Tuesday, March 30, 2021

AKITU 5300 BC – Present




5300 BC – Present 

* Amer H. Fatuhi *

Celebrating Mesopotamian New Year on April 1 is dateable to the Babylonian First Dynasty, early second millennium BC. This Amorite/Proto-Kaldi dynasty is known for many great kings, including the legendary Hammurabi. In that era, religious, economical, and social aspects of life were modified and transformed from their earlier inherited patterns following the Babylonians' own culture and fundamental values. However, before that era, celebrating Akitu /Akiti in Sumerian marked one of the two major festivals, Akitu and Zagmuk (religious calendar vs. agricultural cycle), observed by the mid-southerners since the time of Eridu, 5300 BC. These two festivals were of particular significance in Kish, Ur, and Uruk before the Sumerian cultural influence around 2800 BC, particularly in central and southern Mesopotamia throughout the Neo Sumerian Empire/Third Dynasty of Ur (2112–2004 BC). Ur city and its God Nannar played a significant role in those celebrations, especially during the 2nd Mesopotamian Empire.


Ancient mid-centrists/southerners, whether Proto-Kaldi or during the influential Sumerian culture, adopted the fall equinox, Zagmuk, [1] as the beginning of the New [ZAG] Year [MUK]. It coincided with harvesting dates. They celebrated both spring and fall equinoxes with the same vigor and importance. However, the beginning of the year/literal translation of the Sumerian word Zagmuk was observed by the Proto-Kaldi. The festival's ceremonies concentrated on praising the date palm's sanctity, fertility, and the renewal of life "nature." Holy Matrimony, Hashadu, in the Babylonian period, stood for the sacred marriage of Marduḫ, the national God and his wife, Ṣarpanitum. Every year, their wedding was reenacted by the Babylonian king and the temple's high priestess, the divine lady, Entum.

During the Babylonian First Dynasty, Zagmuk merged with Akitu and became part of the Akitu rituals. As stated by Bidmead, Zagmuk and Akitu were initially derived from an idea of agricultural-religious roots. "The ancient viewed each as the onset of a six-month equinox year." Akitu festival of the first month, Nisanu, lasted at least from the beginning to the fifth of Nisanu, as noted in a series of tablets dating from Ibbi-Sin of Ur's reign. In contrast, the Zagmuk-Akitu festival of the fall lasted for twelve days, starting September 15. On the eighth day of the ceremony, Tammuz is liberated from the underworld, which coincides with the fall/autumn solstice on September 23 and the harvesting date. "The season of harvesting dates starts in mid-September and ends in mid-October." [2]


The name Akitu is derived from a very ancient name, a-ki-ti-še-gur10-ku5. It was the festival of sowing, harvesting, and wool shearing. It was celebrated in antiquity from March/Addaru to April/Nisannu, as well as from mid-September/Elulu to October/Tišritu. To the public, it also meant the beginning of the New Year, especially in the pre-Sargonic significant era, wherein Akitu was first celebrated as stated in the tablet obtained from Girsu, in the city of Ur of the Chaldeans. After the official festivities ended, it was celebrated in Nippur city. With the Proto-Kaldi/Amorites' predominance, Akitu started to be recognized as the beginning of the year, Reš šatti(m), in ancient Babylonia. Hence, Akitu ended up being recognized as the official Babylonian New Year festival.


The Babylonians alone celebrated the eleventh day festival of Akitu on April 1 of each year. While elsewhere in Mesopotamia, particularly the northern Shubaru region/Assur, it was celebrated on subsequent dates.

