Andreas Johandi & Vladimir Sazonov (University of Tartu, Estonia) “Who was the Perpetrator in Mesopotamian Divine Abandonment Texts?”


The divine abandonment motif is an ancient and widespread concept that appears in various genres of Mesopotamian written sources from the second half of the III millennium to I millennium BCE. The central idea behind this theological motif is the belief that evil deeds committed in the city cause the deity, under whose safekeeping the city lies, to abandon his/her dwelling and leave. The absence of the deity from the city ushers in a period when – due to the lack of divine care – chaos rules and various forms of atrocities take hold of the geographical area and its people. Subsequently the deity’s anger relents, he/she selects a new ruler for the city and returns to his/her temple, after which peace, order, and prosperity are restored to the city/land. In our poster presentation we deal with the initial sub-motif of this more general “umbrella” motif of divine abandonment – the evil deeds committed in the city. On the basis of cuneiform sources in various genres, we examine who and on what grounds have been depicted as perpetrators in the Mesopotamian divine abandonment texts. We argue that at least in some cases this sub-motif was deliberately adjusted to meet the specific historical situation and the demands of the person under whose aegis the text was written.