnezzar II (604-561 B.C.), renovated the city so that it covered 900 hectares (2,200 acres) of land and boasted some the most beautiful and impressive structures in all of Mesopotamia. Every ancient writer to make mention of the city of Babylon, outside of those responsible for the stories in the Bible, does so with a tone of awe and reverence. Herodotus, for example, writes: "The city stands on a broad plain, and is an exact square, a hundred and twenty stadia in length each way, so that the entire circuit is four hundred and eighty stadia. While such is its size, in magnificence there is no other city that approaches to it. It is surrounded, in the first place, by a broad and deep moat, full of water, behind which rises a wall fifty royal cubits in width and two hundred in height." Although it is generally believed that Herodotus greatly exaggerated the dimensions of the city (and may never have actually visited the place himself) his description echoes the admiration of other writers of the time who recorded the magnificence of Babylon, and especially the great walls, as a wonder of the world. It was under Nebuchadnezzar II’s reign that the Hanging Gardens of Babylon are said to have been constructed and the famous Ishtar Gate built. The Hanging gardens are most explicitly described in a passage from Diodorus Siculus (90-30 B.C.) in his work Bibliotheca Historica Book II.10: "There was also, because the acropolis, the Hanging Garden, as it is called, which was built, not by Semiramis, but by a later Syrian king to please one of his concubines; for she, they say, being a Persian by race and longing for the meadows of her mountains, asked the king to imitate, through the artifice of a planted garden, the distinctive landscape of Persia. The park extended four plethra on each side, and since the approach to the garden sloped like a hillside and the several parts of the structure rose from one another tier on tier, the appearance of the whole resembled that of a theater." "When the ascending terraces had been built, there had been constructed beneath them galleries which carried the entire weight of the planted garden and rose little by little one above the other along the approach; and the uppermost gallery, which was fifty cubits high, bore the highest surface of the park, which was made level with the circuit wall of the battlements of the city. Furthermore, the walls, which had been constructed at great expense, were twenty-two feet thick, while the passage-way between each two walls was ten feet wide. The roofs of the galleries were covered over with beams of stone sixteen feet long, inclusive of the overlap, and four feet wide." "The roof above these beams had first a layer of reeds laid in great quantities of bitumen, over this two courses of baked brick bonded by cement, and as a third layer a covering of lead, to the end that the moisture from the soil might not penetrate beneath. On all this again earth had been piled to a depth sufficient for the roots of the largest trees; and the ground, which was leveled off, was thickly planted with trees of every kind that, by their great size or any other charm, could give pleasure to beholder." "And since the galleries, each projecting beyond another, all received the light, they contained many royal lodgings of every description; and there was one gallery which contained openings leading from the topmost surface and machines for supplying the garden with water, the machines raising the water in great abundance from the river, although no one outside could see it being done. Now this park, as I have said, was a later construction." This part of Diodorus' work concerns the semi-mythical queen Semiramis (most probably based on the actual Assyrian queen Sammu-Ramat who reigned 811-806 B.C.). His reference to "a later Syrian king" follows Herodotus' tendency of referring to Mesopotamia as `Assyria'. Recent scholarship on the subject argues that the Hanging Gardens were never located at Babylon but were instead the creation Sennacherib at his capital of Nineveh. The historian Christopher Scarre writes: "Sennacherib’s palace [at Nineveh] had all the usual accoutrements of a major Assyrian residence: colossal guardian figures and impressively carved stone reliefs (over 2,000 sculptured slabs in 71 rooms). Its gardens, too, were exceptional." Recent research by British Assyriologist Stephanie Dalley has suggested that these were the famous Hanging Gardens, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Later writers placed the Hanging Gardens at Babylon, but extensive research has failed to find any trace of them. Sennacherib’s proud account of the palace gardens he created at Nineveh fits that of the Hanging Gardens in several significant details." This period in which the Hanging Gardens were allegedly built was also the time of the Babylonian Exile of the Jews and the period in which the Babylonian Talmud was written. The Euphrates River divided the city in two between an `old’ and a `new’ city with the Temple of Marduk and the great towering ziggurat in the center. Streets and avenues were widened to better accommodate the yearly processional of the statue of the great god Marduk in the journey from his home temple in the city to the New Year Festival Temple outside the Ishtar Gate. The Neo-Babylonian Empire continued after the death of Nebuchadnezzar II and Babylon continued to play an important role in the region under the rule of Nabonidus and his successor Belshazzar (featured in the biblical Book of Daniel). In 539 B.C. the empire fell to the Persians under Cyrus the Great at the Battle of Opis. Babylon’s walls were impregnable and so the Persians cleverly devised a plan whereby they diverted the course of the Euphrates River so that it fell to a manageable depth. While the residents of the city were distracted by one of their great religious feast days, the Persian army waded the river and marched under the walls of Babylon unnoticed. It was claimed the city was taken without a fight although documents of the time indicate that repairs had to be made to the walls and some sections of the city and so perhaps the action was not as effortless as the Persian account maintained. Under Persian rule, Babylon flourished as a center of art and education. Cyrus and his successors held the city in great regard and made it the administrative capital of their empire (although at one point the Persian emperor Xerxes felt obliged to lay siege to the city after another revolt). Babylonian mathematics, cosmology, and astronomy were highly respected and it is thought that Thales of Miletus (known as the first western philosopher) may have studied there and that Pythagoras developed his famous mathematical theorem based upon a Babylonian model. When, after two hundred years, the Persian Empire fell to Alexander the Great in 331 B.C., he also gave great reverence to the city, ordering his men not to damage the buildings nor molest the inhabitants. The historian Stephen Bertman writes, “Before his death, Alexander the Great ordered the superstructure of Babylon’s ziggurat pulled down in order that it might be rebuilt with greater splendor. But he never lived to bring his project to completion. Over the centuries, its scattered bricks have been cannibalized by peasants to fulfill humbler dreams. All that is left of the fabled Tower of Babel is the bed of a swampy pond.” After Alexander’s death at Babylon, his successors (known as "The Diadochi", Greek for "successors") fought over his empire generally and the city specifically to the point where the residents fled for their safety (or, according to one ancient report, were re-located). By the time the Parthian Empire ruled the region in 141 B.C. Babylon was deserted and forgotten. The city steadily fell into ruin and, even during a brief revival under the Sassanid Persians, never approached its former greatness. In the Muslim conquest of the land in 650 A.D. whatever remained of Babylon was swept away and, in time, was buried beneath the sands. In the 17th and 18th centuries A.D. European travelers began to explore the area and return home with various artifacts. These cuneiform blocks and statues led to an increased interest in the region and, by the 19th century A.D., an interest in biblical archaeology drew men like Robert Koldewey who uncovered the ruins of the once great city of the Gate of the Gods. [Ancient History Encyclopedia]. REVIEW: Babylon was a key kingdom in ancient Mesopotamia from the 18th to 6th centuries B.C. The city was built on the Euphrates river and divided in equal parts along its left and right banks, with steep embankments to contain the river's seasonal floods. Babylon was originally a small Akkadian town dating from the period of the Akkadian Empire circa 2300 B.C. The town became part of a small independent city-state with the rise of the First Amorite Babylonian Dynasty in the nineteenth century B.C. After the Amorite king Hammurabi created a short-lived empire in the 18th century B.C., he built Babylon up into a major city and declared himself its king, and southern Mesopotamia became known as Babylonia and Babylon eclipsed Nippur as its holy city. The empire waned under Hammurabi's son Samsu-iluna and Babylon spent long periods under Assyrian, Kassite and Elamite domination. After being destroyed and then rebuilt by the Assyrians, Babylon became the capital of the short lived Neo-Babylonian Empire from 609 to 539 B.C. