Thursday 15 December 2011

Homes of the Deities

Different deities have had different cult cities, and are patrons of that city and its people.  Deities can be patrons of cities, tribes, kingdoms, and even whole areas.

We know that the deities are considered to have their homes throughout what was the known world in the Bronze Age.  Texts from Ugarit indicate this.

El dwells on Mount Lel at the headwaters of the two rivers.
Baal dwells on Mount Zapan and Mount Carmel, in Ugarit, and in all Canaan.
Dagon dwells in Tuttul (in Syria), and in Philistia
Anat dwells in Inbab, her mansion located beyond the marshes.
Yarikh dwells in Larugat and in Jericho.
Resheph dwells in Babut (in Anatolia)
Astart dwells in Mari and in Sidon.
Chemosh dwells in Churyat and in Moab.
Melek dwells in Ashtart and in Ammon.
Kothar dwells in Kaphtor (Crete) and in Egypt.
Shachar and Shalim dwell in Shamim (heaven).
Choron dwells in Masad.
Qaush dwells in Edom.
Zeduq dwells in Jerusalem.
Yam dwells in Berot.
Adon dwells in Gubla.
Melqart dwells in Tyre.
Baal Hammon (another form of El) dwells in Qart-Hadasht.
Ashima dwells in Hamath.

The vast majority of these locations are areas sacred to these deities and where they are considered to live.  Some of the places (specifically cities) are the cult cities of the deities.  That is, the area over which they have domain and where their cults were based around.  It is also interesting how some deities are said to live in foreign lands outside of Canaan.  Some of these can also be down to interaction (usually through trade) with some of the people living there.  For example, Kothar is said to live in Egypt, in the city of Inebou-Hedjou or Men-Nefer (Memphis).  This is the cult city of the Egyptian god Ptah. It is possible that the reason the ancient Canaanites considered this to be Kothar's cult city is because Kothar was identified with Ptah.  Another example is Kittim (Cyprus), where Astart is sometimes said to dwell (historically, the king of the island was the high priest of the goddess as well).  It is possible that Astart was identified with (or perhaps even syncretized with) a native goddess.  And in later times, with the coming of the Greeks, it is often thought that Aphrodite was identified with this goddess as well, given that Aphrodite has some connections to Cyprus.

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