Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

  • Fredsvenn:


    The Fertile Crescent is a term for an old fertile area north, east and west of the Arabian Desert in Southwest Asia. The Mesopotamian valley and the Nile valley fall under this term even though the mountain zone around Mesopotamia is the natural zone for the transition in a historical sense.

    As a result of a number of unique geographical factors the Fertile Crescent have an impressive history of early human agricultural activity and culture. Besides the numerous archaeological sites with remains of skeletons and cultural relics the area is known primarily for its excavation sites linked to agricultural origins and development of the Neolithic era.

    It was here, in the forested mountain slopes of the periphery of this area, that agriculture originated in an ecologically restricted environment. The western zone and areas around the upper Euphrates gave growth to the first known Neolithic farming communities with small, round houses , also referred to as Pre Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) cultures, which dates to just after 10,000 BC and include areas such as Jericho, the world’s oldest city.

    During the subsequent PPNB from 9000 BC these communities developed into larger villages with farming and animal husbandry as the main source of livelihood, with settlement in the two-story, rectangular house. Man now entered in symbiosis with grain and livestock species, with no opportunity to return to hunter – gatherer societies.

    The area west and north of the plains of the Euphrates and Tigris also saw the emergence of early complex societies in the much later Bronze Age (about 4000 BC). There is evidence of written culture and early state formation in this northern steppe area, although the written formation of the states relatively quickly shifted its center of gravity into the Mesopotamian valley and developed there. The area is therefore in very many writers been named “The Cradle of Civilization.”

    The area has experienced a series of upheavals and new formation of states. When Turkey was formed in the aftermath of the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians perpetrated by the Young Turks during the First World War it is estimated that two-thirds to three-quarters of all Armenians and Assyrians in the region died, and the Pontic Greeks was pushed to Greece.

    Israel was created out of the Ottoman Empire and the conquering of the Palestinian terretories. The existence of large Arab nation states from the Maghreb to the Levant has since represented a potential threat to Israel which should be neutralised when opportunities arise.

    This line of thinking was at the heart of David Ben Gurion’s policies in the 1950s which sought to exacerbate tensions between Christians and Muslims in the Lebanon for the fruits of acquiring regional influence by the dismembering the country and the possible acquisition of additional territory.

    The Christians are now being systematically targeted for genocide in Syria according to Vatican and other sources with contacts on the ground among the besieged Christian community.

    According to reports by the Vatican’s Fides News Agency collected by the Centre for the Study of Interventionism, the US-backed Free Syrian Army rebels and ever more radical spin-off factions are sacking Christian churches, shooting Christians dead in the street, broadcasting ultimatums that all Christians must be cleansed from the rebel-held villages, and even shooting priests.

    It is now time that the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians is being recognized, that the Israeli occupation, settlements and violence against the Palestinians stop, and that the various minorities in the area start to live their lifes in peace – without violence and threats from majority populations, or from the West, and then specificially from the US.

    War in the Fertile Crescent
    http://aratta.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/war-in-the-fertile-crescent
    ---
    Everyone is free to use the text on this blog as they want. There is no copyright etc. This because knowledge is more important than rules and regulations.

    All the texts are published under Creative Common-license [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.no Navngivelse-DelPåSammeVilkår 3.0]

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    Sjur C. Papazian

    Sjur C. Papazian

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  • Transformasjon

  • Sumerian statues

  • Pendant from Mari (modern Tell Hariri, Syria)

  • Sørvest Asia – før og nå

    Den fruktbare halvmåne er en betegnelse på et gammelt fruktbart område nord, øst og vest for den arabiske ørken i Sørvest-Asia. Mesopotamia-dalen og Nil-dalen kommer inn under dette begrepet selv om det i fjellsonen rundt Mesopotamia en naturlig avgrensning i jordbrukshistorisk forstand.

    Som resultat av en rekke unike geografiske faktorer har Den fruktbare halvmåne en imponerende historie av tidlig menneskelig jordbruksaktivitet og kulturdanning. Foruten mange arkeologiske funnsteder med rester av skjeletter og kulturelle levninger så er området først og fremst kjent for dets funnsteder knyttet til jordbrukets opprinnelse og utvikling i den neolittiske tidsalder.

    Det var her, i de skogkledde fjellskråningene i randsonen av dette området, at jordbruket oppsto i et økologisk avgrenset miljø. Den vestlige sonen og områdene rundt øvre Eufrat ga vekst til de første kjente neolittiske jordbruks-samfunnene med små, runde hus, også referert til som førkeramisk neolittisk A, som dateres til like etter 10.000 f.vt. og omfatter steder som Jeriko, som er verdens eldste by.

    Under den påfølgende PPNB fra 9 000 f.vt. utviklet disse samfunnene seg til større landsbyer med dyrking og husdyrhold som viktigste levevei, med tett bebyggelse i to-etasjers, rektangulære hus. Mennesket inngikk nå i symbiose med korn- og husdyrartene, uten mulighet til å vende tilbake til jeger- og sankersamfunnet.

    Området vest og nord for slettelandet ved Eufrat og Tigris så også framveksten av tidlige komplekse samfunn i den langt senere bronsealderen (fra ca 4 000 f.vt.). Det er også tidlige bevis for skriftkultur og tidlige statsdannelser fra samme tid i dette nordlige steppeområdet, selv om de skriftlige statsdannelsene relativt raskt flyttet sitt tyngdepunkt ned i Mesopotamia-dalen og utviklet seg der. Området har derfor hos svært mange forfattere fått betegnelsen «sivilisasjonens vugge».

    Området har opplevd en rekke omveltninger, og nye stasdannelser. Nå sist da staten Tyrkia ble dannet i etterkant av ungtyrkernes folkemord på blant annet de pontiske grekere, armenere og assyrere under den første verdenskrig. Det antas at to tredeler til tre firedeler av alle armenere i regionen døde.

    Det er nå på tide at folkemordet mot de pontiske grekere, assyrere og armenere anerkjennes, at Israels okkupasjon, bosetting og vold palestinerne opphører, samt at de ulike minoritetene i området får leve sine livi fred - uten vold og trusler fra majoritetsbefolkninger eller fra Vesten, og da spesifikt USA.

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The history of the evil eye

Posted by Fredsvenn on September 21, 2014

A Ruby Eye Pendant from an ancient civilization in Mesopotamia

was possibly used as amulet to protect against evil eyes.

Nazars, charms used to ward off the evil eye.

The evil eye is a curse believed to be cast by a malevolent glare, usually given to a person when they are unaware. Many cultures believe that receiving the evil eye will cause misfortune or injury. Talismans created to protect against the evil eye are also frequently called “evil eyes”.

The idea expressed by the term causes many different cultures to pursue protective measures against it. The concept and its significance vary widely among different cultures, primarily the Middle East. The idea appears several times in translations of the Old Testament. It was a widely extended belief among many Mediterranean and Asian tribes and cultures. Charms and decorations featuring the eye are a common sight across Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan and have become a popular choice of souvenir with tourists.

Belief in the evil eye exists in the Middle East, Latin America, East and West Africa, Central America, South Asia, Central Asia, and Europe, especially the Mediterranean region; it has also spread to areas, including northern Europe, particularly in the Celtic regions, and the Americas, where it was brought by European colonists and Middle Eastern immigrants.

Belief in the evil eye dates back to Classical antiquity. It is referenced by Hesiod, Callimachus, Plato, Diodorus Siculus, Theocritus, Plutarch, Heliodorus, Pliny the Elder, and Aulus Gellius. Peter Walcot’s Envy and the Greeks (1978) listed more than one hundred works by these and other authors mentioning the evil eye.

Evil Eye

Witchcraft

Black Magic

Evil

Magic

Amulet

Eye of Horus

Sympathetic Magic

Talisman

Turkish Talisman (Evil Eyes)

A Belief in The Evil Eye

Evil Eye Languages

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English: Evil Eye, Evil Eyes, All Seeing Eye

French: Mauvais Oeil, Oeil

German: Bose Blick

Irish: Droch shuil

Italian: Malocchio, La Jettatura

Mexican: Ojo De Venado

Spanish: Mal Ojo

Roman: Oculus Malus

Indian: Drishtidosham Third Eye of Budda

Hebrew: Ayin Horea

Greek: Baskania

Egyptian: Eye of Horus

Arabic: Ayin Harsha

Turkish: Nazar, Goz

Armenian: Gabuyt Achk Kapoot Achk

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Asherah pole and Irminsul – mighty pillar

Posted by Fredsvenn on September 20, 2014

Asherah pole

Ancient monoliths in Mawphlang sacred grove, India

An Asherah pole is a sacred tree or pole that stood near Canaanite religious locations to honor the Ugaritic mother-goddess Asherah, consort of El. The relation of the literary references to an asherah and archaeological finds of Judaean pillar-figurines has engendered a literature of debate.

The asherim were also cult objects related to the worship of the fertility goddess Asherah, the consort of either Ba’al or, as inscriptions from Kuntillet ‘Ajrud and Khirbet el-Qom attest, Yahweh, and thus objects of contention among competing cults

The insertion of “pole” begs the question by setting up unwarranted expectations for such a wooden object: “we are never told exactly what it was”, observes John Day. Though there was certainly a movement against goddess-worship at the Jerusalem Temple in the time of King Josiah, it did not long survive his reign, as the following four kings “did what was evil in the eyes of Yahweh” (2 Kings 23:32, 37; 24:9, 19).

Further exhortations came from Jeremiah. The traditional interpretation of the Biblical text is that the Israelites imported pagan elements such as the Asherah poles from the surrounding Canaanites. In contrast, some modern scholars instead theorize that the Israelite folk religion was always polytheistic, and it was the prophets and priests who denounced the Asherah poles who were the innovators; such theories inspire ongoing debate.

Some biblical archaeologists have suggested that until the 6th century BC the Israelite peoples had household shrines, or at least figurines, of Asherah, which are strikingly common in the archaeological remains.

Asherim are mentioned in the Hebrew Bible in the books of Exodus, Deuteronomy, Judges, the Books of Kings, the second Book of Chronicles, and the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Micah. The term often appears as merely Asherah referred to as “groves” in the King James Version, which follows the Septuagint, and the Vulgate lucus, and “poles” in the New Revised Standard Version. No word that may be translated as “poles” appears in the text.

Scholars have indicated, however, that the plural use of the term (Asherahs, also Asherim or Asherot) provides ample evidence that reference is being made to objects of worship rather than a transcendent figure.

The Hebrew Bible suggests that the poles were made of wood. In the sixth chapter of the Book of Judges, God is recorded as instructing the Israelite judge Gideon to cut down an Asherah pole that was next to an altar to Baal. The wood was to be used for a burnt offering.

Deuteronomy 16:21 states that YHWH (rendered as “the LORD”) hated Asherim whether rendered as poles: “Do not set up any [wooden] Asherah [pole] beside the altar you build to the LORD your God” or as living trees: “You shall not plant any tree as an Asherah beside the altar of the Lord your God which you shall make”.

That Asherahs were not always living trees is shown in 1 Kings 14:23: “their asherim , beside every luxuriant tree”. However, the record indicates that the Jewish people often departed from this ideal. For example, King Manasseh placed an Asherah pole in the Holy Temple (2 Kings 21:7). King Josiah’s reforms in the late 7th century BC included the destruction of many Asherah poles (2 Kings 23). Exodus 34:13 states: “Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles.”

Irminsul

An Irminsul (Old Saxon, probably “great/mighty pillar” or “arising pillar”) was a kind of pillar which is attested as playing an important role in the Germanic paganism of the Saxon people.

The oldest chronicle describing an Irminsul refers to it as a tree trunk erected in the open air. The purpose of the Irminsuls and the implications thereof have been the subject of considerable scholarly discourse and speculation for hundreds of years.

A Germanic god Irmin, inferred from the name Irminsul and the tribal name Irminones, is sometimes presumed to have been the national god or demi-god of the Saxons. It has been suggested that Irmin was more probably an aspect or epithet of some other deity – most likely Wodan (Odin).

Irmin might also have been an epithet of the god Ziu (Tyr) in early Germanic times, only later transferred to Odin, as certain scholars subscribe to the idea that Odin replaced Tyr as the chief Germanic deity at the onset of the Migration Period. This was the favored view of early 20th century Nordicist writers, but it is not generally considered likely in modern times.

The Old Norse form of Irmin is Jörmunr, which just like Yggr was one of the names of Odin. Yggdrasil (“Yggr’s horse”) was the yew or ash tree from which Odin sacrificed himself, and which connected the nine worlds.

Jakob Grimm connects the name Irmin with Old Norse terms like iörmungrund (“great ground”, i.e. the Earth) or iörmungandr (“great snake”, i.e. the Midgard serpent).

In Tacitus’ Germania, the author mentions rumors of what he describes as “Pillars of Hercules” in land inhabited by the Frisii that had yet to be explored. Connections have been proposed between these “Pillars of Hercules” and later accounts of the Irminsuls. Hercules was probably frequently identified with Thor by the Romans due to the practice of interpretatio romana.

Comparisons have been made between the Irminsul and the Jupiter Columns that were erected along the Rhine in Germania around CE 2 and 3. Scholarly comparisons were once made between the Irminsul and the Jupiter Columns; however, Rudolf Simek states that the columns were of Gallo-Roman religious monuments, and that the reported location of the Irminsul in Eresburg does not fall within the area of the Jupiter Column archaeological finds.

According to the Royal Frankish Annals (772AD), during the Saxon wars, Charlemagne is repeatedly described as ordering the destruction of the chief seat of their religion, an Irminsul. The Irminsul is described as not being far from Heresburg (now Obermarsberg), Germany.

Jacob Grimm states that “strong reasons” point to the actual location of the Irminsul as being approximately 15 miles (24 km) away, in the Teutoburg Forest and states that the original name for the region “Osning” may have meant “Holy Wood.”

The Benedictine monk Rudolf of Fulda (AD 865) provides a description of an Irminsul in chapter 3 of his Latin work De miraculis sancti Alexandri. Rudolf’s description states that the Irminsul was a great wooden pillar erected and worshipped beneath the open sky and that its name, Irminsul, signifies universal all-sustaining pillar.

Under Louis the Pious in the 9th century, a stone column was dug up at Obermarsberg in Westphalia, Germany and relocated to the Hildesheim cathedral in Hildesheim, Lower Saxony, Germany. The column was reportedly then used as a candelabrum until at least the late 19th century. In the 13th century, the destruction of the Irminsul by Charlemagne was recorded as having still been commemorated at Hildesheim on the Saturday after Laetare Sunday.

The commemoration was reportedly done by planting two poles six feet high, each surmounted by a wooden object one foot in height shaped like a pyramid or a cone on the cathedral square. The youth then used sticks and stones in an attempt to knock over the object. This custom is described as existing elsewhere in Germany, particularly in Halberstadt where it was enacted on the day of Laetare Sunday by the Canons themselves.

A maypole is a tall wooden pole erected as a part of various European folk festivals, around which a maypole dance often takes place. The festivals may occur on May Day or Pentecost (Whitsun), although in some countries it is instead erected at Midsummer. In some cases the maypole is a permanent feature that is only utilised during the festival, although in other cases it is erected specifically for the purpose before being taken down again.

Primarily found within the nations of Germanic Europe and the neighbouring areas which they have influenced, its origins remain unknown, although it has been speculated that it originally had some importance in the Germanic paganism of Iron Age and early Medieval cultures, and that the tradition survived Christianisation, albeit losing any original meaning that it had.

It has been a recorded practice in many parts of Europe throughout the Medieval and Early Modern periods, although became less popular in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, the tradition is still observed in some parts of Europe and among European communities in North America.

The symbolism of the maypole has been continuously debated by folklorists for centuries, although no set conclusion has ever been arrived at. Some scholars classify maypoles as symbols of the world axis (axis mundi).

The fact that they were found primarily in areas of Germanic Europe, where, prior to Christianisation, Germanic paganism was followed in various forms, has led to speculation that the maypoles were in some way a continuation of a Germanic pagan tradition. One theory holds that they were a remnant of the Germanic reverence for sacred trees, as there is evidence for various sacred trees and wooden pillars that were venerated by the pagans across much of Germanic Europe, including Thor’s Oak and the Irminsul.

It is also known that, in Norse paganism, cosmological views held that the universe was a world tree, known as Yggdrasil. There is therefore speculation that the maypole was in some way a continuance of this tradition.

Non-Germanic people have viewed them as having phallic symbolism, an idea which was purported by Thomas Hobbes, who erroneously believed that the poles dated back to the Roman worship of the god Priapus. This notion has been supported by various figures since, including the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud.

Phallic symbolism has been attributed to the maypole in the later Early Modern period, as one sexual reference is in John Cleland’s controversial novel Fanny Hill: …and now, disengag’d from the shirt, I saw, with wonder and surprise, what? not the play-thing of a boy, not the weapon of a man, but a maypole of so enormous a standard, that had proportions been observ’d, it must have belong’d to a young giant.

The anthropologist Mircea Eliade theorizes that the maypoles were simply a part of the general rejoicing at the return of summer, and the growth of new vegetation. In this way, they bore similarities with the May Day garlands which were also a common festival practice in Britain and Ireland.

A sacred grove or sacred woods are any grove of trees of special religious importance to a particular culture. Sacred groves were most prominent in the Ancient Near East and prehistoric Europe, but feature in various cultures throughout the world.

They were important features of the mythological landscape and cult practice of Celtic, Baltic, Germanic, ancient Greek, Near Eastern, Roman, and Slavic polytheism, and were also used in India, Japan, and West Africa. Examples of sacred groves include the Greco-Roman temenos, the Norse hörgr, and the Celtic nemeton, which was largely but not exclusively associated with Druidic practice.

During the Northern Crusades, there was a common practice of building churches on the sites of sacred groves. Ancient holy trees still exist in the English countryside and are mentioned often in folklore and fairytales.

Veneration of sacred groves and sacred trees is found throughout the history of the Germanic peoples and were targeted for destruction by Christian missionaries during the Christianization of the Germanic peoples.

Ken Dowden notes that behind this great oak dedicated to Donar, the Irminsul (also felled by Christian missionaries in the 8th century), and the Sacred tree at Uppsala (described by Adam of Bremen in the 11th century), stands a mythic prototype of an immense world tree, described in Norse mythology as Yggdrasil.

The sacred tree at Uppsala was a sacred tree located at the Temple at Uppsala, Sweden, in the second half of the 11th century. It is not known what species it was, but a scholar has suggested that it was a yew tree.

Jove’s Oak (interpretatio romana for Donar’s Oak and therefore sometimes referred to as Thor’s Oak) was a sacred tree of the Germanic pagans located in an unclear location around what is now the region of Hesse, Germany. According to the 8th century Vita Bonifatii auctore Willibaldi, the Anglo-Saxon missionary Saint Boniface and his retinue cut down the tree earlier the same century.

Wood from the oak was then reportedly used to build a church at the site dedicated to Saint Peter. Sacred trees and sacred groves were widely venerated by the Germanic peoples and scholars have linked this oak and others to the world tree in Norse mythology, Yggdrasil.

In Norse mythology, Yggdrasil is an immense tree that is central in Norse cosmology, in connection to which the nine worlds exist. Yggdrasil is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. In both sources, Yggdrasil is an immense ash tree that is central and considered very holy. The gods go to Yggdrasil daily to assemble at their things.

The branches of Yggdrasil extend far into the heavens, and the tree is supported by three roots that extend far away into other locations; one to the well Urðarbrunnr in the heavens, one to the spring Hvergelmir, and another to the well Mímisbrunnr. Creatures live within Yggdrasil, including the wyrm (dragon) Níðhöggr, an unnamed eagle, and the stags Dáinn, Dvalinn, Duneyrr and Duraþrór.

Conflicting scholarly theories have been proposed about the etymology of the name Yggdrasill, the possibility that the tree is of another species than ash, the relation to tree lore and to Eurasian shamanic lore, the possible relation to the trees Mímameiðr and Læraðr, Hoddmímis holt, the sacred tree at Uppsala, and the fate of Yggdrasil during the events of Ragnarök.

The generally accepted meaning of Old Norse Yggdrasill is “Odin’s horse”, meaning “gallows”. This interpretation comes about because drasill means “horse” and Ygg(r) is one of Odin’s many names. The Poetic Edda poem Hávamál describes how Odin sacrificed himself by hanging from a tree, making this tree Odin’s gallows. This tree may have been Yggdrasil. Gallows can be called “the horse of the hanged” and therefore Odin’s gallows may have developed into the expression “Odin’s horse”, which then became the name of the tree.

Nevertheless, scholarly opinions regarding the precise meaning of the name Yggdrasill vary, particularly on the issue of whether Yggdrasill is the name of the tree itself or if only the full term askr Yggdrasil (where Old Norse askr means “ash tree”) refers specifically to the tree. According to this interpretation, askr Yggdrasils would mean the world tree upon which “the horse [Odin's horse] of the highest god [Odin] is bound”. Both of these etymologies rely on a presumed but unattested *Yggsdrasill.

A third interpretation, presented by F. Detter, is that the name Yggdrasill refers to the word yggr (“terror”), yet not in reference to the Odinic name, and so Yggdrasill would then mean “tree of terror, gallows”. F. R. Schröder has proposed a fourth etymology according to which yggdrasill means “yew pillar”, deriving yggia from *igwja (meaning “yew-tree”), and drasill from *dher- (meaning “support”).

Irminenschaft (or, Irminism, Irminenreligion) is a current of Ariosophy based on a Germanic deity Irmin which is supposedly reconstructed from literaric, linguistic and onomastic sources.

Among other sources the Prefix “Irmin” is well documented in the from Irminsul “great pillar that supports all”/”Columna Universalis Sustenans Omni”, as described in Einhards ‘Vita Karoli Magni’, and informed by Tacitus (~1st century) via a mentioned Germanic tribe name of Hermiones; The Old Saxon adjective irmin being synonymous to “great, strong”.

As such it may also have been an epithet of later deities like Ziu (Týr) or Wodan (Odin). Purported evidence also stems from the occurrence of the word “Irmingot”, found in the Old High German “Hildebrandslied”.

Irmin

The Irminones, also referred to as Herminones or Hermiones, were a group of early Germanic tribes settling in the Elbe watershed and by the 1st century AD expanding into Bavaria, Swabia and Bohemia. Irminonic or Elbe Germanic is a conventional term grouping early West Germanic dialects ancestral to High German.

The name Irminones or Hermiones comes from Tacitus’s Germania (98 AD), where he categorized them as one of the tribes of descended from Mannus, and noted that they lived in the interior of Germany.

Other Germanic groups of tribes were the Ingvaeones, living on the coast, and Istvaeones, who accounted for the rest. Tacitus also mentioned the Suebi as a large grouping who included the Semnones, the Quadi and the Marcomanni, but he did not say precisely which (if any) of the three nations they belong to. Pliny’s Natural History (4.100) claimed that the Irminones included the Suebi, Hermunduri, Chatti, and Cherusci.

Pomponius Mela wrote in his Description of the World (III.3.31) in reference to the Kattegat and the waters surrounding the Danish isles: “On the bay are the Cimbri and the Teutoni; farther on, the farthest people of Germania, the Hermiones.” Mela then begins to speak of the Scythians.

