In the ancient Near East, Ashur was originally the main god of the city of Ashur, the capital of Assyria. As Assyria emerged as a great empire, Ashur became the national god of all of Assyria. The Assyrians saw him primarily as a warrior god and believed that he supported them against their enemies.

By about 1300 B . C ., Ashur was identified with the supreme Sumerian god Enlil, probably in an effort to portray him as king of the gods. Under Assyria's king Sargon, Ashur became the father of Anu, the Babylonian * god of the sky and the main creative force in the universe. Later, as Assyria and Babylon competed for political and military power, Ashur took on the characteristics of the Babylonian national god, Marduk. Because the qualities of so many other gods were transferred to Ashur, he had little or no clear character or traditions of his own. More than anything, he was a symbol of the people and power of Assyria.

See also Anu ; Enlil ; Marduk .

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