Enlil known as Elil, is an ancient Mesopotamian god associated with wind, air and storms. He is first attested as the chief deity of the Sumerian pantheon, but he was worshipped by the Akkadians, Babylonians and Hurrians. Enlil's primary center of worship was the Ekur temple in the city of Nippur, believed to have been built by Enlil himself and was regarded as the "mooring-rope" of heaven and earth, he is sometimes referred to in Sumerian texts as Nunamnir. According to one Sumerian hymn, Enlil himself was so holy that not the other gods could look upon him. Enlil rose to prominence during the twenty-fourth century BC with the rise of Nippur, his cult fell into decline after Nippur was sacked by the Elamites in 1230 BC and he was supplanted as the chief god of the Mesopotamian pantheon by the Babylonian national god Marduk. The Babylonian god Bel was a syncretic deity of Enlil and the dying god Dumuzid. Enlil plays a vital role in the Sumerian creation myth. In the Sumerian Flood myth, Enlil rewards Ziusudra with immortality for having survived the flood and, in the Babylonian flood myth, Enlil is the cause of the flood himself, having sent the flood to exterminate the human race, who made too much noise and prevented him from sleeping.
The myth of Enlil and Ninlil is about Enlil's serial seduction of the goddess Ninlil in various guises, resulting in the conception of the moon-god Nanna and the Underworld deities Nergal and Enbilulu. Enlil was regarded as the patron of agriculture. Enlil features prominently in several myths involving his son Ninurta, including Anzû and the Tablet of Destinies and Lugale. Enlil's name comes from ancient Sumerian EN, meaning "lord" and LÍL meaning "wind", his name therefore translates as "Lord Wind". Enlil's name is not a genitive construction, indicating that Enlil was seen as the personification of the wind itself rather than the cause of wind. Enlil was the patron god of the Sumerian city-state of Nippur and his main center of worship was the Ekur temple located there; the name of the temple means "Mountain House" in ancient Sumerian. The Ekur was believed to have been established by Enlil himself, it was believed to be the "mooring-rope" of heaven and earth, meaning that it was seen as "a channel of communication between earth and heaven".
A hymn written during the reign of Ur-Nammu, the founder of the Third Dynasty of Ur, describes the E-kur in great detail, stating that its gates were carved with scenes of Imdugud, a lesser deity sometimes shown as a giant bird, slaying a lion and an eagle snatching up a sinner. The Sumerians believed, they thought. As such, cult statues were given constant care and attention and a set of priests were assigned to tend to them. People worshipped Enlil by other human necessities to him; the food, ritually laid out before the god's cult statue in the form of a feast, was believed to be Enlil's daily meal, after the ritual, it would be distributed among his priests. These priests were responsible for changing the cult statue's clothing; the Sumerians envisioned Enlil as a benevolent, fatherly deity, who watches over humanity and cares for their well-being. One Sumerian hymn describes Enlil as so glorious that the other gods could not look upon him; the same hymn states that, without Enlil, civilization could not exist.
Enlil's epithets include titles such as "the Great Mountain" and "King of the Foreign Lands". Enlil is sometimes described as a "raging storm", a "wild bull", a "merchant"; the Mesopotamians envisioned him as a creator, a father, a king, the supreme lord of the universe. He was known as "Nunamnir" and is referred to in at least one text as the "East Wind and North Wind". Kings sought to emulate his example. Enlil was said to be intolerant towards evil. Rulers from all over Sumer would travel to Enlil's temple in Nippur to be legitimized, they would return Enlil's favor by precious objects to his temple as offerings. Nippur was the only Sumerian city-state. During the Babylonian Period, when Marduk had superseded Enlil as the supreme god, Babylonian kings still traveled to the holy city of Nippur to seek recognition of their right to rule. Enlil first rose to prominence during the twenty-fourth century BC, when the importance of the god An began to wane. During this time period, Enlil and An are invoked together in inscriptions.
