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
    https://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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  • 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 origin of the dragon cult

Posted by Fredsvenn on April 17, 2015

Khabur

The Khabur or Khaboor River is the largest perennial tributary to the Euphrates in Syrian territory. Although the Khabur originates in Turkey, the karstic springs around Ra’s al-‘Ayn are the river’s main source of water.

Several important wadis join the Khabur north of Al-Hasakah, together creating what is known as the Khabur Triangle, or Upper Khabur area. From north to south, annual rainfall in the Khabur basin decreases from over 400 mm to less than 200 mm, making the river a vital water source for agriculture throughout history. The Khabur joins the Euphrates near the town of Busayrah.

Since the 1930s, numerous archaeological excavations and surveys have been carried out in the Khabur Valley, indicating that the region has been occupied since the Lower Palaeolithic period. Important sites that have been excavated include Tell Halaf, Tell Brak, Tell Leilan, Tell Mashnaqa, Tell Mozan and Tell Barri.

The region has given its name to a distinctive painted ware found in northern Mesopotamia and Syria in the early 2nd millennium BCE, called Khabur ware. The region of the Khabur River is also associated with the rise of the Kingdom of the Mitanni that flourished c.1500-1300 BC.

Hubur (ḪU.BUR, Hu-bur) is a Sumerian term meaning “river”, “watercourse” or “netherworld”. It is usually the “river of the netherworld”. A connection to Tiamat has been suggested with parallels to her description as “Ummu-Hubur”. Hubur is also referred to in the Enuma Elish as “mother sea Hubur, who fashions all things”. The river Euphrates has been identified with Hubur as the source of fertility in Sumer.

This Babylonian “river of creation” has been linked to the Hebrew “river of paradise”. Gunkel and Zimmern suggested resemblance in expressions and a possible connection between the Sumerian river and that found in later literary tradition in the Book of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 47) likely influencing imagery of the “River of Water of Life” in the Apocalypse (Revelation 22). They also noted a connection between the “Water of Life” in the legend of Adapa and a myth translated by A.H. Sayce called “An address to the river of creation”.

Delitzch has suggested the similar Sumerian word Habur probably meant “mighty water source”, “source of fertility” or the like. This has suggested the meaning of Hubur to be “river of fertility in the underworld”. Linda Foubister has suggested the river of creation was linked with the importance of rivers and rain in the fertile crescent and suggested it was related to the underworld as rivers resemble snakes.

Samuel Eugene Balentine suggested that the “pit” (sahar) and “river” or “channel” (salah) in the Book of Job (Job 33:18) were referencing the Hubur. The god Marduk was praised for restoration or saving individuals from death when he drew them out of the waters of the Hubur, a later reference to this theme is made in Psalm 18 (Psalms 18).

In Sumerian cosmology, the souls of the dead had to travel across the desert or steppe, cross the Hubur river, to the mountainland of Kur. Here the souls had to pass through seven different walled and gated locations to reach the netherworld. The Annanuki administrated Kur as if it were a civilized settlement both architecturally and politically.

Frans Wiggermann connected Hubur to the Habur, a tributary of the Euphrates far away from the Sumerian heartland, there was also a town called Haburatum east of the Tigris.

He suggested that as the concept of the netherworld (as opposed to an underworld) in Sumerian cosmogeny lacked the modern concept of an accompanying divine ruler of a location underneath the earth, the geographical terminology suggested that it was located at the edges of the world and that its features derived in part from real geography before shifting to become a demonic fantasy world.

The Balikh River is a perennial river that originates in the spring of ‘Ayn al-‘Arus (Syria). It flows due south and joins the Euphrates at the modern town of Ar-Raqqah. After the Khabur River, the Balikh is the largest tributary to the Euphrates on Syrian soil. It is an important source of water and large parts have recently been subjected to canalization.

The beginning

Portasar (“Navel” in Armenian) Göbekli Tepe (“Potbelly Hill” in Turkish) is an archaeological site at the top of a mountain ridge in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey, approximately 12 km (7 mi) northeast of the city of Şanlıurfa. The tell has a height of 15 m (49 ft) and is about 300 m (984 ft) in diameter. It is approximately 760 m (2,493 ft) above sea level.

The antecedents to civilization in this region of the middle east were the Kebaran culture (a nomadic late paleolithic people who lived in the Levant and Sinai around 18,000 to 10,000 BC), and the Natufian culture (a mesolithic hunter-gatherer culture from about 12,500 to 9,500 BC who were unusual in that they built permanent settlements even before the dawn of agriculture).

The Younger Dryas stadial, also referred to as the Big Freeze, was a 1,300 (± 70) year period of cold climatic conditions and drought which occurred between approximately 12,800 and 11,500 years BP (between 10,800 and 9500 BC). The Younger Dryas stadial is thought to have been caused by the collapse of the North American ice sheets, although rival theories have been proposed.

The Younger Dryas is often linked to the adoption of agriculture in the Levant. It is argued that the cold and dry Younger Dryas lowered the carrying capacity of the area and forced the sedentary Early Natufian population into a more mobile subsistence pattern. Further climatic deterioration is thought to have brought about cereal cultivation.

While there exists relative consensus regarding the role of the Younger Dryas in the changing subsistence patterns during the Natufian, its connection to the beginning of agriculture at the end of the period is still being debated.

Göbekli Tepe

Göbekli Tepe is a site in Turkey, just north of the Syrian border, a bit south of the Euphrates river, and about 15 km northeast of the town Sanilurfa in Turkey. The site is on top of a small hill (Göbekli Tepe means “hill with a navel” or “hill with a belly” in Turkish). The site was examined in the early 1960’s by archeologists from the University of Chicago, and the University of Istanbul. It was part of a larger survey of the region, and at the time, it was dismissed as the remains of a medieval monastery.

Three decades later, a local shepherd noticed some oddly shaped stones on the ground. The news reached the curators of the local museum in Sanilurfa, about 50 km away, and eventually to the government ministry in charge of antiquities. They contacted the German Archeological Institute in Istanbul. As a consequence, Klaus Schmidt re-examined the site in 1994, and noted that various artifacts found at the site were similar to those found at nearby sites which had been carbon dated to as early as 9,000 B.C. Excavation began the next year, with a German-Turkish team.

Spectacular discoveries in recent years have illuminated the very start of mankind’s love of monuments. The earliest megalith in the world has been found in the cradle of farming. Before cultivation even began, abundant resources in the region where the Levant meets Anatolia encouraged hunting and foraging groups into a more settled lifestyle. Eventually some lived in permanent settlements.

Göbekli Tepe is one of the most important archaeological discoveries of modern times, pushing back the origins of monumentality beyond the emergence of agriculture. We are pleased to present a summary of work in progress by the excavators of this remarkable site and their latest thoughts about its role and meaning.

At the dawn of the Neolithic, hunter-gatherers congregating at Göbekli Tepe created social and ideological cohesion through the carving of decorated pillars, dancing, feasting—and, almost certainly, the drinking of beer made from fermented wild crops.

It is here at Göbekli Tepe, in what is now Turkey, that the world’s first megalithic monument has been uncovered. Its most recent building phase has been radiocarbon dated c. 8000 BC, with an earlier phase ending c. 9000 BC. Circles of T-shaped pillars are adorned with animal reliefs. These are similar to those at a later monument in Nevali Çori, 30 kilometers to the north-west of Göbekli, suggesting a continuity of population from Mesolithic to Neolithic.

Archaeologist Klaus Schmidt found that the most common bone remains at Göbekli Tepe are those of aurochs, an extinct species of ox. Aurochs were massive and terrifyingly strong. Just one required a communal effort to hunt. A hunting band capable of that feat would have to be large and well-organised, capable also of building such a monument. Schmidt sees it as the world’s first temple. Some of the T-shaped pillars have carved arms, and so may represent stylized humans.

Ekur

Ekur (É.KUR, E2.KUR, E-kur) is a Sumerian term meaning “mountain house”. It is the assembly of the gods in the Garden of the gods, parallel in Greek mythology to Mount Olympus and was the most revered and sacred building of ancient Sumer.

There is a clear association of Ziggurats with mountain houses. Mountain houses play a certain role in Mesopotamian mythology and Assyro-Babylonian religion, associated with deities such as Anu, Enlil, Enki and Ninhursag. In the Hymn to Enlil, the Ekur is closely linked to Enlil whilst in Enlil and Ninlil it is the abode of the Annanuki, from where Enlil is banished.

The fall of Ekur is described in the Lament for Ur. In mythology, the Ekur was the centre of the earth and location where heaven and earth were united. It is also known as Duranki and one of its structures is known as the Kiur (“great place”). Enamtila has also been suggested by Piotr Michalowski to be a part of the Ekur.

A hymn to Nanna illustrates the close relationship between temples, houses and mountains. “In your house on high, in your beloved house, I will come to live, O Nanna, up above in your cedar perfumed mountain”. This was carried-on into later tradition in the Bible by the prophet Micah who envisions “the mountain of the temple of Yahweh”.

Schmidt engaged in some speculation regarding the belief systems of the groups that created Göbekli Tepe, based on comparisons with other shrines and settlements. He assumed shamanic practices and suggested that the T-shaped pillars represent human forms, perhaps ancestors, whereas he saw a fully articulated belief in gods only developing later in Mesopotamia, associated with extensive temples and palaces.

This corresponds well with an ancient Sumerian belief that agriculture, animal husbandry, and weaving were brought to mankind from the sacred mountain Ekur, which was inhabited by Annuna deities, very ancient gods without individual names. Schmidt identified this story as a primeval oriental myth that preserves a partial memory of the emerging Neolithic.

It is also apparent that the animal and other images give no indication of organized violence, i.e. there are no depictions of hunting raids or wounded animals, and the pillar carvings ignore game on which the society mainly subsisted, like deer, mainly in favor of formidable creatures like lions, snakes, spiders, and scorpions.

Hursag

Hursag (transcribed cuneiform: ḫur.saḡ(HUR.SAG)) is a Sumerian term variously translated as meaning “mountain”, “hill”, “foothills” or “piedmont”. Thorkild Jacobsen extrapolated the translation in his later career to mean literally, “head of the valleys”.

Mountains play a certain role in Mesopotamian mythology and Assyro-Babylonian religion, associated with deities such as Anu, Enlil, Enki and Ninhursag. Some scholars also identify hursag with an undefined mountain range or strip of raised land outside the plain of Mesopotamia.

In a myth variously entitled by Samuel Noah Kramer as “The Deeds and Exploits of Ninurta” and later Ninurta Myth Lugal-e by Thorkild Jacobsen, Hursag is described as a mound of stones constructed by Ninurta after his defeat of a demon called Asag. Ninurta’s mother Ninlil visits the location after this great victory. In return for her love and loyalty, Ninurta gives Ninlil the hursag as a gift. Her name is consequentially changed from Ninlil to Ninhursag or the “mistress of the Hursag”.

In Sumerian religion, Ninlil (NIN.LÍL”lady of the open field” or “Lady of the Wind”), also called Sud, in Assyrian called Mulliltu, is the consort goddess of Enlil.  In some texts Ninlil is also the mother of Ninurta, the heroic god who slew Asag the demon with his mace, Sharur.

After her death, she became the goddess of the wind, like Enlil. She may be the Goddess of the South Wind referred to in the story of Adapa, as her husband Enlil was associated with northerly winter storms. As “Lady Wind” she may be associated with the figure of the Akkadian demon “Lil-itu”, thought to have been the origin of the Hebrew Lilith legend.

Her parentage is variously described. Most commonly she is called the daughter of Haia (god of stores) and Nunbarsegunu (or Ninshebargunnu [a goddess of barley] or Nisaba). Another Akkadian source says she is the daughter of Anu (aka An) and Antu (Sumerian Ki). Other sources call her a daughter of Anu and Nammu.

In Sumerian mythology, Ninhursag or Ninkharsag was a mother goddess of the mountains, and one of the seven great deities of Sumer. She is principally a fertility goddess. Temple hymn sources identify her as the ‘true and great lady of heaven’ (possibly in relation to her standing on the mountain) and kings of Sumer were ‘nourished by Ninhursag’s milk’.

Nin-hursag means “lady of the sacred mountain” (from Sumerian NIN “lady” and ḪAR.SAG “sacred mountain, foothill”, possibly a reference to the site of her temple, the E-Kur (House of mountain deeps) at Eridu. She had many names including Ninmah (“Great Queen”); Nintu (“Lady of Birth”); Mamma or Mami (mother); Aruru, Belet-Ili (lady of the gods, Akkadian).

According to legend her name was changed from Ninmah to Ninhursag by her son Ninurta in order to commemorate his creation of the mountains. As Ninmenna, according to a Babylonian investiture ritual, she placed the golden crown on the king in the Eanna temple.

As the wife and consort of Enki she was also referred to as Damgulanna (great wife of heaven) or Damkina (faithful wife). She had many epithets including shassuru or ‘womb goddess’, tabsut ili ‘midwife of the gods’, ‘mother of all children’ and ‘mother of the gods’. In this role she is identified with Ki in the Enuma Elish. She had shrines in both Eridu and Kish.

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. Of all the gods of Ararat (Urartu) pantheon, the most inscriptions are dedicated to him. His wife was the goddesses Arubani, the Urartian’s goddess of fertility and art, and Bagmashtu.

Tell Halaf/Hassuna/Shulaveri Shomu/Samarra/Ubaid

Tell Halaf is an archaeological site in the Al Hasakah governorate of northeastern Syria, near the Turkish border, just opposite Ceylanpınar. It was the first find of a Neolithic culture, subsequently dubbed the Halaf culture, characterized by glazed pottery painted with geometric and animal designs. The site dates to the 6th millennium BCE and was later the location of the Aramaean city-state of Guzana or Gozan.

The site is located near the city of Ra’s al-‘Ayn in the fertile valley of the Khabur River (Nahr al-Khabur), close to the modern border with Turkey. The name Tell Halaf is a local Aramaic placename, tell meaning “hill”, and Tell Halaf meaning “made of former city”; what its original inhabitants called their settlement is not known.

Tell Halaf is the type site of the Halaf culture, which developed from Neolithic III at this site without any strong break. The Tell Halaf site flourished from about 6,100 to 5,400 BCE, a period of time that is referred to as the Halaf period. The Halaf culture was succeeded in northern Mesopotamia by the Ubaid culture. The site was then abandoned for a long period.

The Hassuna culture is a Neolithic archaeological culture in northern Mesopotamia dating to the early sixth millennium BC. It is named after the type site of Tell Hassuna in Iraq. Other sites where Hassuna material has been found include Tell Shemshara.

By around 6000 BC people had moved into the foothills (piedmont) of northernmost Mesopotamia where there was enough rainfall to allow for “dry” agriculture in some places. These were the first farmers in northernmost Mesopotamia. They made Hassuna-style pottery (cream slip with reddish paint in linear designs). Hassuna people lived in small villages or hamlets ranging from 2 to 8 acres (3.2 ha).

At Tell Hassuna, adobe dwellings built around open central courts with fine painted pottery replace earlier levels with crude pottery. Hand axes, sickles, grinding stones, bins, baking ovens and numerous bones of domesticated animals reflect settled agricultural life.

Female figurines have been related to worship and jar burials within which food was placed related to belief in afterlife. The relationship of Hassuna pottery to that of Jericho suggests that village culture was becoming widespread.

The Samarra culture is a Chalcolithic archaeological culture in northern Mesopotamia that is roughly dated to 5500–4800 BCE. It partially overlaps with Hassuna and early Ubaid. Samarran material culture was first recognized during excavations by German Archaeologist Ernst Herzfeld at the site of Samarra. Other sites where Samarran material has been found include Tell Shemshara, Tell es-Sawwan and Yarim Tepe.

At Tell es-Sawwan, evidence of irrigation—including flax—establishes the presence of a prosperous settled culture with a highly organized social structure. The culture is primarily known for its finely made pottery decorated against dark-fired backgrounds with stylized figures of animals and birds and geometric designs.

This widely exported type of pottery, one of the first widespread, relatively uniform pottery styles in the Ancient Near East, was first recognized at Samarra. The Samarran Culture was the precursor to the Mesopotamian culture of the Ubaid period.

Shulaveri-Shomu culture is a Late Neolithic/Eneolithic culture that existed on the territory of present-day Georgia, Azerbaijan and the Armenian Highlands. The culture is dated to mid-6th or early-5th millennia BC and is thought to be one of the earliest known Neolithic cultures. The Shulaveri-Shomu culture begins after the 8.2 kiloyear event which was a sudden decrease in global temperatures starting ca. 6200 BC and which lasted for about two to four centuries.

The 8.2 kiloyear event is the term that climatologists have adopted for a sudden decrease in global temperatures that occurred approximately 8,200 years before the present, or c. 6,200 BCE, and which lasted for the next two to four centuries. Milder than the Younger Dryas cold spell that preceded it, but more severe than the Little Ice Age that would follow, the 8.2 kiloyear cooling was a significant exception to general trends of the Holocene climatic optimum. During the event, atmospheric methane concentration decreased by 80 ppb or an emission reduction of 15%, by cooling and drying at a hemispheric scale.

Drier conditions were notable in North Africa, while East Africa suffered five centuries of general drought. In West Asia and especially Mesopotamia, the 8.2 kiloyear event was a three-hundred year aridification and cooling episode, which may have provided the natural force for Mesopotamian irrigation agriculture and surplus production that were essential for the earliest class-formation and urban life. However multi-centennial changes around the same period are difficult to link specifically to the approximately 100-year abrupt event as recorded most clearly in the Greenland ice cores.

Shulaveri culture predates the Kura-Araxes culture and surrounding areas, which is assigned to the period of ca. 4000 – 2200 BC, and had close relation with the middle Bronze Age culture called Trialeti culture (ca. 3000 – 1500 BC). Sioni culture of Eastern Georgia possibly represents a transition from the Shulaveri to the Kura-Arax cultural complex.

In around ca. 6000–4200 B.C the Shulaveri-Shomu and other Neolithic/Chalcolithic cultures of the Southern Caucasus use local obsidian for tools, raise animals such as cattle and pigs, and grow crops, including grapes.

Many of the characteristic traits of the Shulaverian material culture (circular mudbrick architecture, pottery decorated by plastic design, anthropomorphic female figurines, obsidian industry with an emphasis on production of long prismatic blades) are believed to have their origin in the Near Eastern Neolithic (Hassuna, Halaf).

