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(226 words)

Author(s): Maul, Stefan (Heidelberg)
[German version] Babylonian clay tablets with cuneiform script text in Sumerian or Akkadian on one side and its transliteration in Greek on the other side are called Graeco-Babyloniaca. The total of less than 30 tablets and fragments of tablets were written between the 2nd cent. BC and the 2nd cent. AD and come from Babylon, as far as their origin is known. They contain excerpts from lexical texts as well as prayers and incantations. The choice of texts and their arrangement on the clay tablets co…

Physicians (Ancient Near East)

(284 words)

Author(s): Maul, Stefan (Heidelberg)
[German version] Numerous cuneiform sources on physicians and their activities show that Herodotus (1,197) was misled in his view that the Babylonians had no physicians. Physicians are attested in the next to oldest comprehensible written documents of Mesopotamia (middle of the 3rd millennium BC). Precision tools were manufactured for them [2]. Prescriptions for producing medicines and therapeutic instructions are known from the end of the 3rd millennium BC [3]. Medical care was provided by casual…


(6,021 words)

Author(s): Maul, Stefan (Heidelberg) | Jansen-Winkeln, Karl (Berlin) | Haas, Volkert (Berlin) | Niehr, Herbert (Tübingen) | Wiesehöfer, Josef (Kiel) | Et al.
[German version] I. Mesopotamia While attention in old Egyptian culture was largely centred on existence after death, the concerns of Mesopotamia were almost exclusively with the present. A significant part of the cultural energy of ancient Mesopotamia was devoted to keeping human actions in harmony with the divine, so as to ward off such misfortunes as natural catastrophes, war, sickness and premature death. As such, heavy responsibility rested on the ruler as mediator between the world of gods and that of men. In Mesopotamia everything which is and happens was seen as a man…


(2,953 words)

Author(s): Maul, Stefan (Heidelberg) | Jansen-Winkeln, Karl (Berlin) | Niehr, Herbert (Tübingen) | Macuch, Maria (Berlin) | Johnston, Sarah Iles (Princeton)
[German version] I. Mesopotamia Mesopotamia did not develop a generic term for demons. A large number of immortal beings was known that each had their own name and acted as servants of the gods and as enemies or helpers of humans. They did not have cults of their own. Since demons were only able to exercise their limited powers, which manifested themselves in physical and psychological illnesses, with the approval of the gods, they were part of the existing world order. Thus, in the Babylonian tale …

Enūma eliš

(265 words)

Author(s): Maul, Stefan (Heidelberg)
[German version] The Enūma eliš (EE) [1; 2], the so-called Babylonian creation epic, received its name in accordance with the beginning words, ‘When up there [heaven not yet being named]’. The song, written down on seven tablets and probably created in the 12th cent. BC, is counted among the most important witnesses to ancient Oriental literature. Following a theogony leading up to  Marduk, it describes his battle against  Tiamat (‘the Sea’) who embodies the original chaos, and whom he defeats and…

Akītu Festival

(198 words)

Author(s): Maul, Stefan (Heidelberg)
[German version] One of the most significant and oldest festivals of Mesopotamian culture. It was documented in Nippur as early as the middle of the 3rd millennium BC. The festival lasted many days and was celebrated in many cities of Mesopotamia. The dates would vary from city to city, but it usually took place semi-annually at six month intervals. In a ceremonial procession, the city ruler or king would accompany the cult image of the city's patron god along with statues of other gods to a shrin…


(5,672 words)

Author(s): Nielsen, Inge (Hamburg) | Burkard, Günther (Munich) | Maul, Stefan (Heidelberg) | Vössing, Konrad (Aachen)
I. Library buildings [German version] A. Definition A library is a depository or building for books of all kinds. Libraries could be part of private houses, royal palaces, public and religious buildings ( Gymnasium, Forum, Thermae [1]), sanctuaries, or be independent buildings. Only few libraries have been secured or preserved, because most of their constituent elements, including bookcases ( armaria) and furnishings, were made of wood. Nielsen, Inge (Hamburg) [German version] B. Greece Book collections have been known in the Greek cultural area since the 6th cent. B…


(187 words)

Author(s): Maul, Stefan (Heidelberg)
[German version] (Sumerian abzu; recorded in Greek as Ἀπασών; Apasṓn [1]). Apsû was the name given by the Mesopotamians to the ‘ocean of fresh water’ beneath the earth's surface which fed streams and springs. The fairly high level of the water table in Babylon must have given rise to the idea of the apsû. The apsû came within the remit of the god Enki/Ea (municipal god of Eridu and god of wisdom). According to the creation myth of Enūma eliš, the gods and every other being were produced by the union of Tiāmat (the salt water of the seas) and the apsû (the fresh water). Apsû was mastered by Enki…


(490 words)

Author(s): Maul, Stefan (Heidelberg)
[German version] The city god and chief god of Babylon was only a local god of lowly importance prior to the rise of the city to political prominence under Ḫammurapi (18th cent. BC). The name ‘M.’ (better perhaps: Maruduk) probably derives from an unknown Mesopotamian substrate language although Babylonian scholars interpreted it to mean ‘bull-calf of the sun’, based on the logographic writing of M. in the Sumerian language. Early in time M. was already equated with the Sumerian god of healing and…


(712 words)

Author(s): Maul, Stefan (Heidelberg)
[German version] This item can be found on the following maps: Achaemenids | Xenophon | Zenobia | Diadochi and Epigoni | Alexander | Commerce | Hellenistic states | India, trade with | Limes | Mesopotamia | Rome | Rome Capital of Babylonia, on the river Euphrates south of Baghdad, near today's city of Hilleh. The Greek form of the name goes back to a place name in an unknown linguistic substratum of Mesopotamian (Babillu), which was interpreted by the popular Babylonian etymology of the Semitic population as Bāb-ili(m), ‘God's gate’.…


(404 words)

Author(s): Maul, Stefan (Heidelberg)
[German version] (Esagila). ‘House whose top is high’, Sumerian name for the temple complex dedicated to the principal Babylonian deity  Marduk in the centre of  Babylon, which encompasses besides the Marduk temple at ground level, also called E., the temple-tower ( Tower of Babel) belonging to it, a great number of sanctuaries of various gods and large courtyard areas with utility rooms. In the ground-level temple there were the valuable cult images of Marduk and his wife Zarpanitum, who had her …


(256 words)

Author(s): Maul, Stefan (Heidelberg)
[German version] (Assyrian Aššur-ban-apli; Greek Σαρδανάπαλ(λ)ος, Σαρδάπαλος; Sardanápal(l)os, Sardápalos). The last important king of the Assyrian empire (669 to c. 627 BC). Although not the eldest son of the king, he was appointed by his father  Asarhaddon to be the successor to the Assyrian throne and his elder brother Šamaš-šum-ukīn to be king of Babylon. Sovereignty of Babylon was, however, subject to A. A. was able to maintain the territory only by constant campaigns. Egypt, however, was lost in 655 BC. At t…


(850 words)

Author(s): Maul, Stefan (Heidelberg) | Krafft, Fritz (Marburg/Lahn)
[German version] I. Mesopotamia The push of the Arabian peninsula to the north-east against the Eurasian plate caused the uplift of the Zagros and Taurus mountains. Seismic release of tensions can lead to earthquakes in the whole of Mesopotamia, particularly in the north. Earthquakes were considered to be expressions of wrath by  Enlil, king of the gods, by various  chthonic gods and by Inanna/Ištar as the star of Venus. They were regarded as severe warnings to the king and as precursors of further …


(213 words)

Author(s): Maul, Stefan (Heidelberg)
[German version] (Chaldaeans). Originally the term describing a tribe of western Semitic origin, attested from the early 1st millennium BC in Babylonia. The most important tribes -- named after their ancestral heros eponymos as ‘house ( bīt) of [personal name]’ -- lived in far-flung settlements in the extreme south of Mesopotamia (Bīt Amukani, Bīt Jakīn) and south of  Borsipa (Bīt Dakkuri). Babylonia's resistance to Assyrian overlordship essentially originated with the C. The final Babylonian dynasty, which under  Nebuchadnezzar I…