Enlil remained the supreme god in Mesopotamia throughout the Amorite Period, with Amorite monarchs proclaiming Enlil as the source of their legitimacy. Enlil's importance began to wane after the Babylonian king Hammurabi conquered Sumer; the Babylonians worshipped Enlil under the name "Elil" and the Hurrians syncretized him with their own god Kumarbi. In one Hurrian ritual and Apantu are invoked as "the father and mother of Išḫara". Enlil is invoked alongside Ninlil as a member of "the mighty and established gods". During the Kassite Period, Nippur managed to regain influence in the region and Enlil rose to prominence once again. From around 1300 BC onwards, Enlil was syncretized with the Assyrian national god Aššur, the most important deity in the Assyrian pantheon. In 1230 BC, the Elamites attacked Nippur and the city fell into decline
World Heritage Site
A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area, selected by the United Nations Educational and Cultural Organization as having cultural, scientific or other form of significance, is protected by international treaties. The sites are judged important to the collective interests of humanity. To be selected, a World Heritage Site must be an classified landmark, unique in some respect as a geographically and identifiable place having special cultural or physical significance, it may signify a remarkable accomplishment of humanity, serve as evidence of our intellectual history on the planet. The sites are intended for practical conservation for posterity, which otherwise would be subject to risk from human or animal trespassing, unmonitored/uncontrolled/unrestricted access, or threat from local administrative negligence. Sites are demarcated by UNESCO as protected zones; the list is maintained by the international World Heritage Program administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 "states parties" that are elected by their General Assembly.
The programme catalogues and conserves sites of outstanding cultural or natural importance to the common culture and heritage of humanity. Under certain conditions, listed sites can obtain funds from the World Heritage Fund; the program began with the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World's Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO on 16 November 1972. Since 193 state parties have ratified the convention, making it one of the most recognized international agreements and the world's most popular cultural program; as of July 2018, a total of 1,092 World Heritage Sites exist across 167 countries. Italy, with 54 sites, has the most of any country, followed by China, France, Germany and Mexico. In 1954, the government of Egypt decided to build the new Aswan High Dam, whose resulting future reservoir would inundate a large stretch of the Nile valley containing cultural treasures of ancient Egypt and ancient Nubia. In 1959, the governments of Egypt and Sudan requested UNESCO to assist their countries to protect and rescue the endangered monuments and sites.
In 1960, the Director-General of UNESCO launched an appeal to the member states for an International Campaign to Save the Monuments of Nubia. This appeal resulted in the excavation and recording of hundreds of sites, the recovery of thousands of objects, as well as the salvage and relocation to higher ground of a number of important temples, the most famous of which are the temple complexes of Abu Simbel and Philae; the campaign, which ended in 1980, was considered a success. As tokens of its gratitude to countries which contributed to the campaign's success, Egypt donated four temples: the Temple of Dendur was moved to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Temple of Debod was moved to the Parque del Oeste in Madrid, the Temple of Taffeh was moved to the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in the Netherlands, the Temple of Ellesyia to Museo Egizio in Turin; the project cost $80 million, about $40 million of, collected from 50 countries. The project's success led to other safeguarding campaigns: saving Venice and its lagoon in Italy, the ruins of Mohenjo-daro in Pakistan, the Borobodur Temple Compounds in Indonesia.
UNESCO initiated, with the International Council on Monuments and Sites, a draft convention to protect the common cultural heritage of humanity. The United States initiated the idea of cultural conservation with nature conservation; the White House conference in 1965 called for a "World Heritage Trust" to preserve "the world's superb natural and scenic areas and historic sites for the present and the future of the entire world citizenry". The International Union for Conservation of Nature developed similar proposals in 1968, they were presented in 1972 to the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm. Under the World Heritage Committee, signatory countries are required to produce and submit periodic data reporting providing the World Heritage Committee with an overview of each participating nation's implementation of the World Heritage Convention and a "snapshot" of current conditions at World Heritage properties. A single text was agreed on by all parties, the "Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage" was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO on 16 November 1972.
