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Lamassu: The Protectors Of Mesopotamia

Lamassu: The Protectors Of Mesopotamia 88

Lamassu are human-headed, eagle-winged, bulls or lions who once shielded cities in Mesopotamia. They have been thought to be very strong animals, and functioned both as a clear reminder of the king’s supreme authority and symbols of security for all people.

The most famous colossal statues of Lamassu have been excavated at the sites of the Assyrian capitals created by King Assurnasirpal II (reigned 883 — 859 BC) and King Sargon II (reigned 721 — 705 BC).   The winged beasts from Nimrud in Iraq (the ancient city of Kalhu) also became quite famous when Lamassu there were ruined in 2015. Other statues of those mythical beasts belong to towns like ancient Dur Sharrukin (current Khorsabad, Iraq).

Every significant city wanted to have Lamassu shield the gateway for their citadel. At exactly the exact same time, another winged monster was created to keep watch in the throne room entry. Additionally, they were the guardians who motivated armies to protect their cities. The Mesopotamians considered that Lamassu scared off the forces of chaos and brought peace to their homes. Lamassu in the Akkadian language signifies “protective spirits.”

Celestial Beings

Lamassu often appear in Mesopotamian mythology and art. The first recorded Lamassu comes from circa 3,000 BC. Other titles for Lamassu are Lumasi, Alad, and Shedu. Sometimes a Lamassu is depicted as a female deity, but generally it’s presented using a more masculine head. The female Lamassu were known as “apsasu.”

Lamassu, as a celestial being, can also be identified with Inara, the Hittite-Hurrian goddess of wild creatures of the steppe and also the daughter of the Storm-god Teshub. She corresponds with the Greek goddess Artemis.

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Human-headed winged bull, otherwise called a Shedu, from Khorsabad. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

In the Epic of Gilgamesh and Enuma Elis, both Lamassu and Aspasu (Inara) are symbols of the starry heavens, constellations, and the zodiac. In the Epic of Gilgamesh they have been regarded as protective since they encompass all life within them.

The cults of Lamassu and Shedu were quite common in families from the Sumerian to Babylonian period, and they became more associated with many royal protectors in various cults. Akkadians associated Lamassu together with the god Papsukkal (the messenger god), as well as the god Isum (a fire-god, herald of the Babylonian gods) with Shedu.

Mythical Guardians that Influenced Christianity

Lamassu were protectors of not just spirits and palaces, but of every single human being. People felt safer knowing that their spirits were near, therefore Lamassu were engraved on clay tablets, which were subsequently buried beneath the threshold of a house. A home with a Lamassu has been thought to be a far happier place than just one with no mythical monster nearby. Archaeological study proves it’s very likely that Lamassu were significant for all the cultures that dwelt in the territory of Mesopotamia and around it.

As said the Lamassu motif first appeared in imperial palaces in Nimrud, throughout the reign of Ashurnasirpal II, and vanished following the reign of Ashurbanipal who dominated between 668 BC and 627 BC. The cause of the Lamassu’s disappearance in buildings is unknown.

Ancient Jewish people were highly affected by the iconography and symbolism of previous cultures, and appreciated the Lamassu. The prophet Ezekiel wrote about Lamassu, describing it as a fantastic being made of aspects of a lion, an eagle, a bull, and a human. In the early Christian period, the four Gospels were associated with each one of these mythical components.

Furthermore, it is probable that the Lamassu was among the reasons why people began to use a lion, not just as a sign of a courageous and robust head of a tribe, but also as a guardian.

Powerful Monuments

Nowadays, Lamassu are still found standing proud. They were carved out of a single block. The earliest monumental sculptures are approximately 10-14 feet (3. 27 meters) tall and they are made of alabaster. The most familiar difference between the older Lamassu and the ones from a subsequent period is the kind of their body. The first Lamassu were carved with the body of a lion, but those from the palace of King Sargon II have a body of a bull. What’s more intriguing– the Lamassu of Sargon are smiling.

In 713 BC, Sargon founded his capital, Dur Sharrukin. He decided that protective genies could be set on each side of the two gates to act like guardians. Apart from being guardians and remarkable decoration, in addition they served an architectural role, bearing some of the weight of the arch over them.

