Nature as Conceived by the Mesopotamians and the Current Anthropological Debate over Animism and Personhood

The Case of Ebiḫ: Mountain, Person and God

  • Anna Perdibon (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


The present paper considers how Mesopotamians conceived and related to the mountains

according to Sumerian and Akkadian literary sources, while combining them with current

anthropological theories, especially the so-called new animism with its innovative notion of

personhood. From the written sources pertaining to the religious framework (i.e. myths,

incantations, rituals and personal names) a multifaceted portrayal emerges, in which moun-

tains were conceived not only as the abode of the gods and cosmic places at the border of

the world, but were also conceptualized as living beings, acting in the world on behalf of

humans and partaking of the divine community. The case of Mt. Ebiḫ offers the most striking

evidence for how a mountain was regarded by the inhabitants of Mesopotamia over the

centuries: it was envisioned as a mountain, as a person and as a god.