Pine Cones in Ancient Mesopotamia

22 Oct

With the holiday season coming up and those bags of cinnamon-scented pine cones hitting store shelves soon, I think it would make a great topic of conversation at your next holiday party to explore the significance of pine cones in Mesopotamian mythology and art.

Pine cones are symbolic in that they are where the life cycle of a pine tree begins, and conversely, where new life begins.

Many reliefs excavated at Mesopotamian sites depict gods or super beings holding a bucket in one hand and a pine cone in the other. It is clear that the pine cone was dipped into the bucket and used to sprinkle a substance, sometimes blood, as in this depiction of Tammuz, a winged Babylonian deity associated with regeneration:


Pine cones are representative of continuing life, and Tammuz represents regeneration.


The pine cone and bucket depiction was not reserved to deities. Super beings, genii, which are like gargoyles in that they ward off evil spirits with people as well as buildings are also depicted holding pine cones in Mesopotamian art. This Blessing Genius stood guard at the gate of the city of Khorsabad, providing protection and blessings to those who walked through the city’s gates:


The pine cone is used by the genii to sprinkle water on passersby, to bless them.


For further information on pine cones and their significance, here are the amazing links we used to prepare this piece:


Posted by on October 22, 2011 in Assyrian, Mythology


Tags: , , , , ,

4 responses to “Pine Cones in Ancient Mesopotamia

  1. tskraghu

    October 22, 2011 at 1:19 am

    V interesting!

    • AllMesopotamia

      October 24, 2011 at 3:18 am

      It is very interesting, indeed. Just imagine how much we take for granted that is so significant in ancient history and art. Glad to have piqued your interest, and I hope you will continue to find all our posts and links as interesting!

  2. aarongraham

    October 22, 2011 at 2:09 am

    Facinating…I mean that! I’m a writer of fiction and I just might have to use this “Pine Cone” angle in one of my scenes.

    • AllMesopotamia

      October 24, 2011 at 3:17 am

      It is wonderful to know that this post has inspired you in this way! I look forward to your fiction, especially the scene that will contain the pine cone. Best of luck, and thank you for your lovely feedback.


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