Friday, 24 May 2013

Meslamtea: "the one that rises up from Meslam".

Meslamtea is translated as "the one that rises up from Meslam".  Meslam was the name of a temple in Cutha, modern day Tell Ibrahim  .

It is an unusual name for a temple.
No E before the description, unlike the Esagila - the palace of Marduk - or Ebabba - the shining temple of the sun - or the Enanna - the temple of Inanna.

The E represents 'house'.

Therfore Meslam is not a house, not a palace.
Not a temple?

Shulgi, King of Ur III, son of Ur-Nammu  built the temple of Nergal at Cuthah.

Why is it Meslam, what could that mean?
Or perhaps it was named in a different language?

What kind of place was Meslam?
Cutha is also the name of the capital of the Sumerian underworld, Irkalla says  Alfred Jeremias, The Babylonian conception of heaven and hell, D. Nutt, 1902.

There is a Cuthean creation myth link.


What were they getting at?
Why did Alfred Jeremias think that Cutha was the capital city of the Underworld?

Could Meslam be something like a tree?

From the text Erra and Ishum:
"I changed the position of the mesu... the elmesu-stone..."
"Warrior Erra, where is the mesu-wood, the flesh of the gods, the proper insignia of the King of the World, the pure timber, tall youth, who is made into a lord, whose roots reach down into the vast ocean through a hundred miles of water, to the base of Arullu..."
The mesu tree bears elmesu stone?
Both were used to make statues.

Elsewhere elmesu is described as busu [glass].

What tree produces a glass-like stone...
The hard transparent resins, such as the copals, dammars, mastic and sandarac, are principally used for varnishes and adhesives, the softer resins (frankincense, elemi, turpentine, copaiba) and gum resins containing essential oils (ammoniacum, asafoetida, gamboge, myrrh, and scammony) are more largely used for therapeutic purposes and incense.
Is elmesu amber?

The Phoenician name for it was jainitar (sea-resin). Indicating that amber was known of, and perhaps used to make a statue? Amber is glass like, and amber burns..

The burning resin of Frankincense gives off clouds of white, fragrant smoke. The burning of incense was only allowed in Holy places.

I find it fascinating to wonder if the whole Nergal / Erra thing represents body and soul as separate. This property of resins standing as a kind of metaphor...

Meslamtea, is usually described as another name for Nergal.
Whose twin, Erra was the burnt, if not the original, burning man.

Melqrt- King of the city (same meaning as Nergal -king of the great city) was burnt as an effigy...
The boat pushed out to sea, the Phoenician King Hiram watching..

Meslamtea (Melqart) king of the Great city, is the Holy, underworld aspect
Latter, Meslamtea- as Nergal, the Enlil of the Underworld- is the source of the king's authority and right to reign.

Back to Erra and Ishum:
Marduk is asking Erra where Meslamtea is..

'Lugalerra, where is your brother'?
And the brother is?
Ishum (fire...)

Marduk would rather talk to Meslamtea.

Meslamtea the pure timber, tall youth, who is made into a lord, whose roots reach down into the vast ocean through a hundred miles of water, to the base of Arullu..

Meslamtea now described as a tree

The world tree
An axis mundi...

The ash Yggdrasil bears more than men can know..

Myth is poetry and metaphor.
Sumerian/Akkadian full of puns and word games.

So, as a metaphor the world tree connects all realms, therefore Meslamtea Nergal is not confined to the Underworld.
"Nergal, you, lord, are one who has the power to carry off and to bring back"
That's that then!
The myth is done and dusted (!)

Now history.

Meslamtea had been a Southern deity, in other-words, Sumerian.

In Noah Kramer's translation of the Sumerian story- Enlil and Ninlil- the second child Ninlil carries, is named as Meslamtea- not Nergal.

It could well be that Nergal was an Akkadian deity brought to the Southern (Sumerian) temples when Naramsin invaded and took control of the intellectual and cultural center of Sumer, Nippur.

Then Naramsin., sorry...Dingir.Naramsin, shar kibrat 'arbaim...

Became shar māt Shumeri u Akkadi.

Nergal's Gate in Ninevah, north Iraq.

In approximately 2230 BC, Naram-Sim of Agade is prompted by a pair of inauspicious oracles to attack the E-kur temple, supposedly protected by the god Enlil, head of the pantheon. As a result of this, eight chief gods of the Anunaki pantheon come together and withdrawn their support from Agade, pronouncing famine upon the city and its empire (probably the result of the widespread climate-induced collapse of this period). Naram-Sin places his son, Sharkalisharri in Nippur to control it directly.
The Akkadian king, Naramsin  2254–2218 BCE went to battle in Nergal's name, through Armanum and Ebla and to the lands of the "Upper Sea". Naramsin elevated the status of Nergal and  transferred his cult to the south, to Kutha (Tell Ibrahim) where he became the counterpart to Meslamtaea, and his house, the e.meslam.

The stories of marriage between Nergal and Ereshkigal, are Amorite or Kassite...or? 

But preserve an Akkadian story.
I think!

As far as I know there is no Sumerian counterpart to the story.

Back to myth.
In the story Enlil and Ninlil, Ninlil must bear three children to remain in the Underworld. Each child is the counterpart to first the crescent moon and second and third children to Enlil and Ninlil.

But Ereshkigal cannot leave the Underworld and her husband is the bull

"Sky rang out and earth replied"
Describes the lightning flashes of the Anzu bird and the bellowing of the earth-bound bull.

The oldest images place the bull in union with the Queen of the underworld.

Therefore we have traces of a mythology older than Sumerian...

OK, I know everyone else has said this..
Just today I've finally worked it out for myself!

 Ereshkigal was taken by The Kur.
And Great Mountain (Kur can mean mountain) was a name given to Enlil...

So the myth Enlil and Ninlil makes sense of, or rather updates the older myth.

But back to the King of the Great City and Meslamtea.
Where exactly does fire fit in?

Lugalirra (Erra) was the Akkadian 'import'.
Meslamtea was the Sumerian sappy green-man but different to Ningishizida.
Enlil is the breath of life.

The synthesis of these three is Nergal.

Jacobson describes Lugalirra "The God, Erra - originally seemingly an Akkadian god of "scorched earth," raid and riots - was in the first millennium identified with Nergal, god of war and sudden death and the ruler of the realm of the dead."

But there is one final conflation of very little evidence at all that I'd like to suggest.

One of the oldest fire temples is to be found- or rather the remains are to be found- at  Ghagha-Shahr. Mount Khwaja or Mount Khwajeh  is a flat-topped black basalt hill rising up as an island in the middle of Lake Hamun, in the Iranian province of Sistan and Baluchestan.  Ghagha-Shahr is on the southern promontory of the eastern slope.

Tell me, where exactly did the Akkadians come from?

Linguistically Akkadian as a Semetic language came from the South, probably Syria. So though I'd like to think that Lugalirra was Iranian, it is more likly that Lugalirra has more in common with Resheph.

Still, the lake is Lake Hamun
Which sounds like Baal Hammon...

These are just notes
I have a long way to go before I can understand...