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In Mesopotamian religion, Tiamat (Akkadian : 𒀭𒋾𒊩𒆳 D TI.AMAT or 𒀭𒌓𒌈 D TAM.TUM, Ancient Greek : Θαλάττη, romanized: Thaláttē) is a primordial goddess of the sea, mating with Abzû, the god of the groundwater, to produce younger gods. She is the symbol of the chaos of primordial creation. She is referred to as a woman and described as "the glistening one". It is suggested that there are two parts to the Tiamat mythos. In the first, she is a creator goddess, through a sacred marriage between different waters, peacefully creating the cosmos through successive generations. In the second Chaoskampf Tiamat is considered the monstrous embodiment of primordial chaos. Some sources identify her with images of a sea serpent or dragon.
In the Enûma Elish , the Babylonian epic of creation, Tiamat bears the first generation of deities; her husband, Apsu, correctly assuming that they are planning to kill him and usurp his throne, later makes war upon them and is killed. Enraged, she also wars upon her husband's murderers, taking on the form of a massive sea dragon. She is then slain by Enki's son, the storm-god Marduk, but not before she had brought forth the monsters of the Mesopotamian pantheon, including the first dragons, whose bodies she filled with "poison instead of blood". Marduk then forms the heavens and the Earth from her divided body.
Thorkild Jacobsen and Walter Burkert both argue for a connection with the Akkadian word for sea, tâmtu(𒀀𒀊𒁀), following an early form, ti'amtum. Θαλάττη, thaláttē, which appears in the Hellenistic Babylonian writer Berossus' first volume of universal history, is clearly related to Greek Θάλαττα, thálatta, an Eastern variant of Θάλασσα, thalassa , 'sea'. It is thought that the proper name ti'amat, which is the construct or vocative form, was dropped in secondary translations of the original texts because some Akkadian copyists of Enûma Elish substituted the ordinary word tāmtu ("sea") for Tiamat, the two names having become essentially the same due to association. Tiamat also has been claimed to be cognate with Northwest Semitic tehom (תְּהוֹם) ("the deeps, abyss"), in the Book of Genesis 1:2.Burkert continues by making a linguistic connection to Tethys. The later form
The Babylonian epic Enuma Elish is named for its incipit: "When above" the heavens did not yet exist nor the earth below, Apsu the subterranean ocean was there, "the first, the begetter", and Tiamat, the overground sea, "she who bore them all"; they were "mixing their waters". It is thought that female deities are older than male ones in Mesopotamia and Tiamat may have begun as part of the cult of Nammu, a female principle of a watery creative force, with equally strong connections to the underworld, which predates the appearance of Ea-Enki.
Harriet Crawford finds this "mixing of the waters" to be a natural feature of the middle Persian Gulf, where fresh waters from the Arabian aquifer mix and mingle with the salt waters of the sea.This characteristic is especially true of the region of Bahrain, whose name in Arabic means "two seas", and which is thought to be the site of Dilmun, the original site of the Sumerian creation beliefs. The difference in density of salt and fresh water drives a perceptible separation.
In the Enûma Elish her physical description includes a tail, a thigh, "lower parts" (which shake together), a belly, an udder, ribs, a neck, a head, a skull, eyes, nostrils, a mouth, and lips. She has insides (possibly "entrails"), a heart, arteries, and blood.
Tiamat is usually described as a sea serpent or dragon, although Assyriologist Alexander Heidel disagreed with this identification and argued that "dragon form can not be imputed to Tiamat with certainty". Other scholars have disregarded Heidel's argument: Joseph Fontenrose in particular found it "not convincing" and concluded that "there is reason to believe that Tiamat was sometimes, not necessarily always, conceived as a dragoness".The Enûma Elish states that Tiamat gave birth to dragons, serpents, scorpion men, merfolk and other monsters, but does not identify her form.
Abzu (or Apsû) fathered upon Tiamat the elder deities Lahmu and Lahamu (masc. the "hairy"), a title given to the gatekeepers at Enki's Abzu/E'engurra-temple in Eridu. Lahmu and Lahamu, in turn, were the parents of the 'ends' of the heavens (Anshar, from an-šar = heaven-totality/end) and the earth (Kishar); Anshar and Kishar were considered to meet at the horizon, becoming, thereby, the parents of Anu (Heaven) and Ki (Earth).
Tiamat was the "shining" personification of the sea who roared and smote in the chaos of original creation. She and Apsu filled the cosmic abyss with the primeval waters. She is "Ummu-Hubur who formed all things".
