An Annotated & Illustrated Collection of Worldwide Links to Mythologies,
Fairy Tales & Folklore, Sacred Arts & Sacred Traditions
by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.
Pacifica Graduate Institute



Also known as Mesopotamia, Sumer,
 Babylonia, & Assyria
This region once covered much of modern Iran, Iraq, & Syria

Map of Sumer: Click on the link for a larger version -- 25 July 2002: link is broken -- I'm trying to get an update.
For more excellent maps of many regions of the Near East, see this page of links from

Huwawa [Humbaba], the Mesopotamian Forest God,
who originated in a time when there were still forests to be protected.
He was later betrayed and slain by his one-time friend Enkidu
and Enkidu's new ally, the warrior-king Gilgamesh

(Terracotta relief, c. 2000 BCE)
[From Time/Life's series, MYTH AND MANKIND:
Epics of Early Civilization: Middle Eastern Myth, 1998:80] [25 July 2002: link is broken -- hopefully it's temporary]

From the University of Evansville, Indiana comes a brief overview of the epic of Gilgamesh:
From the Near East comes the Old Babylonian account of the life and death of GILGAMESH. There was a real Gilgamesh, a king who ruled some 2700 years before Christ lived and the Romans consolidated their vast empire....
The site offers links to related Near Eastern texts from the Old Testament and elsewhere.
This is a verse text of the Gilgamesh epic by Robert Temple (1991).  Tablet V tells of when Enkidu and Gilamesh enter the great forest and encounter Humbaba (see the image above).  Because it's less familiar than many other portions, I'm going to excerpt parts of it and add my brief comments:
They stood quite still and looked at the forest,
Saw how high were the great cedars,
And gazed upon the entrance to the forest.
There, where Humbaba was wont to tread,
Was a fine path; straight it was and easy to travel.
They saw also the Cedar Mountain, where lived the gods
And Irnini, Goddess of Love, holy Inanna had her throne seat
The cedar raised aloft its great luxuriant growth:
What cool shade, what delight! .....
The two enter the forest and later bed down for the night.  Gilgamesh has a series of nightmares; each time he shares a dream with Enkidu, the later perverts the dream's meaning:
'A second dream I saw:
We were standing in mountain gorges
And a mountain fell upon us.
It was so large that by comparison
We were like small reed flies -
Like the little fly of the cane-brakes we were.'
He who was born on the steppe...
Enkidu said to his friend:
'My friend, the dream is auspicious,
It is a precious dream....
My friend, that mountain which you saw
That mountain is Humbaba.
We shall seize Humbaba, we shall kill him,
And cast his dead body on the plain....
They cut down a cedar, which attracts Humbaba's attention to them:
...Gilgamesh gripped the axe
And with it felled the cedar.
Humbaba, hearing the sound of this,
Fell into a fury and raged:
'Who is it who has come -
Come and intefered with my trees?
My trees which have grown on my own mountains?
And has also felled the cedar?'....
They overpower Humbaba with the treacherous help of Shamash, the sun-god, who drives fierce winds from all directions at Humbaba; the old mountain forest god pleads for his life and Gilgamesh seems willing to listen, but Enkidu advises against it.
...Enkidu said to his friend, said to Gilgamesh:
'My friend, Humbaba the guardian of the Cedar Forest......
Strike him to maim him.
Kill him! Crush him! And quickly,
Humbaba, the guardian of the forest -
Strike him to maim him.
Kill him! Crush him! And quickly.
Before God Enlil, the Foremost hears his cries.
The gods will be filled with wrath against us for our deed....
After several postponements, the Old one is slain:
...Gilgamesh heeded the words of his friend.
With his hand he took the axe,
Drew the sword from his belt.
Gilgamesh struck the neck of Humbaba,
Enkidu, his friend, struck Humbaba twice also.
At the third blow Humbaba fell.
Confusion..... dumbfounded,
He struck the watchman, Humbaba, to the ground.
For two leagues the cedars resounded.
Enkidu killed with him
Forest.... cedars
At whose word Mount Hermon -Saria
And all the Lebanon trembled.
All the mountains became.......
All the hills became.......
He slew the ......cedars,
Those destroyed....
The chilling death of Humbaba is only one element in this epic.  I, as you might have guessed, am on the side of the Old Forest God.  I am also on the side of the serpent who, in a later section of the epic, steals the herb of immortality from Gilgamesh. [25 July 2002: link is broken -- hopefully it's temporary]
This is a fine scholarly essay, "Storytelling, the Meaning of Life, and The Epic of Gilgamesh," by Arthur A. Brown.  It looks at the fates of both Gilgamesh and Enkidu.
This site begins with a useful summary of the Gilgamesh epic and then offers a huge number of annotated links to ancient and modern sources (in books and on the web) to Gilgamesh, Enkidu and a zillion related matters.  It's been compiled by a college instructor -- you could spend days here.
If you're overwhelmed by the number of links just above, try this link from N. S. Gill, the ancient history guide -- her page has a handful of well-chosen links related to Gilgamesh.
     [25 July 2002: link is broken -- if anyone knows what happened to it, please let me know.]
For more selections from Babylonian mythological texts (also several Canaanite and Egyptian ones), try this site by Aaron Leitch ("Khephera").  It's called "Mythos from the Heart of the World."  Translators and publication data aren't provided yet, but if you just want to get a sense of the material, this is a good place to start.  There's also a "Dictionary of Ancient Middle Eastern Gods" -- on the day I checked, only its music was loading so I can't say how good it is; Aaron, however, has been collecting this data for a long time and, for non-specialized work, I'm sure it's useful for browsing.

