What kind of being was Huwawa?

  • Humbaba was the guardian of the Cedar Forest and was fought by Gilgamesh.

    Some say Humbaba is a monstrous giant and some say he was a dangerous mechanical monster (like a robot).

    For example in Flying Serpents and Dragons by R. A. Boulay we can read:

    enter image description here

    Is it true that he was a robot? If it's not, what kind of being he/it was?

    I just laughed so hard that coffee snorted up my nose. I was a bit uncredulous at "launch platform" but "rocket preparation building at Baalbek" and "launch tower" sounds like serious business. Is this meant persiflage that textual interpretation may be *a little* arbitrary? Boats seems like a more probable interpretation. This comment is meant to serve discoverability, because images are hardly accessible to search engines.

  • Piper

    Piper Correct answer

    7 years ago

    Clay Mask of Huwawa

    Clay mask of the demon Huwawa, The British Museum. From Sippar, southern Iraq, about 1800-1600 BC.

    Huwawa was a demonic creature, of neither mortal nor godly origin, created by Enlil to guard the forest of Lebanon :

    I never knew a mother who bore me, nor a father who brought me up! I was born in the mountains...

    He is described in The Epic of Gilgamesh, tablet 2, as:

    Humbaba's roar is a flood, his mouth is death and his breath is fire! He can hear a hundred leagues away any [rustling?] in his forest!

    He was not, however, a mechanical creature such as a robot, as such things did not exist in Ancient Mesopotamia. He had human characteristics, and a physical body which Gilgamesh could capture:

    they pulled out his insides including his tongue.

    (tablet 5, The Epic of Gilgamesh)


    Huwawa bared his teeth at him [...] He tied up his arms like a captured man [...] Huwawa sat down and began to weep, shedding tears...

    He is also easily slayed by Enkidu:

    Enkidu, full of rage and anger, cut his throat...

    Furthermore, Enlil adds further evidence to Huwawa's mortal characteristics when, upset by Huwawa's death, he cries out:

    He should have eaten the bread that you eat, and should have drunk the water that you drink.

    (all quotes from Gilgamesh and Huwawa unless mentioned)

    He appears, then, to be a monstrous but mortal creature. Parallels have been drawn between the stories of Huwawa and Medusa(1), because of their similarities of a hero beheading a demonic creature.


    1. Clark Hopkins, "Assyrian elements in the Perseus–Gorgon story," American Journal of Archaeology 38 (1934:341-ff)

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM