Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses Part 4

LamassuAs you further explore the different gods and goddesses of Mesopotamian belief, you will encounter the goddess of protection; the goddess of healing; a demon interested on harming children; and one of the most powerful of all the Mesopotamian gods and goddesses , Ellil.




When people were in need of personal protection, it was Lama who received the prayers. The woman with the long, tiered skirt is often displayed on cylinder seals, which are meant to guide people into the presence of significant gods and goddesses. 




In Mesopotamia belief, Ellil is considered a vital god, as he is allowed to wear the significant horned cap as other powerful gods. He is so high up in ranks , other gods are not permitted to look at him. The main city associated with Ellil is Nippur, where kings scattered all over Mesopotamia would travel to in order to send him offerings. Elli has also sired many other important gods and goddesses of Mesopotamian belief. In terms of importance, Ellil has been assigned to guard the ‘tablets of destiny,’ which has the fate of the universe stored about the cuneiform.




As the goddess of healing, Gula is also the patroness of physicians and has her own constellation. When she is depicted, she is seen as a woman surrounding by stars and often has her dog by her side. Because of this, people often erect small statues of dogs in her honor because they believed this gesture would summons the goddess to help with the avoidance of illness or assist in their recovery from a sickness.




In the Epic of Gilgamesh, a monster named Humbaba is mentioned, who is in charge of guarding the cedar forest located in the Lebanon Mountains. With claws like a lion, lengthy hair, and a hideous face full of hair, this giant human is rather grotesque to look at. In text, Humbaba is slayed by Gilgamesh and his companion Enkidu, who venture into the forest with the aim to cut down the cedar trees.




Parents hoped that their unborn and newborn children were safe from the evil demon known as Lamashtu, who preyed upon these unsuspecting victims. His presence was so feared that pregnant women displayed amulets around their necks of Pazuzu, who was another demon that often fought against Lamashtu.

The demon is rather unattractive as she possesses a hairy body, long fingers and fingernails, with feet like a bird displaying sharp talons. To cap off her appearance, she had the teeth and the ears of a donkey. When depicted, she is often seen standing or kneeling on a donkey, sometimes nursing a pig or a canine. Snakes are also associated with her, as she is often seen holding them.




The human-headed winged bull or lion was known as a lamassu. During ancient Mesopotamian times, widespread sculptures of lamassus were constructed to keep watch over the palace doorways and city gates of Assyrian structures. It was the intention to use the lamassu to scare away the spirits or forces that brought about chaos and destruction.