The mušḫuššu (𒈲𒍽; formerly also read as sirrušu or sirrush) or mushkhushshu (pronounced [muʃxuʃʃu] or [musxussu]), is a creature from ancient Mesopotamian mythology. A mythological hybrid, it is a scaly animal with hind legs resembling the talons of an eagle, lion-like forelimbs, a long neck and tail, two horns on its head, a snake-like tongue, and a crest. The mušḫuššu most famously appears on the reconstructed Ishtar Gate of the city of Babylon, dating to the sixth century BCE.
The form mušḫuššu is the Akkadian nominative of Sumerian: 𒈲𒍽 MUŠ.ḪUŠ, 'reddish snake', sometimes also translated as 'fierce snake'. One author, possibly following others, translates it as 'splendor serpent' (𒈲 MUŠ is the Sumerian term for 'serpent'). The older reading sir-ruššu is due to a mistransliteration of the cuneiform in early Assyriology and was often used as a placeholder before the actual reading was discovered.
The mušḫuššu was the sacred animal of Marduk and his son Nabu during the Neo-Babylonian Empire. The dragon Mušḫuššu, whom Marduk once vanquished, became his symbolic animal and servant. It was taken over by Marduk from Tishpak, the local god of Eshnunna.
The constellation Hydra was known in Babylonian astronomical texts as Bašmu, 'the Serpent' (𒀯𒈲, MUL.dMUŠ). It was depicted as having the torso of a fish, the tail of a snake, the forepaws of a lion, the hind legs of an eagle, wings, and a head comparable to the mušḫuššu.
See also Edit
- Wiggermann, F. A. M. (1992). Mesopotamian Protective Spirits: The Ritual Texts. Brill Publishers. p. 156. ISBN 978-90-72371-52-2.
- "The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature". The ETCSL project, Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford. 2006-12-19. Retrieved 2014-08-25.
- Costello, Peter (1974). In Search of Lake Monsters. Coward, McCann & Geoghegan. ISBN 9780698106130 – via Internet Archive.
- Oppenheim, A. Leo; Reiner, Erica, eds. (1977). The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago (PDF). Vol. 10: M, Part II. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Oriental Institute. p. 270. ISBN 0-918986-16-8.
- Ceram, C. W. (1967). Gods, Graves, and Scholars: The Story of Archaeology. Translated by Garside, E. B.; Wilkins, Sophie (2nd ed.). New York: Alfred A. Knopf. p. 294.
- Wiggermann, F. A. M. (1992). Mesopotamian Protective Spirits: The Ritual Texts. Brill Publishers. p. 168. ISBN 978-90-72371-52-2.
- Wiggermann, F. A. M. (1992). Mesopotamian Protective Spirits: The Ritual Texts. Brill Publishers. p. 157. ISBN 978-90-72371-52-2.
- Bienkowski, Piotr; Millard, Alan Ralph (2000). Dictionary of the Ancient Near East. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 189. ISBN 978-0-8122-3557-9.
- Wiggerman, F. A. M. (1 January 1997). "Transtigridian Snake Gods". In Finkel, I. L.; Geller, M. J. (eds.). Sumerian Gods and their Representations. Cuneiform Monographs. Vol. 7. Groningen, Netherlands: Styx Publications. pp. 34–35. ISBN 978-90-56-93005-9.
- E. Weidner, Gestirn-Darstellungen auf Babylonischen Tontafeln (1967) Plates IX–X.