In the myth recorded on cuneiform tablets, the deity Enki (later Ea) believed correctly that Apsu was planning to murder the younger deities, upset with the noisy tumult they created, and so captured him and held him prisoner beneath his temple, the E-Abzu ("temple of Abzu"). This angered Kingu, their son, who reported the event to Tiamat, whereupon she fashioned eleven monsters to battle the deities in order to avenge Apsu's death. These were her own offspring: Bašmu (“Venomous Snake”), Ušumgallu (“Great Dragon”), Mušmaḫḫū (“Exalted Serpent”), Mušḫuššu (“Furious Snake”), Laḫmu (the “Hairy One”), Ugallu (the “Big Weather-Beast”), Uridimmu (“Mad Lion”), Girtablullû (“Scorpion-Man"), Umū dabrūtu (“Violent Storms"), Kulullû (“Fish-Man") and Kusarikku (“Bull-Man”).
Tiamat possessed the Tablet of Destinies and in the primordial battle she gave them to Kingu, the deity she had chosen as her lover and the leader of her host, and who was also one of her children. The terrified deities were rescued by Anu, who secured their promise to revere him as "king of the gods". He fought Tiamat with the arrows of the winds, a net, a club, and an invincible spear. Anu was later replaced by Enlil and, in the late version that has survived after the First Dynasty of Babylon, by Marduk, the son of Ea.
And the lord stood upon Tiamat's hinder parts,
And with his merciless club he smashed her skull.
He cut through the channels of her blood,
And he made the North wind bear it away into secret places.
Slicing Tiamat in half, he made from her ribs the vault of heaven and earth. Her weeping eyes became the sources of the Tigris and the Euphrates, her tail became the Milky Way.With the approval of the elder deities, he took from Kingu the Tablet of Destinies, installing himself as the head of the Babylonian pantheon. Kingu was captured and later was slain: his red blood mixed with the red clay of the Earth would make the body of humankind, created to act as the servant of the younger Igigi deities.
The principal theme of the epic is the rightful elevation of Marduk to command over all the deities. "It has long been realized that the Marduk epic, for all its local coloring and probable elaboration by the Babylonian theologians, reflects in substance older Sumerian material," American Assyriologist E. A. Speiser remarked in 1942adding "The exact Sumerian prototype, however, has not turned up so far." This surmise that the Babylonian version of the story is based upon a modified version of an older epic, in which Enlil, not Marduk, was the god who slew Tiamat, is more recently dismissed as "distinctly improbable".
The Tiamat myth is one of the earliest recorded versions of the Chaoskampf, the battle between a culture hero and a chthonic or aquatic monster, serpent or dragon.Chaoskampf motifs in other mythologies linked directly or indirectly to the Tiamat myth include the Hittite Illuyanka myth, and in Greek tradition Apollo's killing of the Python as a necessary action to take over the Delphic Oracle.
In the second " Chaoskampf " Tiamat is considered the monstrous embodiment of primordial chaos.
Robert Gravesconsidered Tiamat's death by Marduk as evidence for his hypothesis of an ancient shift in power from a matriarchal society to a patriarchy. The theory suggests Tiamat and other ancient monster figures were depictions of former supreme deities of peaceful, woman-centered religions that turned into monsters when violent. Their defeat at the hands of a male hero corresponded to the overthrow of these matristic religions and societies by male-dominated ones. This theory is rejected by academic authors such as Lotte Motz, Cynthia Eller and others.
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The depiction of Tiamat as a multi-headed dragon was popularized in the 1970s as a fixture of the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game inspired by earlier sources associating Tiamat with later mythological characters such as Lotan (Leviathan).
Enki is the Sumerian god of water, knowledge (gestú), crafts (gašam), and creation (nudimmud), and one of the Anunnaki. He was later known as Ea or Ae in Akkadian (Assyrian-Babylonian) religion, and is identified by some scholars with Ia in Canaanite religion. The name was rendered Aos in Greek sources.
Ninḫursaĝ sometimes transcribed Ninursag, Ninḫarsag, or Ninḫursaĝa, also known as Damgalnuna or Ninmah, was the ancient Sumerian mother goddess of the mountains, and one of the seven great deities of Sumer. She is known earliest as a nurturing or fertility goddess. Temple hymn sources identify her as the "true and great lady of heaven" and kings of Lagash were "nourished by Ninhursag's milk". She is the tutelary deity to several Sumerian leaders.
Marduk was a god from ancient Mesopotamia and patron deity of the city of Babylon. When Babylon became the political center of the Euphrates valley in the time of Hammurabi, Marduk slowly started to rise to the position of the head of the Babylonian pantheon, a position he fully acquired by the second half of the second millennium BCE. In the city of Babylon, Marduk was worshipped in the temple Esagila. Marduk is associated with the divine weapon Imhullu. His symbolic animal and servant, whom Marduk once vanquished, is the dragon Mušḫuššu. "Marduk" is the Babylonian form of his name.
