Possible Linkage between the Aztec/Mayan deity Quetzal Coatl and the "Genie" in the Temple of Ashurnasirpal II

This document is to identify possible linkage between the Meso American cultures of Peru and Mesopotamian cultures. I believe I have discovered similarities between a hieroglyph of Quetzal Coatl (an Aztec god) and wall reliefs from the Temple of Ashurnasirpal II (an Assyrian King).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City contains an exquisite collection (from the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Gallery) of magnificent wall reliefs in the Islamic Art wing from the Temple of Ashurnasirpal II. This temple was a part of the Kingdom of Assyria at Nimrud in northern Mesopotamia circa 850 BC.

Each time I visit New York I make a special trip (via the Monkey) to this wonderful museum, as I am particularly fond of these stelae, and fascinated by this period of our history. Each time I examine these reliefs I am struck by the power and authority with which they were carved. These imposing monuments are ten feet tall and cover the surrounding walls of the gallery. Documentation refers to these figures as "winged Genies" or "deities with wings".

Beginning with the reign of Ashurnasirpal II, Assyrian kings decorated the lower portions of their palace walls with monumental alabaster reliefs. These reliefs show the king performing the official duties of an Assyrian ruler: fighting, hunting lions, governing, overseeing the crops, and participating in religious rituals. What I have included below are photos of a Genie holding what resembles to be a pail or pouch (fig. 1). According to scholars, the pail or pouch (containing either incense or "liquids") is used in ritual purification having to do with the "Tree of Life" - a central Assyrian icon in their religion (more on this later). The deity also holds what looks like a "pine cone" in its other hand (upon close examination the object does indeed resemble a pine cone).

(Fig. 1) A "winged Genie" from the temple of Ashurnasirpal II. He holds a "pine cone" in his right hand and an "incense pouch" in his left. (Fig. 2) Another "winged Genie" holding the incense pouch.

A long cuneiform (Persian/Assyrian/Sumerian writing) text appears across the center of this and other scenes from Ashurnasirpal II's palace. This "Standard Inscription" recounts the major events in the illustrious reign of the self-proclaimed "King of the World." I have included a second image of yet another deity from the same Temple holding an identical object (Fig. 2).

 

Here's where it gets interesting...

Recently I was researching the deity Quetzal Coatl (the "plumed serpent" god of the Aztecs) and found a startling glyph depicting this "pale, bearded god" holding the very item the "Genies" hold on the wall reliefs at the Temple of Ashurnasirpal II. I was dumbstruck at this similarity, and also observed that Quetzal Coatl was wearing what appears to be a "bird-like" head piece as well (Fig.3)!

(Fig. 3) A relief of Quetzal Coatl. He sits in the lap of a Serpent, and holds a "wand" in his left hand, and the now familiar "incense pouch" in his right.

Compare this to the above images, particularly to Fig.1, where the Genie is wearing the mask of a "bird".

How could such similarities exist between cultures thousands of miles apart from each other? In addition to this, one may note that the Aztec, Mayan, Inca and Toltec pyramids/temple complexes and Mesopotamian Ziggurats (stepped pyramids) are similar in composition and construction (more on THIS later as well). In his book "The Lost Realms" the scholar Zecharia Sitchin does some impressive research to suggest that perhaps the Olmecs and Toltecs (descendants of the Maya and Inca) of Peru and Mexico had Semetic origins, which would perhaps explain this curiosity.

If the same "gods" who brought the knowledge of mathematics, writing, music, astronomy and the arts to the Sumerians (the "first" civilization of Mesopotamia who appeared out of nowhere replete with a comprehensive social structure) had counterparts in Meso America, these "similarities" would be less perplexing. Currently, there is no explanation.

 

Where and when?

So just exactly where is Mesopotamia? As you can see from this map, Mesopotamia is the stretch of land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in what is now Iraq and Iran. The city of Nimrud is located several miles of the Biblical Niniveh.

 

O.K., so what about the Aztec/Maya? Here is a map of Mexico, showing some of the ancient sites.

Further research and scholarly assistance will be required to complete this study.

 

More detailed stuff (for those of you interested...)

 

The Tree of Life

Here we see various wall reliefs of the same "Genies". One deity holds the now familiar incense/liquid filled bucket in one hand and in the other a spathe (leaflike sheath for the flowers) of the date palm. He is tending the Tree of Life, a symbol of vegetal life and fertility. The other Genie tends the tree with his bare hands. This Tree of Life is central to Assyrian religion and culture. I think (and this is PURELY SPECULATIVE at this point) that there may a connection with the Assyrian Tree of Life and the Biblical "Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil".

More on this as I investigate.

Human headed winged bull - guardian of the Ishtar gate at the palace of Ashurnasirpal II. The statue has five legs, when viewed from the front it stands firmly guarding the doorway, when viewed from the side, it strides forward. It wears the horned cap of divinity and a belt possesing super human powers.

Tony Garone
12/24/1999