In this article, you will encounter more Mesopotamian, gods and goddesses, as well as monsters and demons, which served as an important part of religion, belief systems, and mythology in Sumerian, Babylonian, and Assyrian culture. Below you will learn about the city god of Babylon; dragon-like creatures of protection; and the god of scribes.
As the city god of Babylon, Marduk is a well-known character in the history of Mesopotamian rule. When Babylon because the capital of Babylonia (which took place from around 1500 BC), it was Marduk who was considered “top dog” of the time. In ancient texts, Marduk is sometimes referred to as “Bel,” which translates into ‘lord.’ As you study Babylonian mythology, you will encounter Marduk, who is called upon to battle against an army of demons that is led by the goddess Tiamet.
As Marduk enters battle, he gains the blessing of the gods who agree to give him the title as their leader. He goes on a rampage and hunts down Tiamet, taking her life, where he then becomes crowned as a ‘supreme god.’ In time, a New Year festival was celebrated, where the citizens of Babylon gathered to rejoice in his name. At the time, the king kneeled before a statue of Marduk and make a vow that he would become a good ruler over his people.
When it comes to the Mushhushshu, they are responsible for a great deal of protection that many of the supreme gods are able to enjoy. The name of this entity translates into ‘furious snake.’ This type of creature is often seen as a dragon, where various gods have been known to ride on top of. Some of these personalities have included Marduk, Nabu, Ellil, and Ashur.
In Mesopotamian belief, Nabu was known as the god of scribes and was seen as the patron of knowledge and writing. During Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian times, it was Nabu who was sometimes linked with agriculture and other aspects of growing things, such as irrigation. At times, Nabu is depicted a riding aboard a Mushhushshu, which took the form of a snake-like dragon.
When searching for one of the most significant temples associated with Nabu, you will find that texts point to a location by Babylon called Borsippa. Nabu is often connected to the wedge, which is known as his symbol, which signifies a cuneiform sign or a stylus.
In the underworld, Nergal is a well-known god, who has also created a grand reputation as a hearty warrior. Decorated with lion-heads (at times), Nergal slings about a mace as his symbol. When he becomes angered by the actions of humans, he will inflict forest fires, fevers, and plagues. Nergal called the underworld his home, which he shares with his wife, Ereshkigal.
Holding a bow and arrow, as well as a sickle sword, the god of war is named Ninurta, who is often seen running on the back of a monster that possesses the body of a lion and the tail of a scorpion. Sometimes, depictions show him chasing after a lion-type monster with wings like a bird, as well as the feet and tail.