Traditionally, celebrating Akitu was mainly to acknowledge the supremacy of God Marduḫ. However, when Babylon was plundered by the Assyrian king Sennacherib in 689 BC, Babylon's magnificent celebrations came to an on-hold state in Babylonia for a few decades. Sennacherib celebrated Akitu in his capital, Nineveh, making Assur the focal point of the festival, especially after stripping the idol of God Marduḫ from the É-sagila, Babylon. Sennacherib's sons turned against him for the destruction he inflicted on Babylon; his other son Esarhaddon, who succeeded his father, immediately had Babylon rebuilt and reinstated the celebratory ceremonies of the supreme ancient Babylonian God Marduḫ. Cambyses II, son of the Persian king Cyrus II, was the last king who took part in the rituals of taking the hand of the supreme God in Babylon in 529 BC. In the Achaemenid king's reign, Xerxes I, Babylon was destroyed, the Ziggurat and the É-sagila temple were severely demolished in 482 BC. However, celebrating Akitu continued in the Babylonian region up to the mid-second century BC, as indicated in the tablets excavated in Uruk's city. People waited eagerly for April 1 since the Old Babylonian period. The Proto-Kaldi flocked to Babylon, the land's official and legitimate capital, where lavish celebrations took place. These vast gatherings and pilgrims came from all over ancient Mesopotamia, including Ahwaz, and the sea strip stretching up to Qatra/Qatar and the high Euphrates area as far as Haran. Akitu was celebrated in two stages and two locations—in the temple of God Marduḫ, Ésagila in Sumerian É-SAĞ-ÍL.LA, "the house that raises its head," situated in the Babylonian Ziggurat, the loftiest part of the É- temen-an-ki tower, foundation house of heaven and earth. The other location was Beth Akitu temple, located northbound outside the walls of the city. It is worth mentioning that since the early first millennium BC, God Marduḫ was usually called Bel, or the Lord because his real name was considered too holy to be pronounced. Similar to the Lord God epithet used by the Old Testament's scribes for Elohim, the Hebrew God. Akitu begins on April 1 and lasts for eleven days. Some scholars consider the twelfth day that marks the day where the hosted gods and goddesses returned to their cities as part of the official ceremony. On the first day, the Urigallu priests would recite sad prayers in the É-sagila temple. In their sad prayers, the priests would ask for Marduḫ's forgiveness. On the fourth day, a high priest, Sheshgallu, recites the creation epic Enuma elish in praise of Marduḫ. As Sheshgallu performs this essential function in the Nisannu/April ritual, he is customarily accompanied by musicians Kalu and Naru, actresses—Mummeltu and actors - Mummelu, who played the events of the epic. 

After reciting the epic, the king heads to the temple of the God of writing, Nabu, son of God Marduḫ, to receive the high priest's sacred scepter. Then he travels to Borsippa, which is seventeen kilometers downstream from Babylon. He spends his night at the temple of the city's patron god, Nabu, revered by both Babylonians and Assyrians. Therein, Sheshgallu recites the epic of creation at the house of the New Year/Beth Akitu. The implication of the king's visit to God Nabu's temple is to help him release Marduḫ from captivity inside a mountain in the underworld, Kur, land of the netherworld. On the fifth day, the king returns carrying Nabu's statue, which he eventually leaves behind at the southwestern Urash gate. Then he lays down his crown, scepter, and the sword by the gate of Ésagila temple. After a series of ceremonies, he is returned his royal insignia after cleansing him and them with the holy water. Returning the crown to the king means his power was renewed by Marduḫ to be allowed to enter the temple to complete the celebratory ceremonies. The remaining part of the fifth day is dedicated to offerings and incantation rituals carried out by the Mashmashshu priest. He slaughters a ram and sweeps the temple walls with its blood and then throws its head in the river as a kind of scapegoat that casts out demonic powers. The king performs another ritual in the afternoon of the fifth day. He is accompanied by  Sheshgallu as well. That ritual mainly revolves around a wild white bull.

Meanwhile, the crowds would be fully excited, especially after Marduḫ's chariot passes in the streets without its driver, as a sign of dreading chaos that might befall the land before Marduḫ sets the universe in order. On the seventh day, the statue of Marduḫ and the other gods' statue is cleansed and clothed in new attires. Following that, Nabu visits the warrior god Ninurta in his temple. Together they join forces in a ceremonial play where Nabu and Ninurta's statues defeat two symbolic golden figures from the netherworld. Then the priests depart with Nabu and Ninurta's statues to É-sagila temple to join the Supreme God's statue, Marduḫ. And during the next two days, barges arrive at Babylon, carrying statues of gods from Ur, Sippar, Kutha, Kish, Uruk, Nippur, Borsippa, and the other cities. Next, the barges are placed on horse-drawn chariots.

