Tuesday, 15 December 2020

Assur

This was part of a wall relief was found inside a well within the courtyard of the temple of Assur at the city of Ashur, the capital city of the Assyrians...Gypsum. First half of the second millennium BCE. The Pergamon Museum, Berlin.


The central part of the relief depicts a male deity. He holds two long branches, and two ibex goats (standing on their hind legs) appear to eat from these branches. Two other identical branches seem to grow out the bottom half of his body...

Two smaller figures, identified as female deities, stand on each of his sides, holding two jars from which water flows out...

Official interpretation: Probably this bearded deity represents the god Assur, while the goddesses protect the plant and animal world in this city...I would not agree with this entirely...

I kind of agree with the main deity being identified as Assur. One of his epithets was "šadû rabû" (great mountain) and if we look at his skirt, kilt, we can see that it is "decorated" with the same design that Sumerians and Akkadians used to depict mountains...

The great mountain is not any one mountain in particular. It is the collective name for the North-Eastern mountains and highlands, where we find the source of both Tigris and Euphrates...

The climatic year in this part of the world is divided into wet, cool season (Nov-Apr) and dry, hot season (May-Oct). 




The start of the wet season coincides with the start of the Ibex mating season characterised by fighting upright. Ibex is used here as a calendar marker...

The rain brought by the "dancing" ibexes, revives the nature and makes everything in the lowlands green again after months of scorching heat and drought...Hence green branches growing out of the god's body and held by the god. Munched by the ibexes...

This rain also feeds the two rivers, which are depicted by the two small "goddesses" with jars overflowing in two flows. In Sumerian art this jar with two flows was always used to symbolise the two rivers, Tigris and Euphrates...

However, the water supplied by the rain during the rain season (Nov-Apr) is nothing compared to the water supplied by the snowmelt from the "Great Mountain" (Feb-Jul). 

The snow falls on the mountains starting from Oct-Nov. The snowmelt, starts in Feb-Mar. 



The snow melt increases suddenly in Apr-May.


It is this snowmelt that creates the life giving annual flood of Tigris and Euphrates which makes Mesopotamia fertile...The flood:


Euphrates flow


Tigris flow



Which is what is depicted on this relief found in a well.

O Assur, The Great Mountain, you who is covered with snow, when Ibex goats are mating, and the rain is turning everything green, fill the two rivers with overflowing water...

Amen...

Now check the "zodiac sign" for Apr-May, the peak flow of Tigris and Euphrates. Yes it's Taurus... 

And then the Assur's and Assyrian iconography...Any idea why bulls on Assyrian standards?

For those who want to read about solar year animal calendar markers from around the Eurasia and North Africa have a look at this jump page. Work in progress... 

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