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The Treasures of Darkness: A History of Mesopotamian Religion

4.21  ·  Rating Details ·  117 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
“The Treasures of Darkness is the culmination of a lifetime’s work, an attempt to summarize and recreate the spiritual life of Ancient Mesopotamia. Jacobsen has succeeded brilliantly. . . . His vast experience shows through every page of this unique book, through the vivid, new translations resulting from years of careful research. Everyone interested in early Mesopotamia, ...more
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
Elfie
Apr 09, 2008 Elfie rated it really liked it
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.
James
Feb 11, 2008 James rated it it was amazing
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.
Seph
Sep 05, 2015 Seph rated it really liked it
Shelves: mythology
Thorkild Jacobsen's The Treasures of Darkness is a unique book among the corpus of scholarly Mesopotamian literature in that it is the only work to deal extensively with the evolution of religious thought across the Sumerian, Akkadian, and Babylonian empires. Jacobsen proposes a series of religious ideas and philosophies, which developed hand-in-hand over the history of Mesopotamia, beginning with the fourth millennium BCE, and culminating at the end of the second millennium BCE. These ideas are ...more
Gavin White
Jan 12, 2014 Gavin White rated it really liked it
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
C.R.
Jan 21, 2015 C.R. rated it it was amazing
This is an essential read for anyone who is interested in ancient history. Not only on Sumerian Mesopotamia but also on those later cultures (many-practically all) that inherited their lore from the Sumerian scribes.

The first two chapters are a must for study. Jacobsen's interpretations of cuneiform texts and his interpretation of their metaphorical meaning have proven to be very precise, and were essential in my own research. His is ground-breaking work in that particular field, and is the prim
...more
Bryn Hammond
Dec 22, 2015 Bryn Hammond rated it really liked it
Shelves: ancient-other
Gorgeous old book that enters into the spirit of the distant past, famous for it. Has a way with words.

I only deduct a star due to dissatisfaction with his Gilgamesh discussion, that's his last segment & culmination. He changed his mind on Gilgamesh several times and has written differently elsewhere of the epic.
Uladzislau
Oct 30, 2016 Uladzislau rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: специалистам по истории религий
Книга реально зубодробительная, подходит только для специалистов, отчего непонятно, почему же ее издали в известной научно-популярной серии? Видимо, к постсоветскому времени серия деградировала, как и почти все остальное. Рекомендовать книгу любителю истории не стоит, потому что для ее прочтения и адекватного восприятия необходимо владеть узкоспециальными знаниями. А специалист найдет ее и без рекомендаций.
Brian
Mar 17, 2013 Brian rated it really liked it
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
Aleksandra
Apr 05, 2013 Aleksandra rated it it was amazing
Shelves: academic
A brilliant book on Mesopotamian religion and mythology, indispensable for the scholars and students of mythology.
Catherine McNiel
Oct 26, 2012 Catherine McNiel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: world-religions
I looked forward to reading this for a long time, and was not disappointed. I thoroughly enjoyed every second of the read. Excellent book.
Rob
Apr 10, 2016 Rob rated it really liked it
I most enjoyed the last 100 pages. And I thought it was pretty cool that he brought in Harry Stack Sullivan, quoting his The Interpersonal Theory of Psychiatry.
Jakob Kaasgaard Hellum
Jakob Kaasgaard Hellum rated it it was amazing
Nov 30, 2014
Laurel
Laurel rated it it was amazing
Mar 02, 2009
Ophion
Ophion rated it really liked it
Nov 27, 2015
Drew
Drew rated it really liked it
Jul 14, 2012
Deborah Hill
Deborah Hill rated it really liked it
Feb 17, 2015
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lucy rated it really liked it
Dec 28, 2015
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Jeremy rated it liked it
Jan 02, 2016
susan
susan rated it really liked it
Apr 05, 2010
Jessica Griggs
Jessica Griggs rated it it was amazing
Aug 19, 2015
Ris99
Ris99 rated it it was amazing
Aug 14, 2013
Bart Everson
Jul 15, 2013 Bart Everson marked it as partially-read
I especially liked Jacobsen's account of the Epic of Gilgamesh.
Aleksejs
Aleksejs rated it it was amazing
Mar 24, 2013
Darrell Pratt
Darrell Pratt rated it really liked it
Mar 08, 2016
Amanda
Amanda rated it it was ok
Sep 24, 2016
نجمة الجدي
نجمة الجدي rated it liked it
May 08, 2016
Barbie
Barbie rated it really liked it
Aug 31, 2015
Harold
Harold rated it it was ok
Mar 28, 2013
Noelia Bernardez
Noelia Bernardez rated it it was amazing
Oct 24, 2016
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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...

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