The Dragon of Ishtar Gate;
the Dragon of Marduk, Real or Imagined?
"The Dragon of the Ishtar Gate may be one of Cryptozoology's strangest, yet best-documented, ancient crypids. This two and a half millennium old depiction is so unusual that many treat it as a chimera, an impossible combination of animals that could never have existed in nature.
But the people of ancient Babylon knew and accepted the 'dragon' as real, as real as the bulls and lions that also share the walls"..... Dragon of the Ishtar Gate by David G Stone.
Here at s8int.com, we can't be sure whether the Dragon of Marduk was a real creature or if it came from the imagination of the artist--but we've got a few ideas. It's probably no surprise that we come down on the side of those who say it was a real creature, but we've got a good reason; we think we've seen it before.
We don't think that artists from different cultures spanning nearly 2000 years all imagined the same strange, non-existent creature.
Although King Nebuchadnezzar in Bel and the Dragon of the Apocrypha mention a dragon, we don't believe that this particular dragon is that great dragon.
Below we provide some evidence that this was a real creature as well as recount a bit of the story (through a quotation).
The Ishtar Gate
The Dragon of Ishtar gate. The Marduk Dragon. This is the actual image of the dragon on the Gate at Ishtar, which was painted on brick.
Babylonian,Date: 604-562 BC.
"In 1902, German archaeologist Robert Koldewey unearthed the fabled Ishtar Gate in the ruins of Babylon. The gateway dated from the time of King Nebuchadnezzar (about 600 B.C.) and was decorated with bas-reliefs.
The animals depicted on the Gate were known to the Babylonians - two of the animals depicted were lions and rimi (aurochs, a type of wild ox). Of the three animals depicted, one could not be identified.
It seemed to show a mythical animal, which seemed out of place with sculptures depicting known animals that were contemporary with the Babylonians.
The animal, which Koldewey recognized as a sirrush (dragon; the word mushrushu or mushhushshu is the commonly-accepted modern form, based on a retranslation of the original word) can be described as having ...a slender body covered with scales, a long slender scaly tail, and a long slim scaly neck bearing a serpent's head... [from the mouth] a long forked tongue protrudes.
Sung Dynasty dragon, in silver with gold and turquoise inlays (Musee Guimet, Paris)
There are flaps of skin attached to the back of the head, which is adorned (and armed) with a straight horn.
In the Apocrypha (a collection of stories which claim to be expurgated sections of the Bible), in the Book of Bel and the Dragon, it is recorded that King Nebuchadnezzar kept a dragon in the temple of the god Bel, which the people of Babylon worshipped.
When the Hebrew prophet Daniel began to denounce the worship of idols, Nebuchadnezzar confronted him with the Bel-dragon, saying that it "liveth and eateth and drinketh; you cannot say that he is no living god; therefore worship him."
Daniel responded by killing the dragon.
Roy P. Mackal, along with several other cryptozoologists, believes that the Bible itself refers to the Mushhushshu, although under a different name, in Chapter 40 of Job.
Eastern Han Dynasty, Painted pottery granary.
Also, another Babylonian version of the Ishtar Dragon on right.
Date: 206 BC–AD 220)
Look at the behemoth... which feeds on grass like an ox... his tail sways like a cedar; the sinews of his thighs are close-knit. His bones are tubes of bronze, his limbs like rods of iron... Under the lotus plants he lies, hidden among the reeds in the marsh.
The identity of Behemoth has long been a mystery to theologians, most of whom proclaim that the verse refers to a hippopotamus. However, Mackal thinks that the description of it could be a description of a sauropod dinosaur.
In some translations of this passage, the verse ends with a statement that "his nose pierceth through snares;" this sounds, at least to me, like a description of a rhinoceros-type horn.
Several cryptozoologists, including Mackal, Willy Ley, and Bernard Heuvelmans, endorse the theory that the Mushhushshu may already be identified, at least in part. The Babylonians are believed to have penetrated into equatorial Africa.
Here, the cryptozoologists conjecture, they may have heard stories of, sighted, or even captured a specimen or two of Mokele-Mbembe, the Congo "dragon," which served as the basis for the Mushhushshu depicted on the Gate....The Ishtar Gate
Tang Dynasty Dragon. Date: 618-906 A.D.
Red Gold "dragons", each in different pose. Tang Dynasty Dragon.
Date: 618-906 A.D. Ishtar Gate dragon on the right.
Sketches of Han Dynasty (206 B.C. to 220 A.D.)motifs by Lampo Leong. The dynamic movement is typical of Han art. These sketches show a hunter hunting dragons/dinosaurs with a weapon (sling, bolo?).These dragon/dinos are very similar to the Sung and Tand Dynasty versions, as well as the Ishtar Gate "dragon".>
Egyptian depictions of Set(h) pre-date the Marduk Dragon by several millenia.
On the far left is the desert road version (aerial view).
MASSOSPONDYLUS, A Possible Candidate?
Massospondylus was an early herbivore about 13 feet (4 m) long and 3 feet (1 m) tall. It had a long neck, very long tail, a small head, peg-like teeth, and large, five-fingered hands with a large thumb claw.
Massospondylus may have been able to use its hand for grasping in addition to walking. Its back legs were only a little bit larger than its front legs. It was a very common dinosaur.
WHEN MASSOSPONDYLUS LIVED
Massospondylus lived about 205 to 194 million years ago, during the early Jurassic period. (SIC)
Oh Canada!. Sorry about the stamp but we needed it facing the other direction for comparison purposes...s8int.com