The Convention came into force on 17 December 1975. As of May 2017, it has been ratified by 193 states parties, including 189 UN member states plus the Cook Islands, the Holy See and the State of Palestine. Only four UN member states have not ratified the Convention: Liechtenstein, Nauru and Tuvalu. A country must first list its significant natural sites. A country may not nominate sites. Next, it can place sites selected from that list into a Nomination File; the Nomination File is evaluated by the International Council on Monuments and Sites and the World Conservation Union. These bodies make their recommendations to the World Heritage Committee; the Committee meets once per year to determine whether or not to inscribe each nominated property on the World Heritage List and sometimes defers or refers the decision to request more information from the country which nominated the site. There are ten selection criteria – a site must meet at least one of them to be included on the list
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia. Originating in eastern Turkey, the Euphrates flows through Syria and Iraq to join the Tigris in the Shatt al-Arab, which empties into the Persian Gulf; the Ancient Greek form Euphrátēs was adapted from Old Persian Ufrātu, itself from Elamite ú-ip-ra-tu-iš. The Elamite name is derived from a name spelt in cuneiform as, which read as Sumerian language is "Buranuna" and read as Akkadian language is "Purattu". In Akkadian the river was called Purattu, perpetuated in Semitic languages and in other nearby languages of the time; the Elamite and Sumerian forms are suggested to be from an unrecorded substrate language. Tamaz V. Gamkrelidze and Vyacheslav Ivanov suggest the Proto-Sumerian *burudu "copper" as an origin, with an explanation that Euphrates was the river by which the copper ore was transported in rafts, since Mesopotamia was the center of copper metallurgy during the period.
The earliest references to the Euphrates come from cuneiform texts found in Shuruppak and pre-Sargonic Nippur in southern Iraq and date to the mid-3rd millennium BCE. In these texts, written in Sumerian, the Euphrates is called Buranuna; the name could be written KIB. NUN. or dKIB. NUN, with the prefix "d" indicating that the river was a divinity. In Sumerian, the name of the city of Sippar in modern-day Iraq was written UD. KIB. NUN, indicating a strong relationship between the city and the river; the Euphrates is the longest river of Western Asia. It emerges from the confluence of the Kara Su or Western Euphrates and the Murat Su or Eastern Euphrates 10 kilometres upstream from the town of Keban in southeastern Turkey. Daoudy and Frenken put the length of the Euphrates from the source of the Murat River to the confluence with the Tigris at 3,000 kilometres, of which 1,230 kilometres is in Turkey, 710 kilometres in Syria and 1,060 kilometres in Iraq; the same figures are given by Mikhailova. The length of the Shatt al-Arab, which connects the Euphrates and the Tigris with the Persian Gulf, is given by various sources as 145–195 kilometres.
Both the Kara Su and the Murat Su rise northwest from Lake Van at elevations of 3,290 metres and 3,520 metres amsl, respectively. At the location of the Keban Dam, the two rivers, now combined into the Euphrates, have dropped to an elevation of 693 metres amsl. From Keban to the Syrian–Turkish border, the river drops another 368 metres over a distance of less than 600 kilometres. Once the Euphrates enters the Upper Mesopotamian plains, its grade drops significantly; the Euphrates receives most of its water in the form of rainfall and melting snow, resulting in peak volumes during the months April through May. Discharge in these two months accounts for 36 percent of the total annual discharge of the Euphrates, or 60–70 percent according to one source, while low runoff occurs in summer and autumn; the average natural annual flow of the Euphrates has been determined from early- and mid-twentieth century records as 20.9 cubic kilometres at Keban, 36.6 cubic kilometres at Hīt and 21.5 cubic kilometres at Hindiya.
However, these averages mask the high inter-annual variability in discharge. The discharge regime of the Euphrates has changed since the construction of the first dams in the 1970s. Data on Euphrates discharge collected after 1990 show the impact of the construction of the numerous dams in the Euphrates and of the increased withdrawal of water for irrigation. Average discharge at Hīt after 1990 has dropped to 356 cubic metres per second; the seasonal variability has changed. The pre-1990 peak volume recorded at Hīt was 7,510 cubic metres per second, while after 1990 it is only 2,514 cubic metres per second; the minimum volume at Hīt remained unchanged, rising from 55 cubic metres per second before 1990 to 58 cubic metres per second afterward. In Syria, three rivers add their water to the Euphrates; these rivers rise in the foothills of the Taurus Mountains along the Syro–Turkish border and add comparatively little water to the Euphrates. The Sajur is the smallest of these tributaries; the Balikh receives most of its water from a karstic spring near'Ayn al-'Arus and flows due south until it reaches the Euphrates at the city of Raqqa.
