Zababa :


Zababa, E-mete-ursag temple in Kish.


Zababa is a local god associated with the city of Kish, near Babylon. The earliest attestation of Zababa comes from the Early Dynastic Period. Zababa was a god of war and he was syncretized with the god Ninurta, who was also known as Ningirsu. In one list of deities he is called "Marduk of battle". His primary symbol was a staff with the head of an eagle.


Zababa is a warrior god, patron deity of Kiš and consort of goddesses Baba and Ištar.


Functions :

As a warrior god, Zababa was credited with strength and prowess in battle. The epithet "Crusher of stones" highlights his fearsome nature. In a similar vein, the Zababa Gate at Baylon was known as "It Hates Its Attacker" (Van de Mieroop 2003).


Divine Genealogy and Syncretisms :

Zababa is infrequently mentioned, along with Ninurta, as the son of Aššur (Lambert 1983: 82). Particularly after the Old Babylonian period, the goddess Baba is regularly attested as his wife (Lambert 1967). Zababa is also often cited as the consort of Ištar (Black and Green 1998: 141) with whom he was often paired. This pairing, however, may be due to the warlike nature the two shared. The epithet 'Lord of the Lands' identifies Zababa with Enlil, the rightful owner of the title. Zababa has also been identified with the god Ilaba in inscriptions of Sargon of Akkad, who presented the latter as his personal deity and equated the two gods after his capture of Kiš (Nigro 1998: 93).


Cult Place(s) :

Kiš was the city of Zababa, although an inscription of the Old Babylonian king Samsu-iluna names both Zababa and Ištar as the chief deities of Kiš (Lambert 1967). Sacred buildings of Zababa in Kiš saw various rebuildings by Old Babylonian kings including Sumu-lael (George 1993: 123), Samsu-iluna and Hammurabi (George 1993: 154). Old Babylonian Kiš also had a 'cloister' of naditu-priestesses of Zababa (Harris 1962: 4, n.8). The diminishing importance of Kiš after the Old Babylonian period translated into an era of neglect, from which Zababa's temple was saved by Kurigalzu I/II in the Kassite period (Clayden 1996: 143). For the first millennium, a building inscription of Nebuchadnezzar reveals another phase of restoration (McEwan 1983: 119). A temple of Zababa was built in Ur by Warad-Sin, dating to the Old Babylonian period (George 1993: 112). Zababa also had a temple in Neo-Babylonian Uruk (Beaulieu 2003: 348-9) and a seat in the Ešarra temple in Assur (George 1993: 116).


Time Periods Attested :

Earliest attestations of the cult of Zababa date to the Early Dynastic period (Black and Green 1998: 187). In Old Babylonian personal names, Zababa is a commonly encountered theophoric TT element (Lambert 1984: 2) and enjoys political importance during the so-called Manana Dynasty at Kiš, where oaths were sworn by his name and that of Yawirum, the local king (Dalley and Yuhong 1990: 159). Zababa's significance in the first millennium is attested by his listing among the deities visiting Babylon for the New Year's festival. See above for the temple sequence in Kiš.


Iconography :

In keeping with his warlike nature, Zababa is associated with the lion and/or the lion-headed mace, symbols also put in the service of other warrior deities such as Ninurta, Ningirsu and Ištar. The male figure carrying a mace or shooting with a bow, depicted on model terracotta chariots is identified as Zababa (Moorey 1975: 82-3; see also Stone 1993). On kudurru TT reliefs, he is represented by an eagle-staff (Koch et al. 1987).


Name and Spellings :

Zababa's name probably has neither a Sumerian nor a Semitic etymology (Rubio 2010: 39.)


Written form :


Normalized form :



Zababa Quotes From Texts :


Zababa = Enlil’s Younger Son, Warrior God


“Adad-apla-iddina, king of Babylon, made Emeteursaga (“House Worthy of the Hero”) shine.


The god Zababa (Enlil’s son) …”


“Enlil’s power and responsibilities– were changed to be known as Marduk’s of lordship and council.”


Ninurta’s – were changed to be known as Marduk of the hoe


Nergal’s – were changed to be known as Marduk of the attack


Zababa’s – were changed to be known as Marduk of the combat”


“the warrior Zababa, has erected a house in your precinct,


O E-dub (Storage house),


O house Kiš, and taken his seat upon your dais.


the house of Zababa in Kiš (Kish)…”


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