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The mušḫuššu (𒈲𒄭𒄊; formerly also read as sirrušu, sirrush) is a creature from ancient Mesopotamian mythology. A mythological hybrid, it is a scaly dragon with hind legs resembling the talons of an eagle, feline fore legs, a long neck and tail, a horned head, a snake-like tongue, and a crest. The mušḫuššu most famously appears on the reconstructed Ishtar Gate of the city of Babylon, dating to the sixth century BC.
The form mušḫuššu is the Akkadian nominative of the Sumerian 𒈲𒄭𒄊 MUŠ.ḪUS, "reddish snake", sometimes also translated as "fierce snake". One author, possibly following others, translates it as "splendor serpent" (𒈲 MUŠ is the Sumerian term for "serpent". The reading sir-ruššu is due to a mistransliteration in early Assyriology.
The constellation Hydra was known in Babylonian astronomical texts as Bašmu, "the Serpent" (𒀯𒈲, MUL.dMUŠ). It was depicted as having the torso of a fish, a tail of a snake, the fore paws of a lion, the hind legs of an eagle, with wings, and with a head comparable to the mušḫuššu dragon.
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- E. Weidner, Gestirn-Darstellungen auf Babylonischen Tontafeln (1967) Plates IX-X
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