In terms of length
Sumerian King List
The Sumerian King List is an ancient stone tablet recorded in the Sumerian language, listing kings of Sumer from Sumerian and neighboring dynasties, their supposed reign lengths, the locations of the kingship. Kingship was seen as handed down by the gods and could be transferred from one city to another, reflecting perceived hegemony in the region. Throughout its Bronze Age existence, the document evolved into a political tool, its final and single attested version, dating to the Middle Bronze Age, aimed to legitimize Isin's claims to hegemony when Isin was vying for dominance with Larsa and other neighboring city-states in southern Mesopotamia. The list blends prehistorical mythical predynastic rulers enjoying implausibly lengthy reigns with more plausibly historical dynasties. Although the primal kings are unattested, that does not preclude their possible correspondence with historical rulers who were mythicized; some Assyriologists view the predynastic kings as a fictional addition. Only one ruler listed is known to be female: Kug-Bau "the tavern-keeper", who alone accounts for the Third Dynasty of Kish.
The earliest listed ruler whose historicity has been archaeologically verified is Enmebaragesi of Kish, c. 2600 BC. Reference to him and his successor, Aga of Kish, in the Epic of Gilgamesh has led to speculation that Gilgamesh himself may have been a historical king of Uruk. Three dynasties are absent from the list: the Larsa dynasty, which vied for power with the Isin dynasty during the Isin-Larsa period. Lagash, in particular, is known directly from archaeological artifacts dating from c. 2500 BC. The list is important to the chronology of the 3rd millennium BC. However, the fact that many of the dynasties listed reigned from varying localities makes it difficult to reproduce a strict linear chronology; the following extant ancient sources contain the Sumerian King List or fragments: Apkullu-list Babyloniaca Dynastic Chronicle including copies, K 11261+ and K 12054 Kish Tablet UCBC 9-1819 WB 62 WB 444 Nippur fragment The last two sources are a part of the "Weld-Blundell collection", donated by Herbert Weld Blundell to the Ashmolean Museum.
WB 62 is a small clay tablet, inscribed only on one side. It is the oldest dated source, at c. 2000 BC. WB 444, in contrast, is a unique inscribed vertical prism, dated c. 1817 BC, although some scholars prefer c. 1827 BC. The Kish Tablet or Scheil dynastic tablet is an early 2nd millennium BC tablet which came into possession of Jean-Vincent Scheil, but only contains list entries for four Sumerian cities. UCBC 9-1819 is a clay tablet housed in the collection of the Museum of Anthropology at the University of California; the tablet was inscribed during the reign of the Babylonian King Samsu-iluna, or earlier, with the earliest date of 1712 BC. The Dynastic Chronicle is a Babylonian king list written on six columns, beginning with entries for the antediluvian Sumerian rulers. K 11261+ is one of the copies of this chronicle, consisting of three joined Neo-Assyrian fragments discovered at the Library of Ashurbanipal. K 12054 is another of the Neo-Assyrian fragments from Uruk but contains a variant form of the antediluvians on the list.
The Babylonian king lists and Assyrian king lists repeated the earliest portions of the list, thus preserving them well into the 3rd century BC. At this time, Berossus wrote Babyloniaca, which popularized fragments of the list in the Hellenic world. In 1960, the Apkullu-list or “Uruk List of Kings and Sages” was discovered by German archaeologists at an ancient temple at Uruk; the list, dating to c. 165 BC, contains a series of kings, equivalent to the Sumerian antediluvians, called "Apkullu". Early dates are approximate, are based on available archaeological data. For most of the pre-Akkadian rulers listed, the king list is itself the lone source of information. Beginning with Lugal-zage-si and the Third Dynasty of Uruk, a better understanding of how subsequent rulers fit into the chronology of the ancient Near East can be deduced; the short chronology is used here. None of the following predynastic antediluvian rulers have been verified as historical by archaeological excavations, epigraphical inscriptions or otherwise.
While there is no evidence they reigned as such, the Sumerians purported them to have lived in the mythical era before the great deluge. Some modern scholars believe the Sumerian deluge story corresponds to localized river flooding at Shuruppak and various other cities as far north as Kish, as revealed by a layer of riverine sediments, radiocarbon dated to c. 2900 BC, which interrupt the continuity of settlement. Polychrome pottery from the Jemdet Nasr period was discovered below this Shuruppak flood stratum; the antediluvian reigns were measured in Sumerian numerical units known as sars and sosses. Attempts have been made to map these numbers into more reasonable regnal lengths; this was a dynasty from Elam. The First dynasty of Lagash is not mentioned in the King List, though it is well known from inscriptions The Second dynasty of Lagash is not mentioned in the King List, though it is well known from inscriptions. Independent
Enki is the Sumerian god of water, mischief and creation. He was known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology, he was patron god of the city of Eridu, but the influence of his cult spread throughout Mesopotamia and to the Canaanites and Hurrians. He was associated with the southern band of constellations called stars of Ea, but with the constellation AŠ-IKU, the Field. Beginning around the second millennium BCE, he was sometimes referred to in writing by the numeric ideogram for "40" referred to as his "sacred number"; the planet Mercury, associated with Babylonian Nabu was, in Sumerian times, identified with Enki. A large number of myths about Enki have been collected from many sites, stretching from Southern Iraq to the Levantine coast, he is mentioned in the earliest extant cuneiform inscriptions throughout the region and was prominent from the third millennium down to Hellenistic times. The exact meaning of his name is uncertain: the common translation is "Lord of the Earth"; the Sumerian En is translated as a title equivalent to "lord" and was a title given to the High Priest.