Sargon II had an interest in Lamassu. During his reign, many monuments and sculptures of these mythical beasts were made. In this period of time, the body of Lamassu had a high relief and the modeling was marked. The head had the ears of a bull, face of a man with a beard, and a mouth with a thin mustache. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

During the excavations led by Paul Botta, in the beginning of 1843, archaeologists discovered a number of the monuments that were delivered to the Louvre in France. This was possibly the first time when Europeans watched the mythical monsters.

Currently, representations of Lamassu are parts of collections at the British Museum in London, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and The Oriental Institute in Chicago. During the operation of the British military in Iraq and Iran in 1942-1943, the British even embraced Lamassu as their emblem. Nowadays, the sign of the Lamassu is on the emblem of the United States forces in Iraq.


Albenda Pauline, Le palais de Sargon d’Assyrie, 1986.


Archaeologists have discovered “unknown” constellations in an Egyptian temple

Archaeologists have discovered "unknown" constellations in an Egyptian temple 102
Previously unknown ancient Egyptian constellations found © Live Science

A team of scientists from Germany and Egypt, which carried out work in the ancient temple of Esna, found references to previously unknown ancient Egyptian constellations, but so far they cannot link them to existing ones.

In Egypt, archaeologists have discovered images of unknown constellations during the restoration of an ancient temple. This is reported by LiveScience.

Restoration work is being carried out in the 2,000-year-old temple by experts from Germany and Egypt. During the removal of soot and dust from the walls, drawings began to appear, with which the ancient Egyptians decorated the temple.

“The carvings and hieroglyphs look so vivid as if they were drawn yesterday. But we are not repainting anything, we are just removing the soot,” Christian Leitz says, professor of Egyptology at the University of Tübingen.

During the restoration, researchers cleaned up ancient carved scenes depicting constellations, including the Big Dipper and Orion. Scientists have also found previously unknown constellations, including a constellation called “Apedu n Ra” or “Geese of Ra”, which are the ancient Egyptian sun gods.

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Mentioning these constellations, without depicting them, does not yet allow us to say which star clusters are in question.

The first modern description of a Greco-Roman temple in the city of Esna dates back to 1589, when it was visited by a Venetian merchant. The city of Esna, about 60 km south of the ancient capital of Luxor, used to have more temples. Two buildings were destroyed during the industrialization of Egypt, and the largest, the Temple of Esna, was used for storing cotton in the first half of the 19th century.

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The sanctuary, which they decided to use as a warehouse, was prized for its location in the city center. Decades of desolation have left the temple dirty, covered in soot and bird droppings.

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To date, only its vestibule remains from the temple. The large sandstone structure is supported by 24 columns, as well as 18 freestanding columns, decorated with paintings and carvings. It stretches 37 meters long, 20 meters wide and 15 meters high. But the remains of the temple are only a small fraction of its former size when it was built under the Roman emperor Claudius (reigned 41-54 AD). Scholars do not know what happened to the rest of the temple when a Venetian merchant visited it in the 16th century, little remained of the structure.

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According to Leitz, the construction and decoration of the temple, including the astronomical drawings on the ceiling, could take about 200 years.

He notes that when the ancient Egyptians decorated the temple, they first drew with ink, creating sketches for carvers, and then colored the relief designs.

On the astronomical ceiling of the temple, many drawings have remained in ink, so they were found only during the restoration.

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A portrait of an alien? In Bulgaria, archaeologists have found a clay mask of an unusual shape

A portrait of an alien? In Bulgaria, archaeologists have found a clay mask of an unusual shape 107
Ancient mask resembles an alien (Photo: Bulgarian National Radio)

A prehistoric clay mask or figurine without a mouth dating back to the 5th millennium BC was found in the prehistoric settlement of Salt Pit in northeastern Bulgaria.

A whimsical mask or figurine without a mouth combines human and animal features and resembles an ” alien” from a science fiction movie, archaeologists are sure.

“ Many people compare him to … an alien in a space suit,” the Bulgarian National Radio said in a statement about the discovery.