On the eighth day, after the liberation of Marduḫ, the population's outbursts of rejoicing intensify. The statues of gods are assembled in the Chamber of Destinies in the order of their ranks, substantially to confer their combined strength on the restored God for the conquest of hostile forces and give Marduḫ the right to determine the destinies. This ritual takes place to renew fruitfulness and life for the coming year. This ritual is performed by the king who enters the great hall, grasping the hand of the great Lord Marduḫ, as he places him in the main courtyard of  É-sagila, where all gods grant Marduḫ absolute authority and recite his fifty compound names. After that, the parliament representative announces the next year's policy, just like the state of the union address. This policy always contains blessings, fortunes, and successes. At a later time, the king goes in procession from É-sagila riding the chariot of Marduḫ glowing in gold and silver, followed by the other gods' chariots while aromatic herbs burn with fragrance. They would head toward the river along with singers and musicians playing flutes. The gods' adoring devotees kneel in front of them. Finally, the procession would leave Babylon, heading toward the temple of Beth Akitu. After a short tour alongside the Euphrates, it reaches Beth Akitu, decorated with green foliage. The king then carries the statue of the state of the union. He brings it inside Beth Akitu, where ceremonial hymns are chanted, including the ones dedicated to Ishtar, goddess of sex and war, and the songs devoted to God Ea, father of Marduḫ and protector of Eridu. The last song is an alternating hymn in which the gods are asked why they are not in their temples. They reply that they had to be with Mardukh at that momentous event.

More offering ceremonies are performed, and the sacred marriage, Hashadu, enacted on the ninth and tenth days in a chamber called Gigunu/Gagum at É-sagila. It is designated to the high priestess. On day twelve, at É-sagila temple, once more prayers and good wishes are recited for the New Year at the presence of all gods that participated in the procession. Afterward, the celebrations are concluded with a lavish public banquet for all Babylonians and the pilgrims from other cities while singers recite hymns and play musical instruments.


The performers who partake in these celebrations are Astalu, the musician, Huppu, the dervish or performer of religious dances, Assinnu, the designated boy, Qapistu, the characters' caster, Quluu, the back chanters, Kur garru, the lamenter and one of the religious servants, Mubabbilu, the funny jester, Mummelu and Mummeltu, the actor and actress, Mustapsu, the wrestler, and Zammeru, the flutists and singer.


On that last day, statues of the gods promising to protect Babylon, consolidate its rule, and have leniency on its people, are returned to Marduḫ's temple. The first statue to depart Babylon is of God Nabu's, followed by the other gods' statues. Similarly, priests return to their temples, and daily life resumes in Babylon and the rest of the land.


Amer Hanna Fatuhi, Ph.D.

Visual Artist & Historian

www.ChaldeanLegacy.com | www.NativeIraqis-Story.com


[1] Nabu, The Book of Zagmuk, Vol. 2, March 21, 2016  

[2] Bidmead, Julye, The Akitu Festival: Religious Continuity And Royal Legitimation In Mesopotamia, Gorgias Press, January 1st 2004, P. 119



Friday, March 26, 2021






According to legend, Romulus, the founder of Rome, instituted the calendar in about 738 BC. This dating system was most likely a product of development from the Greek lunar calendar, which was originally derived from the Babylonians. However, the Roman actual calendar's date uses January as the first month of the year does not go back more than a couple of decades before the first century AD.

In fact, Julius Caesar is the one who established the Roman calendar using January 1 as the beginning of the New Year c. 46 BC. It is worth noting that January is derived from the two face god Janus, believing that Janus symbolically looked towards the rear into the previous year and ahead into the future. [1]




One may ask, "How did native Chaldeans calculate the actual date of the Proto-Kaldi calendar, and what archaeological, Biblical, and scientific evidence would support this conclusion?"

