Ritual of Tammuz

Ritual of Tammuz

Each fall when it was time to sow the grain, the Assyrian women did a special ritual to appease the god, Tammuz, who was the god of corn and also of life, death, and rebirth. They wept to mourn the death of Tammuz, then threw corn seeds into the ground to die.

This a relief carved into stone showing Assyrians celebrating. They played music and marched in processions. Maybe they did this during rituals like the ritual of Tammuz too.  Public domain.

Of course, the corn didn’t really die. They were actually planting the seeds. In their minds, Tammuz blessed them by coming back to life as corn year after year, providing them with food.

Growing Grain Exploration

You can sow corn too. Just find a patch of ground and bury a few corn seeds. You may need to water them a bit, but you should see corn plants coming up within a couple of weeks.

Learn about Ancient Assyrian beliefs with this hands-on history exploration for kids.
This is American corn or maize. Ancient Assyrians called any grains like barley or wheat “corn.” They would not have had maize as it is an American grain.  However, it grows pretty easily from seed and is readily available, so for the purposes of this exploration, it works well.

Additional Layers

  • Why fall?  Unlike more moderate climates, which have cold winters, the Middle East has unbelievable heat in summer.  Learn about the desert climate in this part of the world.
  • When you read about corn in ancient times the word really means grain.  Corn, as in the kind that grows on a cob, is from the Americas and was unknown to ancient Asian and European people.  What kinds of grain would the Assyrians have had?  You can still plant corn seeds though, any kind of grain will do.
  • Learn about seeds and exactly what they need to sprout and grow?  Try planting the same type of seeds under different conditions.  See what works and what doesn’t.
  • Where was the ancient Kingdom of Assyria?  Color it in on a map of the Middle East.  Add a few of the major cities as well.

More From Layers of Learning

This exploration is from Layers of Learning Unit 1-8, one of our ancient history units.  You’ll find tons more information and activities about the ancient Assyrian people in the unit.  You might also enjoy our state scattergories game, these beautiful travel diaries, a free printable travel brochure.  And if you haven’t visited our curriculum guide and our catalog, you can learn lots about Layers of Learning and how it can transform your homeschool from either of those pages.



  1. Yep, in the Additional Layers at the bottom of the post we mention that. But American corn is the easiest grain to obtain and plant seeds so we still used it in this activity.

  2. Well, the grain spoke on the bible can not be corn because corn was only found in Americas. Christopher Colombus found it Cuba and exported to Europe. The grain use in the Bible was wheat or barley.

    Archeological evidence shows fossils of wild corn 200 feet under Mexican soil.

    If you notice, corn is not a principal grain in the middle east.

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