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This article has been published in: Ocula 23, Flowers of the soul: The symbolism of flowers in the religious imagination

author: Lorenzo Verderame (Dipartimento Istituto Italiano di Studi Orientali, Sapienza – Università di Roma.)

«I replace cereals!»: Origin and primacy of the palm in the cultures of ancient Mesopotamia

language: italian

publication date: July 2020

abstract: In this paper I discuss various aspects related to the imaginary and to the symbolism of the date palm in the written sources from ancient Mesopotamia through the analysis of two compositions. The first is a Sumerian text known as Inanna and Šukaletuda, which contains in the first part a myth describing the creation of the date palm by a raven instructed by the god Enki. The second is a Babylonian dispute, Palm and Tamarisk, in which the two trees try to prevail one over the other, proclaiming their virtues and functions. The analysis shows that, although prerogatives and associations are shared by other trees, the palm holds the primacy over all of them. In the conclusions, I argue that one of the possible reasons of such preeminence is that the palm is the only one of these trees that produces a fruit – the date – which, moreover, is on the economic and cultural level is equal to the primary cultivation of cereals.

keywords: religione, storia, oriente, religion, history, middle east, mesopotamia, sumeri, letteratura sumerica, letteratura accadica, tenzoni, mitologia, palma da dattero, tamarisco, pioppo, cedro

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DOI: 10.12977/ocula2020-26

citation information: Lorenzo Verderame, «Io sostituisco i cereali!»: origine e primato della palma nelle culture dell’antica Mesopotamia, "Ocula", vol.21, July 2020. DOI: 10.12977/ocula2020-26



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