In Nennius, the name Mannus and his three sons appear in corrupted form, the ancestor of the Irminones appearing as Armenon. His sons here are Gothus, Valagothus/Balagothus, Cibidus, Burgundus, and Longobardus, whence come the Goths (and Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Crimean Goths), Valagoths/Balagoths, Cibidi, Burgundians, and Langobards.

They may have differentiated into the tribes Alamanni, Hermunduri, Marcomanni, Quadi, Suebi by the 1st century AD. By that time the Suebi, Marcomanni and Quadi had moved southwest into the area of modern-day Bavaria and Swabia. In 8 BC, the Marcomanni and Quadi drove the Boii out of Bohemia.

The term Suebi is usually applied to all the groups that moved into this area, though later in history (c. 200 AD) the term Alamanni (meaning “all-men”) became more commonly applied to the group.

Jǫrmun, the Viking Age Norse form of the name Irmin, can be found in a number of places in the Poetic Edda as a by-name for Odin. Some aspects of the Irminones’ culture and beliefs may be inferred from their relationships with the Roman Empire, from Widukind’s confusion over whether Irmin was comparable to Mars or Hermes, and from Snorri Sturluson’s allusions, at the beginning of the Prose Edda, to Odin’s cult having appeared first in Germany, and then having spread up into the Ingvaeonic North.

Asherah Poles to Church Steeples

Tree of life

Garden of the gods (Sumerian paradise)

The Tree in the Garden of Eden and its Possible Origins

Sumerian Tree of Life

Tree of Life

Tree of Jesse

Tree of life

Sacred grove

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Taurus and the Pleiades

Posted by Fredsvenn on September 20, 2014

Taurus

Pleiades

Pleiades in folklore and literature

Pleiades

Pleiades (Greek mythology)

Taurus (constellation)

Taurus (astrology)

Bull (mythology)

Taurus

Taurus is one of the constellations of the zodiac, which means it is crossed by the plane of the ecliptic. Its name is a Latin word meaning “bull”, and its astrological symbol is a stylized bull’s head: (Unicode ♉).

Taurus is a large and prominent constellation in the northern hemisphere’s winter sky. It is one of the oldest constellations, dating back to at least the Early Bronze Age when it marked the location of the Sun during the spring equinox. Taurus came to symbolize the bull in the mythologies of Ancient Babylon, Egypt and Greece.

There are a number of features of interest to astronomers. Taurus hosts two of the nearest open clusters to Earth, the Pleiades and the Hyades, both of which are visible to the naked eye.

At first magnitude, the red giant Aldebaran is the brightest star in the constellation. In the northwest part of Taurus is the supernova remnant Messier 1, more commonly known as the Crab Nebula.

One of the closest regions of active star formation, the Taurus-Auriga complex, crosses into the northern part of the constellation. The variable star T Tauri is the prototype of a class of pre-main-sequence stars.

Taurus (♉) is the second astrological sign in the Zodiac. It spans the 30-60th degree of the zodiac, between 27.25 and 54.75 degree of celestial longitude. Under the tropic zodiac, the Sun transits this area on average between April 20 and May 20 each year.

Under the sidereal zodiac, the sun currently transits the constellation of Taurus from May 16 to June 15 (approximately). Individuals born during these dates, depending on which system of astrology they subscribe to, may be called Taureans.

Taurus the bull

The identification of the constellation of Taurus with a bull is very old, certainly dating to the Chalcolithic, and perhaps even to the Upper Paleolithic.

Michael Rappenglück of the University of Munich believes that Taurus is represented in a cave painting at the Hall of the Bulls in the caves at Lascaux (dated to roughly 15,000 BC), which he believes is accompanied by a depiction of the Pleiades.

The name “seven sisters” has been used for the Pleiades in the languages of many cultures, including indigenous groups of Australia, North America and Siberia. This suggests that the name may have a common ancient origin.

Taurus marked the point of vernal (spring) equinox in the Chalcolithic and the Early Bronze Age, from about 4000 BC to 1700 BC, after which it moved into the neighboring constellation Aries. The Pleiades were closest to the Sun at vernal equinox around the 23rd century BC.

In Babylonian astronomy, the constellation was listed in the MUL.APIN as GU4.AN.NA, “The Heavenly Bull”. As this constellation marked the vernal equinox, it was also the first constellation in the Babylonian zodiac and they described it as “The Bull in Front”. The Akkadian name was Alu.

In the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the earliest works of literature, the goddess Ishtar sends Taurus, the Bull of Heaven, to kill Gilgamesh for spurning her advances.

Gilgamesh is depicted as the neighboring constellation of Orion, and in the sky they face each other as if engaged in combat. In early Mesopotamian art, the Bull of Heaven was closely associated with Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare.

One of the oldest depictions shows the bull standing before the goddess’ standard; since it has 3 stars depicted on its back (the cuneiform sign for “star-constellation”), there is good reason to regard this as the constellation later known as Taurus.

The same iconic representation of the Heavenly Bull was depicted in the Dendera zodiac, an Egyptian bas-relief carving in a ceiling that depicted the celestial hemisphere using a planisphere.

In these ancient cultures, the orientation of the horns was portrayed as upward or backward. This differed from the later Greek depiction where the horns pointed forward.

To the Egyptians, the constellation Taurus was a sacred bull that was associated with the renewal of life in spring. When the spring equinox entered Taurus, the constellation would become covered by the Sun in the western sky as spring began. This “sacrifice” led to the renewal of the land.

To the early Hebrews, Taurus was the first constellation in their zodiac and consequently it was represented by the first letter in their alphabet, Aleph.

In Greek mythology, Taurus was identified with Zeus, who assumed the form of a magnificent white bull to abduct Europa, a legendary Phoenician princess. In illustrations of Greek mythology, only the front portion of this constellation are depicted; this was sometimes explained as Taurus being partly submerged as he carried Europa out to sea.

A second Greek myth portrays Taurus as Io, a mistress of Zeus. To hide his lover from his wife Hera, Zeus changed Io into the form of a heifer. Greek mythographer Acusilaus marks the bull Taurus as the same that formed the myth of the Cretan Bull, one of The Twelve Labors of Heracles.

Taurus became an important object of worship among the Druids. Their Tauric religious festival was held while the Sun passed through the constellation. In Buddhism, legends hold that Gautama Buddha was born when the Full Moon was in Vaisakha, or Taurus. Buddha’s birthday is celebrated with the Wesak Festival, or Vesākha, which occurs on the first or second Full Moon when the Sun is in Taurus.

The Pleiades

In the northeastern quadrant of the Taurus constellation lies the Pleiades (M45), one of the best known open star clusters containing middle-aged hot B-type stars located in the constellation of Taurus. It is among the nearest star clusters to Earth and is the cluster most obvious to the naked eye in the night sky. The seven most prominent stars in this cluster are at least visual magnitude six, and so the cluster is also named the “Seven Sisters”.

The cluster is dominated by hot blue and extremely luminous stars that have formed within the last 100 million years. Dust that forms a faint reflection nebulosity around the brightest stars was thought at first to be left over from the formation of the cluster (hence the alternate name Maia Nebula after the star Maia), but is now known to be an unrelated dust cloud in the interstellar medium, through which the stars are currently passing.

Computer simulations have shown that the Pleiades were probably formed from a compact configuration that resembled the Orion Nebula. Astronomers estimate that the cluster will survive for about another 250 million years, after which it will disperse due to gravitational interactions with its galactic neighborhood.

The high visibility of the star cluster Pleiades in the night sky has guaranteed it a special place in many cultures, both ancient and modern. The heliacal rising of Pleiades often marks important calendar points for ancient peoples. The celestial entity has several meanings in different cultures and traditions.

The Pleiades, companions of Artemis, were the seven daughters of the titan Atlas, the primordial Titan who held up the celestial spheres, and the titan of astronomy and navigation, and the sea-nymph Pleione, an Oceanid nymph born on Mount Cyllene, who was the protectress of sailing. Pleione married the Titan Atlas and gave birth to the Hyades, Hyas and the Pleiades.

The Pleiades are the sisters of Calypso, Hyas, the Hyades, and the Hesperides. The Pleiades were nymphs in the train of Artemis, and together with the seven Hyades were called the Atlantides, Dodonides, or Nysiades, nursemaids and teachers to the infant Bacchus.

There is some debate as to the origin of the name Pleiades. Previously, it was accepted that the name is derived from the name of their mother, Pleione. However, the name Pleiades may derive from (to sail) because of their importance in delimiting the sailing season in the Mediterranean Sea.

Several of the most prominent male Olympian gods (including Zeus, Poseidon, and Ares) engaged in affairs with the seven heavenly sisters. These relationships resulted in the birth of their children.

After Atlas was forced to carry the heavens on his shoulders, Orion began to pursue all of the Pleiades, and Zeus transformed them first into doves, and then into stars to comfort their father. The constellation of Orion is said to still pursue them across the night sky.

One of the most memorable myths involving the Pleiades is the story of how these sisters literally became stars, their catasterism. According to some versions of the tale, all seven sisters committed suicide because they were so saddened by either the fate of their father, Atlas, or the loss of their siblings, the Hyades. In turn Zeus, the ruler of the Greek gods, immortalized the sisters by placing them in the sky. There these seven stars formed the star cluster known thereafter as the Pleiades.

The Greek poet Hesiod mentions the Pleiades several times in his Works and Days. As the Pleiades are primarily winter stars, they feature prominently in the ancient agricultural calendar.

The Pleiades would “flee mighty Orion and plunge into the misty deep” as they set in the West, which they would begin to do just before dawn during October–November, a good time of the year to lay up your ship after the fine summer weather and “remember to work the land”; in Mediterranean agriculture autumn is the time to plough and sow.

The loss of one of the sisters, Merope, in some myths may reflect an astronomical event wherein one of the stars in the Pleiades star cluster disappeared from view by the naked eye.

Peleiades (Greek: “doves”) were the sacred women of Zeus and the Mother Goddess, Dione, at the Oracle at Dodona in Epirus in northwestern Greece. It was an oracle devoted to a Mother Goddess identified at other sites with Rhea or Gaia, but here called Dione, who was joined and partly supplanted in historical times by the Greek god Zeus.

The shrine of Dodona was regarded as the oldest Hellenic oracle, possibly dating to the second millennium BCE according to Herodotus. Situated in a remote region away from the main Greek poleis, it was considered second only to the oracle of Delphi in prestige. Priestesses and priests in the sacred grove interpreted the rustling of the oak (or beech) leaves to determine the correct actions to be taken.

According to a new interpretation, the oracular sound originated from bronze objects hanging from oak branches and sounded with the wind blowing, similar to a wind chime. Aristotle considered the region around Dodona to have been part of Hellas and the region where the Hellenes originated.

The oracle was first under the control of the Thesprotians before it passed into the hands of the Molossians. It remained an important religious sanctuary until the rise of Christianity during the Late Roman era.

Pindar made a reference to the Pleiades as the “peleiades” a flock of doves, but the connection seems witty and poetical, rather than mythic. The chariot of Aphrodite was drawn by a flock of doves, however.

A mythic element of a black dove that initiated the oracle at Dodona, which Herodotus was told in the 5th century BC may be an attempt to account for a folk etymology applied to the archaic name of the sacred women that no longer made sense (an aitiological myth).

Perhaps the pel- element in their name was originally connected with “black” or “muddy” root elements in names like Peleus or Pelops and peliganes (Epirotian, Macedonian senators), Attic polios, Doric peleios grey, old, PIE *pel-, “gray”. Peleiades are often confused with the nymphs Pleiades.

Parvin or Parveen or Parween is a unisex given name in the Middle East, Central Asia, South Asia, Azerbaijan and beyond. Parvin means star in the Persian and Urdu languages but in reality refers to the star cluster Pleiades. It is also used as a unisex last name.

Although most accounts are uniform as to the number, names, and main myths concerning the Pleiades, the mythological information recorded by a scholiast on Theocritus’ Idylls with reference to Callimachus has nothing in common with the traditional version.

According to it, the Pleiades were daughters of an Amazonian queen; their names were Maia, Coccymo, Glaucia, Protis, Parthenia, Stonychia, and Lampado. They were credited with inventing ritual dances and nighttime festivals.

Kotharat

The Kotharat, or Kotharot, or Kathirat (various suggested pronunciations of Ugaritic ktrt), ‘the skilful ones’ were a group of northwest Semitic goddesses appearing in the Ugartic texts as divine midwives. They are the only Canaanite deities that only appear in a group, and are associated with the swallow.

In the story of Aqhat the chieftain Daniel, in order to obtain a child, for seven days feasts the Kotharat who have entered his house. In Nikkal and the Kotharat the Kotharat are first summoned to oversee the birth of a son to Yarikh the moon-god and the goddess Nikkal and then summoned a second time to bless the human girl Prbkht for her forthcoming marriage.

Sanchuniathon refers to a group of seven daughters of El by ‘Ashtart whose Phoenician name is not given but who are called the Titanides or Artemides in Greek. That the Greek goddess Artemis was often worshipped as a birth goddess suggests these seven Artemides are so called because they were also birth goddesses. If so, they are probably identical to the Ugaritic Kotharat.

Artemis

Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Her Roman equivalent is Diana (lt. “heavenly” or “divine”), the goddess of the hunt, the moon and birthing, being associated with wild animals and woodland, and having the power to talk to and control animals. Diana was born with her twin brother Apollo on the island of Delos, daughter of Jupiter and Latona.

Some scholars believe that the name, and indeed the goddess herself, was originally pre-Greek. Homer refers to her as Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron: “Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals”. The Arcadians believed she was the daughter of Demeter, the goddess of the harvest, who presided over grains and the fertility of the earth.

In the classical period of Greek mythology, Artemis was often described as the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. She was the Hellenic goddess of the hunt, wild animals, wilderness, childbirth, virginity and protector of young girls, bringing and relieving disease in women; she often was depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows. The deer and the cypress were sacred to her. In later Hellenistic times, she even assumed the ancient role of Eileithyia in aiding childbirth.

Artemis got her hunting dogs from Pan, the god of the wild, shepherds and flocks, nature of mountain wilds, hunting and rustic music, and companion of the nymphs, in the forest of Arcadia. Pan gave Artemis two black-and-white dogs, three reddish ones, and one spotted one – these dogs were able to hunt even lions. Pan also gave Artemis seven bitches of the finest Arcadian race. However, Artemis only ever brought seven dogs hunting with her at any one time.

Astarte

In the description of the Phoenician pantheon ascribed to Sanchuniathon, Astarte appears as a daughter of Epigeius (Greek: Uranus) and Ge (Earth), and sister of the god Elus (El), a Northwest Semitic word meaning “deity”.

After Elus overthrows and banishes his father Epigeius, as some kind of trick Epigeius sends Elus his “virgin daughter” Astarte along with her sisters Asherah and the goddess who will later be called Ba`alat Gebal, “the Lady of Byblos”.

Ba‘alat Gebal, the goddess of the city of Byblos, Phoenicia, in ancient times, and sometimes known to the Greeks as Baaltis or Atargatis, was generally identified with the pan-Semitic goddess ‘Ashtart (Astarte) and, like ‘Ashtart, equated with the Greek goddess Aphrodite.

However, Sanchuniathon presents Ba‘alat Gebal as a sister of ‘Ashtart and Asherah, and calls Ba‘alat Gebal by the name Dione, meaning that he identified her either with Asherah or with the mother of Greek Aphrodite, the Titan goddess Dione.

According to Sanchuniathon Baaltis/Dione, like Asherah and ‘Ashtart, was a sister and wife of ‘El. He states that she bore daughters to El and that it was El who gave the city of Byblos to her. Ba‘alat Gebal was distinguished in iconography from Ashtart or other aspects of Ashtart or similar goddesses by two, tall, upright feathers in her headdress.

The temple of Ba‘alat Gebal in Byblos was built around 2700 BC. Dedications from Egyptians begin appearing from the second to the 6th Egyptian dynasties. Two of these inscriptions equate Ba‘alat Gebal with the Egyptian goddess Hathor. Frank Moore Cross writes that at Sinai Ba‘alat seems to have referred to Hathor and possibly to Qudšu, who is Asherah.

It seems that this trick does not work, as all three become wives of their brother Elus. Astarte bears Elus children who appear under Greek names as seven daughters called the Titanides, a primeval race of powerful deities, descendants of Gaia (Earth) and Uranus (Heaven), that ruled during the legendary Golden Age, or Artemides and two sons named Pothos “Longing” and Eros “Desire”.

Later with Elus’ consent, Astarte and Hadad reign over the land together. Astarte puts the head of a bull on her own head to symbolize Her sovereignty. Wandering through the world, Astarte takes up a star that has fallen from the sky (a meteorite) and consecrates it at Tyre.

Ashteroth Karnaim (Astarte was called Ashteroth in the Hebrew Bible) was a city in the land of Bashan east of the Jordan River, mentioned in Genesis 14:5 and Joshua 12:4 (where it is rendered solely as Ashteroth).

The name translates literally to ‘Ashteroth of the Horns’, with ‘Ashteroth’ being a Canaanite fertitility goddess and ‘horns’ being symbolic of mountain peaks. Figurines of Astarte have been found at various archaeological sites in Israel, showing the goddess with two horns.

Astarte’s most common symbol was the crescent moon (or horns), according to religious studies scholar Jeffrey Burton Russell, in his book The Devil: Perceptions of Evil from Antiquity to Primitive Christianity.

The Krittika

The star cluster Kṛttikā (popularly transliterated “Krittika”) sometimes known as Kārtikā, corresponds to the open star cluster called Pleiades in western astronomy. In Indian astronomy and Jyotiṣa (Hindu astrology) the name literally translates to “the cutters”. In Hindu astrology, Kṛttikā is the third of the 27 nakṣatras, and is ruled by Kartikeya.

Jyotisha (or Jyotish from Sanskrit jyotiṣa, from jyótis- “light, heavenly body”) is the traditional Hindu system of astronomy and astrology. It is also known as Hindu astrology, Indian astrology, and more recently Vedic astrology.

The term Hindu astrology has been in use as the English equivalent of Jyotiṣa since the early 19th century, whereas Vedic astrology is a relatively recent term, entering common usage in the 1980s with self-help publications on Āyurveda or Yoga.

Vedanga Jyotisha is one of the earliest texts about astronomy within the Vedas. However, historical documentation shows that horoscopic astrology in the Indian subcontinent came from Hellenistic influences, post-dating the Vedic period.

In Hindu mythology, the god Skanda was raised by the six sisters known as the Kṛttikā and thus came to be known as Kartikeya (literally “Him of the Kṛttikā”).

According to the Mahābhārata, Kartikeya was born to Agni, the god of fire and the acceptor of sacrifices, and one of the most important of the Vedic gods, and Svāhā, an interjection, approximately “hail!” in mantras indicating the end of the mantra, after the latter impersonated six of the seven wives of the Saptarṣi and made love to him.

The Saptarshi, (from saptarṣi, a Sanskrit dvigu meaning “seven sages”), the seven rishis who are extolled at many places in the Vedas and Hindu literature, hearing of this incident and doubting their wives’ chastity, divorced them. These wives then became the Kṛttikā.

In the Tibetan language, “svaha” is translated as “so be it” and is often pronounced and orthographically represented as “soha”. Whenever fire sacrifices are made, svāhā is chanted. Etymologically, the term is probably from su “well” and the root ah “to call”.

As a feminine noun, svāhā in the Rigveda may also mean “oblation” (to Agni or Indra), and as oblation personified, Svāhā is a minor goddess, and the wife of Agni. She was originally a nymph but became immortal after marrying Agni.

In some versions, she is one of the many divine mothers of Kartikeya, also known as Skanda, Murugan and Subramaniyan, the Hindu god of war. He is the commander-in-chief of the army of the devas (gods) and the son of Shiva and Parvati.

Svāhā is also the mother of Aagneya (Aagneya) – the daughter of Agni. She is considered to be a daughter of Daksha, one of the sons of Lord Brahma, who, after creating the ten Manas Putras, created Daksha, Dharma, Kamadeva and Agni from his right thumb, chest, heart and eyebrows respectively. She is thought to preside over burnt offerings. Her body is said to consist of the four Vedas and her six limbs are the six Angas of the Vedas.

It is said that the gods to whom offerings are being made through yagna (yajña, also transliterated yagya, yaga or yadnya) or yagam, is a ritual of offerings accompanied by chanting of Vedic mantras (also “worship, prayer, praise, offering and oblation, sacrifice” according to Monier-Williams) derived from the practice in Vedic times, refuse the offerings unless the word ‘svaha’ is uttered during the sacrifice.

Yajna is an ancient ritual of offering and sublimating the havana sámagri (herbal preparations) in the fire. The sublime meaning of the word yajna is derived from the Sanskrit verb yaj, which has a three-fold meaning of worship of deities (devapujana), unity (sangatikarana) and charity (dána).

An essential element is the ritual fire – the divine Agni – into which oblations are poured, as everything that is offered into the fire is believed to reach God. The Sanskrit word yajna is linguistically (but not functionally) related to Zoroastrianism’s (Avestan language) Yasna.

Unlike Vedic yajna, Zoroastrian Yasna is the name of a specific religious service, not a class of rituals, and (also unlike Vedic yajna) that service has “to do with water rather than fire”.(Drower, 1944:78; Boyce, 1975:147-191)

Rituals associated with temple worship in Hinduism are called agamic, while those involving communication with divinity through Agni are considered to be Vedic. Temple rites in modern-day Hinduism are a combination of both Vedic and agamic rituals. The ritualistic portion of the Hindu scriptures is called Karma-Kanda. Parts of Vedas which describe or discuss Yajnas fall into this portion.

The Saptarshi and the Apkallu

– Matsya and Adapa

The Vedic Samhitas never enumerate these rishis by name, though later Vedic texts such as the Brahmanas and Upanisads do so. They are regarded in the Vedas as the patriarchs of the Vedic religion.

The earliest list of the Seven Rishis is given by Jaiminiya Brahmana 2.218-221: Vashista, Bharadvaja, Jamadagni, Gautama, Atri, Visvamitra, and Agastya, followed by Brihadaranyaka. Upanisad 2.2.6 has a slightly different list: Gautama and Bharadvāja, Viśvāmitra and Jamadagni, Vashiṣṭha and Kaśyapa, and Atri, Brighu. The late Gopatha Brāhmana 1.2.8 has: Vashiṣṭa, Viśvāmitra, Jamadagni, Gautama, Bharadvāja, Gungu, Agastya, Vrighu and Kaśyapa.

In post-Vedic texts, different lists appear; some of these rishis were recognized as the ‘mind born sons’ (Sanskrit: manasa putra) of Brahma, the representation of the Supreme Being as Creator. Other representations are Mahesha or Shiva as the Destroyer and Vishnu as the Preserver. Since these seven rishis were also among the primary eight rishis, who were considered to be the ancestors of the Gotras of Brahmins, the birth of these rishis was mythicized.

In some parts of India, people believe these are seven stars of the Big Dipper named “Vashista”, “Marichi”, “Pulastya”, “Pulaha”, “Atri”, “Angiras” and “Kratu”. There is another star slightly visible within it, known as “Arundhati”. Arundhati is the wife of vasistha.

Matsya (literally “Fish”) is the avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu in the form of a fish, preceding Kurma. Often listed as the first avatar in the lists of the ten primary avatars of Vishnu, Matsya is described to have rescued the first man, Manu, from a great deluge. Matsya may be depicted as a giant fish, or anthropomorphically with a human torso connected to the rear half of a fish.

The earliest accounts of the legend associate Matsya with the creator god Prajapati (identified with Brahma). However, Puranic scriptures incorporate Matsya as an avatar of Vishnu. Matsya forewarns Manu about an impending catastrophic flood and orders him to collect all the grains of the world in a boat; in some forms of the story, all living creatures are also to be preserved in the boat.

When the flood destroys the world, Manu – in some versions accompanied by the seven great sages – survives by boarding the ark, which Matsya pulls to safety. In later versions of this story, the sacred texts Vedas are hidden by a demon, whom Matsya slays: Manu is rescued and the scriptures are recovered. The tale is in the tradition of the family of flood myths, common across cultures.

The story of a great Deluge is found in many civilizations across the earth. It is often related to the Genesis narrative of the flood and Noah’s Ark. The fish motif and saving of the scriptures from a demon is in the Hindu tale. Similar flood myths also exist in tales from ancient Sumer and Babylonia, Greece, the Maya of Americas and the Yoruba of Africa.

Matsya is believed to symbolise the first stage of evolution, as aquatic life was the first beings on earth. The tale of Matsya may be interpreted as a creation myth where Manu creates beings of the world and men after they destroyed in the flood, though the creation is never the focus of the legend.

Some authors consider the tale not a flood myth, but symbolic in nature. Manu’s boat is representative of moksha (salvation), which helps one to cross over. Himalayas is treated as a boundary between the earthly existence and land of salvation beyond. God as the fish guides one to salvation. The horn of the fish is symbolic of “sacrificial values”. The presence of fish seems to be an allusion to the Indian “law of the fishes”, an equivalent to the “law of the jungle”, when the fish seeks protection from being eaten by a larger fish.

Treated as a parable, the tale advises a good king should protect the weak from the mighty, reversing the “law of fishes” and uphold dharma, like Manu, the progenitor of mankind and in particular two royal dynasties, thus an ideal king. In the tales where the demon hides the Vedas, dharma is threatened and Vishnu as the divine Saviour, rescues dharma, aided by his earthly counterpart, Manu – the king.

The Apkallu (Akkadian) or Abgal, (Sumerian) are seven Sumerian sages, demigods who are said to have been created by the god Enki (Akkadian: Ea) to establish culture and give civilization to mankind.

They served as priests of Enki and as advisors or sages to the earliest kings of Sumer before the flood. They are credited with giving mankind the Me (moral code), the crafts, and the arts. They were seen as fish-like men who emerged from the sweet water Abzu. They are commonly represented as having the lower torso of a fish, or dressed as a fish.

The word Abgallu, sage (Ab = water, Gal = great, Lu = man, Sumerian) survived into Nabatean times, around the 1st century, as apkallum, used to describe the profession of a certain kind of priest.

According to the myth, human beings were initially unaware of the benefits of culture and civilization. The god Enki sent from Dilmun, amphibious half-fish, half-human creatures, who emerged from the oceans to live with the early human beings and teach them the arts and other aspects of civilization such as writing, law, temple and city building and agriculture.

These creatures are known as the Apkallu. The Apkallu remained with human beings after teaching them the ways of civilization, and served as advisors to the kings.

These seven were each advisers for seven different kings and therefore result in two different lists, one of kings and one of Apkallu. Neither the sages nor the kings in these lists were genealogically related however.

Mesopotamian myth tells of seven antediluvian sages, who were sent by Ea, the wise god of Eridu, to bring the arts of civilisation to humankind. The first of these, Adapa, also known as Uan, the name given as Oannes by Berossus, introduced the practice of the correct rites of religious observance as priest of the E’Apsu temple, at Eridu.

The sages are described in Mesopotamian literature as ‘pure parādu-fish, probably carp, whose bones are found associated with the earliest shrine, and still kept as a holy duty in the precincts of Near Eastern mosques and monasteries. Adapa as a fisherman was iconographically portrayed as a fish-man composite.

Apkallu reliefs also appear in Assyrian palaces as guardians against evil spirits. They are one of the more prominent supernatural creatures that appear in the art of Ashurnasirpal II of the 9th century BC. They appear in one of three forms, bird-headed, human-headed or dressed in fish-skin cloaks.

Apkallu and human beings were presumably capable of conjugal relationships since after the flood, the myth states that four Apkallu appeared. These were part human and part Apkallu, and included Nungalpirriggaldim, Pirriggalnungal, Pirriggalabsu, and Lu-nana who was only two-thirds Apkallu.

These Apkallus are said to have committed various transgressions which angered the gods. These seeming negative deeds of the later Apkallu and their roles as wise councillors have led some scholars to equate them with the nephilim of Genesis 6:4.

After these four post-diluvian Apkallus came the first completely human advisers, who were called ummanu. Gilgamesh, the mythical king of Uruk, is said to be the first king to have had an entirely human adviser. In recent times, scholars have also suggested the Apkallu are the model for Enoch, the ancestor of Noah.

Abgal (cognate with the Sumerian ab.gal, related to the Akkadian apkallu, “ferryman”) is a pre-Islamic north Arabian god, known from the Palmyrian desert regions as a god of Bedouins and camel drivers.

Adapa, the first of the Mesopotamian seven sages, was a mythical figure who unknowingly refused the gift of immortality. The story is first attested in the Kassite period (14th century BCE), in fragmentary tablets from Tell el-Amarna, and from Assur, of the late second millennium BCE.

Adapa is often identified as advisor to the mythical first (antediluvian) king of Eridu, Alulim. In addition to his advisory duties, he served as a priest and exorcist, and upon his death took his place among the Seven Sages or Apkallū, a reference to Adapa, the first sage’s association with water.

Adapa was a mortal man from a godly lineage, a son of Ea (Enki in Sumerian), the god of wisdom and of the ancient city of Eridu, who brought the arts of civilization to that city (from Dilmun, according to some versions).

He broke the wings of Ninlil the South Wind, who had overturned his fishing boat, and was called to account before Anu. Ea, his patron god, warned him to apologize humbly for his actions, but not to partake of food or drink while he was in heaven, as it would be the food of death. Anu, impressed by Adapa’s sincerity, offered instead the food of immortality, but Adapa heeded Ea’s advice, refused, and thus missed the chance for immortality that would have been his.

Vague parallels can be drawn to the story of Genesis, where Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden of Eden by Yahweh, after they ate from the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thus gaining death.

Parallels are also apparent (to an even greater degree) with the story of Persephone visiting Hades, who was warned to take nothing from that kingdom. Stephanie Galley writes “From Erra and Ishum we know that all the sages were banished … because they angered the gods, and went back to the Apsu, where Ea lived, and … the story … ended with Adapa’s banishment” p. 182.

Oannes was the name given by the Babylonian writer Berossus in the 3rd century BCE to a mythical being who taught mankind wisdom. Berossus describes Oannes as having the body of a fish but underneath the figure of a man. He is described as dwelling in the Persian Gulf, and rising out of the waters in the daytime and furnishing mankind instruction in writing, the arts and the various sciences. Oannes and the Semitic god Dagon were considered identical.

The name “Oannes” was once conjectured to be derived from that of the ancient Babylonian god Ea, but it is now known that the name is the Greek form of the Babylonian Uanna (or Uan) a name used for Adapa in texts from the Library of Ashurbanipal. The Assyrian texts attempt to connect the word to the Akkadian for a craftsman ummanu but this is merely a pun.

The Sebitti

The Sebitti are a group of seven minor war gods in Babylonian and Akkadian tradition. They are the children of the god Anu and follow the god Erra, an Akkadian plague god known from an ‘epos’ of the eighth century BCE., into battle. They are, in differing traditions, of good and evil influence.

Erra is the god of mayhem and pestilence who is responsible for periods of political confusion. In the epic that is given the modern title Erra, the writer Kabti-ilani-Marduk, a descendant, he says, of Dabibi, presents himself in a colophon following the text as simply the transcriber of a visionary dream in which Erra himself revealed the text.

The poem opens with an invocation. The god Erra is sleeping fitfully with his consort (not thought to be the mother goddess Mami) but is roused by his advisor Išum and the Seven (Sibitti or Sebetti), who are the sons of heaven and earth – “champions without peer” is the repeated formula—and are each assigned a destructive destiny by Anu.

Machinist and Sasson (1983) call them “personified weapons”. The Sibitti call on Erra to lead the destruction of mankind. Išum tries to mollify Erra’s wakened violence, to no avail. Foreign peoples invade Babylonia, but are struck down by plague. Even Marduk, the patron of Babylon, relinquishes his throne to Erra for a time.

Tablets II and III are occupied with a debate between Erra and Išum. Erra goes to battle in Babylon, Sippar, Uruk, Dūr-Kurigalzu and Dēr. The world is turned upside down: righteous and unrighteous are killed alike. Erra orders Išum to complete the work by defeating Babylon’s enemies. Then the god withdraws to his own seat in Emeslam with the terrifying Seven, and mankind is saved. A propitiatory prayer ends the work.

The poem must have been central to Babylonian culture: at least thirty-six copies have been recovered from five first-millennium sites – Assur, Babylon, Nineveh, Sultantepe and Ur – more, even, as L. Cagni points out, than have been recovered of the Epic of Gilgamesh.

The text appears to some readers to be a mythologisation of historic turmoil in Mesopotamia, though scholars disagree as to the historic events that inspired the poem: the poet exclaims (tablet IV:3) “You changed out of your divinity and made yourself like a man.”

The Erra text soon assumed magical functions Parts of the text were inscribed on amulets employed for exorcism and as a prophylactic against the plague. The Seven are known from a range of Akkadian incantation texts: their demonic names vary, but their number, seven, is invariable.

Walter Burkert noted the consonance of the purely mythic seven led by Erra with the Seven Against Thebes, widely assumed by Hellenists to have had a historical basis.

Antu

In Akkadian mythology, Antu or Antum (add the name in cuneiform please an= shar=?) is a Babylonian goddess. She was the first consort of Anu, and the pair was the parents of the Anunnaki and the Utukki, a type of spirit or demon that could be either benevolent or evil.

In Akkadian mythology, the Utukku were seven evil demons who were the offspring of Anu and Antu. The evil utukku were called Edimmu or Ekimmu; the good utukku were called shedu. Two of the best known of the evil Utukku were Asag (slain by Ninurta) and Alû.

Anat boasts that she has put an end to Yam the darling of El, to the seven-headed serpent, to Arsh the darling of the gods, to Atik Quarrelsome the calf of El, to Ishat Fire the bitch of the gods, and to Zabib ‘flame?’ the daughter of El.

Ninurta and Nergal

Ninurta (Nin Ur: God of War) in Sumerian and the Akkadian mythology of Assyria and Babylonia, was the god of Lagash, identified with Ningirsu with whom he may always have been identified.

In older transliteration the name is rendered Ninib and Ninip, and in early commentary he was sometimes portrayed as a solar deity. A number of scholars have suggested that either the god Ninurta or the Assyrian king bearing his name (Tukulti-Ninurta I) was the inspiration for the Biblical character Nimrod.

Ninurta slays each of the monsters later known as the “Slain Heroes” (the Warrior Dragon, the Palm Tree King, Lord Saman-ana, the Bison-beast, the Mermaid, the Seven-headed Snake, the Six-headed Wild Ram), and despoils them of valuable items such as Gypsum, Strong Copper, and the Magilum boat). Eventually, Anzû is killed by Ninurta who delivers the Tablet of Destiny to his father, Enlil.

A certain confusion exists in cuneiform literature between Nergal, a deity worshipped throughout throughout Mesopotamia (Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia) with the main seat of his worship at Cuthah represented by the mound of Tell-Ibrahim, and Ninurta, the slayer of Asag and wielder of Sharur, an enchanted mace.

Nergal’s fiery aspect appears in names or epithets such as Lugalgira, Lugal-banda (Nergal as the fighting-cock), Sharrapu (“the burner,” a reference to his manner of dealing with outdated teachings), Erra, Gibil (though this name more properly belongs to Nusku), and Sibitti or Seven.

Nergal actually seems to be in part a solar deity, sometimes identified with Shamash, but only a representative of a certain phase of the sun. Portrayed in hymns and myths as a god of war and pestilence, Nergal seems to represent the sun of noontime and of the summer solstice that brings destruction, high summer being the dead season in the Mesopotamian annual cycle.

Nergal was also the deity who presides over the netherworld, and who stands at the head of the special pantheon assigned to the government of the dead (supposed to be gathered in a large subterranean cave known as Aralu or Irkalla).

In this capacity he has associated with him a goddess Allatu or Ereshkigal, though at one time Allatu may have functioned as the sole mistress of Aralu, ruling in her own person. In some texts the god Ninazu is the son of Nergal and Allatu/Ereshkigal.

Nergal has epithets such as the “raging king,” the “furious one,” and the like. A play upon his name—separated into three elements as Ne-uru-gal (lord of the great dwelling) — expresses his position at the head of the nether-world pantheon.

In the late Babylonian astral-theological system Nergal is related to the planet Mars. As a fiery god of destruction and war, Nergal doubtless seemed an appropriate choice for the red planet, and he was equated by the Greeks either to the combative demigod Heracles (Latin Hercules) or to the war-god Ares (Latin Mars) – hence the current name of the planet.

The worship of Nergal does not appear to have spread as widely as that of Ninurta, but in the late Babylonian and early Persian period, syncretism seems to have fused the two divinities, which were invoked together as if they were identical. Hymns and votive and other inscriptions of Babylonian and Assyrian rulers frequently invoke him, but we do not learn of many temples to him outside of Cuthah.

Being a deity of the desert, god of fire, which is one of negative aspects of the sun, god of the underworld, and also being a god of one of the religions which rivaled Christianity and Judaism, Nergal was sometimes called a demon and even identified with Satan.

According to Collin de Plancy and Johann Weyer, Nergal was depicted as the chief of Hell’s “secret police”, and worked as an “an honorary spy in the service of Beelzebub”.

Apollo

Amongst the Hurrians and later Hittites Nergal was known as Aplu (Apollo), a name derived from the Akkadian Apal Enlil, (Apal being the construct state of Aplu) meaning “the son of Enlil”, a title that was given to the god Nergal, who was linked to Shamash, Babylonian god of the sun. As God of the plague, he was invoked during the “plague years” during the reign of the Hittite king Suppiluliuma, when this disease spread from Egypt.

Aplu may be related with Apaliunas, a theonym, attested in a Hittite language treaty as a tutelary of Wilusa, who is considered to be the Hittite reflex of *Apeljōn, an early form of the name Apollo. A Luwian etymology suggested for Apaliunas makes Apollo “The One of Entrapment”, perhaps in the sense of “Hunter”.

Apaliunas is among the gods who guarantee a treaty drawn up about 1280 BCE between Alaksandu of Wilusa, interpreted as “Alexander of Ilios” and the great Hittite king, Muwatalli II. He is one of the three deities named on the side of the city. In Homer, Apollo is the builder of the walls of Ilium, a god on the Trojan side.

Further east of the Luwian language area, a Hurrian god Aplu was a deity of the plague – bringing it, or, if propitiated, protecting from it – and resembles Apollo Smintheus, “mouse-Apollo” worshiped at Troy and Tenedos, who brought plague upon the Achaeans in answer to a Trojan prayer at the opening of Iliad.

Apollo is known in Greek-influenced Etruscan mythology as Apulu. He is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in classical Greek and Roman religion and Greek and Roman mythology.

The ideal of the kouros (a beardless, athletic youth), Apollo has been variously recognized as a god of light and the sun, truth and prophecy, healing, plague, music, poetry, and more. Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto, and has a twin sister, the chaste huntress Artemis.

In Hellenistic times, especially during the 3rd century BCE, as Apollo Helios he became identified among Greeks with Helios, Titan god of the sun, and his sister Artemis similarly equated with Selene, Titan goddess of the moon.

In Latin texts, on the other hand, Joseph Fontenrose declared himself unable to find any conflation of Apollo with Sol among the Augustan poets of the 1st century, not even in the conjurations of Aeneas and Latinus in Aeneid XII (161–215). Apollo and Helios/Sol remained separate beings in literary and mythological texts until the 3rd century CE.

Ishara

Ishara (išḫara) was associated with the underworld, and is also personified as a goddess of the oath. Her astrological embodiment is the constellation Scorpio and she is called the mother of the Sebitti. Her name is the Hittite word for “treaty, binding promise”.

The word is attested as a loanword in the Assyrian Kültepe texts from the 19th century BC, and is as such the earliest attestation of a word of any Indo-European language. The name is from a PIE root *sh2ei “to bind (also magically)”, also in Greek himas “strap” and Old Norse / Old High German seil “rope”.

Ishar (or eshar), oblique ishan-, the Hittite for “blood”, is probably derived from the same root, maybe from a notion of “bond” between blood-relations (c.f. Sanskrit bandhu). The verb ishiya “to bind, fetter”, “to oblige” is directly cognate to Sanskrit syati or Russian shyot with similar meanings.

Possibly also cognate is soul, and Welsh Gwen-hwyfar (Irish Find-abair, from Proto-Celtic *windo-seibaro- “white ghost”, from a meaning “enchanted” of the extended root *sh2ei-bh-).

As a goddess, Ishara could inflict severe bodily penalties to oathbreakers, in particular ascites. In this context, she came to be seen as a “goddess of medicine” whose pity was invoked in case of illness. There was even a verb, isharis- “to be afflicted by the illness of Ishara”.

The Indo-European etymology of the theonym has been called into question, since the goddess appears from as early as the mid 3rd millennium as one of the chief goddesses of Ebla, and her name appears as an element in theophoric names in Mesopotamia in the later 3rd millennium (Akkad period), and into the first (Assyria), as in Tukulti-apil-esharra (i.e., Tiglath-Pileser).

In Hurrian and Semitic traditions, Išḫara is a love goddess, often identified with Ishtar. She is identified as Ishwara in Sanskrit. Her cult was of considerable importance in Ebla from the mid 3rd millennium, and by the end of the 3rd millennium, she had temples in Nippur, Sippar, Kish, Harbidum, Larsa, and Urum.

Variants of the name appear as Ašḫara (in a treaty of Naram-Sin of Akkad with Hita of Elam) and Ušḫara (in Ugarite texts). In Ebla, there were various logographic spellings involving the sign AMA “mother”. In Alalah, her name was written with the Akkadogram IŠTAR plus a phonetic complement -ra, as IŠTAR-ra.

Ishara was well known in Syria from the third millennium B.C. She became a great goddess of the Hurrian population. She was worshipped with Teshub and Simegi at Alakh, and also at Ugarit, Emar and Chagar Bazar. While she was considered to belong to the entourage of Ishtar, she was invoked to heal the sick (Lebrun).

The Hurrian cult of Ishara as a love goddess also spread to Syria. “Ishara first appears in the pre-Sargonic texts from Ebla and then as a goddess of love in Old Akkadian potency-incantations (Biggs). During the Ur III period she had a temple in Drehem and from the Old Babylonian time onwards, there were sanctuaries in Sippar, Larsa, and Harbidum.

In Mari she seems to have been very popular and many women were called after her, but she is well attested in personal names in Babylonia generally up to the late Kassite period. Her main epithet was belet rame, lady of love, which was also applied to Ishtar. In the Epic of Gilgamesh (Tablet II, col. v.28) it says: ‘For Ishara the bed is made’ and in Atra-hasis (I 301-304) she is called upon to bless the couple on the honeymoon.”

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The populing of Europa (Old Europe and the IE), and its connection with en/an (Ensi/An) or as/ar (Aser/Arian)

Posted by Fredsvenn on September 20, 2014

 

Taur: Deus/Dyēus/Devas/Tīwaz/Tuisto/Tyr/Zeus/Zhu

Dingir: Djinn/Tengri/Tian/Shang-di

Sky father

Taurus Mountains

Taurus

Deity

Deus

Deva

Daeva

Deiwos

Tīwaz

Dievas

Dyeus

Zeus

Tyr

Taevaisa

Taara

Dyauṣ Pitar

Deus (feminine dea)

Divus or diva

Deity, deism, pandeism, panendeism, polydeism, theism, day

-

Dingir

Djinn

Tengri

Tian

Shangdi

 Eni/Ani is god in Hurrian/Aryan (Aratta – Urartu/Ararat)

Ba is bull – Bael (Baal/Bel) – in Hurrian

En/ar/as/al is the same

Ar (sun) – Aries – Aryan

Aratta (atta means father in Hurrian)

Ararat/Urartu – Armenia/Assyria

Haya/Halki/Khaldi/Halaf/Haik/Hayasa

Aryan is the same as As(h)syrian – meaning fire/Sun-star – to create

We are all spirits kept in “prison” in our bodies – creatures – we are created

EN is the Hurrian and Sumerian cuneiform for “lord” or “priest”. Originally, it seems to have been used to designate a high priest or priestess of a Sumerian city-state’s patron-deity – a position that entailed political power as well. It may also have been the original title of the ruler of Uruk. See Lugal, ensi and en for more details.

Ensí (spelled PA.TE.SI in Sumerian cuneiform, hence occasionally transliterated as patesi; possibly derived from <en si-k>, “lord of the plowland”; borrowed into Akkadian as iššakkum) is a Sumerian title designating the ruler or prince of a city state. Originally it may have designated an independent ruler, but in later periods the title presupposed subordinance to a lugal (King/Emperor).

For the Early Dynastic Period of Sumer (about 2800–2350 BC), the meaning of the Sumerian titles EN, ENSI and LUGAL cannot be differentiated clearly: see Lugal, ensi and en for details. Énsi may have originally been a designation of the ruler restricted to Lagash and Umma. The énsi was considered a representative of the city state’s patron deity. In later periods, an énsi was normally seen as subordinate to a lugal (king). Nevertheless, even the powerful rulers of the Second Dynasty of Lagash (circa 2100 BC) such as Gudea were satisfied with the title énsi.

In Ur III times (about 2100–2000 BC) énsi referred to the provincial governors of the Kingdom. These exercised great powers in terms of government, tax revenue and jurisdiction, but they were supervised, installed, and dismissed by the King (lugal) of Ur. Although the office could be inherited, all énsi had to be endorsed by the King. No independent foreign policy or warfare was allowed.

In the city state of Ashur, the hereditary ruler bore the Akkadian language version of the title énsi, while the patron deity was regarded as šarrum (“King”). They held most political power in Sumerian city states during the Uruk period (c.4100-2900 BCE).

The genealogy and identity of Urkesh’s rulers is largely unknown, but the following names have been identified as being those of the city-state’s kings. The first three known kings (only two of whom are known by name) bore the Hurrian title endan.

In Old Norse, ǫ́ss (or áss, ás, plural æsir; feminine ásynja, plural ásynjur) is the term denoting a member of the principal pantheon in the indigenous Germanic religion known as Norse paganism. The cognate term in Old English is ōs (plural ēse) denoting a deity in Anglo-Saxon paganism. The Old High German is ans, plural ensî.

Æsir is the plural of áss, óss “god” (gen. āsir) which is attested in other Germanic languages, e.g., Old English ōs (gen. pl. ēsa) and Gothic (as reported by Jordanes) anses “half-gods”. Unlike the Old English word god (and Old Norse goð), the term ōs (áss) was never adopted into Christian use and survived only in a secularized meaning of “pole, beam, stave, hill” or “yoke”.

Old Saxon irmin “strong, whole”, maybe also “strong, tall, exalted” (Old High German ermen, Old Norse jǫrmun, Old English Eormen), from Proto-Germanic *erminaz, *ermenaz or *ermunaz, in personal names (Arminius/Armin, Ermanaric, Ermenbald, Ermenbert, Ermenfried, Ermenhard, Ermelinda, Erminia, Ermintrude, Emma)

The Gothic language had ans- (based only on Jordanes who glossed anses with uncertain meaning, possibly ‘demi-god’ and presumably a Latinized form of actual plural *anseis). The reconstructed Proto-Germanic form is *ansuz (plural *ansiwiz). The a-rune ᚫ was named after the æsir.

These all stem from Proto-Germanic *ansis ~ ansuz, which itself comes from Proto-Indo-European *h₂énsus (gen. h₂n̥sóus) “life force” (cf. Avestan aŋhū “lord; lifetime”, ahura “godhood”, Sanskrit ásu “life force”, ásura “god” (< *h₂n̥suró)). It is widely accepted that this word is further related to *h₂ens- “to engender” (cf. Hittite hass- “to procreate, give birth”, Tocharian B ās- “to produce”).

Old Norse áss has the genitive áss or ásar, the accusative æsi and ásu. In genitival compounds, it takes the form ása-, e.g. in Ása-Þórr “Thor of the Aesir”, besides ás- found in ás-brú “gods’ bridge” (the rainbow), ás-garðr, ás-kunnigr “gods’ kin”, ás-liðar “gods’ leader”, ás-mogin “gods’ might” (especially of Thor), ás-móðr “divine wrath” etc. Landâs “national god” (patrium numen) is a title of Thor, as is allmáttki ás “almighty god”, while it is Odin who is “the” ás.

The feminine’s -ynja suffix is known from a few other nouns denoting female animals, such as apynja “female monkey”, vargynja “she-wolf”. The word for “goddess” is not attested outside of Old Norse. The latinization of Danish Aslak as Ansleicus indicates that the nasalization in the first syllable persisted into the 9th century.

The cognate Old English form to áss is ōs, preserved only as a prefix Ōs- in personal names (e.g. Oscar, Osborne, Oswald) and some place names, and as the genitive plural ēsa (ēsa gescot and ylfa gescot, “the shots of anses and of elves”, jaculum divorum et geniorum). In Old High German and Old Saxon the word is only attested in personal and place names, e.g. Ansebert, Anselm, Ansfrid, Vihans. Jordanes has anses for the gods of the Goths.

This pantheon includes Odin, Frigg, Thor, Baldr and Týr. The second pantheon comprises the Vanir. In Norse mythology, the two pantheons wage the Æsir-Vanir War, which results in a unified pantheon.

An áss like Ullr is almost unknown in the myths, but his name is seen in a lot of geographical names, especially in Sweden, and may also appear on the 3rd century Thorsberg chape, suggesting that his cult was widespread in prehistoric times.

The names of the first three Æsir in Norse mythology, Vili, Vé and Odin all refer to spiritual or mental state, vili to conscious will or desire, vé to the sacred or numinous and óðr to the manic or ecstatic.

A second clan of gods, the Vanir, is also mentioned in Norse mythology: the god Njord and his children, Freyr and Freyja, are the most prominent Vanir gods who join the Æsir as hostages after a war between Æsir and Vanir.

The Vanir appear to have mainly been connected with cultivation and fertility and the Æsir were connected with power and war. The Æsir and Vanir may correspond to the Indo-Iranian and Vedic Asuras and Devas.

In the Eddas, however, the word Æsir is used for gods in general, while Asynjur is used for the goddesses in general. For example, in the poem Skírnismál, Freyr was called “Prince of the Æsir”. In the Prose Edda, Njord was introduced as “the third among the Æsir”, and among the Asynjur, Freyja is always listed second only to Frigg.

In surviving tales, the origins of many of the Æsir are unexplained. Originally, there are just three: Odin and his brothers Vili and Vé. Odin’s sons by giantesses are naturally counted as Æsir. Heimdall and Ullr’s connection with the Æsir is not clearly mentioned. Loki is a jötunn with no evidence of being worshipped, and Njord is a Vanir hostage, but they are often ranked among the Æsir.

The interaction between the Æsir and the Vanir has provoked an amount of scholarly theory and speculation. While other cultures have had “elder” and “younger” families of gods, as with the Titans versus the Olympians of ancient Greece, the Æsir and Vanir were portrayed as contemporaries. The two clans of gods fought battles, concluded treaties, and exchanged hostages (Freyr and Freyja are mentioned as such hostages).

Given the difference between their roles and emphases, some scholars have speculated that the interactions between the Æsir and the Vanir reflect the types of interaction that were occurring between social classes (or clans) within Norse society at the time.

According to another theory, the Vanir (and the fertility cult associated with them) may be more archaic than that of the more warlike Æsir, such that the mythical war may mirror a half-remembered religious conflict.

Another historical theory is that the inter-pantheon interaction may be an apotheosization of the conflict between the Romans and the Sabines, an Italic tribe that lived in the central Apennines of ancient Italy, also inhabiting Latium north of the Anio before the founding of Rome.

Finally, the noted comparative religion scholar Mircea Eliade speculated that this conflict is actually a later version of an Indo-European myth concerning the conflict between and eventual integration of a pantheon of sky/warrior/ruler gods and a pantheon of earth/economics/fertility gods, with no strict historical antecedents.

Old Europe is a term coined by archaeologist Marija Gimbutas to describe what she perceived as a relatively homogeneous pre-Indo-European Neolithic culture in southeastern Europe located in the Danube River valley.

In her major work, The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe: 6500–3500 B.C. (1982), she refers to these Neolithic cultures as Old Europe (Neolithic Europe and Pre-Indo-European as synonymous).

Archaeologists and ethnographers working within her framework believe that the evidence points to later migrations and invasions of the peoples who spoke Indo-European languages at the beginning of the Bronze age.

Old Europe, or Neolithic Europe, refers to the time between the Mesolithic and Bronze Age periods in Europe, roughly from 7000 BC (the approximate time of the first farming societies in Greece) to ca. 1700 BC (the beginning of the Bronze Age in northwest Europe).

The duration of the Neolithic varies from place to place: in southeast Europe it is approximately 4000 years (i. e., 7000–3000 BC); in North-West Europe it is just under 3000 years (ca. 4500–1700 BC).

According to Gimbutas’ version of the Kurgan hypothesis, Old Europe was invaded and destroyed by horse-riding pastoral nomads from the Pontic-Caspian steppe (the “Kurgan culture”) who brought with them violence, patriarchy, and Indo-European languages.

More recent proponents of the Kurgan hypothesis agree that the cultures of Old Europe spoke pre-Indo-European languages but include a less dramatic transition, with a prolonged migration of Proto-Indo-European speakers after Old Europe’s collapse because of other factors.

Marija Gimbutas investigated the Neolithic period in order to understand cultural developments in settled village culture in the southern Balkans, which she characterized as peaceful, matrilineal, and possessing a goddess-centered religion.

In contrast, she characterizes the later Indo-European influences as warlike, nomadic, and patrilineal. Using evidence from pottery and sculpture, and combining the tools of archaeology, comparative mythology, linguistics, and, most controversially, folkloristics, Gimbutas invented a new interdisciplinary field, archaeomythology.

In late 19th century opinions on comparative religion, in a line of thinking that begins with Friedrich Engels and J. J. Bachofen, and which received major literary promotion in The Golden Bough by James G. Frazer, it was believed that worship of a sky father was characteristic of nomadic peoples, and that worship of an earth mother similarly characterised farming peoples.

This view was stylized as reflecting not only a conflict of nomadism vs. agriculturalism but of “patriarchy” vs. “matriarchy”, and has blossomed into a late ideological in certain currents of feminist spirituality and feminist archaeology in the 1970s.

The theory about earth goddesses, sky father, and patriarchal invaders was a stirring tale that fired various imaginations. The story was important in literature, and was referred to in various ways by important poets and novelists, including T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, James Joyce, and most influentially, Robert Graves. How it worked out in practice depended on the side for which the believers chose to root.

Belief in the sky father and the military prowess of Aryan supermen was a feature of Nazi racial ideology; the swastika was chosen to embody this belief system because it was a symbol thought to be used by the ancient Vedic religion (as well as modern Hinduism and Buddhism.) Sympathy with the lost utopia of the matriarchal goddessdom arose later.

Established as a recurring theme in important literature, the tale lived on among the literature faculty long after it had been dropped by the anthropology department. Its truth was assumed by several historical novelists and fantasy authors, including Mary Renault, Mary Stewart, and more recently Mercedes Lackey and Marion Zimmer Bradley, among many others.

As (meaning star), ar (meaning sun), an (meaning sky) is compatible. N example is the Alans, who also were known over the course of their history by another group of related names including the variations Asi, Aorsi and Os

The name Arya lives in the ethnic names like Alan, New Persian: Iran, Ossetian: Ir and Iron. The name Iran has been in usage since Sassanid times. The Ossetians (Ossetian: irættæ) are an Iranian ethnic group of the Caucasus Mountains, indigenous to the region known as Ossetia. They speak Ossetic, an Iranian language of the Eastern branch of the Indo-European languages family.

The Ossetians and Ossetia received their name from the Russians, who adopted the Georgian designations Osi (sing., pl.: Osebi) and Oseti (“the land of Osi”), used since the Middle Ages for the Iranian-speaking population of the Central Caucasus and probably based on the old Alan self-designation “As”.

As the Ossetians lacked any single inclusive name for themselves in their native language, these terms were accepted by the Ossetians themselves already before their integration into the Russian Empire.

Van is a city in eastern Turkey’s Van Province, located on the eastern shore of Lake Van. Archaeological excavations and surveys carried out in Van province indicate that the history of human settlement in this region goes back at least as far as 5000 BC. The Tilkitepe Mound, which is on the shores of Lake Van and a few kilometres to the south of Van Castle, is the only source of information about the oldest culture of Van.

Under the ancient name of Tushpa, Van was the capital of the Urartian kingdom in the 9th century BC. The early settlement was centered on the steep-sided bluff now known as Van Castle (Van Kalesi), close to the edge of Lake Van and a few kilometers west of the modern city.

Here have been found Urartian cuneiform inscriptions dating to the 8th and 7th centuries BC. In the trilingual Behistun inscription, carved in the order of Darius the Great of Persia, the country referred to as Urartu in Babylonian is called Armenia in Old Persian.

The city has a long history as a major urban area. It has been a large city since the first millennium BC, initially as the capital of Urartu in the 9th century BC and later as the center of the Armenian Kingdom of Vaspurakan. It remained an important center of Armenian culture until the Armenian Genocide of 1915. Today, Van has a Kurdish majority.

Portasar

Portasar, also known as Göbekli Tepe (“Potbelly Hill”), is an archaeological site at the top of a mountain ridge in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey, approximately 6 km (4 mi) northeast of the town of Şanlıurfa.

The tell includes two phases of ritual use dating back to the 10th-8th millennium BCE. During the first phase, Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA), circles of massive T-shaped stone pillars were erected. More than 200 pillars in about 20 circles are currently known through geophysical surveys.

Each pillar has a height of up to 6 m (20 ft) and a weight of up to 20 tons. They are fitted into sockets that were hewn out of the bedrock. In the second phase, Pre-pottery Neolithic B (PPNB), the erected pillars are smaller and stood in rectangular rooms with floors of polished lime. The site was abandoned after the PPNB-period. Younger structures date to classical times.

The imposing stratigraphy of Göbekli Tepe attests to many centuries of activity, beginning at least as early as the epipaleolithic period. Structures identified with the succeeding period, PPNA, have been dated to the 10th millennium BCE. Remains of smaller buildings identified as PPNB and dating from the 9th millennium BCE have also been unearthed.

Ebla

The name El first appears in fragmented records from the city of Ebla, the archaeological site of Tell Mardikh (Marduk), located about 55 km (34 mi) southwest of Aleppo near the village of Mardikh in southern Syria, dated to 2300 BC.

The noun ʾEl was found at the top of a list of Gods as the “Ancient of Gods” or the “Father of all Gods”, in the ruins of the royal archive of the Ebla civilization. Although it is not possible to gain any insight into the cult of El at that time there are indications that he was viewed as supreme amongst the gods.

Ebla was an important center throughout the third millennium BC and in the first half of the second millennium BC. It was discovery in 1968 proved the Levant to be an equal center of ancient centralized civilization next to Egypt and Mesopotamia, and ruled out the view that the former two were the only important centers in the Near East during the early Bronze Age.

Starting as a small settlement in the early Bronze Age (c. 3500 BC), it developed into a trading empire and later turned into an expansionist power that imposed its hegemony over much of northern and eastern Syria.

Its language, Eblaite, is now considered to be the earliest attested Semitic language after Akkadian. The site is most famous for the Ebla tablets, an archive of about 20,000 cuneiform tablets found there, dated to around 2350 BC. Written in both Sumerian and Eblaite and using the Sumerian Cuneiform, the archive has allowed a better understanding of the Sumerian language.

During the first kingdom period between about 3000 and 2300 BC, Ebla was the most prominent kingdom amongst the Syrian states, especially during the second half of the 3rd millennium BC, which is known as the age of the archives after the Ebla tablets.

In the middle of the 25th century BC, Mari was defeated by Ebla, perhaps by King Kun-Damu, whose reign over Ebla can be dated to this period. The power of Ebla then declined, and during the reign of King Igrish-Halam in the mid-24th century it paid tribute to Mari.

Ebla recovered under King Irkab-Damu in about 2340 BC, becoming prosperous and launching a successful counteroffensive against Mari. At its greatest extent Ebla controlled an area roughly half the size of modern Syria, half of which was under the direct control of the king and administered by governors, while the rest consisted of vassal kingdoms paying tribute and supplying military assistance to Ebla.

One of the most important of these vassals was Armi, an important Bronze Age city-kingdom during the late third millennium BC located in northern Syria, and identified by some historians with the city of Aleppo, which was the city most often mentioned in the Ebla tablets.

Armi was the most quoted city in Ebla texts, Giovanni Pettinato describes Armi as Ebla’s alter ego, however the relations between the two cities is complicated, for it wasn’t always peaceful, the texts of Ebla mentions gifts exchange between the kings but it also mentions wars between the two kingdoms.

The complicated relations between Ebla and Armi is very similar to the relations between Ebla and Mari, the eblan texts mentions two interdynastic marriages with the son of the king of Nagar and that of Kish, but despite very close relations between Ebla and Armi an interdynastic marriage is never attested.

During its last years, Ebla in alliance with Nagar and Kish conducted a great military expedition against Armi and occupied it, Ibbi-Sipish son Enzi-Malik resided in Armi.

Destruction

Both Armi and Ebla was destroyed during the 23rd century BC. Armi wasn’t mentioned after the destruction. Many theories were proposed for this destruction. Historian Michael C.

Astour believes that the destruction of Ebla and Armi would have happened c. 2290 BC during the reign of Lugal-zage-si of Sumer, whose rule coincided with Sargon of Akkad (23rd and 22nd centuries BC) first years.

King Naram-Sin of Akkad (2254–2218 BCE) mentions that he conquered Armanum and Ib-la and captured the king of Armanum. Naram-Sin gives a long description about his siege of Armanum, his destruction of its walls and the capturing of its king Rid-Adad.

The similarities between the names led historian Wayne Horowitz to identify Armanum with Armi. If Armi was in fact Armanum mentioned by Naram-Sin then the event can be dated to c. 2240 BC. In all cases it is a confirmed fact that the whole of northern Syria including Ebla and Armi was under the domination of the Akkadian empire during the reign of Naram-Sin.

Astour believes that the Armanum mentioned in the inscriptions of Naram-Sin is not the same city as Eblaite Armi. Naram-Sin makes it clear that the Ebla he sacked (in c.2240 BC) was a border town of the land of Arman, while the Armi in the Eblaite tablets is a vassal to Ebla and the Syrian Ebla, would based on the political map given in the Eblaite tablets, have been burned in 2290 BC, long before the reign of Naram-Sin.

Armani, (also given as Armanum) was an ancient kingdom mentioned by Sargon of Akkad and his grandson Naram-Sin of Akkad as stretching from Ibla to Bit-Nanib, its location is heavily debated, and it continued to be mentioned in the later Assyrian inscriptions.

Armani was attested in the treaties of Sargon in a section that mentions regions located in Assyria and Babylonia or territories adjacent to the East in contrast to the Syrian Ebla location in the west.

The later King Adad-Nirari I of Assyria also mentions Arman as being located east of the Tigris and on the border between Assyria and Babylon. Historians who disagree with the identification of Akkadian Armani with Syrian Armi place it (along with Akkadian Ibla) north of the Hamrin Mountains in northern Iraq.

Armani was later mentioned amongst the cities that rebelled against Naram-Sin, during the middle Assyrian and Kassites periods. The land of Armani was mentioned as located east of the Tigris, king Shalmaneser III mentions his conquest of Halman, but the identification of Halman with Akkadian Armani (Arman) is dubious.

Elam (corresponding to the Sumerian elam(a), the Akkadian elamtu, and the Elamite haltamti) was an ancient Pre-Iranic civilization centered in the far west and southwest of what is now modern-day Iran, stretching from the lowlands of what is now Khuzestan (Luristan of Bakhtiari Lurs) and Ilam Province as well as a small part of southern Iraq.

Elamite states were among the leading political forces of the Ancient Near East. In classical literature, Elam was more often referred to as Susiana a name derived from its capital, Susa. However, Susiana is not synonymous with Elam and, in its early history, was a distinctly separate cultural and political entity.

It has been suggested by early 20th century Armenologists that Old Persian Armina and the Greek Armenoi are continuations of an Assyrian toponym Armânum or Armanî. The land of Ararat-Urartu-Armenia is different synonyms used by different peoples throughout different times for the same land and people.

There are certain Bronze Age records identified with the toponym in both Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources. Another mention by pharaoh Thutmose III of Egypt in the 33rd year of his reign (1446 BC) as the people of Ermenen, and says in their land “heaven rests upon its four pillars”.

Urkesh or Urkish (modern Tell Mozan‎) is a tell, or settlement mound, located in the foothills of the Taurus Mountains in Al-Hasakah Governorate, northeastern Syria. It was founded during the fourth millennium BC by the Hurrians (Armenians).

Urkesh was an ally of the Akkadian Empire through what is believed to have been a dynastic marriage tradition. Tar’am-Agade the daughter of the Akkadian king, Naram-Sin, is believed to have been married to the king of Urkesh.

Ebla was then rebuilt and was attested in the records of the Third Dynasty of Ur. The second Ebla was a continuation of the first, ruled by a new royal dynasty.

It was destroyed at the end of the second millennium BC, which paved the way for the Amorite tribes to settle in the city and form the third Ebla. The third kingdom flourished again as a trade center; it became a subject and an ally to Yamhad (modern Aleppo) until its final destruction by the Hittite king Mursili I in c. 1600 BC.

Ebla maintained its prosperity through a vast trading network. Artifacts from Sumer, Cyprus, Egypt, and as far as Afghanistan were recovered from the palaces of the city. The political organization of Ebla had unique features different from the Sumerian model. The pantheon of gods was mainly north Semitic and included deities exclusive to Ebla.

During the early second millennium BC the city passed into the hands of the rulers of Mari, a city a few hundred miles to the south. The king of Urkesh became a vassal (and apparently an appointed puppet) of Mari.

In the middle of the millennium, Tell Mozan was the location of a Mitanni religious site. The city appears to have been largely abandoned circa 1350 BC, although the reason for this is unknown to archaeologists at this time.

Hurrians-Armenians

The Hurrians (transliteration: Ḫu-ur-ri) were a people of the Bronze Age Near East. They spoke a Hurro-Urartian language called Hurrian, and lived in Anatolia and Northern Mesopotamia.

The Hurrians spoke an ergative-agglutinative language conventionally called Hurrian, which is unrelated to neighbouring Semitic or Indo-European languages, and may have been a language isolate.

The Iron Age Urartian language is closely related to or a direct descendant of Hurrian. Several notable Russian linguists, such as S. A. Starostin and V. V. Ivanov, have claimed that Hurrian and Hattic were related to the Northeast Caucasian languages.

Urartu, corresponding to the biblical Kingdom of Ararat or Kingdom of Van (Urartian: Biai, Biainili) was an Iron Age kingdom centred around Lake Van in the Armenian Highlands.

Strictly speaking, Urartu is the Assyrian term for a geographical region, while “kingdom of Urartu” or “Biainili lands” are terms used in modern historiography for the Proto-Armenian (Hurro-Urartian) speaking Iron Age state that arose in that region.

That a distinction should be made between the geographical and the political entity was already pointed out by König (1955). The landscape corresponds to the mountainous plateau between Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, and the Caucasus mountains, later known as the Armenian Highlands.

The kingdom rose to power in the mid-9th century BC, but was conquered by Media in the early 6th century BC. The heirs of Urartu are the Armenians and their successive kingdoms.

The land of Subartu (Akkadian Šubartum/Subartum/ina Šú-ba-ri, Assyrian mât Šubarri) or Subar (Sumerian Su-bir4/Subar/Šubur) is mentioned in Bronze Age literature. The name also appears as Subari in the Amarna letters, and, in the form Šbr, in Ugarit, and came to be known as the Hurrians or Subarians and their country was known as Subir, Subartu or Shubar.

Subartu was apparently a polity in Northern Mesopotamia, at the upper Tigris. Most scholars accept Subartu as an early name for Assyria proper on the Tigris, although there are various other theories placing it sometimes a little farther to the east, north or west of there. Its precise location has not been identified.

From the point of view of the Akkadian Empire, Subartu marked the northern geographical horizon, just as Martu, Elam and Sumer marked “west”, “east” and “south”, respectively.

The Sumerian mythological epic Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta lists the countries where the “languages are confused” as Subartu, Hamazi, Sumer, Uri-ki (Akkad), and the Martu land (the Amorites).

Similarly, the earliest references to the “four quarters” by the kings of Akkad name Subartu as one of these quarters around Akkad, along with Martu, Elam, and Sumer. Subartu in the earliest texts seem to have been farming mountain dwellers, frequently raided for slaves.

Eannatum of Lagash was said to have smitten Subartu or Shubur, and it was listed as a province of the empire of Lugal-Anne-Mundu; in a later era Sargon of Akkad campaigned against Subar, and his grandson Naram-Sin listed Subar along with Armani (Armenians), -which has been identified with Aleppo-, among the lands under his control. Ishbi-Erra of Isin and Hammurabi also claimed victories over Subar. Aratta has been the oldest state in the Armenian Highland, particularly in the Ayrarat district. Atta means father.

A link between Subarians, who from the earliest historical periods are found not only occupying vast mountainous areas north of Babylonia but also living peacefully within Babylonia side by side with Sumerians and Akkadians, in the east and the much younger Hurrians, who appeared relatively late on the Mesopotamian scene and who played an important role in the history of the Near East in the 2nd millennium BC, in the west was established eventually with the aid of personal names — first from Babylonia and subsequently from Nuzi.

