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Mesopotamia / Religions / Gods and goddesses /


King Nabu-apla-iddina in front of the Sun-god, Shamash. British Museum, London, UK.

In Mesopotamian religion, the god of the sun and of justice. The connection between the two is quite logical, as sun ends darkness, justice ends evil.
Evidence clearly suggest that there were other sun gods, but that the Shamash cult was so strong, that these became absorbed into his. Shamash corresponds to the Sumerian god, Utu.
Shamash formed a central triad together with Sin and Ishtar, the moon and the sun together with the earth. Sin was commonly defined as his father. The consort of Shamash was Aya.
Shamash is the god that inspired Hammurabi to gather the laws into the famous Code of Hammurabi, it may even be assumed that he gave Hammurabi the laws. This role had been central to the concept of Shamash for centuries.
The main Babylonian cult centres were at Sippar and Larsa, at both locations the temples were called The Shining House. Temples for Shamash were built in most Babylonian cities.
The hymns to Shamash are among the finest parts of Babylonian literature.

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By Tore Kjeilen