The name “sirrush”is properly transliterated mûš-ruššû, but early researchers read it as sîr-ruššû, and this is the most commonly known name.
The Sirrush is a dragon of Babylonian and Akkadian mythology, which is pictured on the Ishtar Gate of Babylon. Its name is derived from an Akkadian word roughly translated as “splendor serpent.”
It resembles a dragon with hind legs like an eagle’s talons and forepaws like a lion. The Sirrush also has a long neck and tail, a horned head, a forked tongue and a crest. Sometimes it is even depicted with a small horn.
- German archeologist Robert Koldewey, who discovered the Ishtar Gate 1902, seriously considered the notion that the sirrush was real. He argued that its depiction in Babylonian art was consistent over many centuries, while those of mythological creatures changed, sometimes drastically, over the years. He also noted that the sirrush is shown on the Ishtar Gate alongside real animals, the lion and the rimi (aurochs), leading him to speculate the sirrush was a creature the Babylonians were familiar with.
- Adrienne Mayor argues that ancient civilizations often took great care in excavating, transporting and reassembling fossils, raising the possibility that it represents a Babylonian reconstruction of sauropod remains. The griffin and other mythical creatures may have been based on similar reconstructions by this reasoning. However, Willy Ley wrote that, as of the late 1950’s, no fossil beds are known around Mesopotamia. Others have noted a resemblance to monitor lizards, speculating that Babylonians may have seen or captured monitors and based the sirrush upon them.
- Willy Ley suggested that the sirrush could be based on an animal that the Babylonians have heard of but that did not live in Mesopotamia. Ley proposed that since bricks of a similar type that those of the Ishtar Gate have been found around Africa, this means the Babylonians could have heard of or seen the animal somewhere else in Africa. The cryptozoologist Bernard Heuvelmans notes that the sirrush was similar to a type of dinosaur, the sauropods. Heuvelmans then suggested that the sirrush of the Ishtar gate and the persisting rumours of sauropod-like surviving dinosaurs in Central Africa, for example Mokele Mbembe is related, and that the sirrush is based on actual unknown reptiles living in Central Africa at that time and that may still be alive.