In this final installment of Mesopotamian gods and goddesses, we will take a look at the significant Sumerian goddess who was known as ‘mother of the gods;’ a protective demon on the side of humans; and find out the purpose of the Scorpion People.
As an important Sumerian goddess, Ninhursag is often referred to as ‘mother of the gods’. It is quite curious that Ninhursag was an important figure throughout early Mesopotamian mythology but is absent in later mythological texts.
When the humans required protection against evil forces and damaging plague, it was a demon by the name of Pazuzu, who would save them. With the body of a human, Pazuzu was made with various animal parts, including the feet and claws of an eagle. His head was that of a monster. In text, Pazuzu held a rather strong demeanor about himself that he used to fight against the powers of the ill-willed goddess named Lamashtu.
The Scorpion people served the sun god named Shamash, who were considered rather powerful protectors against demons. With the head and body of a human, the Scorpion people displayed a lower half of the body that resembled a bird with a scorpion’s tail. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the gate of the mountain (where the sun rises) is looked after by a frightening scorpion-man and scorpion-woman.
The sun god Shamesh is also known as the god of truth and justice because he is able to see everything. In depictions, Shamash carries about a knife with a jagged edge so that he may cut his way past the mountains at dawn. The symbol that represents Shamesh is a disc (sometimes with rays of the sun) or a disc with wings. After 1000 BC, other symbols were connected to him, including a horse and later , a chariot. Additionally, it was believed that the god travels by boat. The scared number of Shamesh is 20.
Sin is the moon god, where he is known by his symbols of the crescent moon, the bull, and a tripod, which is sometimes seen as a lamp stand. Riding on top of a bull with wings, Sin displays a distinctive beard that is made of lapis lazuli , a semi-precious stone that possesses appeal due to its intensely shade of blue. Since the lunar month consists of 30 days, the sacred number of 30 also represents Sin.
When scanning the Babylonian Epic of Creation, Tiamat is portrayed as an angry goddess, who comes to the conclusion that she wishes to destroy all of the other gods. In an attempt to wipe them out, she established a collection of demons, which becomes her powerful army. The other gods are frightened and all decide that Tiamat’s threats should come to an end. They wish to kill her, but they are afraid of her. It is Marduk who agrees to kill Tiamat under the condition that he is made into a supreme god. When he succeeds in killing Tiamat, using her bisected body to create heaven and earth. It is believed that the rivers Tigris and Euphrates flow from her eyes.
As a demon, Ugallu is known for protecting humans against demons with evil intentions, as well as against illnesses. Depictions of Ugallu showcase a human body with the head of a lion and the feet of a bird.
As an official of the god Ea, Usmu is known to possess two different faces. Sometimes, Usmu is seen as a messenger and when depicted, is often highlighted as bringing Ea a bird-man in his presence.