Egypt: Astarte - Goddess of the battlefield


Astarte was actually a warrior goddess of Canaan and Syria who is a Western Semitic counterpart of the Akkadian Ishtar worshipped in Mesopotamia.

In the Egyptian pantheon to which she was officially admitted during the 18th Dynasty, her prime association is with horses and chariots. On the stela set up near the sphinx by Amenhotep II celebrating his prowess, Astarte is described as delighting in the impressive equestrian skill of the monarch when he was still only crown prince. In her iconography her aggression can be seen in the bull horns she sometimes wears as a symbol of domination. Similarly, in her Levantine homelands, Astarte is a battlefield goddess. For example, when the Peleset (Philistines) killed Saul and his three sons on Mount Gilboa, they deposited the enemy armor as spoils in the temple of "Ashtoreth"

Like Anat, she is the daughter of Re and the wife of the god Seth, but also has a relationship with the god of the sea. From the woefully fragmentary papyrus giving the legend of Astarte and the sea we learn that Yamm, the sea god, demanded tribute from the gods, particularly Renenutet. Her place is then taken by Astarte called, in this aspect, "daughter of Ptah". The story is lost from that point on but one assumes this liaison resulted in the goddess tempering the arrogance of Yamm.

It should also be noted that outside of Egypt, as well as being a warlike goddess, Astarte seems to have had sexual and motherhood attributes.