Re: Marduk = Marut = Marutash ?

From: Francesco Brighenti
Message: 55521
Date: 2008-03-19

Dear Joao,

You always pose some very complicate questions re: linguistic cross-
comparisons between theonyms taken from different civilizations,
cultures, and language families, but yet this one is stimulating and
prompted me to make a specific search for some answer.

--- In, "Joao S. Lopes" <josimo70@...>

> What's the relation between Sumero-Babylonian Marduk, Cassite
> Marutash and Indian Marut? All were Storm or Wind gods, but who
> influenced who?
> Marduk < *Maruta-ka?
> Was Marut a Pre-Indo-Aryan storm god that Proto-Indians adopted
> and assimilated to Indra/Parjanya or Vayu?

1) Let's start from the Marut. As you know, the etymology of this
name is unclear. Attempts at etymologizing it based on IE roots have
stirred many disputes. Traditional Sanskrit etymologies don't fare
better. Yet, I see no compelling reason to regard the Maruts, the
young and wild heavenly companions of Indra (and also closely
associated to Rudra), as non-IE deities. As warrior storm-gods who
bring the heavy rains, they might have represented the heavenly
counterparts of the earthly confraternites of storming-troops of the
Indo-Aryans (the notorious "Indogermanische Männerbünde"!).

2) Marutta$ (common variant Murutta$, rarely Maratta$) is one of the
few Kassite theonyms that can confidently be attributed an Indo-
Iranian origin. The others are buga$ (a title equated with the name
of the Vedic god Bhaga, Avestan Baga) and $uriia$ (name of a solar
deity equated with that of the Vedic Su:rya). Although the Kassites
who invaded Babylonia in the 18th century BCE spoke an unknown
language for which no external relations have been found to date, a
few Kassite words, including the above theonyms, seem to come from
one or more (pre-)Old Indo-Aryan languages they came in contact with
on the eastern Zagros (perhaps the same languages which also
influenced the Hurrians of Mittani). Therefore, yes, it seems very
likely that the Kassite Marutta$ was a god similar in name and
character to the Vedic Marut (pl. Marutas). We also know that
Marutta$ was probably, among other things, a storm-god because
Babylonian sources often equate him with the Smero-Akkadian god
Ninurta. The latter was a complex figure: a youthful god of war and
the hunt; a god of thunder, the south wind, the spring rains and
floods; a god of irrigation (wells, canals) and agriculture (his
symbol was the hoe); finally, a patron of writing and the scribes.
Yet, his also functioning as storm-god is not disputed, so that his
identification with the Kassite Marutta$ at least allows for the
possibility that the latter was a storm-god too (like the Vedic

3) Now, as to the Babylonian supreme god Marduk, I don't think it
likely that his name derives from something like *Maruta-ka (so as
to relate it to Vedic Marut, Kassite Marutta$). Unfortunately, also
in this case, the etymology of the theonym is disputed. It was most
often written with the Sumerian logograph d-AMAR.UTU, and it was
possibly pronounced as <ma-ru-du-uk(-ku)>. The most commonly
suggested Sumerian etymology, "young calf of $ama$ (= UTU)", is
probably erroneous. In any event, Marduk was not specifically a
storm-god; he was, in case, a supreme sky-god, and had many other
functions too. What is intriguing in the light of what I wrote
above, however, is that Marduk probably underwent a process of
syncretization with Ninurta during the Old Babylonian period. Thus,
Marduk with his spade and Ninurta with his hoe were very closely
related in the Babylonian pantheon, at least in the realm of canal
building and similar activities. If one could demonstrate that these
two gods were also related in the storm-bringing function, a case
could be made that Marduk was (perhaps only indirectly) related to
the Kassite Marutta$ too -- yet, hardly as regards the origin of the
respective names!