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, although a number of scholars believe these were actually in the Assyrian capital of Nineveh. After the fall of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, the city came under the rule of the Achaemenid, Seleucid, Parthian, Roman, and Sassanid empires. It has been estimated that Babylon was the largest city in the world from above 1770–1670 B.C., and again between about 612–320 B.C. It was perhaps the first city to reach a population above 200,000. Estimates for the maximum extent of its area range from 890 to 900 hectares (2,200 acres). The remains of the city are in present-day Hillah, Babil Governorate, Iraq, about 85 kilometers (53 miles) south of Baghdad, comprising a large tell of broken mud-brick buildings and debris. The main sources of information about Babylon—excavation of the site itself, references in cuneiform texts found elsewhere in Mesopotamia, references in the Bible, descriptions in classical writing (especially by Herodotus), and second-hand descriptions (citing the work of Ctesias and Berossus)—present an incomplete and sometimes contradictory picture of the ancient city even at its peak in the sixth century B.C. The English name "Babylon" comes from the Greek "Babylon", a transliteration of the Akkadian Babilim. The Babylonian name in the early 2nd millennium B.C. had been Babilli or Babilla, long thought to mean "gate of god" (Bab-Ili). In the Bible, the name appears as Babel, interpreted in the Hebrew Scriptures' Book of Genesis to mean "confusion", from the verb bilbél. Ancient records in some situations use Babylon as a name for other cities, including cities like Borsippa within Babylon's sphere of influence, and Nineveh for a short period after the Assyrian sack of Babylon. The present-day site of ancient Babylon consists of a number of mounds covering an area of about 2 by 1 kilometer (1.24 × 0.62 miles) along the Euphrates to the west. Originally, the river roughly bisected the city, but the course of the river has since shifted so that most of the remains of the former western part of the city are now inundated. Some portions of the city wall to the west of the river also remain. Only a small portion of the ancient city (3% of the area within the inner walls; 1.5% of the area within the outer walls; 0.05% at the depth of Middle and Old Babylon) has been excavated. Known remains include: Kasr—also called Palace or Castle, it is the location of the Neo-Babylonian ziggurat Etemenanki and lies in the center of the site. Amran Ibn Ali; the highest of the mounds at 25 meters, to the south. It is the site of Esagila, a temple of Marduk which also contained shrines to Ea and Nabu. Homera; a reddish colored mound on the west side. Most of the Hellenistic remains are here. Babil; a mound about 22 meters high at the northern end of the site. Its bricks have been subject to looting since ancient times. It held a palace built by Nebuchadnezzar. Archaeologists have recovered few artifacts predating the Neo-Babylonian period. The water table in the region has risen greatly over the centuries and artifacts from the time before the Neo-Babylonian Empire are unavailable to current standard archaeological methods. Additionally, the Neo-Babylonians conducted significant rebuilding projects in the city, which destroyed or obscured much of the earlier record. Babylon was pillaged numerous times after revolting against foreign rule. Most notably this occurred in the second millennium at the hands of the Hittites and Elamites, then by the Neo-Assyrian Empire and the Achaemenid Empire in the first millennium. Much of the western half of the city is now beneath the river, and other parts of the site have been mined for commercial building materials. Only the Koldewey expedition recovered artifacts from the Old Babylonian period. These included 967 clay tablets, stored in private houses, with Sumerian literature and lexical documents. Nearby ancient settlements are Kish, Borsippa, Dilbat, and Kutha. Marad and Sippar were 60 kilometers in either direction along the Euphrates. Historical knowledge of early Babylon must be pieced together from epigraphic remains found elsewhere, such as at Uruk, Nippur, and Haradum. Information on the Neo-Babylonian city is available from archaeological excavations and from classical sources. Babylon was described, perhaps even visited, by a number of classical historians including Ctesias, Herodotus, Quintus Curtius Rufus, Strabo, and Cleitarchus. These reports are of variable accuracy and some of the content was politically motivated, but these still provide useful information. References to the city of Babylon can be found in Akkadian and Sumerian literature from the late third millennium B.C. One of the earliest is a tablet describing the Akkadian king Šar-kali-šarri laying the foundations in Babylon of new temples for Annūnı̄tum and Ilaba. Babylon also appears in the administrative records of the Third Dynasty of Ur, which collected in-kind tax payments and appointed an ensi as local governor. The so-called Weidner Chronicle states that Sargon of Akkad (circa 23d century B.C. in the short chronology) had built Babylon "in front of Akkad". A later chronicle states that Sargon "dug up the dirt of the pit of Babylon, and made a counterpart of Babylon next to Akkad". Van de Mieroop has suggested that those sources may refer to the much later Assyrian king Sargon II of the Neo-Assyrian Empire rather than Sargon of Akkad. The Book of Genesis, chapter 10, claims that king Nimrod founded Babel, Uruk, and Akkad. Ctesias, quoted by Diodorus Siculus and in George Syncellus's Chronographia, claimed to have access to manuscripts from Babylonian archives, which date the founding of Babylon to 2286 B.C., under the reign of its first king, Belus. A similar figure is found in the writings of Berossus, who according to Pliny, stated that astronomical observations commenced at Babylon 490 years before the Greek era of Phoroneus, indicating 2243 B.C. Stephanus of Byzantium wrote that Babylon was built 1002 years before the date given by Hellanicus of Lesbos for the siege of Troy (1229 B.C.), which would date Babylon's foundation to 2231 B.C. All of these dates place Babylon's foundation in the 23rd century B.C.; however, cuneiform records have not been found to correspond with these classical (post-cuneiform) accounts. It is known that by around the 19th century B.C., much of southern Mesopotamia was occupied by Amorites, nomadic tribes from the northern Levant who were Northwest Semitic speakers, unlike the native Akkadians of southern Mesopotamia and Assyria, who spoke East Semitic. The Amorites at first did not practice agriculture like more advanced Mesopotamians, preferring a semi-nomadic lifestyle, herding sheep. Over time, Amorite grain merchants rose to prominence and established their own independent dynasties in several south Mesopotamian city-states, most notably Isin, Larsa, Eshnunna, Lagash, and later, founding Babylon as a state. According to a Babylonian date list, Amorite[a] rule in Babylon began (circa 19th or 18th century B.C.) with a chieftain named Sumu-abum, who declared independence from the neighboring city-state of Kazallu. Sumu-la-El, whose dates may be concurrent with those of Sumu-abum, is usually given as the progenitor of the First Babylonian Dynasty. Both are credited with building the walls of Babylon. In any case, the records describe Sumu-la-El’s military successes establishing a regional sphere of influence for Babylon. Babylon was initially a minor city-state, and controlled little surrounding territory; its first four Amorite rulers did not assume the title of king. The older and more powerful states of Assyria, Elam, Isin and Larsa overshadowed Babylon until it became the capital of Hammurabi's short lived empire about a century later. Hammurabi (reigned 1792–1750 B.C.) is famous for codifying the laws of Babylonia into the Code of Hammurabi. He conquered all of the cities and city states of southern Mesopotamia, including Isin, Larsa, Ur, Uruk, Nippur, Lagash, Eridu, Kish, Adab, Eshnunna, Akshak, Akkad, Shuruppak, Bad-tibira, Sippar and Girsu, coalescing them into one kingdom, ruled from Babylon. Hammurabi also invaded and conquered Elam to the east, and the kingdoms of Mari and Ebla to the north west. After a protracted struggle with the powerful Assyrian king Ishme-Dagan of the Old Assyrian Empire, he forced his successor to pay tribute late in his reign, spreading Babylonian power to Assyria's Hattian and Hurrian colonies in Asia Minor. After the reign of Hammurabi, the whole of southern Mesopotamia came to be known as Babylonia, whereas the north had already coalesced centuries before into Assyria. From this time, Babylon supplanted Nippur and Eridu as the major religious centers of southern Mesopotamia. Hammurabi's empire destabilized after his death. Assyrians defeated and drove out the Babylonians and Amorites. The far south of Mesopotamia broke away, forming the native Sealand Dynasty, and the Elamites appropriated territory in eastern Mesopotamia. The Amorite dynasty remained in power in Babylon, which again became a small city state. Texts from Old Babylon often include references to Shamash, the sun-god of Sippar, treated as a supreme deity, and Marduk, considered as his son. Marduk was later elevated to a higher status and Shamash lowered, perhaps reflecting Babylon’s rising political power. In 1595 B.C. the city was overthrown by the Hittite Empire from Asia Minor. Thereafter, Kassites from the Zagros Mountains of north western Ancient Iran captured Babylon, ushering in a dynasty that lasted for 435 years, until 1160 B.C. The city was renamed Karanduniash during this