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Ancient Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Assyria Nineveh
Arslan Tash Til Barsip
Iran Palace of Darius
Phoenicia Arabia Palmyra
Syrian coast
Ougarit Byblos




 
Statuette of the Assyrian Demon Pazuzu
 
MNB 467
 
Richelieu room 6 showcase 4
 
 
This piece is a magnificent testimony
to Assyrian bronzework.
 
The terrifying appearance of this hybrid
monster is meant to express its evil power.
 
Its scorpion’s tail, hideous facial features,
wings and eagle-like talons all suggest that
it belongs to the supernatural world.
 
An inscription identifying Pazuzu covers
the rear of the wings. ‘King of the demons
of the wind’, he is responsible in particular
for the spread of epidemics.

The demon Pazuzu was supposed to protect
against evil influences

Assyrian practices and religious beliefs were almost identical to those of Babylon. Religion played a major role in politics. Officially the Head of State was the god Ashur. An Assyrian seal, exhibited at the British Museum, shows him with three heads.  A216
 
Just as triads of divinities existed, so there were triads of demons, such as the female demon Lamashtu and the demon lords Labasu and Ahazu. A217  The first chose newborns as victims. Statuette effigies of Pazuzu, the husband of Lamashtu, were hung by the bedsides of pregnant women to protect them. Note here the ring at the top of the head.
 
 
Plaque to Ward Off the Female Demon Lamashtu
 
AO 22205
 
To avoid falling ill or to heal disease,
the Mesopotamians made amulets,
among them this plaque which is on exhibit at the Louvre Museum. It was made with the aim of returning the female demon Lamashtu to Hell, and thus abandoning the body of the
sick person she had taken possession of.
 
The plaque is held by the demon Pazuzu.
There is a back view of him from behind the plaque. His head is visible from the front the plaque. He possesses physical characteristics
that could frighten most anybody:
a lion’s head, a body covered in scales,
wings, talons and a penis shaped like a serpent.
   
First register:
the sick person is placed under the protection of the divinities represented by their symbols – divine symbols.
 
Second register:
procession of demons – they ask the female demon Lamashtu to return to Hell.
 
Third register:
the sick person raises his hands to the sky – on each side of his bed, two priests carry out an exorcism ritual with the aim of chasing the demon from the patient’s body.
 
Fourth register:
the female demon Lamasthu is on a donkey on a boat – she holds a serpent in each hand – two little dogs are suckling at her breast – in front of her are victuals that serve to tempt her back to Hell – behind her, her husband the demon Pazuzu is making her flee.

Babylonian medicine, a subtle mixture
of superstition and good clinical practice.

Georges Roux, French doctor and scholar, makes this comment regarding Mesopotamian doctors, “Their diagnosis and prognostics are a subtle blend of superstition and sound clinical observations [...] They based their art on metaphysical concepts, thus closing the door to research into rational explanations.” A218
 
Some of the greatest miracles of Jesus consist of delivering people from demons who possess them, just as he also heals ordinary physical illnesses. Matthew (4:24) reports that those ‘possessed by demons as well as epileptics’ were brought before Jesus; he therefore makes a distinction between these two sorts of people healed by Christ. A219
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 





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