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Title: Athirat, Asherah, Ashratu : a reassessment according to the textual sources
Author: Wiggins, Steve A.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1992
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This dissertation was undertaken partially in response to previous studies on the goddess Asherah. These studies have tended to gather together information from the various cultures in which 'Asherah' appears, and the information is generally presented as a portrait of the goddess. This dissertation approaches the problem from a different perspective. The primary issue addressed is: did the goddess 'Asherah' develop in the same way in all the cultures in which she appears? In order to answer this question, this study considers the evidence as contained in the written records of the first two millennia B.C.E. The mythology preserved in the tablets written by Elimelek in ancient Ugarit is the primary source of information on the goddess Athirat. After considering this mythology, it should be possible to examine Athirat's role in other mythologies, and to attempt to distil her essential characteristics and nature. Within the Ugaritic mythology of Elimelek, she appears most active in the 'Palace of Baal' episode in the Baal Cycle. In this culture Athirat appears primarily in relationship to other gods. She is the consort of E1, the head of the pantheon. In the Elimelek tablets her title is rbt atrt ym. This title indicates an unspecified relationship with the sea. She is the mother of the gods but does not, however, appear as an amorphous 'mother goddess'. Her role as a mother is limited to divine children and royal children. She appears to be the rabitu, the 'queen mother'. Although Athirat is associated with the head of the pantheon, she maintains a connection with mortal women. This may account for her emblem, which is a spindle. In the Ugaritic tablets without a colophon by Elimelek, Athirat also appears. She is mentioned in the myth Shachar and Shalim, in text 114, and in ritual texts. Her small role in these texts adds no substantial characteristics to what may be discerned in the Elimelek tablets. A goddess Asherah may appear in the Old Testament. Certain passages seem to require a godess interpretation for the word asherah. In other texts asherah designates a cultic object. If Asherah does appear as a goddess in the Old Testament, her characteristics are difficult to discern. She does not, however, appear as the consort of Baal or as a fertility goddess.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available