Seven Gods

The “Seven” or the “Seven Gods”, Sumerian Iminbi, Akkadian Sebittu, marks the name given to a group of seven deities whose power could be marshalled beneficently against demons and their influence by the means of magical incantations and depiction. Temples to the Seven were to be found in the Neo-Assyrian period in the capital cities of Dur-šarrukin (Khorsabad), Kalhu-Nimrud and Nineveh, illustrating their integration into Mesopotamian belief systems, although their origins were probably originally Elamite – they operate in tandem with their sister, the goddess Narudu, probably originally the Elamite female deity Narunte. The Seven Gods are likely the same deities as the seven children of Ihara, but are sometimes evoked (as “Seven and seven”) with yet another group of seven deities who may be the children of Enmeara. The Seven Gods should certainly be distinguished from the Seven Sages (apkallu) of Babylonian tradition.

The iconography of the Seven Gods is well-established by the Neo-Assyrian period, when they appear in royal palace reliefs. The Seven are depicted as wearing long, open robes and tall cylindrical headdresses with feathered tops and frontal rows of horns, whilst carrying both an axe and a knife, together with a bow and quiver (these being the attributes attributed to the Seven when – on a more domestic level – their protective figurines are to be placed at prescribed locations around a dwelling). Astronomically, the Seven were identified with the Pleiades, explaining the basis for their representation – by the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian periods, at the latest – with the symbol of seven dots or, on occasion, by seven stars.

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Seven Gods


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