Cayleigh Wright Mesopotamia
Mesopotamian religion was polytheistic; more than 2,000 gods and goddesses have been identified. The chief of the gods varied from period to period. For the Sumerians, it was Enlin, the Sky God. The Babylonians worshipped Marduk above all others, and Ashur was the supreme god of the Assyrians. Other notable gods and goddesses were Ishtar, goddess of love and fertility, Tiamat, god of the sea and chaos, and Sin, the moon god.The Mesopotamians conceived of the material world as being deeply bound up with the divine. Every household, village and city had its own god. Everything that happened on Earth had a divine dimension to it - was at least as much the result of the wishes of gods as of men and women.The overriding purpose of man was to serve the gods. This meant not just tending the gods' sanctuaries and burning incense at their altars, it meant feeding them and providing them with all their material needs. In early Mesopotamian times this meant that the entire economic life of a city-state was geared to the service of the temple.Later, with the rise of kings, the idea grew that, as representatives of the gods on Earth (indeed, in some senses kings were seen as being the patron gods of their cities) they were responsible for the people's service to the gods. This gave religious justification for their complete authority over their subjects.Mesopotamian cosmology viewed the world as a flat disc, with a canopy of air above, and beyond that, surrounding water above and below. The universe was held to have come out of this water.The Mesopotamians had a rich store of myths and legends. The most famous of these today is the epic of Gilgamesh, due to the fact that it contains a legend of the flood which has various similarities with (but also glaring differences to) the Biblical account of Noah's Ark.