What Are Some Facts About Ancient Assyrian Religion?

The ancient Assyrian religion, Ashurism, was derived from a Babylonian religion that focused on worshipping many gods. However, the Assyrians lavished attention on the god Ashur instead of the Babylonian Marduk. Ashur is the deity of the city Ashur, the Old Assyrian capital that dates as far back as 3000 B.C.

Although polytheistic in nature, Ashurism shared many of the same stories found in the monotheistic texts of Christianity and Judaism. For instance, all three religions share a similar creation story, a tale of a great flood and an account of the Tower of Babel. Ahsurism contained thousands of deities, 30 of whom were major gods worshipped in their own temples. Akitu, a great festival, was celebrated on the new year for 11 days, with Ashur playing a major role in the entertainment.

Scholars believe that the god Ashur appears in ancient Assyrian images as the solar disc, a circle with wings depicting the father of gods. As the Assyrians started expanding and conquering other people, the warrior's bow was added to symbolize the empire's power and military might. Ashurism lasted for more than 2,000 years, only fading into obscurity with the onset of Christianity around the fourth or fifth century B.C.