Saturday, December 24, 2011


Her name seems ultimately to have been a Sumerian one, as in that language ti = Life, and ama = Mother, suggesting her original name may have been "the mother of all life" Walter Burkert argues for a connection with the Akkadian word for sea tâmtu, via a conjectured form tiamtu. The Babylonian epic Enuma Elish begins "When above" the heavens did not yet exist nor the earth below, Apsu the freshwater ocean was there, "the first, the begetter", and Tiamat, the saltwater sea, "she who bore them all"; they were "mixing their waters".
Though Tiamat is most often described by modern authors as a sea serpent or dragon, no ancient texts exist in which there is a clear association with those kind of creatures.
Within the En&#251;ma Elish her physical description includes, a tail, a thigh, "lower parts" (which shake together), a belly, an udder, ribs, a neck, a head, a skull, eyes, nostrils, a mouth, and lips. She has insides, a heart, arteries, and blood.
There is an alternative West Semitic etymology that may help explain why Tiamat was described as serpentine. In the fragmentary myth of "Astarte and the Tribute of the Sea" there is mention of "Ta-yam-t", which seems to be a reference to a female (*-t, feminine terminator) serpent (*Ta, *Tan) of the Sea (*Yam). If this etymology is correct, it would explain the connection between Tiamat and Lo-tan (Leviathan).
Though the En&#251;ma Elish specifically states that Tiamat did give birth to dragons and serpents, they are included among a larger and more general list of monsters including scorpion men and merpeople, none of which imply that any of the children look like the mother or are even limited to aquatic creatures.
FROM: Tiamat - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
by Micha F. Lindemans
In Babylonian myths, Tiamat is a huge, bloated female dragon that personifies the saltwater ocean, the water of Chaos. She is also the primordial mother of all that exists, including the gods themselves. Her consort is Apsu, the personification of the freshwater abyss that lies beneath the Earth. From their union, saltwater with freshwater, the first pair of gods were born. They are Lachmu and Lachamu, parents of Ansar and Kisar, grandparents of Anu and Ea.
In the creation epic Enuma elish, written around 2000 BCE, their descendants started to irritate Tiamat and Apsu so they decided to kill their offspring. Ea discovered their plans and he managed to kill Apsu while the latter was asleep. Tiamat flew into a rage when she learned about Apsu's death and wanted to avenge her husband. She created an army of monstrous creatures, which was to be led by her new consort Kingu, who is also her son. Eventually, Tiamat was defeated by the young god Marduk, who was born in the deep freshwater sea. Marduk cleaved her body in half, and from the upper half he created the sky and from the lower half he made the earth. From her water came forth the clouds and her tears became the source of the Tigris and the Euphratus. Kingu also perished, and from his blood Marduk created the first humans.

"The Deep" (Hebrew tehom) at the beginning of Genesis derives from Tiamat.

FROM: Tiamat

Article "Tiamat" created on 03 March 1997; last modified on 27 December 1998 (Revision 2). 238 words.
&#169; MCMXCV - MMVI Encyclopedia Mythica™. All rights reserved.
Before the world as we know it was created, said the Babylonians, there was only Tiamat, the dragon goddess of salt waters and Her consort Apsu, god of the fresh sweet water. Both represent the idea of chaos that precedes form and order, which are the foundation of upon which civilization rests. Tiamat and Apsu are the parents of all the Great Gods and Goddesses of Babylon, who came forth from Tiamat&#180;s almighty womb. No pictures are known of Her, but She is normally said to be a fierce Dragoness in form, or the personification of the Untame, Primeval Forces of the Universe before established order. We also know that as Her young offspring of gods and goddesses grew up, they became so noisy to the extent that Father Apsu could find rest at night.

Apsu came to Tiamat to complain about the clamor of the young gods, but first Tiamat paid no attention to Apsu&#180;s concerns. Rivkah Harris, in her excellent study of Gendered Old in the Enuma Elish (Chapter 5 of her book Gender and Aging in Mesopotamia: The Gilgamesh Epic and Other Ancient Literature, University of Oklahoma Press, Norma, 1999) says with deep insight that we first meet Tiamat in the Epic of Creation as a young woman of childbearing years. At this time,She is tolerant and giving, and totally opposed to the decimation of her young. Thus, the younger Tiamat resigns herself to her spouse&#180;s death for the sake of the children. Harris also stresses the point that Tiamat&#180;s image is very positive, because her epithet is elletu, or pure.

Other links:
The Babylonian Creation Story (Enuma elish)
The Assyro-Babylonian Mythology FAQ
Religion of Ancient Sumer, Babylon and Assyria
tiamat and marduk

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