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The Akītu Festival


Religious Continuity and Royal Legitimation in Mesopotamia


The akītu festival is one of the oldest recorded religious festivals in the world, celebrated for several millennia throughout ancient Mesopotamia. Yet, the akītu was more than just a religious ceremony; it acted as a political device to ensure the supremacy of the king, the national god, and his capital city. Using tools of social anthropology and ritual analysis, this book presents a detailed reconstruction of the festival events and its attendant rituals to demonstrate how the festival became a propagandistic tool wielded by the monarchy and ruling classes. The akītu festival demonstrates the effectiveness of religion as a political tool.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 1-59333-158-4
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Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: Jan 1,2004
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 0
ISBN: 1-59333-158-4
$123.75
$74.25

Religious ritual is embedded with socio-political ideologies. Nowhere is this more apparent then in the ancient Babylonian akītu, or New Year festival. The akītu festival is one of the oldest recorded religious festivals in the world, celebrated for several millennia throughout ancient Mesopotamia. Yet, the akītu was more than just a religious ceremony; it acted as a political device employed by the monarchy and/or the central priesthood to ensure the supremacy of the king, the national god, and his capital city. In first millennium B.C.E. Babylonia, when the festival was at its most advanced stage it was celebrated for twelve days involving elaborate rituals, prayers, sacrifices, royal processions of the king and of the deities, recitation of the Babylonian creation epic, and the issuance of prophecies and oracles for the upcoming year--ritualistic elements which symbolized the correct religious, social, political, and economical order of Babylon. Politics and religion in ancient Babylon were irrevocably intertwined. Myths and their supportive rituals justified social institutions and legitimized rulers, whether native or foreign.

Using tools of social anthropology and ritual analysis, this book presents a detailed reconstruction of the festival events and its attendant rituals to demonstrate how the akītu festival became a propagandistic tool wielded by the monarchy and ruling class to promote state ideology. The akītu festival demonstrates the effectiveness of religion as a political tool.

Julye Bidmead has a Ph.D. in the History and Critical Theory of Religion from Vanderbilt University. Currently on the faculty at California State University, Fresno she has previously taught at Moravian Theological Seminary, Vanderbilt University, and is a staff member of the Megiddo Expedition in Israel.

Religious ritual is embedded with socio-political ideologies. Nowhere is this more apparent then in the ancient Babylonian akītu, or New Year festival. The akītu festival is one of the oldest recorded religious festivals in the world, celebrated for several millennia throughout ancient Mesopotamia. Yet, the akītu was more than just a religious ceremony; it acted as a political device employed by the monarchy and/or the central priesthood to ensure the supremacy of the king, the national god, and his capital city. In first millennium B.C.E. Babylonia, when the festival was at its most advanced stage it was celebrated for twelve days involving elaborate rituals, prayers, sacrifices, royal processions of the king and of the deities, recitation of the Babylonian creation epic, and the issuance of prophecies and oracles for the upcoming year--ritualistic elements which symbolized the correct religious, social, political, and economical order of Babylon. Politics and religion in ancient Babylon were irrevocably intertwined. Myths and their supportive rituals justified social institutions and legitimized rulers, whether native or foreign.

Using tools of social anthropology and ritual analysis, this book presents a detailed reconstruction of the festival events and its attendant rituals to demonstrate how the akītu festival became a propagandistic tool wielded by the monarchy and ruling class to promote state ideology. The akītu festival demonstrates the effectiveness of religion as a political tool.

Julye Bidmead has a Ph.D. in the History and Critical Theory of Religion from Vanderbilt University. Currently on the faculty at California State University, Fresno she has previously taught at Moravian Theological Seminary, Vanderbilt University, and is a staff member of the Megiddo Expedition in Israel.

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Contributor

Julye Bidmead

  • Introduction And Historical Background
  • Analysis of Previous Scholarship on the akitu
  • Phenomonology of the akitu festival
  • Ritualistic elements of the akitu
  • Political, Historical, And Ideological Analysis
  • Conclusion