Updated: Apr 18
About the only connection between Germany and Mesopotamia that comes to my mind is the Mesopotamian collection at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. That is where you can go and be awed by the grandeur of the Ishtar Gate of Babylon, among other quintessential Mesopotamian artifacts.
But the connection between ancient Mesopotamia and Germany goes back a lot farther and deeper than the products of the German archaeological expeditions of the 19th century. The connection involves the foundation of Germany’s oldest city—the city of Trier.
Legend has it that Trier, Treves in English, was settled in 2000 BC by an Assyrian prince.
Not a fan of his queen stepmother
Trebeta was the name of this Assyrian prince. He is only mentioned in the Gesta Treverorum, a collection of records collected first in the 12th century by monks of the St. Matthias Abbey in Trier. The collection includes legends, one of which happens to be the story of Trebeta.
The river Moselle in Trier. Did Trebeta choose to settle there because the river reminded him of the Tigris? Hmm.
The Gesta Treverorum tells us that Trebeta was the son of the Assyrian king Ninus, who was married to Semiramis. When Semiramis, Trebeta’s stepmother, became queen following his father’s death, Trebeta left Assyria and headed to Europe. He wandered through Europe before he settled on the banks of the Moselle river, where he and a handful colonizers built Trier.
Painting depicting Trebeta, 1559. (Source)
Information about what made Trebeta so important to the city’s identity is almost nonexistent, at least online, but it is clear that his image became an icon of Trier during the Middle Ages (see above). One explanation for his significance comes from a scholar who questioned the identity of Trebeta as an Assyrian prince, but credited the mysterious figure, nonetheless, with building settlements in other cities across Germany, including Strasbourg and Worms. Another explanation is this webpage I found that details Trebeta’s pedigree and labels him as “1st King of Treves.”
Whether legend or fact, there is a Mesopotamian-German connection that is older than ancient Rome and deeper than items excavated by German archaeologists.
Sources and further reading:
Gesta Treverorum http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gesta_Treverorum
First king of Treves http://fabpedigree.com/s026/f010265.htm