Statuette of a seated god


ʼĒl (also ‘Il, Ugaritic: 𐎛𐎍 ʾīlu; Phoenician: 𐤀𐤋 ʾīl; Hebrew: אֵל ʾēl; Syriac: ܐܺܝܠ ʾīyl;
Arabic: إل ʾīl or إله ʾilāh; cognate to Akkadian: 𒀭, romanized: ilu) is a  word meaning “god” or “deity”, or referring (as a proper name) to any one of multiple major ancient Near Eastern deities. A rarer form, ‘ila, represents the predicate form in Old Akkadian and in Amorite and it’s the word  meaning “god”.
Until Claude F. A. Schaefer began excavating in 1929 at Ras Shamra in Northern Syria (the site historically known as Ugarit), and the discovery of its Bronze Age archive of clay tablets written in an alphabetical cuneiform, modern scholars knew little about Canaanite religion, as few records have survived. Until that date, all of our knowledge about the Canaanite – Phoenician religion was based on the stories from the Bible.
The Ugaritic texts provide valuable insights into the religious beliefs and practices of the Canaanites during the Late Bronze Age. They highlight El’s significance as the chief god of the Ugaritic pantheon and shed light on the complex dynamics between the gods and their interactions within the divine realm.
One of the most well-known Ugaritic texts involving El is the Baal cycle, which recounts the epic adventures of the storm god Baal. In this cycle, El serves as the father of Baal and other gods, acting as a patron and overseer of their actions.
El is depicted as dwelling on Mount Lel and presiding over the divine assembly of gods. He is often seen sitting on his throne, wearing a horned headdress symbolizing his divine authority. The texts mention that El possesses the power to grant or withhold rain, fertility, and prosperity.
El’s consort in the Ugaritic texts is the goddess Asherah, who is often referred to as his wife. Together, they are portrayed as the divine couple, embodying the creative and generative forces of the universe.
Throughout the Ugaritic texts, El’s authority and power are recognized and respected by the other gods. He is often consulted for guidance and decisions, acting as the ultimate arbiter in divine matters. El’s role as the head of the pantheon reinforces his status as the supreme deity in Ugaritic mythology.

  • Site: Ugarit

  • Date: 1300- 1400 BC

  • Material: Bronze

  • Item Dimensions:

  • Archaeological Mission:

  • National Museum Of Aleppo (2011) – Museum Number: Aleppo

  • Index Code: Alp 0183

Excavation Site Location

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