The Ubaid period as a whole, based upon the analysis of grave goods, was one of increasingly polarised social stratification and decreasing egalitarianism. Bogucki describes this as a phase of “Trans-egalitarian” competitive households, in which some fall behind as a result of downward social mobility.

Morton Fried and Elman Service have hypothesised that Ubaid culture saw the rise of an elite class of hereditary chieftains, perhaps heads of kin groups linked in some way to the administration of the temple shrines and their granaries, responsible for mediating intra-group conflict and maintaining social order.

It would seem that various collective methods, perhaps instances of what Thorkild Jacobsen called primitive democracy, in which disputes were previously resolved through a council of one’s peers, were no longer sufficient for the needs of the local community.

Ubaid culture originated in the south, but still has clear connections to earlier cultures in the region of middle Iraq. The appearance of the Ubaid folk has sometimes been linked to the so-called Sumerian problem, related to the origins of Sumerian civilisation.

Whatever the ethnic origins of this group, this culture saw for the first time a clear tripartite social division between intensive subsistence peasant farmers, with crops and animals coming from the north, tent-dwelling nomadic pastoralists dependent upon their herds, and hunter-fisher folk of the Arabian littoral, living in reed huts.

Stein and Özbal describe the Near East oikumene that resulted from Ubaid expansion, contrasting it to the colonial expansionism of the later Uruk period. “A contextual analysis comparing different regions shows that the Ubaid expansion took place largely through the peaceful spread of an ideology, leading to the formation of numerous new indigenous identities that appropriated and transformed superficial elements of Ubaid material culture into locally distinct expressions”.

The Ubaid house is a dwelling used by the Ubaid culture of the Neolithic era. The Ubaid house is the predecessor of the Ubaid temple as well as Sumerian domestic and temple architecture.

The period from 4500–4000 BC saw a period of intense and rapid urbanisation with the Ubaid culture spread into northern Mesopotamia and was adopted by the Halaf culture. Ubaid artifacts spread also all along the Arabian littoral, showing the growth of a trading system that stretched from the Mediterranean coast through to Oman.

The archaeological record shows that Arabian Bifacial/Ubaid period came to an abrupt end in eastern Arabia and the Oman peninsula at 3800 BC, just after the phase of lake lowering and onset of dune reactivation. At this time, increased aridity led to an end in semi-desert nomadism, and there is no evidence of human presence in the area for approximately 1000 years, the so-called “Dark Millennium”. This might be due to the 5.9 kiloyear event at the end of the Older Peron.

The 5.9 kiloyear event was one of the most intense aridification events during the Holocene Epoch. It occurred around 3900 BC, ending the Neolithic Subpluvial and probably initiated the most recent desiccation of the Sahara desert.

Thus, it also triggered worldwide migration to river valleys, such as from central North Africa to the Nile valley, which eventually led to the emergence of the first complex, highly organized, state-level societies in the 4th millennium BC. It is associated with the last round of the Sahara pump theory.

A model by Claussen et al. (1999) suggested rapid desertification associated with vegetation-atmosphere interactions following a cooling event, Bond event 4. Bond et al. (1997) identified a North Atlantic cooling episode 5,900 years ago from ice-rafted debris, as well as other such now called Bond events that indicate the existence of a quasiperiodic cycle of Atlantic cooling events, which occur approximately every 1,470 years ± 500 years.

For some reason, all of the earlier of these arid events (including the 8.2 kiloyear event) were followed by recovery, as attested by the wealth of evidence of humid conditions in the Sahara between 10,000 and 6,000 BP.

However, it appears that the 5.9 kiloyear event was followed by a partial recovery at best, with accelerated desiccation in the millennium that followed. For example, Cremaschi (1998) describes evidence of rapid aridification in Tadrart Acacus of southwestern Libya, in the form of increased aeolian erosion, sand incursions and the collapse of the roofs of rock shelters. The 5.9 kiloyear event was also recorded as a cold event in the Erhai Lake (China) sediments.

In the Middle East the 5.9 kiloyear event contributed to the abrupt end of the Ubaid period. It was associated with an abandonment of unwalled villages and the rapid growth of hierarchically structured walled cities, and in the Jemdet Nasr period, with the first book-keeping scripts.

The Neolithic Subpluvial — sometimes called the Holocene Wet Phase — was an extended period (from about 7500–7000 BCE to about 3500–3000 BCE) of wet and rainy conditions in the climate history of northern Africa. It was both preceded and followed by much drier periods.

The Neolithic Subpluvial was the most recent of a number of periods of “Wet Sahara” or “Green Sahara”, during which the region was much more moist and supported a richer biota and human population than the present-day desert.

The Neolithic Subpluvial began during the 7th millennium BC and was strong for about 2,000 years; it waned over time and ended after the 5.9 kiloyear event (3900 BCE). Then the drier conditions that prevailed prior to the Neolithic Subpluvial returned; desertification advanced, and the Sahara Desert formed (or re-formed). Arid conditions have continued through to the present day.

Mechta-Afalou or Mechtoid are an extinct people of North Africa. Mechtoids inhabited Northern Africa during late Paleolithic and Mesolithic (Ibero-Maurusian archaeological culture).Mechtoids were assimilated during Neolithic and early Bronze Age by bearers of Afroasiatic languages. The Capsian culture, from the anthropological standpoint, is considered an indigenous development.

Neolithic Subpluvial

Sahara pump theory

Leyla-Tepe/Majkop

The Leyla-Tepe culture is a culture of archaeological interest from the Chalcolithic era. Its population was distributed on the southern slopes of the Central Caucasus from 4350 until 4000 BC. They apparently buried their dead in ceramic vessels. Similar amphora burials in the South Caucasus are found in the Western Georgian Jar-Burial Culture.

The culture has been linked to the north Ubaid period monuments, in particular, with the settlements in the Eastern Anatolia Region. The settlement is of a typical Western-Asian variety, with the dwellings packed closely together and made of mud bricks with smoke outlets.

Jar-Burial Culture, an archaeological culture that was widespread in the second century B.C. to the eighth century A.D. in the basins of the Kura and Araks rivers in Transcaucasia, particularly in Caucasian Albania.

The culture was characterized by the burial of the dead in a strongly flexed position on their sides in large clay jars. The burial inventory contained articles made of metal (bronze and primarily iron tools and weapons and bronze, silver, and gold ornaments), wood, stone, clay, glass, and paste. Roman, Arsacid, and Sassanid coins have been found in later burials.

The Jar-Burial culture belonged to a settled farming population, which also engaged in stock raising, hunting, fishing, and the production of handicrafts.

It has been suggested that the Leyla-Tepe were the founders of the Maykop culture (ca. 3700 BC—3000 BC),  a major Bronze Age archaeological culture in the Western Caucasus region of Southern Russia.

An expedition to Syria by the Russian Academy of Sciences revealed the similarity of the Maykop and Leyla-Tepe artifacts with those found recently while excavating the ancient city of Tel Khazneh I, from the 4th millennium BC.

In the south it borders the approximately contemporaneous Kura-Araxes culture (3500—2200 BC), which extends into eastern Anatolia and apparently influenced it. To the north is the Yamna culture, including the Novotitorovka culture (3300—2700), which it overlaps in territorial extent. It is contemporaneous with the late Uruk period in Mesopotamia.

The Kuban River is navigable for much of its length and provides an easy water-passage via the Sea of Azov to the territory of the Yamna culture, along the Don and Donets River systems. The Maykop culture was thus well-situated to exploit the trading possibilities with the central Ukraine area.

New data revealed the similarity of artifacts from the Maykop culture with those found recently in the course of excavations of the ancient city of Tell Khazneh in northern Syria, the construction of which dates back to 4000 BC.

Its inhumation practices were characteristically Indo-European, typically in a pit, sometimes stone-lined, topped with a kurgan (or tumulus). Stone cairns replace kurgans in later interments.

In the early 20th century, researchers established the existence of a local Maykop animal style in the artifacts found. This style was seen as the prototype for animal styles of later archaeological cultures: the Maykop animal style is more than a thousand years older than the Scythian, Sarmatian and Celtic animal styles.

Gamkrelidze and Ivanov, whose views are highly controversial[citation needed], suggest that the Maykop culture (or its ancestor) may have been a way-station for Indo-Europeans migrating from the South Caucasus and/or eastern Anatolia to a secondary Urheimat on the steppe.

This would essentially place the Anatolian stock in Anatolia from the beginning, and in this respect only, agrees with Colin Renfrew’s Anatolian hypothesis. Considering that some attempt has been made to unite Indo-European with the Northwest Caucasian languages, an earlier Caucasian pre-Urheimat is not out of the question (see Proto-Pontic). However, most linguists and archaeologists consider this hypothesis incorrect, and prefer the Eurasian steppes as the genuine IE Urheimat.

Kurgan

Kurgan is the Russian word (of Tatar (Turkic) origin) for tumulus, a type of burial mound or barrow, heaped over a burial chamber, often of wood. These are mounds of earth and stones raised over a grave or graves. Originating with its use in Soviet archaeology, the word is now widely used for tumuli in the context of Eastern European and Central Asian archaeology.

The earliest kurgans appeared in the 4th millennium BC in the Caucasus, and are associated with the Indo-Europeans. Kurgans were built in the Eneolithic, Bronze, Iron, Antiquity and Middle Ages, with old traditions still active in Southern Siberia and Central Asia. Kurgan cultures are divided archeologically into different sub-cultures, such as Timber Grave, Pit Grave, Scythian, Sarmatian, Hunnish and Kuman-Kipchak.

The earliest kurgans appeared in the 4th millennium BC in the Caucasus.[2] Kurgan barrows were characteristic of Bronze Age peoples, from the Altay Mountains to the Caucasus, Ukraine, Romania, and Bulgaria. Kurgans were used in the Ukrainian and Russian Steppes but spread into eastern, central, and northern Europe in the 3rd millennium BC.

In Sumerian mythology, Kur is considered the first ever dragon, and usually referred to the Zagros mountains to the east of Sumer. The cuneiform for “kur” was written ideographically, a pictograph of a mountain. It can also mean “foreign land”.
Mythology

Although the word for earth was Ki, Kur came to also mean land, and Sumer itself, was called “Kur-gal” or “Great Land”. “Kur-gal” also means “Great Mountain” and is a metonym for both Nippur and Enlil who rules from that city. Ekur, “mountain house” was the temple of Enlil at Nippur. A second, popular meaning of Kur was “underworld”, or the world under the earth.

Kur was sometimes the home of the dead, it is possible that the flames on escaping gas plumes in parts of the Zagros mountains would have given those mountains a meaning not entirely consistent with the primary meaning of mountains and an abode of a god. The eastern mountains as an abode of the god is popular in Ancient Near Eastern mythology.

The underworld Kur is the void space between the primeval sea (Abzu) and the earth (Ma). Kur is almost identical with “Ki-gal”, “Great Land” which is the Underworld (thus the ruler of the Underworld is Ereshkigal “Goddess of The Great Land”.

In later Babylonian myth Kur is possibly an Anunnaki, brother of Ereshkigal, Inanna, Enki, and Enlil. In the Enuma Elish in Akkadian tablets from the first millennium BC, Kur is part of the retinue of Tiamat, and seems to be a snakelike dragon. In one story the slaying of the great serpent Kur results in the flooding of the earth.

A first millennium BC cylinder seal shows a fire-spitting winged dragon—a nude woman between its wings—pulling the chariot of the god who subdued it, another depicts a god riding a dragon, a third a goddess.

Ma/Me

Ma is a Sumerian word meaning “land” that in Sumerian mythology was also used to regard Primordial Land. There seems to be some loss in records as to the transition, but the same name Ma appears again later, also tied to the Earth, in Ma being referred to as “Mother of the mountain” – in this case, Kur (Mountain) the first dragon god.

In Sumerian mythology, a me or parşu is one of the decrees of the gods foundational to those social institutions, religious practices, technologies, behaviors, mores, and human conditions that make civilization, as the Sumerians understood it, possible. They are fundamental to the Sumerian understanding of the relationship between humanity and the gods.

The underworld Kur is the void space between the primeval sea (Abzu) and the earth (Ma). Which seem a likely pairing for parentage, in a fuzzy set of records. Ma was a local goddess at Ma and a Phrygian alternative name for Cybele.

Comana was a city of Cappadocia and later Cataonia. The Hittite toponym Kummanni is considered likely to refer to Comana, but the identification is not considered proven. Its ruins are at the modern Turkish village of Şar, Tufanbeyli district, Adana Province.

Kummanni was the name of the main center the Anatolian kingdom of Kizzuwatna. Its location is uncertain, but is believed to be near the classical settlement of Comana in Cappadocia. It was the major cult center of the Hurrian chief deity, Tešup. Its Hurrian name Kummeni simply translates as “The Shrine.”

The city persisted into the Early Iron Age, and appears as Kumme in Assyrian records. It was located on the edge of Assyrian influence in the far northeastern corner of Mesopotamia, separating Assyria from Urartu and the highlands of southeastern Anatolia.

Kumme was still considered a holy city in Assyrian times, both in Assyria and in Urartu. Adad-nirari II, after re-conquering the city, made sacrifices to “Adad of Kumme.” The three chief deities in the Urartian pantheon were “the god of Ardini, the god of Kumenu, and the god of Tushpa.”

Africa

A worldwide phylogeographic analysis of the R1b haplogroup provided strong support to the Asia-to-Africa back-migration hypothesis. The analysis of the distribution of the R-V88 haplogroup in >1800 males from 69 African populations revealed a striking genetic contiguity between the Chadic-speaking peoples from the central Sahel and several other Afroasiatic-speaking groups from North Africa.

The R-V88 coalescence time was estimated at 9200–5600 kya, in the early mid Holocene. We suggest that R-V88 is a paternal genetic record of the proposed mid-Holocene migration of proto-Chadic Afroasiatic speakers through the Central Sahara into the Lake Chad Basin, and geomorphological evidence is consistent with this view.

A thorough study by Cruciani et al. (2004) which analyzed populations from Morocco concludes that the North African pattern of Y-chromosomal variation (including both J1 and R1b haplogroups) is largely of Neolithic origin, which suggests that the Neolithic transition in this part of the world was accompanied by demic diffusion of Berber-speaking pastoralists from the Algerian Desert into Eastern Morocco, although later papers have suggested that this date could have been as long as ten thousand years ago, with the transition from the Oranian, or Iberomaurusian, to the Capsian culture in North Africa.

The Iberomaurusian culture is a backed bladelet industry found throughout the Maghreb. The industry was originally described in 1909 by the French scholar Pallary, at the site of Abri Mouillah. Other names for the industry have included “Mouillian” and “Oranian”.

Recent fieldwork indicates that the culture existed in the region from around the timing of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), at 20,000 BP, until the Younger Dryas. The culture is succeeded by the Capsian, which was originally thought to have expanded into the Maghreb from the Near East, although later studies have indicated that the Iberomaurusian were the progenitors of the Capsian.

The Capsian culture (named after the town of Gafsa in Tunisia) was a Mesolithic culture of the Maghreb, which lasted from about 10,000 to 6,000 BCE. It was concentrated mainly in modern Tunisia, and Algeria, with some sites attested in southern Spain to Sicily.

It is traditionally divided into two horizons, the Capsien typique (Typical Capsian) and the Capsien supérieur (Upper Capsian) which are sometimes found in chronostratigraphic sequence. They represent variants of one tradition, the differences between them being both typological and technological.

During this period, the environment of the Maghreb was open savanna, much like modern East Africa, with Mediterranean forests at higher altitudes. The Capsian diet included a wide variety of animals, ranging from aurochs and hartebeest to hares and snails; there is little evidence concerning plants eaten. During the succeeding Neolithic of Capsian Tradition, there is evidence from one site, for domesticated, probably imported, ovicaprids.

Anatomically, Capsian populations were modern Homo sapiens, traditionally classed into two variegate types: Proto-Mediterranean and Mechta-Afalou on the basis of cranial morphology. Some have argued that they were immigrants from the east, whereas others argue for population continuity based on physical skeletal characteristics and other criteria, et cetera.

Given its widespread occurrence in the Sahara, the Capsian culture is identified by some historical linguists as a possible ancestor of the speakers of modern Afroasiatic languages of North Africa which includes the Berber languages in North Africa.

Nothing is known about Capsian religion, but their burial methods suggest a belief in an afterlife. Decorative art is widely found at their sites, including figurative and abstract rock art, and ochre is found coloring both tools and corpses. Ostrich eggshells were used to make beads and containers; seashells were used for necklaces. The Ibero-Maurusian practice of extracting the central incisors continued sporadically, but became rarer.

The Eburran industry which dates between 13,000 and 9,000 BCE in East Africa, was formerly known as the “Kenya Capsian” due to similarities in the stone blade shapes.

Within Africa, the highest frequencies of the R-V88 haplogroup (and its commonest sub-clade, R-V69) were observed in the central Sahel (northern Cameroon, northern Nigeria, Chad, and Niger).

Immediately south of this region (southern Cameroon and southern Nigeria), frequencies drastically dropped to 0.0–4.8%. The central Sahel is characterized by a strong linguistic fragmentation with populations speaking languages belonging to three of the four linguistic families of Africa (Afroasiatic, Niger-Congo, and Nilo-Saharan).

When the linguistic affiliation of the populations from the central Sahel was also taken into account, a clear-cut divide was observed between those speaking Afroasiatic languages (including the Berber-speaking Tuareg, the Semitic Arab Shuwa, and Chadic-speaking populations from northern Cameroon) and the other populations (Mann–Whitney test P=1.4 × 10−3), with Chadic-speaking populations mostly contributing to this difference.

It is worth noting that, if the finding of 20% R-V88 chromosomes among the Hausa is representative, this population, encompassing by far more people than all other Chadic speakers, also encompasses the highest absolute number of V88 carriers.

In contrast to prior studies on nuclear (mostly autosomal) ins/del and microsatellite markers, the Chadic are distinguished from the Nilo-Saharan-speaking populations at the Y chromosome variation level. Repeated assimilations of Nilo-Saharan females over generations may account for these conflicting signals.

Although the presence of the haplogroup R-V88 at non-negligible frequencies in some Niger-Congo-speaking populations from the central Sahel can be accounted for by Chadic admixture favored by geographic contiguity, the presence of this haplogroup both in northern Africa and the central Sahel is especially intriguing given that >1500 km across the Sahara separate the two regions. The expansion time for the haplogroup R-V88 in Africa, under two different population models (see Materials and methods), was found to be 9.2–5.6 ky (95% CI=7.6–10.8 ky and 4.7–6.6 ky, respectively).

