THESE ARE SOME OF THE EARLIEST DEPICTIONS OF AN ASSYRIAN GENIE...LOOKS LIKE THEY HAVE A GIGANTIC GORGEOUS CANNABIS CALYX COVERED IN TRICHOMES!
SPOILER IT IS NOT...
Scholars suggest that in the Assyrian belief system the idea of the "genie" refers to winged protectors. They can be identified as supernatural beings by their horned helmets and/or wings.
In Neo-Assyrian art these "Genies" as they were long described, are now known to be apkallū, creatures of protection created by the god Enki aka Ea. They traditionally served as advisors to kings.
There are three known types of Genie or apkallū: the human, with wings; the avian-headed, with wings, and the fish-apkallū, with carp skin draped over their heads.
They are buckets, or "sacred pails," that would most likely have held pollen. The figures are holding fir or pine cones in their other hands, which they use to pollinate the nearby sacred trees.
Scholars believe that the shape represents an actual fir or pine cone. Some have questioned whether this represents the pineal gland? The pineal gland is named for its resemblance to a pine cone, but this is a relatively modern medical designation.
New research suggests that this and the other Genie figures are performing a kind of pollination ritual, these objects almost always appear in the hands of supernatural creatures and not humans in Assyrian art.
The ritual depicted would have involved manual pollination of the date palm tree which was necessary for them to bear fruit. Symbolically, the whole scene represents the concept of fertility in general. The palm tree specifically has often been linked iconographically with the sacred tree, an ancient symbol associated with divine power to give life.
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