Calendars of the Past: Arḫu Shabāṭu

We’re pleased to share our platform with another member of the Mesopotamian polytheist community.

Seph Gonzalez is a Mesopotamian polytheist living in the American Midwest. He is devoted to the local pantheon of the Lagash city-state, and moderates a Reddit community (r/Sumer) dedicated to the reconstruction and revival of Mesopotamian polytheism in its many forms.

His content shared here will highlight the Standard Mesopotamian calendar and the culture of the ancient Mesopotamian people.

Gudea, ruler of the state of Lagash in Southern Mesopotamia ruled c. 2144–2124 BC.

In the standard Mesopotamian calendar—in use across the kingdom of Babylonia since ca. 1400 BCE and the kingdom of Assyria ca. 1100 BCE—the name of the eleventh month is shabāṭu. Cohen, in the 2015 update to his study of the calendars and festivals of the Ancient Near East, traces the etymology of the month-name to the Akkadian šabāṭu, which the CAD defines as: v.; 1. to strike or hit (said of demons or illness), 2. to blow (said of the wind), 3. to sweep. Cohen believes that “to blow (said of the wind)” is an adequate description for a winter month, and I find the onset of illness, as per definition 1, to be a fitting association in the modern day as well.

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