Diverse hypotheses have been proposed to explain the process by which proto-Chadic speakers arrived to the Lake Chad region. Ehret has put forward a model for Afroasiatic languages with a primary division between the Omotic languages of Ethiopia and an Erythraean subgroup. This, in turn, has been subdivided into Cushitic and North Erythraean, the latter including Berber, Semitic, Ancient Egyptian, and Chadic.

In his opinion, around 7000 kya proto-Chadic Afroasiatic speakers may have moved west through the Central Sahara and then farther south into the Lake Chad Basin. Blench, in turn, suggested that speakers of proto-Cushitic–Chadic language migrated east-to-west from the Middle Nile to the Lake Chad, and recent mtDNA data support this view.

However, in contrast to the mtDNA, a strong connection between Chadic and other Afroasiatic populations from Northern Africa is revealed by the Y chromosome data. This finding would indicate the trans-Saharan a more likely scenario than the inter-Saharan hypothesis, at least as far as the male component of gene pool is concerned. In this view, it is tempting to speculate that the Y chromosome haplogroup R-V88 represents a preserved genetic record of gene flow along the same axis as the proposed spread of proto-Chadic languages.

Indeed, geomorphological evidence4 from the paleolakes that existed in the Sahara during the mid-Holocene indicates that these lakes could have covered an area as large as about 10% of the Sahara, providing an important corridor for human migrations across the region.

In summary, our data indicate a significant male contribution from northern Africa (and ultimately Asia) to the gene pool of the central Sahel. The trans-Saharan population movements resulting in this genetic pattern would seem to mirror the spread of the proto-Chadic languages, and most likely took place during the early mid Holocene, a period when giant paleolakes may have provided a corridor for human migrations across what is now the Sahara desert.

At the craddle of Afroasiatic (or Northern Afroasiatic), Capsian culture, stone circles and possibly E1b1b and R1b-V88, the Upper Egypt/Nubia area, we find striking cultural parallels with the SW Europe and southern Turkey. The exact spread of these cultural elements is so far a mystery. Both “missing links” are NW Africa and West Asia south of Turkey. Whatever the case, it seems that the Nile area got West Eurasian influences in the Paleolithic, which explain the presence of R1b and possibly other haplogroups.

The earliest blade industries in North Africa are called Ibero-Maurusian or Oranian (after a site near Oran). The industry appears to have spread throughout the coastal regions of North Africa between 15,000 and 10,000 BC.

Between about 9000 and 5000 BC, the Capsian culture made its appearance showing signs to belong to the Neolithic and began influencing the IberoMaurusian, and after about 3000 BC the remains of just one human culture can be found throughout the former region.

Neolithic civilization (marked by animal domestication and subsistence agriculture) developed in the Saharan and Mediterranean North Africa after the Levante between 6000 and 2000 BC. This type of economy, so richly depicted in the Tassili n’Ajjer cave paintings, predominated in North Africa until the classical period.

The cave paintings found at Tassili n’Ajjer, north of Tamanrasset, Algeria, and at other locations depict vibrant and vivid scenes of everyday life in central North Africa during the Neolithic Subpluvial period (about 8000 to 4000 BC). They were executed by a hunting people in the Capsian period of the Neolithic age who lived in a savanna region teeming with giant buffalo, elephant, rhinoceros, and hippopotamus, animals that no longer exist in the now-desert area.

The pictures provide the most complete record of a prehistoric African culture. Various populations of pastoralists have left paintings of abundant wildlife, domesticated animals, chariots, and a complex culture that dates back to at least 10,000 BC in Northern Niger and neighboring parts of Algeria and Libya. Several former northern Nigerien villages and archeological sites date from the Green Sahara period of 7500-7000 to 3500-3000 BC.

Some parts of North Africa began to participate in the Neolithic revolution in the 6th millennium BC, just before the rapid desertification of the Sahara around 3500 B.C. due to a tilt in the Earth’s orbit.

Clement and fertile conditions during the Neolithic Subpluvial supported increased human settlement of the Nile Valley in Egypt, as well as neolithic societies in Sudan and throughout the present-day Sahara. Cultures producing rock art (notably that at Tassili n’Ajjer in southeastern Algeria) flourished during this period. In Prehistoric Egypt, Neolithic settlements appear from about 6000 BC. Oher regions in Africa independently developed agriculture at about the same time: the Ethiopian highlands, the Sahel, and West Africa.

The beginning of the Bronze Age in Egypt is conventionally identified as the Protodynastic Period, following the Neolithic Naqada culture about 3200 BC. By the Iron Age, the historic record demonstrated the existence of the Berbers in North Africa from at least 10,000 BC. While Egypt and Sudan had entered historicity since the Bronze Age, the Maghreb remained in the prehistoric period longer. Some Phoenician and Greek colonies were established along the Mediterranean coast during the 7th century BC.

The Halfan culture flourished along the Nile Valley of Egypt and Nubia between 18,000 and 15,000 BC, though one Halfan site dates to before 24,000 BC. They survived on a diet of large herd animals and the Khormusan tradition of fishing. Greater concentrations of artifacts indicate that they were not bound to seasonal wandering, but settled for longer periods.

They are viewed as the parent culture of the Ibero-Maurusian industry, which spread across the Sahara and into Spain. The Halfan culture was derived in turn from the Khormusan, which depended on specialized hunting, fishing, and collecting techniques for survival. The primary material remains of this culture are stone tools, flakes, and a multitude of rock paintings.

About twenty archaeological sites in upper Nubia give evidence for the existence of a grain-grinding Mesolithic culture called the Qadan Culture, which practiced wild grain harvesting along the Nile during the beginning of the Sahaba Daru Nile phase, when desiccation in the Sahara caused residents of the Libyan oases to retreat into the Nile valley.

Qadan peoples developed sickles and grinding stones to aid in the collecting and processing of these plant foods prior to consumption. However there are no indications of the use of these tools after around 10,000 BC, when hunter-gatherers replaced them.

In Egypt, analyses of pollen found at archaeological sites indicate that the Sebilian culture (also known as Esna culture) were gathering wheat and barley. Domesticated seeds were not found (modern wheat and barley originated in Asia Minor and Palestine). It has been hypothesized that the sedentary lifestyle used by farmers led to increased warfare, which was detrimental to farming and brought this period to an end.

The Harifian is a specialized regional cultural development of the Epipalaeolithic of the Negev Desert. It corresponds to the latest stages of the Natufian culture. Like the Natufian, it is characterized by semi-subterranean houses. These are often more elaborate than those found at Natufian sites. For the first time arrowheads are found among the stone tool kit.

Andy Burns states “The Harifian dates to between approximately 10,800/10,500bp and 10,000/10,200bp. It is restricted to the Sinai and Negev, and is probably broadly contemporary with the Late Natufian or Pre-Pottery Neolithic A.

Microlithic points are a characteristic feature of the industry, with the Harif point being both new and particularly diagnostic – Bar-Yosef (1998) suggests that it is an indication of improved hunting techniques. Lunates, isosceles and other triangular forms were backed with retouch, and some Helwan lunates are found. This industry contrasts with the Desert Natufian which did not have the roughly triangular points in its assemblage.

There are two main groups within the Harifian. One group consists of ephemeral base camps in the north of Sinai and western Negev, where stone points comprise up to 88% of all microliths, accompanied by only a few lunates and triangles. The other group consists of base camps and smaller campsites in the Negev and features a greater number of lunates and triangles than points. These sites probably represent functional rather than chronological differences. The presence of Khiam points in some sites indicates that there was communication with other areas in the Levant at this time.”

Harifian has close connections with the late Mesolithic cultures of Fayyum and the Eastern Deserts of Egypt, whose tool assemblage resembles that of the Harifian. Fusion with animal domestication elements of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) culture is hypothesised by Juris Zarins, to have led to the Circum Arabian Nomadic Pastoral Complex, a group of cultures that invented nomadic pastoralism, and may have been the original culture which spread Proto-Semitic languages throughout the region.

The Harifians are viewed as migrating out of the Fayyum and the Eastern Deserts of Egypt during the late Mesolithic to merge with the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) culture, whose tool assemblage resembles that of the Harifian. This assimilation led to the Circum-Arabian Nomadic Pastoral Complex, a group of cultures that invented nomadic pastoralism, and may have been the original culture which spread Proto-Semitic languages throughout Mesopotamia.

Continued desertification forced the early ancestors of the Egyptians to settle around the Nile more permanently and adopt a more sedentary lifestyle.

The period from 9000 to 6000 BC has left very little in the way of archaeological evidence. Around 6000 BC, Neolithic settlements appear all over Egypt. Studies based on morphological, genetic, and archaeological data have attributed these settlements to migrants from the Fertile Crescent in the Near East returning during the Egyptian and North African Neolithic, bringing agriculture to the region.

However, other regions in Africa independently developed agriculture at about the same time: the Ethiopian highlands, the Sahel, and West Africa. However, some morphological and post-cranial data has linked the earliest farming populations at Fayum, Merimde, and El-Badari, to Near Eastern populations.

The archaeological data suggests that Near Eastern domesticates were incorporated into a pre-existing foraging strategy and only slowly developed into a full-blown lifestyle, contrary to what would be expected from settler colonists from the Near East.

Finally, the names for the Near Eastern domesticates imported into Egypt were not Sumerian or Proto-Semitic loan words, which further diminishes the likelihood of a mass immigrant colonization of lower Egypt during the transition to agriculture.

Weaving is evidenced for the first time during the Faiyum A Period. People of this period, unlike later Egyptians, buried their dead very close to, and sometimes inside, their settlements.

Although archaeological sites reveal very little about this time, an examination of the many Egyptian words for “city” provide a hypothetical list of reasons why the Egyptians settled. In Upper Egypt, terminology indicates trade, protection of livestock, high ground for flood refuge, and sacred sites for deities.

From about 5000 to 4200 BC the Merimde culture, so far only known from a big settlement site at the edge of the Western Delta, flourished in Lower Egypt. The culture has strong connections to the Faiyum A culture as well as the Levant.

People lived in small huts, produced a simple undecorated pottery and had stone tools. Cattle, sheep, goats and pigs were held. Wheat, sorghum and barley were planted. The Merimde people buried their dead within the settlement and produced clay figurines. The first Egyptian lifesize head made of clay comes from Merimde.

Human Y chromosome haplogroup R-V88

Haplogroup R1b

Haplogroup R* originated in North Asia just before the Last Glacial Maximum (26,500-19,000 years ago). This haplogroup has been identified in the remains of a 24,000 year-old boy from the Altai region, in south-central Siberia (Raghavan et al. 2013). This individual belonged to a tribe of mammoth hunters that may have roamed across Siberia and parts of Europe during the Paleolithic.

Autosomally this Paleolithic population appears to have contributed mostly to the ancestry of modern Europeans and South Asians, the two regions where haplogroup R also happens to be the most common nowadays (R1b in Western Europe, R1a in Eastern Europe, Central and South Asia, and R2 in South Asia).

The oldest forms of R1b (M343, P25, L389) are found dispersed at very low frequencies from Western Europe to India, a vast region where could have roamed the nomadic R1b hunter-gatherers during the Ice Age.

The three main branches of R1b1 (R1b1a, R1b1b, R1b1c) all seem to have stemmed from the Middle East. The southern branch, R1b1c (V88), is found mostly in the Levant and Africa. It is found among the native populations of Rwanda, South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Guinea-Bissau.

The Sahara, covering about one third of the African continent from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea, is the earth’s most extensive desert. Over the past thousands of years, the Sahara has undergone dramatic climatic oscillations including arid phases, during which it was largely uninhabitable, and humid episodes, which transformed the desert into a fertile landscape. After a hyper-arid period about 2100–12.500 BC, the Saharan region experienced a monsoonal moist climate, characterized by increased rainfall.

During the Holocene Climatic Optimum (about 8000–3000 BC), a few thousand years after the beginning of the humid period, flora and fauna repopulated the desert, and a mosaic of savannah and woodland became well established throughout much of the Sahara.

At the same time, the Sahara was home to giant lakes, the largest of which, the paleolake Megachad, may have possibly covered an area of at least 400 000 km2, more than the Caspian Sea, the biggest lake on earth today.

This greening scenario was interrupted by a number of arid episodes, and at about 3000–4000 BC, the region experienced a rapid onset of dryer conditions. These marked the beginning of a shift towards permanent aridity, with variations in the distribution and timing of these changes between the eastern and central/western Sahara. Human–environment interactions in the Sahara have been greatly influenced by these climate fluctuations.

The migration of R1b people can be followed archeologically through the presence of domesticated cattle, which appear in central Syria around 8,000-7,500 BCE (late Mureybet period), then in the Southern Levant and Egypt around 7,000-6,500 BCE (e.g. at Nabta Playa and Bir Kiseiba). Cattle herders subsequently spread across most of northern and eastern Africa.

The wide distribution of V88 in all parts of Africa, its incidence among herding tribes, and the coalescence age of the haplogroup all support a Neolithic dispersal. Evidence of cow herding during the Neolithic has shown up at Uan Muhuggiag in central Libya around 5500 BCE, at the Capeletti Cave in northern Algeria around 4500 BCE.

But the most compelling evidence that R1b people related to modern Europeans once roamed the Sahara is to be found at Tassili n’Ajjer in southern Algeria, a site famous pyroglyphs (rock art) dating from the Neolithic era. Some painting dating from around 3000 BCE depict fair-skinned and blond or auburn haired women riding on cows.

After reaching the Maghreb, R1b-V88 cattle herders could have crossed the Strait of Gibraltar to Iberia, probably accompanied by G2 farmers, J1 and T1a goat herders and native Maghreban E-M81 lineages. These Maghreban Neolithic farmers/herders could have been the ones who established the Almagra Pottery culture in Andalusia in the 6th millennium BCE.

Nowadays small percentages (1 to 4%) of R1b-V88 are found in the Levant, among the Lebanese, the Druze, and the Jews, and almost in every country in Africa north of the equator. Higher frequency in Egypt (5%), among Berbers from the Egypt-Libya border (23%), among the Sudanese Copts (15%), the Hausa people of Sudan (40%), the the Fulani people of the Sahel (54% in Niger and Cameroon), and Chadic tribes of northern Nigeria and northern Cameroon (especially among the Kirdi), where it is observed at a frequency ranging from 30% to 95% of men. According to Cruciani et al. (2010) R1b-V88 would have crossed the Sahara between 9,200 and 5,600 years ago, and is most probably associated with the diffusion of Chadic languages, a branch of the Afroasiatic languages.

V88 would have migrated from Egypt to Sudan, then expanded along the Sahel until northern Cameroon and Nigeria. However, R1b-V88 is not only present among Chadic speakers, but also among Senegambian speakers (Fula-Hausa) and Semitic speakers (Berbers, Arabs).

R1b-V88 is found among the native populations of Rwanda, South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Guinea-Bissau. The wide distribution of V88 in all parts of Africa, its incidence among herding tribes, and the coalescence age of the haplogroup all support a Neolithic dispersal. In any case, a later migration out of Egypt would be improbable since it would have brought haplogroups that came to Egypt during the Bronze Age, such as J1, J2, R1a or R1b-L23.

The maternal lineages associated with the spread of R1b-V88 in Africa are mtDNA haplogroups J1b, U5 and V, and perhaps also U3 and some H subclades.

The northern branch, R1b1a (P297), seems to have originated around the Caucasus, eastern Anatolia or northern Mesopotamia, then to have crossed over the Caucasus, from where they would have invaded Europe and Central Asia. It migrated from the Middle East to the North Caucasus, founded the Maykop culture and spread the Bronze Age to the steppes then to Europe. R1b1b (M335) has only been found in Anatolia.

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.

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.

The region of origin of J2 is still unclear at present. It is likely that J2 men had settled over most of Anatolia, the South Caucasus and Iran by the end of the Last Glaciation 12,000 years ago. It is possible that J2 hunter-gatherers then goat/sheep herders also lived in the Fertile Crescent during the Neolithic period, although the development of early cereal agriculture is thought to have been conducted by men belonging primarily to haplogroups E1b1b and G2a.

The first expansion of J2 into Europe probably happened during the Late Glacial and immediate postglacial periods (c. 16 to 10 kya), when Anatolian hunter-gatherers moved into the Balkans. This migration would have included J2b and E-V13 male lineages and assorted J and T maternal lineages (presumably J1c, J2a1, T1a1, T2a1b, T2b, T2e and T2f1).

This population would have occupied the modern regions of western Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Albania, Serbia and Bulgaria. When farmers and herders expanded from the Fertile Crescent during the Early Neolithic, they would have blended with one another before expanding towards Central Europe and Italy.

J2b seems to have split in two subclades soon after leaving Anatolia, with J2b1 being found mostly in western Anatolia and Greece, while J2b2 expanded from the Balkans to most of Europe, to Central Asia, India and back to the Middle East.

It is very likely that J2a, J1 and G2a were the three dominant male lineages the Early Bronze Age Kura-Araxes culture, which expanded from the South Caucasus to eastern Anatolia, northern Mesopotamia and the western Iran. From then on, J2 men would have definitely have represented a sizeable portion of the population of Bronze and Iron Age civilizations such as the Hurrians, the Assyrians or the Hittites.

Haplogroup G

Haplogroup G descends from macro-haplogroup F, which is thought to represent the second major migration of Homo sapiens out of Africa, at least 60,000 years ago.

While the earlier migration of haplogroups C and D had followed the coasts of South Asia as far as Oceania and the Far East, haplogroup F penetrated through the Arabian peninsula and settled in the Middle East. Its main branch, macro-haplogroup IJK would become the ancestor of 80% of modern Eurasian people.

Haplogroup G had a slow start, evolving in apparent isolation for tens of thousands of years, possibly in Southwest Asia, cut off from the wave of colonisation of Eurasia.

As of early 2014, there were 286 mutations (SNPs) defining haplogroup G, confirming that this paternal lineage experienced a severe bottleneck before splitting into happlogroups G1 and G2.

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.

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.

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.

Uruk

Uruk (Cuneiform: UNUG; Sumerian: Unug; Akkadian: Uruk; Aramaic/Hebrew: Erech; Ancient Greek: Orchoē, Arabic: Warkā) was an ancient city of Sumer and later Babylonia, situated east of the present bed of the Euphrates river, on the dried-up, ancient channel of the Euphrates River, some 30 km east of modern As-Samawah, Al-Muthannā, Iraq.