period. Kassite Babylon eventually became subject to the Middle Assyrian Empire (1365–1053 B.C.) to the north, and Elam to the east, with both powers vying for control of the city. The Assyrian king Tukulti-Ninurta I took the throne of Babylon in 1235 B.C. By 1155 B.C., after continued attacks and annexing of territory by the Assyrians and Elamites, the Kassites were deposed in Babylon. An Akkadian south Mesopotamian dynasty then ruled for the first time. However, Babylon remained weak and subject to domination by Assyria. Its ineffectual native kings were unable to prevent new waves of foreign West Semitic settlers from the deserts of the Levant, including the Arameans and Suteans in the 11th century B.C., and finally the Chaldeans in the 9th century B.C., entering and appropriating areas of Babylonia for themselves. The Arameans briefly ruled in Babylon during the late 11th century B.C. During the rule of the Neo-Assyrian Empire (911–609 B.C.), Babylonia was under constant Assyrian domination or direct control. During the reign of Sennacherib of Assyria, Babylonia was in a constant state of revolt, led by a chieftain named Merodach-Baladan, in alliance with the Elamites, and suppressed only by the complete destruction of the city of Babylon. In 689 B.C., its walls, temples and palaces were razed, and the rubble was thrown into the Arakhtu, the sea bordering the earlier Babylon on the south. Destruction of the religious center shocked many, and the subsequent murder of Sennacherib by two of his own sons while praying to the god Nisroch was considered an act of atonement. Consequently, his successor Esarhaddon hastened to rebuild the old city and make it his residence during part of the year. After his death, Babylonia was governed by his elder son, the Assyrian prince Shamash-shum-ukin, who eventually started a civil war in 652 B.C. against his own brother, Ashurbanipal, who ruled in Nineveh. Shamash-shum-ukin enlisted the help of other peoples subject to Assyria, including Elam, Persia, Chaldeans and Suteans of southern Mesopotamia, and the Canaanites and Arabs dwelling in the deserts south of Mesopotamia. Once again, Babylon was besieged by the Assyrians, starved into surrender and its allies were defeated. Ashurbanipal celebrated a "service of reconciliation", but did not venture to "take the hands" of Bel. An Assyrian governor named Kandalanu was appointed as ruler of the city. Ashurbanipal did collect texts from Babylon for inclusion in his extensive library at Ninevah. After the death of Ashurbanipal, the Assyrian empire destabilized due to a series of internal civil wars throughout the reigns of Assyrian kings Ashur-etil-ilani, Sin-shumu-lishir and Sinsharishkun. Eventually Babylon, like many other parts of the near east, took advantage of the anarchy within Assyria to free itself from Assyrian rule. In the subsequent overthrow of the Assyrian Empire by an alliance of peoples, the Babylonians saw another example of divine vengeance. Under Nabopolassar, a previously unknown Chaldean chieftain, Babylon escaped Assyrian rule, and in an alliance with Cyaxares, king of the Medes and Persians together with the Scythians and Cimmerians, finally destroyed the Assyrian Empire between 612 B.C. and 605 B.C. Babylon thus became the capital of the Neo-Babylonian (sometimes and possibly erroneously called the Chaldean) Empire. With the recovery of Babylonian independence, a new era of architectural activity ensued, particularly during the reign of his son Nebuchadnezzar II (604–561 B.C.). Nebuchadnezzar ordered the complete reconstruction of the imperial grounds, including the Etemenanki ziggurat, and the construction of the Ishtar Gate—the most prominent of eight gates around Babylon. A reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate is located in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. Nebuchadnezzar is also credited with the construction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon—one of the seven wonders of the ancient world—said to have been built for his homesick wife Amyitis. Whether the gardens actually existed is a matter of dispute. German archaeologist Robert Koldewey speculated that he had discovered its foundations, but many historians disagree about the location. Stephanie Dalley has argued that the hanging gardens were actually located in the Assyrian capital, Nineveh. Nebuchandnezzar is also notoriously associated with the Babylonian exile of the Jews, the result of an imperial technique of pacification, used also by the Assyrians, in which ethnic groups in conquered areas were deported en masse to the capital. Chaldean rule of Babylon did not last long; it is not clear whether Neriglissar and Labashi-Marduk were Chaldeans or native Babylonians, and the last ruler Nabonidus (556–539 B.C.) and his co-regent son Belshazzar were Assyrians from Harran. In 539 B.C., the Neo-Babylonian Empire fell to Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, with a military engagement known as the Battle of Opis. Babylon's walls were considered impenetrable. The only way into the city was through one of its many gates or through the Euphrates River. Metal grates were installed underwater, allowing the river to flow through the city walls while preventing intrusion. The Persians devised a plan to enter the city via the river. During a Babylonian national feast, Cyrus' troops diverted the Euphrates River upstream, allowing Cyrus' soldiers to enter the city through the lowered water. The Persian army conquered the outlying areas of the city while the majority of Babylonians at the city center were unaware of the breach. The account was elaborated upon by Herodotus, and is also mentioned in parts of the Hebrew Bible. Herodotus also described a moat, an enormously tall and broad wall cemented with bitumen and with buildings on top, and a hundred gates to the city. He also writes that the Babylonians wear turbans and perfume and bury their dead in honey, that they practice ritual prostitution, and that three tribes among them eat nothing but fish. The hundred gates can be considered a reference to Homer. Following the pronouncement of Archibald Henry Sayce in 1883, Herodotus’s account of Babylon has largely been considered to represent Greek folklore rather than an authentic voyage to Babylon. Dalley and others have recently suggested taking Herodotus’s account seriously again. According to 2 Chronicles 36 of the Hebrew Bible, Cyrus later issued a decree permitting captive people, including the Jews, to return to their own lands. Text found on the Cyrus Cylinder has traditionally been seen by biblical scholars as corroborative evidence of this policy, although the interpretation is disputed because the text only identifies Mesopotamian sanctuaries but makes no mention of Jews, Jerusalem, or Judea. Under Cyrus and the subsequent Persian king Darius I, Babylon became the capital city of the 9th Satrapy (Babylonia in the south and Athura in the north), as well as a center of learning and scientific advancement. In Achaemenid Persia, the ancient Babylonian arts of astronomy and mathematics were revitalized, and Babylonian scholars completed maps of constellations. The city became the administrative capital of the Persian Empire and remained prominent for over two centuries. Many important archaeological discoveries have been made that can provide a better understanding of that era. The early Persian kings had attempted to maintain the religious ceremonies of Marduk, but by the reign of Darius III, over-taxation and the strain of numerous wars led to a deterioration of Babylon's main shrines and canals, and the destabilization of the surrounding region. There were numerous attempts at rebellion and in 522 B.C. (Nebuchadnezzar III), 521 B.C. (Nebuchadnezzar IV) and 482 B.C. (Bel-shimani and Shamash-eriba) native Babylonian kings briefly regained independence. However these revolts were quickly repressed and Babylon remained under Persian rule for two centuries, until Alexander the Great's entry in 331 B.C. In October of 331 B.C., Darius III, the last Achaemenid king of the Persian Empire, was defeated by the forces of the Ancient Macedonian Greek ruler Alexander the Great at the Battle of Gaugamela. A native account of this invasion notes a ruling by Alexander not to enter the homes of its inhabitants. Under Alexander, Babylon again flourished as a center of learning and commerce. However, following Alexander's death in 323 B.C. in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar, his empire was divided amongst his generals, the Diadochi, and decades of fighting soon began. The constant turmoil virtually emptied the city of Babylon. A tablet dated 275 B.C. states that the inhabitants of Babylon were transported to Seleucia, where a palace and a temple (Esagila) were built. With this deportation, Babylon became insignificant as a city, although more than a century later, sacrifices were still performed in its old sanctuary. Under the Parthian and Sassanid Empires, Babylon (like Assyria) became a province of these Persian Empires for nine centuries, until after A.D. 650. It maintained its own culture and people, who spoke varieties of Aramaic, and who continued to refer to their homeland as Babylon. Examples of their culture are found in the Babylonian Talmud, the Gnostic Mandaean religion, Eastern Rite Christianity and the religion of the prophet Mani. Christianity was introduced to Mesopotamia in the 1st and 2nd centuries A.D., and Babylon was the seat of a Bishop of the Church of the East until well after the Arab/Islamic conquest. In the mid-7th century, Mesopotamia was invaded and settled by the expanding Muslim Empire, and a period of Islamization followed. Babylon was dissolved as a province and Aramaic and Church of the East Christianity eventually became marginalized. Ibn Hauqal mentions a small village called Babel in the tenth century; subsequent travelers describe only ruins. Babylon is mentioned in medieval Arabic writings as a source of bricks, said to have been used in cities from Baghdad to Basra. European travelers in many cases could not discover the city's location, or mistook Fallujah for it. Twelfth-century traveler Benjamin of Tudela mentions Babylon but it’s not clear if he really went there. Others referred to Baghdad as Babylon or New Babylon and described various structures encountered in the region as the Tower of Babel. Pietro della Valle found the ancient site in the seventeenth century and noted the existence of both baked and dried mudbricks cemented with bitumen.