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Registered: 09-2007
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In 1902, German archaeologist Robert Koldewey unearthed the fabled Ishtar Gate in the ruins of Babylon. The gateway dated from the time of King Nebuchadnezzar (about 600 B.C.) and was decorated with bas-reliefs. The animals depicted on the Gate were known to the Babylonians - two of the animals depicted were lions and rimi (aurochs, a type of wild ox). Of the three animals depicted, one could not be identified. It seemed to show a mythical animal, which seemed out of place with sculptures depicting known animals that were contemporary with the Babylonians.

The animal, which Koldewey recognized as a sirrush (dragon; the word mushrushu or mushhushshu is the commonly-accepted modern form, based on a retranslation of the original word) can be described as having

...a slender body covered with scales, a long slender scaly tail, and a long slim scaly neck bearing a serpent's head... [from the mouth] a long forked tongue protrudes. There are flaps of skin attached to the back of the head, which is adorned (and armed) with a straight horn.

In the Apocrypha (a collection of stories which claim to be expurgated sections of the Bible), in the Book of Bel and the Dragon, it is recorded that King Nebuchadnezzar kept a dragon in the temple of the god Bel, which the people of Babylon worshipped. When the Hebrew prophet Daniel began to denounce the worship of idols, Nebuchadnezzar confronted him with the Bel-dragon, saying that it "liveth and eateth and drinketh; you cannot say that he is no living god; therefore worship him." Daniel responded by killing the dragon.

Roy P. Mackal, along with several other cryptozoologists, believes that the Bible itself refers to the Mushhushshu, although under a different name, in Chapter 40 of Job.

Look at the behemoth... which feeds on grass like an ox... his tail sways like a cedar; the sinews of his thighs are close-knit. His bones are tubes of bronze, his limbs like rods of iron... Under the lotus plants he lies, hidden among the reeds in the marsh.

The identity of Behemoth has long been a mystery to theologians, most of whom proclaim that the verse refers to a hippopotamus. However, Mackal thinks that the description of it could be a description of a sauropod dinosaur.

In some translations of this passage, the verse ends with a statement that "his nose pierceth through snares;" this sounds, at least to me, like a description of a rhinoceros-type horn.

Several cryptozoologists, including Mackal, Willy Ley, and Bernard Heuvelmans, endorse the theory that the Mushhushshu may already be identified, at least in part. The Babylonians are believed to have penetrated into equatorial Africa. Here, the cryptozoologists conjecture, they may have heard stories of, sighted, or even captured a specimen or two of Mokele-Mbembe, the Congo "dragon," which served as the basis for the Mushhushshu depicted on the Gate.

But the inspiration behind these depictions could be considerably more symbolic and less literal. In the complex mythology of Mesopotamia, the chief god of the city of Eshnunna, Tishpak, defeated and enslaved the Mushhushshu in battle. The dragon thence became his symbol, and after Eshnunna was conquered and assimilated as part of Babylon, Tishpak is symbolically defeated by the god of Babylon (Marduk), and the "ownership" of the Mushhushshu transfers to that god; thereafter, the dragon is seen as symbol of Marduk.

Of the three animals depicted on the gate, one can explain all in a non-zoological context. The lion was a symbol of the goddess Ishtar, and undoubtedly served as a symbolic way of "naming" the gateway. The problematic Mushhushshu served a dual purpose as both a symbol of the ruling deity Marduk and also as a protective spirit, particularly in conjunction with the bull. Inscriptions exist detailing the protective qualities of the dragon and the bull (which may or may not be associated with the viper as well).

Also, a new spin is possibly put on The Book of Bel and the Dragon, the apocryphal book supposedly describing the Mushhushshu. It should be noted that in the book Nebuchadnezzar is mentioned prominently. Historically, Nebuchadnezzar is the king responsible for the building of the Ishtar Gate; and furthermore, Bel is merely another name used to refer to Marduk, the keeping of the dragon in Bel's temple possibly an interpretation of the fact that the Mushhushshu symbolized that god. So doubt is cast on that book's literal truth, and it could be just another parable of Christianity's triumph over paganism.

In conclusion, it seems likely that the depictions of the Mushhushshu or Sirrush on the gates of Babylon were nothing more than a combination of religious reverence and an invocation of divine protection. In no way was the carving intended to represent any sort of real animal. The fact that the lion and the bull were real was merely coincidence: both of those animals were religious or protective symbols, as well.


When a mystery is too overpowering, one dare not disobey
Sep/16/2007, 3:36 pm Link to this post Send Email to RealmWalker   Send PM to RealmWalker AIM
MaTTsWoRld Profile
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Registered: 08-2006
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Re: Sirrush

iam learning something here,most of these creature's i haven't even heard of,thank you realmwalker,you are doing alot to teach me more and to keeping this forum going
cheers mate


you smile because iam different,i laugh because your all the same

Sep/16/2007, 4:14 pm Link to this post Send Email to MaTTsWoRld   Send PM to MaTTsWoRld Blog

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