Religion in Ancient Mesopotamia

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The conception of life in ancient Mesopotamia was entirely religious and gods were usually related to or correspond with the elements of nature, sun, moon, earth, etc. The continuation of life depended on the gods. They controlled and were operating all life aspects. It was therefore very important to have the favour of the gods.

Mesopotamian religions were fundamentally polytheistic. You can not speak at all of a single religion. What's more, every city worshipped their own gods that they were normally associated with the forces of nature or trades. It may be mentioned as an example of a city god associated with the god Marduk, who was the chief god of Babylon in the time of Hammurabi.

Each god had a temple which was managed by priests and was in the top of the Ziggurat of the city. Only priests and kings had access. In the temple sacrifices and offerings were made to the god. The chief priest the "En" or "Lord" was at once religious leader and head of government of the city umtill the third millennium BC, when he was replaced in government by the "Ensi" or "Lugal" Sumerian which already can be assigned the status of king.

Some of the Mesopotamian gods were:

  • Nanna (moon) in Ur
  • Ningirsu at Lagash
  • Ishtar in Uruk
  • Marduk in Babylon
  • Anu (the sky)
  • Enlil (air)
  • Ki (earth)
  • Ea (sea)
  • Utu (sun)


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