- Babylonian god. The origins of this god are obscure, and even the etymology of his name is unclear, a matter that already occupied the minds of Babylonian scholars in antiquity. In later times, his symbol was the hoe, which may reflect some agrarian connections. More was made, though, of a possible solar aspect, as reflected in the popular form of writing his name as AMAR.UTU, which can be translated as “the bull calf of the Sun.” Although Marduk’s name appeared in god lists of the Early Dynastic period, he only became a major Mesopotamian deity in the time of Hammurabi (reigned 1792–1750 B.C.). This can be seen in the literary texts of this period that allocate Marduk a prominent place at the expense of Enlil. Many people in the Old Babylonian period and thereafter bore names composed with Marduk.Together with Ea and the sun god Shamash, Marduk had great powers against all kinds of evil forces and is frequently invoked in incantations and magic rituals. In the Kassite period, the cult of Marduk was also much promoted, and by the time of the Second Dynasty of Isin, he had become the “lord of the gods” and the “national” deity of Babylonia.Marduk and, to a greater extent, his son Nabu (the god of Borsippa) were also introduced to Assyria, where chapels and temples were built for them in all the major cities.The vicissitudes of Marduk’s statue, which was stolen first by the Elamitesin 1185 and then again by the Assyrians in the seventh century, echo the political fate of Babylonia. The restoration of the divine statue and its secure presence in the temple Esagila at Babylon was regarded as a manifestation of security and stability. This intimate connection between Marduk, the city of Babylon, and the whole of Babylonia was also the major theme of the New Year festival.The grandiose restoration works at his temple at the time of Nebuchadrezzar II further emphasized the vital links between Babylonia’s economic prosperity and its status as the greatest power in the Near East, and the unrivaled position of Marduk as the head of the Babylonian pantheon.Various myths and other literary works describe the rise of Marduk as the most courageous of the younger gods, who defeated the forces of chaos and designed and built the universe (see CREATION MYTHS). One text, known as the Erra epic, elaborates on the disastrous consequences of Marduk’s absence from his shrine.
Historical Dictionary of Mesopotamia. EdwART. 2012.