Uruk is the type site for the Uruk period. Uruk played a leading role in the early urbanization of Sumer in the mid 4th millennium BC. At its height c. 2900 BC, Uruk probably had 50,000–80,000 residents living in 6 km2 of walled area; making it the largest city in the world at the time. The legendary king Gilgamesh, according to the chronology presented in the Sumerian king list, ruled Uruk in the 27th century BC.

The city lost its prime importance around 2000 BC, in the context of the struggle of Babylonia with Elam, but it remained inhabited throughout the Seleucid and Parthian periods until it was finally abandoned shortly before or after the Islamic conquest.

The site of Uruk was visited in 1849 by William Kennett Loftus who led the first excavations from 1850 to 1854. The Arabic name of Babylonia, al-ʿIrāq, is thought to be derived from the name Uruk, via Aramaic (Erech) and possibly Middle Persian (Erāq) transmission.

In addition to being one of the first cities, Uruk was the main force of urbanization during the Uruk period (4000–3200 BC). This period of 800 years saw a shift from small, agricultural villages to a larger urban center with a full-time bureaucracy, military, and stratified society.

The Uruk period culture exported by Sumerian traders and colonists had an effect on all surrounding peoples, who gradually evolved their own comparable, competing economies and cultures. Ultimately, Uruk could not maintain long-distance control over colonies such as Tell Brak by military force.

Geographic factors underpin Uruk’s unprecedented growth. The city was located in the southern part of Mesopotamia, an ancient site of civilization, on the Euphrates rivers.

Through the gradual and eventual domestication of native grains from the Zagros foothills and extensive irrigation techniques, the area supported a vast variety of edible vegetation. This domestication of grain and its proximity to rivers enabled Uruk’s growth into the largest Sumerian settlement, in both population and area, with relative ease.

Uruk’s agricultural surplus and large population base facilitated processes such as trade, specialization of crafts and the evolution of writing. Evidence from excavations, such as extensive pottery and the earliest known tablets of writing, support these events.

Excavation of Uruk is highly complex because older buildings were recycled into newer ones, thus blurring the layers of different historic periods. The topmost layer most likely originated in the Jemdet Nasr period (3100–2900 BC) and is built on structures from earlier periods dating back to the Ubaid period.

Kish Civilization

Semitic is an offshoot of a northern family of Afroasiatic languages, including Berber, and possibly Egyptian. It then entered the Levant and was possibly spread by what Juris Zarins calls the Syro-Arabian nomadic pastoralism complex, spreading south along the shores of the Red Sea and northeast around the edge of the “Fertile Crescent”. It is thought that Semitic speakers then crossed from South Arabia back into Eritrea.

The Kish civilization or tradition is a term coined by Ignace Gelb to indicate the early East Semitic period in Mesopotamia and the Levant starting in the early 4th millennium BC and including the sites of Ebla and Mari in the Levant, Nagar in the north, and the proto-Akkadian sites of Abu Salabikh and Kish in central Mesopotamia which constituted the Uri region as it was known to the Sumerians.

The East-Semitic population migrated from what is now the Levant and spread into Mesopotamia, and the new population could have contributed to the collapse of the Uruk period c. 3100 BC. This early East Semitic culture is characterized by linguistic, literary and orthographic similarities extending from Ebla in the west to Abu Salabikh in the East.

The personal names from the Sumerian city of Kish show an East Semitic nature and reveals that the city population had a strong Semitic component from the dawn of recorded history, Gelb consider Kish to be the center of this civilization hence the naming.

The similarities included the using of a writing system that utilized non-Sumerian Logograms, the use of the same system in naming the months of the year, dating by regnal years and a similar measuring system among many other similarities.

However Gelb doesn’t assume the existence of a single authority ruling those lands as each city had its own monarchical system, in addition to some linguistic differences for while the languages of Mari and Ebla were closely related, Kish represented an independent East-Semitic linguistic entity that spoke a dialect (Kishite), different from both pre-Sargonic Akkadian and the Ebla-Mari language. The Kish Civlization is considered to end with the rise of the Akkadian empire in the 24th century BC.

“Dragon bloodline”

I think I have a general handle on how the so-called “dragon bloodline” has manifested in the real world. Below I will attempt to plot, in a very general and simplistic fashion, the meandering of the main branches of this so-called dragon, however I don’t contend that there is a literal blood connection between the ancient Sumerians and Egyptian Pharaohs to the present … I doubt that there is (… though there might, and some might believe it to be so).

I simply see that there is a cultural connection apparent and that the movement of the concept of  rule by divine right and the traditions of conquering culture can be traced. The arrows below don’t represent the movements of people so much as the movements of leadership and ideas associated with “dragon culture”.

It started amid a quartet of locales, between which advanced heirarchical society apparently evolved over many centuries (circa, 5 thousand years ago?) … primarily Egypt, Canaan, Sumer and Crete.

Dragon bloodline

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The Sumerian pantheon

Posted by Fredsvenn on April 15, 2015

The Sumerian pantheon

An (god of the sky), along with Enlil (god of the air), Enki (god of water) and Ninhursag, a mother goddess of the mountains, were gods of the Sumerians. In the astral theology of Babylonia and Assyria, Anu, Enlil, and Ea became the three zones of the ecliptic, the northern, middle and southern zone respectively.

The purely theoretical character of Anu is thus still further emphasized, and in the annals and votive inscriptions as well as in the incantations and hymns, he is rarely introduced as an active force to whom a personal appeal can be made.

According to legends, heaven and earth were once inseparable until Enlil was born; Enlil, god of the air, cleaved heaven and earth in two. An carried away heaven. Ki, in company with Enlil, took the earth. But Anu spent so much time on the ground protecting the Sumerians he left her in Heaven and then met Innin, whom he renamed Innan, or, “Queen of Heaven”. She was later known as Ishtar (Inanna). By Uras he was the father of Nin’insinna.

An (Nammu, Antu, Ki, Urash, Inanna)

An, the sky-god, was the god of heaven, lord of constellations, king of gods, spirits and demons, and dwelt in the highest heavenly regions. An existed in Sumerian cosmogony as a dome that covered the flat earth; Outside of this dome was the primordial body of water known as Tiamat.

By virtue of being the first figure in a triad consisting of Anu, Enlil, and Enki, Anu came to be regarded as the father and at first, king of the gods. It was believed that he had the power to judge those who had committed crimes, and that he had created the stars as soldiers to destroy the wicked. His attribute was the royal tiara. His attendant and minister of state was the god Ilabrat. An had several consorts, the foremost being Nammu, Ki (earth), and Urash.

Anu is so prominently associated with the E-anna temple in the city of Uruk (biblical Erech) in Southern Babylonia that there are good reasons for believing this place to be the original seat of the Anu cult. If this is correct, then the goddess Inanna (or Ishtar) of Uruk may at one time have been his consort.

In the Babylonian creation myth Enuma Elish, Anshar (also spelled Anshur), which means “sky pivot” or “sky axle”, is a sky god. He is the husband of his sister Kishar. They might both represent heaven (an) and earth (ki).

Both are the second generation of gods; their parents being the serpents Lahmu and Lahamu and grandparents Tiamat and Abzu. They, in turn, are the parents of Anu, another sky god. During the reign of Sargon II, Assyrians started to identify Anshar with their Assur in order to let him star in their version of Enuma Elish.

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/.

Nammu

In the text ‘Creator of the Hoe’, she completed the birth of mankind after the heads had been uncovered by Enki’s hoe. In creation texts, Ninmah (another name for Ninhursag) acts as a midwife whilst the mother goddess Nammu (also Namma, spelled ideographically NAMMA = ENGUR), a primeval goddess, corresponding to Tiamat in Babylonian mythology, makes different kinds of human individuals from lumps of clay at a feast given by Enki to celebrate the creation of humankind.

Nammu was the Goddess sea (Engur) that gave birth to An (heaven) and Ki (earth) and the first gods, representing the Apsu, the fresh water ocean that the Sumerians believed lay beneath the earth, the source of life-giving water and fertility in a country with almost no rainfall.

Nammu is not well attested in Sumerian mythology. She may have been of greater importance prehistorically, before Enki took over most of her functions. An indication of her continued relevance may be found in the theophoric name of Ur-Nammu, the founder of the Third Dynasty of Ur. According to the Neo-Sumerian mythological text Enki and Ninmah, Enki is the son of An and Nammu. Nammu is the goddess who “has given birth to the great gods”. It is she who has the idea of creating mankind, and she goes to wake up Enki, who is asleep in the Apsu, so that he may set the process going.

The Atrahasis-Epos has it that Enlil requested from Nammu the creation of humans. And Nammu told him that with the help of Enki (her son) she can create humans in the image of gods. Reay Tannahill in Sex in History (1980) singled out Nammu as the “only female prime mover” in the cosmogonic myths of antiquity.

Engur/Abzu

Engur (Cuneiform: LAGAB×HAL; Sumerian: engur; Akkadian: engurru), also called the Abzu (Cuneiform: ZU.AB; Sumerian: abzu; Akkadian: apsû) literally, ab=’ocean’ zu=’deep’ was the name for the primeval sea below the void space of the underworld (Kur) and the earth (Ma) above.

It may also refer to fresh water from underground aquifers that were given a religious fertilizing quality. Lakes, springs, rivers, wells, and other sources of fresh water were thought to draw their water from the abzu.

In the city of Eridu, Enki’s temple was known as E-abzu (house of the cosmic waters) and was located at the edge of a swamp, an abzu. Certain tanks of holy water in Babylonian and Assyrian temple courtyards were also called abzu (apsû). Typical in religious washing, these tanks were similar to the washing pools of Islamic mosques, or the baptismal font in Christian churches.

The Sumerian god Enki (Ea in the Akkadian language) was believed to have lived in the abzu since before human beings were created. His wife Damgalnuna, his mother Nammu, his advisor Isimud and a variety of subservient creatures, such as the gatekeeper Lahmu, also lived in the abzu.

Abzu (apsû) is depicted as a deity only in the Babylonian creation epic, the Enûma Elish, taken from the library of Assurbanipal (c 630 BCE) but which is about 500 years older. In this story, he was a primal being made of fresh water and a lover to another primal deity, Tiamat, who was a creature of salt water. The Enuma Elish begins:

When above the heavens did not yet exist nor the earth below, Apsu the freshwater ocean was there, the first, the begetter, and Tiamat, the saltwater sea, she who bore them all; they were still mixing their waters, and no pasture land had yet been formed, nor even a reed marsh…

Ki

By Ki, An was the father of, among others, the Anunnaki gods, the most prominent of these deities being Enlil, god of the air. Ki later developed into the Akkadian goddess Antu (also known as “Keffen Anu”, “Kef”, and “Keffenk Anum”), consort of the god Anu (from Sumerian An). She was the first consort of Anu, and the pair was the parents of the Anunnaki and the Utukki.

As an earth goddess in Sumerian mythology, Ki was the chief consort of An, the sky god. In some legends Ki and An were brother and sister, being the offspring of Anshar (“Sky Pivot”) and Kishar (“Earth Pivot”), earlier personifications of heaven and earth.

Uraš

Uraš or Urash, in Sumerian mythology is a goddess of earth, and one of the consorts of the sky god Anu. She is the mother of the goddess Ninsun (“lady wild cow”) and a grandmother of the hero Gilgamesh.

However, Uras may only have been another name for Antum, Anu’s wife. The name Uras even became applied to Anu himself, and acquired the meaning “heaven”. Ninurta also was apparently called Uras in later times.

From Sumerian texts, the language used to describe Urash is very similar to the language used to describe Ninhursag. Therefore, the two goddess may be one and the same.

Inanna/Inara/Ishtar/Ishara

Pisces (Inanna)

Inanna was the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare, and goddess of the E-Anna temple at the city of Uruk, her main centre. She was associated with the eastern fish of the last of the zodiacal constellations, Pisces. Her consort Dumuzi was associated with the contiguous first constellation, Aries.

Pisces is the twelfth astrological sign in the Zodiac, which originates from the Pisces constellation. In western astrology this sign is no longer aligned with the constellation because of the precession of the equinoxes. Pisces is represented by a pair of fish that are swimming in opposite directions, but remain held together at the tail by a cord. In astrology, Pisces is considered a feminine sign or negative sign. It is also a water sign, and is one of four mutable signs.

Being the twelfth sign, Pisces is associated with the astrological 12th house. Pisces has been traditionally ruled by the planet Jupiter, but since its discovery, Neptune has been considered a modern ruler of this sign. Some astrologers mostly use one to the exception of the other, but some consider them to be co-rulers of this sign and essentially use both.

Individuals born when the Sun was in this sign are considered Pisces individuals. Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun is in Pisces roughly from February 19 to March 20, and under the sidereal zodiac, it is currently there roughly from March 15 to April 13.

As a constellation, Pisces has been almost universally associated with female deities. The pisces symbol (the H ) is often assosiated with Helen of troy. Beauty and love. One of the most popular stories regarding the mythological origin of Pisces is the story of Aphrodite and Eros.

The story involves Aphrodite and her son Eros escaping from the terrible monster Typhon by turning themselves into fish and hiding underwater until it was safe to come back to the surface. As fish, they tied their tails together with a cord so that they wouldn’t lose one another while swimming in the darkness of the deep water. Upon hearing their tale, Zeus rewarded the pair by placing them among the stars as the constellation of Pisces.

Haya (Nunbarsegunu, Nisaba)

Haya 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. From the same period we have a Sumerian hymn composed in his honour, which celebrates him in these capacities.

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.

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 dha-ià.

Haya is also characterised, beyond being the spouse of Nidaba/Nissaba, as an “agrig”-official of the god Enlil. The god-list AN = Anu ša amēli (lines 97-98) designates him as “the Nissaba of wealth”, as opposed to his wife, who is the “Nissaba of Wisdom”.

Most commonly Ninlil is called the daughter of Haia (god of stores) and Nunbarsegunu (or Ninshebargunnu [a goddess of barley] or Nisaba)

Nunbarsegunu

Nunbarsegunu is an obscure mother goddess and goddess of barley in Mesopotamian (Sumerian, Babylonian, and Akkadian) mythology. Mentioned in creation texts as the ‘old woman of Nippur’, she is identified as the mother of Ninlil, the air goddess. Ninbarsegunu instructs her daughter in the arts of obtaining the attentions of Enlil.

Nisaba

Nanibgal (NÁNIBGAL), also Nisaba or Nidaba (NÍDABA, NIDABA) was the Sumerian goddess of writing, learning, and the harvest. Her sanctuaries were E-zagin at Eresh and at Umma. On a depiction found in Lagash, she appears with flowing hair, crowned with horned tiara bearing supporting ears of grain and a crescent moon. Her dense hair is evoked in comparison in the description of similarly hairy Enkidu in the Gilgamesh epic. Her glory attracted her fall: her scribal functions were usurped by the god Nabu as he rose to power in the Old Babylonian period.

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. 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.

As with many Sumerian deities, Nisaba’s exact place in the pantheon and her heritage appears somewhat ambiguous. 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.

Nisaba is the sister of Ninsun, the mother of Gilgamesh. If Urash and Ninhursag are the same goddess, then Nisaba is also the half sister of Nanshe and (in some versions) Ninurta. In some other tales, she is considered the mother of Ninlil, and by extension, the mother-in-law of Enlil.

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 god of wisdom, Enki, organized the world after creation and gave each deity a role in the world order. Nisaba was named the scribe of the gods, and Enki then built her a school of learning so that she could better serve those in need. She keeps records, chronicles events, and performs various other bookwork related duties for the gods. She is also in charge of marking regional borders.

She is the chief scribe of Nanshe. On the first day of the new year, she and Nanshe work together to settle disputes between mortals and give aid to those in need. Nisaba keeps record of the visitors seeking aid and then arranges them into a line to stand before Nanshe, who will then judge them. Nisaba is also seen as a caretaker for Ninhursag’s temple at Kesh, where she gives commands and keeps temple records.

The goddess of writing and teaching, she was often praised by Sumerian scribes. She is considered the teacher of both mortal scribes and other divine deities. In the Babylonian period, she was replaced by the god Nabu, who took over her functions. In some instances, Nisaba was his instructor or wife before he replaced her.

As the goddess of knowledge, she is related to many other facets of intellectual study and other gods may turn to her for advice or aid. Some of these traits are shared with her sister Ninsina. She is also associate with grain, reflecting her association with an earth goddess mother.

Enlil (Ninlil, Ereshkigal)

Enlil (nlin) (EN = Lord + LÍL = Wind, “Lord (of the) Storm”) is the God of breath, wind, loft and breadth (height and distance). 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.

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.

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.

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 requested the creation of a slave race, 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”.

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.

Triangulum (Enlil)

Triangulum is a small constellation in the northern sky. Its name is Latin for “triangle”, derived from its three brightest stars, which form a long and narrow triangle. In the Babylonian star catalogues, Triangulum, together with Gamma Andromedae, formed the constellation known as MULAPIN, “The Plough”.

It is notable as the first constellation presented on (and giving its name to) a pair of tablets containing canonical star lists that were compiled around 1000 BC, the MUL.APIN. The Plough was the first constellation of the “Way of Enlil”—that is, the northernmost quarter of the Sun’s path, which corresponds to the 45 days on either side of summer solstice. Its first appearance in the pre-dawn sky (heliacal rising) in February marked the time to begin Spring ploughing in Mesopotamia.

The Ancient Greeks called Triangulum Deltoton (Δελτωτόν), as the constellation resembled an upper-case Greek letter delta (Δ). It was transliterated by Roman writers, then later Latinised as Deltotum. Greek astronomers such as Hipparchos and Ptolemy called it Trigonon (Τρίγωνον), and later, it was Romanized as Trigonum. Other names referring to its shape include Tricuspis and Triquetrum. Alpha and Beta Trianguli were called Al Mīzān, which is Arabic for “The Scale Beam”.

Eratosthenes linked it with the Nile Delta, while the Roman writer Hyginus associated it with the triangular island of Sicily, formerly known as Trinacria due to its shape. It was also called Sicilia, because the Romans believed Ceres, patron goddess of Sicily, begged Jupiter to place the island in the heavens.

In Chinese astronomy, Gamma Andromedae and neighbouring stars including Beta, Gamma and Delta Trianguli were called Teen Ta Tseang Keun (“Heaven’s great general”), representing honour in astrology and a great general in mythology.