Due to ongoing religious-ethnic persecution throughout the years, Chaldeans have abandoned but did not forget about their Mesopotamian roots and costumes. However, since 2000 Chaldeans have internationally adopted the New Year Celebration/AKITU of the first Chaldean Capital Eridu, founded around 5300 BC in the heart of the Chaldean historical homeland, Mat-Kaldu, as the beginning of Chaldean Babylonian history. This date was carefully studied and approved after months of hard work and profound academic examination of a submitted study by the author of this study to a professional committee of 12 scholars in the fields of social studies, including a few well-known historians and archeologists. The proposed research that was received in March 1999 asserts beyond doubt that Chaldeans are the ancient Babylonians and the descendants of the 1st Mesopotamian capital (city-state), Eridu. Among the main proofs that support the process, as mentioned earlier, are the solid facts below:   


1-         The city-states of ancient Iraq did not have a temple with the same exact name, except for the god Marduḫ's Ésagila. The temple for ancient Mesopotamians was considered a living being, and the living being cannot be separated or exist in two places at the same time. However, the people who built Eridu and its suburb Ku-ara are the same ones who built Babylon and its temple Ésagila, at the holy district of Eridu, which simply means that both cities were considered one. In fact, Eridu, the holy district in Babylon, was wisely chosen as a linking vein that connects the two cities.


2-               According to the Nam-Lugal list and Berossus' Chronicles, the Babyloniaca, aka, Chaldeanica, Eridu and Babylon are the only cities in ancient Mesopotamia that held the name NUNki. This fact easily links both cities and their people's ethnic bond culture, especially when we learned that one of the most celebrated names of Babylon was Shubat Balati (Land of life). As it seems, this name was derived from the original name NUNKI (Homeland of life) that was used to refer by Mesopotamians to both Babylon and Eridu.


3-               As mentioned in the records of the Chaldean King Nabu-nasir/Nabonassar 747-734 BC, who admits to destroying most of the historical records of the preceding Chaldean kings:

"Nabonassar collected together the records of deeds of kings before him and destroyed them so that reckoning of Chaldean kings might start with himself." 0F[2] It is also fully documented that Sennacherib in 689 BC did not only destroyed most of the Chaldeans records, burned libraries, and demolished the temples, but he also destroyed the entire city of Babylon as was recorded in his chronicles:

[Sennacherib avenged himself on Babylon and dared to accomplish the unthinkable: he destroyed the famous and sacred city, the second metropolis of the empire, the 'bond of heaven and earth' which his forebears had always treated with infinite patience and respect:

"As hurricane proceeds, I attacked it and, like a storm, I overthrew, it . . . Its inhabitants, young and old, l did not spare, and with their corpses, I filled the streets of the city . . . The town itself and its houses, from their foundations to their roofs I devastated, I destroyed, by fire I overthrew . . . So that in future even the soil of its temples be forgotten, by water I ravaged it, I turned it into pastures."][3]


4-                The Bible confirms in more than one place the profound and rich history of the Chaldeans, asserting that they are members of a mighty nation since very ancient time /a long-lived nation, an ancient nation (Jer. 5:15, U.S. Catholic Bible). However, the two main books of Genesis and Jeremiah, among other biblical books, could quickly validate this fact.


5-                The Greek and other classical historians highly valued the famous ancient encyclopedia BABYLONIACA, a combination of well-recorded epics and the most reliable old Mesopotamian records. The Babyloniaca asserts that a Chaldean dynasty was the first to rule Mesopotamia since Proto-Deluge time. It also confirmed that the first Mesopotamian king was the Chaldean A-LU-LIM/Alorus, 10 sars. 2F [4]


Conclusion: In a court of law, it is lawfully required that two witnesses ratify a testimony, and that is what the Bible requires. However, It was brought to your attention not two or three but five reliable references.  It could also add to the tens of linguistic proofs mentioned above and other historical records that exist within the Mesopotamian literature. These well-documented and solid pieces of evidence were covered in detail in my published books since 1988 AD. Perhaps the most recent comprehensive book is The Untold Story of Native Iraqis, which was instituted on foundations of more than 600 academic references. This book is among the top resources concerning this subject.



Amer Hanna Fatuhi, Ph.D.

www.nativeiraqis-story.com | www.ChaldeanLegacy.com  


[1] Janus; is the copycat character from the more ancient two-face god Isimud, who is a minor Mesopotamian god and the messenger “minister” of the god Enki.

[2] Oates, Joan, BABYLON, Thames & Hudson, revised ed. 1986 and reprinted 2000, P 113

[3] Roux, Georges:Ancient Iraq, Penguin books1992, PP. 322-323

[4] The Bodleian Manuscript of Jerome's Version of the Chronicle of Eusebius, Reproduced in Collotype / (p7) The kings of the Babylonians (according to Alexander Polyhistor)