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“Trading Religions” and “Visible Religion” in the Ancient Near East

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Chapter Summary

Religious symbol systems can make a religion visible and these visual symbols are communicated through the medium of iconography. Such symbols (as icons and emblems) could be exchanged between different cultures, travelling along international routes of communication that were used not only by traders, but also by conquering armies. As the icons of a specific region, these deities were literally "exported". This chapter discusses a few examples of how gods could "travel" and be "exported" along the trade routes; this is followed by two more detailed case studies, the travels of the winged disk/sun disk from Egypt to Persia, and the emblem of the moon god Sin of Harran to Egypt. As a matter of fact, the city of Harran was a major post along the trade routes between Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean with rich religious traditions stretching back thousands of years, as shown by Tamara Green.

Keywords: Ancient Near East; Mesopotamia; moon god Sin of Harran; religious symbol systems; Tamara Green; trading deities; winged disk



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