## THE DEVIL IS WODAN AND THE GRAIL IS PAGAN

Board index JoyofSatan666 The Devil is Wodan And The Grail is Pagan

## The Devil is Wodan And The Grail is Pagan

Thu Jun 01, 2017 1:14 pm
HP Mageson666 Site Admin
The ancient Aryan world existed from Ireland to though central Asia to India. Its no mistake the Indo-Aryans all spoke the same language of Sanskrit and had the same culture. The hair braid style found on the White Mummies in China is only found on this earth today in Denmark as part of the culture. From Northern Europe to Greece to India the central god is commonly referred to as the Horned God. Which later become the symbol of the Devil.

Sanskrit was originally a runic cuneiform script it was later changed to Brahmi script and then the current Urdu of today with the Moghul Empire. The runic scripts survived in the European runes. The different runes are names of Vedic Aryan deities as well as the same deities in Aryan Egypt. Kaun is the ancient spelling of Krisna, Is “Lord” in the Veda’s, and Isis in Egypt. Aos, Osiris in Egypt, Geb, the name of the earth God in Egypt, Ura is Uraesus which is Ura..Deus, the God Ura the second rune. Because the letter are deities in the mysteries. We note this openly with the Thor and Tyr runes, two Gods.

Note Aos the fourth rune of Wodan means Sacred Tree and serpent. Aos is the name of the serpent God. And Aos means God in the runes. Wodan. The meaning of Osiris is Sacred Tree. Osiris is Ptah in the later theology in Egypt as is well known. The fourth rune Aos is a literal name of Osiris in Egypt. Aos is the runic name of Wodan.

In northern Europe Wodan on all the sacred artifacts is always showed as the horned God. The Gundestrup Cauldron found in Denmark. It shows Wodan as the central horned figure sitting holding the horned serpent and ring and surrounded by different shamanic animals. The other scenes relate to the rebirth of the soul a warrior being thrown into the cauldron by a man with what appears to be a serpent headdress and later horse seated warriors being lead by a serpent. The symbol of the victorious warriors ride thought the underworld to rebirth. The horse is the spine in myth. The serpent is Wodan.

Note on this image the shape of the crown of the Horned God, is the open thousand petal lotus in the east. Its shown the same way:

In ancient Vedic India we have Lord Pashupati who is the ancient form of Shiva sitting as the horned God surrounded by seven main sacred animals. These seven animals in Vedic world are the symbols of the seven chakra’s that the horned God is the master of. As the Lord of Yogi. In Sumer the Seven main Gods are shown standing atop and riding seven totem animals. The head God of Sumer Enki is shown always as the horned God. The Aryan Sumerian’s had exact same culture the Europeans did as fellow Aryans. In Sumer Enki was shown as the serpent and also called Satana. Which is why the Aryan Yedizi’s who’s calendar is seven thousand years old and stated they came from India and were part of Sumeria. Still call their God, Shaitan, Satan.

Wodan is called Hari-gast. Hari is a name of Shiva in the east and the source of the word Ari, Arya. Hari means HA meaning The. The Ari. The Arya.

Odin is the holder of the Odherir Cauldron of which He turns Himself into a serpent to drink dry. This like on the Gundestrup artifact which is the symbol of the Odherir Cauldron is showing the serpent as the symbol of the reborn soul. This Odherir Cauldron is also shown as Wodin’s Horn of Mead. The reason is the horn is the symbol of the tailbone. In the east Shiva, Pashupati is shown with the Kunda which is the sacred water pot always sitting next to Him. The tailbone is called the Kunda in Sanskrit. This kunda holds the water of life of which Enki rules in Sumer. The Horns are the symbol of the risen serpent. The trident of Shiva the serpent wand, has the bull horns on the top showing the two serpents coming together at the top. Enki is crowned with bull horns and He is the serpent God.

In the Edda’s and Saga’s the original divine couple are Woden and Freya, Frigga is actually Freya in the Myths. Freya simply means “The Lady”. Woden descends into the realm of Hel and marries the Goddess of Hel who lives in a sacred cave. The Sacred cave is the symbol of the Kunda in the east and west the dwelling of the root chakra were the serpent energy lays coiled. Odin sings the rune mantra’s and pleases the Hel Goddess who then gives him the drink of the mead from the horn, the tail bone. Odin is transformed into an immortal and in some cases turns into a eagle carrying a serpent to ascend to Valhalla. The symbol is still in the east. Its the serpent being lifted to the crown.

There is another tale of Odin having the sacred marriage with Freya who gives Him the cup of mead to drink and turns Him into the immortal one. Freya the Goddess is shown as having the form of a Hag and beautiful maiden. She shows her beauty form upon appearing to marry the God hero, she appears here holding the sacred mead cup. This is the tale of Perceval and Kundry in the Grail mythos. Kundry is also Kund in German the Kunda. Which is known as Kunda and Kundalini in Sanskrit. The name of the serpent Goddess in the east and west, The Lady. As She is even called in the east.

The symbol of the sacred marriage between Odin and Freya is the golden ring the symbol of infinity, gold is the metal of immortality its the ouroboros symbol the perfected soul. The Pagans would swear all their oaths on our Gods, they did this many times on the Golden Ring. They were swearing their oath upon the serpent which is the symbol of the High God, Wodan.

Another name of the World Tree [the spine] is Mimir’s Tree. The tree is kept young and alive eternally by the water of Mimir’s Well which waters it daily. This is the all revealing part. Odin after drinking from Mimir’s well under goes nine nights of trial on the World Tree. For which He gives nine rune chants to over come each night. He emerges reborn a metamorphosed divine being. The nine nights are the nine worlds or chakra’s the serpent energy pierces thought to reach the crown. The runic chants are the sacred formula’s to pass the flow thought each chakra to the crown to be reborn. This is seen in the east, Greece and Egypt as well.

The sacred marriage of the Mead between Odin and Freya is the symbol of the alchemical inner sexual union of the soul by raising the serpent to the crown. The Mead is called Madhu in Sanskrit which means Honey its the actual name of the Soma. Its honey wine as the Norse, Germanic Mead is. Mjaðar in the old Norse. The Soma is the nectar of immortality which in the Veda’s is released thought all of the chakra’s and nadi’s upon the serpent reaching and opening the crown chakra. The union of heaven and earth the God and Goddess. Taking one to Immortality.

The symbol of drinking in the Vedic world is in their Yogic texts is the moving the prana up the spine from the root to activate and bring the kundalini to the crown. Its the core of the techniques of pranayama and other methods.

Wodan breaths the breath of life into the first people Ash and Elmba. This is the symbol of the energies of the serpentine centers and prana flowing thought the nadis and body. Which the breath is connected to. The symbol is Wodan is the soul and the breath of life. Breath is symbolic of spirit.

Woden’s name also means spirit, the element of spirit is the symbol of Prana which is always shown as the serpent in the Vedic world as the western. The element of spirit is also sound which is light. Woden is called Mercury openly by the Roman’s and one of Shiva’s original titles is Wodan in the east. Because Wodan is their name of Mercury as well as Buddha the two are interchangeable. That is why in Sri Lanka Wodan is what they call Buddha. Shiva is also called Mercury in the Hindu alchemical texts as its Mercury which transforms the elements to gold. Shiva is openly called Wodan in the east. In Europe Wodan was also called Budh, Budha, Buddha. Buddha is Sanskrit for Mercury as is Wodan.

This is why runes are carved into wood, wood rules the element of spirit. They are to be vibrated into the soul to transform the soul. Galdr means not just to sing or vibrate runes but also shining. The runes take one to the shining state. Rune means mystery, its the knowledge of how to raise the serpent and transform the soul. Which come from Wodan the serpent. The core of the word Rune, Ru is the symbol of the spoken word creating the new soul in Aryan Egypt. Where Ptah the Creator God was called Buddha [Wodan] in the east Buddha is translated and spoken as Pootah, Ptha as well. Shiva-Wodan of the east shares the same qualities of Ptah. Ptah is the serpent creator and the serpent is also called Buto, Wuto in Egypt . Enki the serpent God of Sumeria is known to be Ptah in Egypt. And further east becomes Shiva-Wodan. Ptah is also called Pan in Egypt and is shown as the later Greek Pan. Pan is another ancient form of the same God. He was shown as the black goat just as Dionysus was. Later they became separated or the writings we have left claim such.

The Devil is shown with horns, wearing animal skins adorned with Serpents, being blue or red in color and carrying the trident or spear. And dwelling on mountain tops and in the sacred groves. This to this day is the ancient symbol of Shiva and Dionysus who is Shiva further west. Dionysus was called Savas and Shiva was called Shiavas. The tales of the two Gods are the same in everyway. The Greeks stated they came from the east. And openly called Shiva, Dionysus when in the east. Dionysus was shown as being red as was Shiva sometimes the color of the rising sun. The reborn soul. Wodan was shown as being blue as Shiva as well as Dionysus as well. The blue paint the bear shirts the warriors of Wodan painted themselves was called Wod. Wod is another name of Wodan. The color of spirit purified by serpent fire.

In the Greek mysteries the Hero is flung into the Cauldron and boiled till the Titanic elements raises to the top and is removed. They then remerge reborn as a shining Olympian. In the Germanic, Norse anyone who is bathed in the Well emerges a Shining one, reborn.

The Shiva tantra’s state that Shiva is the fire of the serpent energy and the breath or pranayama and the element of spirit.

In the east they state the elements are turned to gold by the “fires of the Kundalini” so we see this Mercury is really the serpent energy which is called Wodan east and west. This is why all the Pagan rites of Wodan revolved on the single concept of mystical death and literal rebirth. So much so Snorri removed all mention of this in his Christened writing. It was too dangerous to the Church.

Wodan is the serpent energy that transforms the elements of the soul by fire into their one aspect which is Spirit which is eternal. The name of spirit is Wodan. And the name of the serpent that transforms into spirit is Wodan. Because the serpent is the symbol of the reborn soul because its spirit.

They would wrap a golden serpent around the tree in the sacred grove to honor Wodan. This is the symbol of immortality in the Pagan world.

Shiva, Woden was Zeus to the Greeks, mainly in the form of Dionysus the primordial form of Zeus. The bible calls the Throne of Zeus the Throne of Satan in Pergamum was the Temple of the Throne of Zeus, the Nazi’s brought this to Germany and gave it honors. From revelations:

“To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: ‘I know your works, and where you dwell… where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to my name, and did not deny my faith even in the days in which Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.'” Revelation 2:12

The Christians also call Wodan openly the Devil in their writings. There are many Christian tales of Wodan appearing as a man and making pacts, offering knowledge of the occult and tricking Christians into blasphemes against the Christian sacraments. Wodan is the center figure all the tales of the Devil roaming the earth appearing before Kings, educated men and normal people and making oaths and pacts come from. He is the Mephistopheles of Faust. This is were the concept of worshipping the Devil to obtain magical powers comes from. The Devil is the serpent in symbolism in Christianity. The worship of the serpent in the Pagan world is the practise of activating the Kundalini and developing Siddhi’s from this. Wodan is the serpent God. And was the name of the this energy to our ancestors east to west. Devil is a Sanskrit word for the serpent as well. A Devil worshiper is literally a serpent worshipper. This is what the Christians meant literally by calling Pagan’s Devil worshippers. Serpent worshippers. Wodan is the serpent.

In some versions of the Grail Mythos Percival is only able to obtain the Grail after avoiding all Churches, consecrated grounds and Christian rites or holy days. Only by dwelling in the Forrest and then making a pact with Lucifer, the Devil, then the Hero is then able to obtain the grail.

Sources:
Shiva and Dionysus Gods of Love and Ecstasy, Danielou
Maiden with the Mead – A Goddess of Initiation Rituals in Old Norse Myths, Maria Kvilhaug
The Mystery of the Grail, Evola
The Serpent Grail, Gardiner and Osborn
Shiva Lord of Yoga, Frawley
Hidden Horizons Unearthing Ten Thousand Year of Vedic Culture, Frawley
The Sons of God, Acharya S
Starwalkers, William Henry
The Realm of the Ring Lord, Gardner

## 100,000 YEAR OLD ELECTRICAL DEVICE FOUND

Date of Event / Case File: 01/01/1998

### Case File Details

Is it possible that an advanced extraterrestrial civilization millions of years ahead of us found a way to manipulate space-time and perhaps even discovered a way to travel through time? We do not posses adequate technology to visit the past or the future, and we do now even know if such remarkable journeys can become reality, but maybe one day in the future  humans will see themselves as true time travelers.  If that’s true, then time travel already exists.

There are a huge number of incredible artifacts lying scattered across the floors of abandoned, forgotten basements of the world’s greatest natural history museums.

In the dim, dusty corners of these museums we find some of the keys to the greatest mysteries of Mankind. Strange and unlikely artifacts found, studied and discarded are more common than most people know.

Thousands of things have been discovered that argue against the natural order that scientists have deemed as the official record of the rise of humanity. Among them was the remarkable discovery of a stone embedded with a three-pronged plug that is approximately 100,000 years old.

This mysterious archaeological finding was discovered accidentally by electrical engineer John J. Williams in 1998. Like many other precious, though undervalued artifacts, it may constitute a proof that extraterrestrial visitations to the planet Earth widely influenced our ancestors, so they became advanced and civilized and walked the earth long before any of the known ancient cultures came into existence.

Based on a few, preliminary consultations with an engineer and geologist, the artifact has an appearance of an electronic component embedded in a naturally formed, solid granite stone composed of quartz and feldspar – including very small percentages of mica – already existed at the time of the formation of the rock.

In addition, it resembles an electronic XLR connector or another very similar component and reveals no trace of having been glued or welded.

It shows a weak magnetic attraction, and ohm meter readings reveal that it has a strength approaching that of an open circuit.

The three-pronged plug is held by a matrix of a thus-far indeterminable origin. The 0.3-inch diameter piece does not appear to be manufactured out of wood, plastic, rubber, metal, or some other recognizable material.

NOTE: The above image is real.

KENS NOTE:  I feel this earth has been here for millions of years and thousands of civilizations have come and gone from this earth.  When will it be our turn ?

100,000 Year Old Electrical Device Found

New Mexico, USA
Is it possible that an advanced extraterrestrial civilization millions of…
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## TEMPLE OF BEL (Baal-Zebub) ,PALMIRA

Temple of Bel, Palmyra

Temple of Bel – Palmyra, first and second centuries C.E.
(photo: ian.plumb, CC BY 2.0)
Location of Palmyra within Syria

### A noble city

Described as a noble city situated in a vast expanse of sand and renowned for its rich soil and pleasant streams, the ancient city of Palmyra was a stopping point for caravans traversing the Syrian Desert (Pliny the Elder Natural History 5.88.1). There is evidence that the site has been settled by people since the early second millennium B.C.E.

Known from ancient literary records—including Assyrian texts and the Hebrew Bible—Palmyra today is known as a unique and resplendent ruined city that preserves remarkable examples of monumental, hybrid architecture that blends the canon of Graeco-Roman architecture with Near Eastern elements.

### Brief history

Palmyra, originally known as Tadmor, became a prosperous city under the Seleucid kings and was eventually annexed to the Roman empire after 64 B.C.E. Under Tiberius (emperor from 14-37 C.E.) the city was incorporated into the Roman province of Syria and assumed the name Palmyra. The city received the patronage of several Roman emperors and experienced great prosperity. The city suffered under the rise of the Sassanid dynasty of Persia. After the brief, revolutionary rise of queen Zenobia, the city was sacked by the Roman emperor Aurelian in 272 C.E.

View of Palmyra ruins from the Qala’at Shirukh hill (photo: Varun Shiv Kapur, CC BY 2.0)

### A hybrid architecture

The monumental architectural remains of the city attest to its great prosperity during its heyday. Among the many surviving monuments of Palmyra is the remarkable temple of the Semitic god Bel or Baal (top of page). A discussion of its architectural features demonstrates both the plurality of artistic and architectural styles in the ancient Mediterranean, and the numerous cultures that frequently overlapped and inter-mixed there. Although an inscription attests to the temple’s dedication in 32 C.E., its completion was gradual with major architectural elements added over the course of the first and second centuries.

Plan of the site of Palmyra

Columns in the inner court of the temple of Bel
(photo: ian.plumb, CC BY 2.0)
The organization of the temple’s ground plan derive from the traditions of eastern ritual architecture, including independent shrines for distinct divinities and, notably, the bent-axis approach to the cult (i.e. the architecture requires the celebrant to enter the temple and turn 90 degrees in order to view the offering table and cult area). The architectural elements employed in the temple’s elevation however, derive from the Graeco-Roman canon, including the use of the Corinthian order as well as various architectural elements of that adorn the frieze course and roofline.In its outward appearance, the temple seems to derive from the canon of Hellenistic Greek architecture.

The temple itself sits within a bounded, architectural precinct measuring approximately 205 meters per side. This precinct, surrounded by a portico (a colonnaded entryway), encloses the temple of Bel as well as other cult buildings. The temple itself has a very deep foundation that supports a stepped platform. At the level of the stylobate (the platform atop the steps) the area measures 55 x 30 meters and the cella (the inner chamber of the temple that held the cult statue), stands over 14 meters in height and measures 39.45 x 13.86 meters.

The cella is designed according to the Near Eastern tradition of the bent-axis approach and incorporates two separate shrines (thalamoi). A ramp and central stair, with an off-center doorway, grants access to the cella. The columnar arrangement is pseduoperipteral (free-standing columns at the porch with engaged columns on the sides and back) and includes an arrangement of 8 x 15 (height = 15.81 meters) fluted, Corinthian columns. The cella also has exterior Ionic half-columns at each of its ends. Merlons (crenellations) crowded the roof and the ceilings were coffered. From masons’ marks and graffiti found on the site, it seems that there were craftspeople of various background, including Greeks and Romans alongside the Palmyrenes.

Palmyra’s divine triad: Baalshamin, with the Moon god Aglibol on his right and the Sun-god Yarhibol at left, discovered at Bir Wereb, near Palmyra, 60 cm high (Louvre, Paris) (photo:  Emmanuel PIERRE, CC BY-SA 3.0)

The temple is dedicated to a divine triad, Bel along with the moon god Aglibol and the sun god Yarhibol. This divine triad is innovative, with the secondary gods playing the role of Bel’s attendants.

Carved stone ceiling, cella, Sanctuary of Bel, Palmyra, Syria (photo: John Winder, CC BY-NC 2.0)

### Graeco-Roman + Near Eastern

Front view of triumphal (or monumental) arch at Palmyra, Syria (photo: Erik Hermans, CC BY 2.0)The Temple of Bel is one of the great architectural achievements of the Mediterranean world during the early first millennium. As an architectural product it draws on rich, canonical forms derived from both the Graeco-Roman and Near Eastern spheres and its technical aesthetics are of the first order. Along with temples such as that of Heliopolitan Zeus at Baalbek, the Palmyrene temple demonstrates the massive civic investment in monumental architecture.

Clearly Palmyra was prosperous, allowing its elites to invest heavily in elaborate architecture—all the same this civic investment was also central to the Mediterranean concept of urbanism where presentation architecture helped to define and advance the status of the city itself. The hybridity of the Temple of Bel further demonstrates that ancient Palmyra was a multi-cultural community and that while the cult and its function adhered to Semitic practice, the execution of the temple in the Graeco-Roman style spoke the architectural lingua franca of the expansive Roman empire.

Essay by Dr. Jeffrey A. Becker

Palmyra, UNESCO video

Palmyra on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History

Trade Routes between Europe and Asia during Antiquity on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History

Trade and Commercial Activity in the Byzantine and Early Islamic Middle East on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History

Palmyra photo album on Flickr from the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World

The Divine Triad at the Louvre

Palmyra, UNESCO World Heritage Site

N. J. Andrade, Syrian Identity in the Greco-Roman World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013).

Warwick Ball, Rome in the East: The Transformation of an Empire (London: Routledge, 2002).

K. Butcher, Roman Syria and the Near East (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2004).

Trevor Bryce, Ancient Syria: a Three Thousand Year History (Oxford University Press, 2014).

P. Collart and J. Vicari, Le Sanctuaire de Baalshamin à Palmyre: Topographie et architecture, 2 vols (Rome: Institut Suisse de Rome,1969).

Malcolm A. R. Colledge and Pascale Linant de Bellefonds, “Palmyra” Grove Art Online

L. Dirven, The Palmyrenes of Dura-Europos: A Study of Religious Interaction in Roman Syria (Religions in the Graeco-Roman World) (Leiden: Brill, 1999).

H. J. W. Drijvers, The Religion of Palmyra  (Leiden: Brill, 1976).

Hugh Elton, Frontiers of the Roman Empire (London: Routledge, 1996).

C. F. Gates, Ancient Cities: the Archaeology of Urban Life in the Ancient Near East and Egypt, Greece and Rome, 2nd edition (London: Routledge, 2011).

M. Gawlikowski, Le temple palmyrénien: étude d’épigraphie et de topographie historique (Warsaw:  Éditions scientifiques de Pologne, 1973).

P. Gros, L’architecture romaine: du début du iiie siècle av. J.-C. à la fin du Haut-Empire, (Paris: Picard, 1996).

Nigel Pollard, Soldiers, Cities, and Civilians in Roman Syria (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000).

H. Seyrig, R. Amy and E. Will, Le Temple de Bel à Palmyre, 2 vols (Paris: Geuthner, 1975).

A. M. Smith, II, Roman Palmyra: Identity, Community, and State Formation (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013).

J. Starcky and M. Gawlikowski, Palmyre (Paris: Librairie d’Amérique et d’Orient, 1985).

J. B. Ward-Perkins, Roman Imperial Architecture (Yale: Yale University Press, 1981).

T. Wiegand et al., Palmyra: Ergebnisse der Expeditionen von 1902 und 1917 (Berlin: H. Keller, 1932).

E. Will, Les Palmyréniens: la Venise des sables: Ier siècle avant-IIIème siècle après J.-C. (Paris: A. Colin, 1992).

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# The Lost city of Atlantis, everything you need to know

## In his stories, Plato describes Atlantis as a legendary island, idealizing it as an advanced society where utopia dominates

The story of Atlantis, a legendary lost island was first told by Plato, in his dialogues “Timaeus” and “Critias”. Both were written about 330 BC. In his stories, Plato describes Atlantis as a legendary island, idealizing it as an advanced society where utopia dominates. In Atlantis, wisdom is the primary characteristic of the people, and their wisdom should bring peace in the world. The idea of an utopian society has captivated dreamers for generations, and many have tried to find and locate the city Plato described in his stories.

How does Atlantis look?

Plato has given vivid and comprehensive descriptions and observations how does Atlantis look. He describes the mythical city as the home for the best architects and engineers in the world. The city is rich with palaces, temples, docks and harbors.

The capital city, according to Plato’s descriptions, was built on a hill and was surrounding by several rings of water. All the rings were joined by tunnels that made it possible for ships to sail through them. All the outer rings were connected to the ocean with a huge canal. Outside of the capital city there were huge fields designed for farmers to grow food for the city’s population. Past the fields, the wealthy villagers lived up in the mountains. The homes of the wealthy villagers looked amazing, enriched with fountains, stones walls and precious metals covering the walls.

The Legend of Atlantis and Poseidon

In his works, Plato mentions that Atlantis was actually ruled by Poseidon, the sea god in Ancient Greece. Poseidon was given ruling over Atlantis, and the sea god used the city to show his appreciation for his wife. He built a large home for his mortal wife on the hill and in the middle of the island.

According to Plato, Atlantians were great engineers, and their technology was much more advanced than in other parts of the world. That is what made Atlantis special, as it was technologically and educationally much more advanced.

The palace, which Poseidon built for his wife was surrounded by wife rings of water and land. The palace was connected through tunnels that were large so ships can pass through them.

Wealthy villagers in Atlantis also lived in the mountains. Plato describes many spectacular buildings and fountains in Atlantis, not just the Palace that Poseidon built for his wife.

Poseidon’s wife had ten sons, five sets of twins. Each son was given one part of Atlantis to rule, and it worked for generations. Atlantis was a peaceful place, a truly utopian society where wisdom prevails.

The legend of Atlantis ends with the wrath of Zeus. Apparently, the citizens of the city became greedy, corrupt and they let their emotions get the best of them. Zeus summoned all the gods, and decided to teach Atlantis a lesson. Sadly, the story ends there, so it is unknown how and if Zeus destroyed the city.

Modern theories and impact of Atlantis

There are several modern theories that try to explain the existence and location of the mythical and utopian city. We will delve into some of the plausible and popular ones.

The city of Atlantis, and the term utopia that Plato used had a huge impact on the work of Thomas More, who wrote his own book called “Utopia”. More lived in the 16th century, and he was inspired by travelers in America. His book describes an imaginary and fictional land, which he calls the “New World”. Furthermore, “Utopia” had an impact on another writer passionate about utopian societies, Sir Francis Bacon. Bacon wrote a book called “The New Atlantis” where he also describes utopian society located in the western coast of America.

Ignatius Donnelly is one of the most popular authors when the subject is Atlantis. He was a firm believer in Mayanism, and argued that all antic civilizations descended from the mythical city that Plato described. Donnelly saw Atlantis as a technologically sophisticated and more advanced city, and drew several parallels between the New and Old World. He is considered as the “father of the revival of Atlantis”. He believed that Atlantis was destroyed by the Great Flood mentioned in the Bible.

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky was a Russian writer, and she is often mentioned as one of the creators of the Nazi myth and their supremacy. Blavatsky took a different approach to the myth of Atlantis. She wrote about racial evolution, not primate evolution. According to her, the citizens of Atlantis were the fourth race, which was then succeeded by a more superior, fifth race, or as she called it, the “Aryan Race”. The Aryan race and its supremacy is one of the founding principles of Nazism.

Possible Locations

The exact location of the city has been a topic for many researchers, archeologists, historians and geographers. Many have tried to find it, and questioned its existence and location. The locations for Atlantis vary from the Andes Mountains in Bolivia, South America, to Florida, Central America, to China and Africa. Here are some possible theories about the location of the lost utopian city.

The Mediterranean Sea is one of the common locations for geographers. Since Plato lived in Ancient Greece, a time when the Mediterranean was common place for traveling. Some of the locations that have been mentioned as possible locations in the Sea include the islands Crete, Sardinia, Sicily, Santorini, Cyprus and Malta. Also, land based cities as Troy and Tantalus have been mentioned as locations. The land based cities are also near the Mediterranean Sea.

The second common location is the Atlantic Ocean. This theory is backed up by a research done by professor Richard Freund. In 2011, he and his team claimed to have found proof of existence in the Atlantic Sea, on a location close to Andalusia. The team, working on a documentary for National Geographic Channel, believed that the city has been destroyed by a tsunami. On the other hand, many Spanish scientists have dismissed this theory, claiming that Freund is speculating and trying to sensationalize the work. Another theory by German researcher Rainer Kuhne places Atlantis in close location. He believed that Atlantis is located north of Cadiz, a city in Spain. The Atlantic Ocean is a popular choice for speculation due to the name it bears, since many believe Atlantis comes from the Atlantic Ocean. The Canary Islands have also been proposed as a possible location.

The Caribbean is another location that many point to when asked where Atlantis is located. Specifically, the alleged Cuban sunken city is actually Atlantis.

As for South America, many scientists confirm the fact that the continent has many similarities to the description of the city that Plato uses in his work. Specifically, Bolivia is a country mentioned by many and the region of the Andes.

The death of a myth

While many have tried to find Atlantis, Plato is very clear about the location of the mythical city. The downside is, according to the directions and the description he gave, it is impossible for such city to exist.

For example, Plato describes the location with the words “For the ocean there was at that time navigable; for in front of the mouth which you Greeks call, as you say, ‘the pillars of Heracles,’ (i.e., Hercules) there lay an island which was larger than Libya and Asia together.” In other words, Plato believes the city is in the Atlantic Ocean, beyond what is nowadays known as the “Strait of Gibraltar”. There have been no traces or evidence of its existence in the location, despite the fact that many have tried to locate Atlantis on the exact same place. Additionally, Plato’s description about how the city was built is impossible. According to Plato, the continent drifted, and the seafloor spread over time. It would be impossible for the city to sink in that place.

# Back to the Face on Mars

While Scientific American has probably in mind future astronauts, the new discoveries have important implications for the presence on Mars of “ancient astronauts,” and have a bearing on the issue of the famed (and controversial) Face on Mars.

In his various volumes of The Earth Chronicles series, Zecharia Sitchin has provided ancient evidence, both texts on clay tablets and illustrations from cylinder seals, showing that Mars served as a way station for the Anunnaki “gods” in their space travels from Nibiru to Earth. (See also the article “Was the ‘Face’ depicted 4,500 years ago?” on this website).

In The Lost Book of Enki (2004) Zecharia wrote in regard to the Face on Mars that it marked the burial place of an Anunnaki leader named Alalu – that a great rock, fashioned in the image of his face wearing an astronaut’s helmet, covered a cave in which the dead Anunnaki leader was laid to rest.

The existence on Mars of large caves (‘caverns’) topped by shaped rock structures – now revealed by NASA’s new discoveries – was thus actually written about first in Zecharia’s The Lost Book of Enki three years earlier.

Z. Sitchin 2007

Permission to reprint is hereby granted on condition that the following is prominently stated:

 © Z. Sitchin Reprinted with permission.

## THE EGYPTIAN PYRAMIDS

The Egyptian Pyramids
To this day, atheistic scholars and scientists are at a loss to explain the megalithic structures and extremely advanced civilizations that existed in ancient times. These structures still stand today after thousands of years.

After the flood, much of the landscape was eroded. A landing base was needed for the Gods and the twin pyramids at Giza in Egypt were built to replicate the twin peaks of Mount Ararat.¹ Measurements were taken from the skies. The Gods also used the Pyramids to do ritual work, for magickal ceremonies and initiation rites.²

There are 365.24 cubits in the pyramid’s base. This corresponds exactly to the solar year. The sum of the base diagonals gives an approximation of the number of years in a total precession of the equinoxes. [Just short of 26,000]. The pyramid’s apex corresponds to the North Pole, the perimeter is equivalent to the equator, and its four plane surfaces accurately represent the four quadrants of the hemisphere. These measurements parallel the ley lines and magnetic fields of the Earth.

The exteriors of the great pyramids were originally covered with limestone and they shone in the Sun. The limestone has been picked off over the centuries. The Gods placed crystals inside of the pyramids. The power of the crystals produced a beam that reflected up to the sky. To this day, the electrical current at the apex of the pyramids is so powerful it has knocked men unconscious. The pyramids also reverberated from the inside to serve as a landing guide. The Gods called them the “lofty houses of eternity.”³

The pyramids were built in the Age of Leo, according to what was written by the Gods. This is the reason for the Sphinx, which has the body of a lion. The face on the Sphinx was originally that of the Egyptian God Thoth. Due to rivalry between brothers Thoth and Marduk/Amon Ra, the face was eventually changed to that of Amon Ra.4

Satan/Enki was given the “Lower World.” These were the lands beneath the equator. This included all of Egypt, though Egypt is north of the equator.5

In 1904, Aleister Crowley spent the night in one of the Pyramids. He claimed a purple light lit up the entire area inside of the pyramid. Archeologists and Egyptologists who have explored the Pyramids are at a loss to explain the absence of torch marks at a time when they believed electricity and other means of light were not yet invented. Napoleon, in the year 1798 entered one of the Pyramids. When he came back out, he was pale faced and in awe. He would never reveal what he saw as he claimed no one would ever believe him.

References:

¹ The Lost Book of Enki: Memoirs and Prophesies of an Extra-Terrestrial God by Zecharia Sitchin

² The Ancient Secret of the Flower of Life by Drunvalo Melchezedek [These two volume books are very right hand path, but contain useful information if one can read past the Christian biased garbage].

³ The Lost Book of Enki

4Ibid.

5Ibid.

Back to Sermons Page

© Copyright 2002, Joy of Satan Ministries;
Library of Congress Number: 12-16457

# Akhenaten

by
published on 17 April 2014

Akhenaten (r. 1353-1336 BCE) was a pharaoh of Egypt of the 18th Dynasty. He is also known as Akhenaton’ or Ikhnaton’ and also Khuenaten’, all of which are translated to mean successful for’ or of great use to’ the god Aten. Akhenaten chose this name for himself after his conversion to the cult of Aten. Prior to this conversion, he was known as Amenhotep IV (or Amenophis IV). He was the son of Amenhotep III and his wife Tiye, husband of Queen Nefertiti, and father of both Tutankhamun (by a lesser wife named Lady Kiya) and Tutankhamun’s wife Ankhsenamun (by Nefertiti). His reign as Amenhotep IV lasted five years during which he followed the policies of his father and the religious traditions of Egypt. However, in the fifth year, he underwent a dramatic religious transformation, changed his devotion from the cult of Amun to that of Aten, and, for the next twelve years, became famous (or infamous) as the heretic king’ who abolished the traditional religious rites of Egypt and instituted the first known monotheistic state religion in the world and, according to some, monotheism itself. His reign is known as The Amarna Period because he moved the capital of Egypt from the traditional site at Thebes to the city he founded, Akhetaten, which came to be known as Amarna. The Amarna Period is the most controversial era in Egyptian history and has been studied, debated, and written about more than any other.

### Amenhotep IV Becomes Akhenaten

Amenhotep IV may have been co-regent with his father, Amenhotep III, and it has been noted that the sun-disk known as the Aten’ is displayed on a number of inscriptions from this period. The Aten was not new to the rule of Akhenaten and, prior to his conversion, was simply another cult among the many in ancient Egypt. It should be noted that cult’ did not have the same meaning in this regard as it does in the present day. There was absolutely nothing negative in the designation of a community of worshippers being known as a cult’ in ancient Egypt. It carried the same meaning then as a member of the Christian community today being designated a Baptist, a Lutheran, a Presbyterian, or Catholic or Eastern Orthodox. The gods and practices of the various cults all represented the same end: eternal harmony and balance.

Akhenaten’s religious reforms may have been the first ever instance of monotheism.

Amenhotep III ruled over a land whose priesthood, centered on the god Amun, had been steadily growing in power for centuries. By the time Amenhotep IV came to power, the priests of Amun were on almost equal standing with the royal house in wealth and influence. The historian Lewis Spence writes, “With the exception of Ra and Osiris, the worship of Amun was more widespread than that of any other god in the Nile Valley; but the circumstances behind the growth of his cult certainly point to its having been disseminated by political rather than religious propaganda” (137). By the time of Amenhotep IV, the Cult of Amun owned more land than the king. In the 5th year of his reign, Amenhotep IV outlawed the old religion and proclaimed himself the living incarnation of a single, all-powerful, deity known as Aten and, by the 9th year, he had closed all the temples and suppressed religious practices. The historian Barbara Watterson writes:

By the ninth year of his reign, Akhenaten had proscribed the old gods of Egypt, and ordered their temples to be closed, a very serious matter, for these institutions played an important part in the economic and social life of the country. Religious persecution was new to the Egyptians, who had always worshipped many deities and were ever ready to add new gods to the pantheon. Atenism, however, was a very exclusive religion confined to the royal family, with the king as the only mediator between man and god (111-112).

Amenhotep moved his seat of power from the traditional palace at Thebes to one he built at the city he founded, Akhetaten, changed his name to Akhenaten, and continued the religious reforms which resulted in his being despised as the heretic king’ by some later writers while admired as a champion of monotheism by others.

### Akhenaten’s Monotheism

Some historians have praised Akhenaten’s reforms as the first instance of monotheism and the benefits of monotheistic belief; but these reforms were not at all beneficial to the people of Egypt at the time. The historian Durant, for example, writes that Akhenaten’s reforms were “the first out-standing expression of monotheism – seven hundred years before Isaiah [of the Bible] and an astounding advance upon the old tribal deities” (210). Those old tribal deities’ of Egypt, however, had encouraged peace, harmony, and the development of one of the greatest ancient cultures the world has ever known. The polytheism of the ancient Egyptians encouraged a world view where peace and balance were emphasized and religious tolerance was not considered an issue; there is not even a word directly corresponding to the concept of religious tolerance’ in the ancient Egyptian texts. A hallmark of any monotheistic belief system, however, is that it encourages the belief that, in order for it to be right, other systems must necessarily be wrong; and this insistence on being the sole administrator of ultimate truth leads to intolerance of other beliefs and their suppression; this is precisely what happened in Egypt. The names of the god Amun and the other gods were chiseled from monuments throughout Egypt, the temples were closed, and the old practices outlawed. The Egyptologist Zahi Hawass writes:

Dating to this point in Akhenaten’s reign was a campaign to excise the name of gods other than the Aten, especially Amun, from the monuments of Egypt. This was done with violence: hieroglyphs were brutally hacked from the walls of temples and tombs. This was probably carried out, at least in part, by illiterate iconoclasts, presumably following the orders of their king. [Akhenaten] carried out a religious revolution the like of which had never been seen before in Egypt. His reign represents a significant departure from religious, artistic, and political norms (42-43).

Priests of Amun who had the time and resources hid statuary and texts from the palace guards sent to destroy them and then abandoned their temple complexes. Akhenaten ordained new priests, or simply forced priests of Amun into the service of his new monotheism, and proclaimed himself and his queen gods.

### Neglecting Egypt’s Allies

The pharaoh as a servant of the gods, and identified with a certain god (usually Osiris), was common practice in ancient Egypt but no one before Akhenaten had proclaimed himself an actual god incarnate. One of the many unfortunate results of Akhenaten’s religious reforms was a neglect of foreign policy. From documents and letters of the time it is known that other nations, formerly allies, wrote numerous times asking Egypt for help in various affairs and that most of these requests were ignored by the deified king. Egypt was a wealthy and prosperous nation at the time and had been steadily growing in power since before the reign of Queen Hatshepsut (1479-1458 BCE). Hatshepsut and her successors, such as Tuthmosis III, employed a balanced approach of diplomacy and military action in dealing with foreign nations; Akhenaten chose simply to largely ignore what happened beyond the borders of Egypt and, it seems, most things outside of his palace at Akhetaten. Watterson notes that Ribaddi (Rib-Hadda), king of Byblos, who was one of Egypt’s most loyal allies, sent over fifty letters to Akhenaten asking for help in fighting off Abdiashirta (also known as Aziru) of Amor (Amurru) but these all went unanswered and Byblos was lost to Egypt (112). Tushratta, the king of Mitanni, who had also been a close ally of Egypt, complained that Amenhotep III had sent him statues of gold while Akhenaten only sent gold-plated statues.

### The Amarna Letters

The Amarna Letters, (correspondence found in the city of Amarna between the kings of Egypt and those of foreign nations) which provide evidence of Akhenaten’s negligence, also show him to have a keen sense of foreign policy when the situation interested him. He strongly rebuked Abdiashirta for his actions against Ribaddi and for his friendship with the Hittites who were then Egypt’s enemy. This no doubt had more to do with his desire to keep friendly the buffer states between Egypt and the Land of the Hatti (Canaan and Syria, for example, which were under Abdiashirta’s influence) than any sense of justice for the death of Ribaddi and the taking of Byblos. There is no doubt that his attention to this problem served the interests of the state but, as other similar issues were ignored, it seems that he only chose those situations which interested him personally. Akhenaten had Abdiashirta brought to Egypt and imprisoned for a year until Hittite advances in the north compelled his release but there seems a marked difference between his letters dealing with this situation and other king’s correspondence on similar matters.

While there are, then, examples of Akhenaten looking after state affairs, there are more which substantiate the claim of his disregard for anything other than his religious reforms and life in the palace. It should be noted, however, that this is a point hotly debated among scholars in the modern day, as is the whole of the so-called Amarna Period of Akhenaten’s rule. Regarding this, Hawass writes, “More has been written on this period in Egyptian history than any other and scholars have been known to come to blows, or at least to major episodes of impoliteness, over their conflicting opinions” (35). The preponderance of the evidence, both from the Amarna letters and from Tutankhamun’s later decree, as well as archaeological indications, strongly suggests that Akhenaten was a very poor ruler as far as his subjects and vassal states were concerned and his reign, in the words of Hawass, was “an inward-focused regime that had lost interest in its foreign policy” (45).

Any evidence that Akhenaten involved himself in matters outside of his city at Akhetaten always comes back to self-interest rather than state-interest. Hawass writes:

Akhenaten did not, however, abandon the rest of the country and retire exclusively to Akhetaten. When he laid out his city, he also commanded that a series of boundary stelae be carved in the cliffs surrounding the site. Among other things, these state that if he were to die outside of his home city, his body should be brought back and buried in the tomb that was being prepared for him in the eastern cliffs. There is evidence that, as Amenhotep IV, he carried out building projects in Nubia, and there were temples to the Aten in Memphis and Heliopolis, and possibly elsewhere as well (45).

### Akhetaten & Amarna Art

Life in his palace at Akhetaten seems to have been his primary concern. The city was built on virgin land in the middle of Egypt facing towards the east and precisely positioned to direct the rays of the morning sun toward temples and doorways. The city was:

Laid out parallel to the river, its boundaries marked by stelae carved into the cliffs ringing the site. The king himself took responsibility for its cosmologically significant master plan. In the center of his city, the king built a formal reception palace where he could meet officials and foreign dignitaries. The palaces in which he and his family lived were to the north and a road led from the royal dwelling to the reception palace. Each day, Akhenaten and Nefertiti processed in their chariots from one end of the city to the other, mirroring the journey of the sun across the sky. In this, as in many other aspects of their lives that have come to us through art and texts, Akhenaten and Nefertiti were seen, or at least saw themselves, as deities in their own right. It was only through them that the Aten could be worshipped: they were both priests and gods (Hawass, 39).

The art Hawass references is another important deviation of the Amarna Period from earlier and later Egyptian eras. Unlike the images from other dynasties of Egyptian history, the art from the Amarna Period depicts the royal family with elongated necks and arms and spindly legs. Scholars have theorized that perhaps the king “suffered from a genetic disorder called Marfan’s syndrome” (Hawass, 36) which would account for these depictions of him and his family as so lean and seemingly oddly-proportioned. A much more likely reason for this style of art, however, is the king’s religious beliefs. The Aten was seen as the one true god who presided over all and infused all living things. It was envisioned as a sun disk whose rays ended in hands touching and caressing those on earth. Perhaps, then, the elongation of the figures in these images was meant to show human transformation when touched by the power of the Aten. The famous Stele of Akhenaten, depicting the royal family, shows the rays of the Aten touching them all and each of them, even Nefertiti, depicted with the same elongation as the king. To consider these images as realistic depictions of the royal family, afflicted with some disorder, seems to be a mistake in that there would be no reason for Nefertiti to share in the king’s supposed disorder. The depiction, then, could illustrate Akhenaten and Nefertiti as those who had been transformed to god-like status by their devotion to the Aten to such an extent that their faith is seen even in their children.

The other aspect of Amarna Period art which differentiates it from earlier and later periods is the intimacy of the images, best exemplified in the Stele of Akhenaten showing the family enjoying each other’s company in a private moment. Images of pharaohs before and after this period depict the ruler as a solitary figure engaged in hunting or battle or standing in the company of a god or his queen in dignity and honor. This can also be explained as stemming from Akhenaten’s religious beliefs in that the Aten, not the pharaoh, was the most important consideration (as in the Stele of Akhenaten, it is the Aten disk, not the family, which is the center of the composition) and, under the influence of the Aten’s love and grace, the pharaoh and his family thrives.

### Akhenaten’s Monotheism & Legacy

This image of the Aten as an all-powerful, all-loving, deity, supreme creator and sustainer of the universe, is thought to have had a potent influence on the later development of monotheistic religious faith. Whether Akhenaten was motivated by a political agenda to suppress the power of the Cult of Amun or if he experienced a true religious revelation, he was the first on record to envision a single, supreme deity who cared for the individual lives and fates of human beings. Sigmund Freud, in his 1939 work Moses and Monotheism, argues that Moses was an Egyptian who had been an adherent of the Cult of Aten and was driven from Egypt following Akhenaten’s death and the return to the old religious paradigm. Freud quotes from James Henry Breasted, the noted archaeologist, that:

It is important to notice that his name, Moses, was Egyptian. It is simply the Egyptian word mose’ meaning child’, and is an abridgement of a fuller form of such names as Amen-mose’ meaning Amon-a-child’ or Ptah-mose’ meaning Ptah-a-child’…and the name Mose, child’, is not uncommon on the Egyptian monuments (5).

Freud recognizes that the Cult of Aten existed long before Akhenaten raised it to prominence but points out that Akhenaten added a component unknown previously in religious belief: “He added the something new that turned into monotheism, the doctrine of a universal god: the quality of exclusiveness” (24). The Greek philosopher Xenophanes would later experience a similar vision that the many gods of the Greek city-states were vain imaginings and there was only one true god and, though he shared this vision through his poetry, he never established the belief as a revolutionary new way of understanding oneself and the universe. Whether one regards Akhenaten as a hero or villain in Egypt’s history, his elevation of the Aten to supremacy changed not only that nation’s history, but the course of world civilization.

To those who came after him in Egypt, however, he was the heretic king’ and the enemy’ whose memory needed to be eradicated. His son, Tutankhamun (reigned 1336-1327 BCE) was given the name Tutankhaten at birth but changed his name upon ascending the throne to reflect his rejection of Atenism and his return of the country to the ways of Amun and the old gods. Tutankhamun’s successors Ay (1327-1323 BCE) and, especially, Horemheb (c. 1320-1292 BCE) tore down the temples and monuments built by Akhenaten to honor his god and had his name, and the names of his immediate successors, stricken from the record. In fact, Akhenaten was unknown in Egyptian history until the discovery of Amarna in the 19th century CE. Horemheb’s inscriptions listed him as the successor to Amenhoptep III and made no mention of the rulers of the Amarna Period. Akhenaten’s tomb was uncovered by the great archaeologist Flinders Petrie in 1907 CE and Tutankhamun’s tomb, more famously, by Howard Carter in 1922 CE. Interest in Tutankhamun spread to the family of the golden king’ and so attention was brought to bear again on Akhenaten after almost 4,000 years. His legacy of monotheism, however, if Freud and others are correct, was a part of the world’s culture since he instituted what remains a potent aspect of daily life in the present day.

### About the Author

A freelance writer and part-time Professor of Philosophy at Marist College, New York, Joshua J. Mark has lived in Greece and Germany and traveled through Egypt. He teaches ancient history, writing, literature, and philosophy.

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## ANCIENT EGYPT & MESOPOTAMIA

Ancient Religions of Egypt and Mesopotamia
World Religions Reference Library, Vol. 1, 2007.

Organized religion had its beginnings in ancient Mesopotamia (in what is now modern Iraq) and in Egypt more than five thousand years ago. The religious systems in these areas blended political with spiritual elements in a type of government known as a theocracy, or rule by divine guidance. In such a government, deities (gods and goddesses) are the supreme religious and civic leaders. Their will is carried out by a priestly class or by a divine king. Mesopotamian theocracies took the form of city-states ruled by patron gods or goddesses. The god’s desires and wishes were interpreted by political leaders called ensi and by a priestly class. In Egypt religion and the state were also bound together. The national leader, the pharaoh, was considered a living god and was the vital link between humanity and the rest of the gods.

A major difference in outlook, however, marked the two religions. In Mesopotamia the forces of nature were more chaotic, more likely to cause catastrophes, such as disastrous flooding. As a result, the gods were seen as unpredictable beings of extraordinary power who had to be kept content by priests. People were at the mercy of the gods, so the job of humanity was to carry out their wills and make them happy. In Egypt, where nature was less destructive, the gods were seen as kind and generous and generally well-disposed toward humanity. Egyptians believed that their gods had created Egypt as a sort of refuge of good and order in a world filled with chaos and disorder.

Both religions were polytheistic, meaning they recognized many gods. These gods had certain similarities in both traditions. Many gods and goddesses personified elements of nature. In the Mesopotamian pantheon, or collection of gods, the most important were the trio of the sky god, An (or Anu); the god of storm and the earth, Enlil; and the water god, Ea (or Enki). These were followed in importance by a second triad comprised of the moon god, Nanna (or Sin); the sun god, Utu (or Shamash); and the goddess of fertility and war, Inanna (also called Ishtar). In the later stages of Mesopotamian civilization the local god Marduk became head of the pantheon.

In Egyptian religion the primary god was Amen (Amon or Amun), king of the gods. Next in importance was Ra (or Re), the sun god. These two were eventually joined in the cult of Amen-Ra. A cult is a religion considered to be outside the mainstream. Then came Osiris, god of the Nile and also god of the kingdom of the dead. His wife, Isis, was the moon goddess and mother of the universe. Their child Horus was god of the sky; Set, their brother, was the god of chaos and of the desert; and Thoth, the god of writing and knowledge. In addition to these was a vast array of other gods and goddesses that sometimes duplicated each other’s functions. The current pharaoh, as a living god, worked with all of these deities to create maat, or divine order and justice.

## WORDS TO KNOW

anthropomorphism:
Attributing human shape or form to nonhuman things, such as the gods.
astrology:
The study of the movement of the planets and stars in relation to one another in order to predict future events.
cuneiform:
Sumerian writing, so-called because of its wedge-shaped marks.
deity:
A god or goddess.
maat:
Divine order and justice; a central concept in the religion of ancient Egypt.
monotheism:
Belief in one supreme being.
pantheon:
A collection of deities.
polytheism:
Belief in many gods.
pyramid:
A stone tomb constructed to house a deceased pharaoh of Egypt.
theocracy:
A form of government in which God or some supreme deity is the ruler. God’s laws are then interpreted by a divine king or by a priest class.
ziggurat:
A stepped foundation or structure that held a shrine or temple in the Mesopotamian religion.

These ancient religions affected every aspect of life in the ancient Near East, from spirituality to farming, from medicine to the rule of society. As such, they were not simply a part of a person’s life but ordered and shaped that person’s life every day. Membership was not a choice as it is in modern religions. Rather, religion was a fact of life for everyone. Each person had favorite gods or goddesses to whom they prayed and sacrificed.

## History and development

Mesopotamia, a word made up from two Greek words meaning “between the rivers,” is an ancient name for an area encompassed by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. It stretches from the Persian Gulf in the south to the mountains of Armenia in the north and covers most of modern-day Iraq. Mesopotamia had a much different climate when it was first settled about eight to ten thousand years ago. At that time it was a land of marshes and grassland rather than desert as it is now. Humans began intensive farming in the area as early as 3,000 BCE. From the earliest times farming depended on irrigation, a way of watering crops that relied on bringing water to the fields through man-made ditches or canals. Anthropologists (scientists who study humans and their relations to various factors) believe that local tribes came together to dig the needed canals. The semi-nomadic (wandering) way of life the tribes followed was altered, and they settled in large communities near the canals. Eventually these communities became the first cities. City-states like Ur and Lagash had become powerful forces in the region by about the middle of the fourth millennium BCE.

### Religion in Sumer

The first center of civilization was in the south, in what was called Sumer. There, farming villages became a series of a dozen powerful city-states, including Ur, Uruk, Lagash, Umma, Eridu, and Nippur. At times they were in competition with each other, and at other times they banded together to fight common enemies. The earliest written records of the first Sumerian societies also date from about this time (c. 4,000 BCE). It is significant that these records, written in the form of clay tablets, were about the operation of temples. Thus, already by the time of the first real towns and cities in human history, Mesopotamian religion had already become well organized. Various clay tablets have been found with details of the religion, as well as sacred vessels and architectural remains of temples. These all help to give an overview of the religion.

The environment of Mesopotamia largely shaped its religion. Unlike the Nile River in Egypt, which rises and falls slowly on a very predictable schedule, the Tigris and Euphrates rivers could and often did rise quickly and violently, causing disastrous flooding. Because of this, the Mesopotamians felt that nature was dangerous and far beyond the control of mere humans. The earliest Mesopotamian deities thus represented different aspects of nature and were honored in hopes of winning their favor. For instance, Anu, the god of the sky, might have been worshipped to keep violent storms from damaging the crops. Hursag, the goddess of mountains and foothills, would be invoked by priests to stop an invasion of barbarian tribes. Deities were often represented as human beings and some symbolic natural object. Once given human form, a process called anthropomorphism, the gods were then grouped in families.

Mesopotamian gods were worshipped in temple complexes that formed the center of every city. Built of mud bricks, these tall, conical structures were stepped, or built in receding tiers on platforms of different shapes. These platforms were crowned at the top by a shrine or a temple. The whole complex was called a ziggurat, and averaged about 150 feet (45.7 meters) in height. Ziggurats stretched tower-like toward the sky, forming a bridge between Earth and heaven, like the mountains that were sacred to the Sumerians. Each Mesopotamian city had at least one temple complex, and each complex was dedicated to the worship of a single deity. The temple complex in Ur, for instance, honored the moon god Sin (also called Nanna by the Sumerians). The city of Uruk had both a temple to Inanna and a ziggurat dedicated to Anu. The complexes were managed by specialist priests, who were the only people allowed to worship the deities.

The development of religion in Mesopotamia followed the movement of peoples in the region. Historians say that the Sumerian civilization lasted from about 3500 to about 2000 BCE. Sargon the Great (reigned c. 2334–c. 2279 BCE), the king of Akkad, a territory to the north of Sumer, created the first great empire in Mesopotamia by conquering Sumer. Sargon brought many of his own Akkadian gods into Sumer with his armies. He did not, however, engineer the destruction of the Sumerian gods. Instead, a unique mixture of gods, part Sumerian and part Akkadian, formed a new pantheon.

The Akkadians did, however, make one important change in Sumer-ian culture. King Sargon and his successors took on tasks formerly divided between two different types of leaders: the en, a permanent religious and social administrator, and the lugal, a temporary leader in times of war. Strong rulers such as Sargon, however, merged these functions into one, taking power away from the priestly class. Naram-Sin, who ruled from about 2254 to 2218 BCE, took this trend to an extreme and proclaimed himself a living god.

In general the Akkadians incorporated elements of Sumerian religion. The original Sumerian pantheon of gods was never destroyed but instead was added to and further refined. Through successive rulers, including Hammurabi (1792–1769 BCE) and a host of others, the religious system continued. There may have been new rulers, but the gods were eternal.

The names of the gods changed, however, as did the emphasis of religion. For example, Nanna was the Sumerian god of the moon. In Akkadian, the language of Sargon and his people, Nanna was called Sin or Suen. Inanna, mistress of heaven, became Ishtar in Akkadian. The direction of religion also changed over time. The early Sumerians believed that humanity, after it was created, was given a divine spark by the god Enlil. This not only made people the servants of the gods during their lifetimes, but also assured them an afterlife. The coming to power of the Babylonians in the second millennium BCE changed the emphasis of religion.

### The Babylonians

The Babylonians carefully preserved the literary and religious heritage passed down from the Sumerians, but their major concern was to integrate their main god, Marduk, into the existing pantheon. For the Sumerians, Enlil had been the protector of kingship; for the Babylonians this was Marduk’s task. In order to make Marduk the most important god, the Babylonians devised a new creation myth, the Enuma Elish (“The Epic of Creation,” literally meaning “then up there”).

Ritual became more important after the arrival of the Babylonians. Priests increasingly relied on rituals to ward off evil spirits and to foretell future events to ensure the good will of the gods and to protect against demons. Astronomical (relating to the heavens) events took on major importance and astrology, the study of the influence of the stars and planets on human affairs, became nearly a science for the priests. Organized Mesopotamian religion collapsed after Cyrus of Persia, a Zoroastrian, conquered the Babylonian empire in 539 BCE.

### History of ancient Egyptian religion

The official ancient Egyptian religion lasted from about 3110 BCE to 550 CE. The official beginning of the religion is the date that Menes (c. 2925 BCE), a king of Upper Egypt, is believed to have defeated a king of Lower Egypt and unified the nation. Menes set up a national religion in the process, worshipping the creator god Ptah at his new government center of Memphis. Historians believe that the story of the war between the god Horus and his uncle Set (the result of Set’s murder of Horus’s father Osiris) reflects the war between Upper and Lower Egypt, with Horus’s eventual victory reflecting the unification of the two countries by Menes during his sixty-two year reign.

## About the Ancient Religions of Egypt and Mesopotamia

• Belief. Mesopotamian religion saw humans as the servants of the gods, who had to be appeased for protection. Egyptians believed that the gods created all humans but were also controlled by the principle of maat, or order. Unlike followers of Mesopotamian religion, the Egyptians had a strong belief in the afterlife, which they expressed by building elaborate tombs such as the pyramids.
• Followers. Worshippers took their names from the numerous gods and the cults that honored the deities.
• Name of God. The major god for much of Mesopotamia was the sky god Enlil; later the worship of Enlil was replaced by the worship of the Babylonian god Marduk. For Egyptians, Amen-Ra was the most powerful deity, chief of the pantheon.
• Symbols. Statues of winged bulls were a protective symbol related to the god Sin Mesopotamia, while the ankh, a kind of cross with a loop at the top, was a prominent representation of life in ancient Egypt.
• Worship. Priests in both religions made daily offerings in the temples and held annual festivals open to the public. Personal gods were worshipped by people in their homes.
• Dress. Priests in both Mesopotamian and Egyptian religions wore no special costumes.
• Texts. The Enuma Elish tells the Mesopotamian story of creation and explains how Marduk became the chief of the gods. The Egyptian Book of the Dead was a guide for the dead, setting out magic spells and charms to be used to pass judgment in the afterlife.
• Sites. Ancient Nippur was the site of the chief temple to Enlil, while Babylon was the location of Marduk’s sanctuary. Thebes and the temple complex of Karnak were home to the worship of Amen-Ra. In the modern world the remains of these early religions can be seen in Egypt’s pyramids, tombs for the pharaohs, and in Mesopotamia’s ziggurats, temples to the gods.
• Observances. The New Year’s Festival was a major event in Mesopotamian religion, while Egypt’s most important festival was Opet.

Before this time, however, nature gods and animals had been worshipped for at least two millennia among the people who inhabited the Nile Valley. These animal deities later took human form, but their heads were still often depicted as that of an animal. Some gods even became associated with more than one animal. For example, Thoth, the god of the moon and of wisdom and protector of scribes, was depicted by the Egyptian ibis, a wading bird, by a baboon, and by a figure of the moon.

Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Reproduced by Permission of Thomson Gale.

In prehistoric times (before written history) the deities were local. They were worshipped in reed shrines with the local leader or king acting as the intermediary between the gods and the people. A reed is a type of tall, slender grass. The gods were thought to be housed in statues; these statues were purified, fed, and clothed daily, and annual festivals were held. The afterlife was also important for Egyptians from the earliest times, and pharaohs and queens were buried with material to make their lives easier after death. Early gods included Ptah; Anubis, the protector of the tomb; and Nit, the goddess of war.

Different cities in the united nation of Egypt held different creation myths, each centered on its own local creator god. Heliopolis, for instance, was a center near present-day Cairo where Atum was worshipped. Here, it was thought that Atum created himself out of the void, and then either spit or sneezed out Shu, the god of air, and Tefnut, the goddess of moisture. These two in turn gave birth to Geb, the earth god, and Nut, the sky goddess. From them came two pairs of siblings: Osiris and Isis, and Set and Nephtys. Eventually Ra, the sun god, took the place of Atum in the pantheon; later pharaohs, for instance, called themselves “sons of Ra.” Another creation myth came from the city of Memphis, where Ptah was worshipped for creating the universe out of divine thought. Ultimately, however, the Ra-Atum creation story became the most popular and most widely accepted myth in ancient Egypt.

### Religion during the Middle Kingdom

During the period of the Old Kingdom (c. 2686–2181 BCE), Egyptian society built the great pyramids at Giza while working as a fully organized theocracy, a government with one god as the supreme leader. This theocracy reflected the role of the pharaoh, a living god whose word was divine law. During the Middle Kingdom (c. 2181–1786 BCE), however, the power of the pharaoh weakened and nobles (lesser royalty) began to take on more individual power. The priestly class also grew much larger. Though the sun god Ra was the official national god and was worshipped at Heliopolis, the cult of Osiris became stronger as the central government went into decline. Osiris was an early fertility god who, when killed by his brother Set and cut into pieces, was put back together again by his wife-sister Isis. He then became god of the underworld. Osiris became identified with the dead pharaoh. His son, Horus, became associated with the living pharaoh. Osiris eventually became a symbol of immortality and resurrection, or returning to life after death, and, as such, symbolized the annual renewal of fertility to the soil by the flooding of the Nile. A lengthy annual festival was held for him to celebrate this rebirth.

The Middle Kingdom came to an end with the Hyksos invasion of Lower Egypt, with the new invaders adapting Egyptian habits and gods. The New Kingdom (c. 1570–1085 BCE) began when Egyptian nobles drove the Hyksos out. During this period the god Amen came to prominence and was worshipped at Karnak, near Thebes. Amen incorporated aspects of earlier gods such as Ptah and Ra, becoming for a time the primary creator-god. The Amen priesthood grew impressively strong not only in religious power but also with political power. When Amen and Ra were combined into the godhead Amen-Ra, the temple at Karnak required the services of more than eighty thousand employees.

A short-lived experiment in state-sponsored monotheism (belief in only one god) occurred during the New Kingdom period. Amenhotep IV, who called himself Akhenaten (reigned 1379–62 BCE), declared that the only god was the one he himself worshipped: Aten, the god of the sun, and the solar disk, the Aten. Akhenaten’s experiment in monotheism had the effect of reducing the power of the priestly class and the nobility and reviving the power of the pharaoh. This experiment ended, however, with Akhenaten’s death in 1336 BCE as the old gods were quickly brought back. All traces of Akhenaten were destroyed, from the inscription of his name on temples to his mummy. With the restoration of the old gods, the priests of Karnak and at another holy site, Luxor, regained their power at the expense of the monarchy. At the city of Thebes, the high priest of Amen became the first of a ruling class of high priests, while the pharaoh continued to wield power from a new city center, Tanis, in the Nile Delta.

During the course of the second half of the first millennium BCE the power and prestige of Egypt was reduced. Foreign conquerors inhabited the land, and various cults gained favor and then went out of favor. But Amen and Amen-Ra remained the major cult. The local goddess Neith became more popular and was later incorporated into Greek and Roman pantheons in the figures of Athena and Diana. Even after the introduction of Christianity, the ancient gods continued to be worshipped until about the sixth century CE.

## Sects and schisms

Both Egyptian and Mesopotamian deities had cults that were popular in different places and in different times. Of note were two later Meso-potamian deities, Marduk and Ashur. Marduk was the national god of Babylonia, and the Babylonians went to great pains to rewrite the creation myth so that he would be the king of gods, replacing the Mesopotamian god Enlil. Such a replacement lasted for about one thousand years until the Assyrian god Ashur replaced Marduk as the primary god in the pantheon. Ashur was a warlike god and took Ishtar, the goddess of war, as his wife or consort.

The most notable schism in ancient Egyptian religion was launched by Amenhotep IV (c. 1371–c. 1336 BCE), who proclaimed the worship of Aten, the god and disk of the sun. In the fourteenth century BCE Amen-hotep IV demanded that the worship of other gods be abandoned and that Aten be served by a cult in which he, himself, was the only priest. To show his dedication to Aten, Amenhotep changed his name to Akhenaten, meaning “He Who Is of Service to Aten.” Atenism, as it is called, was not a natural evolution of ancient Egypt’s religious practices. Akhenaten forced it on the people. As a result he faced resistance to this change, especially from the powerful priests of Amen-Ra in the capital of Thebes.

Ancient Egyptian gods were often depicted in human form, although they could appear with the head of an animal. Among the central deities were Horus (left), with the head of a falcon, Osiris, and Isis. © Adam Woolfitt/Corbis.

Further undermining the power of the traditional priesthood, Akhenaten set up a new capital city, called Akhetaten (modern-day Tell el-Amarna), which he dedicated to the Aten. Artwork from this period shows Akhenaten and his wife Nefer-titi, or Neferneferuaten, worshipping the Aten, the sun disk. After Akhenaten’s death Atenism and Akhetaten were quickly abandoned and the old gods were revived. The new pharaoh, Tutankhamen (reigned 1333–25 BCE), moved the capital back to Thebes and placed the traditional priesthood back in power.

## Basic beliefs

For early Mesopotamians the world was divided into heaven (an) and earth (ki). The earth was flat and floated in a freshwater sea, the abzu. By serving the gods and by living a moral (good and honest) life, humankind would be rewarded with long life and many offspring. As for the afterlife, it was believed that a kind of ghost or double survived physical death. When a person died and his or her body was buried, his or her ghost descended to the underworld to join those already departed. The underworld was ruled by the god Ereshkigal. Later Babylonian religion also assumed that resurrection, or physical life after death, was possible. Babylonians believed in the “waters of life” and called their chief deity, Marduk, the “one who brings the dead to life.” Mostly, however, it appears that Mesopotamians believed that earthly life was all there was, and that death led to disintegration of the body.

Hundreds of gods were involved in Mesopotamian religion. In addition to being connected with some aspect of nature, they also had a responsibility for different spheres of human activity. For example, Shamash, the god of the sun, was also in charge of justice. Successive waves of settlers and conquerors in the region all brought their own gods and goddesses. These were mixed with those already found in Mesopotamia. The Sumerians had their city gods and harvest gods, but nomads who invaded Mesopotamia from the north or the east brought with them water gods and sand gods. People who came from high mountain regions brought gods of thunder and lightning.

The three chief gods in the Sumerian pantheon were An, the sky god, Enlil, the god of weather and storms, and Enki, god of wisdom and the abzu. Other important deities included the mother goddess, Ninhursag; Nanna, god of the moon who helped travelers find their way; Utu, sun god and the watchful eye of justice; and Inanna, the goddess of love and war and the one who guaranteed the kingship. Inanna in particular had a strong and lasting influence on Mesopotamian culture. She was featured in many fertility rites, but was also called upon in time of war. Over the course of time, with movements of new people into the area, the names of the gods changed. For instance, the Sumerian goddess Innana received the Akkadian name of Ishtar, just as Nanna later became Sin and Enki became Ea.

### Beliefs in ancient Egypt

Egyptians believed that the world was brought into being by Atum or Ra, whose descendants were Osiris, Set, and Isis. These, however, were just a fraction of the gods worshipped by Egyptians. Some estimates put the total number as high as one or two thousand different deities. What began as animal worship led to an immense pantheon. Amen or Amen-Ra became the most powerful of the gods, center of the national cult; the cult of Osiris was second most powerful. The worship of the sun god Ra led to the construction of immense pyramids for the pharaohs, sons of Ra. The pharaoh was considered a living god, appointed by Horus (son and avenger of Osiris).

For ancient Egyptians the gods were subject to the same sense of order and justice, maat, that mortals were. The universe had been created through maat as a replacement for the chaos that once existed. Interaction with the gods was intended to establish maat in society. It was the duty of the pharaoh to interpret the word of the gods in order to establish order and justice.

The ancient Egyptians also strongly believed in an afterlife. Much of their religon’s focus was centered on ensuring an afterlife, which contained all of the joys and pleasures of the living world. Egyptians believed in at least three different kinds of souls. When a person died one soul, the ba, left the body permanently, while a different kind of soul, the akh, remained with the body. The ka, a third type of soul, was a spiritual duplicate of the dead person, and left its body to journey to the underworld for judgment. The ka had to return to its body periodically during the time it was undergoing judgment. If the body was damaged or decayed during this period, the ka might lose its way and be lost, a kind of eternal damnation.

Mummification solved the problem of the ka by preserving the body after death, giving the spirit a familiar house to return to. The process of mummification, which could take up to two months to complete, was at first only used for royalty. Later the practice was opened up to include anyone who could afford the specialists and the expensive ingredients required for the process of preservation. By the Middle Kingdom the nobility and even some commoners (non-royalty) were being buried in elaborate tombs and having their bodies embalmed, or preserved.

Egyptians also worried about passing the tests they believed they would face in the afterlife. Elaborate manuals were written as guides to these tests. These included the Book of Amdurat, the Book of Gates, the Book of Caverns, and for those commoners wealthy enough to have a scribe make a copy for them, the Book of the Dead, also called Spells for Going Forth by Day.

The most important trial the spirit faced before being allowed into the afterlife was the Judgment of the Dead. The deceased began by making confessions and acts of atonement, or apology, to the gods. Anubis, the god of embalming, then led the person by the hand to the Hall of Maat. The deceased’s heart was weighed on a scale against the feather of truth, a symbol of the goddess Maat. If the heart was lighter than the feather, the deceased was admitted into the afterlife. If the feather was lighter than the heart, however, the goddess Ammut, Devourer of the Dead, consumed the deceased, destroying the soul forever. If the deceased passed the judgment he or she was led off by Horus to meet with Osiris and enter the Underworld.

## Fertility Myths

Throughout the ancient Near East there were common myths of fertility, or tales of death and rebirth that can be read as a metaphor (or symbol) of the death and rebirth of vegetation during the seasons of the year. In Mesopotamian religion there is the story of Ishtar’s hunt for her husband, Tammuz, the god of the seasons and fertility. She descends to the underworld in search of him and returns with him triumphantly to Earth. Tammuz, however, can only spend spring and summer on Earth; the rest of the year he must remain in the underworld. In some traditions, Tammuz is Ishtar’s son; in others, he is her lover rather than her husband.

A similar regeneration myth lies at the heart of Egyptian popular religion. Ancient Egyptians believed that Osiris was god of the Nile River and of resurrection and vegetation before he became god of the underworld. Killed by his evil brother Set, god of chaos, his body was chopped into pieces and scattered. His loyal wife, the sky goddess Isis, found the pieces and put his body back together. She made herself pregnant from Osiris’s body, and their son Horus revenged Osiris’s murder, defeating his uncle Set in epic combat. Horus became the god of a unified Egypt, identified throughout Egyptian history with the divine right of the pharaoh.

## Sacred writings

The primary sacred text for the Mesopotamian religion was the long epic poem dealing with creation, the Enuma Elish. The most complete copy that has survived dates from the end of the second millennium BCE and is thus a rather late addition to the Mesopotamian religion. It is, in effect, an effort by the Babylonians to assert the power of their national god, Marduk. As such, the poem not only relates how Earth was created but also how the gods came to be.

The gods, according to this text, came before the creation of the world. This epic describes the fight between the forces of order, as represented by Marduk and the young gods, and the forces of chaos, as represented by Tiamat, Kingu, and the old gods. According to Leonard William King’s translation The Seven Tables of Creation (London, UK: Luzac and Co., 1902), it begins:

   When in the height heaven was not named,
And the earth beneath did not yet bear a name,
And the primeval ApsÛ, who begat [gave birth to] them,
And chaos, Tiamat, the mother of them both,—
Their waters were mingled together,
And no field was formed, no marsh was to be seen;
When of the gods none had been called into being,
And none bore a name, and no destinies [were ordained];
Then were created the gods in the midst of [heaven] …

Other texts important to this early religion include The Epic of Gilgamesh. This text tells of the mythical exploits of Gilgamesh, a king of Uruk, from about 2700 BCE and deals with the behavior of the gods towards him. Also important are myths such as the one told in the story “Descent of Ishtar to the Underworld.” In it, Ishtar, the goddess of war, travels down through the seven gates of the Underworld to find Tammuz, the god of the seasons and fertility.

Ancient Egypt’s main religious text seems to have been the Book of the Dead. The Book of the Dead is often referred to as the Papyrus of Ani, after the collection of documents in which it was found. Papyrus is an early form of paper made from reeds. The book is a collection of two hundred prayers, spells, and illustrations that provided a guide to the afterlife. The earliest Book of the Dead ever recovered dates from the mid-fifteenth century BCE.

The book was meant to ensure a happy afterlife. The spells included were meant to make the deceased pass various tests to prove his or her innocence of earthly sins, thus avoiding punishment by the gods and gaining access to a happy afterlife. It also included guidelines on how to navigate the dangers of the Underworld, such as being devoured by The Book of the Dead, sometimes called the Papyrus of Ani, contains detailed instructions on how the deceased ancient Egyptians should act when facing the weighing of the heart against the feather of truth. Public Domain.an angry god, to reach the afterlife. One of the most important of these trials occurred at the start of the Judgment of the Dead. In the declaration of innocence prior to the weighing of the heart on the scales of truth the deceased declares that he or she has lived a good life without sin (“The Egyptian Book of the Dead,” chapter 125, TourEgypt.net).

Hail to you, great God, Lord of Justice! I have come to you, my lord, that you may bring me so that I may see your beauty, for I know you and I know your name, and I know the names of the forty-two gods of those who are with you in this Hall of Justice, who live on those who cherish evil and who gulp down their blood on that day of the reckoning of characters in the presence of Wennefer. Behold the double son of the Songstresses; Lord of Truth is your name. Behold I have come to you, I have brought you truth, I have repelled falsehood for you.

I have not done falsehood against men, I have not impoverished my associates, I have done no wrong in the Place of Truth, I have not learnt that which is not, I have done no evil, I have not daily made labor in excess of what was to be done for me, my name has not reached the offices of those who control slaves, I have not deprived the orphan of his property, I have not done what the gods detest, I have not slandered a servant to his master, I have not caused pain, I have not made hungry, I have not made to weep, I have not killed, I have not turned anyone over to a killer, I have not caused anyone’s suffering …

The Book of the Dead was found in tombs for commoners as well as royalty. All levels of Egyptian society were concerned about their afterlife and wanted to be prepared to meet it successfully.

## Sacred symbols

The winged bull, a blend of sky god and earth god powers, is a strong symbolic representation of the Mesopotamian religion. The winged bull has the head of a man bearing a cap with two (and sometimes three) horns, the body of a bull or lion, and wings like an eagle. The horns on the cap symbolize the bull’s godlike nature. Large sculptures of the creatures were found at three sites of ancient Mesopotamia, from a time when Assyria ruled the region (1350–612 BCE). These sites are Khorsabad, Nineveh, and Nimrod. They represent spiritual guardians that repel evil, and they always appear in pairs.

Assyrian kings often had pairs of winged bulls flanking the entrance to their palaces. The sculptures were sometimes accompanied by inscriptions that called upon the winged bulls to deter enemies and protect the king. The Mesopotamian moon god, Sin (also called Nanna), has a lapis lazuli beard and rides a winged bull. Lapis lazuli is a blue semiprecious stone.

A powerful and still popular symbol of ancient Egypt’s religion is the ankh. The ankh resembles a cross, but has an upside down teardrop shape at its top. In the ancient Egyptian written language of hieroglyphs, the ankh represents life. It is often present in tomb carvings and other artwork. It is associated with magical protection, or sa. Even those ancient Egyptians who could not read hierogylphs knew the ankh symbol.

The ankh may represent the sunrise or rebirth. Many ancient gods carried ankhs and often “blessed” pharaohs with an ankh, symbolizing the act of giving them the breath of life. Among the gods often seen with ankhs are Osiris, Isis, Ra, Hathor, and Anubis. As a result the ankh not only represented worldly life but the afterlife. In fact, the ancient Egyptian term for sarcophagus or coffin was neb-ankh, meaning “possessor of life.” The ankh’s popularity has reached beyond Egypt’s borders and around the world into the twenty-first century. Whether it is the appeal of an ancient symbol for life or an interest in ancient Egypt, the ankh remains a popular decoration.

### The remains of civilization

The most obvious symbols of both Mesopotamian and ancient Egyptian religions are their architectural remains. Mesopotamia’s ziggurats were large, stepped temples dedicated to a particular god or goddess. They could contain as few as two or as many as seven levels. © Nik Wheeler/Corbis.While these are the historical remnants of great civilizations, they have also come to represent all that those civilizations entailed. Many of these ancient artifacts are, in fact, religious in nature. The ziggurat, or stepped temple, of Mesopotamia is an impressive structure dedicated to the worship of the gods. Each level of the ziggurat is smaller than the last, creating multiple terraces that reach up into the heavens. A ziggurat could have as few as two or as many as seven levels. At the top was a temple that could be reached by stairs or ramps. Archaeologists believe that many ziggurats were painted in various colors.

Among the most identifiable symbols of ancient Egypt and its religion are the pyramids. The Great Pyramid and its two smaller neighbors at Giza are the most well-known. Pyramids are tombs built for pharaohs. The pyramid had tall, sloping sides that typically ended in a point. Archaeologists believe this structure was a symbolic representation of the dead pharaoh climbing to the sky to live forever. It also represented the sun. The pharaoh was buried inside the pyramid with all of the items he would need in the afterlife. The tomb was then sealed.

About eighty pyramids have survived to modern times. Not all of these are in the classic shape of the pyramids at Giza. Another well-known pyramid is the step pyramid at Saqqara. The pharaoh Djoser (reigned twenty-seventh century BCE) had this tomb built with several layers, or steps, in its design. The structure of the step pyramid is similar to that of Mesopotamia’s ziggurats in this respect.

## Worship

Both Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt had a large class of professional priests to care for the gods. The priestly class was very powerful because each religion played a dominant role in its society. Priests and priestesses served as the intermediaries between the common man and the divine. They held the responsibility for keeping the gods happy. Commoners also gave personal worship to the gods. Religion was such a central part of Mesopotamian and ancient Egyptian life that each day involved some devotion or other action to the gods.

### Mesopotamian worship

Obedience to the gods was the primary job of humankind in Mesopotamian religion. The legion of gods all had to be cared for. That was the task of the priestly class. Statues to the gods were kept in temples, each of which was devoted to a different deity. The temples employed a vast staff of workers and priests. The temples were not simply religious centers, but also served as storehouses for the surplus harvest. In effect, they were banks of deposit for community wealth. Daily offerings to the deities were made in the temples, and cleaning and purification rituals took place. Offerings were made by royal and commoner alike, and these were taken by the temple personnel.

Each cult or worship of a deity had special festivals. For example, Inanna or Ishtar was, among other things, goddess of fertility and protector of the storehouses. Each year a ritual marriage took place between the goddess and the ruler at the time of harvest. Marduk was the deity at the center for the annual New Year’s Festival, held at the spring equinox. At these times, statues of the gods and goddesses were paraded through the streets for all to see. Normally, however, the sacred statues were kept in the temples.

Private individuals often had their own personal gods and had small shrines devoted to them in their homes. There, they would worship their favored god and ask for protection or relief. These private gods were often “fired” if the people felt they were not getting satisfaction and that their offerings were being wasted. They would adopt another personal god in the hopes of getting better results from their prayers.

Early on, the priests in Mesopotamian religion took charge of the temples and storehouses and also of the care of the gods. By the Babylonian period these priests had created elaborate rituals and ceremonies, including offerings and sacrifices. They were responsible for foretelling the future and created more elaborate rituals for such acts of divination, or reading of the signs of the gods. Wind, storms, rain, fire, eclipses of the sun or moon, the appearance of a lion, the shape of a sheep’s liver, and the movement of the stars all were signs from the gods according to Mesopotamian religion, and their priests could read such signs. They became experts in what is called extispicy, or the readings of organs of sacrificed animals. Marks on the liver or lungs could provide clues as to what would happen in the future.

## Praise to the Gods

Like many modern religions, the religions of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia were highly organized. Certain classes of people were set apart to worship and care for the gods. In ancient Egypt, for instance, there was a large class of priests and priestesses entrusted with caring for the temples. Mesopotamian religion was divided in a similar way. Part of the Mesopotamian priesthood’s job included praising the gods in hymns and prayers. The two excerpts here, “The Exaltation of Inana” and “Hymn to Ra,” show how differently Mesopotamians and ancient Egyptians viewed their gods. The Mesopotamian goddess Innana (spelled Inana in this translation) is described by her priestess Enheduanna as fierce and capable of much destruction. The royal scribe Nekht associates the Egyptian sun god Ra (also spelled Re) with love and joy.

### The Exaltation of Inana

Lady of all the divine powers, resplendent [dazzling] light, righteous woman clothed in radiance, beloved of An and Urac! Mistress of heaven, with the great pectoral jewels, who loves the good headdress befitting the office of en priestess, who has seized all seven of its divine powers! My lady, you are the guardian of the great divine powers!… Like a dragon you have deposited venom on the foreign lands. When like Ickur [god of storms] you roar at the earth, no vegetation can stand up to you. As a flood descending upon (?) those foreign lands, powerful one of heaven and earth, you are their Inana.

Raining blazing fire down upon the Land, endowed with divine powers by An, lady who rides upon a beast, whose words are spoken at the holy command of An! The great rites are yours: who can fathom them? Destroyer of foreign lands, you confer strength on the storm. Beloved of Enlil, you have made awesome terror weight upon the Land. You stand at the service of An’s commands….

“The Exaltation of Inana (Inana B): Translation.” In Black, J. A., Cunningham, G., Fluckiger-Hawker, E., Robson, E., and Zolyomi, G. The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature (http://www-etcsl.orient.ox.ac.uk/), Oxford, England, 1998–.

### Hymn to Ra

Homage to thee, O thou glorious Being, thou who art dowered [with all sovereignty (power)]. O Tem-Heru-Khuti (Tem-Haramkhis), when thou risest in the horizon of heaven a cry of joy goeth forth to thee from all people. O thou beautiful Being, thou dost renew thyself in thy season in the form of the Disk, within thy mother Hathor. Therefore in every place every heart swelleth with joy at thy rising for ever. The regions of the South and the North come to thee with homage [respect, worship], and send forth acclamations [praise] at thy rising on the horizon of heaven, and thou illuminest the Two Lands with rays of turquoise-[coloured] light…. O thou god of life, thou lord of love, all men live when thou shinest; thou art crowned king of the gods. The goddess Nut embraceth thee, the goddess Mut enfoldeth thee at all seasons. Those who are in thy following sing unto thee with joy, and they bow down their foreheads to the earth when they meet thee, the lord of heaven, the lord of the earth, the King of Truth, the lord of eternity, the prince of everlasting-ness, thou sovereign [ruler] of all the gods, thou god of life, thou creator of eternity, thou maker of heaven wherein thou art firmly established.

“Hymn to Ra.” Internet Ancient History Sourcebook. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/ra-ani.html.

Astrology, or predicting the future from the movement of the stars, also became a central practice of Babylonian religion. The Babylonians were the first to divide the sky into the twelve zones of the zodiac. They followed the movements of planets and stars with great care in an effort to foretell the will of the gods. Priests also made a good living in the sale of magic charms and formulas to drive away evil spirits.

### Egyptian worship

Egyptians also had cults that worshipped their own particular god or goddess. The priests made daily offerings to their gods through the statues kept in their temples. The gods and goddesses were charged with maintaining justice and order in the world, and were considered too important to be bothered with the everyday problems of common people. Priests made offerings to ensure that the gods fulfilled that function. Commoners had no contact with these gods except when the statues were paraded through the streets on special festivals.

There was no central text to tell people how to live a good life or to explain the doctrines or rules of the religion. Instead, the cult rituals surrounding each god made up Egyptian religion. Temples, called hwt-ntr (literally, “houses of god”), were supported by huge estates to help supply offerings for the gods. Strictly speaking, only the pharaoh, himself a god, could talk with the gods. But in practical terms, he appointed priests as his representatives to serve at the various temples. Initially, this priestly class was voluntary and was divided into four groups who served for one month and then returned to private life for three months. There were different levels of priests as well, from high priests down to the lowest class who carried water for drinking and for purification ceremonies.

As the rituals of national cults became more centralized, the priestly class became professional and a powerful force in the country. The image or statue of the god or goddess was the center of cult activity. Once made, the statue acquired a ka and a ba through a ritual called “opening the mouth.” The ka of the god lived in the statue in the same way that the ka of a person lived in that person’s body. Possessing these components, the statue came to be possessed with the spirit of the gods.

Daily rituals included clothing and cleaning the statues and offering food to the gods. Other rituals took place periodically to protect the statues. Hymns were sung and prayers spoken. Festivals were held throughout the year, at which times the public could approach the gods. During the rest of the year the common people could go to a small chapel built at Priests in the Mesopotamiam religion were in charge of temples and of taking care of the gods. They would oversee sometimes elaborate rituals and were called upon to foretell the future. © Gianni Dagli Orti/Corbis.the rear of temples, the “chapel of the hearing ear,” to ask for advice and to pray to the gods.

## Obser vances and pilgrimages

Religious celebrations in Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt combined public displays with private rituals. Many occasions had components of both. All displays were meant to affirm the greatness of the gods and usually the legitimacy of the ruler as well. In both cultures the ruler was closely associated with the gods. This was intended to justify the ruler’s leadership and discourage others from seeking power. Festivals and pilgrimages also offered the public a chance to seek favor from the gods and celebrate their devotion.

### Mesopotamia

Major festivals in Mesopotamian religion included the New Year’s Festival and the Sacred Marriage. The New Year’s Festival was held at the spring equinox, or the start of spring. This festival celebrated the rebirth of the year. In later religious practice, this holiday was associated with the god Marduk’s main festival, called Aktiu. It lasted for eleven days and involved ceremonies of purification and a ceremonial reenactment of the battle between Marduk and the forces of chaos. Prayers and offerings of food and wine were made to the gods during the first three days. The fourth day was a high point of the festivities. Then the Enuma Elish, “The Epic of Creation,” was read or performed as a play for the public. This work celebrates the god Marduk. The next day, the people purified themselves, by bathing their sins away in water.

The king also participated in these festivities, but he did so in the temples. There, to show his loyalty to Marduk, the king was slapped in the face by the priests and made to promise to the statue of Marduk that he had committed no sins in the previous year. A priest would then slap the king’s face again, hard enough to bring tears. Tears showed that Marduk was pleased with the king. A bull was sacrificed, or killed, that evening. Not all the rituals have been recorded, but it seems there was also a parade through the streets of the city with the king holding the hand of the statue of Marduk.

Some historians suggest that the New Year’s celebration and the Sacred Marriage were combined. The Sacred Marriage brought together the king and the goddess Innana, likely represented by a priestess. The ritual recognized the divine authority of the king to rule by “marrying” him to Innana. It also promoted the king’s fertility through the symbolic consummation of marriage with the goddess.

Pilgrimage sites for Mesopotamians are not recorded. Historians suspect that the Nanna Ziggurat, a great temple complex at Ur to the moon god, was a major center for travelers who devoted that god. Similarly, the Inanna or Ishtar Ziggurat at Uruk made have been a pilgrimage site for that important goddess.

### Egypt

One of the most important festivals in ancient Egypt was Opet. It took place yearly at the temple of Luxor in Thebes. The festival brought together the human and divine aspects of the pharaoh. In the earliest days of its celebrations, the festival lasted for eleven days. Many years later, however, it had grown to twenty-seven days. During the festival thousands of loaves of bread, cakes, and jars of beer were distributed to the public. Images of the royal family and gods were paraded, at first by foot and later by barge (boat), from the temple at Karnak to Luxor. Along the way, people asked favors of the gods through the statues. The pharaoh would merge his ka with the divine behind closed doors at the temple in Luxor. He would then emerge into public to cheers from the crowd, for whom it was now reaffirmed that the pharaoh was a living god. The rituals of Opet were quite different from the Sacred Marriage of Mesopotamia, but the purpose behind them was the same: to confirm the authority of the ruler.

Eight months after the Feast of Opet came the second major Egyptian festival, the Feast of the Valley. This was an opportunity for Egyptians to reconnect with those who had died. The image of Amen was brought out of the temple at Karnak into public view and was taken by barge across the Nile to visit temples in the west. Even though this was a serious occasion, music and dancing accompanied the procession of Amen on the royal barge. Amen would be taken into the major temples and also to a necropolis, a large graveyard to honor the dead. The Egyptians ate and drank large amounts during the Feast of the Valley, believing this brought them closer to their dead relatives and loved ones. Visits to important temples, such as those at Luxor and Karnak, were also important pilgrimages.

## Preserving the Dead

The process called mummification helped preserve the bodies of ancient Egyptians, making them suitable for the afterlife. Moisture is needed for the decay of a human or animal body. In ancient Egypt, a very arid or dry land, the mummification process was accomplished by making the dead body very dry. The first mummies found date from about 2900 BCE, and the process improved slowly over time.

The basic technique of mummification involves taking all the organs out of the body and then treating the inside cavity or space with a mixture of drying chemicals. This mixture, natron, is made up of four salts: sodium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, sodium chloride, and sodium sulfate. Sodium carbonate works as a drying agent, drawing the water out of the body. At the same time the bicarbonate creates a hostile environment for bacteria, the tiny organisms that cause decay.

After seventy days of being preserved in this large salty mixture (modern researchers think that up to six hundred pounds of natron might have been necessary to cover a body), the body would be completely dried out, losing about two-thirds of its weight. The natron was then cleaned out, and the empty cavity was rubbed with palm wine and packed with spices and packets of wood shavings. The outside of the body was also rubbed with a mixture of five oils, and then wrapped in bandages. Many of the organs were stored in jars and were buried with the mummy.

Mummies were buried in tombs or pyramids. At first, mummification was so expensive that only the kings and their families could afford it. Later in the history of ancient Egypt, more commoners were mummified as well. Even favored household or symbolic animals, such as cats or ibises, were mummified, so that the dead person would have companionship in the afterlife.

Abydos is an ancient holy place in Egypt. It was believed that the god Osiris’s head was sent to Abydos after he was assassinated and dismembered by his brother Set. Pilgrims began to come to Abydos to pay tribute to Osiris. Parts of the story of his death at the hands of his brother, his wife Isis’s search for his remains, and his return to life were played out in public during the Festival of Osiris. Others were replayed by priests behind the closed doors of the temple. Common pilgrims made small offerings of statuettes or chapels. Pharaohs, such as Seti I (reigned 1318–04 BCE), built temples.

## Everyday living

Religion affected every aspect of daily life in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. All important activities and occasions were presented to the priests to see if the time was right and if the gods were in favor of their happening. People in both cultures often engaged in some form of daily prayer and marked important stages in life, including birth, marriage, and death, with rituals of passage. Religion even affected the legal system.

### Daily life in Mesopotamia

In ancient Mesopotamia the growth of the first cities was directly related to the development of Mesopotamian religion. The temple complex serving a specific deity was located at the center of the urban area. The ziggurats became not only religious centers but also warehouses, where the year’s grain crop was stored. Because they were visible for miles around, they were a continual reminder to the ancient Mesopotamians of the power of the gods.

The city wall protected the temple, the royal buildings, and the houses of the common citizens from invasion by enemies. Outside the walls lay the houses and farms of those who worked the land and who kept the city running. There was also usually a wharf, or waterfront. Most of the large Mesopotamian cities were built along the great rivers of the region, the Tigris or the Euphrates.

Ancient Mesopotamia was basically a two-class society, consisting of the property owners and the vast majority of the population, who did not own property. Life was hard for most people, who survived on a subsistence (basic survival) income and had few luxuries to enjoy. The homes of poor farmers and laborers were very simple by comparison to those of wealthy property owners. These were simple one-story buildings with one or two rooms. Mud brick was the usual building material. Little is known about what kind of furniture homes might have, but in the homes of rich and poor alike were shrines to their favored deities. The people said daily prayers to these deities, asking for assistance in their lives, for a good crop or good health.

The many festivals and feast days of the religious calendar provided these people with release from their daily routine. The Mesopotamian calendar was based on the phases of the Moon, or the lunar month, and had twenty-nine or thirty days. Of these, six were regular holidays. There were also annual festivals. Other times of feasting and celebration came when the king led a victorious military campaign against enemy armies, and booty, or property taken from the conquered people, was shared with the citizens. At times such as these, the usual diet (barley, made into bread and beer) was enlivened with the addition of meats such as beef and mutton.

Recreation and sport also figured into these festival times, with celebrations of boxing, wrestling, dancing, and music. Hunting was also considered a religious matter, especially for the royalty and the wealthy. For them the hunt became a symbol of the battle of good over evil. When the king killed a lion, for example, he was not only showing his skill and bravery, but also his closeness to the gods who protected him in the hunt.

### Mesopotamian rites of passage

The major rites of passage for ancient Mesopotamians were the same as those for people in many other cultures: birth, marriage, and death. Families were nuclear, that is, they consisted of a father, mother, and children. The father was accepted as head of the household. Birth was an occasion for much religious care. Women giving birth wore special ornaments to scare off the female demon Lamashtu, who was said to kill or kidnap children. The moon god, Nanna, was called upon to help the woman in labor. The earliest lullabies, or soothing songs sung to babies, were adapted from incantations, or sung prayers, to protect the infant.

The next major rite of passage, marriage, was both a religious and a legal matter. Law codes that survive show that marriage was celebrated in a ceremony that had five parts:

1. the engagement, in which parents agreed to the future marriage;
2. payments by both families of a dowry to the bride and a payment to the groom (the bride-price);
3. the wedding ceremony itself, which could last several days with feasting;
4. the arrival of the bride in her father-in-law’s house, where the couple would at first live; and
5. the consummation of the marriage (sexual intercourse).

## The Gods

There were hundreds of gods in the Egyptian and Mesopotamian pantheons. The gods controlled all aspects of life, especially nature, which could often be cruel. Particular gods protected various city-states in Mesopotamia, and large temples were built in their honor at the city center. Sin’s main temple, for instance, was in the city of Ur. Smaller temples were available throughout city-states for people to make personal offerings to the gods.

Egypt also favored different gods. Worship of Amen-Ra was primarily centered around Thebes. Isis was popular at Philae. Individuals, too, chose personal gods from among the many hundreds to worship. Even pharaohs would differ about which god they preferred.

### Gods of the Mesopotamian pantheon

Anu: The sky god. He is sometimes called the King of the Gods. At the beginning of time, Earth was separated from heaven, and heaven became Anu’s home. He can be sent to Earth to avenge the gods.

Ea: The fun-loving god of fresh waters, wisdom, and magic. Ea is also named Enki. In a Babylonian myth similar to that of the Judeo-Christian story of Noah’s Ark, Ea reveals to Utnapishtim that Enlil intends to destroy mankind in a flood.

Enlil: The god of air, wind, and storms. Enlil is one of the most important Mesopotamian gods. He guards the Tablets of Destiny, on which the fate of everything on Earth is written.

Ishtar: The goddess of love and war. She is also known as Inanna. Ishtar journeyed to the Underworld to retrieve her love, Tammuz. She is often described as very violent and is depicted holding several weapons and standing on a lion.

Marduk: The god of Babylon who later came to be the supreme god. Marduk fought an army of demons led by the goddess Tiamat. The New Year’s festival celebrates the king’s fitness to rule through a ceremony in which he bows to a statue of Marduk.

Sin: The moon god. He is also known as Nanna. He is lord of the calendar and oversees the seasons. Sin wears a beard of the blue stone lapis lazuli and rides a winged bull.

### Gods of the Egyptian pantheon

Amen: Called the King of Gods. Amen, also spelled Amon or Amun, was often combined with Ra, or Re. Amen-Ra was an even more powerful god.

Anubis: The god of embalming, or of preserving the bodies of the dead. Anubis is depicted as a jackal or as a man with the head of a jackal.

Horus: The god of the sky. Horus is the child of Osiris and Isis. After Set killed Osiris, Horus fought Set for the rule of Egypt. He is represented by the image of a hawk or as a man with a hawk’s head. The pharaoh was considered to be the living Horus.

Isis: A protective goddess. Isis was important to Egyptians as the mother of the living Horus.

Maat: The goddess of truth and justice. She oversees harmony and justice. Her symbol is the feather, which she is often shown wearing on her head.

Osiris: The god of the dead and of resurrection, he is also the ruler of the Underworld. Osiris is married to Isis and is the father of Horus. He is shown as a mummified man, all in white

Ra: The sun god. Ra, or Re, is one of the most important Egyptian gods. He is shown as a man with a hawk’s head, wearing a headdress with a sun disk.

Divorce was allowed, but usually only when requested by the man. In this case the woman’s property had to be returned to the bride’s family. Little is known about the actual ceremony of the wedding, but some archaeologists assume there was a strong religious component to it, with Inanna, goddess of fertility, the primary deity worshipped.

Death was the final rite of passage for ancient Mesopotamians, who believed that the gods had decreed the end to a person’s life. After death, the corpse was washed and perfumed, then placed in a coffin. For poorer families, these coffins would be of simple wood or the body would be wrapped in a reed mat. More wealthy family used elaborate stone coffins. Personal items such as jewelry and weapons were buried with the dead. Wealthy families had tombs with household furnishings placed in them. The rich also had professional mourners, or those who cried and recited sad songs, or laments, at the burial.

After the funeral, the eldest son was responsible for giving regular funeral offerings to the deceased relative. During the month of August there was an extended period of celebration for the dead. At such occasions, food and drink was put at the place of burial for the ghosts of those dead people. Several times each year it was believed that the ghosts of the dead could leave the underworld and return to the land of the living above ground. Life in the underworld resembled life among the living, especially in its complex organization. A king, Nergal, and a queen, Ereshkigal, ruled there, and many smaller nobles were part of the power structure.

### Daily life in ancient Egypt

In Egyptian civilization, religion encompassed the full range of human activity. Law, ethics, medicine, philosophy, science, and the state were all combined in religion. In ancient Egypt it was virtually impossible to live a nonreligious, or secular, life, for religion was the very foundation of all ancient Egyptian ideas and actions. The everyday life of ancient Egyptians resembled that of the Mesopotamians. There was a strong two-class system of wealthy people, who owned property, and poor people, who did not.

But Egypt also had the beginnings of what in modern times is called a middle class. This is a class of society that is not wealthy, but also is not poor. This class in Egypt developed around people who held particular jobs. An artisan, or skilled worker, class helped to build and decorate the pyramids and royal or noble tombs. These workers were considered middle class.

### Egyptian rites of passage

Home life was important for the Egyptians. Children were seen as a blessing from the gods. Thus the first rite of pas-sage, birth, was very important to the ancient Egyptians. If a couple did not have children, they made offerings of food and wine to their special deity, asking for the gift of fertility. After birth, the same deity was invoked to protect the infant from evil spirits. Young boys learned their father’s trade or skill, and young girls were trained for household duties by their mothers. If a family could afford it, the son was sent to school at about age seven, where he would become a scribe, learning religion, reading, and writing.

Marriage, the second major rite of passage, happened at an early age for peasant (poor farming) girls. They were usually married at about age twelve. Girls from wealthier families would marry in their mid-teens, as would most boys, both wealthy and poor. The engagement, bride-price (a gift presented to the family of the bride), and dowry (another gift, given to the bride herself, usually by her father or another member of her family) were also important in Egyptian society. The wedding ceremony could last several days, with feasting and prayers offered to various deities for a long and fruitful marriage. Divorce was possible, but not common. Barley was the staple in Egypt, as it was in Mesopotamia, and bread and beer were both common. Religion played a major part in the agricultural year, with the pharaoh himself, the embodiment of Amen, going to the fields at the time of planting to ensure a good harvest of grain.

Death was an immensely important religious event for the Egyptians. Mummification was, for the royalty and the wealthy (and later for the artisan class as well), the first stage in the funeral rites. Mummies were placed in tombs or pyramids with numerous personal items the deceased would need in the afterlife. These included everything from jewelry to weapons, furniture, and even (for the wealthy) their slaves.

The daily routine of work for the majority of ancient Egyptians was broken up throughout the year by a variety of religious observances. For some workers almost one-third of the year was set aside for religious observances and celebrations. The tomb makers’ eight-day work week, for example, had a two-or three-day weekend. Put together, these weekend days of rest accounted for about sixty days a year.

There were another sixty-five days of religious festivals, from full moon days to the celebration of the flooding of the Nile River, to such major festivals as the Feast of Opet. These occasions were opportunities not just for prayer at one’s home shrine or at the temple, but also for Egyptian tombs for the pharaohs and nobility were elaborately decorated with scenes from the life of the deceased, as well as from the Book of the Dead. Tombs such as this one in Luxor were well-stocked with items for the afterlife. © Gianni Dagli Orti/Corbis.the enjoyment of games such as boxing and chariot races. Other games that may have had a religious significance include a form of hockey and another resembling handball. Festivals were also times for dramatic public readings of legends and prayers, as well as for dancing and singing.

## Influences of the ancient religions of Egypt and Mesopotamia

Both ancient Mesopotamia’s and ancient Egypt’s religions had influences that have long outlasted the worship of their gods. Religion played a role in the rise of the Mesopotamian city-state, and the religion’s reliance on the stars to foretell events led to important developments in mathematics. From ancient Egypt, knowledge of anatomy and medicine greatly expanded thanks to the practice of mummification and the use of herbs to treat illnesses. These contributions have greatly aided later societies.

### Mesopotamian influences

Mesopotamian religion was one of the earliest organized religious systems. It had a formal structure, hierarchy (chain of command), and rituals for worship. It influenced all later religious tradition, not only with its gods (some of whom, such as Inanna, were adapted into later religious traditions), but also with its central myths. During the Babylonian period the state cult of Marduk was an important early step toward the nationalistic monotheism later developed by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Although Marduk was only the foremost among a pantheon of other gods, his elevation to national god was a beginning in a gradual process toward modern national religions.

Other influences to come from Mesopotamian religions include advances in mathematics. Mathematics was often at the service of religion, in part because it was used to keep track of items stored at temples. The first written representation of numbers occurs in ancient Mesopotamia. Before about 3,000 BCE numbers were recorded using tokens that symbolized the items counted. But after 3,000 BCE these tokens were replaced by marks representing quantities. By 2,000 BCE the Sumerians had developed a complete system of mathematics. Similar wedge-shaped marks, called cuneiform by archaeologists and historians, formed the basis of the Sumerian system of writing, which remained in use for thousands of years.

Thousands of mathematical and economic tablets have been recovered from this time period. There are multiplication tables, tables of squares, square roots, and other mathematical figurings. There are also lists of problems for teachers to set and solutions given by students. The Mesopotamians used algebraic equations to solve quadratic problems, or those involving two unknown quantities. These problems usually involved finding lengths, widths, or diagonals of rectangles.

In Babylonian times, astrology, or the study of how the planets affect human lives, became an important part of religion. The movements of the planets had to be charted, and for this mathematical calculations were a vital tool. The observation of the stars and planets likewise led to the modern science of astronomy.

### Ancient Egyptian influences

Egyptian religion passed on many of its deities to other religions. For example, Isis, in her aspect as the mother of Horus, also influenced the later Christian cult of the Virgin Mary. Like the Mesopotamians, the Egyptians also passed on additional products of their religion in the form of mathematics and medicine. For example, their numbering system was based on the number ten, as in the modern decimal system. The Egyptian calendar, based on the appearance of the star Sirius, held 365 days and was divided into twelve months of thirty days each. The remaining five days were given to festivals.

Herbs were in common usage for illness, as were magic potions and prayers. The Egyptians had a large number of recipes of herbs and other materials for different kinds of illness. Yeast, for example, was recognized for its healing qualities and was applied to leg ulcers (inflammations) and swellings. Yeast was also taken internally for stomach disorders and was believed to be an effective cure for ulcers.

The Egyptians were the first to use and record advanced medical practices. The Egyptians gathered their knowledge into large volumes, which were later adopted by the Greeks. An ancient medical text written by an Egyptian of Greek ancestry, named Hermes, survives in six books. The first of these six books was directly related to anatomy. The rest served as a book of herb and mineral recipes for various ailments or illnesses.

Egyptian architecture and building techniques have also been very influential. The pyramidal shape has been adopted by modern architects, including the Egyptian-inspired entrance to the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. Egyptians, like Mesopotamians, made use of canals for irrigation and became dam builders in order to control some of the unwanted flooding of the Nile River. Both of these influenced modern engineering. Art was also influenced through colorful and often realistic tomb decorations. This was especially true during the rule of Akhenaten when a style called Amarna Art was popular. The art during this period was surprisingly modern; it had a very natural look instead of the stiff poses usually found in royal paintings.

### BOOKS

Bottero, Jean. Religion in Ancient Mesopotamia. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2001.

Frankfort, Henri. Ancient Egyptian Religion: An Interpretation. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2000.

Hart, George. Egyptian Myths. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1997.

Jacobsen, Thorkild. A History of Mesopotamian Religion. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1976.

Jacobsen, Thorkild. “Mesopotamian Religions: An Overview.” In Encyclopedia of Religion. 2nd ed. Edited by Lindsay Jones. Detroit, MI: Macmillan Reference USA, 2005, pp. 5946-5963.

King, Leonard William. The Seven Tables of Creations. London, England: Luzac and Co., 1902.

Lesko, Leonard H. “Egyptian Religion: An Overview.” In Encyclopedia of Religion. 2nd ed. Edited by Lindsay Jones. Detroit, MI: Macmillan Reference USA, 2005, pp. 2702-2717.

McCall, Henrietta. Mesopotamian Myths. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1991.

Morenz, Siegfried, and Ann E. Keep. Egyptian Religion. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1992.

Nemet-Nejat, Karen Rhea. Daily Life in Ancient Mesopotamia. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998.

Redford, Donald B., ed. The Ancient Gods Speak: A Guide to Egyptian Religion. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Romer, John. Ancient Lives: Daily Life in Egypt of the Pharaohs. New York, NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1984.

Tiele, C. P. Comparative History of the Egyptian and Mesopotamian Religions. New York, NY: Routledge, 2001.

### WEB SITES

Ancient Egyptian Culture Exhibit. http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/prehistory/egypt/index.shtml (accessed May 17, 2006).

“Ancient Egyptian Religion.” Aldokkan. http://www.aldokkan.com/religion/religion.htm/ (accessed on May 17, 2006).

“The Egyptian Book of the Dead.” Parts translated by E.A. Wallis Budge and Allen and Faulkner. TourEgypt.net. http://www.touregypt.net/bkofdead.htm (accessed May 17, 2006).

Egyptology Online. http://www.egyptologyonline.com (accessed on May 17, 2006).

“The Exaltation of Inana (Inana B): Translation.” In Black, J. A., Cunningham, G., Fluckiger-Hawker, E., Robson, E., and ZÓlyomi, G. The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature, Oxford, England, 1998–. http://www-etcsl.orient.ox.ac.uk/ (accessed on May 17, 2006).

“Hymn to Ra.” Internet Ancient History Sourcebook. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/ra-ani.html (accessed on May 17, 2006).

“Life in Ancient Egypt.” Carnegie Museum of Natural History. http://www.carnegiemnh.org/exhibits/egypt/guide.htm (accessed on May 17, 2006).

“Mesopotamian Religion and Magic.” GatewaysToBabylon.com. http://www.gatewaystobabylon.com/religion/gloss1.htm#e/ (accessed on May 17, 2006).

Source Citation:

“Ancient Religions of Egypt and Mesopotamia.” World Religions Reference Library. Ed. Michael O’Neal and J. Jones. Vol. 1. Detroit: UXL, 2007. 37-67. Global Issues In Context. Web. 31 Mar. 2016.
Gale Document Number:CX3448400012

## BAAL- BERIT FATHER OF THE YULE

BERITH
also known as
BAAL-BERITH, BAAL-BERETH, BAAL-TAMAR,
BEAL, BOFI, and BOLFRY

• Zodiac Position: 15- 19 degrees of Leo *(1-10 Capricorn)
• August 8th- 12th *(Dec 22-30)
• Tarot Card: 6 of Rods *(2 of Pentacles)
• Candle color: Purple
• Plant: Heliotrope
• Planet: Jupiter *(Venus)
• Metal: Tin *(Copper)
• Element of Fire *(Earth)
• Rank: DUKE
• Berith is a Day Demon and governs 26 legions of spirits

*[Given from Thoth]

“Baal” means “Lord.” “Baal-Berith” is “Lord Berith.” He fortells the future, discerns the past, and can turn metal into gold. He helps in rising to high places and receiving honors. He speaks with a very clear and soft voice.
SIGIL

Baal-Bereth is the Father of the Yule season and the Yule (xmas) Tree. “The Christmas tree, now so common among us, was equally common in Pagan Rome and Pagan Egypt. In Egypt that tree was the palm-tree; in Rome it was the fir; the palm-tree denoting the Pagan Messiah, as Baal-Tamar, the fir referring to him as Baal-Berith.”1 “The Christmas-tree, as has been stated, was generally at Rome a different tree, even the fir; but the very same idea as was implied in the palm-tree was implied in the Christmas-fir; for that covertly symbolised the new-born God as Baal-Berith, “Lord of the Covenant,” and thus shadowed forth the perpetuity and everlasting nature of his power, not that after having fallen before his enemies, he had risen triumphant over them all.” 2

In Egypt they worshipped Nimrod as a palm tree, referring to him as the Messiah “Baal-Tamar.” Among the most ancient of Baals, he was known as Baal-Bereth, “Lord of the fir-tree.” He evolved into Baal-Berith, “Lord of the Covenant.” In Ancient Rome, where they also worshiped the fir tree, they called him “Baal-Berith.”

The 25th of December, was observed in Rome as the day when the victorious God reappeared on earth, and was held at the Natalis invicti solis, “The birth-day of the unconquered Sun.” Now the Yule Log represents the dead stock of Nimrod, known as the Sun-God, but cut down by his enemies; the xmas-tree represents Nimrod- the slain God reborn. The ancient practice of kissing under the mistletoe bough, most common to the Druids, was derived from Babylon, and was a representation of the Messiah, “The man the branch.” The mistletoe was regarded as a divine branch –a branch that came from heaven, and grew upon a tree that sprung out of the earth. Nimrod, the God of nature, was symbolized by a great tree. But having been cut down and killed in his prime, he was now symbolized as a branchless tree stump, called the Yule Log. Then the great serpent came and wrapped itself around Nimrod (the stump). Miraculously, a new tree appeared at the side of the stump, which symbolized Nimrod’s resurrection and victory over death. Here is an illustration of an ancient Ephesian coin:

Baal-Berith was known also as “Lord of the Covenant” and as “The God Berith.” He was a popular God and was worshipped in Canaan, Philistia, and Shechem. He was the protector of the covenant between between Shechem and some neighbouring Canaanitish towns, which were originally independent, but were at length brought under subjugation by the Hebrews.
“Any Israelites who might be dwelling in Shechem would be simply or protected strangers, and not parties to a covenant. The Temple of Baal-Berith had a treasury from which the citizens made a contribution to Abimelech. It was there that Gaal first came forward as a leader of the rebellion, and within its precinct the inhabitants of the tower of Shechem (the ‘acropolis,’) found a temporary refuge from Abimelech at the close of the revolt.” 3

“Baal-Berith was also known as “God of the Community.”

Below are photographs of the ancient remiains of Baal-Berith’s Temple:

 The remains of Temple of Baal-Berith are a round-ended, land-filled platform on which a massive temple once stood. Dated to the 13th/12th century BCE, it measured 86 feet long and 78 feet wide and its walls were around 19 feet thick. “Archaeologists believe that it was a two-story building.

It had one entrance to the east, in the middle of which was a column to support a roof, and on each side of the entrance was a massive tower. The eastern tower included a stairway that might have led to the second floor. Inside the main hall were two rows of columns. On the semi-circular platform in front of the temple, part of a sacred pillar or standing stone was found (seen on the right side of the above photo), Archaeologists believe it marked the temple entrance.”

________________________________________

1 “The Two Babylons” by Alexander Hislop 1858

2 Encyclopedia Biblica: A Critical Dictionary of the Literary Political and Religious History the Archeology Geography and Natural History, © 1899 of the Bible

3Ibid.

Illustrations taken from: “The Two Babylons” by Alexander Hislop 1858

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