The Treasures of Darkness: A History of Mesopotamian Religion
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The Treasures of Darkness: A History of Mesopotamian Religion

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  55 ratings  ·  8 reviews
Unmarked book with creased cover, stamp inside removed
Paperback, 282 pages
Published September 10th 1978 by Yale University Press (first published September 10th 1976)
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Barnaby Thieme
If I had to recommend just one book on Mesopotamian religious culture, there's no question that I'd advocate on behalf of this masterpiece. Jacobsen's overview of the evolution of religious thought, literature, and ritual in Mesopotamia from the fourth through the first millenium BCE sets a very high bar.

Jacobsen has a fine ear for the poetry of this material and is unerring in sounding its psychological depths. He does not lose sight of the historical realities that contextualize symbolic expr...more
Jacobsen was a true scholar and the book is a must for anyone interested in Mesopotamian religion.
It contains some beautiful Sumerian etc. poetry. My favorite is the heart-breaking "Lament for Ur" by the city goddess Ningal (how she knew about, but could not avert the coming doom) and the appeal by the city god Nanna/Suen to his father Enlil, also in vain.
BTW Nanna/Suen is a moon GOD, which defies claims of a universal link between the moon and a female goddess.
Gavin White
I first read this several years ago when I was starting to get interested in all things Mesopotamian. I really liked it as it mapped out, in very broad strokes, the history of the gods.
Since then I have found my own way in Mesopotamian studies and have come to have some second thoughts especially about the earliest periods which Jacobsen describes in terms of the fertility goddess Inanna and her semi-divine lover Dumuzi. I have come to think that the idea of the goddess marrying the king (in th...more
The granddaddy of Ancient Near Eastern studies. This man pretty much laid it all out for scholars to come and had a sense of humor to boot. Thorkild makes my heart happy.
The basis of Jacobsen's thesis, as established in the first chapter, is that religion is the human response to confrontation with the numinous power within phenomena. Under this guiding principle, the book traces the chronological development of this response within Mesopotamian culture. Beginning in the 4th millennium BCE with the gods experienced as animating forces within the phenomena of greatest significance to agricultural and pastoral subsistence, the centralization of power through the 3...more
I looked forward to reading this for a long time, and was not disappointed. I thoroughly enjoyed every second of the read. Excellent book.
A brilliant book on Mesopotamian religion and mythology, indispensable for the scholars and students of mythology.
Bart Everson
Jul 15, 2013 Bart Everson marked it as partially-read
I especially liked Jacobsen's account of the Epic of Gilgamesh.
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Thorkild Jacobsen (7 June 1904 – 2 May 1993) was a renowned historian specializing in Assyriology and Sumerian literature. He was one of the foremost scholars on the ancient Near East.
More about Thorkild Jacobsen...
The Harps that Once...: Sumerian Poetry in Translation Toward the Image of Tammuz and Other Essays on Mesopotamian History and Culture Most Ancient Verse Theories of the Universe: From Babylonian Myth to Modern Science  (Library of Scientific Thought) Sumerian King List

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