[Wikipedia]. REVIEW: Hammurabi (also known as Khammurabi and Ammurapi) reigned 1792-1750 B.C.) was the sixth king of the Amorite First Dynasty of Babylon, assumed the throne from his father, Sin-Muballit, and expanded the kingdom to conquer all of ancient Mesopotamia. The kingdom of Babylon comprised only the cities of Babylon, Kish, Sippar, and Borsippa when Hammurabi came to the throne but, through a succession of military campaigns, careful alliances made and broken when necessary, and political maneuvers, he held the entire region under Babylonian control by 1750 B.C. and, according to his own inscriptions and letters and administrative documents from his reign, sought to improve the lives of those who lived under his rule. He is best known in the modern day for his law code which, although not the earliest code of laws, came to serve as a model for other cultures and is thought to have influenced the laws set down by Hebrew scribes, including those from the biblical Book of Exodus. Hammurabi’s Code epitomized the law of retributive justice, better known as 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth'. The Amorites were a nomadic people who migrated across Mesopotamia from the coastal region of Eber Nari (modern day Syria) at some point prior to the 3rd millennium B.C. and by 1984 B.C. were ruling in Babylon. The fifth king of the dynasty, Sin-Muballit (reigned 1812-1793 B.C.), successfully completed many public works projects but was unable to expand the kingdom or compete with the rival city of Larsa to the south. Larsa was the most lucrative trade center on the Persian Gulf and the profits from this trade enriched the city and encouraged expansion so that most of the cities of the south were under Larsa’s control. Sin-Muballit led a force against Larsa but was defeated by their king Rim Sin I. At this point it is uncertain what exactly happened, but it seems that Sin-Muballit was compelled to abdicate in favor of his son Hammurabi. Whether Rim Sin I thought Hammurabi would be less of a threat to Larsa is also unknown but, if so, he would be proven wrong. The historian Durant writes: "At the outset of [Babylonian history] stands the powerful figure of Hammurabi, conqueror and lawgiver through a reign of forty-three years. Primeval seals and inscriptions transmit him to us partially – a youth full of fire and genius, a very whirlwind in battle, who crushes all rebels, cuts his enemies into pieces, marches over inaccessible mountains, and never loses an engagement. Under him the petty warring states of the lower valley were forced into unity and peace, and disciplined into order and security by an historic code of laws." Initially, Hammurabi gave Rim Sin I no cause for alarm. He began his reign by centralizing and streamlining his administration, continuing his father’s building programs and enlarging and heightening the walls of the city. He instituted his famous code of laws (circa 1772 B.C.), paid careful attention to the needs of the people, improved irrigation of fields and maintenance of the infrastructures of the cities under his control, while also building opulent temples to the gods. At the same time he was setting his troops in order and planning his campaign for the southern region of Mesopotamia. The historian Bertman notes how Hammurabi’s personal character worked to his advantage early in his reign: "Hammurabi was an able administrator, an adroit diplomat, and canny imperialist, patient in the achievement of his goals. Upon taking the throne, he issued a proclamation forgiving people’s debts and during the first five years of his reign further enhanced his popularity by piously renovating the sanctuaries of the gods, especially Marduk, Babylon’s patron. Then, with his power at home secure and his military forces primed, he began a five-year series of campaigns against rival states to the south and east, expanding his territory." When the Elamites invaded the central plains of Mesopotamia from the east, Hammurabi allied himself with Larsa to defeat them. That accomplished, he broke the alliance and swiftly took the cities of Uruk and Isin, previously held by Larsa, by forming alliances with other city states such as Nippur and Lagash. The alliances he made with other states, would repeatedly be broken when the king found it necessary to do so but, as rulers continued to enter into pacts with Hammurabi, it does not seem to have occurred to any of them that he would do the same to them as he had previously to others. Once Uruk and Isin were conquered, he turned and took Nippur and Lagash, and then conquered Larsa. A technique he seems to have used first in this engagement would become his preferred method in others when circumstances allowed: the damming up of water sources to the city to withhold them from the enemy until surrender or, possibly, withholding the waters through a dam and then releasing them to flood the city before then mounting an attack. This was a method previously used by Hammurabi’s father but with considerably less efficacy. Larsa was the last stronghold of Rim Sin and, with its fall, there was no other force to stand against the king of Babylon in the south. With the southern part of Mesopotamia under control, Hammurabi turned north and west. The Amorite Kingdom of Mari in Syria had long been an ally of Amorite Babylon, and Hammurabi continued friendly relations with the king Zimri-Lim (reigned 1755-1761 B.C.). Zimri-Lim had led successful military campaigns through the north of Mesopotamia and, owing to the wealth generated from these victories, Mari had grown to be the envy of other cities with one of the largest and most opulent palaces in the region. Scholars have long debated why Hammurabi would break his alliance with Zimri-Lim but the reason seems fairly clear: Mari was an important, luxurious, and prosperous trade center on the Euphrates River and possessed great riches and, of course, water rights. Holding the city directly, instead of having to negotiate for resources, would be preferable to any ruler and certainly was so to Hammurabi. He struck swiftly at Mari in 1761 B.C. and, for some reason, destroyed it instead of simply conquering it. This is a much greater mystery than why he would march against it in the first place. Other conquered cities were absorbed into the kingdom and then repaired and improved upon. Why Mari was such an exception to Hammurabi’s rule is still debated by scholars, but the reason could be as simple as that Hammurabi wanted Babylon to be the greatest of the Mesopotamian cities and Mari was a definite rival for this honor. Zimri-Lim is thought to have been killed in this engagement, as he vanishes from the historical record in that same year. From Mari, Hammurabi marched on Ashur and took the region of Assyria and finally Eshnunna (also conquered by damming up of the waters) so that, by 1755 B.C., he ruled all of Mesopotamia. Although Hammurabi spent a considerable amount of time on campaign, he made sure to provide for the people whose lands he ruled over. A popular title applied to Hammurabi in his lifetime was bani matim, 'builder of the land', because of the many building projects and canals he ordered constructed throughout the region. Documents from the time attest to the efficacy of Hammurabi’s rule and his sincere desire to improve the lives of the people of Mesopotamia. These letters and administrative works (such as directives for the building of canals, food distribution, beautification and building projects, and legal issues) support the view which Hammurabi held of himself. The prologue to his famous law code begins: "When the lofty Anu, King of the Annunaki and Bel, Lord of Heaven and Earth, he who determines the destiny of the land, committed the rule of all mankind to Marduk, when they pronounced the lofty name of Babylon, when they made it famous among the quarters of the world and in its midst established an everlasting kingdom whose foundations were firm as heaven and earth – at that time Anu and Bel called me, Hammurabi, the exalted prince, the worshipper of the gods, to cause justice to prevail in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil, to prevent the strong from oppressing the weak, to enlighten the land and to further the welfare of the people. Hammurabi, the governor named by Bel, am I, who brought about plenty and abundance." His famous law code is not the first such code in history (though it is often called so) but is certainly the most famous from antiquity prior to the code set down in the biblical books. The Code of Ur-Nammu (circa 2100-2050 B.C.), which originated with either Ur-Nammu or his son