An Ancient Prayer To Marduk, The Ruler Of The Gods
The prayer is inscribed in Sumerian on a Kassite Period chalcedony cylinder seal dating from about 1600-1150 BC. It shows a standing bearded figure wearing an ankle-length robe holding his hand up in worship, in front a seated upward-gazing dog, three lozenges, a cross and an ear of barley in the field. The cuneiform inscription says:
“Marduk, great lord, prince into whose hand the decrees of heaven and underworld are entrusted, may the servant who reveres you be well favored in your presence, may he have a personal god and protecting angel.”
Marduk was a late-generation god from ancient Mesopotamia and patron deity of the city of Babylon. When Babylon became the political center of the Euphrates valley in the time of Hammurabi (18th century BC), he slowly started to rise to the position of the head of the Babylonian pantheon, a position he fully acquired by the second half of the second millennium BC. The Enûma Elish tells the story of Marduk’s birth, heroic deeds and becoming the ruler of the gods.
The Kassites were an ancient Near Eastern people who controlled Babylonia after the fall of the Old Babylonian Empire in 1531 BC until around 1155 BC. They gained control of Babylonia after the Hittite sack of the city in 1595 BC. Kassites were members of a small military aristocracy and were efficient rulers. Their 500-year reign laid an essential groundwork for the development of subsequent Babylonian culture. The original homeland of the Kassites is not well known, but appears to have been located in the Zagros Mountains in Lorestan, in what is now modern Iran.