A late Eneolithic mask was found on the Provadia-Solnitsata mound in northeastern Bulgaria, its shape is close to triangular. The front side protrudes forward and contains an image of a supposedly human face, while the back side is dented and rough in shape.

According to archaeologists, each of the two corners of the upper side of the prehistoric mask or figurine has a short protrusion, “probably stylized ears.” The figurine’s ears have small holes that were used to carry or hang the artifact.

“The artifact was most likely a status symbol hanging on a person’s chest. Interestingly, there is even a hint of mouth on the artifact. But the emphasis is on the eyes – their shape, size, and the vertical polished stripes underneath say much more,” the researchers said.

The head of the archaeological team, Professor Vasil Nikolov, told Bulgarian National Radio that there is no way to know for sure what exactly the 6,000-year-old clay mask or figurine might have been used for by prehistoric people.

Judging by the two holes in the stylized ears of the mouthless mask, it could be hanging on the wall or even being a potter’s vessel lid that could be raised or lowered with a string. According to him, the image on the mask of an ” alien” is a mixture of anthropomorphic and zoomorphic features and “is strongly associated with the masculine principle.”

Two furnaces from the Early Eneolithic ( Copper Age) were excavated at the mound of the Bazovets settlement in North-Eastern Bulgaria.

One of two prehistoric kilns dating back about 7,000 years, was first partially excavated in the 2019 archaeological season. However, during the last excavations of the Bazovets mound, it was completely exposed, and a second kiln from the same structure was discovered.

During the last excavations of the mound of the Bazovetsky settlement, 57 archaeological artifacts were discovered. These include items made of flint, animal bones, horns, and ceramics, including fragments of anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figurines.

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Staffa – “Island of columns”, which according to the legends of the Vikings was built by giants

Staffa - "Island of columns", which according to the legends of the Vikings was built by giants 108

Some places on our planet are so amazing that legends have been made about them for millennia. According to one of the legends, earlier on Earth there was a race of giants, which I love to talk about in my articles. It may be rather strange, but there is plenty of evidence that giants are not just a beautiful fairy tale, but could actually live on Earth.

Interestingly, according to some scientists, gigantism in the past was characteristic not only of living things, but also of plants, insects and people. The reason for this could be a different composition of the planet’s atmosphere, in which a small size meant a small chance of survival.

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Some of the ancient buildings are so majestic that people definitely could not build them, and there are traces of such ancient buildings in many countries. Huge stone blocks weighing several tons, which people could hardly lift, because they did not possess the technologies of our time. But there are wonders of the world, which are difficult to understand, and one of them is the “Island of Columns”. Either nature skillfully did its job, or the giants of antiquity could build this miracle, but about everything in order.

Fingal’s Cave is located on the Scottish island of Staffa. The height of the ancient temple is about 20 meters, and the width is only about 14. People who have fallen into the cave note that it is like an ancient temple built using amazing technology. This place is often called the melody cave, because you can hear amazing sounds of nature in it, as if the natural philharmonic society invited you to its free concert.

The mystery lies in the basalt columns, which look so amazing that you start to doubt the natural formation of these columns, maybe that’s why legends about giants appeared, that people do not believe that the columns could have appeared naturally? But let’s return to the legend, in which we are told about the amazing giant Fingal, who lay down to rest before his next fight. Up to this point, he has erected a unique king between Ireland and Scotland, in which there were thousands of such columns.

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The giant’s rival came to a duel to the cave, and the war was met by Fingal’s wife, who pointed to her husband wrapped in blankets and said that this was their baby. The words of the giant’s wife frightened the other giant so much that he imagined his rival, whose height could exceed his height several times. Then he decided to escape from the place of the battle, destroying the dam behind him so that Fingal would not catch up with him.

Fingal’s Cave gained fame after the famous scientist Joseph Banks visited the small island in the 17th century. After his rave reviews, this place was visited by many famous people, and Felix Mendelssohn even dedicated his overture to the unusual musical grotto.

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There is no direct connection between this piece of land and Scotland. First, tourists take a ferry to the Isle of Mull, and from there they follow boats to Staffa Island.

Here is such a beautiful fairy tale in which the wife of a giant cunningly did not let her husband fight.

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