Ritual of Tammuz

Ritual of Tammuz

Each fall when it was time to sow the grain, the Assyrian women did a special ritual to appease the god, Tammuz, who was the god of corn and also of life, death, and rebirth. They wept to mourn the death of Tammuz, then threw corn seeds into the ground to die.

This a relief carved into stone showing Assyrians celebrating. They played music and marched in processions. Maybe they did this during rituals like the ritual of Tammuz too.  Public domain.

Of course, the corn didn’t really die. They were actually planting the seeds. In their minds, Tammuz blessed them by coming back to life as corn year after year, providing them with food.

Growing Grain Exploration

You can sow corn too. Just find a patch of ground and bury a few corn seeds. You may need to water them a bit, but you should see corn plants coming up withing a couple of weeks.

Learn about Ancient Assyrian beliefs with this exploration.

This is American corn or maize. Ancient Assyrians called any grains like barley or wheat “corn”. They would not have had maize as it is an American grain.  However, it grows pretty easily from seed and is readily available so for the purposes of this exploration it works well.

Additional Layers

  • Why fall?  Unlike more moderate climates, which have the killing cold of winter, the middle east has unbelievable killing heat in summer.  Learn about the desert climate in this part of the world.
  • When you read about corn in ancient times the word really means grain.  Corn, as in the kind that grows on a cob, is from the Americas and was unknown to ancient Asian and European people.  What kinds of grain would the Assyrians have had?  You can still plant corn seeds though, any kind of grain will do.
  • Learn about seeds and exactly what they need to sprout and grow?  Try planting the same type of seeds with different conditions.  See what works and what doesn’t.
  • Where was the ancient Kingdom of Assyria.  Color it in on a map of the middle east.  Add a few of the major cities as well.
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5 Responses to Ritual of Tammuz

  1. Dave Justus says:

    Isn't Corn a new world grain? Woulnd't it have to have been wheat or something similar?

  2. Michelle says:

    Yep, in the Additional Layers at the bottom of the post we mention that. But American corn is the easiest grain to obtain and plant seeds so we still used it in this activity.

  3. Dave Justus says:

    I suppose I should read the entire thing 🙂

  4. Elis says:

    Well, the grain spoke on the bible can not be corn because corn was only found in Americas. Christopher Colombus found it Cuba and exported to Europe. The grain use in the Bible was wheat or barley.

    Archeological evidence shows fossils of wild corn 200 feet under Mexican soil.

    If you notice, corn is not a principal grain in the middle east.

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