07 marzo, 2018

Mythical Wednesday: Asalluhi, the god of Exorcisms

Name: Asalluhi (Sumerian/Akkadian), Asarluhi (Akkadian)
Geographical area: according to the Seven Sumerian Temple Hymns the house and the temple of Asalluhi were in the city of Kuara, in southern Mesopotamia. After time passed and the myth evolved, this place became the birthplace of the Babylonian god Marduk.

Cuneiform clay tablet with an incantation against several diseases.
First dynasty of Babylon (1895-1712 BCE).
Spurlock Museum of World Cultures, Illinois (USA).

Timeline: in the Ur IIIa period (c. 2112-2004 BCE) the first mentions to Asalluhi can be found, being especially popular in the protective magical formulae from the Babylonian period (c. 1895-619 BCE). He is also present in incantations from the Neo-Assyrian (911-619 BCE), Achaemenid (550-330 BCE) and Seleucid periods (312-63 BCE).
History: Asalluhi is associated with protective incantations, magic formulae and exorcisms, always linked with cleansing and purification. He fills the role of both incantatory and assistant, since sometimes he takes the patient to the presence of Enki/Ea so he could perform the exorcism. Alongside with the gods Kusu and Ningirim, Asalluhi represents one of the most powerful mage triads of all Mesopotamian mythology. Despite their cult has been blurred through time, these three gods represented the cosmic forces and acted on behalf of the major gods, being Asalluhi the minister of Enki/Ea. His work was expelling demons from mortal bodies and preventing them to enter them in the first place.
He is normally considered the son of Enki/Ea for various reasons, first of them being their common mention together in the incantations and their shared attributed of intelligence, counsel and reason. Moreover, sometimes Asalluhi is named as “son of the Abzû”, the primordial waters were Enki/Ea dwelled. In some other formulae Asalluhi is in charge of supervising the purification of these same waters. But what Asalluhi is best known for is his religious syncretism with the Babylonian god Marduk, being incorporated to his personality. It is unknown when this fusion took place, but there exists textual evidence from the Old Babylonian period. Inside the Babylonian myth of creation Enūma Eliš Asalluhi has already become one of the fifty names to designate Marduk, but depending on the interpretation it could be also considered that he incorporated the god’s entourage of assistants.

Iconography: Unfortunately, Asalluhi does not have recognisable iconography up to this state of research.
Similar deities in other cults: Kusu (Sumerian), Ningirim (Sumerian), Marduk (Babylonian).

ABUSCH, Tzvi and VAN DER TOON, Karel (eds). Mesopotamian Magic: Textual, Historical and Interpretative Perspectives. Groningen, Styx Publications, 1999.
BLACK, Jeremy and GREEN, Anthony: Gods, Demons and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia. The British Museum Press, London, ed. 2004.
Corpus of Ancient Mesopotamian Gods and Goddesses: http://oracc.museum.upenn.edu/amgg/index.html

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