IN THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST, KINGSHIP AND TEMPLE-BUILDING WENT HAND IN HAND. THE KING—BELIEVED TO BE THE SERVANT OF THE GODS AND THE CONDUIT THROUGH WHICH THE GODS INTERACTED WITH THE PEOPLE—WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE HOUSE OF THE NATIONAL DEITY.* A MONARCH’S FULFILLMENT OF THIS SACRED DUTY CONVEYED THAT HIS RULE WAS LEGITIMATE.
Divine and Political Favor
It was customary for a newly crowned king, especially a usurper, to celebrate his ascension by building or refurbishing a temple for the deity who had helped him acquire his throne. According to Assyriologist Thorkild Jacobsen, building a temple was partly intended to ensure the deity’s continued presence:
Like a human dwelling, the temple was the place where the owner could be found. Its presence among the houses of the human community was a visible assurance that the god was present and available.**
The presence of the divine guaranteed the king’s throne as…
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