Ashur (god)

Ashur (god)

Aššur (also Ashur, Assur; written "A-šur", also "Aš-šùr", in Neo-Assyrian often shortened to "Aš") was the head of the Assyrian pantheon. His origins are unknown but he is one of the Mesopotamian city gods, namely of the city Assur (pronounced "Ashur"), once the capital of the Old Assyrian kingdom. It might therefore be that he was a personification of the city itself. From about 1300 BC priests attempted to replace Marduk with Ashur in Enuma Elish. From the reign of Sargon II he was identified with AnsharFact|date=August 2007 ("An-šàr") the father of An, probably because the similarities of the names. In this version of the Enuma Elish Marduk does not appear and instead Ashur slays Tiamat as Anshar. Some scholars have claimed that Ashur was represented as the solar disc that appears frequently in Assyrian iconography. However evidence points out that it is in fact the sun god Shamash. Many Assyrian kings had names that included the name Ashur, including, above all, Ashurnasirpal, Esarhaddon (Ashur-aha-iddina), and Ashurbanipal.

Epithets include "bêlu rabû" "great lord", "ab ilâni" "father of gods", "šadû rabû" "great mountain", and "il aššurî" "god of Ashur".

Other deities who were similarly exalted as "high heads" at various centres and at various periods, included Anu, Bel Enlil, and Ea, Merodach, Nergal, and Shamash. Ashur a "bull of heaven", like the Sumerian Nannar (Sin), the moon god of Ur, Ninip of Saturn, and Bel Enlil. As the bull, however, he was, like Anshar, the ruling animal of the heavens; and like Anshar he had associated with him "six divinities of council".

The symbols of Ashur include
#a winged disc with horns, enclosing four circles revolving round a middle circle; rippling rays fall down from either side of the disc;
#a circle or wheel, suspended from wings, and enclosing a warrior drawing his bow to discharge an arrow;
#the same circle; the warrior's bow, however, is carried in his left hand, while the right hand is uplifted as if to bless his worshippers (see picture above).

An Assyrian standard, which probably represented the "world column", has the disc mounted on a bull's head with horns. The upper part of the disc is occupied by a warrior, whose head, part of his bow, and the point of his arrow protrude from the circle. The rippling water rays are V-shaped, and two bulls, treading river-like rays, occupy the divisions thus formed. There are also two heads—a lion's and a man's—with gaping mouths, which may symbolize tempests, the destroying power of the sun, or the sources of the Tigris and Euphrates. Jastrow regards the winged disc as "the purer and more genuine symbol of Ashur as a solar deity". He calls it "a sun disc with protruding rays", and says: "To this symbol the warrior with the bow and arrow was added—a despiritualization that reflects the martial spirit of the Assyrian empire". [ Mackenzie (1915), p. 335]


*Donald A. Mackenzie "Myths of Babylonia and Assyria" (1915), chapter 15: "Ashur the National God of Assyria" []

ee also

*Assyrian flag, contains an image of Ashur

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