What were the early religions of the ancient Near East from 1000 BCE to 500 BCE?

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linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There were quite a few religions in the ancient Near East during the time span in question. To make a sort of timeline, we can note that the dates you want to know about span the reigns of Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon (1000 BCE) to Darius in Persia (500 BCE). The geographical area of the Near East at this time included Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq and Syria), Anatolia (modern-day Turkey), the Levant (modern-day Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan), Egypt, and the area that is now Iran. You might also include the ancient Greeks.

There is not enough room here to go into detail on the religions worshiped in these areas, but here is a list and brief description of each:

  • Judaism was worshiped in Israel.
  • Assyro-Babylonian, which was a Semitic religion and whose major deity was Marduk, was practiced in Mesopotamia.
  • Canaanite religion was worshiped in the areas known as the Levant. Major deities include Asherah, Baal, Astarte, and Dagon
  • Hittite religion was practiced in Anatolia.
  • Ancient Egyptians worshiped many gods, including Ra, Seth, Ptah, Anubis, Amun, and others.
  • The ancient Greeks also had a large pantheon, which included Zeus, Hera, Aphrodite, Ares, and many more deities.

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