Shulgi of Ur, is the oldest code of laws in the world. Hammurabi’s code differed from the earlier laws in significant ways. The historian Kriwaczek explains this, writing: "Hammurabi’s laws reflect the shock of an unprecedented social environment: the multi-ethnic, multi-tribal Babylonian world. In earlier Sumerian-Akkadian times, all communities had felt themselves to be joint members of the same family, all equally servants under the eyes of the gods. In such circumstances disputes could be settled by recourse to a collectively accepted value system, where blood was thicker than water, and fair restitution more desirable than revenge. Now, however, when urban citizens commonly rubbed shoulders with nomads following a completely different way of life, when speakers of several west Semitic Amurru languages, as well as others, were thrown together with uncomprehending Akkadians, confrontation must all too easily have spilled over into conflict. Vendettas and blood feuds must often have threatened the cohesion of the empire. The Code of Ur-Nammu certainly relies on the concept of “joint members of the same family” in that an underlying understanding by the people of proper behavior in society is assumed throughout. Everyone under the law was expected to already know what the gods required of them, and the king was expected simply to administer the god’s will. As historian Karen Rhea Nemet-Najat writes, “The king was directly responsible for administering justice on behalf of the gods, who had established law and order in the universe”. Hammurabi’s code was written in a later time when one tribe’s or city’s understanding of the will of the gods might be different from another’s. In order to simplify matters, Hammurabi’s code sought to prevent vendetta and blood feuds by stating clearly the crime - and the punishment which would administered by the state for committing such crime – without assuming a communal understanding of the god’s will in these matters: "If a man put out the eye of another man, his eye shall be put out. If he break another man’s bone, his bone shall be broken. If a man knock out the teeth of his equal, his teeth shall be knocked out. If a builder build a house for someone, and does not construct it properly, And the house which he built fall in and kill its owner, then that builder shall be put to death. If it kill the son of the owner of the house, the son of that builder shall be put to death." Unlike the earlier Code of Ur-Nammu, which imposed fines or penalties of land, Hammurabi’s code epitomized the principle known as Lex Talionis, the law of retributive justice, in which punishment corresponds directly to the crime, better known as the concept of 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth', made famous from the later law code of the Old Testament, exemplified in this passage from the Book of Exodus: "If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise" (Exodus 21:22-25). Hammurabi’s law code thus set the standard for future codes in dealing strictly with the evidence of the crime and setting a specific punishment for that crime. What decided one’s guilt or innocence, however, was the much older method of the Ordeal, in which an accused person was sentenced to perform a certain task (usually being thrown into a river or having to swim a certain distance across a river) and, if they succeeded, they were innocent and, if not, they were guilty. Hammurabi’s code stipulates that: “If a man’s wife has been pointed out because of another man, even though she has not been caught with him, for her husband’s sake she must plunge into the divine river.” The woman who did so and survived the ordeal would be recognized as innocent, but then her accuser would be found guilty of false witness and punished by death. The ordeal was resorted to regularly in what were considered the most serious crimes, adultery and sorcery, because it was thought these two infractions were most likely to undermine social stability. Sorcery, to an ancient Mesopotamian, would not have exactly the same definition as it does in the modern day but would be along the lines of performing acts that went against the known will of the gods -- acts which reflected on oneself the kind of power and prestige only the gods could lay claim to. Tales of evil sorcerers and sorceresses are found throughout many periods of Mesopotamian history, and the writers of these tales always have them meet with a bad end as, it seems, they also did when submitted to the Ordeal. By 1755 B.C., when he was the undisputed master of Mesopotamia, Hammurabi was old and sick. In the last years of his life his son, Samsu-Iluna, had already taken over the responsibilities of the throne and assumed full reign in 1749 B.C. The conquest of Eshnunna had removed a barrier to the east that had buffered the region against incursions by people such as the Hittites and Kassites. Once that barrier was gone, and news of the great king weakening spread, the eastern tribes prepared their armies to invade. Hammurabi died in 1750 B.C., and Samsu-Iluna was left to hold his father’s realm against the invading forces while also keeping the various regions of Babylonia under control of the city of Babylon; it was a formidable task of which he was not capable. The vast kingdom Hammurabi had built during his lifetime began to fall apart within a year of his death, and those cities that had been part of vassal states secured their borders and announced their autonomy. None of Hammurabi’s successors could put the kingdom back together again, and first the Hittites (in 1595 B.C.), then the Kassites invaded. The Hittites sacked Babylon and the Kassites inhabited and re-named it. The Elamites, who had been so completely defeated by Hammurabi decades before, invaded and carried off the stele of Hammurabi’s Law Code which was discovered at the Elamite city of Susa in 1902 A.D. Hammurabi is best remembered today as a law giver whose code served as a standard for later laws but, in his time, he was known as the ruler who united Mesopotamia under a single governing body in the same way Sargon the Great of Akkad had done centuries before. He linked himself with great imperialists like Sargon the Great by proclaiming himself “the mighty king, king of Babylon, king of the Four Regions of the World, king of Sumer and Akkad, into whose power the god Bel has given over land and people, in whose hand he has placed the reins of government” and, just like Sargon (and others), claimed his legitimate rule was ordained by the will of the gods. Unlike Sargon the Great, however, whose multi-ethnic empire was continually torn by internecine strife, Hammurabi ruled over a kingdom whose people enjoyed relative peace following his conquest. The historian Gwendolyn Leick writes, “Hammurabi remains one of the great kings of Mesopotamia, an outstanding diplomat and negotiator who was patient enough to wait for the right time and then ruthless enough to achieve his aims without stretching his resources too far”. It is a testimony to his rule that, unlike Sargon of Akkad or his grandson Naram-Sin from earlier times, Hammurabi did not have to re-conquer cities and regions repeatedly but, having brought them under Babylonian rule, was, for the most part, interested in improving them and the standard of living of the inhabitants (a notable exception being Mari, of course). His legacy as a law giver reflects his genuine concern for social justice and the betterment of the lives of his people. [Ancient History Encyclopedia] REVIEW: The best known and most influential of the Mesopotamian law codes was that of King Hammurabi of Babylonia (reigned 1792–1750 B.C.). Featuring nearly 300 provisions covering topics ranging from marriage and inheritance to theft and murder, it is the most comprehensive of these codes. While it famously includes retributive, eye-for-an-eye clauses, it also takes on more complex scenarios, imposing harsh punishments for accusation without proof and for errors made by judges. The code appears written in intentionally archaic cuneiform on a towering seven-and-a-half-foot-tall diorite stela that was recovered from Susa, in present-day Iran, where it was taken after being stolen in the twelfth century B.C. Featuring a relief of Hammurabi receiving divine sanction from the sun-god Shamash in its upper portion, this stela and others like it would have been publicly displayed during Hammurabi’s reign and long after. “The code was certainly set up in in city squares, in temple courtyards, in public places—where it was seen by populations,” says Martha Roth, an Assyriologist at the University of Chicago. It was also used in the training of scribes for at least 1,000 years after its composition, and several manuscripts of it were found in King Ashurbanipal’s (reigned 668–627 B.C.) seventh-century B.C. library at Nineveh, in present-day Iraq. The precise legal function of Hammurabi’s code is unclear, as there are few references to it in legal records from his era. However, says Roth, these records do suggest that “the provisions as outlined in Hammurabi map onto the daily reality in a fairly close way.” The code was also clearly intended to establish Hammurabi as the guarantor of justice for his people. “In order that the mighty not wrong the weak, to provide just ways for the waif and the widow,” reads its epilogue, “I have inscribed my precious pronouncements upon my stela.” This trope of the king as protector of the downtrodden appears regularly in Mesopotamian inscriptions, but the earliest known example is found on several cone tablets known as the reforms of Urukagina (r. ca. 2350 B.C.), a king of the Sumerian city-state of Lagash, in present-day Iraq. According to the inscriptions, the king addressed a number of social inequities, including reducing the power of greedy temple overseers and abusive foremen. “There’s a consciousness about reform in it that is unique until now,” says Roth, “and in history it comes about here for the first time.” [Archaeological Institute of America]. REVIEW: Hammurabi (circa about 1810 B.C. – 1750 B.C.) was the sixth king of the First Babylonian Dynasty, reigning from 1792 B.C. to 1750 B.C. (according to the Middle Chronology). He was preceded by his father, Sin-Muballit, who abdicated due to failing health. He extended Babylon's control throughout Mesopotamia through military campaigns. Hammurabi is known for the Code of Hammurabi, one of the earliest surviving codes of law in recorded history, which he claimed to have received from Shamash, the Babylonian god of justice. Unlike earlier Sumerian law codes, which had focused on compensating the victim of the crime, the Law of Hammurabi was one of the first law codes to place greater emphasis on the physical punishment of the perpetrator. Despite similarities between the Code of Hammurabi and the Law of Moses in the Torah, it is unlikely that Hammurabi's laws exerted any direct impact on the later Mosaic ones. The name Hammurabi derives from the Amorite term ʻAmmurāpi ("the kinsman is a healer"), itself from ʻAmmu ("paternal kinsman") and Rāpi ("healer"). Babylon was one of the many largely Amorite ruled city-states that dotted the central and southern Mesopotamian plains and waged war on each other for control of fertile agricultural land. Though many cultures co-existed in Mesopotamia, Babylonian culture gained a degree of prominence among the literate classes throughout the Middle East under Hammurabi. The kings who came before Hammurabi had founded a relatively minor City State in 1894 B.C. which controlled little territory outside of the city itself. Babylon was overshadowed by older, larger and more powerful kingdoms such as Elam, Assyria, Isin, Eshnunna and Larsa for a century or so after its founding. However his father Sin-Muballit had begun to consolidate rule of a small area of south central Mesopotamia under Babylonian hegemony and, by the time of his reign, had conquered the minor city-states of Borsippa, Kish, and Sippar. Thus Hammurabi ascended to the throne as the king of a minor kingdom in the midst of a complex geopolitical situation. The powerful kingdom of Eshnunna controlled the upper Tigris River while Larsa controlled the river delta. To the east of Mesopotamia lay the powerful kingdom of Elam which regularly invaded and forced tribute upon the small states of southern Mesopotamia. In northern Mesopotamia, the Assyrian king Shamshi-Adad I, who had already inherited centuries old Assyrian colonies in Asia Minor, had expanded his territory into the Levant and central Mesopotamia, although his untimely death would somewhat fragment his empire. The first few decades of Hammurabi's reign were quite peaceful. Hammurabi used his power to undertake a series of public works, including heightening the city walls for defensive purposes, and expanding the temples. In circa 1801 B.C., the powerful kingdom of Elam, which straddled important trade routes across the Zagros Mountains, invaded the Mesopotamian plain. With allies among the plain states, Elam attacked and destroyed the kingdom of Eshnunna, destroying a number of cities and imposing its rule on portions of the plain for the first time. In order to consolidate its position, Elam tried to start a war between Hammurabi's Babylonian kingdom and the kingdom of Larsa. Hammurabi and the king of Larsa made an alliance when they discovered this duplicity and were able to crush the Elamites, although Larsa did not contribute greatly to the military effort. Angered by Larsa's failure to come to his aid, Hammurabi turned on that southern power, thus gaining control of the entirety of the lower Mesopotamian plain by circa 1763 B.C. As Hammurabi was assisted during the war in the south by his allies from the north such as Yamhad and Mari, the absence of soldiers in the north led to unrest. Continuing his expansion, Hammurabi turned his attention northward, quelling the unrest and soon after crushing Eshnunna. Next the Babylonian armies conquered the remaining northern states, including Babylon's former ally Mari, although it is possible that the conquest of Mari was a surrender without any actual conflict. Hammurabi entered into a protracted war with Ishme-Dagan I of Assyria for control of Mesopotamia, with both kings making alliances with minor states in order to gain the upper hand. Eventually Hammurabi prevailed, ousting Ishme-Dagan I just before his own death. Mut-Ashkur the new king of Assyria was forced to pay tribute to Hammurabi, however Babylon did not rule Assyria directly. In just a few years, Hammurabi succeeded in uniting all of Mesopotamia under his rule. The Assyrian kingdom survived but was forced to pay tribute during his reign, and of the major city-states in the region, only Aleppo and Qatna to the west in the Levant maintained their independence. However, one stele of Hammurabi has been found as far north as Diyarbekir, where he claims the title "King of the Amorites". Vast numbers of contract tablets, dated to the reigns of Hammurabi and his successors, have been discovered, as well as 55 of his own letters. These letters give a glimpse into the daily trials of ruling an empire, from dealing with floods and mandating changes to a flawed calendar, to taking care of Babylon's massive herds of livestock. Hammurabi died and passed the reins of the empire on to his son Samsu-iluna in circa 1750 B.C., under whose rule the Babylonian empire began to quickly unravel. The Code of Hammurabi was inscribed on a stele and placed in a public place so that all could see it, although it is thought that few were literate. The stele was later plundered by the Elamites and removed to their capital, Susa; it was rediscovered there in 1901 A.D. in Iran and is now in the Louvre Museum in Paris. The code of Hammurabi contains 282 laws, written by scribes on 12 tablets. Unlike earlier laws, it was written in Akkadian, the daily language of Babylon, and could therefore be read by any literate person in the city. Earlier Sumerian law codes had focused on compensating the victim of the crime, but the Code of Hammurabi instead focused on physically punishing the perpetrator. The Code of Hammurabi was one of the first law code to place restrictions on what a wronged person was allowed to do in retribution. The structure of the code is very specific, with each offense receiving a specified punishment. The punishments tended to be very harsh by modern standards, with many offenses resulting in death, disfigurement, or the use of the "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth" (Lex Talionis "Law of Retaliation") philosophy. The code is also one of the earliest examples of the idea of presumption of innocence, and it also suggests that the accused and accuser have the opportunity to provide evidence. However, there is no provision for extenuating circumstances to alter the prescribed punishment. A carving at the top of the stele portrays Hammurabi receiving the laws from Shamash, the Babylonian god of justice, and the preface states that Hammurabi was chosen by Shamash to bring the laws to the people. Parallels between this narrative and the giving of the Covenant Code to Moses by Yahweh atop Mount Sinai in the Biblical Book of Exodus and similarities between the two legal codes suggest a common ancestor in the Semitic background of the two. Nonetheless, fragments of previous law codes have been found and it is unlikely that the Mosaic laws were directly inspired by the Code of Hammurabi. Some scholars have disputed this; David P. Wright argues that the Jewish Covenant Code is "directly, primarily, and throughout" based upon the Laws of Hammurabi. In 2010, a team of archaeologists from Hebrew University discovered a cuneiform tablet dating to the eighteenth or seventeenth century B.C. at Hazor in Israel containing laws clearly derived from the Code of Hammurabi. Similar codes of law were created in several nearby civilizations, including the earlier Mesopotamian examples of Ur-Nammu's code, Laws of Eshnunna, and Code of Lipit-Ishtar, and the later Hittite code of laws. During the reign of Hammurabi, Babylon usurped the position of "most holy city" in southern Mesopotamia from its predecessor, Nippur. Under the rule of Hammurabi's successor Samsu-iluna, the short-lived Babylonian Empire began to collapse. In northern Mesopotamia, both the Amorites and Babylonians were driven from Assyria by Puzur-Sin a native Akkadian-speaking ruler, circa 1740 B.C. Around the same time, native Akkadian speakers threw off Amorite Babylonian rule in the far south of Mesopotamia, creating the Sealand Dynasty, in more or less the region of ancient Sumer. Hammurabi's ineffectual successors met with further defeats and loss of territory at the hands of Assyrian kings such as Adasi and Bel-ibni, as well as to the Sealand Dynasty to the south, Elam to the east, and to the Kassites from the northeast. Thus was Babylon quickly reduced to the small and minor state it had once been upon its founding. The coup de grace for the Hammurabi's Amorite Dynasty occurred in 1595 B.C., when Babylon was sacked and conquered by the powerful Hittite Empire, thereby ending all Amorite political presence in