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Tammuz, alabaster relief from Ashur, c. 1500 BC; in the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, —Foto Marburg/Art Resource, New York
Mesopotamian god of fertility. He was the son of Enki, god of water, and Duttur, a personification of the ewe. Worship of Tammuz was centered around two yearly festivals, one in the early spring in which his marriage to the goddess Inanna symbolized the fertilization of nature for the coming year, and one in summer when his death at the hands of demons was lamented. He is thought to be the precursor of several later deities associated with agriculture and fertility, including Ninsun, Damu, and Dumuzi-Abzu.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Tammuz, visit Britannica.com.