Kassite deities

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Kassite to Akkadian Vocabulary (ca. 1200-800 BC) from Room 55 of the British Museum.
Pinches’ line art showing Kassite gods and their Babylonian equivalents.

The Kassites, the ancient Near Eastern people who seized power in Babylonia following the fall of the first Babylonian Dynasty and subsequently went on to rule it for some three hundred and fifty years during the late bronze age, possessed a pantheon of gods but few are known beyond the laconic mention in the theophoric element of a name. The only Kassite deities who had separate and distinct temples anywhere in Babylonia were apparently the patron deities of the royal family, Šuqamuna and Šumaliya.[1]

The evidence from the Kassite-Akkadian vocabulary (pictured) discovered by Hormuzd Rassam and the Kassite-Akkadian name list is that the Kassites identified their gods with those of Mesopotamia, if these sources are sufficiently contemporary. Mountain gods were a popular motif in Kassite art, on cylinder seals and, for example, the brickwork façade of the temple of Karaindaš, the "Eanna of Inanna."[2] The generic term for “god” in the Kassite language was mašḫu or bašḫu.[3]

Of the three hundred or so known Kassite words, around thirty of them are thought to be the names of deities, some strikingly similar to Indo-European god-names and this has been conjectured to be through contact transmission rather than linguistic affiliation. The language itself has been compared to several, such as Hittite and Elamite but genetically found wanting, possibly with the exception of the Hurrian language. Nine of the god-names appear as components of the Kassite kings' names and there are three in the post-Kassite monarchs, Simbar-Šipak, Kaššu-nādin-aḫi and Širikti-šuqamuna, providing some evidence of continued veneration for them or for the prestige their association provided.

List of Kassite deities[edit]

The evidence available for assembling a list of the pantheon of Kassite gods is meager. Perhaps three bilingual lists exist which provide Akkadian equivalents to Kassite gods,[nb 1] translations of names which include Kassite theophoric elements, or a handful of Kassite words, including god-names, with their Assyrian counterparts[nb 2] but some of these identifications must be considered tentative due to the circumstantial evidence that the elements actually represent deities, rather than, for example, some topographical feature.

Deity Symbol Essential Character Babylonian or Other Equivalent
Alban Only known as a (possible) theophoric element in the name mBurra-Alban[4]
Bugaš[5] Possibly the name of a god, or a general term meaning “god”. it is also used as a title without the determinative d.[6]
Buriaš, Ubriaš, or Burariaš Lightning bolt?[7] A storm or weather god, the Slavic word buria (“storm”),[8] Lord of Lands[1] dAdad,[5] Greek Boreas[9]
Duniaš[6] Used in Karduniaš, the Kassite name for Babylonia
Dur(a),[1] Duri, Tura God of the underworld dNêrgal
Duzagaš[10] Inscribed on a duckweight in the Middle Euphrates during the late 1st Dynasty of Babylon period[11]
Gidar A war god, also Maruttaš Adar, dNinurta
Ḫala, Šala A barley stalk Wife of the god of the Noonday sun, of Adar/Nusku, goddess of healing[1] dGula[5]
Ḫarbe Bird with back-turned head[12] Lord of the pantheon, also venerated in Hurrian areas.[13] Bel, dEnlil[5] or dAnu
Ḫardaš[5] Possibly the name of a god, from Kara-Ḫardaš
Ḫudha An “air-god” dAdad[5]
Indaš Only known as a theophoric element in names, e.g. Karaindaš Possibly Sanskrit Indra
Kamulla,[1] Akmul Human faced fish[7] dEa
Kaššu or Gal-zu[6] Eponymous ancestor god[5]
Laguda
Maruttaš, Muruttaš, Maraddaš[14] A war god written with determinative d in “Nazi-Maruttaš.”[6] Also see Gidar Adar,[5] possibly the Vedic Maruts[9] a plural form, equated with dNinurta.[13]
Miriaš, Mirizir 8 pointed star The planet Venus, evening star, earth goddess? Bêlet, Beltis, i.e. dIštar[5]
Nanai, or Nanna Female on a throne A huntress,Venus star dIštar
Saḫ[6] Winged disc or cross[12] A sun god.[13] dŠamaš, possibly Sanskrit Sahi[9]
Sali Theophoric element in name
Sigme, Šikme or Siqme[6] In the names Burra-Ši-ig(k,q)-me and Ardu-Ši-ig-mi.[4]
Šiḫu Alternative reading of Ši-ḪU in the name Meli-Šipak One of the names of dMarduk[5]
Šimalia or Šumalia Bird on high perch[12] “Lady of the bright mountains”,[2] or goddess of the snow-peaks, one of two deities associated with the investiture of kings[5] A form of the name Himalaya, Semele
Šipak, Šipaq, Šipag[6] Crescent moon A moon God.[13] dSîn[5]
Šugurra Possibly variant form of Šuqamuna dMarduk[5]
Šuḫizabil[4] In the personal name Burra-Šuḫizabil.
Šuqamuna, Šugamuna[6] or Šugab[nb 3] Bird on high perch[12] Great god of the Kassites, god of war and of the chase,[5] one of two associated with the investiture of kings “Marduk of the container”[nb 4]
Šuriaš An arrow Also a sun god,[13] but this might be the star Sirius dŠamaš, possibly Vedic Surya[9]
Tašši Only known as a (possible) theophoric element in names
Turgu[6] Only known as a theophoric element in names, e.g. Kadašman-Turgu
Zini Only known as a (possible) theophoric element in names

Gods which have sometimes been identified with the Kassites but which have other origins include Nusku, represented by a sauce-bowl lamp,[15] a god of war, or more probably an Assyrian god of fire, synonymous with dNêrgal,[5] Gibil, a fire god,[5] of Sumerian origin, Addu, a form of the name of the god Adad and Tišpak, a local god of Ešnunna represented by the snake-dragon.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ BM 93005
  2. ^ K. 2100
  3. ^ Delitzsch separates Šugab and Šugamuna on the basis of their placement on succeeding lines on “Rassam's Kassite-Semitic glossary,” the tablet pictured, although they are both identified as equivalent to dNêrgal.
  4. ^ Tablet BM 47406 line 13, published as CT 24 (LW King) plate 50.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Manfred Lurker (2004). The Routledge Dictionary of Gods and Goddesses, Devils and Demons. Routledge. pp. 38, 53, 72, 100. 
  2. ^ a b L. Sassmannshausen (2000). "The Adaptation of the Kassites to the Babylonian Civilization". In Karel van Lerberghe, Gabriela Voet. Languages and Cultures in Contact at the Crossroads of Civilizations in the Syro-Mesopotamia Realm (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta). Peeters Publishers. pp. 409–419. 
  3. ^ T. G. Pinches (Jan 1917). "The Language of the Kassites". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society: 112. JSTOR 25189508. 
  4. ^ a b c Albert T. Clay (1906). Volume XV: Documents from the Temple Archives Dated in the Reigns of the Cassite Kings (Incomplete Dates). Department of Archaeology, University of Pennsylvania. pp. 54–56. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Friedrich Delitzsch (Jan 1885). "The Religion of the Kassites". Hebraica 1 (3): 189–191. JSTOR 527374. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Albert T. Clay (1906). Volume XIV: Documents from the Temple Archives Dated in the Reigns of the Cassite Kings (Complete Dates). Department of Archaeology, University of Pennsylvania. pp. 59–60. 
  7. ^ a b Tallay Ornan (2005). The Triumph of the Symbol: Pictorial Representation of Deities in Mesopotamia and the Biblical Image Ban. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. pp. 28, 131. 
  8. ^ Boris Moisheson (2001). Armenoids in prehistory. University Press Of America. p. 146. 
  9. ^ a b c d T. J. Pinches (Jul 1907). "The question of the Kassite Language". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland: 685. 
  10. ^ Amanda Podany (1991-93). "A Middle Babylonian Date for the Hana Kingdom". Journal of Cuneiform Studies (43-45): 57. 
  11. ^ Sydney Smith (1940). Alalakh And Chronology. Luzac And Company. p. 23. 
  12. ^ a b c d Jeremy Black and Anthony Green (1992). Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia. Austin: University of Texas Press. pp. 43, 55. 
  13. ^ a b c d e Eric M. Meyers (1997). The Oxford encyclopedia of archaeology in the Near East, Volume 3. Oxford University Press. p. 273. 
  14. ^ J. A. Brinkman (1999). Dietz Otto Edzard, ed. Reallexikon der Assyriologie und Vorderasiatischen Archäologie: Libanukasabas - Medizin 7. Walter De Gruyter. p. 440. 
  15. ^ J. A. Brinkman and Stephanie Dalley (1988). "A Royal Kudurru from the Reign of Aššur-nādin-šumi". Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und Vorderasiatische Archäologie 78 (1): 76–98.