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Anat: Warrior Virgin of the Ancient Levant

By Johanna H. Stuckey

Young and impetuous Anat was one of the great goddesses of the ancient Levant, the area now occupied by Israel, Transjordan, and Syria. In mythic poems from the ancient city of Ugarit on the coast of Syria, she had a very active role, but the other important source for the polytheistic religion of the area, the Hebrew Bible, almost ignores her. Anat may once have been worshipped throughout the Levant, although she was probably more important in the north than in the south. However, by the Late Bronze Age (1550-1200 BCE), to judge from Ugarit, her cult seems to have begun to die out even in the north, as her attributes and functions were slowly taken over by other great goddesses.

According to Ugaritic poems dated to the latter part of Bronze Age (about 2000-1200 BCE), Anat was certainly a warrior goddess. Like Hindu Kali, she suspended severed hands and heads about her person and exulted in battle:

Anat’s soul was exuberant,
as she plunged knee-deep in the soldiers’ blood,
up to her thighs in the warriors’ gore …

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