Ki means "earth", but there are theories that ki in this name has another origin kig of unknown meaning, or kur meaning "mound". The name Ea is Hurrian in origin while others claim that his name'Ea' is of Semitic origin and may be a derivation from the West-Semitic root *hyy meaning "life" in this case used for "spring", "running water". In Sumerian E-A means "the house of water", it has been suggested that this was the name for the shrine to the god at Eridu, it has been suggested that the original non-anthropomorphic divinity at Eridu was not Enki but Abzu. The emergence of Enki as the divine lover of Ninhursag, the divine battle between the younger Igigi divinities and Abzu, saw the Abzu, the underground waters of the Aquifer, becoming the place in which the foundations of the temple were built. With some Sumerian deity names as Enlil there are variations like Elil. En means "Lord" and E means "temple", it is that E-A is the Sumerian short form for "Lord of Water", as Enki is a god of water.
Ab in Abzu means water. The main temple to Enki was called E-abzu, meaning "abzu temple", a ziggurat temple surrounded by Euphratean marshlands near the ancient Persian Gulf coastline at Eridu, it was the first temple known to have been built in Southern Iraq. Four separate excavations at the site of Eridu have demonstrated the existence of a shrine dating back to the earliest Ubaid period, more than 6,500 years ago. Over the following 4,500 years, the temple was expanded 18 times, until it was abandoned during the Persian period. On this basis Thorkild Jacobsen has hypothesized that the original deity of the temple was Abzu, with his attributes being taken by Enki over time. P. Steinkeller believes that, during the earliest period, Enki had a subordinate position to a goddess, taking the role of divine consort or high priest taking priority; the Enki temple had at its entrance a pool of fresh water, excavation has found numerous carp bones, suggesting collective feasts. Carp are shown in the twin water flows running into the God Enki, suggesting continuity of these features over a long period.
These features were found at all subsequent Sumerian temples, suggesting that this temple established the pattern for all subsequent Sumerian temples. "All rules laid down at Eridu were faithfully observed". Enki was the keeper of the divine powers called Me, the gifts of civilization, he is shown with the horned crown of divinity. On the Adda Seal, Enki is depicted with two streams of water flowing into each of his shoulders: one the Tigris, the other the Euphrates. Alongside him are two trees, symbolizing the male and female aspects of nature, he is shown wearing a cone-shaped hat. An eagle descends from above to land upon his outstretched right arm; this portrayal reflects Enki's role as the god of water and replenishment. Considered the master shaper of the world, god of wisdom and of all magic, Enki was characterized as the lord of the Abzu, the freshwater sea or groundwater located within the earth. In the Babylonian epic Enûma Eliš, the "begetter of the gods", is inert and sleepy but finds his peace disturbed by the younger gods, so sets out to destroy them.
His grandson Enki, chosen to represent the younger gods, puts a spell on Abzu "casting him into a deep sleep", thereby confining him deep underground. Enki subsequently sets up his home "in the depths of the Abzu." Enki thus takes on all of the functions of the Abzu, including his fertilising powers as lord of the waters and lord of semen. Early royal inscriptions from the third millennium BCE mention "the reeds of Enki". Reeds were an important local building material, used for baskets and containers, collected outside the city walls, where the dead or sick were carried; this links Enki to the underworld of Sumerian mythology. In another older tradition, the goddess of the primeval creative matter and the mother-goddess portrayed as having "given birth to the great gods," was the mother of Enki, as the watery creative force, was said to preexist Ea-Enki. Benito states "With Enki it is an interesting change of gender symbolism, the fertilising agent is water, Sumerian "a" or "Ab" which means "semen".
