Neo-Assyrian cylinder seal impression from the eighth century BC identified by several sources as a possible depiction of the slaying of Tiamat from the Enûma Eliš[1][2]

In the religion of ancient Babylon, Tiamat (Akkadian: 𒀭𒋾𒊩𒆳 DTI.AMAT or 𒀭𒌓𒌈 DTAM.TUM, Greek: Θαλάττη Thaláttē)[3] is a primordial goddess of the salt sea, mating with Abzû, the god of fresh water, to produce younger gods. She is the symbol of the chaos of primordial creation. She is referred to as a woman,[4] and described as the glistening one.[5] It is suggested that there are two parts to the Tiamat mythos, the first in which Tiamat is a creator goddess, through a sacred marriage between salt and fresh water, peacefully creating the cosmos through successive generations. In the second Chaoskampf Tiamat is considered the monstrous embodiment of primordial chaos.[6] Some sources identify her with images of a sea serpent or dragon.[7]

In the Enûma Elish, the Babylonian epic of creation, she gives birth to the first generation of deities; her husband, Apsu, correctly assuming they are planning to kill him and usurp his throne, later makes war upon them and is killed. Enraged, she, too, wars upon her husband's murderers, taking on the form of a massive sea dragon, she is then slain by Enki's son, the storm-god Marduk, but not before she had brought forth the monsters of the Mesopotamian pantheon, including the first dragons, whose bodies she filled with "poison instead of blood". Marduk then forms heavens and the earth from her divided body.


Thorkild Jacobsen[8] and Walter Burkert both argue for a connection with the Akkadian word for sea, tâmtu, following an early form, ti'amtum.[9] Burkert continues by making a linguistic connection to Tethys. The later form Θαλάττη (thaláttē), which appears in the Hellenistic Babylonian writer Berossus' first volume of universal history, is clearly related to Greek Θάλαττα (thálatta), an Eastern variant of Θάλασσα (thalassa), "sea". It is thought that the proper name ti'amat, which is the construct or vocative form, was dropped in secondary translations of the original texts because some Akkadian copyists of Enûma Elish substituted the ordinary word tāmtu "sea" for Tiamat, the two names having become essentially the same due to association.[8] Tiamat also has been claimed to be cognate with Northwest Semitic tehom (תהום) (the deeps, abyss), in the Book of Genesis 1:2.[10]

The Babylonian epic Enuma Elish is named for its incipit: "When above" the heavens did not yet exist nor the earth below, Apsu the freshwater ocean was there, "the first, the begetter", and Tiamat, the saltwater sea, "she who bore them all"; they were "mixing their waters". It is thought that female deities are older than male ones in Mesopotamia and Tiamat may have begun as part of the cult of Nammu, a female principle of a watery creative force, with equally strong connections to the underworld, which predates the appearance of Ea-Enki.[11]

Harriet Crawford finds this "mixing of the waters" to be a natural feature of the middle Persian Gulf, where fresh waters from the Arabian aquifer mix and mingle with the salt waters of the sea.[12] This characteristic is especially true of the region of Bahrain, whose name in Arabic means "two seas", and which is thought to be the site of Dilmun, the original site of the Sumerian creation beliefs.[13] The difference in density of salt and fresh water drives a perceptible separation.

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Tiamat
العربية: تيامات
azərbaycanca: Tiamat
беларуская: Тыямат
български: Тиамат
català: Tiamat
dansk: Tiamat
Deutsch: Tiamat
español: Tiamat
Esperanto: Thiamat
euskara: Tiamat
فارسی: تیامات
français: Tiamat
galego: Tiamat
한국어: 티아마트
hrvatski: Tiamat
Bahasa Indonesia: Tiamat (mitologi)
italiano: Tiāmat
עברית: תיאמת
kurdî: Tîamat
Latina: Tauthe
lietuvių: Tiamat
magyar: Tiámat
Nederlands: Tiamat (godin)
日本語: ティアマト
norsk: Tiamat
polski: Tiamat
português: Tiamat
română: Tiamat
русский: Тиамат
slovenčina: Tiamat
slovenščina: Tiamat
suomi: Tiamat
svenska: Tiamat
Tagalog: Tiamat
українська: Тіамат
中文: 迪亚马特