Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sirrush/ "Splendor Serpent"/Dragon of Ishtar Gate casual research

Mackal, Roy P. Searchingfor Hidden Animals. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, 1980, A Living Dinosaur?: In Search of MokeleMbembe. New York: E. J. Brill, 1987.

"The Dragon of the Ishtar Gate may be one of Cryptozoology's strangest, yet best-documented, ancient crypids. This two and a half millennium old depiction is so unusual that many treat it as a chimera, an impossible combination of animals that could never have existed in nature.

But the people of ancient Babylon knew and accepted the 'dragon' as real, as real as the bulls and lions that also share the walls"..... Dragon of the Ishtar Gate by David G Stone.

aka Dragon of Marduk, aka Saint George's Dragon,


(Rich's blog notes: the Behometh is regularly thought to be a hippo, although the thick tail causes a bit of a problem. Translation errors?

except: Enigma of the sirrush

Around 600 B.C., during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar, a Babylonian artist fashioned bas reliefs on bricks used in the enormous archway of the Ishtar Gate and the high walls of the approach road. The bas reliefs consist of three animals, and each row of bricks displays numerous images of one of them. The rows alternate, some showing lions, others rimis (as the Babylonians called them), and still others sirrushes (dragons).

Though extinct in Mesopotamia, the rimi was a real animal which was either remembered or known through specimens brought over from Eurasia, where these wild oxen (usually called urus or aurochs) lived on until 1627. The dragon, of course, was a purely imaginary animal. Or was it?

Willy Ley has described the sirrush, which he considered a "zoological puzzle of fantastic dimensions," thus:

... a slender body covered with scales, a long slender scaly tail, and a long slim scaly neck bearing a serpent's head. Although the mouth is closed, a long forked tongue protrudes. There are flaps of skin attached to the back of the head, which is adorned (and armed) with a straight horn....

The Apocrypha's Book of Bel and the Dragon relates a curious story: that in the temple of Bel, Lord of the World, Nebuchadnezzar's favored god, the priests kept a "great dragon or serpent, which they of Babylon worshipped." The king challenged the Hebrew prophet Daniel, who had been going about sneering about nonliving gods of brass, to dispute this god, who "liveth, and eateth and drinketh; you canst not say that he is no living god; therefore worship him." To remove himself from this quandary, Daniel poisoned the animal.

The fortieth chapter of Job in the Old Testament, though written anywhere from 100 to 1300 years earlier than the Ishtar Gate's construction, may refer to the sirrush by another name:

Behold now Behemoth ... he eateth grass as an ox. Know now his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly. He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together. His bones are as strong pieces of brass, his bones are like bars of iron.... He lieth under the shady trees, in the cover of the reed, and fens. The shady trees cover him with their shadow; the willows of the brook compass him about.... His nose pierceth through snares.

The behemoth's identity has long puzzled biblical scholars, who have not doubted that Job was writing of a real animal, even if no satisfactory candidate among known animals seems to exist. Mackal offers this interpretation: "The behemoth's tail is compared to a cedar, which suggests a sauropod. This identification is reinforced by other factors. Not only the behemoth's physical nature, but also its habits and food preferences are compatible with a sauropod's. Both live in swampy areas with trees, reeds and fins (a jungle swamp)."

Mesopotamian cylinder seal dated at 3300 BC. Moortgart, Anton, The Art of Ancient Mesopotamia, 1969, plate 292.
The head of a dragon, the symbol of Marduk, sculpted in bronze and dating from c. 300-600 B.C., was found in Mesopotamia and is now in the Louvre Museum, Paris - dragon image and dragons-bar (top) taken from "Dragons: A Natural History" by Dr. Karl Shuker]


  1. Dinosaurs and humans together? Creation says yes. The entire story is on "drdino" website. I believe it is true.

  2. I am neither ready to accept the Creationist viewpoint or the theory of evolution as it now exists. However, dinosaurs in the same sense as the Mesozoic era seems incredibly unlikely (to me). Either way, there are things about both concepts that just don't add up quite right.

  3. It's very simple. Babylonians hit on the distinction between reptiles and mammals. Reptiles are accompanied by existing ancient terms from the dinosaurs. Dragons are the instinctive vestiges of the dinosaurs, along with their actual vestiges in modern lizards and snakes. Aurochs are as a category, all mammals. There is an actual breed of cattle in England called the Auroch. It is a smaller descendant of the true Auroch, a very large sort of cow. The last true Auroch died in captivity - actually, domestication - around 1600.

    It is not surprising that the distinction came into vogue around 600 BC, which is an antisymmetric parity precedent around the time of Christ, to the emergence of Islamic doctrine in 600 AD. Both those sixes are from the atomic number of carbon. Nuclear carbon is a very stable form of energy, and time is orthogonal or conjugate to energy. That is why instinct in 600 BC could anticipate Rome's estimate of the distance to the Moon and Christianity's influence in theology; and that is why Islam began to devolve in 600 AD.