The German Connection

20 Aug

The Ishtar Gate at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin is not the only Mesopotamian-German connection.

About the only connection between Germany and Mesopotamia that comes to my mind is the Mesopotamian collection at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. That is where you can go and be awed by the grandeur of the Ishtar Gate of Babylon, among other quintessential Mesopotamian artifacts.

But the connection between ancient Mesopotamia and Germany goes back a lot farther and deeper than the products of the German archaeological expeditions of the 19th century. The connection involves the foundation of Germany’s oldest city—the city of Trier.

Legend has it that Trier, Treves in English, was settled in 2000 BC by an Assyrian prince.

Not a fan of his queen stepmother

Trebeta was the name of this Assyrian prince. He is only mentioned in the Gesta Treverorum, a collection of records collected first in the 12th century by monks of the St. Matthias Abbey in Trier. The collection includes legends, one of which happens to be the story of Trebeta.

The river Moselle in Trier. Did Trebeta choose to settle there because the river reminded him of the Tigris? Hmm.

The Gesta Treverorum tells us that Trebeta was the son of the Assyrian king Ninus, who was married to Semiramis. When Semiramis, Trebeta’s stepmother, became queen following his father’s death, Trebeta left Assyria and headed to Europe. He wandered through Europe before he settled on the banks of the Moselle river, where he and a handful colonizers built Trier.


Painting depicting Trebeta, 1559. (Source)

Information about what made Trebeta so important to the city’s identity is almost nonexistent, at least online, but it is clear that his image became an icon of Trier during the Middle Ages (see above). One explanation for his significance comes from a scholar who questioned the identity of Trebeta as an Assyrian prince, but credited the mysterious figure, nonetheless, with building settlements in other cities across Germany, including Strasbourg and Worms. Another explanation is this webpage I found that details Trebeta’s pedigree and labels him as “1st King of Treves.”

Whether legend or fact, there is a Mesopotamian-German connection that is older than ancient Rome and deeper than items excavated by German archaeologists.

Sources and further reading:



Gesta Treverorum



First king of Treves


Posted by on August 20, 2013 in Assyrian, Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 responses to “The German Connection

  1. laura

    August 20, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    Intriguing, but as far as my research takes me, both Ninus and Semiramis are mythological characters and nobody is really sure who in history they are supposed to represent. Some scholars even say that Ninus is Ninurta. And I could be wrong on this but Nineveh existed prior to Babylonia, so it couldn’t have been named after Ninus?


      August 20, 2013 at 10:21 pm

      I apologize, I’m a little confused about your question, because there is nothing in the post that says anything is named after Ninus. But as far as I know, Nineveh is not named after Ninus, but even if it was, the location and names of the capital city of the Assyrian empire were changed over the course of its existence.

      Nonetheless, there is definitely a connection between Germany and Mesopotamia, even if completely based on myth and legend, and it’s intriguing, indeed.

  2. laura

    August 23, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    Please don’t misunderstand me: it’s a great post. I am not surprised to see a connection between Germany and Sumer. I am convinced that Sumerian man traveled and settled far beyond what our scholars imagine.

  3. Ralph Coffman

    December 3, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    Ich bin ein Dusseldorfer ! and now I know the rest of the story… I remember being under the Colosseum in Trier with the rays of the sun coming down through the ground. I wandered down the Mosel to the Deutsche Eck. I stayed for some nights in Ehrenbreitstein Castle overlooking the intersection of the Mosel with the Rhine. I remember gorging on cherries and lovin my live 3-D History Lesson. And what a view.!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: