Migrating Demons, Liminal Deities, and Assyria's Western Campaigns

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Gina Konstantopoulos http://orcid.org/0000-0002-5335-6962


Demons and monsters are inherently moveable creatures: from the late second millennium BCE onwards a number of demons and monsters migrate from their native Mesopotamian contexts, moving westward. Of course, these figures do not remain static throughout their journey, instead acquiring the characteristics of the different cultural contexts wherein they are now found. This paper considers the different representations of several of these demonic figures within the context of the Levant, analyzing their artistic representations as well as the more diffuse textual evidence for them. As the line between demonic and divine was already thin and mutable in Mesopotamia, we see a similar flexibility to their definitions when these figures move into their new contexts. As deities are, generally speaking, less marginal beings than demons, the deities that do move westward, or are employed in the west in Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian sources, do so because they already demonstrate a more flexible character and wider possible applicability and use. This principle is especially seen in the attestations of one such figure, a group of seven divine-demonic beings known as the Sebettu, who are employed with particular focus in Neo-Assyrian references connected to the western frontier.

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