This study investigates the role of goats in the myths and folklore of various Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) cultures. Images in artefacts, and metaphors or direct reference to goats in texts (the primary sources in this study) from the geographic area of Mesopotamia, Sumer, Akkad, Anatolia and Ancient Iran (Elam) were studied. Secondary sources provided the context within which the sources occurred. Where images and references to goats occurred, their meaning and relationship to belief systems or their underlying ‘motifs’ within the ANE cultures are identified, categorised and discussed. This study shows that aside from the important utilitarian function of goats in the ANE, their use in rituals and symbolism has provided us with several motifs related to goats that are still in use today. These include the motifs of fertility, intelligence and craftiness.
Part of the book: Goats (Capra)