The Annunaki

Deities in ancient Mesopotamia were almost exclusively anthropomorphic. They were thought to possess extraordinary powers and were often envisioned as being of tremendous physical size. The deities typically wore melam, an ambiguous substance which "covered them in terrifying splendor".

Melam could also be worn by heroes, kings, giants, and even demons.The effect that seeing a deity's melam has on a human is described as ni, a word for the "physical tingling of the flesh". Both the Sumerian and Akkadian languages contain many words to express the sensation of ni, including the word puluhtu, meaning "fear". Deities were almost always depicted wearing horned caps, consisting of up to seven superimposed pairs of ox-horns. They were also sometimes depicted wearing clothes with elaborate decorative gold and silver ornaments sewn into them.

The ancient Mesopotamians believed that their deities lived in Heaven, but that a god's statue was a physical embodiment of the god himself. As such, cult statues were given constant care and attention and a set of priests were assigned to tend to them. These priests would clothe the statues and place feasts before them so they could "eat".

Annunaki Gods fighting

One of the Annunaki Gods

A deity's temple was believed to be that deity's literal place of residence. The gods had boats, full-sized barges which were normally stored inside their temples and were used to transport their cult statues along waterways during various religious festivals. The gods also had chariots, which were used for transporting their cult statues by land. Sometimes a deity's cult statue would be transported to the location of a battle so that the deity could watch the battle unfold. The major deities of the Mesopotamian pantheon were believed to participate in the "assembly of the gods",through which the gods made all of their decisions. This assembly was seen as a divine counterpart to the semi-democratic legislative system that existed during the Third Dynasty of Ur (c. 2112 BC – c. 2004 BC).

The Mesopotamian pantheon evolved greatly over the course of its history. In general, the history of Mesopotamian religion can be divided into four phases. During the first phase, starting in the fourth millennium BC, deities' domains mainly focused on basic needs for human survival. During the second phase, which occurred in the third millennium BC, the divine hierarchy became more structured and deified kings began to enter the pantheon.

During the third phase, in the second millennium BC, the gods worshipped by an individual person and gods associated with the commoners became more prevalent. During the fourth and final phase, in the first millennium BC, the gods became closely associated with specific human empires and rulers. The names of over 3,000 Mesopotamian deities have been recovered from cuneiform texts. Many of these are from lengthy lists of deities compiled by ancient Mesopotamian scribes. The longest of these lists is a text entitled An = Antum, a Babylonian scholarly work listing the names of over 2,000 Sumerian deities with their Semitic equivalents.

Deities in ancient Mesopotamia were almost exclusively anthropomorphic. They were thought to possess extraordinary powers and were often envisioned as being of tremendous physical size. The deities typically wore melam, an ambiguous substance which "covered them in terrifying splendor".

Annunaki Gods fighting

Melam could also be worn by heroes, kings, giants, and even demons.The effect that seeing a deity's melam has on a human is described as ni, a word for the "physical tingling of the flesh". Both the Sumerian and Akkadian languages contain many words to express the sensation of ni, including the word puluhtu, meaning "fear". Deities were almost always depicted wearing horned caps, consisting of up to seven superimposed pairs of ox-horns. They were also sometimes depicted wearing clothes with elaborate decorative gold and silver ornaments sewn into them.

The ancient Mesopotamians believed that their deities lived in Heaven, but that a god's statue was a physical embodiment of the god himself. As such, cult statues were given constant care and attention and a set of priests were assigned to tend to them. These priests would clothe the statues and place feasts before them so they could "eat".

A deity's temple was believed to be that deity's literal place of residence. The gods had boats, full-sized barges which were normally stored inside their temples and were used to transport their cult statues along waterways during various religious festivals. The gods also had chariots, which were used for transporting their cult statues by land. Sometimes a deity's cult statue would be transported to the location of a battle so that the deity could watch the battle unfold. The major deities of the Mesopotamian pantheon were believed to participate in the "assembly of the gods",through which the gods made all of their decisions. This assembly was seen as a divine counterpart to the semi-democratic legislative system that existed during the Third Dynasty of Ur (c. 2112 BC – c. 2004 BC).

The Mesopotamian pantheon evolved greatly over the course of its history. In general, the history of Mesopotamian religion can be divided into four phases. During the first phase, starting in the fourth millennium BC, deities' domains mainly focused on basic needs for human survival. During the second phase, which occurred in the third millennium BC, the divine hierarchy became more structured and deified kings began to enter the pantheon.

One of the Annunaki Gods

During the third phase, in the second millennium BC, the gods worshipped by an individual person and gods associated with the commoners became more prevalent. During the fourth and final phase, in the first millennium BC, the gods became closely associated with specific human empires and rulers. The names of over 3,000 Mesopotamian deities have been recovered from cuneiform texts. Many of these are from lengthy lists of deities compiled by ancient Mesopotamian scribes. The longest of these lists is a text entitled An = Antum, a Babylonian scholarly work listing the names of over 2,000 Sumerian deities with their Semitic equivalents.