The Pantheon of Uruk during the Neo-Babylonian Period

The Pantheon of Uruk during the Neo-Babylonian Period

The Pantheon of Uruk during the Neo-Babylonian Period

The Pantheon of Uruk during the Neo-Babylonian Period


This book is about the pantheon of the Babylonian city of Uruk, between the 9th and 5th centuries BC. It is a careful analysis of the archive of the Eanna temple in Uruk, the sanctuary of the goddess Ishtar, containing well over 8,000 cuneiform tablets in the Akkadian language. The tablets date in their majority to the Neo-Babylonian and early Achaemenid period.Paul-Alain Beaulieu sheds light on the hierarchy of the local pantheon, providing a wealth of data concerning the cult of each deity, such as identity and theology, ornaments and clothing of the divine image, offerings ceremonies, temples, and cultic personnel. An important contribution to our knowledge of the functioning of religion in Neo-Babylonian society.


The present study grew out of the Catalogue Project of the Yale Babylonian Collection, which was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and Yale University from 1988 until 1996. During that period I was responsible for cataloguing all the Yale texts dated after ca. 1500 B.C., a very large number of which turned out to belong to the Neo-Babylonian archive of the Eanna temple in Uruk. The importance of this material for the religious history of Babylonia in the first millennium is obvious. As I was then experiencing a growing interest in the religion of Ancient Mesopotamia, I decided to focus my attention on the religious and cultic aspects of the Eanna temple archive; the present volume is the first major result of this research. It must be emphasized that without my participation in the Catalogue Project and the financial support of the NEH, which allowed me to cull and investigate large amounts of data from a vast archive of unpublished texts, the present study would not have been possible.

Research cannot be initiated and carried out outside a favorable human and intellectual environment. My gratitude therefore extends to Profs. William W. Hallo, Benjamin R. Foster, and Gary Beckman, my former teachers and then colleagues at Yale, for continuous support of my work and for many years of fruitful discussions and learning. Moreover, I am deeply indebted to Ulla Kasten, whose sense of organization and congenial spirit did so much to facilitate my research and indeed to make it at all possible.

The following individuals and institutions must also be thanked for their help:

Prof. John A. Brinkman of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, who relinquished his prior rights to YBC 11390, an important text which describes the tiara of the goddess Uuṣr-amāssu.

Prof. Karlheinz Kessler of the University of Erlangen, Germany, who kindly allowed me to quote from unpublished texts preserved in the Princeton Theological Seminary which he is preparing for publication, in particular the important inventory of jewelry PTS 2950.

Prof. David B. Weisberg of Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, for his kind permission to quote from texts in the collections of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago to be published by him.

Drs. Karen Nemet-Nejat and Laurie Pearce, who allowed me to quote unpublished texts from Yale assigned to them for publication in Yale Oriental Series—Babylonian Texts.

Dr. Joachim Marzahn of the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin, for welcoming me to the Museum and facilitating my collation of cuneiform tablets preserved in its collections.

The Rev. William O. Harris, Librarian for Archives and Special Collections at the Princeton Theological Seminary; Mr. William Lang, Head of the Rare Book Department, Free Library of Philadelphia; and Mr. Joël Sartorius, Reference Librarian in the Rare Book Department, Free Library of Philadelphia, for facilitating my work on the cuneiform tablets preserved in their collections.

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