The Revival of the Anu Cult and the Nocturnal Fire Ceremony at Late Babylonian Uruk


Author: Julia Krul
In The Revival of the Anu Cult and the Nocturnal Fire Ceremony at Late Babylonian Uruk, Julia Krul offers a comprehensive study of the rise of the sky god Anu as patron deity of Uruk in the Late Babylonian period (ca. 480-100 B.C.). She reconstructs the historical development of the Anu cult, its underlying theology, and its daily rites of worship, with a particular focus on the yearly nocturnal fire ceremony at the Anu temple, the Bīt Rēš.

Providing the first in-depth analysis of the ceremony, Julia Krul convincingly identifies it as a seasonal renewal festival with an important exorcistic component, but also as a reinforcement of local hierarchical relationships and the elite status of the Anu priesthood.

"With this study, Krul adds significantly to the research on Babylonian temple rituals in general, providing a useful methodology and survey of secondary sources....This book offers an excellent in-depth analysis of the nocturnal fire ceremony as it could have been celebrated at Hellenistic Uruk. It forms a good starting-point for comparison with and further study of other Late Babylonian rituals from both Uruk and Babylon." - Céline Debourse, Vienna, in: Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde des Morgenlandes 109 (2019)

"The book is essentially a commentary on a late cuneiform text from 3rd-century BCE Uruk describing a nocturnal sacrificial ritual held annually on the winter solstice (16 Tevet). The text itself is well known, having first been published by F. Thureau-Dangin in his classic work Rituels accadiens (1921), but this book is the most comprehensive far-reaching commentary on this important text, with valuable extraneous information [...]. There is much valuable data in this book regarding late Babylonian ritual practice, couched in an informative narrative."
-Markham J. Geller, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 43.5 (2019)

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Julia Krul, Ph.D. (2014), Münster, is a postdoctoral researcher at Durham University and Leiden University. Her research interests cover the history of Assyrian and Babylonian religion, ritual, and scholarship in the first millennium B.C.


1 The historical background of the Anu cult
 1.1 A brief religious history of Uruk
 1.2 The development of the Late Babylonian Anu cult
 1.3 The Anu cult during the Seleucid and Parthian period

2 Theological and ideological aspects of the Anu cult
 2.1 Antiquarian theology
 2.2 Henotheistic tendencies?
 2.3 Anchoring the cult in the historical and mythological past

3 The tablet (AO 6460) and the text (TU 41)
 3.1 Publication history
 3.2 Transliteration, translation and commentary

4 The ritual’s calendrical setting
 4.1 Introduction
 4.2 The night vigil (bayātu) and its occurrences
 4.3 Day 16 and the lunar cultic calendar
 4.4 Cultic aspects of the 16th of Ṭebētu
 4.5 The winter solstice
 4.6 Conclusion

5 Analysis of TU 41
 5.1 Method of the analysis
 5.2 Obv. 1–8
 5.3 Obv. 8–13
 5.4 Obv. 13–28
 5.5 Obv. 28—rev. 1
 5.6 Rev. 1–14
 5.7 Rev. 14–27
 5.8 Rev. 28–32
 5.9 Rev. 33

6 Interpretation of TU 41
 6.1 The organisation of the ritual
 6.2 The fire ceremony
 6.3 Comprehensive analysis


Assyriologists, ancient historians, and Biblical scholars interested in Mesopotamian religion and rituals in the first millennium B.C. and in the history of Babylonian cities in the Hellenistic period.