A small constellation, Triangulum is bordered by Andromeda to the north and west, Pisces to the west and south, Aries to the south, and Perseus to the east. The centre of the constellation lies half way between Gamma Andromedae and Alpha Arietis.

The Big Dipper (US) or Plough (UK) is an asterism (not a constellation) of seven stars recognized as a distinct grouping in many cultures. These stars are the brightest of the formal constellation Ursa Major; six of them are second magnitude stars, while only Megrez (δ) is of third magnitude. The North Star (Polaris), the current northern pole star on Earth, can be located by extending an imaginary line from Merak (β) through Dubhe (α). This makes it useful in celestial navigation.

Ninlil

In Sumerian religion, Ninlil (NIN.LÍL”lady of the open field” or “Lady of the Wind”), also called Sud, in Assyrian called Mulliltu, is the consort goddess of Enlil.

Her parentage is variously described. Most commonly she is called the daughter of Haia (god of stores) and Nunbarsegunu (or Ninshebargunnu [a goddess of barley] or Nisaba). Another Akkadian source says she is the daughter of Anu (aka An) and Antu (Sumerian Ki). Other sources call her a daughter of Anu and Nammu.

In Enuma Elish Anshar’s spouse was Ninlil (NIN.LÍL”lady of the open field” or “Lady of the Wind”). They do evil, unspeakable things. Then, Abzu decides to try to destroy them. They both hear of the plan and kill him first. Tiamat gets outraged and gives birth to 11 children. They then kill them both and then are outmatched by anyone.

Marduk (God of rain/thunder/lightning) kills Tiamat by wrapping a net around her and summoning the 4 winds to make her swell, then Marduk shoots an arrow into her and kills her. Half of her body is then divided to create the heavens and the Earth. He uses her tears to make rivers on Earth and take her blood to make humans.

It is worth noting that there are clear similarities with the older Tiamat myth story, where Enki (later Ea) recognises that Apsu / Abzu is angry at the chaos the younger gods have created and intends to destroy them, so captures Absu himself. In this version Marduk is also the one to kill Tiamat, though it is she rather than Apsu who creates and sets the 11 children.

Ninlil lived in Dilmun with her family. Raped and ravaged by her husband Enlil, who impregnated her with water, she conceived a boy, Nanna/Suen, the future moon god. As punishment Enlil was dispatched to the underworld kingdom of Ereshkigal, where Ninlil joined him.

Enlil impregnated her disguised as the gatekeeper, where upon she gave birth to their son Nergal, god of death. In a similar manner she conceived the underworld god Ninazu when Enlil impregnated her disguised as the man of the river of the nether world, a man-devouring river.

Later Enlil disguised himself as the man of the boat, impregnating her with a fourth deity Enbilulu, god of rivers and canals. All of these act as substitutes for Nanna/Suen to ascend. In some texts Ninlil is also the mother of Ninurta, the heroic god who slew Asag the demon with his mace, Sharur.

After her death, she became the goddess of the wind, like Enlil. She may be the Goddess of the South Wind referred to in the story of Adapa, as her husband Enlil was associated with northerly winter storms. As “Lady Wind” she may be associated with the figure of the Akkadian demon “Lil-itu”, thought to have been the origin of the Hebrew Lilith legend.

Ereshkigal

Enki (Ninhursag)

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.”

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”.

Capricorn (Enki)

Enki 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 also associated with the planet Mercury in the Sumerian astrological system.

Capricorn is the tenth astrological sign in the Zodiac, originating from the constellation of Capricornus. In western astrology, this sign is no longer aligned with the constellation as a result of the precession of the equinoxes. The astrological symbol for Capricorn is said to represent the horns and tail of the goat-fish or sea-goat.

In astrology, Capricorn is considered a “feminine”, negative sign. It is also considered an earth sign and is one of four cardinal signs. Capricorn is ruled by the planet Saturn. Being the tenth sign of the zodiac, Capricorn has been associated with the astrological 10th house.

Individuals born when the Sun was in this sign are considered Capricorn individuals. Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun is in Capricorn roughly from December 22 to January 19. Under the sidereal zodiac, it is currently there roughly from January 15 to February 12.

Capricorn is associated with the Greek myth of the goat Amalthea, who provided the infant Zeus with milk, or ambrosia in some versions. Zeus placed her in the sky to honor her (Catasterismi). Capricorn is also associated with the god Saturn and the god Aristaeus.

The Capricorn constellation is called “šaxû ibex” in Babylonian. The sun in this month entered the suxûru-fish constellation, called the star of Tashmetum, the wife of Nabu, the god of wisdom and writing in Babylonian legends. The ancient Babylonians revered Nabu because he was the son of Marduk and his wife, Sarpanitum. Finally, Enki or Ea is Nabu’s grandfather.

The goat-fish is known from depictions on Babylonian monuments as a representation of Enki/Ea. Also linked to the Greek God, Pan.

Aquarius

Aquarius is a constellation of the zodiac, situated between Capricornus and Pisces. Its name is Latin for “water-carrier” or “cup-carrier”, and its symbol is a representation of water. Aquarius is the eleventh astrological sign in the Zodiac, originating from the constellation Aquarius.

The astrological symbol for Aquarius is said to represent waves or ripples of water. In western astrology, the sign is no longer aligned with the constellation as a result of the precession on the equinoxes. In astrology, Aquarius is considered a “masculine”, positive (extrovert) sign. It is also considered an air sign and is one of four fixed signs.

Aquarius has been traditionally ruled by the planet Saturn, and, since its discovery, Uranus has been considered a modern ruler of this sign. Being the eleventh sign of the zodiac, Aquarius is associated with the astrological 11th house.

Individuals born when the Sun was in this sign are considered Aquarius individuals. Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun is in Aquarius roughly from January 20 to February 18. Under the sidereal zodiac, it is currently there roughly from February 13 to March 14.

The corresponding month in the Babylonian calendar is Arax Šabaṭu, “the destroying month”, also called arax arrat zunne, “month of the curse of rains”, associated with the Great Flood. It is dedicated to Ramman, the storm god.

The zodiacal sign of this month was called GU = Assyrian qâ, the name of a dry-measure. This was associated with Hebrew kad, “pitcher, jar”, presumably in reference to the urn of Aquarius. The name Aquarius of this sign is of occidental origin, while Babylonian astrology symbolizes it with a simple amphora, in reference to the apsû (diluvial) region of the sky.

Aquarius is one of the oldest of the recognized constellations along the zodiac (the sun’s apparent path). It was one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd century AD astronomer Ptolemy, and it remains one of the 88 modern constellations. It is found in a region often called the Sea due to its profusion of constellations with watery associations such as Cetus the whale, Pisces the fish, and Eridanus the river.

Aquarius is identified as GU.LA “The Great One” in the Babylonian star catalogues and represents the god Ea himself, who is commonly depicted holding an overflowing vase. The Babylonian star-figure appears on entitlement stones and cylinder seals from the second millennium. It contained the winter solstice in the Early Bronze Age.

In Old Babylonian astronomy, Ea was the ruler of the southernmost quarter of the Sun’s path, the “Way of Ea”, corresponding to the period of 45 days on either side of winter solstice. Aquarius was also associated with the destructive floods that the Babylonians regularly experienced, and thus was negatively connoted. In Ancient Egypt, Aquarius was associated with the annual flood of the Nile; the banks were said to flood when Aquarius put his jar into the river, beginning spring.

In the Greek tradition, the constellation became represented as simply a single vase from which a stream poured down to Piscis Austrinus. The name in the Hindu zodiac is likewise kumbha “water-pitcher”, showing that the zodiac reached India via Greek intermediaries.

In Greek mythology, Aquarius is sometimes associated with Troy. The myth has is that a young boy named Ganymede was out tending to his fathers sheep when Zeus took interest in this young beautiful boy. Zeus then turned himself into an eagle and carried Ganymede to mount Ida where Ganymede would have to serve drinks to Zeus, but one day Ganymede didn’t want to serve drinks anymore so he poured out Zeus wine and water which caused a great flood. It was then said instead of Zeus getting mad he gave Ganymede immortality and gave him the constellation Aquarius.

Ninhursag

In Sumerian mythology, Ninhursag was a mother goddess of the mountains, and one of the seven great deities of Sumer. She is principally a fertility goddess. Temple hymn sources identify her as the ‘true and great lady of heaven’ (possibly in relation to her standing on the mountain) and kings of Sumer were ‘nourished by Ninhursag’s milk’.

Nin-hursag means “lady of the sacred mountain” (from Sumerian NIN “lady” and ḪAR.SAG “sacred mountain, foothill”, possibly a reference to the site of her temple, the E-Kur (House of mountain deeps) at Eridu. Her temple, the Esagila (from Sumerian E (temple) + SAG (head) + ILA (lofty)) was located on the KUR of Eridu, although she also had a temple at Kish. She had shrines in both Eridu and Kish.

Her symbol, resembling the Greek letter omega Ω, has been depicted in art from around 3000 BC, though more generally from the early second millennium. It appears on some boundary stones — on the upper tier, indicating her importance. The omega symbol is associated with the Egyptian cow goddess Hathor, and may represent a stylized womb. Hathor is at times depicted on a mountain, so it may happen that the two goddesses are connected.

As the wife and consort of Enki she was also referred to as Damgulanna (great wife of heaven) or Damkina (faithful wife). She had many epithets including shassuru or ‘womb goddess’, tabsut ili ‘midwife of the gods’, ‘mother of all children’ and ‘mother of the gods’. In this role she is identified with Ki in the Enuma Elish.

She had many names including Ninmah (“Great Queen”); Nintu (“Lady of Birth”); Mamma or Mami (mother); Aruru, Belet-Ili (lady of the gods, Akkadian). Ninti, the title of Ninhursag, also means “the mother of all living”, and was a title given to the later Hurrian goddess Hebat. This is also the title given in the Bible to Eve, the Hebrew and Aramaic Ḥawwah, who was made from the rib of Adam, in a strange reflection of the Sumerian myth, in which Adam — not Enki — walks in the Garden of Paradise.

Ninhursag relents and takes Enki’s Ab (water, or semen) into her body, and gives birth to gods of healing of each part of the body. Abu for the Jaw, Nintul for the Hip, Ninsutu for the tooth, Ninkasi for the mouth, Dazimua for the side, Enshagag for the Limbs.

The last one, Ninti (Lady Rib), the Sumerian goddess of life, is also a pun on Lady Life, a title of Ninhursag herself. The story thus symbolically reflects the way in which life is brought forth through the addition of water to the land, and once it grows, water is required to bring plants to fruit. It also counsels balance and responsibility, nothing to excess.

Uttu

In the legend of Enki and Ninhursag, Ninhursag bore a daughter to Enki called Ninsar (“Lady Greenery”). Through Enki, Ninsar bore a daughter Ninkurra. Ninkurra, in turn, bore Enki a daughter named Uttu. Enki then pursued Uttu, who was upset because he didn’t care for her.

Uttu, on her ancestress Ninhursag’s advice buried Enki’s seed in the earth, whereupon eight plants (the very first) sprung up. Enki, seeing the plants, ate them, and became ill in eight organs of his body. Ninhursag cured him, taking the plants into her body and giving birth to eight deities: Abu, Nintulla (Nintul), Ninsutu, Ninkasi, Nanshe (Nazi), Azimua, Ninti, and Enshag (Enshagag).

Uttu in Sumerian mythology is the goddess of weaving and clothing. She is both the child of Enki and Ninkur, and she bears seven new child/trees from Enki, the eighth being the Ti (Tree of “Life”, associated with the “Rib”). When Enki then ate Uttu’s children, Ninhursag cursed him with eight wounds and disappears. Uttu in Sumerian means “the woven” and she was illustrated as a spider in a web. She is a goddess in the pantheon.

In Hurrian mythology, the Hutena are goddesses of fate. They are similar to the Norns of Norse mythology or the Moirai of ancient Greece. They are called the Gul Ses (Gul-Shesh; Gulshesh; Gul-ashshesh) in Hittite mythology.

Ummanu

Throughout Mesopotamia, the Ummanu were the great scribes who wrote the epic poems (among them, the Enuma Elish, Edana, The Epic of Gilgamesh). They were also considered expert astrologers. The Ummanu refers not only to the scribes but also to what they wrote. The Chief Scribe of a king (such as Sargon of Akkad or Assurbanipal) was charged with recording his monarch’s glorious achievements and, by 640 BCE, the written ummanu were considered important enough to include in the King’s Lists.

Manu

After Manu descended the mountain after the water subsided, he was the sole survivor on earth, as all other creatures had been washed away by the floods. Manu then took upon the task of creating the new human race. Seeking procreation, he then started austerities and worshipped gods by performing sacrifices, offering butter, milk, curds and ghee (clarified butter) to the sacrificial fire. Within a year, his prayers were answered. A beautiful woman called Ida appeared and he married her, and together they initiated the race of Manu, as Aryans called themselves.

Mannea

The Mannaeans (country name usually Mannea; Akkadian: Mannai, possibly Biblical Minni) were an ancient people who lived in the territory of present-day northwestern Iran south of lake Urmia, around the 10th to 7th centuries BC. At that time they were neighbors of the empires of Assyria and Urartu, as well as other small buffer states between the two, such as Musasir and Zikirta.

In the Hebrew Bible (Jeremiah 51:27) the Mannaeans are called Minni. In the Jewish Encyclopedia (1906), Minni is identified with Armenia, but it could refer to one of the provinces in ancient Armenia; Minni, Ararat and Ashkenaz. According to examinations of the place and personal names found in Assyrian and Urartian texts, the Mannaeans, or at least their rulers, spoke Hurrian language related to Urartian.

Matsya

The creation of man

After six generations of gods, in the Babylonian “Enuma Elish”, in the seventh generation, (Akkadian “shapattu” or sabath), the younger Igigi gods, the sons and daughters of Enlil and Ninlil, go on strike and refuse their duties of keeping the creation working.

Abzu God of fresh water, co-creator of the cosmos, threatens to destroy the world with his waters, and the Gods gather in terror. Enki promises to help and puts Abzu to sleep, confining him in irrigation canals and places him in the Kur, beneath his city of Eridu. But the universe is still threatened, as Tiamat, angry at the imprisonment of Abzu and at the prompting of her son and vizier Kingu, decides to take back the creation herself.

The gods gather again in terror and turn to Enki for help, but Enki who harnessed Abzu, Tiamat’s consort, for irrigation refuses to get involved. The gods then seek help elsewhere, and the patriarchal Enlil, their father, God of Nippur, promises to solve the problem if they make him King of the Gods. In the Babylonian tale, Enlil’s role is taken by Marduk, Enki’s son, and in the Assyrian version it is Asshur.

After dispatching Tiamat with the “arrows of his winds” down her throat and constructing the heavens with the arch of her ribs, Enlil places her tail in the sky as the Milky Way, and her crying eyes become the source of the Tigris and Euphrates.

But there is still the problem of “who will keep the cosmos working”. Enki, who might have otherwise come to their aid, is lying in a deep sleep and fails to hear their cries. His mother Nammu (creatrix also of Abzu and Tiamat) “brings the tears of the gods” before Enki and says “Oh my son, arise from thy bed, from thy (slumber), work what is wise. Fashion servants for the Gods, may they produce their (bread?)”. Enki then advises that they create a servant of the gods, humankind, out of clay and blood.

Kingu, also spelled Qingu, meaning “unskilled laborer,” was a god in Babylonian mythology, and — after the murder of his father Abzu — the consort of the goddess Tiamat, his mother, who wanted to establish him as ruler and leader of all gods before she was slain by Marduk.

Tiamat gave Kingu the 3 Tablets of Destiny, which he wore as a breastplate and which gave him great power. She placed him as the general of her army. However, like Tiamat, Kingu was eventually slain by Marduk.

Marduk mixed Kingu’s blood with earth and used the clay to mold the first human beings, while Tiamat’s body created the earth and the skies. Kingu then went to live in the underworld kingdom of Ereshkigal, along with the other deities who had sided with Tiamat.

Against Enki’s wish the Gods decide to slay Kingu and Enki finally consents to use Kingu’s blood to make the first human, with whom Enki always later has a close relationship, the first of the seven sages, seven wise men or “Abgallu” (Ab = water, Gal = great, Lu = Man), also known as Adapa.

Adapa

Enki assembles a team of divinities to help him, creating a host of “good and princely fashioners”. Adapa, the first man fashioned, later goes and acts as the advisor to the King of Eridu, when in the Sumerian Kinglist, the “Me” of “kingship descends on Eridu”.

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).

Adapa, a man of Eridu, is depicted as an early culture hero. Identified with U-an, a half-human creature from the sea (Abgallu, from ab=water, gal=big, lu=man), he was considered to have brought civilization to the city during the time of King Alulim.

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 BC), in fragmentary tablets from Tell el-Amarna, and from Assur, of the late second millennium BC.

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 Dalley 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.

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.

Apkallu

Mesopotamian myth tells of seven antediluvian sages, demigods who are said to have been created by the god Enki (Akkadian: Ea), the wise god of Eridu, to bring the arts of civilisation and 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.

The first of these, Adapa, the first sage’s association with water, 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. The word Abgallu (Ab = water, Gal = great, Lu = man, Sumerian) or Apkallu (Akkadian) survived into Nabatean times, around the 1st century, as apkallum, used to describe the profession of a certain kind of priest.

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.

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.

The Apkallus are referred to in several Sumerian myths in cuneiform literature. They are first referred to in the Erra Epic by the character of Marduk who asks “Where are the Seven Sages of the Apsu, the pure puradu fish, who just as their lord Ea, have been endowed with sublime wisdom?”

According to the Temple Hymn of Ku’ara, all seven sages are said to have originally belonged to the city of Eridu. However, the names and order of appearance of these seven sages are varied in different sources. They are also referred to in the incantation series Bit Meseri’s third tablet.

In non-cuneiform sources, they find references in the writings of Berossus, the 3rd century BC, Babylonian priest of Bel Marduk. Berossus describes the appearance from the Persian Gulf of the first of these sages Oannes and describes him as a monster with two heads, the body of a fish and human feet. He then relates that more of these monsters followed. The seven sages are also referred to in an exorcistic text where they are described as bearing the likeness of carps.

Though the order of the appearance of the sages is not precisely agreed upon, Conrad and Newing give an order of their appearance: Conrad and Newing identify Utuabzu as the legendary Babylonian mythical figure, Adapa, while others identify Uanna with Adapa.

