Volume 5, No. 1

The Bull of Heaven in Mesopotamian Sources

Arkadiusz Sołtysiak

This paper deals with the imagery of the constellation Taurus in the cultures of ancient Mesopotamia. The constellation appears explicitly in the well-known story about Gilgamesh, in which the Bull of Heaven attacks Gilgamesh on the order of Inanna, the deity associated with the planet Venus. It can be argued from other sources that, as early as the 3rd millennium BCE, the Bull was particularly related to this goddess and to An, the god of heaven, both of whom were worshipped in the city of Uruk, itself ruled by Gilgamesh according to Mesopotamian tradition. The Bull of Heaven was represented pictorially in association with the gate of the heavenly palace of An. The later traditions and the iconography of the Bull of Heaven are also explored in the paper.