In one evocative passage in a Sumerian hymn, Enki stands at the empty riverbeds and fills them with his'water'". The cosmogenic myth common in Sumer was that of the hieros gamos, a sacred marriage where divine p
Sumerian religion was the religion practiced and adhered to by the people of Sumer, the first literate civilization of ancient Mesopotamia. The Sumerians regarded their divinities as responsible for all matters pertaining to the natural and social orders. Before the beginning of kingship in Sumer, the city-states were ruled by theocratic priests and religious officials; this role was supplanted by kings, but priests continued to exert great influence on Sumerian society. In early times, Sumerian temples were simple, one-room structures, sometimes built on elevated platforms. Towards the end of Sumerian civilization, these temples developed into ziggurats—tall, pyramidal structures with sanctuaries at the tops; the Sumerians believed. First, the primeval waters, gave birth to An and Ki, who mated together and produced a son named Enlil. Enlil separated claimed the earth as his domain. Humans were believed to have been created by the son of An and Nammu. Heaven was reserved for deities and, upon their deaths, all mortals' spirits, regardless of their behavior while alive, were believed to go to Kur, a cold, dark cavern deep beneath the earth, ruled by the goddess Ereshkigal and where the only food available was dry dust.
In times, Ereshkigal was believed to rule alongside her husband Nergal, the god of death. The major deities in the Sumerian pantheon included An, the god of the heavens, the god of wind and storm, the god of water and human culture, the goddess of fertility and the earth, the god of the sun and justice, his father Nanna, the god of the moon. During the Akkadian Period and afterward, the goddess of sex and warfare, was venerated across Sumer and appeared in many myths, including the famous story of her descent into the Underworld. Sumerian religion influenced the religious beliefs of Mesopotamian peoples. Scholars of comparative mythology have noticed many parallels between the stories of the ancient Sumerians and those recorded in the early parts of the Hebrew Bible. Sumerian myths were passed down through the oral tradition until the invention of writing. Early Sumerian cuneiform was used as a record-keeping tool; these tablets were made of stone clay or stone, they used a small pick to make the symbols.
In the Sumerian city-states, temple complexes were small, elevated one-room structures. In the early dynastic period, temples developed multiple rooms. Toward the end of the Sumerian civilization, ziggurats became the preferred temple structure for Mesopotamian religious centers. Temples served as cultural and political headquarters until 2500 BC, with the rise of military kings known as Lu-gals after which time the political and military leadership was housed in separate "palace" complexes; until the advent of the lugals, Sumerian city states were under a theocratic government controlled by various En or Ensí, who served as the high priests of the cults of the city gods. Priests were responsible for continuing the cultural and religious traditions of their city-state, were viewed as mediators between humans and the cosmic and terrestrial forces; the priesthood resided full-time in temple complexes, administered matters of state including the large irrigation processes necessary for the civilization’s survival.
During the Third Dynasty of Ur, the Sumerian city-state of Lagash was said to have had sixty-two "lamentation priests" who were accompanied by 180 vocalists and instrumentalists. The Sumerians envisioned the universe as a closed dome surrounded by a primordial saltwater sea. Underneath the terrestrial earth, which formed the base of the dome, existed an underworld and a freshwater ocean called the Apsû; the deity of the dome-shaped firmament was named An. First the underground world was believed to be an extension of the goddess Ki, but developed into the concept of Kur; the primordial saltwater sea was named Nammu, who became known as Tiamat during and after the Sumerian Renaissance. The main source of information about the Sumerian creation myth is the prologue to the epic poem Gilgamesh and the Netherworld, which describes the process of creation: there was only Nammu, the primeval sea. Nammu gave birth to An, the sky, Ki, the earth. An and Ki mated with each other, causing Ki to give birth to Enlil, the god of wind and storm.
