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Who Were The Mesopotamians Religion Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

The transition from the nomadic hunter-gatherers to the more sedentary farmers brought about some of the first serious thinkers in the world. This is how it started for the Mesopotamians, the transition from traveling around in search of food to settling down on the banks of a river. Because of their location they became the first “river-valley” civilization which is why Mesopotamia was so aptly named as so, it meaning “the land between rivers” those rivers being the Tigris and Euphrates. Their new sedentary gave them time to not only think but also to explore subjects such as mythology, religion as well as advances in technology. Because of this, these people could live in one place and build what we call a civilization. These people would multiply, build, create new beliefs, be conquered, made into slaves and eventually pass their beliefs on to others with some form of writing. This marks the beginning of history, by technical definition.

The next topic I will explore upon is the religion of the Mesopotamian people. The Mesopotamian Religion, also known as Assyro-Babylonian religion [14] involved polytheism, which is the practice of worshipping multiple gods. These gods ranged from the all-powerful to the minor and they all represented some fact or occurrence in nature and/or life. Every city had a temple that was dedicated to a god, normally one major temple per city although multiple temples did occur in one city. These temples were called ziggurats where the followers of the god to which the temple was located would congregate and even reside. For example prostitutes would gather at the temple of Ishtar, the goddess they represent in their lifestyle choice. Prayer was also a present practice as warriors might pray to one of the many war and battle gods and goddesses for victory or at least survival. The purpose of the gods was as an attempt to explain the masses of phenomena that perplexed and dumbfounded these people. The religion of the Mesopotamian people went through four historical periods. The oldest of these periods was from 3500 B.C.E. to the time of Hammurabi [15] , which is about 1700 B.C.E. The religion of this period involved the worship of deities in individual groups and as society built itself up many of these individual practices melted together to provide the dominate polytheistic method of worship. The second period ranged from between 1700-1365 B.C.E. and during this period a supreme deity surfaced [16] . This deities name was a fertility god, a god of thunderstorms (I find it interesting that most of the times it seems that gods of thunder and/or lightning take up the post of king of the group of gods they represent) Marduk [17] and by getting rid of the evil dragon goddess of chaos Tiamat [18] . The third period was from 1365-612 B.C.E. During this time was the Assyrian period as well as the fall of Nineveh [19] . There is another shift, as another group falls and assimilates into the larger group which happened a lot in the Mesopotamian area, as another deity takes place as supreme rather than Marduk. This deities name was Ashur [20] , a god of the sun. Ishtar remained the most important female deity throughout these three periods (which im sure has nothing to do with the fact that she was the goddess of prostitution). The fourth and final period started with the reign of Nabopolassar [21] (625-605 B.C.E.) and came to an end with Cyrus’s [22] conquest of Babylon in 539 B.C.E. who increased his dedicated policy of religious freedom and returned many plundered religious relics back to their rightful places [23] . Rituals involving religion included sacrifices and burnt offerings which could include the best of their crop, herd, as well as the enemies the people may have overcome. Rituals might have also been practices that related to the god or goddess that the respective group was worshiping. For instance, if a group worshiped Ishtar, to show their devotion they may become prostitutes and therefore practice prostitution in an attempt to glorify their chosen goddess and maybe to acquire their blessings or favor. The holidays gave people other reasons to worship the all mighty gods and goddess’s of the Mesopotamian area. These holidays included important birthdays, passing of the seasons, and days of momentous occurrence such as the victorious conclusion of a long and epic battle.

The final topic of my discussion is the topic based on the various technologies brought about in Mesopotamia. Since this was one of the very first civilizations to come into existence it brought about many of the tools that were essential to survival in their new sedentary lifestyle as well as building procedures. The first thing that I would like to mention is a process that is used to prevent damaging floods, a process that is still used today; the use of levees. Levees are depressions built along the bases of rivers or lakes that potentially raises the total potential volume a river or lake may retain without over flowing. Their strength depended completely on its weakest point, meaning if that particular point were to be damaged or completely destroyed then the whole structure would follow. Levees were basically piles of earth surrounding the designated area of containment, though today we use concrete and other materials to accomplish similar means. Due to these structures people no longer feared the yearly floods of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to the same extent as previously and another effect of the containment was a more sable distribution of irrigation resulting in greater amounts of food. Architecture is next with the structure in discussion being the momentous ziggurats, which were temples similar to those of the pyramids in ancient Egypt. They were made with dried bricks of mud which really was a combination of limestone rock earth and water, a loose relative of concrete. Now I will discuss tools and weapons, remember though that all weapons were tools until they were used to inflict purposeful harm on another being. The tools that were brought about her basically encompass most all tools present in many farming and cultivating professions. These tools included sickles, hoes, axes, hammers and many more. The major weapons used included swords, spears, maces, bow and arrows as well as shields. Most of all of the tools were manufactured using the practice of smelting to combine tin and copper to create bronze and wooden handles on which the metal pieces were attached. Machines that appeared in this time era included the plow, wheel and axel as well as the pulley and lever.

This concludes my term paper on the mythology, religion and technology present in the Mesopotamian civilization. It was the spark of civilization that we can thank for its contribution to modern day society, because it was the starting point in a new order of operations in the way the world works and would be the first building block in the expansion of a sedentary life style in opposition to the previous nomadic way of life.

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