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Nov 21, 2016
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So I saw the Bronze Age mod and decided to read up on it, specifically the culture and religion of the Ancient Mesopotamians and found this. Pertinent to this discussion is this line:

Nevertheless, although predominantly Christian, a minority of Assyrians still held onto their ancient Mesopotamian religion until as late as the 10th or 11th century AD.

So since the Ancient peoples of Assyria survived in some form till the game's timeframe I was hoping they could be included. There is a lot of information available on this religion so we could assign it some tenets and doctrines.

High God: Ashur/Enlil
Gods: Anu, Ea, Shamash, Ninurta, Ishtar, Ereshkigal
Evil Gods: Tiamat

Tenets: Astrology, Sacred Childbirth, Ritual Celebration/Bhakti
Doctrines: Male Dominated, Pluralist, Theocratic Clerics, No Head of Faith, Monogamous, Always Allowed, No Legitimization, Cousin Marriage, Same Sex Relations Shunned, Adultery Criminal, Deviancy Criminal, Accepted Witchcraft, Familial Kinslaying Criminal, Clerical Alms and Pacification, Either Clerical Gender, Clergy can Marry, Clerical Appointment Spiritual/Revocable.

Virtues: Just, Honest, Humble
Sins: Arbitrary, Deceitful, Proud

The tenets and virtues/sins I took from this article. It states that Ancient Assyrians engaged in divination, celebrated each child as a gift from the gods and picked personal gods to venerate. The ritual celebration aspect comes from their worship of Ishtar though players can create a cult if they want of her only with Carnal Exaltation. The virtues come from the writings that say what a king should be like and are probably applicable to the regular believers as well. As for the doctrines, I based the marriage and adultery rules like so based on the fact that marriage was a formal affair between families and premarital sex was a sin for both parties so it stands to reason that adultery would be as well. I guessed the rest to make it a little unique.
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Even if an Ancient Assyrian religion was added to the game to represent the small holdouts of the faith in the Middle East, there's one major problem: the piety requirements for converting to an unreformed pagan faith pretty much make it impossible for extinct pagan faiths to be resurrected: as of right not, that makes it pretty much impossible for Zunism or Hellenism to be resurrected, so the same would apply to Ancient Assyrian religion as well. As such, unless you can name county-sized regions of the map where Mesopotamian paganism would've still been the majority religion, I really cannot see the faith being implemented, given that otherwise, the religion's impact on the actual gameplay would be negligible.

Off the top of my head, the location most often brought up when discussing adding Mesopotamian paganism is Harran, which has become its own county: however, much like with the Hellenic Maniots, the city of Harran is just one barony in the greater county of Harran, and the population of the surrounding settlements like Tall Mahra and Saruj likely outnumbered the polytheists in Harran, much like how the Hellenic Maniots were a minority in the county of Laconia. Same goes for Mardin, which according to some forum users had polytheists all the way up to 1700s, but is a part the county of Upper Khabur alongside Ras al-Ain and Kafartuth, who would've outnumbered the polytheistic population of Mardin.
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What I would do if I wanted to make this mod would be to just download another mod about ancient religions, I know there are a few out there, and then just add Assyrian to that. I think there was an ancient religion mod that had some event like you find an ancient artifact or meet a wise man in the desert and then you could adopt that religion. I agree that reviving the Assyrian religion would be unbelievably difficult, but that is all part of the fun. The rise of a powerful Greek, Hellenistic kingdom in Afghanistan 4000 km away from the Greek homeland seems ludicrous if you didn't know it already happened.
High God: Ashur/Enlil
Gods: Anu, Ea, Shamash, Ninurta, Ishtar, Ereshkigal
Evil Gods: Tiamat
Enlil was more or less absorbed into Ashur or 'Bel' (Marduk) since the Kassite period. I'd also add Suen/Sin (the Moon God, father of Ishtar, Shamash, and Adad), and Adad to the Gods list and Hanbi (God of Evil Forces, father of Humbaba and Pazuzu) and Lamashtu (a goddess, demigoddess, or demon who plagued women during childbirth) to the Evil Gods list.

Tenets: Astrology, Sacred Childbirth, Ritual Celebration/Bhakti
Astrology is good, given the extreme emphasis they put on omens and divination practices. Though, if you're aiming for a more classic Assyrian religion you definitely need Warmonger, but if you're trying to represent the de-politicized religion of the Medieval period then the other two are as good as any. Though one could also make a strong case for Communal Identity given the nature of the city-god.

Doctrines: Male Dominated, Pluralist,
Male Dominated fits, though if we were talking about Sumerian or earlier Akkadian it'd arguably be a different story. Pluralist is good for the Medieval faith, but it would probably be Righteous or even Fundamentalist for the Neo-Assyrian period.
No Head of Faith
Again, good for the Medieval period, but for earlier one's you can argue that the King of Assyria would've counted as the head of faith.

Technically accurate. It was generally accepted that if your wife didn't bear you a child you could take on a concubine if you didn't divorce your wife. But it's a bit difficult to limit it to one concubine though...and it's be breaking immersion to see everyone who isn't the King with a ton of concubines.

Same Sex Relations Shunned
Probably accurate. Don't really know how homosexuals were treated outside specific religious contexts where it was considered religious devotion.

Adultery Criminal,
This is tricky, since while sleeping with another man's wife was illegal (though, depends on whether the man knows or not it might just be the woman punished), sleeping with an unmarried woman or prostitute was considered perfectly acceptable. Probably best to just leave it as criminal...

Virtues: Just, Honest, Humble
These are good, though if possible I would've put Vengeful up there with Just since they're heavily tied together in that world-view.
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