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.

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.

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.

Enoch is a figure in Biblical literature. In addition to an appearance in the Book of Genesis of the Hebrew Bible, Enoch is the subject of many Jewish and Christian writings.

Eridu

Eridu (Cuneiform: NUN.KI; Sumerian: eriduki; Akkadian: irîtu modern Arabic: Tell Abu Shahrain) is an archaeological site in southern Mesopotamia (modern Dhi Qar Governorate, Iraq).

In Sumerian mythology, Eridu was originally the home of Enki, later known by the Akkadians as Ea, who was considered to have founded the city. His temple was called E-Abzu, as Enki was believed to live in Abzu, an aquifer from which all life was believed to stem.

In Sumerian mythology, Eridu was the home of the Abzu temple of the god Enki, the Sumerian counterpart of the Akkadian water-god Ea. Like all the Sumerian and Babylonian gods, Enki/Ea began as a local god, who came to share, according to the later cosmology, with Anu and Enlil, the rule of the cosmos. His kingdom was the sweet waters that lay below earth (Sumerian ab=water; zu=far).

The king list gave particularly long rules to the kings who ruled before a great flood occurred, and shows how the center of power progressively moved from the south to the north of the country.

In the court of Assyria, special physicians trained in the ancient lore of Eridu, far to the south, foretold the course of sickness from signs and portents on the patient’s body, and offered the appropriate incantations and magical resources as cures.

The Abzu (Cuneiform: ZU.AB; Sumerian: abzu; Akkadian: apsû) also called engur, (Cuneiform: LAGAB×HAL; Sumerian: engur; Akkadian: engurru) literally, ab=’ocean’ zu=’deep’ was the name for the primeval sea below the void space of the underworld (Kur) and the earth (Ma) above. It may also refer to fresh water from underground aquifers that was given a religious fertilizing quality. Lakes, springs, rivers, wells, and other sources of fresh water were thought to draw their water from the abzu.

In the city of Eridu, Enki’s temple was known as E-abzu (house of the cosmic waters) and was located at the edge of a swamp, an abzu. Certain tanks of holy water in Babylonian and Assyrian temple courtyards were also called abzu (apsû). Typical in religious washing, these tanks were similar to the washing pools of Islamic mosques, or the baptismal font in Christian churches.

The Sumerian god Enki (Ea in the Akkadian language) was believed to have lived in the abzu since before human beings were created. His wife Damgalnuna, his mother Nammu, his advisor Isimud and a variety of subservient creatures, such as the gatekeeper Lahmu, also lived in the abzu.

When above the heavens did not yet exist nor the earth below, Apsu the freshwater ocean was there, the first, the begetter, and Tiamat, the saltwater sea, she who bore them all; they were still mixing their waters, and no pasture land had yet been formed, nor even a reed marsh…

In his connections with Inanna, Enki shows other aspects of his non-Patriarchal nature. The myth Enki and Inanna tells the story of the young goddess of the É-anna temple of Uruk, who visits the senior god of Eridu, and is entertained by him in a feast. The seductive god plies her with beer, and the young goddess maintains her virtue, whilst Enki proceeds to get drunk. In generosity he gives her all the gifts of his Me, the gifts of civilized life.

Next morning, with a hangover, he asks his servant Isimud for his Me, only to be informed that he has given them to Inanna. Upset at his actions, he sends Galla demons to recover them. Inanna escapes her pursuers and arrives safely back at the quay at Uruk. Enki realises that he has been tricked in his hubris and accepts a peace treaty forever with Uruk.

Politically, this myth would seem to indicate events of an early period when political authority passed from Enki’s city of Eridu to Inanna’s city of Uruk.

Alulim

Alulim was the first king of Eridu, and the first king of Sumer, according to the mythological antediluvian section of the Sumerian King List. Enki, the god of Eridu, is said to have brought civilization to Sumer at this point, or just shortly before.

Alalu is god in Hurrian mythology. He is 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.

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.

The Sumerian King List has the following entry for Alulim: “After the kingship descended from heaven, the kingship was in Eridug (Eridu). In Eridug, Alulim became king; he ruled for 28,800 years.”

In a chart of antediluvian generations in Babylonian and Biblical traditions, Professor William Wolfgang Hallo associates Alulim with the composite half-man, half-fish counselor or culture hero (Apkallu) Uanna-Adapa (Oannes), and suggests an equivalence between Alulim and Enosh in the Sethite genealogy given in Genesis chapter 5. Hallo notes that Alulim’s name means “Stag”.

William H. Shea suggests that Alulim was a contemporary of the biblical figure Adam, who may have been derived from Adapa of ancient Mesopotamian religion.

To begin with, a tablet of purportedly pre-flood Sumerian kings exists, begins with the name Alulim (Hallo/Simpson 1971, p. 29-32), which I analyze as consisting of alu, “residence (of)” + (a)lim, “water-buffalo”; the second sign composed of the elements “power(ful)” + “water” + “face”.

Each of these kings had an impossibly long life span that identifies them as mythical personages a priori. When we compare Alu-lim with the deity we came across in Creation-1, the Hurrian Alalu, and furthermore, notice the Sumerian god Alla, about whom not much is definitely known (but who is undoubtedly a creator-god; alla is written with a sign depicting a wood-working tool = “[the] *carver”); and finally consider the so-called ‘bison’ (“gud-alim”), a well-known decorative motif.

Under these circumstances, it seems highly plausible to suggest that the Sumerian deity of the primeval ocean, Alu-lim, the “Residence of the Water-Buffalo”, had a water-buffalo as his animal avatar.

Nineveh and Jonah

Nineveh is an ancient Mesopotamian city on the eastern bank of the Tigris River, and capital of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. The origin of the name Nineveh is obscure. Possibly it meant originally the seat of Ishtar, since Nina was one of the Babylonian names of that goddess. The ideogram means “house or place of fish,” and was perhaps due to popular etymology (comp. Aramaic “nuna,” denoting “fish”).

Jonah or Jonas (Latin: Ionas) is the name given in the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh/Old Testament) to a prophet of the northern kingdom of Israel in about the 8th century BC. He is the eponymous central character in the Book of Jonah, famous for being swallowed by a fish or a whale, depending on translation. The biblical story of Jonah is repeated, with a few notable differences, in the Qur’an.

Oannes

Oannes was the name given by the Babylonian writer Berossus in the 3rd century BC 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 vita of Porphyry of Gaza, mentions the great god of Gaza, known as Marnas (Aramaic Marnā the “Lord”), who was regarded as the god of rain and grain and invoked against famine. Marna of Gaza appears on coinage of the time of Hadrian.

He was identified at Gaza with Cretan Zeus, Zeus Krētagenēs. It is likely that Marnas was the Hellenistic expression of Dagon. His temple, the Marneion—the last surviving great cult center of paganism—was burned by order of the Roman emperor in 402. Treading upon the sanctuary’s paving-stones had been forbidden. Christians later used these same to pave the public marketplace.

In the 11th century, Jewish Bible commentator Rashi writes of a biblical tradition that the name Dāgôn is related to Hebrew dāg/dâg ‘fish’ and that Dagon was imagined in the shape of a fish: compare the Babylonian fish-god Oannes.

In the 13th century David Kimhi interpreted the odd sentence in 1 Samuel 5.2–7 that “only Dagon was left to him” to mean “only the form of a fish was left”, adding: “It is said that Dagon, from his navel down, had the form of a fish (whence his name, Dagon), and from his navel up, the form of a man, as it is said, his two hands were cut off.” The Septuagint text of 1 Samuel 5.2–7 says that both the hands and the head of the image of Dagon were broken off.

H. Schmökel asserted in 1928 that Dagon was never originally a fish-god, but once he became an important god of those maritime Canaanites, the Phoenicians, the folk-etymological connection with dâg would have ineluctably affected his iconography.

The fish form may be considered as a phallic symbol as seen in the story of the Egyptian grain god Osiris, whose penis was eaten by (conflated with) fish in the Nile after he was attacked by the Typhonic beast Set.

Likewise, in the tale depicting the origin of the constellation Capricornus, the Greek god of nature Pan became a fish from the waist down when he jumped into the same river after being attacked by Typhon.

Various 19th-century scholars, such as Julius Wellhausen and William Robertson Smith, believed the tradition to have been validated from the occasional occurrence of a merman motif found in Assyrian and Phoenician art, including coins from Ashdod and Arvad.

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.

Matsya

Matsya (Sanskrit: 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.

Matsya is depicted in two forms: as a zoomorphic fish or in an anthropomorphic form. In the latter form, the upper half is that of the four-armed man and the lower half is a fish (an exception is a sculpture in the Chennakesava Temple, Somanathapura, which is Matsya as a fish-headed human.) The upper half resembles Vishnu and wears the traditional ornaments and the kirita-makuta (tall conical crown) as worn by Vishnu. He holds in two of his hands the Sudarshana chakra (discus) and a shankha (conch), the usual weapons of Vishnu.

The other two hands make the gestures of varadamudra, which grants boons to the devotee, and abhayamudra, which reassures the devotee of protection. In another configuration, he might have all four attributes of Vishnu, namely the Sudarshana chakra, a shankha, a gada (mace) and a lotus.

The human torso generally wears a shawl and a garland. The shawl, worn over his elbows, may be wrapped such that the switch between the human torso and fish half is hidden. Matsya may be depicted alone or in a scene depicting his combat with a demon.

A demon called Shankhasura emerging from a conch is sometimes depicted attacking Matsya with a sword as Matsya combats or kills him. Both of them may be depicted in the ocean, while the god Brahma and/or manuscripts or four men, symbolizing the Vedas may be depicted in the background. In some scenes, Matsya is depicted as a fish pulling the boat with Manu and the seven great sages (Saptarishi) on it.

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 being additions 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.

Saptarishi

The Saptarishi (from saptarṣi, a Sanskrit dvigu meaning “seven sages”) are the seven rishis who are extolled at many places in the Vedas and Hindu literature. 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 with 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, Bhrighu 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.The seven Rishis in the next Manvantara will be Díptimat, Gálava, Parasurama, Kripa, Drauńi or Ashwatthama, Vyasa and Rishyasringa.

Sapta Rishis are the Hierarchy working under the guidance of the Highest Creative Intelligence, Parmatma. The present batch of the Sapta Rishis is Bhrigu, Atri, Angirasa Vashista, Pulastya, Pulalaha and Kratu. They bring down to the earth the required Knowledge and Energies to strengthen the processes of Transition (Pralaya). They are naturally the most evolved Light Beings in the Creation and the guardians of the Divine Laws.

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 being additions 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.

Matsya is the patron deity of the Meenas, who claim descent from the deity. The Meenas call Matsya Meenesh, the Lord of the Meenas or the fish (Meena) Lord. Meenas celebrates Meenesh Jayanti as birthday of Meenesh.

In Rajasthan there are many temples of Meenesh, but the first Meenesh temple was in Pushkar, Rajasthan. A Meenesh temple is also situated in Malarana chour village of Sawai Madhopur district of Rajasthan.

Dagan

Dagan is mentioned occasionally in early Sumerian texts but becomes prominent only in later Assyro-Babylonian inscriptions as a powerful and warlike protector, sometimes equated with Enlil. Dagan’s wife was in some sources the goddess Shala (also named as wife of Adad and sometimes identified with Ninlil). In other texts, his wife is Ishara.

Dagon was originally an East Semitic Mesopotamian (Akkadian, Assyrian, Babylonian) fertility god who evolved into a major Northwest Semitic god, reportedly of grain (as symbol of fertility) and fish and/or fishing (as symbol of multiplying). He was worshipped by the early Amorites and by the inhabitants of the cities of Ebla (modern Tell Mardikh, Syria) and Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra, Syria). He was also a major member, or perhaps head, of the pantheon of the Philistines.

The god Dagon first appears in extant records about 2500 BC in the Mari texts and in personal Amorite names in which the Mesopotamian gods Ilu (Ēl), Dagan, and Adad are especially common. In Ugarit around 1300 BC, Dagon had a large temple and was listed third in the pantheon following a father-god and Ēl, and preceding Baīl Ṣapān (that is the god Haddu or Hadad/Adad).

Joseph Fontenrose first demonstrated that, whatever their deep origins, at Ugarit Dagon was identified with El, explaining why Dagan, who had an important temple at Ugarit is so neglected in the Ras Shamra mythological texts, where Dagon is mentioned solely in passing as the father of the god Hadad, but Anat, El’s daughter, is Baal’s sister, and why no temple of El has appeared at Ugarit.

There are differences between the Ugaritic pantheon and that of Phoenicia centuries later: according to the third-hand Greek and Christian reports of Sanchuniathon, the Phoenician mythographer would have Dagon the brother of Ēl/Cronus and like him son of Sky/Uranus and Earth, but not truly Hadad’s father.

Hadad was begotten by “Sky” on a concubine before Sky was castrated by his son Ēl, whereupon the pregnant concubine was given to Dagon. Accordingly, Dagon in this version is Hadad’s half-brother and stepfather. The Byzantine Etymologicon Magnum says that Dagon was Cronus in Phoenicia. Otherwise, with the disappearance of Phoenician literary texts, Dagon has practically no surviving mythology.

Dagan is mentioned occasionally in early Sumerian texts but becomes prominent only in later Assyro-Babylonian inscriptions as a powerful and warlike protector, sometimes equated with Enlil. Dagan’s wife was in some sources the goddess Shala (also named as wife of Adad and sometimes identified with Ninlil). In other texts, his wife is Ishara. In the preface to his famous law code, King Hammurabi, the founder of the Babylonian empire, calls himself “the subduer of the settlements along the Euphrates with the help of Dagan, his creator”.

Hurrian

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. 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.

Inara, in Hittite–Hurrian mythology, was the goddess of the wild animals of the steppe and daughter of the Storm-god Teshub/Tarhunt. She corresponds to the “potnia theron” of Greek mythology, better known as Artemis. Inara’s mother is probably Hebat and her brother is Sarruma.

The mother goddess Hannahannah promises Inara land and a man during a consultation by Inara. Inara then disappears. Her father looks for her, joined by Hannahannah with a bee. The story resembles that of Demeter and her daughter Persephone, in Greek myth. Hebat is married to Teshub and is the mother of Sarruma and Alanzu, as well mother-in-law of the daughter of the dragon Illuyanka.

Poseidon

Poseidon is one of the twelve Olympian deities of the pantheon in Greek mythology. His main domain is the ocean, and he is called the “God of the Sea”. Additionally, he is referred to as “Earth-Shaker” due to his role in causing earthquakes, and has been called the “tamer of horses”. He is usually depicted as an older male with curly hair and beard. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology; both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon.

In ancient Greek religion and Greek mythology, Demeter is the goddess of the harvest, who presided over grains and the fertility of the earth. Her cult titles include Sito, “she of the Grain”, as the giver of food or grain, and Thesmophoros (thesmos: divine order, unwritten law; “phoros”: bringer, bearer), “Law-Bringer,” as a mark of the civilized existence of agricultural society.

Though Demeter is often described simply as the goddess of the harvest, she presided also over the sacred law, and the cycle of life and death. She and her daughter Persephone were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries that predated the Olympian pantheon. In the Linear B Mycenean Greek tablets of circa 1400–1200 BC found at Pylos, the “two mistresses and the king” may be related with Demeter, Persephone and Poseidon. Her Roman equivalent is Ceres.

Greek

Uranus, the planet, can, for example, be clearly associated with the Sumerian god, Anu (aka heaven), the father of Enki and Enlil. In Greek Mythology, Cronus was considered to be the son of heaven (Uranus) and earth (Gaia). Cronus’ son, Zeus, was known to the ancient Greeks as the King of the Gods, while Cronus was generally considered to be an even more ancient, pre-Hellenic deity, and thus someone seldom worshipped by the ancient Greeks.

Cronus was in Greek mythology the leader and the youngest of the first generation of Titans, the divine descendants of Uranus, the sky and Gaia, the earth. He overthrew his father and ruled during the mythological Golden Age, until he was overthrown by his own son Zeus and imprisoned in Tartarus.

Cronus was usually depicted with a Harpe, Scythe or a Sickle, which was the instrument he used to castrate and depose Uranus, his father. In Athens, on the twelfth day of the Attic month of Hekatombaion, a festival called Kronia was held in honour of Cronus to celebrate the harvest, suggesting that, as a result of his association with the virtuous Golden Age, Cronus continued to preside as a patron of harvest. Cronus was also identified in classical antiquity with the Roman deity Saturn.

Njörðr

In Norse Paganism, Njörðr is a god among the Vanir. Njörðr, father of the deities Freyr and Freyja by his unnamed Vanir sister, was in an ill-fated marriage with the goddess Skaði, lives in Nóatún and is associated with sea, seafaring, wind, fishing, wealth, and crop fertility.

Njörðr has been the subject of an amount of scholarly discourse and theory, often connecting him with the figure of the much earlier attested Germanic goddess Nerthus, the hero Hadingus, and theorizing on his formerly more prominent place in Norse paganism due to the appearance of his name in numerous place names. Njörðr is sometimes modernly anglicized as Njord, Njoerd, or Njorth.

Vishapakar

A vishapakar also known as vishap stones, vishap stellas, “serpent-stones”, “dragon stones”, or simply as vishaps, are characteristic menhirs found in large quantities in Armenia. They are commonly carved into cigar-like shapes with fish heads or serpents. Supposedly they are images of vishaps, mystical creatures. According to “Lonely Planet”, Vishap stones are markers to show the location of water.

Ap

Ap (áp-) is the Vedic Sanskrit term for “water”, which in Classical Sanskrit only occurs in the plural, āpas (sometimes re-analysed as a thematic singular, āpa-), whence Hindi āp. The term is from PIE hxap “water”.

The Indo-Iranian word also survives as the Persian word for water, āb, e.g. in Punjab (from panj-āb “five waters”). Here, a similarity can be seen between the concept of ap (waters/river) and the Sumerian ab (ocean), which is a language that is widely believed to be a language isolate. In archaic ablauting contractions, the laryngeal of the PIE root remains visible in Vedic Sanskrit, e.g. pratīpa- “against the current”, from *proti-hxp-o-.

