Queenship in heaven and earth: the roles of Mesopotamians goddesses in the Diyala cylinder seals

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


From the mid-2nd millennium BC onwards, the Mesopotamian pantheons became more masculine, with several male deities assimilating functions, roles, and protagonism on religious sources. This mental and symbolic change, profoundly connected with the Semitic mental framework, endured not only in the Mesopotamian divine universe, but also in other Semitic pantheons.
Yet, if we focus our attention on the sources dated from the late Uruk period until the Old Babylonian one (c. 3200-1500 BC), we find that the Mesopotamian divine universe was full of powerful female deities, who had a wide range of functions. These goddesses actively contributed to the cosmic Order, largely surpassing the traditional assigned maternal and fertility roles. One of the most famous cases was Inanna/Ištar, who was the divine patron of governance, and therefore, war. Also, the interceding female deities, known as Lama, were profusely depicted in scenes where the human agent (king, priest or other) was to be presented to another divine being, asking for his/her cosmic protection.
From a History of Religion perspective, these divine feminine figures projected, to some extent, the reality (whether concrete or craved) where the Mesopotamian homo religiosus dwelt. Therefore, with this paper, we aim to revisit some Mesopotamian goddesses, by analyzing their roles and functions of power. We will concentrate our attention on the representations of such divine figures on the cylinder seals from the Diyala region (modern central Iraq), a corpus we have been studying for the past months.
Period7 Dec 2019
Event titleInternational Conference Women and War: Power, Gender and Representation
Event typeConference
LocationLisboa, PortugalShow on map


  • History of Religions, Mesopotamian goddesses, Diyala’s glyptic, Inanna/Ištar, Lama.