Meanwhile, extra-cuneiform connections of the Hurrians proved to include the biblical Horites as well as sundry Egyptian analogues. With this mounting evidence for the expansion of the Hurrians came also recognition of their substantial influence on other cultures — the Hittite, the Assyrian, and the Canaanite — involving such fields as political history, law and society, religion, art, and linguistics.

The “political and geographic unit” which was one thing to the Babylonians and another thing to the Assyrians. In the former instance it lay ” somewhere between the Tigris, the Zagros Mountains, and the Diyala.” At times it might stand for the whole North.

To the Assyrians, on the other hand, Subartu signified regions in the mountains to the east and north of the Tigris, yet it could extend “sometimes far west into the land of the Amorites and far east into the land of the Elamites.” It is recurring references to the “widespread Subarians ” to the west and northwest of Assyria, which is precisely the territory that figures otherwise as good Hurrian stamping ground.

There is also a mention of “Subartu” in the 8th century BC Poem of Erra (IV, 132), along with other lands that have harassed Babylonia. In Neo-Babylonian times (under Nabopolassar, Nebuchadnezzar II and Nabonidus), Subartu was used as a generic term for Assyria.

Assyria was a major Mesopotamian Semitic kingdom, and often empire, of the Ancient Near East, existing as an independent state for a period of approximately nineteen centuries from c. 2500 BC to 605 BC, spanning the Early Bronze Age through to the late Iron Age.

For a further thirteen centuries, from the end of the 7th century BC to the mid-7th century AD, it survived as a geo-political entity, for the most part ruled by foreign powers, although a number of small Neo-Assyrian states arose at different times throughout this period.

Centered on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia (northern Iraq, northeast Syria and southeastern Turkey), the Assyrians came to rule powerful empires at several times, the last of which grew to be the largest and most powerful empire the world had yet seen.

As a substantial part of the greater Mesopotamian “cradle of civilization” which included Sumer, Akkad and later Babylonia, Assyria was at the height of technological, scientific and cultural achievements for its time. At its peak, the Assyrian empire stretched from Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea to Persia (Iran), and from the Caucasus Mountains (Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan) to the Arabian Peninsula and Egypt.

Assyria is named for its original capital, the ancient city of Aššur (a.k.a. Ashur) which dates to c. 2600 BC (located in what is now the Saladin Province of northern Iraq), originally one of a number of Akkadian city states in Mesopotamia.

In the late 24th century BC, Assyrian kings were regional leaders only, and subject to Sargon of Akkad, who united all the Akkadian Semites and Sumerian-speaking peoples of Mesopotamia under the Akkadian Empire, which lasted from c. 2334 BC to 2154 BC. Following the fall of the Akkadian Empire c. 2154 BC, and the short lived succeeding Sumerian Third Dynasty of Ur which ruled southern Assyria, Assyria regained full independence.

The history of Assyria proper is roughly divided into three periods, known as Old Assyrian, Middle Assyrian and Neo-Assyrian. These terms are in wide use in Assyrology and roughly correspond to the Middle Bronze Age, Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age, respectively. In the Old Assyrian period, Assyria established colonies in Asia Minor and the Levant and, under king Ilushuma, it asserted itself over southern Mesopotamia.

From the late 19th century BC, Assyria came into conflict with the newly created state of Babylonia, which eventually eclipsed the older Sumero-Akkadian states in the south, such as Ur, Isin, Larsa and Kish.

Assyria experienced fluctuating fortunes in the Middle Assyrian period. Assyria had a period of empire under Shamshi-Adad I and Ishme-Dagan in the 19th and 18th centuries BC. Following this, it found itself under Babylonian and Mitanni-Hurrian domination for short periods in the 18th and 15th centuries BC respectively, and another period of great power occurred with the rise of the Middle Assyrian Empire (from 1365 BC to 1056 BC), which included the reigns of great kings, such as Ashur-uballit I, Arik-den-ili, Tukulti-Ninurta I and Tiglath-Pileser I. During this period, Assyria overthrew Mitanni and eclipsed both the Hittite Empire and Egyptian Empire in the Near East.

Beginning with the campaigns of Adad-nirari II from 911 BC, it again became a great power over the next three centuries, overthrowing the Twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt and conquering Egypt, Babylonia, Elam, Urartu/Armenia, Media, Persia, Mannea, Gutium, Phoenicia/Canaan, Aramea (Syria), Arabia, Israel, Judah, Edom, Moab, Samarra, Cilicia, Cyprus, Chaldea, Nabatea, Commagene, Dilmun, the Hurrians, Sutu and Neo-Hittites, driving the Ethiopians and Nubians from Egypt, defeating the Cimmerians and Scythians and exacting tribute from Phrygia, Magan and Punt among others.

After its fall (between 612 BC and 605 BC), Assyria remained a province and geo-political entity under the Babylonian, Median, Achaemenid, Seleucid, Parthian, Roman and Sassanid empires until the Arab Islamic dominance of Mesopotamia in the mid-7th century, when it was finally dissolved, after which the remnants of the Assyrian people (by now Christians) gradually became a minority in their homeland.

Assyria was also sometimes known as Subartu prior to the rise of the city state of Ashur and, after its fall, from 605 BC through to the late 7th century AD variously as Athura and also referenced as Atouria according to Strabo, Syria (Greek), Assyria (Latin) and Assuristan.

The term Assyria can also refer to the geographic region or heartland where Assyria, its empires and the Assyrian people were (and still are) centered. The modern Assyrian Christian (AKA Chaldo-Assyrian) ethnic minority in northern Iraq, north east Syria, south east Turkey and north west Iran are the descendants of the ancient Assyrians.

The earliest Neolithic sites in the region that was to become known as Assyria (and Subartu) were the Jarmo culture c. 7100 BC and Tell Hassuna, the centre of the Hassuna culture, c. 6000 BC. During the 3rd millennium BC, a very intimate cultural symbiosis developed between the Sumerians and the Semitic Akkadians throughout Mesopotamia, which included widespread bilingualism.

The influence of Sumerian (a language isolate, i.e. not related to any other language) on Akkadian (and vice versa) is evident in all areas, from lexical borrowing on a massive scale, to syntactic, morphological, and phonological convergence. This has prompted scholars to refer to Sumerian and Akkadian in the 3rd millennium BC as a sprachbund.

Akkadian gradually replaced Sumerian as the spoken language of Mesopotamia somewhere after the turn of the 3rd and the 2nd millennium BC (the exact dating being a matter of debate), but Sumerian continued to be used as a sacred, ceremonial, literary and scientific language in Mesopotamia until the 1st century AD.

The cities of Assur (also spelled Ashur or Aššur) and Nineveh, together with a number of other towns and cities, existed since at least before the middle of the 3rd millennium BC (c. 2600 BC), although they appear to have been Sumerian-ruled administrative centres at this time, rather than independent states.

According to some Judaeo-Christian writers, the city of Ashur was founded by Ashur the son of Shem, who was deified by later generations as the city’s patron god. However, it is not among the cities said to have been founded by him in Genesis 10:11–12, and the far older Assyrian annals make no mention of the later Judeo-Christian figures of Shem and Ashur.

Assyrian tradition lists an early Assyrian king named Ushpia as having dedicated the first temple to the god Ashur in the city in the 21st century BC. It is highly likely that the city was named in honour of its patron Assyrian god with the same name.

Aššur is a remnant city of the last Ashurite Kingdom. The remains of the city are situated on the western bank of the river Tigris, north of the confluence with the tributary Little Zab river, in modern-day Iraq, more precisely in the Al-Shirqat District (a small panhandle of the Salah al-Din Governorate).

Archaeology reveals the site of the city was occupied by the middle of the third millennium BC. This was still the Sumerian period, before the Assyrian kingdom emerged in the 23rd to 21st century BC. The oldest remains of the city were discovered in the foundations of the Ishtar temple, as well as at the Old Palace. In the following Old Akkadian period, the city was ruled by kings from Akkad. During the “Sumerian Renaissance”, the city was ruled by a Sumerian governor.

Aššur is the name of the city, of the land ruled by the city, and of its tutelary deity. At a late date it appears in Assyrian literature in the forms An-sar, An-sar (ki), which form was presumably read Assur. The name of the deity is written A-šur or Aš-sùr, and in Neo-assyrian often shortened to Aš.

In the Creation tablet, the heavens personified collectively were indicated by this term An-sar, “host of heaven,” in contradistinction to the earth, Ki-sar, “host of earth.” If this name /Anšar/ is derived from */Anśar/, then it may be related to the Egyptian hieroglyphic /NṬR/ (“god”), since hieroglyphic Egyptian /Ṭ/ may be etymological */Ś/.

Osiris (Usiris; also Ausar), is an Egyptian god, usually identified as the god of the afterlife, the underworld and the dead. He was classically depicted as a green-skinned man with a pharaoh’s beard, partially mummy-wrapped at the legs, wearing a distinctive crown with two large ostrich feathers at either side, and holding a symbolic crook and flail.

In Hinduism, the asuras are a group of power-seeking deities related to the more benevolent devas (also known as suras). They are sometimes considered nature spirits. They battle constantly with the devas.

In view of this fact, it seems highly probable that the late writing An-sar for Assur was a more or less conscious attempt on the part of the Assyrian scribes to identify the peculiarly Assyrian deity Asur with the Creation deity An-sar.

On the other hand, there is an epithet Asir or Ashir (“overseer”) applied to several gods and particularly to the deity Asur, a fact which introduced a third element of confusion into the discussion of the name Assur. It is probable then that there is a triple popular etymology in the various forms of writing the name Assur; viz. A-usar, An-sar and the stem asdru.

Athura (Neo-Aramaic for Assyria) was a geographical area within the Persian Achaemenid Empire held by the last nobility of Aššur (Akkadian), known as Athura (Neo-Aramaic) or Atouria (Greek), during the period of 539 BC to 330 BC as a military protectorate state of Persia under the rule of Cyrus the Great.

Although sometimes regarded as a satrapy, Achaemenid royal inscriptions list it as a dahyu, a concept generally interpreted as meaning either a group of people or both a country and its people, without any administrative implication.

 

Ḫaldi (Ḫaldi, also known as Khaldi or Hayk) was one of the three chief deities of Ararat (Urartu). His shrine was at Ardini, meaning city in Hurrian. The other two chief deities were Theispas of Kumenu, and Shivini of Tushpa.

Of all the gods of Ararat (Urartu) pantheon, the most inscriptions are dedicated to him. His wife was the goddess Arubani. He is portrayed as a man with or without a beard, standing on a lion.

Khaldi was a warrior god whom the kings of Urartu would pray to for victories in battle. The temples dedicated to Khaldi were adorned with weapons, such as swords, spears, bow and arrows, and shields hung off the walls and were sometimes known as ‘the house of weapons’.

Hayk or Hayg, also known as Haik Nahapet (Hayk the Tribal Chief) is the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation. His story is told in the History of Armenia attributed to the Armenian historian Moses of Chorene (410 to 490).

The name of the patriarch Hayk is not exactly homophonous with the name for “Armenia”, Hayk’. Hayk is the nominative plural in Classical Armenian of hay, the Armenian term for “Armenian.”

Some claim that the etymology of Hayq from Hayk is impossible and that origin of the term Hay (“Armenian”) is verifiable. Nevertheless, Hayk and Haig are usually connected to hay and hayer (the nominative plural in Modern Armenian), the self-designation of the Armenians. The Armenian word haykakan or haigagan (meaning “that which pertains to Armenians”) finds its stem in this progenitor.

Hayk would then be an aitiological founding figure, like e.g. Asshur for the Assyrians, Indra for the Indians, etc. One of Hayk’s most famous scions, Aram, settled in Eastern Armenia from the Mitanni kingdom (Western Armenia), when Sargon II mentions a king of part of Armenia who bore the (Armenian-Indo-Iranian) name Bagatadi (“Theodore”).

A connection was made in Armenian historiography of the Soviet era, with Hayasa mentioned in Hittite inscriptions. Hayasa-Azzi or Azzi-Hayasa was a Late Bronze Age confederation formed between two kingdoms of Armenian Highlands, Hayasa located South of Trabzon and Azzi, located north of the Euphrates and to the south of Hayasa. The Hayasa-Azzi confederation was in conflict with the Hittite Empire in the 14th century BC, leading up to the collapse of Hatti around 1190 BC.

In Sumerian mythology Haya is mainly known as spouse of the goddess Nidaba/Nissaba, goddess of grain and scribes. In some cases he was identified as father of the goddess Ninlil. He is known both as a “door-keeper” and associated with the scribal arts. His functions are two-fold: he appears to have served as a door-keeper but was also associated with the scribal arts, and may have had an association with grain.

In the god-list AN = dA-nu-um preserved on manuscripts of the first millennium he is mentioned together with dlugal-[ki-sá-a], a divinity associated with door-keepers. Already in the Ur III period Haya had received offerings together with offerings to the “gate”. This was presumably because of the location of one of his shrines.

At least from the Old Babylonian period on he is known as the spouse of the grain-goddess Nidaba/Nissaba, who is also the patroness of the scribal art. While there is plenty of evidence to connect Haya with scribes, the evidence connecting him with grain is mainly restricted to etymological considerations, which are unreliable and suspect.

Nidaba reflects fundamental developments in the creation of Mesopotamian culture, those which take us from agriculture to accounting, to a very fine literary tradition. Nidaba was originally an agricultural deity, more specifically a goddess of grain.

Nidaba’s importance as goddess of writing and patron of scribes is well documented from the Early Dynastic to the early Old Babylonian periods. Sumerian literary compositions often end with the doxology “Praise be to Nidaba!”

The intricate connection between agriculture and accounting/writing implied that it was not long before Nidaba became the goddess of writing. From then on her main role was to be the patron of scribes. She was eventually replaced in that function by the god Nabu.

There is also a divine name Haia(-)amma in a bilingual Hattic-Hittite text from Anatolia which is used as an equivalent for the Hattic grain-goddess Kait in an invocation to the Hittite grain-god Halki, although it is unclear whether this appellation can be related to ha-ià.

Haya is also characterised, beyond being the spouse of Nidaba/Nissaba, as an “agrig”-official of the god Enlil. The god-list designates him as “the Nissaba of wealth”, as opposed to his wife, who is the “Nissaba of Wisdom”.

Attempts have also been made to connect the remote origins of ha-ià with those of the god Ea (Ebla Ḥayya), although there remain serious doubts concerning this hypothesis. How or whether both are related to a further western deity called Ḥayya is also unclear.

The Sumerian tale of the Curse of Agade lists Nidaba as belonging to the elite of the great gods, but traditions vary regarding the genealogy of Nidaba. She appears on separate occasions as the daughter of Enlil, of Uraš, of Ea, and of Anu. Nidaba’s spouse is Haya and together they have a daughter, Sud/Ninlil.

Ninlil (Mulliltu, Mullissu, Mylitta), the patron deity of the city of Ereš (Uruk), is a goddess mainly known as the wife of Enlil, the head of the early Mesopotamian pantheon, and later of Aššur, the head of the Assyrian pantheon. She first appears in the late fourth millennium BCE and survived into the first centuries CE. She was at times syncretised with various healing and mother goddesses as well as with the goddess Ištar.

Because Ninlil primarily appears as Enlil’s consort, she shares some of his characteristics (e.g., his characteristics as creator, father of the gods, head of the pantheon, giver of life). Through her syncretisms she also took on aspects of healing and mother goddesses, but these seem to be secondary rather than original functions. Her epithets include “Queen of the heavens and the earth, queen of the lands” or “Lady of the gods” and “foremost lady of the Anunna gods”.

Ninlil was syncretised with several goddesses. The foremost among these is Sud, the patron deity of the city of Šurrupag, one of the antediluvian cities mentioned in The Sumerian Kinglist. The Sumerian myth of Enlil and Sud is a literary rendering of this syncretism and relates how Sud married Enlil and thus became Ninlil. In addition, Ninlil was also syncretised with several minor healing and mother goddesses.

The Sumerian myth Enlil and Ninlil describes how Enlil pursues Ninlil amorously, resulting in Ninlil giving birth to the moon-god Su’en, the underworld deity Nergal, and the gods Ninazu and Enbilulu. When Enlil was syncretised with Aššur, the highest god of the Assyrian pantheon, Ninlil consequently became Aššur’s wife and was identified with Šeru’a.

In the first millennium BCE, Ninlil became identified with Ištar, like many other goddesses, especially with Ištar of Kiš and Ištar of Arbela. In Herodotus’ Histories, Ninlil under the name Mylitta was identified as the Assyrian version of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. It is possible that this identification was due to Ninlil’s syncretism with Ištar as the goddess of love and war.

As Enlil’s wife, it is likely that Ninlil was worshipped in the same places as her husband. Her main temple at Nippur was called the Eki’ur (Ekur). In addition, Ninlil was worshipped in the city of Tummal, which has not been located yet but is most likely in the vicinity of Nippur.

Unlike her consort Nergal, Ereškigal has a distinctly dual association with death. This is reminiscent of the contradictive nature of her sister Ištar, who simultaneously represents opposing aspects such as male and female; love and war. In Ereškigal’s case, she is the goddess of death but also associated with birth; regarded both as mother(-earth) and a virgin.

Ereškigal is the sister of Ištar and mother of the goddess Nungal. Namtar, Ereškigal’s minister, is also her son by Enlil; and Ninazu, her son by Gugal-ana. The latter is the first husband of Ereškigal, who in later tradition has Nergal as consort. Bēlet-ṣēri appears as the official scribe for Ereškigal in the Epic of Gilgameš.

The iconography of Ereškigal remains unknown except for a possible representation on the so-called Burney Relief, a large terra-cotta plaque (now displayed at the British Museum), the authenticity of which has long been the subject of dispute.

The relief shows a winged nude female with talons for feet. Standing on two recumbent lions and flanked by owls, she sports the horned headdress of divinity and carries a rod and ring in each raised hand. The avian features may be linked to the netherworld whose residents re described as dressed in bird feathers.

Two myths describe the marriage of Sud/Ninlil with Enlil. This implies that Nidaba could be at once the daughter and the mother-in-law of Enlil. Nidaba is also the sister of Ninsumun, the mother of Gilgameš.

Nidaba is frequently mentioned together with the goddess Nanibgal who also appears as an epithet of Nidaba, although most god lists treat her as a distinct goddess.

In a debate between Nidaba and Grain, Nidaba is syncretised with Ereškigal as “Mistress of the Underworld”. Nidaba is also identified with the goddess of grain Ašnan, and with Nanibgal/Nidaba-ursag/Geme-Dukuga, the throne bearer of Ninlil and wife of Ennugi, throne bearer of Enlil.

The largest and most influential Hurrian nation was the multi-ethnic kingdom of Mitanni (Mi-ta-an-ni; also Mittani Mi-it-ta-ni) or Hanigalbat (Assyrian Hanigalbat, Khanigalbat cuneiform Ḫa-ni-gal-bat) or Naharin in ancient Egyptian texts, the Mitanni being perhaps an Indo-Aryan people who formed a ruling class over the Hurrians in northern Syria and south-east Anatolia from ca. 1500 BC–1300 BC.

The population of the Indo-European-speaking Hittite Empire in Anatolia included a large population of Hurrians, and there is significant Hurrian influence in Hittite mythology. By the Early Iron Age, the Hurrians had been assimilated with other peoples, except perhaps in the kingdom of Urartu.

Mitanni came to be a regional power after the Hittite destruction of Amorite Babylon and a series of ineffectual Assyrian kings created a power vacuum in Mesopotamia. Eventually, Mitanni succumbed to Hittite and later Assyrian attacks, and was reduced to the status of a province of the Middle Assyrian Empire.

Within a few centuries of the fall of Washshukanni to Assyria, Mitanni became fully Assyrianized and linguistically Aramaized, and use of the Hurrian language began to be discouraged throughout the Neo-Assyrian Empire.

However, Urartean, a dialect closely related to Hurrian seems to have survived in the new state of Urartu, in the mountainous areas to the north. In the 10th to 9th century BC inscriptions of Adad-nirari II and Shalmaneser III, Hanigalbat is still used as a geographical term.

Chaldea or Chaldaea, from Greek Chaldaia; Akkadian: māt Ḫaldu; Hebrew: Kaśdim; Aramaic: Kaldo) was a small Semitic nation which existed between the 10th and 6th centuries BC. It was located in the marshy land of the far south eastern corner of Mesopotamia, and briefly came to rule Babylon.

During a period of weakness in the East Semitic speaking kingdom of Babylonia, new tribes of West Semitic-speaking migrants arrived in the region from The Levant (Aramea, modern Syria) between the 11th and 10th centuries BC.

The earliest waves consisted of Suteans and Arameans, followed a century later by a group who became known as the Chaldeans or the Chaldees. The Hebrew Bible uses the term Kaśdim and this is translated as Chaldaeans in the Latin Septuagint. These migrations did not affect Assyria to the north, which repelled these incursions.

The short-lived 11th dynasty of the Kings of Babylon (6th century BC) is conventionally known to historians as the Chaldean Dynasty, although only the first four rulers of this dynasty were positively known to be Chaldeans, and the last ruler, Nabonidus and his son and regent Belshazzar, were known to be from Assyria.

When the Babylonian Empire was absorbed into the Persian Achaemenid Empire, the name “Chaldean” completely lost its meaning in reference a particular ethnicity, and came to be applied only to a socioeconomic class of astrologers and astronomers.

The actual Chaldean tribe had long ago become Akkadianized, adopting Mesopotamian culture, religion, language and customs, blending into the majority native population, and they eventually wholly disappeared as a distinct race of people, much as other fellow preceeding migrant peoples, such as the Amorites, Kassites, Suteans and Arameans of Babylonia had also done.

The Persians found this so-called Chaldean societal class masters of reading and writing, and especially versed in all forms of incantation, in sorcery, witchcraft, and the magical arts. They spoke of astrologists and astronomers as Chaldeans; consequently, Chaldean came to mean simply astrologist rather than an ethnic Chaldean. It is used with this specific meaning in the Book of Daniel (Dan. i. 4, ii. 2 et seq.) and by classical writers such as Strabo.

Armenian language

The Armenians according to Diakonoff, are then an amalgam of the Hurrians (and Urartians), Luvians and the Mushki. After arriving in its historical territory, Proto-Armenian would appear to have undergone massive influence on part the languages it eventually replaced. Armenian phonology, for instance, appears to have been greatly affected by Urartian, which may suggest a long period of bilingualism.

In 1981, Hopper proposed to divide all Indo-European languages into Decem and Taihun groups, according to the pronunciation of the numeral ’10’, by analogy with the Centum-Satem isogloss, which is based on the pronunciation of the numeral ‘100’. The Armenian, Germanic, Anatolian, and Tocharian subfamilies belong to the Taihun group because the numeral ’10’ begins from the voiceless t there.

All other Indo-European languages belong to the Decem group because the numeral 10 begins from the voiced d in them. The question then can be framed as which, if either, of these groups reflects the original state of things, and which is an innovation.

Proto-Indo-European voiceless stops are aspirated in Proto-Armenian, a circumstance that gave rise to an extended version of the Glottalic theory, which postulates that this aspiration may have been sub-phonematic already in PIE. In certain contexts, these aspirated stops are further reduced to w, h or zero in Armenian (PIE *pots, Armenian otn, Greek pous “foot”; PIE treis, Armenian erekʿ, Greek treis “three”).