In the Rigveda, several hymns are dedicated to “the waters” (āpas): 7.49, 10.9, 10.30, 10.47. In the oldest of these, 7.49, the waters are connected with the drought of Indra. Agni, the god of fire, has a close association with water and is often referred to as Apām Napāt “offspring of the waters”. The female deity Apah is the presiding deity of Purva Ashadha (The former invincible one) asterism in Vedic astrology

In Hindu philosophy, the term refers to water as an element, one of the Panchamahabhuta, or “five great elements”. In Hinduism, it is also the name of the deva Varuna a personification of water, one of the Vasus in most later Puranic lists.

Apas

Apas (āpas) is the Avestan language term for “the waters”, which—in its innumerable aggregate states—is represented by the Apas, the hypostases of the waters.

Apam Napat is an eminent figure of the Indo-Iranian pantheon. In the Rig Veda, Apām Napāt is the supreme god of creation. Apam Napat created all existential beings (Rig Veda 2.35.2). In Zoroastrianism, Apąm Napāt is a divinity of water.

Apām Napāt in Sanskrit and Apąm Napāt in Avestan mean “son of waters” (see Ap (water)). Sanskrit and Avestan napāt (“grandson”) are cognate to Latin nepōs and English nephew, but the name Apām Napāt has also been compared to Etruscan Nethuns and Celtic Nechtan and Roman Neptune.

In Yasht 19 of the Avesta Apąm Napāt appears as the Creator of mankind. Here, there is an evident link between the glory of sovereignty (Khvarenah) and Apąm Napāt who protects Khvarenah as the royal glory of Iranian kings. Apām Napāt is sometimes, for example in Rigveda book 2 hymn 35 verse 2, described as the supreme creator deity who originates in the cosmic waters.

Apam Napat has a golden splendour and is said to be kindled by the cosmic waters. The reference to fire may have originally referred to flames from natural gas or oil seepages surfacing through water, as in a fire temple at Surakhany near Baku in Azerbaijan (Jivanji Jamshedji Modi 1926). There is a conjecture that the word “naphtha” came (via Greek, where it meant any sort of petroleum) from the name “Apam Napat”.

Abyzou

In the myth and folklore of the Near East and Europe, Abyzou is the name of a female demon. Abyzou was blamed for miscarriages and infant mortality and was said to be motivated by envy, as she herself was infertile. In the Jewish tradition she is identified with Lilith, in Coptic Egypt with Alabasandria, and in Byzantine culture with Gylou, but in various texts surviving from the syncretic magical practice of antiquity and the early medieval era she is said to have many or virtually innumerable names.

Abyzou (also spelled Abizou, Obizu, Obizuth, Obyzouth, Byzou etc.) is pictured on amulets with fish- or serpent-like attributes. Her fullest literary depiction is the compendium of demonology known as the Testament of Solomon, dated variously by scholars from as early as the 1st century AD to as late as the 4th.

A.A. Barb connected Abyzou and similar female demons to the Sumerian myth of primeval Sea. Barb argued that although the name “Abyzou” appears to be a corrupted form of the Greek word abyssos (“the abyss”), the Greek itself was borrowed from Assyrian Apsu or Sumerian Abzu, the undifferentiated sea from which the world was created in the Sumerian belief system, equivalent to Babylonian Tiamat, or Hebrew Tehom in the Book of Genesis.

The entity Sea was originally bi- or asexual, later dividing into male Abzu (fresh water) and female Tiamat (salt water). The female demons among whom Lilith is the best-known are often said to have come from the primeval sea. In classical Greece, female sea monsters that combine allure and deadliness may also derive from this tradition, including the Gorgons (who were daughters of the old sea god Phorcys), Sirens, Harpies, and even water nymphs and Nereids.

In the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew scriptures, the word Abyssos is treated as a noun of feminine grammatical gender, even though Greek nouns ending in -os are typically masculine. Abyssos is equivalent in meaning to Mesopotamian Abzu as the dark chaotic sea before Creation. The word also appears in the Christian scriptures, occurring six times in the Book of Revelation, where it is conventionally translated not as “the deep” but as “the bottomless pit” of Hell. Barb argues that in essence the Sumerian Abzu is the “grandmother” of the Christian Devil.

Pisces (astrology)

Aquarius (astrology)

Constellation Aquarius

Babylonian astrology

Babylonian star catalogues

MUL.APIN

Enuma Anu Enlil

The Animals of Creation

The prediuvian kings and patriarchs

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Pisces, the last sign of the Zodiac

Posted by Fredsvenn on April 14, 2015

I find it incredibly apropos that astrology originated in the Cradle of Civilization, nestled between the Tigris and Euphrates, the map of which even resembles a woman’s womb and birth canal.  These ancient civilizations diligently observed the heavens, seeking a connection between Earth and the stars and duly noted that some, which would later be identified as planets, demonstrated such erratic movements that the Sumerians called them udu.idim.mes, i.e. wild sheep.

The earliest evidence regarding the use of astrology as applied to the affairs of state is represented by the Dream of Gudea, which dates back to 2000 BCE. A key figure in the story is the goddess, Nanshe, who possessed many of the talents later attributed to Mercury, such as knowing how to perform calculations.

Her temple was known as the “House of Stars” and she possessed a lapis lazuli tablet that contained the stars of heaven, which she consulted by placing it on her knees.  Gudea, mediator between heaven and Earth, sought guidance with regard to the threat of drought, which Nanshe provided by consulting her tablet of stars, indicating the practice of seeking answers from the cosmos.

Pisces

Pisces is the twelfth sign of the zodiac, and it is also the final sign in the zodiacal cycle. Hence, this sign brings together many of the characteristics of the eleven signs that have come before it. Pisces, however, are happiest keeping many of these qualities under wraps.

These folks are selfless, spiritual and very focused on their inner journey. They also place great weight on what they are feeling. Yes, feelings define Pisces, and it’s not uncommon for them to feel their own burdens (and joys) as well as those of others. The intuition of the Pisces-born is highly evolved. Many people associate Pisces with dreams and secrets, and it’s a fair association, since those born under this sign feel comfortable in an illusory world.

Venus is the ruling planet of Libra and Taurus and is exalted in Pisces, while both Pluto and Mercury fall in Pisces. Neptune is the ruling planet of Pisces and is exalted in Leo. Neptune is mostly considered the ruling planet of Pisces today because of the association with the Roman god of water and the sea, Neptune. The detriment, or the sign “opposite” to that which is deemed the ruling planet, is Mercury.

In ancient Roman mythology, Jupiter (the original ruler of Pisces) was the king of the gods, while Neptune was the ruler of the seas. When Neptune was discovered in recent times, it was attached to this sign. The pairing of these two heavenly bodies results in some unique energies being directed toward Pisces here on Earth. Those born under this sign are spiritually oriented and charitable.

A planet’s domicile is the zodiac sign over which it has rulership, and the rulers of Pisces, or those associated with Pisceans, are Jupiter, Neptune, and the moon. In esoteric astrology, Venus was considered the ruler of Pisces, and prior to the discovery of Neptune in 1846, Jupiter was said to rule Pisces.

Divine associations with Pisces include Poseidon/Neptune, Vishnu, Christ, Aphrodite, Eros, and Typhon. The symbol of the fishes is derived from the ichthyocentaurs, who aided Aphrodite when she was born from the sea.

The ichthys or ichthus, from the Greek ikhthýs (“fish”), is a symbol consisting of two intersecting arcs, the ends of the right side extending beyond the meeting point so as to resemble the profile of a fish. It was used by early Christians as a secret Christian symbol and now known colloquially as the “sign of the fish” or the “Jesus fish”.

Greeks, Romans, and many other pagans used the fish symbol before Christians. In pagan beliefs, Ichthys was the offspring of the ancient Sea goddess Atargatis, and was known in various mythic systems as Tirgata, Aphrodite, Pelagia, or Delphine. The word also meant “womb” and “dolphin” in some tongues.

Before Christianity adopted the fish symbol, it was known by pagans as “the Great Mother”, and “womb”. Its link to fertility, birth, and the natural force of women was acknowledged also by the Celts, as well as pagan cultures throughout northern Europe. In certain non-Christian beliefs the fish also has been identified with reincarnation and the life force.

Inanna was the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare, and goddess of the E-Anna temple at the city of Uruk, her main centre. She was associated with the eastern fish of the last of the zodiacal constellations, Pisces. Her consort Dumuzi was associated with the contiguous first constellation, Aries.

A Gallus (pl. Galli) was a eunuch priest of the Phrygian goddess Cybele and her consort Attis, whose worship was incorporated into the state religious practices of ancient Rome. Stephanus Byzantinus said that the name came from King Gallus. Ovid (43 BC – 17 AD) says that the name is derived from the Gallus river in Phrygia. The word “Gallus” is also the Latin word for rooster.

The name may be linked to the Gauls (Celtic tribes) of Galatia in Anatolia, who were known as Galli by the Romans. The name Gaul itself is not derived from Galli; it is, much rather, from Old French Gaule, a word used to translate Latin Gallia, but itself from an Old Frankish *Walholant, from the Germanic walha “a foreigner, a Celt, a Gallo-Roman”.

While these efforts at “folk” etymologies were widespread in classical times, it has been suggested that gallu comes from the Sumerian Gal meaning “great” and Lu meaning “man”, humans or sexually ambivalent demons that freed Inanna from the underworld. They originally seem to have been consecrated to the god Enki.

There was a category of Mesopotamian priests called kalu; in Sumerian gala. These priests played the tympanum and were involved in bull sacrifice. Another category of Mesopotamian priests called assinnu, galatur, and kurgarru had a sacred function. These transgender or eunuch priests participated in liturgical rites, during which they were costumed and masked. They played music, sang, and danced, most often in ceremonies dedicated to the goddess Ishtar.

Capricorn Mythology, What is it about?

Pisces (astrology)

Pisces, the last sign of the Zodiac

Abgal or Apkallu

From Gal to Galli and Angel

Inanna and Tammuz

Constellations

Mesopotamian Astrology

Mesopotamia:  Cradle of Astrology’s Development

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The origin and development of the African haplogroup R1b

Posted by Fredsvenn on April 11, 2015

Haplogroup R1b (Y-DNA).PNG

R1b1 (P25) people might have been among the first people to domesticate cattle in eastern Anatolia and northern Mesopotamia/Syria during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period. P297 branch moved north across the Caucasus to seek grazing grounds for their cattle, while the V88 branch migrated south to the Levant, then to Africa, following the Nile Valley until the Sahel, then spreading westward.

Although human Y chromosomes belonging to haplogroup R1b are quite rare in Africa, being found mainly in Asia and Europe, a group of chromosomes within the paragroup R-P25* are found concentrated in the central-western part of the African continent, where they can be detected at frequencies as high as 95%. Phylogenetic evidence and coalescence time estimates suggest that R-P25* chromosomes (or their phylogenetic ancestor) may have been carried to Africa by an Asia-to-Africa back migration in prehistoric times.

Here, we describe six new mutations that define the relationships among the African R-P25* Y chromosomes and between these African chromosomes and earlier reported R-P25 Eurasian sub-lineages. The incorporation of these new mutations into a phylogeny of the R1b haplogroup led to the identification of a new clade (R1b1a or R-V88) encompassing all the African R-P25* and about half of the few European/west Asian R-P25* chromosomes. A worldwide phylogeographic analysis of the R1b haplogroup provided strong support to the Asia-to-Africa back-migration hypothesis.

The analysis of the distribution of the R-V88 haplogroup in >1800 males from 69 African populations revealed a striking genetic contiguity between the Chadic-speaking peoples from the central Sahel and several other Afroasiatic-speaking groups from North Africa. The R-V88 coalescence time was estimated at 9200–5600kya, in the early mid Holocene.

We suggest that R-V88 is a paternal genetic record of the proposed mid-Holocene migration of proto-Chadic Afroasiatic speakers through the Central Sahara into the Lake Chad Basin, and geomorphological evidence is consistent with this view.

 A date ~8,000 YBP was estimated for the L3f3 sub-haplogroup, which is in good agreement with the supposed migration of Chadic speaking pastoralists and their linguistic differentiation from other Afro-Asiatic groups of East Africa. This is consistent with the date for V88 proposed at 9,200-5,600 years, and is also a very close match for the arrival of the Neolithic in Africa.

The only Afro-Asiatic speaking group that the Chadic speakers plot closely to is Cushitic, which will probably make Blench happy, as he claims Chadic speakers are a split-off from Cushitic speaking pastoralists. It’s fairly obvious that the male line of Chadic speakers followed a path into Africa via the Sinai, then down the West bank of the Nile and then struck out West to Lake Chad, acquiring wives as they went. The only issue is the exact date. Holocene or Neolithic? Whatever the exact date, this brings the argument for an Asian origin for Afro-Asiatic out again, as (from the DNA here) the odds are 50% that it followed the male line in from Asia.

Chadic has cognates for sheep and goats that look like they share a root with Cushitic and Egyptian, which would at least date proto Chadic to the Neolithic, making the mt DNA date of 8,000 more likely to be close to the actual date for V88 to enter Africa.

Human Y chromosome haplogroup R-V88

R1b is the most common haplogroup in Western Europe, reaching over 80% of the population in Ireland, the Scottish Highlands, western Wales, the Atlantic fringe of France, the Basque country and Catalonia. It is also common in Anatolia and around the Caucasus, in parts of Russia and in Central and South Asia.

Besides the Atlantic and North Sea coast of Europe, hotspots include the Po valley in north-central Italy (over 70%), Armenia (35%), the Bashkirs of the Urals region of Russia (50%), Turkmenistan (over 35%), the Hazara people of Afghanistan (35%), the Uyghurs of North-West China (20%) and the Newars of Nepal (11%). R1b-V88, a subclade specific to sub-Saharan Africa, is found in 60 to 95% of men in northern Cameroon.

Haplogroup R* originated in North Asia just before the Last Glacial Maximum (26,500-19,000 years ago). This haplogroup has been identified in the remains of a 24,000 year-old boy from the Altai region, in south-central Siberia. This individual belonged to a tribe of mammoth hunters that may have roamed across Siberia and parts of Europe during the Paleolithic.

Autosomally this Paleolithic population appears to have contributed mostly to the ancestry of modern Europeans and South Asians, the two regions where haplogroup R also happens to be the most common nowadays (R1b in Western Europe, R1a in Eastern Europe, Central and South Asia, and R2 in South Asia).

The oldest forms of R1b (M343, P25, L389) are found dispersed at very low frequencies from Western Europe to India, a vast region where could have roamed the nomadic R1b hunter-gatherers during the Ice Age. The three main branches of R1b1 (R1b1a, R1b1b, R1b1c) all seem to have stemmed from the Middle East.

The southern branch, R1b1c (V88), is found mostly in the Levant and Africa. The northern branch, R1b1a (P297), seems to have originated around the Caucasus, eastern Anatolia or northern Mesopotamia, then to have crossed over the Caucasus, from where they would have invaded Europe and Central Asia. R1b1b (M335) has only been found in Anatolia.

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.

Like its northern counterpart (R1b-M269), R1b-V88 is associated with the domestication of cattle in northern Mesopotamia. Both branches of R1b probably split soon after cattle were domesticated, approximately 10,500 years ago (8,500 BCE). R1b-V88 migrated south towards the Levant and Egypt.

The migration of R1b people can be followed archeologically through the presence of domesticated cattle, which appear in central Syria around 8,000-7,500 BCE (late Mureybet period), then in the Southern Levant and Egypt around 7,000-6,500 BCE (e.g. at Nabta Playa and Bir Kiseiba).

Cattle herders subsequently spread across most of northern and eastern Africa. The Sahara desert would have been more humid during the Neolithic Subpluvial period (c. 7250-3250 BCE), and would have been a vast savannah full of grass, an ideal environment for cattle herding.

Evidence of cow herding during the Neolithic has shown up at Uan Muhuggiag in central Libya around 5500 BCE, at the Capeletti Cave in northern Algeria around 4500 BCE. But the most compelling evidence that R1b people related to modern Europeans once roamed the Sahara is to be found at Tassili n’Ajjer in southern Algeria, a site famous pyroglyphs (rock art) dating from the Neolithic era. Some painting dating from around 3000 BCE depict fair-skinned and blond or auburn haired women riding on cows.

After reaching the Maghreb, R1b-V88 cattle herders could have crossed the Strait of Gibraltar to Iberia, probably accompanied by G2 farmers, J1 and T1a goat herders and native Maghreban E-M81 lineages. These Maghreban Neolithic farmers/herders could have been the ones who established the Almagra Pottery culture in Andalusia in the 6th millennium BCE.

Nowadays small percentages (1 to 4%) of R1b-V88 are found in the Levant, among the Lebanese, the Druze, and the Jews, and almost in every country in Africa north of the equator. Higher frequency in Egypt (5%), among Berbers from the Egypt-Libya border (23%), among the Sudanese Copts (15%), the Hausa people of Sudan (40%), the the Fulani people of the Sahel (54% in Niger and Cameroon), and Chadic tribes of northern Nigeria and northern Cameroon (especially among the Kirdi), where it is observed at a frequency ranging from 30% to 95% of men.

R1b-V88 would have crossed the Sahara between 9,200 and 5,600 years ago, and is most probably associated with the diffusion of Chadic languages, a branch of the Afroasiatic languages.

V88 would have migrated from Egypt to Sudan, then expanded along the Sahel until northern Cameroon and Nigeria. However, R1b-V88 is not only present among Chadic speakers, but also among Senegambian speakers (Fula-Hausa) and Semitic speakers (Berbers, Arabs).

R1b-V88 is found among the native populations of Rwanda, South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Guinea-Bissau. The wide distribution of V88 in all parts of Africa, its incidence among herding tribes, and the coalescence age of the haplogroup all support a Neolithic dispersal. In any case, a later migration out of Egypt would be improbable since it would have brought haplogroups that came to Egypt during the Bronze Age, such as J1, J2, R1a or R1b-L23.

R1b is a sub-clade within the much larger Eurasian MNOPS “macro-haplogroup”, which is one of the predominant groupings of all the rest of human male lines outside of Africa, and this whole group, along indeed with all of macro-haplogroup F, is believed to have originated in Asia.

Early research focused upon Europe. In 2000 Ornella Semino and colleagues argued that R1b had been in Europe before the end of the Ice Age, and had spread north from an Iberian refuge after the Last Glacial Maximum.

Age estimates of R1b in Europe have steadily decreased in more recent studies, at least concerning the majority of R1b, with more recent studies suggesting a Neolithic age or younger. Only Morelli et al. have recently attempted to defend a Palaeolithic origin for R1b1b2.