In Sumerian mythology, Nammu was a primeval goddess, corresponding to Tiamat in Babylonian mythology.
The Enūma Eliš is the Babylonian creation myth. It was recovered by English archaeologist Austen Henry Layard in 1849 in the ruined Library of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh. A form of the myth was first published by English Assyriologist George Smith in 1876; active research and further excavations led to near completion of the texts and improved translation.
Kingu, also spelled Qingu, meaning "unskilled laborer", was a god in Babylonian mythology, and the son of the gods Abzu and Tiamat. After the murder of his father, Abzu, he served as the consort of his mother, Tiamat, who wanted to establish him as ruler and leader of all gods before she was killed by Marduk. Tiamat gave Kingu the Tablet of Destinies, which he wore as a breastplate and which gave him great power. She placed him as the general of her army. However, like Tiamat, Kingu was eventually killed by Marduk. Marduk mixed Kingu's blood with earth and used the clay to mold the first human beings, while Tiamat's body created the earth and the skies. Kingu then went to live in the underworld kingdom of Ereshkigal, along with the other deities who had sided with Tiamat.
Anshar, also spelled Anšar, was a primordial god in the Babylonian creation myth Enuma Elish. His consort is Kishar which means "Whole Earth". They were the children of Lahamu and Lahmu and the grandchildren of Tiamat and Apsû. They, in turn, are the parents of Anu, the god of heaven, lord of constellations, king of gods, spirits and demons.
Laḫmu is a class of apotropaic creatures from Mesopotamian mythology. While the name has its origin in a Semitic language, Lahmu was present in Sumerian sources in pre-Sargonic times already.
Mummu is a Mesopotamian deity. His name is an Akkadian loanword from Sumerian "umun", which translates as "main body, bulk, life-giving force" and "knowledge", as the active part, in contrary to the more lethargic primordial forces of Tiamat and Apsû.
Ancient Semitic religion encompasses the polytheistic religions of the Semitic peoples from the ancient Near East and Northeast Africa. Since the term Semitic itself represents a rough category when referring to cultures, as opposed to languages, the definitive bounds of the term "ancient Semitic religion" are only approximate.
Yam is the god of the sea in the Canaanite pantheon. He takes the role of the adversary of Baal in the Ugaritic Baal Cycle.
Babylonian religion is the religious practice of Babylonia. Babylonian mythology was greatly influenced by their Sumerian counterparts and was written on clay tablets inscribed with the cuneiform script derived from Sumerian cuneiform. The myths were usually either written in Sumerian or Akkadian. Some Babylonian texts were translations into Akkadian from the Sumerian language of earlier texts, although the names of some deities were changed.
Lahamu was a minor figure in some variants of Mesopotamian cosmology, the feminine counterpart of Lahmu.
In Mesopotamian mythology, the Tablet of Destinies was envisaged as a clay tablet inscribed with cuneiform writing, also impressed with cylinder seals, which, as a permanent legal document, conferred upon the god Enlil his supreme authority as ruler of the universe.
Enmesharra was a Mesopotamian god associated with the underworld. He was regarded as a member of an inactive old generation of deities, and as such was commonly described as a ghost or resident of the underworld. He is best known from various lists of primordial deities, such as the so-called "theogony of Enlil," which lists many generations of ancestral deities.
Sirsir, also known as Ninsirsir, was a Mesopotamian god. He was associated with sailors. It has been proposed that he corresponds to the so-called "boat god" motif known from cylinder seals, but this theory is not universally accepted.
Hubur is a Sumerian term meaning "river", "watercourse" or "netherworld", written ideographically with the cuneiform signs 𒄷𒁓. It is usually the "river of the netherworld".
Sumerian religion was the religion practiced by the people of Sumer, the first literate civilization of ancient Mesopotamia. The Sumerians regarded their divinities as responsible for all matters pertaining to the natural and social orders.
The Abzu or Apsu, also called engur, is the name for fresh water from underground aquifers which was given a religious fertilising quality in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology. Lakes, springs, rivers, wells, and other sources of fresh water were thought to draw their water from the abzu. In Sumerian and Akkadian mythology, it is referred to as the primeval sea below the void space of the underworld (Kur) and the earth (Ma) above.
Bašmu or Bashmu was an ancient Mesopotamian mythological creature, a horned snake with two forelegs and wings. It was also the Akkadian name of the Babylonian constellation (MUL.DINGIR.MUŠ) equivalent to the Greek Hydra. The Sumerian terms ušum and muš-šà-tùr may represent differing iconographic types or different demons. It is first attested by a 22nd-century BC cylinder inscription at Gudea.