The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria

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Author: Theophilus Goldridge Pinches

Image-Worship and Sacred Stones.

Whether image-worship was original among the Babylonians and Assyrians is uncertain, and improbable; the tendency among the people in early times being to venerate sacred stones and other inanimate objects. As has been already pointed out, the {diopetres} of the Greeks was probably a meteorite, and stones marking the position of the Semitic bethels were probably, in their origin, the same. The boulders which were sometimes used for boundary-stones may have been the representations of these meteorites in later times, and it is noteworthy that the Sumerian group for "iron," /an-bar/, implies that the early Babylonians only knew of that metal from meteoric ironstone. The name of the god Nirig or Ênu-rêštu (Ninip) is generally written with the same group, implying some kind of connection between the two —the god and the iron. In a well-known hymn to that deity certain stones are mentioned, one of them being described as the "poisontooth"[*] coming forth on the mountain, recalling the sacred rocks at Jerusalem and Mecca. Boundary-stones in Babylonia were not sacred objects except in so far as they were sculptured with the signs of the gods.[†] With regard to the Babylonian bethels, very little can be said, their true nature being uncertain, and their number, to all appearance, small. Gifts were made to them, and from this fact it would seem that they were temples—true "houses of god," in fact— probably containing an image of the deity, rather than a stone similar to those referred to in the Old Testament.

[*] So called, probably, not because it sent forth poison, but on
account of its likeness to a serpent’s fang.

[†] Notwithstanding medical opinion, their phallic origin is doubtful.
One is sculptured in the form of an Eastern castellated fortress.

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Chicago: Theophilus Goldridge Pinches, "Image-Worship and Sacred Stones.," The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, trans. Weber, Gottfried in The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria Original Sources, accessed August 14, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4TBQAPEPHG8WC2V.

MLA: Pinches, Theophilus Goldridge. "Image-Worship and Sacred Stones." The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, translted by Weber, Gottfried, in The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, Original Sources. 14 Aug. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4TBQAPEPHG8WC2V.

Harvard: Pinches, TG, 'Image-Worship and Sacred Stones.' in The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, trans. . cited in , The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria. Original Sources, retrieved 14 August 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4TBQAPEPHG8WC2V.