Lilith, a Mesopotamian Goddess
by Sandra Stanton
(used courtesy of the artist)

This is a wonderful page of annotated scholarly links to Lilith from Alan Humm, a graduate student in Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.  He includes an overview of Lilith, ancient literary sources, modern literature, her roles in magic, Jewish mysticism, and art (there's a great collection of images here).  I highly recommend this site.

Among the links, by the way, is a paper I especially enjoyed by Alejandro Arturo Gonzalez Terriza: Isis, Lilith, Gello: Three Ladies of Darkness.  As Humm summarizes: "A nice scholarly analysis of the parallels between Lilith, Isis, and the ghost-demon Gello/Gylú."  The paper explores how these magician-goddesses already have, or later obtain, the secret name of God and how in the end, at least in the last of these traditions, the defeated goddess loses her own name.  As Terriza concludes:

...So, it's now the Goddess who, by losing her name, becomes defenseless before the Male Enemy, and must move back under his authority.

Many more things could be told. But I think it's enough with this glance into the darkness to show that there are paradigms, not much known, that reveal a autonomous and fascinating view of womanhood. Enemies of socially established female status, of matrimony and motherhood; grandmothers in the end of Romantic vamps (of Carmila, or Dracula brides): Isis, Lilith, Gello, the three ladies of the darkness, counterbalance and complete the usual scheme of Eve and Pandora, providing us a less radically biased image....


[Added 21 February 2011]:The above two ancient & beautiful swastika images, the first one representing a right-breaking dynamic (which means dawn, spring, light, coming-into-being, i.e., the in-breath) and the second one showing us a totally unique and balanced composite -- an antlered  left/right-breaking dynamic, representing simultaneously both the in-breath and the out-breath, light and dark, birth and death, in-coming and out-going.  Both art works are from pre-historic Samarra in today's Iraq.  They come from sketches (based on archaeological fragments) made by Beatrice Laura Goff for her Symbols of Prehistoric Mesopotamia, Yale University Press, 1963. They date from the 7th millenninm BCE to about 3000 BCE.

Under construction -- please be patient --
ungrokked links are at bottom of page if you wish to explore further
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Near Eastern pages:

The Tigris-EuphratesRiver Valley
(also known as Mesopotamia, Sumer, Babylonia, Assyria)

(which once covered much of modern Syria, Jordan, Lebanon,
Palestine and Israel)

(which once covered much of modern Turkey)

The Three Monotheisms: Judaism, Christianity & Islam

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This page created with Netscape Gold

Technical assistance: William Weeks
Text and Design:
Copyright 1998-2011 by Kathleen Jenks, Ph.D.
10-11 February 2000:
Page separated from original Near East mega-page & the first 8 links added.
24-25 July 2002: misc. color & format changes; checked all links; revised Nedstat;
28 July 2002, 1:40am: added ungrokked links, spill-overs from Iraq page.
21 February 2011: added 2 Samarra swastika images for Facebook thread.

NOTE:  Bar-separators are a detail cropped from the famous Standard of Ur  (c.2600-2400 BCE), found in Time/Life's series, MYTH AND MANKIND: Epics of Early Civilization: Middle Eastern Myth, 1998:54.
Gorgeous art thumbnails (clickable)

British Museum to help Iraq restore Ninevah library
More pictures, but of uneven quality