Unmasking Ugarit’s Mysterious Asiatic King-God Commanding The Habiru

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Artist’s impression of ancient Akkadian city with a temple ( jambulart / Adobe Stock)

Unmasking Ugarit’s Mysterious Asiatic King-God Commanding The Habiru

A temple of the god, Baal, built in the ancient city of Ugarit, nowadays called Ras Shamra, on the north-eastern shores of the Mediterranean coast of Syria, date back to the beginning of the Middle Bronze Period (c. 2000 BC). The Baal worshipped here was Baal Sapan (Baal Zephon), the Baal of Mount Sapan, a celebrated peak in the Amanus, also called Hazzi. A king-god, shown with the features of a king but with the horns of divinity, is depicted on a stele found at this Baal Temple at Ugarit. He wears a neck-ring or torc similar to those worn by the warriors buried nearby. Who was this king-god and who were these strange people?

The ruins of the excavated city of Ras Shamra, or Ugarit (LorisRomito /CC BY-SA 3.0)

The ruins of the excavated city of Ras Shamra, or Ugarit (LorisRomito /CC BY-SA 3.0)

At this Baal Temple three stelae, similar to those found on the caravan routes from Egypt to Canaan, were discovered. One of them, unfortunately severely damaged, depicts a god only recognisable from the w3s-sceptre he carries. This is probably Seth, the Egyptian version of the weather god, worshipped here in northern Canaan where he was closely identified with this sceptre. Another stele shows a goddess clad in bird feathers, prefiguring the Canaanite Anat.


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