Lower Mesopotamian religious imagery and the Gulf’s coastal regions (4th- 3rd millennia BCE)

Silva, J. M. R. D. (Speaker), Gomes de Almeida, I. (Speaker), Brito, C. (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


The structural importance of the Tigris and Euphrates for delimitating ancient Mesopotamia
(modern day Iraq and Syria) is well expressed in its old Greek designation: “the land
between the rivers”. Yet, for its inhabitants, the sense of borders was quite different. In a
wider sense, Mesopotamia was understood as encompassed between rivers, mountains,
and deserts, but also between the Mediterranean Sea and the Arabo-Persian Gulf, “Upper
and Lower seas”, as they were referred to in literary compositions
As southern city-states rose to power, from the middle of the 4 th and throughout the 3 rd
millennia BCE, the interactions with the coastal regions of the “Lower sea” increased. Step
by step, not only the goods acquired from these regions started to integrate Lower
Mesopotamian religious imagery, bult also the regions themselves became subject of
mythical elaborations. The Indus valley (Meluḫa), Oman (Magan) and the island of Bahrein
(Dilmun) were therefore not only commercial partners but also sources of inspiration for
religious discourses.
With this paper we propose to revisit the significances of the roles, functions and actions
attributed to Lower Mesopotamian aquatic deities, which were deeply connected with
these coastal areas; as well as to analyze the symbolism some external animals gained when
introduced and transposed to the Lower Mesopotamian mythical sphere, such as the Indian
Period21 Jul 2021
Event titleV CHAM International Conference: Frontiers of Humanity and Beyond: towards new critical understandings of Borders
Event typeConference
LocationLisbon, Portugal


  • Mesopotamian Literature
  • Environmental History