The Armenian hypothesis of the Proto-Indo-European Urheimat, based on the Glottalic theory suggests that the Proto-Indo-European language was spoken during the 4th millennium BC in the Armenian Highland. It is an Indo-Hittite model and does not include the Anatolian languages in its scenario.

The phonological peculiarities proposed in the Glottalic theory would be best preserved in the Armenian language and the Germanic languages, the former assuming the role of the dialect which remained in situ, implied to be particularly archaic in spite of its late attestation.

The Proto-Greek language would be practically equivalent to Mycenaean Greek and date to the 17th century BC, closely associating Greek migration to Greece with the Indo-Aryan migration to India at about the same time (viz., Indo-European expansion at the transition to the Late Bronze Age, including the possibility of Indo-European Kassites).

Haplogroup R1b

It has been hypothetised that R1b people (perhaps alongside neighbouring J2 tribes) were the first to domesticate cattle in northern Mesopotamia some 10,500 years ago. R1b tribes descended from mammoth hunters, and when mammoths went extinct, they started hunting other large game such as bisons and aurochs.

With the increase of the human population in the Fertile Crescent from the beginning of the Neolithic (starting 12,000 years ago), selective hunting and culling of herds started replacing indiscriminate killing of wild animals.

The increased involvement of humans in the life of aurochs, wild boars and goats led to their progressive taming. Cattle herders probably maintained a nomadic or semi-nomadic existence, while other people in the Fertile Crescent (presumably represented by haplogroups E1b1b, G and T) settled down to cultivate the land or keep smaller domesticates.

The analysis of bovine DNA has revealed that all the taurine cattle (Bos taurus) alive today descend from a population of only 80 aurochs. The earliest evidence of cattle domestication dates from circa 8,500 BCE in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic cultures in the Taurus Mountains.

The two oldest archaeological sites showing signs of cattle domestication are the villages of Çayönü Tepesi in southeastern Turkey and Dja’de el-Mughara in northern Iraq, two sites only 250 km away from each others. This is presumably the area from which R1b lineages started expanding – or in other words the “original homeland” of R1b.

The early R1b cattle herders would have split in at least three groups. One branch (M335) remained in Anatolia, but judging from its extreme rarity today wasn’t very successful, perhaps due to the heavy competition with other Neolithic populations in Anatolia, or to the scarcity of pastures in this mountainous environment.

A second branch migrated south to the Levant, where it became the V88 branch. Some of them searched for new lands south in Africa, first in Egypt, then colonising most of northern Africa, from the Mediterranean coast to the Sahel.

The third branch (P297), crossed the Caucasus into the vast Pontic-Caspian Steppe, which provided ideal grazing grounds for cattle. They split into two factions: R1b1a1 (M73), which went east along the Caspian Sea to Central Asia, and R1b1a2 (M269), which at first remained in the North Caucasus and the Pontic Steppe between the Dnieper and the Volga.

It is not yet clear whether M73 actually migrated across the Caucasus and reached Central Asia via Kazakhstan, or if it went south through Iran and Turkmenistan. In the latter case, M73 might not be an Indo-European branch of R1b, just like V88 and M335.

R1b-M269 (the most common form in Europe) is closely associated with the diffusion of Indo-European languages, as attested by its presence in all regions of the world where Indo-European languages were spoken in ancient times, from the Atlantic coast of Europe to the Indian subcontinent, which comprised almost all Europe (except Finland, Sardinia and Bosnia-Herzegovina), Anatolia, Armenia, European Russia, southern Siberia, many pockets around Central Asia (notably in Xinjiang, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan), without forgetting Iran, Pakistan, northern India and Nepal. The history of R1b and R1a are intricately connected to each others.

Haplogroups G

Nowadays haplogroup G is found all the way from Western Europe and Northwest Africa to Central Asia, India and East Africa, although everywhere at low frequencies (generally between 1 and 10% of the population). The only exceptions are the Caucasus region, central and southern Italy and Sardinia, where frequencies typically range from 15% to 30% of male lineages.

Most Europeans belong to the G2a subclade, and most northern and Western Europeans more specifically to G2a-L141.1 (or to a lower extend G2a-M406). About all G2b (L72+, formerly G2c) Europeans are Ashkenazi Jews. G2b has also been found around Afghanistan, probably as an offshoot of Neolithic farmers from the Levant. Haplogroup G1 is found predominantly in Iran, but is also found in the Levant, among Ashkenazi Jews, and Central Asia (notably in Kazakhstan).

G2a makes up 5 to 10% of the population of Mediterranean Europe, but is fairly rare in Northern Europe. The only places where haplogroup G2 exceeds 10% of the population in Europe are Cantabria, central and southern Italy (esp. in the Apennines), Sardinia, northern Greece (Thessaly) and Crete – all mountainous and relatively isolated regions. Other regions with frequencies approaching the 10% include Asturias in northern Spain, Auvergne in central France, Switzerland, Sicily, the Aegean Islands, and Cyprus.

Haplogroup G1 might have originated around modern Iran, while G2 would have developed in Southwest Asia during the Upper Paleolithic, probably in the Late Glacial period (19,000 to 12,000 years ago). At that time humans would all have been hunter-gatherers, and in most cases living in small nomadic or semi-nomadic tribes.

Members of haplogroup G2 appear to have been closely linked to the development of early agriculture in the Levant part of the Fertile Crescent, starting 11,500 years before present. The G2a branch expanded to Anatolia, the Caucasus and Europe, while G2b ended up secluded in the southern Levant and is now found mostly among Jewish people.

There has so far been ancient Y-DNA analysis from only four Neolithic cultures (LBK in Germany, Remedello in Italy and Cardium Pottery in south-west France and Spain), and all sites yielded G2a individuals, which is the strongest evidence at present that farming originated with and was disseminated by members of haplogroup G (although probably in collaboration with other haplogroups such as E1b1b, J, R1b and T).

The highest genetic diversity within haplogroup G is found between the Levant and the Caucasus, in the Fertile Crescent, which is a good indicator of its region of origin. It is thought that early Neolithic farmers expanded from the Levant and Mesopotamia westwards to Anatolia and Europe, eastwards to South Asia, and southwards to the Arabian peninsula and North and East Africa.

The domestication of goats and cows first took place in the mountainous region of eastern Anatolia, including the Caucasus and Zagros. This is probably where the roots of haplogroup G2a (and perhaps of all haplogroup G) are to be found. So far, the only G2a people negative for subclades downstream of P15 or L149.1 were found exclusively in the South Caucasus region.

It has now been proven by the testing of Neolithic remains in various parts of Europe that haplogroup G2a was one of the lineages of Neolithic farmers and herders who migrated from Anatolia to Europe between 9,000 and 6,000 years ago. In this scenario migrants from the eastern Mediterranean would have brought with them sheep and goats, which were domesticated south of the Caucasus about 12,000 years ago. This would explain why haplogroup G is more common in mountainous areas, be it in Europe or in Asia.

The geographic continuity of G2a from Anatolia to Thessaly to the Italian peninsula, Sardinia, south-central France and Iberia already suggested that G2a could be connected to the Printed-Cardium Pottery culture (5000-1500 BCE). Ancient DNA tests conducted on skeletons from a LBK site in Germany (who were L30+) as well as Printed-Cardium Pottery sites from Languedoc-Roussilon in southern France and from Catalonia in Spain all confirmed that Neolithic farmers in Europe belonged primarily to haplogroup G2a. Other haplogroups found so far in Neolithic Europe include E-V13, F and I2a1 (P37.2).

Ötzi the Iceman (see famous individuals below), who lived in the Italian Alps during the Chalcolithic, belonged to haplogroup G2a2a2 (L91), a relatively rare subclade found nowadays in the Middle East, southern Europe (especially Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica) and North Africa. G2a2 (PF3146) is otherwise found at low frequencies all the way from the Levant to Western Europe. In conclusion, Neolithic farmers in Europe would have belonged to G2a, G2a2 (+ subclades) and G2a3 (and at least the M406 subclade).

Haplogroup J2

Haplogroup J2 is thought to have appeared somewhere in the Middle East towards the end of the last glaciation, between 15,000 and 22,000 years ago. Its present geographic distribution argue in favour of a Neolithic expansion from the Fertile Crescent.

This expansion probably correlated with the diffusion of domesticated of cattle and goats (starting c. 8000-9000 BCE) from the Zagros mountains and northern Mesopotamia, rather than with the development of cereal agriculture in the Levant (which appears to be linked rather to haplogroups G2 and E1b1b).

A second expansion of J2 could have occured with the advent of metallurgy, notably copper working (from the Lower Danube valley, central Anatolia and northern Mesopotamia), and the rise of some of the oldest civilisations.

Quite a few ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern civilisations flourished in territories where J2 lineages were preponderant. This is the case of the Hattians, the Hurrians, the Etruscans, the Minoans, the Greeks, the Phoenicians (and their Carthaginian offshoot), the Israelites, and to a lower extent also the Romans, the Assyrians and the Persians. All the great seafaring civilisations from the middle Bronze Age to the Iron Age were dominated by J2 men.

There is a distinct association of ancient J2 civilisations with bull worship. The oldest evidence of a cult of the bull can be traced back to Neolithic central Anatolia, notably at the sites of Çatalhöyük and Alaca Höyük. Bull depictions are omnipresent in Minoan frescos and ceramics in Crete.

Bull-masked terracotta figurines and bull-horned stone altars have been found in Cyprus (dating back as far as the Neolithic, the first presumed expansion of J2 from West Asia). The Hattians, Sumerians, Babylonians, Canaaites, and Carthaginians all had bull deities (in contrast with Indo-European or East Asian religions).

The sacred bull of Hinduism, Nandi, present in all temples dedicated to Shiva or Parvati, does not have an Indo-European origin, but can be traced back to Indus Valley civilisation. Minoan Crete, Hittite Anatolia, the Levant, Bactria and the Indus Valley also shared a tradition of bull leaping, the ritual of dodging the charge of a bull. It survives today in the traditional bullfighting of Andalusia in Spain and Provence in France, two regions with a high percentage of J2 lineages.

Haplogroup I1

Haplogroup I1, the oldest major haplogroup in Europe and in all probability the only one that originated there, apart from very minor haplogroups like C6 and deep subclades of other haplogroups, is the most common I subclade in northern Europe.

It is found mostly in Scandinavia and Finland, where it typically represent over 35% of the male Y-chromosomes. Associated with the Norse ethnicity, I1 is found in all places invaded by ancient Germanic tribes and the Vikings. Other parts of Europe speaking Germanic languages come next in frequency. Germany, Austria, the Low Countries, England and the Scottish Lowlands all have between 10% and 20% of I1 lineages.

It is thought to have arrived from the Middle East as haplogroup IJ sometime between 40,000 and 30,000 years ago, and developed into haplogroup I approximately 25,000 years ago. In other words, Cro-Magnons most probably belonged to IJ and I (alongside older haplogroups like F and C6).

The I1 branch is estimated to have split away from the rest of haplogroup I some 20,000 years ago. I1 is defined by at least 25 unique mutations, which indicates that this lineage experienced a serious population bottleneck. Men belonging to this haplogroup all descend from a single ancestor who lived between 10,000 and 8,000 years ago.

It has been speculated that I1 evolved in isolation in Scandinavia during the late Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic periods, when hunter-gatherers from southern Europe recolonised the northern half of the continent from their LGM refugia. The oldest attested evidence of postglacial resettlement of Scandinavia dates from 11,000 BCE with the appearance of the Ahrensburg culture.

However, evidence emerged from the testing of Early Neolithic Y-DNA from western Hungary that haplogroup I1 was in fact present in central Europe at the time of the Neolithic expansion. A single I1 sample was identified alongside a G2a2b sample, both from the early Linear Pottery (LBK) culture, which would later diffuse the new agricultural lifestyle to most of Poland, Germany and the Low Countries.

It is therefore possible that I1 lineages were among the Mesolithic European hunter-gatherers assimilated by the wave of East Mediterranean Neolithic farmers (represented chiefly by Y-haplogroup G2a). There is also evidence from the Neolithic samples of the Early Neolithic Starčevo and Cardium Pottery cultures that haplogroup I2a lived alongside G2a farmers both in south-east and south-west Europe.

The most likely hypothesis at present is that I1 and I2 lineages were dispersed around Europe during the Mesolithic, and that some branches prospered more than others thanks to an early adoption of agriculture upon contact with the Near Eastern farmers who were slowly making their way across the Balkans and the Mediterranean shores. The small group of farmers from the early LBK culture from Hungary might have formed a blend of I1 and G2a men. Yet distinct families would have spread in different directions and met varying successes in their expansion.

It would appear that a founder effect in the northern LBK population led to a sudden explosion of I1 lineages, perhaps in part thanks to their better knowledge of the Central European terrain and fauna (since hunting was typically practised side by side to agriculture to complement the farmers’ diet). I1 would later have spread to Scandinavia from northern Germany.

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Enki: Confuser of languages

Posted by Fredsvenn on September 19, 2014

Mesopotamia in history and prophecy

In the Sumerian epic entitled Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta, in a speech of Enmerkar, an incantation is pronounced that has a mythical introduction. Kramer’s translation is as follows:

Once upon a time

There was no snake,

There was no scorpion,

There was no hyena, there was no lion,

There was no wild dog, no wolf,

There was no fear, no terror,

Man had no rival.

-

In those days, the lands of Subur (and) Hamazi,

Harmony-tongued Sumer,

The great land of the decrees of princeship,

Uri,

The land having all that is appropriate,

The land Martu, resting in security,

The whole universe, the people in unison

To Enlil in one tongue [spoke].

-

(Then) Enki

The lord of abundance (whose) commands are trustworthy,

The lord of wisdom, who understands the land,

The leader of the gods,

Endowed with wisdom, the lord of Eridu

Changed the speech in their mouths, [brought] contention into it,

Into the speech of man that (until then) had been one.

Enki

Enki (Sumerian: EN.KI(G)) is a god in Sumerian mythology, later known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology. He was originally patron god of the city of Eridu, but later the influence of his cult spread throughout Mesopotamia and to the Canaanites, Hittites and Hurrians.

He was the deity of crafts (gašam); mischief; water, seawater, lakewater (a, aba, ab), intelligence (gestú, literally “ear”) and creation (Nudimmud: nu, likeness, dim mud, make beer). He was associated with the southern band of constellations called stars of Ea, but also with the constellation AŠ-IKU, the Field (Square of Pegasus).

His symbols included a goat and a fish, which later combined into a single beast, the goat Capricorn, recognised as the Zodiacal constellation Capricornus. He was accompanied by an attendant Isimud. He was also associated with the planet Mercury in the Sumerian astrological system.

Beginning around the second millennium BCE, he was sometimes referred to in writing by the numeric ideogram for “40,” occasionally referred to as his “sacred number.” The planet Mercury, associated with Babylonian Nabu (the son of Marduk) was in Sumerian times, identified with Enki.

He was the keeper of the divine powers called Me, the gifts of civilization. His image is a double-helix snake, or the Caduceus, sometimes confused with the Rod of Asclepius used to symbolize medicine.

He is often shown with the horned crown of divinity dressed in the skin of a carp. Considered the master shaper of the world, god of wisdom and of all magic, Enki was characterized as the lord of the Abzu (Apsu in Akkadian), the freshwater sea or groundwater located within the earth.

Early royal inscriptions from the third millennium BCE mention “the reeds of Enki”. Reeds were an important local building material, used for baskets and containers, and collected outside the city walls, where the dead or sick were often carried. This links Enki to the Kur or underworld of Sumerian mythology.

In another even older tradition, Nammu, the goddess of the primeval creative matter and the mother-goddess portrayed as having “given birth to the great gods,” was the mother of Enki, and as the watery creative force, was said to preexist Ea-Enki.

Benito states “With Enki it is an interesting change of gender symbolism, the fertilising agent is also water, Sumerian “a” or “Ab” which also means “semen”. In one evocative passage in a Sumerian hymn, Enki stands at the empty riverbeds and fills them with his ‘water'”. This may be a reference to Enki’s hieros gamos or sacred marriage with Ki/Ninhursag (the Earth).

A large number of myths about Enki have been collected from many sites, stretching from Southern Iraq to the Levantine coast. He figures in the earliest extant cuneiform inscriptions throughout the region and was prominent from the third millennium down to Hellenistic times.

The exact meaning of his name is uncertain: the common translation is “Lord of the Earth”: the Sumerian en is translated as a title equivalent to “lord”; it was originally a title given to the High Priest; ki means “earth”; but there are theories that ki in this name has another origin, possibly kig of unknown meaning, or kur meaning “mound”.

The main temple to Enki is called E-abzu, meaning “abzu temple” (also E-en-gur-a, meaning “house of the subterranean waters”), a ziggurat temple surrounded by Euphratean marshlands near the ancient Persian Gulf coastline at Eridu. In Sumerian E-A means “the house of water”, and it has been suggested that this was originally the name for the shrine to the god at Eridu.

Enki was considered a god of life and replenishment, and was often depicted with two streams of water emanating from his shoulders, one the Tigris, the other the Euphrates. Alongside him were trees symbolising the female and male aspects of nature, each holding the female and male aspects of the ‘Life Essence’, which he, as apparent alchemist of the gods, would masterfully mix to create several beings that would live upon the face of the earth.

Hanbi (father of Pazuzu, Humbaba and Enki)

In Sumerian and Akkadian mythology Hanbi or Hanpa (more commonly known in western text) was the father of Pazuzu (sometimes Fazuzu or Pazuza), the king of the demons of the wind, the bearer of storms and drought, Humbaba or Huwawa, also Humbaba the Terrible, a monstrous giant of immemorial age raised by Utu, the Sun, and Enki.

Pazuzu is often depicted as a combination of diverse animal and human parts. He has the body of a man, the head of a lion or dog, eagle-like taloned feet, two pairs of wings, a scorpion’s tail, and a serpentine penis. He is often depicted with his right hand pointing upward and left hand pointing down. Although Pazuzu is, himself, an evil spirit, he drives away other evil spirits, therefore protecting humans against plagues and misfortunes.

Susa (Persian: Shush; Old Persian Çūšā) was an ancient city of the Elamite, Persian and Parthian empires of Iran. It is located in the lower Zagros Mountains about 250 km (160 mi) east of the Tigris River, between the Karkheh and Dez Rivers. The modern Iranian town of Shush is located at the site of ancient Susa. Shush is the administrative capital of the Shush County of Iran’s Khuzestan province.

Humbaba was the guardian of the Cedar Forest, where the gods lived, by the will of the god Enlil, who “assigned [Humbaba] as a terror to human beings.” His face is that of a lion. “When he looks at someone, it is the look of death.”

In various examples, his face is scribed in a single coiling line like that of the coiled entrails of men and beasts, from which omens might be read. This has led to the name “Guardian of the Fortress of Intestines.”

Another description from Georg Burckhardt translation of Gilgamesh says, “he had the paws of a lion and a body covered in horny scales; his feet had the claws of a vulture, and on his head were the horns of a wild bull; his tail and phallus each ended in a snake’s head.”

Humbaba is first mentioned in Tablet II of the Epic of Gilgamesh: after Gilgamesh and Enkidu become friends following their initial fight, they set out on an adventure to the Cedar Forest beyond the seventh mountain range, to slay Humbaba (Huwawa): “Enkidu,” Gilgamesh vows, “since a man cannot pass beyond the final end of life, I want to set off into the mountains, to establish my renown there.”

Gilgamesh tricks the monster into giving away his seven “radiances” by offering his sisters as wife and concubine. When Humbaba’s guard is down, Gilgamesh punches him and captures the monster. Defeated, Humbaba appeals to a receptive Gilgamesh for mercy, but Enkidu convinces Gilgamesh to slay Humbaba.

In a last effort, Humbaba tries to escape but is decapitated by Enkidu, or in some versions by both heroes together; his head is put in a leather sack, which is brought to Enlil, the god who set Humbaba as the forest’s guardian. Enlil becomes enraged upon learning this and redistributes Humbaba’s seven splendors (or in some tablets “auras”).

“He gave Humbaba’s first aura to the fields. He gave his second aura to the rivers. He gave his third aura to the reed-beds. He gave his fourth aura to the lions. He gave his fifth aura to the palace (one text has debt slaves). He gave his sixth aura to the forests (one text has the hills). He gave his seventh aura to Nungal.”

No vengeance was laid upon the heroes, though Enlil says, “He should have eaten the bread that you eat, and should have drunk the water that you drink! He should have been honored.”

While Gilgamesh thus distracts and tricks this spirit of the cedar forest, the fifty unmarried young men he has brought on the adventure are felling cedar timber, stripping it of its branches and laying it “in many piles on the hillside,” ready to be taken away. Thus the adventure reveals itself in the context of a timber raid, bringing cedar wood to timberless Mesopotamia.

As his death approaches, and Gilgamesh is oppressed with his own mortality, the gods remind him of his great feats: “…having fetched cedar, the unique tree, from its mountains, having killed Humbaba in the forest…”

The iconography of the apotropaic severed head of Humbaba, with staring eyes, flowing beard and wild hair, is well documented from the First Babylonian Dynasty, continuing into Neo-Assyrian art and dying away during the Achaemenid rule.

The severed head of the monstrous Humbaba found a Greek parallel in the myth of Perseus and the similarly employed head of Medusa, which Perseus placed in his leather sack. Archaic Greek depictions of the gorgoneion, a special apotropaic amulet showing the Gorgon head, used most famously by the Olympian deities Athena and Zeus: both are said to have worn the gorgoneion as a protective pendant, render it bearded, an anomaly in the female Gorgon.

According to Marija Gimbutas, gorgoneia represent certain aspects of the Mother Goddess cult associated with “dynamic life energy” and asserts that the images may be related to a cultural continuity persisting since Neolithic examples.

Khumban is the Elamite, an ancient Pre-Iranic civilization centered in the far west and southwest of what is now modern-day Iran, stretching from the lowlands of what is now Khuzestan (Luristan o Bakhtiari Lurs) and Ilam Province as well as a small part of southern Iraq, god of the sky. His sumerian equivalent is Anu. Several Elamite kings, mostly from the Neo-Elamite period, were named in honour of Khumban.

The modern name Elam is a transcription from Biblical Hebrew, corresponding to the Sumerian elam(a), the Akkadian elamtu, and the Elamite haltamti. Elamite states were among the leading political forces of the Ancient Near East. In classical literature, Elam was more often referred to as Susiana a name derived from its capital, Susa. However, Susiana is not synonymous with Elam and, in its early history, was a distinctly separate cultural and political entity.

Situated just to the east of Mesopotamia, Elam was part of the early urbanization during the Chalcolithic period (Copper Age). The emergence of written records from around 3000 BC also parallels Mesopotamian history, where slightly earlier records have been found.

In the Old Elamite period (Middle Bronze Age), Elam consisted of kingdoms on the Iranian plateau, centered in Anshan, and from the mid-2nd millennium BC, it was centered in Susa in the Khuzestan lowlands. Its culture played a crucial role during the Persian Achaemenid dynasty that succeeded Elam, when the Elamite language remained among those in official use. Elamite is generally accepted to be a language isolate.

