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Abstract

Through ritualization mankind satisfies some of its most profound needs. In 3rd millennium BC Ebla, ritual strategies for survival took a cyclical pattern according to the alternation of the seasons. The major gods were objects of a yearly renewal. The ritual concerning the royal wedding epitomized survival through generations. The royal couple sat on “the thrones of their fathers” in the mausoleum: a ritual which consecrated “a new king, a new queen”. Every year this rite was commemorated on the same month in the same place. The canonical celebrations in the main sanctuaries in the core of the kingdom, organized according to months, ritualized the territory of Ebla itself.

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References

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1

Pardee 2002: 87–88. For full edition, see Pardee 2000: 816–825, who comments (pp. 824–825): “Riens dans ce texte ne permet, croyons-nous toujours, d’y voir . . . un rite correspondant au kispu(m) accadien, qui n’était pas le rite d’enterrement d’un roi mais un rite d’entretien des défunts, ni un marziḫu, dont la forme observée à Ougarit . . . était concentrée sur la consommation du vin, ne comportait pas de sacrifices et ne mettait pas en rapport les vivants et les morts.” On this funerary ritual, see the important historical and topographical considerations in Niehr 2008 and 2009.

2

Benoit 2003: 173 notes: “À l’inverse des crânes surmodelés, qui témoignent de personnes ayant réellement existé, ces sculptures sont des créations. Soigneusement déposées dans les fosses face contre terre, les statues d’Aïn Ghazal devaient être exposées, comme certains crânes surmodelés, à l’occasion de cérémonies, au cours desquelles des masques étaient également portés.” For the skull cult in Anatolia, see Talalay 2004; Hodder 2006: 146–147.

4

Archi 2005: 81–85. The ceremony is attested already in the AAMs of the minister Arrukum, who preceded Ibrium in that office: TM.75.G.1413 obv. X 12–XI 2; TM.75.G.1871 (MEE 10, 23) rev. III 11–13; TM.75.G.1872 rev. VI 18–VII 2.

13

See also Kohlmeyer 2000: plate 16; Hawkins 2011: 39, fig. 2.

14

See Cornelius 1994: e.g. plates 45–47, BM 2, BM 5, BM 11, BM 16.

23

Stordeur 2010: 123–124 gives a list of the finds of bucrania in Syria. The fascinating documentation from Çatal Hühük is in Mellaart 1967.

25

The two quoted passages are in de Moor 1971: 10 and 24. Virolleaud followed the interpretation given first by R. Dussaud (reference in de Moor 1971: 10–11). de Moor himself, in his stimulating study, developed the seasonal pattern to the point to connect the development of the myth with the calendar (de Moor: 1971: 245–248)!

28

For this icon, see Cornelius 1994.

32

The Lexical Lists, nos. 1240, 1241 have: gál-“tag4” (no equivalence); giš-gál-“tag4” = [ba]-du-um, [b]a-da-um, cfr. Akk. petûm “to open,” see Krecher 1984: 142.

40

Fronzaroli 1993: 39.

41

Fronzaroli 1992: 184.

44

On these place names, see Fronzaroli 1992: 175–78; Archi – Piacentini – Pomponio 1993: s. v.

Figures

  • Ebla: Temple of Kura (Red Temple), EB IVA.
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  • Northern Syria and the kingdom of Ebla (24th cent. BC).
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  • The central relief of the temple in the Citadel of Aleppo: the Storm-god on his chariot (10th cent. BC) (courtesy K. Kohlmeyer).
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  • Seal impression of Mursili III (Urhi-Teššub) (courtesy S. Herbordt).
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