Introduction to Ancient Mesopotamian Religion

Early Mesopotamians believed that the world they lived in was controlled by the will of not only gods and goddesses, but also demons and monsters. In the world, the Mesopotamians felt there was hundreds of gods responsible for all that took place, including nature, their pottery, and even cooking. In this article, you will learn more about ancient Mesopotamian religion, as well as the theory behind how and why humans were created (in the eyes of an ancient Mesopotamian).


Ancient Mesopotamians felt its very own unique god or goddess and the members of their family protected each city. In the middle of cities, spacious temples were erected for the gods to reside in and priests were placed in charge of making sure the gods were watched over. Special rituals were completed in their honor. Throughout the city, smaller temples were constructed where average townsfolk were able to make offerings.


Mesopotamian belief also includes demons, which were created by the gods. These creatures had the body of a human, but possessed the head of another animal or bird. Some were good, while others were evil. The people of the time also believed in monsters, which were a combination of animals and birds.


When it comes to one of the most important myths in Mesopotamian culture, it involves how and why humans were created. It was said that at the start of time, only gods and goddesses roamed the earth. At the time, it was their responsibility to work the land and tend to the crops in order to have something to eat. While this was quite a hard task, they still worked very hard to get it done. Each god or goddess had a special job they were assigned. For instance, some were in charge of digging the fields, while others made sure that crops were planted. Some gods and goddesses made sure the fields were watered, while others made sure weeds did not overwhelm the plants.


Overall, the work was draining and did not make the gods and goddesses happy. They got together and started to brainstorm on ways they could make their workload easier. They sought out the advice of Enki, who was known for his wisdom and cleverness. Enki was asleep in his residence, which was situated under the water. It was his advice that the gods and goddesses create beings that would serve them by tending to the land, which would make their lives much easier. The gods and goddesses agreed that this would work out much better in the end, so Enki gathered clay from about his home for the material needed to mold humans. He sculpted clay figures and then breathed life into their bodies. He also made limits to how long they would live, as only the gods and goddesses were allowed to live until the end of time.


The humans were put to work in the fields and became servants for the gods and goddesses , keeping their food and drink plentiful. The humans took river water and cultivated the dry and deserted lands. They dug the soil and planted crops. The humans were hard working and soon life was brought to the land, making the gods and goddesses quite happy with their effort and results.


Mesopotamian scribes created long lists pertaining to their gods, including hundreds of unique characters. Depending on if the scribe penned Sumerian or Akkadian, the gods and goddesses were known by various names. To get an idea for some of the gods, goddesses, demons and monsters of Mesopotamian belief, keep an eye out for the articles dealing with “Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses.”