The Elamites called their country Haltamti, Sumerian ELAM, Akkadian Elamû, female Elamītu “resident of Susiana, Elamite”. Additionally, it is known as Elam in the Hebrew Bible, where they are called the offspring of Elam, eldest son of Shem (Genesis 10:22, Ezra 4:9).

The high country of Elam was increasingly identified by its low-lying later capital, Susa. Geographers after Ptolemy called it Susiana. The Elamite civilization was primarily centered in the province of what is modern-day Khuzestān and Ilam in prehistoric times.

The modern provincial name Khuzestān is derived from the Persian name for Susa: Old Persian Hūjiya “Elam”, in Middle Persian Huź “Susiana”, which gave modern Persian Xuz, compounded with -stan “place” (cf. Sistan “Saka-land”).

Kumarbi is the chief god of the Hurrians. He is the son of Anu (the sky), and father of the storm-god Teshub. He was identified by the Hurrians with Sumerian Enlil, and by the Ugaritians with El.

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Introduction to the Hurrian language

Posted by Fredsvenn on September 19, 2014

Among the numerous languages of ancient near east, Hurrian is an important one, but in contrast to Akkadian or Hittite there are few investigations of this language, and summary works documenting present knowledge are non-existent. The present “Introduction” shall then be interested in providing access to the grammar as reflected in present research.

Many grammatical phenomena that are introduced here may however in the future be modified or even completely reevaluated by others, especially since the study of the Hurrian language is strongly contested. A scientific grammar in the strict sense is not included in this introduction. The previous aids to the learning of Hurrian are however all out-of-date (?) and derive from three grammars and one glossary as well as from numerous scattered published articles.

Works that introduce grammar to the student by means of largely coherent text fragments do not exist. These details shall here be taken into account. As reading pieces artificially formed sample sentences are not used. The sample texts originate primarily from the Mittani letters and a few examples of the Boğazköy texts.

Following after a strictly grammatical portion comes a series of transcriptions, with a translation and a commentary provided as lessons. Lessons 1-10 are text passages from the Mittani letters, Lesions 11-13 originate from the Hurrian-Hittite bilinguals of Boğazköy, and lesson 14 treats the Tišatal-Inscription. The text passages that are taken from the Mittani letters are not arranged by content criteria, but instead suitable text fragments are chosen so that the grammatical material progresses from introductory to difficult.

I give many heartfelt thank in this connection to Dr. Chr. Girbal for reviewing the manuscript, for valuable references and corrections. For the Hurrian, above all the Mittani letters in many cases we had conservations through which I received important advice, but also some errors were preserved.

Introduction to the Hurrian Language by Ilse Wegner

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People’s Climate March – 21st September 2014

Posted by Fredsvenn on September 19, 2014

global warming

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The People’s Climate March (PCM) is an upcoming large-scale activist event to advocate global action against climate change, scheduled to take place on Sunday, September 21, 2014 in New York City.

Described as “an invitation to change everything,” the march was called in May 2014 by 350.org, the environmental organization founded by writer/activist Bill McKibben, and has so far been endorsed by “over 325 organizations, including many international and national unions, churches, schools and community and environmental justice organizations.”

It was conceived as a response to (but not a protest against) the scheduled U.N. Climate Summit of world leaders to take place in New York City two days later, on September 23.

Although based in New York, the event is intended to be global in scope and implication, and there will be “companion demonstrations” worldwide. Organizers intend the march to be “the largest single event on climate that has been organized to date… one so large and diverse that it cannot be ignored.”

The entire PCM project will consist of “numerous events, actions, symposia, presentations, and more organized over the course of the days leading up to the Summit, and in the days following,” of which the march is intended to be “the anchor event.”

People’s Climate March

People’s Climate March (Facebook)

Read and Share: Get Ready to March – 350 – 350.org

Avaaz – The Global People’s Climate March

A Call to Arms: An Invitation to Demand Action on Climate Change

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Six steps short of war to beat ISIS

Posted by Fredsvenn on September 19, 2014

Weakening ISIS requires eroding the support it relies on from tribal leaders, military figures, and ordinary Iraqi Sunnis. Here’s how to do it without bombs.

President Obama is right: There is no military solution. Military actions will not set the stage for political solutions; they will prevent those solutions from taking hold. Escalating military actions against this violent extremist organization is not going to work. The bottom line is there is no immediate action that will make ISIS disappear, even if U.S. airstrikes manage to get the right target somewhere and take out an APC or a truckload of guys with RPGs or whatever.

You can’t destroy an ideology — or even an organization —through bombing (look at the efforts to do so with Al Qaeda . . . lots of members killed in Afghanistan, but the organization took root in a bunch of other countries). Arming the so-called “moderate” opposition in Syria doesn’t mean supporting the good guys. It means sending arms to the Free Syrian Army which, according to the New York Times, “went on to behead six ISIS fighters and then posted the photographs on Facebook.”

A military strike might bring some immediate satisfaction, but we all know revenge is a bad basis for foreign policy, especially when it has such dangerous consequences. As horrifying as the beheading of the two U.S. journalists was, revenge is never a good basis for foreign policy. We should keep in mind that Matthew Olson, the outgoing head of the National Counterterrorism Center, said last week that “there is no credible information that [ISIS] is planning to attack the United States,” and there is “no indication at this point of a cell of foreign fighters operating in the United States – full stop.”

Instead, we have to recognize that military solutions really don’t work. Have we forgotten the failures of the U.S. wars in the Middle East over these many years? We need to keep our focus on the medium- and long-term solutions, something not so easy to do in a political year. We have to recognize that military attacks are not only wrong in a host of ways (illegal in international law, immoral because of civilian casualties, a distraction from vitally needed diplomacy) but also that those strikes are making real solutions impossible.

Why ISIS is so powerful

First,  ISIS has good weapons (mostly U.S. and Saudi weapons that have flooded the region for more than 15 years).  So we need to start thinking about the need for an arms embargo on all sides.

Second, ISIS has good military leadership, some of it provided by Sunni Iraqi generals who were kicked out of their positions in the military when the U.S. invaded and who are now providing training, strategy and military leadership to ISIS-allied militias and ISIS itself.  These guys are a very secular bunch. They drink and smoke, and they will be unlikely to stick around ISIS if they believe they have any chance of recovering their lost jobs, prestige, and dignity.  That could happen over time, but only if a really new government takes hold in Iraq, but it’s not going to be enough to simply choose a new prime minister and announce a new government made up of too many of the same old sectarian faces.

Third,  ISIS has support from Sunni tribal leaders – the very people President Obama says he wants to “persuade” to break with ISIS.  But these are people who have suffered grievously – first during the U.S. invasion, and especially in the years of the US-backed Shi’a-controlled sectarian government of Nuri al-Maliki. They were demonized, attacked, and dispossessed by the government in Baghdad, and many of them thus see ISIS at the moment as the only force they can ally with to challenge that government. And many of them control large and powerful militias now fighting alongside ISIS against the government in Baghdad.

Fourth, ISIS has support from ordinary Iraqi Sunnis, who (also largely secular) may hate what ISIS stands for, its extremism and violence, but who have suffered terribly under Maliki’s sectarian Shi’a-controlled government from arrests, torture, extra-judicial executions, and more. As a result they also are willing to ally with ISIS against Baghdad, at least for now.

Weakening ISIS requires ending the support it relies on from tribal leaders, military figures, and ordinary Iraqi Sunnis – The key question is how do we do that?

Step One: Stop the airstrikes.  Because what we in the U.S. see as “hooray, we got the bad guys” is seen by many in Iraq, especially the very Sunnis the president wants to persuade to break with ISIS, as the U.S. acting as the air force for the Kurds and the Shi’a against the Sunnis. Thus the airstrikes defeat the important goal of ending popular support for ISIS, and instead actually serve to strengthen the extremist organization.

Step Two: Make real the commitment for “No boots on the ground.” In announcements during just the last few weeks, the White House has acknowledged sending close to 1,300 pairs of boots to the ground in Iraq. And who knows how many unacknowledged pairs of CIA and JSOC (special operations forces) sneakers may already be in Iraq? We need a call to “Stop the Slippery Slide Towards Even More Boots on the Ground!”  The U.S. must also stop flooding the region with arms that only result in more violence against civilians, and end its policy of ignoring the violations of human rights and international law committed by its allies.  We need enforcement of the Leahy Law (that prohibits assistance to foreign military units known to violate human rights) here at home.

Step Three: Organize a real diplomatic partnership to deal with ISIS.  Even though the U.S. is carrying out airstrikes and deploying new troops in Iraq, everyone agrees there is no military solution.  So diplomacy must have center stage. That means serious engagement with Iran, among other players. Tehran has more influence in Baghdad than Washington does. If we are serious about wanting to encourage the Iraqi government to accept a truly more inclusive approach, joint pressure from the U.S. and Iran holds the best chance. Even though Iran is predominantly Shi’a itself, the country’s leaders are very worried about the instability in their next-door neighbor resulting from the years of Shi’a sectarianism in Baghdad. The U.S.-Iran nuclear talks appear to be moving very well; this is the moment to broaden those talks to include discussion of a real “grand bargain” between the U.S. and Iran, to include all the regional crises.

Step Four: Initiate a new search for broader diplomatic solutions in the United Nations. That means working to build a real coalition aimed at using diplomatic and financial pressures, not military strikes, at the international level in both Iraq and Syria. All the regional governments have their own concerns. Turkey, for instance, knows that joining a U.S.-led military assault on Iraq could threaten the lives of its 49 diplomats and their families now held by ISIS. A real coalition is needed not for military strikes but for powerful diplomacy. That means pressuring U.S. ally Saudi Arabia to stop arming and financing ISIS and other extremist fighters; pressuring U.S. ally Turkey to stop allowing ISIS and other fighters to cross into Syria over the Turkish border; pressuring U.S. allies Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and others to stop financing and arming everyone and anyone in Syria who says they’re against Assad.  We don’t need another Coalition of the Killing (see Step One for why). Why not work to make it a Coalition of the Rebuilding?

Step Five: Push the UN, despite Lakhdar Brahimi’s resignation, to restart real negotiations on ending the civil war in Syria. That means everyone involved needs to be at the table: the Syrian regime; civil society inside Syria including non-violent activists, women, young people, refugees, etc.; the armed rebels; the external opposition; the regional and global players supporting all sides – the US, Russia, Iran, Saudi, the UAE, Qatar, Turkey, Jordan, and beyond. This could provide a moment to work with Russia on Syria policy, thus building on the successful joint effort to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons and perhaps lessening tensions over Ukraine. An arms embargo on all side should be on the long-term agenda.

Step Six: – Massively increase US humanitarian contributions to U.N. agencies for the now millions of refugees and IDPs in and from both Syria and Iraq. The U.S. has pledged significant funds, but much of it has not actually been made available to the agencies, and more should be pledged and given.​

American Fighting for ISIS Is Killed in Syria

Isis not comparable to al-Qaida pre-9/11, US intelligence officials say

 

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Hurrian religion

Posted by Fredsvenn on September 17, 2014

Armenians

Armenian mythology

Beliefs of the ancient Armenians were associated with the worship of many cults, mainly the cult of ancestors, the worship of heavenly bodies (the cult of the Sun, the Moon cult, the cult of Heaven) and the worship of certain creatures (lions, eagles, bulls).

The main cult, however, was the worship of gods of the Armenian pantheon. The supreme god was the common Indo-European god Ar (as the starting point) followed by Vanatur. Later, due to the influence of Armenian-Persian relations, God the Creator was identified as Aramazd, and during the era of Hellenistic influence, he was identified with Zeus.

Hayk is the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation. In Moses of Chorene’s account, after the arrogant Titanid Bel asserts himself as king, Hayk left Babylon to emigrate with his extended household of at least 300 to settle in the Ararat region, founding a village he names Haykashen.

The figure slain by Hayk’s arrow is variously given as Bel or Nimrod. Hayk is also the name of the Orion constellation in the Armenian translation of the Bible. Hayk’s flight from Babylon and his eventual defeat of Bel, was historically compared to Zeus’s escape to the Caucasus and eventual defeat of the titans.

Theispas (also known as Teisheba or Teišeba) of Kumenu was the Araratian (Urartian) weather-god, notably the god of storms and thunder. He was also sometimes the god of war. He formed part of a triad along with Khaldi and Shivini.

He is a counterpart to the Assyrian god Adad, and the Hurrian god, Teshub. He was often depicted as a man standing on a bull, holding a handful of thunderbolts. His wife was the goddess Huba, who was the counterpart of the Hurrian goddess Hebat.

Tir or Tiur is the Armenian god of wisdom, culture, science and studies. He also was an interpreter of dreams. He was the messenger of the gods and was associated with Apollo. Tir’s temple was located near Artashat.

Khaldi

Ḫaldi (Ḫaldi, also known as Khaldi or Hayk) was one of the three chief deities of Ararat (Urartu). His shrine was at Ardini. The other two chief deities were Theispas of Kumenu, and Shivini of Tushpa. He seem to be the same as the god Haya/Janus.

Of all the gods of Ararat (Urartu) pantheon, the most inscriptions are dedicated to him. His wife was the goddess Arubani. He is portrayed as a man with or without a beard, standing on a lion.

Khaldi was a warrior god whom the kings of Urartu would pray to for victories in battle. The temples dedicated to Khaldi were adorned with weapons, such as swords, spears, bow and arrows, and shields hung off the walls and were sometimes known as ‘the house of weapons’.

Kumarbi

El was identified by the Hurrians with Sumerian Enlil, and by the Ugaritians with Kumarbi, the chief god of the Hurrians. He is the son of Anu (the sky), and father of the storm-god Teshub.

The Song of Kumarbi or Kingship in Heaven is the title given to a Hittite version of the Hurrian Kumarbi myth, dating to the 14th or 13th century BC. It is preserved in three tablets, but only a small fraction of the text is legible.

The song relates that Alalu, considered to have housed “the Hosts of Sky”, the divine family, because he was a progenitor of the gods, and possibly the father of Earth, was overthrown by Anu who was in turn overthrown by Kumarbi.

The word “Alalu” borrowed from Semitic mythology and is a compound word made up of the Semitic definite article “Al” and the Semitic supreme deity “Alu.” The “u” at the end of the word is a termination to denote a grammatical inflection. Thus, “Alalu” may also occur as “Alali” or “Alala” depending on the position of the word in the sentence. He was identified by the Greeks as Hypsistos. He was also called Alalus.

Alalu was a primeval deity of the Hurrian mythology. After nine years of reign, Alalu was defeated by his son Anu. Anuʻs son Kumarbi also defeated his father, and his son Teshub defeated him, too. Alalu fled to the underworld.

Scholars have pointed out the similarities between the Hurrian creation myth and the story from Greek mythology of Uranus, Cronus, and Zeus.

When Anu tried to escape, Kumarbi bit off his genitals and spat out three new gods. In the text Anu tells his son that he is now pregnant with the Teshub, Tigris, and Tašmišu. Upon hearing this Kumarbi spit the semen upon the ground and it became impregnated with two children. Kumarbi is cut open to deliver Tešub. Together, Anu and Teshub depose Kumarbi.

In another version of the Kingship in Heaven, the three gods, Alalu, Anu, and Kumarbi, rule heaven, each serving the one who precedes him in the nine-year reign. It is Kumarbi’s son Tešub, the Weather-God, who begins to conspire to overthrow his father.

From the first publication of the Kingship in Heaven tablets scholars have pointed out the similarities between the Hurrian creation myth and the story from Greek mythology of Uranus, Cronus, and Zeus.

Teshub/Taru

Teshub (also written Teshup or Tešup) was the Hurrian god of sky and storm. He was related to the Hattian Taru. His Hittite and Luwian name was Tarhun (with variant stem forms Tarhunt, Tarhuwant, Tarhunta), although this name is from the Hittite root *tarh- “to defeat, conquer”.

Teshub is depicted holding a triple thunderbolt and a weapon, usually an axe (often double-headed) or mace. The sacred bull common throughout Anatolia was his signature animal, represented by his horned crown or by his steeds Seri and Hurri, who drew his chariot or carried him on their backs.

The Hurrian myth of Teshub’s origin—he was conceived when the god Kumarbi bit off and swallowed his father Anu’s genitals, as such it most likely shares a Proto-Indo-European cognate with the Greek story of Uranus, Cronus, and Zeus, which is recounted in Hesiod’s Theogony. Teshub’s brothers are Aranzah (personification of the river Tigris), Ullikummi (stone giant) and Tashmishu.

In the Hurrian schema, Teshub was paired with Hebat the mother goddess; in the Hittite, with the sun goddess Arinniti of Arinna – a cultus of great antiquity which has similarities with the venerated bulls and mothers at Çatalhöyük in the Neolithic era. His son was called Sarruma, the mountain god.

According to Hittite myths, one of Teshub’s greatest acts was the slaying of the dragon Illuyanka. Myths also exist of his conflict with the sea creature (possibly a snake or serpent) Hedammu.

lluyanka is probably a compound, consisting of two words for “snake”, Proto-Indo-European *h₁illu- and *h₂eng(w)eh₂-. The same compound members, inverted, appear in Latin anguilla “eel”. The *h₁illu- word is cognate to English eel, the anka- word to Sanskrit ahi. Also this dragon is known as Illujanka and Illuyankas.

The Hittite texts were introduced in 1930 by W. Porzig, who first made the comparison of Teshub’s battle with Illuyankas with the sky-god Zeus’ battle with serpent-like Typhon, told in Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke (I.6.3); the Hittite-Greek parallels found few adherents at the time, the Hittite myth of the castration of the god of heaven by Kumarbi, with its clearer parallels to Greek myth, not having yet been deciphered and edited.

In the early Vedic religion, Vritra (Vṛtra वृत्र “the enveloper”), is an Asura and also a serpent or dragon, the personification of drought and adversary of Indra. Vritra was also known in the Vedas as Ahi (“snake”). He appears as a dragon blocking the course of the rivers and is heroically slain by Indra.

Tork Angegh

In Armenian Tor has two meanings 1. grandson, q is the plural form, so torq is grandsons or heirs, 2. rain. In Armenian Artsax Dialect Tor means rain, tora kyalis (galis) means it rains.

Tork Angegh (Armenian: Տորք Անգեղ) was an ancient Armenian masculine deity of strength, courage, of manufacturing and the arts, also called Torq and Durq/Turq. A creature of unnatural strength and power, Tork was considered one of Hayk’s great-grandsons and reportedly represented as an unattractive male figure.

He is mentioned by Armenian 4th Century historian Movses Khorenatsi and considered one of the significant deities of the Armenian pantheon prior to the time when it came under influence by Iranian and Hellenic religion and mythology.

According to the Armenian legend,  Torq (Turq) Angegh was a deity, the son of Angegh and the Grandson of Hayk. Moreover, in historical Armenia there is a place (region) known as Ang'(e)gh, probably named after the father of Torq. Their symbol was ang'(e)gh (a vulture) and they were called – Ang'(e)gh tohmi jarangnere, the heirs of the house of vultures. To(u)rq Angegh has a lot to do with rain and storm,  but at the same time he was described as a man living in ancient Armenia, Armenian deity. 

Only after christianity Torq Angegh got negative meaning and became ugly.  Everything predating 301 AD is ugly,  this way they made the Armenians be ashamed of thier heritage but anyway, the historical memory never forgets the  past, the Armenians call Torq Angeg to the ones who are bigger, who may have had exaggerated features.

Torq was worshipped in historical Armenian territory known as Tegarama or Togorma. The word angel derives from angegh, which is the same as the Sumerian gal, meaning great.

Angels came to the people as birds,  angels are with wings. The angels are the derivation of the bird angegh which means vulture. This bird was worshipped among Armenians and considered to be sacred.

Torq was a deity of storm, rain and thunder.  They believe, he threw a huge stone in the sea and the ships of the enemies of his people got drowned. The Armenians have an expression փոթորիկ անել  “potorik anel” which means to make storms.

Taken in the context of Proto-Indo-European religions, it is conceivable that an etymological connection with Norse god Thor/Tyr is more than a simple coincidence. An analogy is frequently made with the Middle-Eastern god Nergal, also represented as an unattractive male.

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The thunder gods

Posted by Fredsvenn on September 17, 2014

Hittite carving of the sky-god Teshub discovered at Babylon

List of thunder gods

Tir/Tyr and Tork/Thor

Similarities between Thor (Nordic) and Tar (Armenian)

Mercury – the god of transformation, communication and bounderies

Polytheistic peoples of many cultures have postulated a Thunder God, the personification or source of the forces of thunder and lightning; a lightning god does not have a typical depiction, and will vary based on the culture.

In Indo-European cultures, the Thunder God is frequently known as the chief or king of the gods, e.g. Indra in Hinduism, Zeus in Greek mythology, and Perun in ancient Slavic religion; or a close relation thereof, e.g. Thor, son of Odin, in Norse mythology.

The storm gods of the ancient Near East

Abstract:

In many regions of the ancient Near East, not least in Upper Mesopotamia, Syriaand Anatolia where agriculture relied mainly on rainfall, storm-gods ranked amongthe most prominent gods in the local panthea or were even regarded as divinekings, ruling over the gods and bestowing kingship on the human ruler.

While the Babylonian and Assyrian storm-god never held the highest position amongthe gods, he too belongs to the group of ‘great gods’ through most periods ofMesopotamian history.

Given the many cultural contacts and the longevity of tra-ditions in the ancient Near East only a study that takes into account all relevantperiods, regions and text-groups can further our understanding of the differentancient Near Eastern storm-gods.

The study Wettergottgestalten Mesopotamiens und Nord Syriens by the present author (2001) tried to tackle the problems involved, basing itself primarily on the textual record and excluding the genuinely Anatolian storm-gods from the study. Given the lack of handbooks, concordances and the-sauri in ourfield, the book is necessarily heavily burdened with materials collected for the first time.

Despite comprehensive indices, the long lists and footnotes aswell as the lack of an overall synthesis make the study not easily accessible, especially outside the German-speaking community.

In 2003 Alberto Green published a comprehensive monograph entitled The Storm-God in the Ancient Near East whose aims are more ambitious than those of Wettergottgestalten: All regions of the ancient Near East—including a chapter on Yahwe as a storm-god—are taken into account, and both textual and iconographic sources are given equal space.

Unfortunately this book, which was apparently finished and submitted to the publisher before Wettergottgestalten came to its author’s attention, suffers from some serious flaws withregard to methodology, philology and the interpretation of texts and images.

In presenting the following succinct overview I take the opportunity to make up forthe missing synthesis in Wettergottgestalten and to provide some additions and corrections where necessary. It is hoped that this synthesis can also serve as a response to the history of ancient Near Eastern storm-gods as outlined by A. Green.

The storm gods of the ancient Near East: Summary, synthesis, recent studies – PART II

By Daniel Schwemer

Gugalanna

Gu or gud means ox, bull. In Mesopotamian mythology, Gugalanna (lit. “The Great Bull of Heaven” < Sumerian gu “bull”, gal “great”, an “heaven”, -a “of”) was a Sumerian deity as well as the constellation known today as Taurus, one of the twelve signs of the Zodiac.

Gugalanna was sent by the gods to take retribution upon Gilgamesh for rejecting the sexual advances of the goddess Inanna. Gugalanna, whose feet made the earth shake, was slain and dismembered by Gilgamesh and Enkidu.

