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THE SYMBOLIC ROLE OF ANIMALS IN BABYLON: A CONTEXTUAL APPROACH TO THE LION, THE BULL AND THE MUŠḪUŠŠU *

  • Chikako E. Watanabe
Abstract

This paper examines the meaning of three animals—the lion, the bull, and the mušḫuššu-dragon—as depicted on the walls of the Ishtar Gate and Processional Way at Babylon. These animals embody multiple layers of meaning but are associated with specific deities and all possess apotropaic qualities. The animals served traditionally as guardian figures placed at the entrances to Mesopotamian temples and palaces. This study focuses on their apotropaic roles which are evoked by the specific architectural context in which the animals are placed. It is suggested that the images of these animals underscored the importance of both the Ishtar Gate and the Processional Way as a crucial route into the symbolic heart of the city.

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Corresponding author
Chikako E. Watanabe, Osaka Gakuin University, Faculty of International Studies, 2-36-1 Kishibe-minami, Suita-shi, Osaka 564-8511, Japan chikako@ogu.ac.jp
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1

This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Numbers 23310190 and 26283012 and JSPS Bilateral Joint Research Project (OP).

*

Dr Collon's scholarly achievement has contributed tremendously to our knowledge of Ancient Near Eastern seals. Without her painstaking work on seals in the British Museum, we would not have been able to access this abundant source of information. It is a great honour for me to dedicate this article to her in celebration of her academic career.

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