Mesopotamia. However, the Indo-European-speaking Hittites did not remain, turning over Babylon to their Kassite allies, a people speaking a language isolate, from the Zagros mountains region. This Kassite Dynasty ruled Babylon for over 400 years and adopted many aspects of the Babylonian culture, including Hammurabi's code of laws. In the early twentieth century, many scholars believed that Hammurabi was Amraphel, the King of Shinar in the Book of Genesis 14:1. This view has now been largely rejected, and Amraphael's existence is not attested in any writings from outside the Bible. Because of Hammurabi's reputation as a lawgiver, his depiction can be found in several U.S. government buildings. Hammurabi is one of the 23 lawgivers depicted in marble bas-reliefs in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives in the United States Capitol. A frieze by Adolph Weinman depicting the "great lawgivers of history", including Hammurabi, is on the south wall of the U.S. Supreme Court building. At the time of Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi Army's 1st Hammurabi Armoured Division was named after the ancient king as part of an effort to emphasize the connection between modern Iraq and the pre-Arab Mesopotamian cultures. [Wikipedia]. REVIEW: Gilgamesh is the semi-mythic King of Uruk best known from The Epic of Gilgamesh (written circa 2150-1400 B.C.) the great Sumerian/Babylonian poetic work which pre-dates Homer’s writing by 1500 years and, therefore, stands as the oldest piece of epic Western literature. Gilgamesh’s father was the Priest-King Lugalbanda (who is featured in two poems concerning his magical abilities which pre-date Gilgamesh) and his mother the goddess Ninsun (the Holy Mother and Great Queen) and, accordingly, Gilgamesh was a demi-god who was said to have lived an exceptionally long life (the Sumerian King List records his reign as 126 years) and to be possessed of super-human strength. Known as 'Bilgames’ in the Sumerian, 'Gilgamos’ in Greek, and associated closely with the figure of Dumuzi from the Sumerian poem The Descent of Inanna, Gilgamesh is widely accepted as the historical fifth king of Uruk whose influence was so profound that myths of his divine status grew up around his deeds and finally culminated in the tales found in The Epic of Gilgamesh. In the Sumerian tale of Inanna and the Huluppu Tree, in which the goddess Inanna plants a troublesome tree in her garden and appeals to her family for help with it, Gilgamesh appears as her loyal brother who comes to her aid. In this story, Inanna (the goddess of love and war and one of the most powerful and popular of Mesopotamian deities) plants a tree in her garden with the hope of one day making a chair and bed from it. The tree becomes infested, however, by a snake at its roots, a female demon (lilitu) in its center, and an Anzu bird in its branches. No matter what, Inanna cannot rid herself of the pests and so appeals to her brother, Utu, god of the sun, for help. Utu refuses but her plea is heard by Gilgamesh who comes, heavily armed, and kills the snake. The demon and Anzu bird then flee and Gilgamesh, after taking the branches for himself, presents the trunk to Inanna to build her bed and chair from. This is thought to be the first appearance of Gilgamesh in heroic poetry and the fact that he rescues a powerful and potent goddess from a difficult situation shows the high regard in which he was held even early on. The historical king was eventually accorded completely divine status as a god. He was seen as the brother of Inanna, one of the most popular goddesses, if not the most popular, in all of Mesopotamia. Prayers found inscribed on clay tablets address Gilgamesh in the afterlife as a judge in the Underworld comparable in wisdom to the famous Greek judges of the Underworld, Rhadamanthus, Minos, and Aeacus. In "The Epic of Gilgamesh", the great king is thought to be too proud and arrogant by the gods and so they decide to teach him a lesson by sending the wild man, Enkidu, to humble him. Enkidu and Gilgamesh, after a fierce battle in which neither are bested, become friends and embark on adventures together. When Enkidu is struck with death, Gilgamesh falls into a deep grief. Recognizing his own mortality through the death of his friend, questions the meaning of life and the value of human accomplishment in the face of ultimate extinction. Casting away all of his old vanity and pride, Gilgamesh sets out on a quest to find the meaning of life and, finally, some way of defeating death. In doing so, he becomes the first epic hero in world literature. The grief of Gilgamesh, and the questions his friend's death evoke, resonate with every human being who has wrestled with the meaning of life in the face of death. Although Gilgamesh ultimately fails to win immortality in the story, his deeds live on through the written word and, so, does he. Since "The Epic of Gilgamesh" existed in oral form long before it was written down, there has been much debate over whether the extant tale is more early Sumerian or later Babylonian in cultural influence. The best-preserved version of the story comes from the Babylonian writer Shin-Leqi-Unninni (wrote 1300-1000 B.C.) who translated, edited, and may have embellished the original story. Regarding this, the Sumerian scholar Samuel Noah Kramer writes: "Of the various episodes comprising The Epic of Gilgamesh, several go back to Sumerian prototypes actually involving the hero Gilgamesh. Even in those episodes which lack Sumerian counterparts, most of the individual motifs reflect Sumerian mythic and epic sources. In no case, however, did the Babylonian poets slavishly copy the Sumerian material. They so modified its content and molded its form, in accordance with their own temper and heritage, that only the bare nucleus of the Sumerian original remains recognizable. As for the plot structure of the epic as a whole - the forceful and fateful episodic drama of the restless, adventurous hero and his inevitable disillusionment - it is definitely a Babylonian, rather than a Sumerian, development and achievement." Historical evidence for Gilgamesh’s existence is found in inscriptions crediting him with the building of the great walls of Uruk (modern day Warka, Iraq) which, in the story, are the tablets upon which he first records his great deeds and his quest for the meaning of life. There are other references to him by known historical figures of his time (26th century B.C.) such as King Enmebaragesi of Kish and, of course, the Sumerian King List and the legends which grew up around his reign. In the present day, Gilgamesh is still spoken of and written about. A German team of Archaeologists claim to have discovered the Tomb of Gilgamesh in April of 2003 A.D. Archaeological excavations, conducted through modern technology involving magnetization in and around the old riverbed of the Euphrates, have revealed garden enclosures, specific buildings, and structures described in The Epic of Gilgamesh including the great king’s tomb. According to legend, Gilgmesh was buried at the bottom of the Euphrates when the waters parted upon his death. [Ancient History Encyclopedia]. REVIEW: From Genesis to "Beach Blanket Babylon," few cities have inspired as many legends and works of art (not to mention musical spoofs) as the Mesopotamian capital of Babylon. An exhibition touring Europe aims to celebrate both the myths and the reality behind the ancient metropolis, now a symbol of modern Iraq. "Babylon"--which opened at the Louvre and will be traveling to Berlin's Pergamon Museum and the British Museum --focuses on artifacts dating from the city's beginnings around 2300 B.C. to its abandonment in the second century A.D. The show also features paintings such as Pieter Brueghel the Elder's 1563 oil-on-wood fantasy, The "Little" Tower of Babel, as well as drawings, books, and films about the city. Babylon has long impressed the world with its military prowess and cultural achievements, which include the 12-month calendar, scientific weights and measures, and dynastic chronicles that influenced the writings in the Bible. At the exhibit entrance stands the famous seven-foot-tall basalt stele inscribed with the Code of Hammurabi (reigned 1792-1750 B.C.), the first codified set of laws. Elsewhere are clay tablets recounting the epic of Gilgamesh and the great flood. Perceptions of the city have shifted with the Zeitgeist. For the fifth-century B.C. Greek historian Herodotus, Babylon "surpassed in splendor any city in the known world." During the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, the tower of Babel was viewed as a symbol of the revolt of Man against God. But by the Enlightenment in the 18th century, the tower was seen as an extraordinary feat of engineering. The Babylonians experienced a golden age under Nebuchadnezzar II (reigned 605-562 B.C.), who restored and expanded the walled city to cover nearly four square miles and built the Hanging Gardens. But in 587 B.C., when he destroyed Jerusalem and deported the Jews to Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar II ensured that the city would become shorthand for decadence and evil. (St. Augustine condemned it as the "anti-Jerusalem.") The city's other famous rulers also have a prominent place in the exhibit. The period of Persian occupation (559-331 B.C.) is represented by fragments from a stele of Darius I with his foot on the chest of a defeated rebel king. A marble sculpture of Alexander the Great's head is a reminder of the Macedonian ruler's plans to restore Babylon to its former glory, an