Inanna, from the heights of the city walls looked down, and Enkidu took the haunches of the bull shaking them at the goddess, threatening he would do the same to her if he could catch her too. For this impiety, Enkidu later dies.

Gugalanna was the first husband of the Goddess Ereshkigal, the Goddess of the Realm of the Dead, a gloomy place devoid of light. It was to share the sorrow with her sister that Inanna later descends to the Underworld.

Taurus was a constellation of the Northern Hemisphere Spring Equinox from about 3,200 BCE. It marked the start of the agricultural year with the New Year Akitu festival (from á-ki-ti-še-gur-ku, = sowing of the barley), an important date in Mespotamian religion.

The death of Gugalanna, represents the obscuring disappearance of this constellation as a result of the light of the sun, with whom Gilgamesh was identified.

In the time in which this myth was composed, the Akitu festival at the Spring Equinox, due to the Precession of the Equinoxes did not occur in Aries, but in Taurus. At this time of the year, Taurus would have disappeared as it was obscured by the sun.

Joseph Campbell wrote in The masks of God: Oriental mythology (1991): “Between the period of the earliest female figurines circa 4500 B.C. … a span of a thousand years elapsed, during which the archaeological signs constantly increase of a cult of the tilled earth fertilised by that noblest and most powerful beast of the recently developed holy barnyard, the bull – who not only sired the milk yielding cows, but also drew the plow, which in that early period simultaneously broke and seeded the earth.

Moreover by analogy, the horned moon, lord of the rhythm of the womb and of the rains and dews, was equated with the bull; so that the animal became a cosmological symbol, uniting the fields and the laws of sky and earth.”

Enlil

Enlil (nlin) (EN = Lord + LÍL = Wind, “Lord (of the) Storm”) is the God of breath, wind, loft and breadth (height and distance). It was the name of a chief deity listed and written about in Sumerian religion, and later in Akkadian (Assyrian and Babylonian), Hittite, Canaanite and other Mesopotamian clay and stone tablets.

The name is perhaps pronounced and sometimes rendered in translations as “Ellil” in later Akkadian, Hittite, and Canaanite literature. In later Akkadian, Enlil is the son of Anshar and Kishar. Enlil was known as the inventor of the mattock (a key agricultural pick, hoe, ax or digging tool of the Sumerians) and helped plants to grow.

The myth of Enlil and Ninlil discusses when Enlil was a young god, he was banished from Ekur in Nippur, home of the gods, to Kur, the underworld for seducing a goddess named Ninlil. Ninlil followed him to the underworld where she bore his first child, the moon god Sin (Sumerian Nanna/Suen). After fathering three more underworld-deities (substitutes for Sin), Enlil was allowed to return to the Ekur.

By his wife Ninlil or Sud, Enlil was father of the moon god Nanna/Suen (in Akkadian, Sin) and of Ninurta (also called Ningirsu). Enlil is the father of Nisaba the goddess of grain, of Pabilsag who is sometimes equated with Ninurta, and sometimes of Enbilulu. By Ereshkigal Enlil was father of Namtar.

In one myth, Enlil gives advice to his son, the god Ninurta, advising him on a strategy to slay the demon Asag. This advice is relayed to Ninurta by way of Sharur, his enchanted talking mace, which had been sent by Ninurta to the realm of the gods to seek counsel from Enlil directly.

Enlil is associated with the ancient city of Nippur, sometimes referred to as the cult city of Enlil. His temple was named Ekur, “House of the Mountain.” Such was the sanctity acquired by this edifice that Babylonian and Assyrian rulers, down to the latest days, vied with one another to embellish and restore Enlil’s seat of worship. Eventually, the name Ekur became the designation of a temple in general.

Grouped around the main sanctuary, there arose temples and chapels to the gods and goddesses who formed his court, so that Ekur became the name for an entire sacred precinct in the city of Nippur. The name “mountain house” suggests a lofty structure and was perhaps the designation originally of the staged tower at Nippur, built in imitation of a mountain, with the sacred shrine of the god on the top.

Enlil was also known as the god of weather. According to the Sumerians, Enlil helped create the humans, but then got tired of their noise and tried to kill them by sending a flood. A mortal known as Utnapishtim survived the flood through the help of another god, Ea, and he was made immortal by Enlil after Enlil’s initial fury had subsided.

As Enlil was the only god who could reach An, the god of heaven, he held sway over the other gods who were assigned tasks by his agent and would travel to Nippur to draw in his power. He is thus seen as the model for kingship. Enlil was assimilated to the north “Pole of the Ecliptic”. His sacred number name was 50.

At a very early period prior to 3000 BC, Nippur had become the centre of a political district of considerable extent. Inscriptions found at Nippur, where extensive excavations were carried on during 1888–1900 by John P. Peters and John Henry Haynes, under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania, show that Enlil was the head of an extensive pantheon. Among the titles accorded to him are “king of lands”, “king of heaven and earth”, and “father of the gods”.

Ishkur/ Adad/Hadad

Adad in Akkadian and Ishkur in Sumerian and Hadad in Aramaic are the names of the storm-god in the Babylonian-Assyrian pantheon. The Akkadian god Adad is cognate in name and functions with northwest Semitic god Hadad.

Adad/Ishkur’s special animal is the bull. He is naturally identified with the Anatolian storm-god Teshub. Occasionally Adad/Ishkur is identified with the god Amurru, the god of the Amorites.

When Enki distributed the destinies, he made Ishkur inspector of the cosmos. Shamash and Adad became in combination the gods of oracles and of divination in general.

The Babylonian center of Adad/Ishkur’s cult was Karkara in the south, his chief temple being E. Karkara. He was worshipped in a temple named E. Durku.

In one litany Ishkur is proclaimed again and again as “great radiant bull, your name is heaven” and also called son of An, lord of Karkara; twin-brother of Enki, lord of abundance, lord who rides the storm, lion of heaven.

Adad/Ishkur’s consort (both in early Sumerian and later Assyrian texts) was Shala, a goddess of grain, who is also sometimes associated with the god Dagan. She was also called Gubarra in the earliest texts. The fire god Gibil (named Gerra in Akkadian) is sometimes the son of Ishkur and Shala.

In other texts Adad/Ishkur is sometimes son of the moon god Nanna/Sin by Ningal and brother of Utu/Shamash and Inanna/Ishtar. He is also occasionally son of Enlil.

Hadad (Ugaritic Haddu) is a Northwest Semitic storm and rain god, cognate in name and origin with the earlier attested East Semitic Akkadian (Assyrian-Babylonian) god Adad. Hadad was also called “Pidar”, “Rapiu”, “Baal-Zephon”, or often simply Baʿal (Lord), but this title was also used for other gods.

The bull was the symbolic animal of Hadad. He appeared bearded, often holding a club and thunderbolt while wearing a bull-horned headdress. Hadad was equated with the Indo-European Nasite Hittite storm-god Teshub; the Egyptian god Set; the Greek god Zeus; and the Roman god Jupiter, as Jupiter Dolichenus.

In Akkadian, Adad is also known as Ramman (“Thunderer”) cognate with Aramaic Rimmon which was a byname of the Aramaic Hadad. Ramman was formerly incorrectly taken by many scholars to be an independent Babylonian god later identified with the Amorite god Hadad.

The Sumerian Ishkur appears in the list of gods found at Fara, but was of far less importance than the Akkadian Adad later became, probably partly because storms and rain are scarce in southern Babylonia and agriculture there depends on irrigation instead.

Also, the gods Enlil and Ninurta also had storm god features which decreased Ishkur’s distinctiveness. He sometimes appears as the assistant or companion of one or the other of the two.

Aamong the Assyrians his cult was especially developed along with his warrior aspect. From the reign of Tiglath-Pileser I (1115–1077 BCE), Adad had a double sanctuary in Assur which he shared with Anu. Anu is often associated with Adad in invocations. The name Adad and various alternate forms and bynames (Dadu, Bir, Dadda) are often found in the names of the Assyrian kings.

Adad/Ishkur presents two aspects in the hymns, incantations, and votive inscriptions. On the one hand he is the god who, through bringing on the rain in due season, causes the land to become fertile, and, on the other hand, the storms that he sends out bring havoc and destruction.

He is pictured on monuments and cylinder seals (sometimes with a horned helmet) with the lightning and the thunderbolt (sometimes in the form of a spear), and in the hymns the sombre aspects of the god on the whole predominate. His association with the sun-god, Shamash, due to the natural combination of the two deities who alternate in the control of nature, leads to imbuing him with some of the traits belonging to a solar deity.

In religious texts, Ba‘al/Hadad is the lord of the sky who governs the rain and thus the germination of plants with the power of his desire that they be fertile. He is the protector of life and growth to the agricultural people of the region. The absence of Ba‘al causes dry spells, starvation, death, and chaos. Also refers to the mountain of the west wind.

The Biblical reference occurs at a time when Yahweh has provided a strong east wind (cf. Exodus 14:21,22) to push back the waters of the Red or Erythrian Sea, so that the sons of Israel might cross over.

In the Ugaritic texts El, the supreme god of the pantheon, resides on Mount Lel (perhaps meaning “Night”) and it is there that the assembly of the gods meet. That is perhaps the mythical cosmic mountain.

The Ba‘al cycle is fragmentary and leaves much unexplained that would have been obvious to a contemporary. In the earliest extant sections there appears to be some sort of feud between El and Ba‘al.

El makes one of his sons who is called both prince Yamm (“Sea”) and judge Nahar (“River”) king over the gods and changes Yamm’s name from yw (so spelled at that point in the text) to mdd ’il, meaning “Darling of El”. El informs Yamm that in order to secure his power, Yamm will have to drive Ba‘al from his throne.

In this battle Ba‘al is somehow weakened, but the divine craftsman Kothar-wa-Khasis strikes Yamm with two magic clubs, Yamm collapses, and Ba’al finishes the fight. ‘Athtart proclaims Ba‘al’s victory and salutes Ba‘al/Hadad as lrkb ‘rpt (“Rider on the Clouds”), a phrase applied by editors of modern English Bibles to Yahweh in Psalm 68.4. At ‘Athtart’s urging Ba‘al “scatters” Yamm and proclaims that Yamm is dead and heat is assured.

A later passage refers to Ba‘al’s victory over Lotan, the many-headed sea-dragon. Due to gaps in the text it is not known whether Lotan is another name for Yamm or a reference to another similar story. In the Mediterranean area, crops were often threatened by winds, storms, and floods from the sea, indicating why the ancients feared the fury of this cosmic being.

A palace is built for Ba‘al/Hadad with cedars from Mount Lebanon and Sirion and also from silver and from gold. In his new palace Ba‘al hosts a great feast for the other gods. When urged by Kothar-wa-Khasis, Ba’al, somewhat reluctantly, opens a window in his palace and sends forth thunder and lightning. He then invites Mot ‘Death’ (god of drought and underworld), another son of El, to the feast.

But Mot is insulted. The eater of human flesh and blood will not be satisfied with bread and wine. Mot threatens to break Ba‘al into pieces and swallow Ba‘al. Even Ba‘al cannot stand against Death. Gaps here make interpretation dubious.

It seems that by the advice of the goddess Shapsh ‘Sun’, Ba‘al has intercourse with a heifer and dresses the resultant calf in his own clothes as a gift to Mot and then himself prepares to go down to the underworld in the guise of a helpless shade. News of Ba‘al’s apparent death leads even El to mourn.

‘Anat, Ba‘al’s sister, finds Ba‘al’s corpse, presumably really the dead body of the calf, and she buries the body with a funeral feast. The god ‘Athtar is appointed to take Ba‘al’s place, but he is a poor substitute. Meanwhile ‘Anat finds Mot, cleaves him with a sword, burns him with fire, and throws his remains on the field for the birds to eat. But the earth is still cracked with drought until Shapsh fetches Ba‘al back.

Seven years later Mot returns and attacks Ba‘al in a battle which ceases only when Shapsh tells Mot that El now supports Ba’al. Thereupon Mot at once surrenders to Ba‘al/Hadad and recognizes Ba‘al as king.

In Sanchuniathon’s account Hadad is once called Adodos, but is mostly named Demarûs. This is a puzzling form, probably from Ugaritic dmrn, which appears in parallelism with Hadad, or possibly a Greek corruption of Hadad Ramān. Sanchuniathon’s Hadad is son of Sky by a concubine who is then given to the god Dagon while she is pregnant by Sky.

This appears to be an attempt to combine two accounts of Hadad’s parentage, one of which is the Ugaritic tradition that Hadad was son of Dagon. The cognate Akkadian god Adad is also often called the son of Anu (“Sky”). The corresponding Hittite god Teshub is likewise son of Anu (after a fashion).

In Sanchuniathon’s account, it is Sky who first fights against Pontus (“Sea”). Then Sky allies himself with Hadad. Hadad takes over the conflict but is defeated, at which point unfortunately no more is said of this matter. Sanchuniathion agrees with Ugaritic tradition in making Muth, the Ugaritic Mot, whom he also calls “Death”, the son of El.

Teshub/Taru

Teshub (also written Teshup or Tešup) was the Hurrian god of sky and storm. He was related to the Hattian Taru. His Hittite and Luwian name was Tarhun (with variant stem forms Tarhunt, Tarhuwant, Tarhunta), although this name is from the Hittite root *tarh- “to defeat, conquer”.

Teshub is depicted holding a triple thunderbolt and a weapon, usually an axe (often double-headed) or mace. The sacred bull common throughout Anatolia was his signature animal, represented by his horned crown or by his steeds Seri and Hurri, who drew his chariot or carried him on their backs.

The Hurrian myth of Teshub’s origin—he was conceived when the god Kumarbi bit off and swallowed his father Anu’s genitals, as such it most likely shares a Proto-Indo-European cognate with the Greek story of Uranus, Cronus, and Zeus, which is recounted in Hesiod’s Theogony. Teshub’s brothers are Aranzah (personification of the river Tigris), Ullikummi (stone giant) and Tashmishu.

In the Hurrian schema, Teshub was paired with Hebat the mother goddess; in the Hittite, with the sun goddess Arinniti of Arinna – a cultus of great antiquity which has similarities with the venerated bulls and mothers at Çatalhöyük in the Neolithic era. His son was called Sarruma, the mountain god.

According to Hittite myths, one of Teshub’s greatest acts was the slaying of the dragon Illuyanka. Myths also exist of his conflict with the sea creature (possibly a snake or serpent) Hedammu.

lluyanka is probably a compound, consisting of two words for “snake”, Proto-Indo-European *h₁illu- and *h₂eng(w)eh₂-. The same compound members, inverted, appear in Latin anguilla “eel”. The *h₁illu- word is cognate to English eel, the anka- word to Sanskrit ahi. Also this dragon is known as Illujanka and Illuyankas.

The Hittite texts were introduced in 1930 by W. Porzig, who first made the comparison of Teshub’s battle with Illuyankas with the sky-god Zeus’ battle with serpent-like Typhon, told in Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke (I.6.3); the Hittite-Greek parallels found few adherents at the time, the Hittite myth of the castration of the god of heaven by Kumarbi, with its clearer parallels to Greek myth, not having yet been deciphered and edited.

In the early Vedic religion, Vritra (Vṛtra वृत्र “the enveloper”), is an Asura and also a serpent or dragon, the personification of drought and adversary of Indra. Vritra was also known in the Vedas as Ahi (“snake”). He appears as a dragon blocking the course of the rivers and is heroically slain by Indra.

Thor

In Norse mythology, Thor is a hammer-wielding god associated with thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength, the protection of mankind, and also hallowing, healing and fertility. The cognate deity in wider Germanic mythology and paganism was known in Old English as Þunor and in Old High German as Donar, stemming from a Common Germanic *Þunraz (meaning “thunder”).

Tanngrisnir (Old Norse “teeth-barer, snarler”) and Tanngnjóstr (Old Norse “teeth grinder”) are the goats who pull the god Thor’s chariot in Norse mythology.

In Norse mythology, Mjölnir is the hammer of Thor. Mjölnir is depicted as one of the most fearsome weapons, capable of leveling mountains. In his account of Norse mythology Snorri Sturluson relates how the hammer was made by the dwarven brothers Sindri and Brokkr, and how its characteristically short handle was due to a mishap during its manufacture.

Jörmungandr, alternately referred to as the Midgard Serpent or World Serpent, is a sea serpent of the Norse mythology, the middle child of Loki and the giantess Angrboða.

According to the Prose Edda, Odin took Loki’s three children by Angrboða, Fenrisúlfr, Hel and Jörmungandr. He tossed Jörmungandr into the great ocean that encircles Midgard. The serpent grew so big that he was able to surround the Earth and grasp his own tail, and as a result he earned the alternate name of the Midgard Serpent or World Serpent. When he lets go, the world will end. Jörmungandr’s arch-enemy is the god Thor.

In the poem Völuspá, a dead völva recounts the history of the universe and foretells the future to the disguised god Odin, including the death of Thor. Thor, she foretells, will do battle with the great serpent during the immense mythical war waged at Ragnarök, and there he will slay the monstrous snake, yet after he will only be able to take nine steps before succumbing to the venom of the beast.

Afterwards, says the völva, the sky will turn black before fire engulfs the world, the stars will disappear, flames will dance before the sky, steam will rise, the world will be covered in water, and then it will be raised again; green and fertile. Thor’s sons will survive, and return after these events with Thor’s hammer.

In the poem Grímnismál, the god Odin, in disguise as Grímnir, and tortured, starved and thirsty, imparts in the young Agnar cosmological lore, including that Thor resides in Þrúðheimr, and that, every day, Thor wades through the rivers Körmt and Örmt, and the two Kerlaugar. There, Grímnir says, Thor sits as judge at the immense cosmological world tree, Yggdrasil.

Zeus

Zeus is the “Father of Gods and men” who rules the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father rules the family according to the ancient Greek religion. He is the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. Zeus is etymologically cognate with and, under Hellenic influence, became particularly closely identified with Roman Jupiter.

Zeus is the Greek continuation of *Di̯ēus, the name of the Proto-Indo-European god of the daytime sky, also called *Dyeus ph2tēr (“Sky Father”). The god is known under this name in the Rigveda (Vedic Sanskrit Dyaus/Dyaus Pita), Latin (compare Jupiter, from Iuppiter, deriving from the Proto-Indo-European vocative *dyeu-ph2tēr), deriving from the root *dyeu- (“to shine”, and in its many derivatives, “sky, heaven, god”).

Zeus is the only deity in the Olympic pantheon whose name has such a transparent Indo-European etymology. The earliest attested forms of the name are the Mycenaean Greek di-we and di-wo, written in the Linear B syllabic script.

Zeus is the child of Cronus and Rhea, and the youngest of his siblings. In most traditions he is married to Hera, although, at the oracle of Dodona, his consort is Dione: according to the Iliad, he is the father of Aphrodite by Dione.

He is known for his erotic escapades. These resulted in many godly and heroic offspring, including Athena, Apollo and Artemis, Hermes, Persephone (by Demeter), Dionysus, Perseus, Heracles, Helen of Troy, Minos, and the Muses (by Mnemosyne); by Hera, he is usually said to have fathered Ares, Hebe and Hephaestus.

As Walter Burkert points out in his book, Greek Religion, “Even the gods who are not his natural children address him as Father, and all the gods rise in his presence.” For the Greeks, he was the King of the Gods, who oversaw the universe.

As Pausanias observed, “That Zeus is king in heaven is a saying common to all men”. In Hesiod’s Theogony Zeus assigns the various gods their roles. In the Homeric Hymns he is referred to as the chieftain of the gods.

His symbols are the thunderbolt, eagle, bull, and oak. In addition to his Indo-European inheritance, the classical “cloud-gatherer” (Greek: Nephelēgereta) also derives certain iconographic traits from the cultures of the Ancient Near East, such as the scepter. Zeus is frequently depicted by Greek artists in one of two poses: standing, striding forward, with a thunderbolt leveled in his raised right hand, or seated in majesty.

Indra

Indra, also known as Śakra in the Vedas, is the leader of the Devas or demi gods and the lord of Svargaloka or heaven in Hinduism. He is the god of rain and thunderstorms. He wields a lightning thunderbolt known as vajra and rides on a white elephant known as Airavata.

Indra is the supreme deity and is the twin brother of Agni and is also mentioned as an Āditya, son of Aditi. His home is situated on Mount Meru in the heaven. He has many epithets, notably vṛṣan the bull, and vṛtrahan, slayer of Vṛtra, Meghavahana “the one who rides the clouds” and Devapati “the lord of gods or devas”.

Indra appears as the name of a daeva in Zoroastrianism (but please note that word Indra can be used in general sense as a leader, either of devatas or asuras), while his epithet, Verethragna, appears as a god of victory. Indra is also called Śakra frequently in the Vedas and in Buddhism (Pali: Sakka).

He is celebrated as a demiurge who pushes up the sky, releases Ushas (dawn) from the Vala cave, and slays Vṛtra; both latter actions are central to the Soma sacrifice. He is associated with Vajrapani – the Chief Dharmapala or Defender and Protector of the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha who embodies the power of the Five Dhyani Buddhas.

On the other hand, he also commits many kinds of mischief (kilbiṣa) for which he is sometimes punished. In Puranic mythology, Indra is bestowed with a heroic and almost brash and amorous character at times, even as his reputation and role diminished in later Hinduism with the rise of the Trimurti.

Jupiter

Jupiter (Latin: Iuppiter; genitive case: Iovis) or Jove is the king of the gods and the god of sky and thunder in myth. Jupiter was the chief deity of Roman state religion throughout the Republican and Imperial eras, until Christianity became the dominant religion of the Empire. In Roman mythology, he negotiates with Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome, to establish principles of Roman religion such as sacrifice.

Jupiter is usually thought to have originated as a sky god. His identifying implement is the thunderbolt, and his primary sacred animal is the eagle, which held precedence over other birds in the taking of auspices and became one of the most common symbols of the Roman army. The two emblems were often combined to represent the god in the form of an eagle holding in its claws a thunderbolt, frequently seen on Greek and Roman coins.

As the sky-god, he was a divine witness to oaths, the sacred trust on which justice and good government depend. Many of his functions were focused on the Capitoline (“Capitol Hill”), where the citadel was located. He was the chief deity of the early Capitoline Triad with Mars and Quirinus. In the later Capitoline Triad, he was the central guardian of the state with Juno and Minerva. His sacred tree was the oak.

The Romans regarded Jupiter as the equivalent of the Greek Zeus, and in Latin literature and Roman art, the myths and iconography of Zeus are adapted under the name Iuppiter. In the Greek-influenced tradition, Jupiter was the brother of Neptune and Pluto. Each presided over one of the three realms of the universe: sky, the waters, and the underworld. The Italic Diespiter was also a sky god who manifested himself in the daylight, usually but not always identified with Jupiter.

Tinia, the god of the sky and the highest god in Etruscan mythology, is usually regarded as his Etruscan counterpart. He was the husband of Thalna, a divine figure usually regarded as a goddess of childbirth, or Uni, the supreme goddess of the Etruscan pantheon and the patron goddess of Perugia, identified by the Etruscans as their equivalent of Juno in Roman mythology and Hera in Greek mythology, and the father of Hercle (Greek Heracles, Latin Hercules). In the Etruscan tradition, it is Uni who grants access to immortality to the demigod Hercle by offering her breast milk to him.

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