The religions of Mesopotamia, the set of different beliefs, myths, rituals, mystical cults, theologies and divinatory practices professed in ancient Mesopotamia or in that region of the world that corresponds roughly to the present Iraq from IV to I millennium BC.
The origins of such religions must be identified in the prehistory of the first people living in that region, in the beliefs and traditions of different peoples who, since the XXX century BC, migrated there, to Sumerian and Akkadian civilizations and to those later emerging civilizations, for example, Babylonian and Assyrian.
In ancient times, the region covered by this voice was known only by names indicating specific territories:
- Sumer: indicating the present southern part of Iraq.
- Akkad, by the name of the city founded by Sargon: the territory located north of Sumer.
- Assyria: territory between the present city of Baghdad and the mountainous area that rises to the border between current Syria and Turkey.
- Babylonia: the area between the present Baghdad and the Persian Gulf.
The most acclaimed origins and finds
Between 60000 and 40000 B.C. there are testimonies of murders in Iraqi Kurdistan, particularly in the Šanidar cave. These burials took place in the same place where the family resided and the bodies were inhumane in a raised position on one side and then covered with stones. At Teshik-Tash the body of a teenager was found surrounded by goat horns. Sometimes the burials contained bids.
In 9000-5500 BC men make that decisive transition from the state of nomadic “hunter-gatherers” to the state of food-producing animals through farming and livestock farming. This condition leads to stabilization in villages. From a religious point of view, we have the site of Çatalhöyük, which may also apply to the rest of Mesopotamia.
In the 5500-3000 BC sees the consolidation of the innovations of the Neolithic revolution. Next to the use of stone, the use of copper begins. During this period, probably in Mesopotamia, there is the invention of the plow that will progressively spread to Europe and Egypt. These prehistoric plows were very simple, entirely made of wood with the only stone grooves. At Tell Halaf’s site is discovered a female statuette.
From the earliest Sumerian texts the birth of intelligence in man, and thus of civilization on earth, characterized by the abandonment of nomadic life with the foundation of the first cities, is interpreted as the fruit of divine intervention.
As we have seen, the gods create man with the purpose of entrusting them with their place for divine service, serving the same gods: man, for the mesopotamical religious world, was thus created for the sole purpose of serving the gods by means of worship. But in the beginning the gods have not yet created agriculture and farming and they live in a “natural” state, just as men are still unable to cultivate land or raise livestock and have no to cover up, eating grass and drinking in the pits, live naked. At this point, the gods decide to create their mother Sheep and Cereal for them, and after giving the “breath of life” to men, God Enki asks the king of the gods, Enlil, to give their creation to the men. Thus the sheep and the cereal descended from the holy mountain among the men. Likewise, in another text, always in Sumerian and dated beginning of the millennium, of which we store fragments of about ten witnesses, the king of the gods, Enlil, invents the “hoe” and, by stipulating the performance of the work, the delivery to the men determining its destiny.
Mesopotamian mythology, definition and study. A-Z index of Cognitio.
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