History – Gods and Beliefs in Sumer

History – Gods and Beliefs in Sumer

Gods and Beliefs in Sumer

In this article we will see: “Gods and Beliefs in Sumer”, history, the chronicle of human civilization, serves as a window to the past, illuminating the triumphs, struggles, and evolution of societies over millennia. Through the study of historical events, we unravel the complexities of our collective heritage and gain insight into the forces shaping our present and future.

Summary : History – Gods and Beliefs in Sumer

The study of ancient civilizations often reveals profound insights into the beliefs, customs, and societal structures that shaped human history. One such civilization, Sumer, is particularly intriguing due to its rich religious traditions and complex mythologies. In this exploration of “The Gods and Beliefs in Sumer,” we delve into the intricate tapestry of Sumerian spirituality, examining their pantheon of gods, religious rituals, and the profound influence of religion on daily life. Through this examination, we gain a deeper understanding of how faith and mythology intertwined to shape the worldview of one of the world’s earliest civilizations.

History – Gods and Beliefs in Sumer

Everywhere they went, the Sumerians carried their seal with them. This personal stamp was the distinctive mark of its owner and served as a signature. It was considered sacrilegious to steal or damage someone’s seal. Generally, the Sumerians relied on the gods to ensure the preservation of their personal belongings. In addition to the main deities worshipped in temples, there were numerous others corresponding to the forces of nature: gods of fire, sandstorms, lightning and thunder, plague… Alongside humans, there was a bustling population of ghosts, evil spirits, monsters, and devils.

Consequently, one of the essential concerns of the Sumerians was to appease the gods and demons. The Gods and Beliefs in Sumer As we explained earlier, the important gods were honored in ziggurats. Their favor was sought through offerings and sacrifices. Additionally, people wore amulets in the hope of attracting luck. They also kept talismans and idols in their homes – miniature models – made of clay or wood.

When a Sumerian encountered any trouble, they would ask a priest or a magician to perform a suitable ceremony to rid them of it. Every event, too, had to be carefully interpreted. It was religion – the gods, the rituals, the priests – that guided the community through the dangers of existence. And then, after a certain time, the routine underwent changes… In the beginning, people went to the temple to consult the omens.

The Gods and Beliefs in Sumer The high priest then had almost divine powers. Gradually, however, the minister of the gods relinquished some of his religious prerogatives to focus on the administration of the city, becoming a sort of administrator. The stage was set for a strong-willed man to take over the dual throne of religion and state and take charge of the fate of the Sumerian people. That man was Gilgamesh (or Gilgamès), from Uruk. Centuries after his disappearance, legends still abound about him, likening him more to a god than a mere mortal. But mortal he was.

Moreover, he feared death. According to a text recounting the Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh, here’s what this priest-king did… The Gods and Beliefs in Sumer He went to Utanapishtim, the wise and pious monarch of ancient Shuruppak, who possessed the secret of eternal life. The journey was long and arduous because the hero lived at the other end of the world. Along the way, Gilgamesh experienced hunger. He had to fight fierce beasts. Finally, he reached his destination and, deeply moved, begged Utanapishtim to reveal to him the secret of immortality.

Alas! Utanapishtim’s account was disappointing. He told his visitor the story of the devastating Flood that the gods once caused to exterminate humans. “I would have perished myself,” he confided to Gilgamesh, “if I had not taken refuge in a great ship that the god of wisdom, Ea, advised me to build. As for eternal life, it is a gift that the gods wanted to give me…” The Gods and Beliefs in Sumer The holy man specifies that this is a small personal gift, to which Gilgamesh cannot lay claim.

Gilgamesh, not at all happy, despairs. And then, as he is almost resigned to return to Uruk empty-handed, Utanapishtim’s wife urges her husband to be a little less selfish. So, Utanapishtim gives in to her pleas and tells Gilgamesh where he can get the plant of eternal youth: at the bottom of the sea! No problem! Gilgamesh is a good diver. So there he is under the water… and finding the precious flower. Alas! his trials are not over. The Gods and Beliefs in Sumer On the way back, he has the unfortunate idea of bathing in a spring. And a serpent – a perfidious beast if ever there was one! – steals the magic plant from him.

Completely dismayed, Gilgamesh realized that it was useless to try to force fate. He returned to Uruk without further delay and, to console himself for his bitter disappointment, immersed himself in the contemplation of the fortified walls of the city. Everyone distracts themselves as best they can. Nevertheless, this legend carries a lesson within it. It enlightens us about the way the Sumerians thought. The Gods and Beliefs in Sumer It shows their profound respect for the high priest-king and the boundless pride they derived from their city. It also evokes the memory of the Flood – which almost all religions mention – and reminds humans that they are all destined to perish.

Finally, it teaches us that, during Gilgamesh’s reign, Uruk was surrounded by protective walls. Following Uruk’s example, other Sumerian cities, such as Ur, Nippur, Lagash, and Kish, were also surrounded by formidable walls. The Gods and Beliefs in Sumer Their armies increased their ranks every year. From then on, the king commanded the military forces permanently, and the title of supreme leader was inheritable by his descendants.

The Sumerian cities may have expanded, and their leaders acquired more and more importance, but the gods continued to be honored as they should be. Ur, for example, twenty-five centuries before our era, was a famous city, possessing a strong army and a well-established dynasty of kings. However, it did not forget its gods. The Gods and Beliefs in Sumer Ur’s most characteristic sacrifices involved immolating several human beings at once, burying them amidst treasures.

Once, around 2,500 years before Christ, the king ordered an even more magnificent ceremony than all the previous ones. It began with the traditional celebration of the “sacred marriage” at the temple. The Gods and Beliefs in Sumer This rite took place every year to ensure the fertility of the fertile land. After being united with great pomp, the sacred couple left the temple and descended to the bottom of a tomb dug several meters below the ground. Many people followed: priests, courtiers, musicians, soldiers, and servants. Most of them carried weapons, jewels, and precious stones. Ox-drawn carts were also part of the procession.

The Gods and Beliefs in Sumer Once the victims, priests, and assistants were gathered at the bottom of the immense tomb, the sacrifice proper was performed. The sacred couple was put to death and solemnly buried in a stone burial chamber. The Gods and Beliefs in Sumer Immediately after, twelve people from the entourage drank a poisoned beverage and lay down to await the end. Then it was the bulls’ turn to be slaughtered. The Gods and Beliefs in Sumer Finally, after the treasures were placed near the bodies of the victims, the tomb was filled. The gods could rejoice: such a beautiful burial had never been seen before.

Last word about : History – Gods and Beliefs in Sumer

The exploration of Sumerian beliefs and deities offers a captivating glimpse into the ancient Mesopotamian worldview. The Gods and Beliefs in Sumer reveals a society deeply rooted in religious reverence, where gods and goddesses held sway over every aspect of life. Through their rituals, sacrifices, and mythological narratives, the Sumerians sought to navigate the mysteries of existence and ensure their prosperity and well-being. As we reflect on the enduring legacy of Sumerian spirituality, we recognize the profound impact of faith on human civilization, reminding us of the enduring quest to comprehend the divine and find meaning in the cosmos.

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