Enlil carried off the earth as his domain, while An carried off the sky. The ancient Mesopotamians regarded the sky as a series of domes covering the flat earth; each dome was made of a different kind of precious stone. The lowest dome of heaven was the home of the stars; the middle dome of heaven was the abode of the Igigi. The highest and outermost dome of heaven was made of luludānītu stone and was personified as An, the god of the sky; the celestial bodies were equated with specific deities as well. The planet Venus was believed to be Inanna, the goddess of love, sex
Mesopotamia is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in modern days corresponding to most of Iraq, parts of Northern Saudi Arabia, the eastern parts of Syria, Southeastern Turkey, regions along the Turkish–Syrian and Iran–Iraq borders. The Sumerians and Akkadians dominated Mesopotamia from the beginning of written history to the fall of Babylon in 539 BC, when it was conquered by the Achaemenid Empire, it fell to Alexander the Great in 332 BC, after his death, it became part of the Greek Seleucid Empire. Around 150 BC, Mesopotamia was under the control of the Parthian Empire. Mesopotamia became a battleground between the Romans and Parthians, with western parts of Mesopotamia coming under ephemeral Roman control. In AD 226, the eastern regions of Mesopotamia fell to the Sassanid Persians; the division of Mesopotamia between Roman and Sassanid Empires lasted until the 7th century Muslim conquest of Persia of the Sasanian Empire and Muslim conquest of the Levant from Byzantines.
A number of neo-Assyrian and Christian native Mesopotamian states existed between the 1st century BC and 3rd century AD, including Adiabene and Hatra. Mesopotamia is the site of the earliest developments of the Neolithic Revolution from around 10,000 BC, it has been identified as having "inspired some of the most important developments in human history including the invention of the wheel, the planting of the first cereal crops and the development of cursive script, mathematics and agriculture". The regional toponym Mesopotamia comes from the ancient Greek root words μέσος "middle" and ποταμός "river" and translates to " between two/the rivers", it is used throughout the Greek Septuagint to translate the Aramaic equivalent Naharaim. An earlier Greek usage of the name Mesopotamia is evident from The Anabasis of Alexander, written in the late 2nd century AD, but refers to sources from the time of Alexander the Great. In the Anabasis, Mesopotamia was used to designate the land east of the Euphrates in north Syria.
The Aramaic term biritum/birit narim corresponded to a similar geographical concept. The term Mesopotamia was more applied to all the lands between the Euphrates and the Tigris, thereby incorporating not only parts of Syria but almost all of Iraq and southeastern Turkey; the neighbouring steppes to the west of the Euphrates and the western part of the Zagros Mountains are often included under the wider term Mesopotamia. A further distinction is made between Northern or Upper Mesopotamia and Southern or Lower Mesopotamia. Upper Mesopotamia known as the Jazira, is the area between the Euphrates and the Tigris from their sources down to Baghdad. Lower Mesopotamia is the area from Baghdad to the Persian Gulf and includes Kuwait and parts of western Iran. In modern academic usage, the term Mesopotamia also has a chronological connotation, it is used to designate the area until the Muslim conquests, with names like Syria and Iraq being used to describe the region after that date. It has been argued that these euphemisms are Eurocentric terms attributed to the region in the midst of various 19th-century Western encroachments.
Mesopotamia encompasses the land between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, both of which have their headwaters in the Taurus Mountains. Both rivers are fed by numerous tributaries, the entire river system drains a vast mountainous region. Overland routes in Mesopotamia follow the Euphrates because the banks of the Tigris are steep and difficult; the climate of the region is semi-arid with a vast desert expanse in the north which gives way to a 15,000-square-kilometre region of marshes, mud flats, reed banks in the south. In the extreme south, the Euphrates and the Tigris empty into the Persian Gulf; the arid environment which ranges from the northern areas of rain-fed agriculture to the south where irrigation of agriculture is essential if a surplus energy returned on energy invested is to be obtained. This irrigation is aided by a high water table and by melting snows from the high peaks of the northern Zagros Mountains and from the Armenian Highlands, the source of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers that give the region its name.
The usefulness of irrigation depends upon the ability to mobilize sufficient labor for the construction and maintenance of canals, this, from the earliest period, has assisted the development of urban settlements and centralized systems of political authority. Agriculture throughout the region has been supplemented by nomadic pastoralism, where tent-dwelling nomads herded sheep and goats from the river pastures in the dry summer months, out into seasonal grazing lands on the desert fringe in the wet winter season; the area is lacking in building stone, precious metals and timber, so has relied upon long-distance trade of agricultural products to secure these items from outlying areas. In the marshlands to the south of the area, a complex water-borne fishing culture has existed since prehistoric times, has added to the cultural mix. Periodic breakdowns in the cultural system have occurred for a number of reasons; the demands for labor has from time to time led to population increases that push the limits of the ecological carrying capacity, should a period of climatic instability ensue, collapsing central government a