ambition that went unrealized at his death there in 323 B.C. Oddly, the exhibition does not address Babylon's recent past. Styling himself as the new Nebuchadnezzar, Saddam Hussein constructed not one, but two kitschy palaces on top of the ancient site. After the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, American forces further damaged the archaeological remains by digging trenches, building a helicopter pad, and using archaeological deposits to fill sandbags. There are plans to restore the site and eventually turn it into a tourist destination, but for now, a European capital is as close as you will come to Babylon. [Archaeological Institute of America]. REVIEW: Though Akkadian as a spoken language in Mesopotamia died out toward the end of the first millennium B.C., cuneiform continued to be used by temple scribes and astrologers. Greek scholars are known to have flocked to Babylon during this time to learn astronomy, and excavated tablets inscribed in both Greek and Akkadian show that at least a few of these visiting astronomers even tried to master the art of writing cuneiform. But the end was near. The last known tablets that can be dated were written in the late first century A.D. Some scholars believe cuneiform ceased to be used around that time, but Assyriologist Markham Geller of the Free University of Berlin believes it endured for another two centuries. He points to classical sources that mention that Babylonian temples continued to thrive, and believes that they would have maintained scribes still capable of reading and writing cuneiform to ensure that rituals were properly performed. He also thinks cuneiform medical texts may have continued to be used to diagnose illnesses during this era. But in the third century A.D., the neighboring Sassanian Empire, known to be hostile to foreign religions, seized Babylon. “They shut the temples down,” says Geller, “and they sent everyone home.” He believes it was only when the very last of these temple scribes died that the rich, 3,000-year-old cuneiform record finally fell silent. [Archaeological Institute of America]. REVIEW: Many challenges face the 4,000-year-old city of Babylon. Archaeologists agree that restoration work under Saddam Hussein in the 1980s inflicted damage on the ancient remains and continues to cause problems. The dictator began to build a replica of the palace of Nebuchadnezzar II on top of its ruins, and then, after the Gulf War, added a modern palace adjacent to it. In 2003, U.S. troops occupied the new palace. Visitors can see the basketball hoop they installed inside its walls. Concertina wire that was left behind has been reused to keep tourists away from a 2,500-year-old lion statue. An oil pipeline now runs through the eastern part of the site. “It goes through the outer wall of Babylon,” said tour guide Hussein Al-Ammari. Only two percent of Babylon has been excavated, but local development continues to encroach on the site. [Archaeological Institute of America]. REVIEW: A 3,700-year-old cuneiform tablet housed at Columbia University is inscribed with the world’s oldest and most accurate working trigonometric table, according to a report in The Guardian. Early twentieth-century scholars noted the Pythagorean triples on the tablet, but did not know how the numbers were used. Mathematicians Daniel Mansfield and Norman Wildberger of the University of New South Wales say the calculations on Plimpton 322, as the Babylonian tablet is known, describe the shapes of right triangles based on ratios, whereas modern trigonometric tables are based upon measurements of angles and circles. Babylonian mathematicians used base 60 for their calculations, rather than base 10, which allowed for more accurate fractions. In addition, Mansfield and Wildberger explained that Plimpton 322 includes four columns and 15 rows of numbers, for a sequence of 15 right triangles decreasing in inclination. Based upon the mathematics, however, the broken table probably originally had six columns and 38 rows of numbers. The researchers think the large numbers on the table could have been used to survey land and calculate how to construct temples, palaces, and step pyramids. [Archaeological Institute of America]. I always ship books Media Mail in a padded mailer. This book is shipped FOR FREE via USPS INSURED media mail (“book rate”). All domestic shipments and most international shipments will include free USPS Delivery Confirmation (you might be able to update the status of your shipment on-line at the USPS Web Site) and free insurance coverage. A small percentage of international shipments may require an additional fee for tracking and/or delivery confirmation. If you are concerned about a little wear and tear to the book in transit, I would suggest a boxed shipment - it is an extra $1.00. Whether via padded mailer or box, we will give discounts for multiple purchases. International orders are welcome, but shipping costs are substantially higher. Most international orders cost an additional $9.99 to $37.99 for an insured shipment in a heavily padded mailer, and typically includes some form of rudimentary tracking and/or delivery confirmation (though for some countries, this is only available at additional cost). There is also a discount program which can cut postage costs by 50% to 75% if you’re buying about half-a-dozen books or more (5 kilos+). Rates and available services vary a bit from country to country. You can email or message me for a shipping cost quote, but I assure you they are as reasonable as USPS rates allow, and if it turns out the rate is too high for your pocketbook, we will cancel the sale at your request. ADDITIONAL PURCHASES do receive a VERY LARGE discount, typically about $5 per book (for each additional book after the first) so as to reward you for the economies of combined shipping/insurance costs. Your purchase will ordinarily be shipped within 48 hours of payment. We package as well as anyone in the business, with lots of protective padding and containers. All of our shipments are sent via insured mail so as to comply with PayPal requirements. We do NOT recommend uninsured shipments, and expressly disclaim any responsibility for the loss of an uninsured shipment. Unfortunately the contents of parcels are easily “lost” or misdelivered by postal employees – even in the USA. That’s why all of our domestic shipments (and most international) shipments include a USPS delivery confirmation tag; or are trackable or traceable, and all shipments (international and domestic) are insured. We do offer U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail, Registered Mail, and Express Mail for both international and domestic shipments, as well United Parcel Service (UPS) and Federal Express (Fed-Ex). Please ask for a rate quotation. We will accept whatever payment method you are most comfortable with. If upon receipt of the item you are disappointed for any reason whatever, I offer a no questions asked return policy. Send it back, I will give you a complete refund of the purchase price (less our original shipping costs). Most of the items I offer come from the collection of a family friend who was active in the field of Archaeology for over forty years. However many of the items also come from purchases I make in Eastern Europe, India, and from the Levant (Eastern Mediterranean/Near East) from various institutions and dealers. Though I have always had an interest in archaeology, my own academic background was in sociology and cultural anthropology. After my retirement however, I found myself drawn to archaeology as well. Aside from my own personal collection, I have made extensive and frequent additions of my own via purchases on Ebay (of course), as well as many purchases from both dealers and institutions throughout the world - but especially in the Near East and in Eastern Europe. I spend over half of my year out of the United States, and have spent much of my life either in India or Eastern Europe. In fact much of what we generate on Yahoo, Amazon and Ebay goes to support The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, as well as some other worthy institutions in Europe connected with Anthropology and Archaeology. I acquire some small but interesting collections overseas from time-to-time, and have as well some duplicate items within my own collection which I occasionally decide to part with. Though I have a collection of ancient coins numbering in the tens of thousands, my primary interest is in ancient jewelry. My wife also is an active participant in the "business" of antique and ancient jewelry, and is from Russia. I would be happy to provide you with a certificate/guarantee of authenticity for any item you purchase from me. There is a $2 fee for mailing under separate cover. Whenever I am overseas I have made arrangements for purchases to be shipped out via domestic mail. If I am in the field, you may have to wait for a week or two for a COA to arrive via international air mail. But you can be sure your purchase will arrive properly packaged and promptly - even if I am absent. And when I am in a remote field location with merely a notebook computer, at times I am not able to access my email for a day or two, so be patient, I will always respond to every email. Please see our "ADDITIONAL TERMS OF SALE." Condition: NEW. See detailed condition description below., Format: Softcover, Length: 48 pages, Material: Paper, Provenance: Ancient Mesopotamia, Size: 8¼ x 5¾ inches, Title: The Queen of the Night, Publisher: British Museum (2005)

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