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Who is Tammuz? Mesopotamia – West Asian religion

By |2018-04-24T12:02:10+00:00September 15th, 2017|Religion, West Asia|

The god Tammuz (probably) with grain growing from his shoulders A West Asian god Tammuz (or Dumuzi) was a West Asian god who personified growing food, like Persephone in Greece or Osiris in Egypt. Like Osiris, Tammuz was male. The Sumerians worshipped Tammuz as early as 2600 BC - and probably much earlier - and so did all the other people [...]

Who is Ishtar? Mesopotamian goddess – West Asian religion

By |2018-04-15T12:09:53+00:00September 15th, 2017|Religion, West Asia|

The Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar or Inanna Ishtar (also called Inanna) was an important goddess of West Asia. Beginning at least by 3000 BC she was worshipped by the Sumerians, and by the Akkadians, and theBabylonians, and the Assyrians. Like most other female goddesses, Ishtar was a fertility goddess, but Ishtar was fiercer and more powerful than the Greek goddesses like Athena or Aphrodite. According [...]

Epic of Gilgamesh – Mesopotamian writing

By |2018-04-13T01:43:06+00:00September 15th, 2017|Literature, West Asia|

Epic of Gilgamesh: Gilgamesh and his friend Enkidu fight the monster Humbaba, on an Assyrian cylinder seal from the 600s BC The real king Gilgamesh The Epic of Gilgamesh is a story about a Sumerian king (Gilgamesh) who seems to have lived around 2500 BC, in Mesopotamia. Story-tellers probably began telling this story not long after he [...]

Plotinus and the Neoplatonists – Roman philosophy

By |2017-09-04T11:34:58+00:00September 4th, 2017|Philosophy, Romans|

Bust of Plotinus (Ostia, ca. 250 AD) Around the time of Jesus, philosophers (and regular people) in West Asia and the Roman Empire started to think a lot about what happened to you after you died. The afterlife was very important to the Christians and the Gnostics. But a little later on, Roman philosophers developed a new idea. They suggested that when [...]

History of religion – sacrifice, holidays

By |2018-04-21T12:09:37+00:00August 23rd, 2017|Religion|

Building at Gobekli Tepe (ca. 9000 BC) People have started a lot of different religions. Some of them are still practiced today; others are not. It is hard even to know what religion is. But let's say religion is any tendency to change your own behavior in accordance with supernatural forces. Most people [...]

What is Nirvana? Indian religion

By |2018-04-23T15:20:30+00:00July 21st, 2017|India, Religion|

Wheel of Life (Konark Sun temple, Odisha, India, 1200s AD) About 300 BC, Hindu people in India began to feel that they didn't like the idea of being reincarnated over and over again forever. Instead, they wondered what it would be like to be free from greed, money, work and slavery. People thought maybe it would be better to [...]

The Greek underworld – Hades

By |2018-04-23T09:49:50+00:00July 16th, 2017|Greeks, Religion|

Hades and Persephone in the underworld Greek people didn't like to talk about what happened to you after you died. So we don't know as much about what they thought as we might like. Probably they did not think about life after death as much as later people like the Christians and the Buddhists did, or [...]

Greek mystery cults – ancient Greece

By |2018-04-23T10:04:50+00:00July 13th, 2017|Greeks, Religion|

Torchlight parade (this one is actually in India) Most Greek religious rituals were about sacrifice to the gods. But there was another form of religious activity also, which we call the mystery cults. People who wanted to participate in the mystery cults also kept on doing the usual sacrifices. You didn't have to choose. It's like [...]

Who were the Norse gods?

By |2017-06-29T02:10:43+00:00June 29th, 2017|Northern Europe, Religion|

A Viking religious sacrifice (ca. 900 AD, Sweden) From their first appearance in historical literature around 100 BC, the Germans were polytheistic. They believed in many gods, just like the Greeks and the Romans and the Persians and the Indians and other Indo-European people. In fact, the most important German gods are closely [...]

Who was the Egyptian god Thoth?

By |2018-05-30T19:52:53+00:00June 19th, 2017|Africa, Egypt, Religion|

The Egyptian god Thoth (Old Kingdom tomb) What was Thoth the god of? Thoth was the Egyptian god of the mind - of intelligence, thinking, reason, and logic. He was originally a moon god. Thoth as part of the god Ra Egyptians often thought of Thoth as the heart and tongue of the [...]