Irrespective of STR coalescence calculations, Chikhi et al. pointed out that the timing of molecular divergences does not coincide with population splits; the TMRCA of haplogroup R1b (whether in the Palaeolithic or Neolithic) dates to its point of origin somewhere in Eurasia, and not its arrival in western Europe.

However, Michael R. Maglio argues that the closest branch of R1b is from Iberia and its small subclades found in West Asia, the Near East and Africa are examples of back migration, and not of its origin.

Barbara Arredi and colleagues were the first to point out that the distribution of R1b STR variance in Europe forms a cline from east to west, which is more consistent with an entry into Europe from Western Asia with the spread of farming.

A 2009 paper by Chiaroni et al. added to this perspective by using R1b as an example of a wave haplogroup distribution, in this case from east to west. The proposal of a southeastern origin of R1b were supported by three detailed studies based on large datasets published in 2010. These detected that the earliest subclades of R1b are found in western Asia and the most recent in western Europe.

While age estimates in these articles are all more recent than the Last Glacial Maximum, all mention the Neolithic, when farming was introduced to Europe from the Middle East as a possible candidate period.

Myres et al. (August 2010), and Cruciani et al. (August 2010) both remained undecided on the exact dating of the migration or migrations responsible for this distribution, not ruling out migrations as early as the Mesolithic or as late as Hallstatt but more probably Late Neolithic. They noted that direct evidence from ancient DNA may be needed to resolve these gene flows.

Lee et al. (May 2012) analysed the ancient DNA of human remains from the Late Neolithic Bell Beaker site of Kromsdorf, Germany identifying two males as belonging to the Y haplogroup R1b.

Analysis of ancient Y DNA from the remains of populations derived from early Neolithic settlements such as the Mediterranean Cardium and Central and North European LBK settlements have found an absence of males belonging to haplogroup R1b.

Although human Y chromosomes belonging to haplogroup R1b are quite rare in Africa, being found mainly in Asia and Europe, a group of chromosomes within the paragroup R-P25* are found concentrated in the central-western part of the African continent, where they can be detected at frequencies as high as 95%.

Phylogenetic evidence and coalescence time estimates suggest that R-P25* chromosomes (or their phylogenetic ancestor) may have been carried to Africa by an Asia-to-Africa back migration in prehistoric times.

Here, we describe six new mutations that define the relationships among the African R-P25* Y chromosomes and between these African chromosomes and earlier reported R-P25 Eurasian sub-lineages.

The incorporation of these new mutations into a phylogeny of the R1b haplogroup led to the identification of a new clade (R1b1a or R-V88) encompassing all the African R-P25* and about half of the few European/west Asian R-P25* chromosomes.

A worldwide phylogeographic analysis of the R1b haplogroup provided strong support to the Asia-to-Africa back-migration hypothesis. The analysis of the distribution of the R-V88 haplogroup in >1800 males from 69 African populations revealed a striking genetic contiguity between the Chadic-speaking peoples from the central Sahel and several other Afroasiatic-speaking groups from North Africa. The R-V88 coalescence time was estimated at 9200–5600 kya, in the early mid Holocene.

We suggest that R-V88 is a paternal genetic record of the proposed mid-Holocene migration of proto-Chadic Afroasiatic speakers through the Central Sahara into the Lake Chad Basin, and geomorphological evidence is consistent with this view.

The age of R-V88 can be younger than 4.2–8.2 ky, and could be as young as ~3-4ky in a rapidly expanding population. To determine how fast R-V88 actually grew, we must take into account its present-day demographic size (how many people in the world now possess it). The final estimate must be consistent with both the demographic size and the current Y-STR variance.

I don’t have data on R-V88 prevalence today, but it really doesn’t take a very large haplogroup in order to infer a very fast growth rate, and a Y-STR variance accumulation rate (effective rate) close to the germline one. Therefore, I am guessing that R-V88 is also one of a growing palette of haplogroups that expanded during the Bronze Age.

The maternal lineages (mtDNA) corresponding to haplogroup R1b

Haplogroup R1b is very widespread in most of Europe and across vast swathes of North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia today. As R1b Indo-Europeans advanced from the Pontic-Caspian Steppe by marrying local women as well as Indo-European women, it is difficult to estimate what were the original mtDNA haplogroups of R1b people back in the steppes, or prior to that in the Neolithic Near East or Paleolithic Eurasia.

The most likely potential original maternal lineages of R1b tribes before they started mixing with other Near Eastern populations is the mt-haplogroups H8c, H15, J1b1a, U5 and V. Looking at deeper subclades, J1b1a and T1a1a display extremely strong correlations with the distribution of Y-haplogroup R1b.

The maternal lineages associated with the spread of R1b-V88 in Africa are mtDNA haplogroups J1b, U5 and V, and perhaps also U3 and some H subclades.

One way of determining what mt-haplogroups R1b tribes carried at the very beginning of the Neolithic, 10,000 years ago, is to compare the above haplogroups with those of African ethnic groups known to possess elevated percentages of R1b-V88.

The best studied group are the Fulani, whose mtDNA include three European-looking haplogroupss J1b1a, U5 and V making up about 15% of their total maternal lineages. These haplogroups have been identified in all four Central African countries sampled, confirming a strong correlation with haplogroup R1b.

Since African R1b-V88 and Eurasian haplogroup R1b-P297 split roughly 10,000 years ago, there is little doubt that J1b, U5 and V were three of the original maternal lineages of R1b people. Only the J1b1b subclade seems to be related to the propagation of Y-haplogroup R1b. Other J1b subclades are geographically restricted to the Near East, particularly from the Caucasus to the Arabian Peninsula.

J1b might have been the first indigenous Near Eastern lineage assimilated by R1b tribes when they moved into the region (presumably from Russia or Iran, or the Caspian Sea, which was only formed by the melting of Russian glaciers just before the Neolithic began).

If that is the case, the Paleolithic R1b people would have belonged exclusively to mtDNA U5 and V, just like the modern Sami, and like a lot of Mesolithic Europeans.

The lactase persistence allele and R1b cattle pastoralists

Lactose (milk sugar) is an essential component of breast milk consumed by infants. Its digrestion is made possible by an enzyme, called lactase, which breaks down lactose in simple sugars that can be absorbed through the intestinal walls and into the bloodstream.

In most mammals (humans included), the production of the lactase enzyme is dramatically reduced soon after weaning. As a result, older children and adults become lactose intolerant. That is true of a big part of the world population. Some people possess a genetic mutation that allows the production of lactase through adulthood. This is called lactase persistence (LP).

Lactase persistence is particularly common among Northwest Europeans, descended from the ancient Celtic and Germanic people, and in parts of Africa where cattle herding has been practiced for thousands of years.

The highest incidence for the lactase persistence alleles, known to geneticists as -13,910*T (rs4988235) and -22018*A (rs182549), are found among Scandinavian, Dutch, British, Irish and Basque people. Sub-Saharan populations with lactase persistence have different mutations, such as -14010*C, -13915*G and -13907*G.

R1b men are thought to be the first people on earth to successfully domesticate cattle and to develop a lifestyle based on cattle husbandry and herding during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic (see Neolithic section).

Looking for pasture for their cows, R1b tribes migrated from the Near East to the savannah of North Africa (which has since underwent desertification and become the Sahara) and to the Pontic Steppe in southern Russia and Ukraine. For several millennia no other human population was so depended on cattle for their survival as these R1b tribes.

It is known that most Neolithic herding societies consumed at least some animal milk and even made cheese from it (since cheese contains less lactose and is easier to digest for people who are lactose intolerant).

In most of Europe, the Middle East and South Asia, people essentially herded goats and sheep, better suited to mountainous environment of the Mediterranean basin, Anatolia and Iran. Goats and sheep could also be kept easily inside villages by sedentary cereal cultivators, while cows needed vast pastures for grazing, which were particularly scare in the Middle East.

Domesticated cattle were sometimes found in small number among other Neolithic populations, but the ones that relied almost entirely on them were the R1b tribes of the Pontic Steppe and North Africa.

To this very day, semi-nomadic pastoralists in the Sahel, such as the Fulani and the Hausa, who are descended from Neolithic R1b-V88 migrants from the Near East, still maintain primarily herds of cattle. It is among these cattle herders that selective pressure for lactase persistence would have been the strongest.

There has been speculations among geneticists and evolutionary biologists regarding the origin of the lactase persistence allele in Europeans. Over 100 ancient DNA samples have been tested from Mesolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age Europe and Syria, and the -13910*T allele has been found only in Late Neolithic/Chalcolithic and Bronze Age individuals.

The origin of the mutation does not really matter, since it could have been present at low frequencies in the human gene pool for tens of thousands of years before it underwent postive selective pressure among cattle-herding societies.

What is certain is that individuals from Bronze Age cultures associated with the arrival of Indo-European speakers from the Pontic Steppe already possessed relatively high percentages of the LP allele.

For example the LP allele was found at a frequency of 27% among the 13 individuals from the Lichtenstein Cave in Germany, who belonged to the Urnfield culture, and was a mix of Y-haplogroups R1b, R1a and I2a2b.

Nowadays, the LP allele is roughly proportional to the percentage of R1b, and to a lower extent R1a, found in a population. In the British Isles, the Low Countries and south-west Scandinavia, where LP is the highest in the world, the combined percentage of R1a and R1b exceeds 70% of the population.

In Iberia, the highest percentage of LP is observed among the Basques, who have the highest percentage of R1b. In Italy, LP is most common in the north, like R1b. The lowest incidence of LP in Europe are found in South Italy, Greece and the Balkans, the regions that have the least R1b lineages.

R1 populations spread genes for light skin, blond hair and red hair

There is now strong evidence that both R1a and R1b people contributed to the diffusion of the A111T mutation of the SLC24A5, which explains apporximately 35% of skin tone difference between Europeans and Africans, and most variations within South Asia.

The distribution pattern of the A111T allele (rs1426654) of matches almost perfectly the spread of Indo-European R1a and R1b lineages around Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia.

The mutation was probably passed on in the Early neolithic to other Near Eastern populations, which explains why Neolithic farmers in Europe already carried the A111T allele (e.g. Keller 2012 p.4, Lazaridis 2014 suppl. 7), although at lower frequency than modern Europeans and southern Central Asians.

The light skin allele is also found at a range of 15 to 30% in in various ethnic groups in northern sub-Saharan Africa, mostly in the Sahel and savannah zones inhabited by tribes of R1b-V88 cattle herders like the Fulani and the Hausa. This would presuppose that the A111T allele was already present among all R1b people before the Pre-Pottery Neolithic split between V88 and P297.

R1a populations have an equally high incidence of this allele as R1b populations. On the other hand, the A111T mutation was absent from the 24,000-year-old R* sample from Siberia, and is absent from most modern R2 populations in Southeast India and Southeast Asia.

Consequently, it can be safely assumed that the mutation arose among the R1* lineage during the late Upper Paleolithic, probably some time between 20,000 and 13,000 years ago.

Fair hair was another physical trait associated with the Indo-Europeans. In contrast, the genes for blue eyes were already present among Mesolithic Europeans belonging to Y-haplogroup I. The genes for blond hair are more strongly correlated with the distribution of haplogroup R1a, but those for red hair have not been found in Europe before the Bronze Age, and appear to have been spread primarily by R1b people.

Afro-Asiatic

The expansion of the Bantu-speaking people (EBSP) during the past 3000–5000 years is an event of great importance in the history of humanity. Anthropology, archaeology, linguistics and, in recent decades, genetics have been used to elucidate some of the events and processes involved. Although it is generally accepted that the EBSP has its origin in the so-called Bantu Homeland situated in the area of the border between Nigeria and the Grassfields of Cameroon, and that it followed both western and eastern routes, much less is known about the number and dates of those expansions, if more than one.

All the evidence thus far points that R1b in West Africa appears 6,000-9,000 years ago, so there’s no reason to believe R1b is original from Africa. It is far more likely that R-V88 originated in SW Asia before it was transferred to Central-West Africa. R-V88 is found in the Near East with more diversity (i.e. STR variance) than in Africa.

It seems that there was an original dispersion of E across North and West Africa that coincided with the dispersion of the Afro-Asiatic languages or probably earlier, and then another dispersion of E across Central, South and East Africa with the dispersion of the Bantu languages. Before the Bantu expansions, sub-Saharan Africa was a very different place.

Several branches of humanity’s Y DNA family tree have been proposed as having an association with the spread of Afroasiatic languages. In general, Afroasiatic speaking populations have relatively high frequencies of haplogroup E1b1b, thought to have originated in Horn of Africa, with the notable exception of Chadic speaking populations.

Christopher Ehret and Shomarka Keita have suggested that the geography of the E1b1b lineage coincides with the distribution of Afroasiatic languages.

Haplogroup R1b1a (R-V88), and specifically its sub-clade R-V69, has a very strong relationship with Chadic speaking populations, who unlike other Afroasiatic speakers have low frequencies of Haplogroup E1b1b.

The majority of R-V88 was found in northern and central Africa, in Chadic speaking populations. It is less common in neighbouring populations. The authors also found evidence of high concentration in Western Egypt and evidence that the closest related types of R1b are found in the Middle East, and to a lesser extent southern Europe.

They proposed that an Eastern Saharan origin for Chadic R1b would agree with linguistic theories such as those of Christopher Ehret, that Chadic and Berber form a related group within Afroasiatic, which originated in the area of the Sahara.

In contrast to the evidence from paternally inherited Y DNA, a recent study has shown that a branch of mitochondrial haplogroup L3 links the maternal ancestry of Chadic speakers from the Sahel with Cushitic speakers from Horn of Africa.

Other mitochondrial lineages that are associated with Afroasiatic include mitochondrial haplogroups M1 and haplogroup U6. Gonzalez et al. 2007 suggest that Afroasiatic speakers may have dispersed from Horn of Africa carrying the subclades M1a and U6a1.

According to an autosomal DNA study by Hodgson et al. (2014), the Afroasiatic languages were likely spread across Africa and the Near East by an ancestral population(s) carrying a newly identified non-African genetic component, which the researchers dub the “Ethio-Somali”.

This Ethio-Somali component is today most common among Afroasiatic-speaking populations in the Horn of Africa. It is most closely related to the Maghrebi non-African genetic component, and is believed to have diverged from all other non-African ancestries at least 23,000 years ago.

On this basis, the researchers suggest that the original Ethio-Somali carrying population(s) probably arrived in the pre-agricultural period from the Near East, having crossed over into northeastern Africa via the Sinai peninsula. The population then likely split into two branches, with one group heading westward toward the Maghreb and the other moving south into the Horn.

A related hypothesis that associates the origin of the ancestors of Afroasiatic speakers as the result of a reflux population from Southwest Asia during the Late Palaeolithic was previously put forward by Daniel McCall.

Afro-Asiatic

There is a genetic contiguity between the Chadic-speaking peoples from the Central Sahel and several other Afro-Asiatic-speaking groups from North Africa, including Ouarzazate Berbers from Morocco, Mozabite Berbers from Algeria, Siwa Berbers and several Semitic groups from Egypt, and, possibly, different groups from Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt, with R1b1a frequencies ranging from 1 to 3% in Algeria to about 4% in Tunisia, to 26.9% in the Siwa.

These data are more compatible with Ehret’s hypothesis, which proposes that Chadic peoples arrived from the North through the Sahara (the ‘trans-Saharan’ hypothesis), rather than with Blench’s theory, which states that Chadic-speaking pastoralists reached the Chad Basin through the Sahel from an eastern Sudanic Cushitic-Chadic motherland (the ‘inter-Saharan’ hypothesis).

The main assumption is that Haplogroup E1b1b is associated with the Proto-Afroasiatic peoples, and that the language family has it’s origin in Africa (specifically, the Horn of Africa), around the time of the Last Glacial Maximum.

The first bit of evidence comes from R1b-V88 (taken from this paper, which is found in the Levante, in the Maghreb, and most importantly, amongst the Chadic-speaking populations of central-western Africa. R1b-V88 is obviously a ‘brother’ clade to R1b-M297, which is found in Europe (mainly R1b-M269) and Central Asia (mainly R1b-M73). In a nutshell, we have here the first piece of evidence for a back-migration from Eurasia to Africa.

The second bit of evidence comes from lactase persistence amongst the Chadic populations. As pointed out by Lokki et al. from 2001, the same type of lactase persistence is found in the Chadic populations as it is in Europe, different from the types of lactase persistence as found in other parts of Africa, where lactase persistence probably evolved independently. So, in a nutshell, we have two separate pieces of evidence for a back migration from Eurasia to Africa, and we have a strong correlation with the Chadic-speaking peoples.

If we disregard the dominance of Arabic as a result from the Islamic conquests of the 7th and 8th centuries (as well as the earlier Phoenician colonization in the Mediterranean), the Semitic languages were originally confined to the Middle East.

This means four of the five main branches (Berber, Chadic, Egyptian and Kushitic – I’m excluding Omotic here due to it’s disputed classification) are found in Africa and only one (Semitic) is found in the Middle East.

It would seem more likely to assume due to the greater diversity of Afroasiatic in Africa that the original homeland of the Proto-Afroasiatic peoples was located in Africa. Does that however prove that Proto-Afroasiatic was spoken in Africa? Not necessarily in my opinion.

One critical aspect that connects to this is the question what kind of society the speakers of Proto-Afroasiatic were, and when Proto-Afroasiatic was spoken. If we assume that Proto-Afroasiatic was a hunter-gather language, then the language family could be undoubtably of African origin, as well as considerably older.

However, if Proto-Afroasiatic was language of a farmer or pastoralist society, this narrows the setting in which the proto-language could have emerge quite a bit and suggests that instead that Proto-Afroasiatic was a Neolithic language that spread with the advance of agriculture/pastoralism.

This scenario makes an African origin much more unlikely and favours an origin in the Middle East. Militarev (2009) makes a strong case for Proto-Afroasiatic as a language of a pastoralist society.

Evidence also comes from individual branches of Afroasiatic, for instance Proto-Berber and Proto-Semitic were both Neolithic languages. The former is a particularly instructive example because the Mesolithic Capsian Culture of North Africa has often been suggested as speakers of Proto-Berber.

The problem with this idea however is that the Capsian Culture was a Mesolithic hunter-gatherer culture, and not a pastoralist society. It is thus impossible for the Capsian people to have been speakers of Proto-Berber.

They may have been speakers of an earlier form of Proto-Afroasiatic if Proto-Afroasiatic was indeed a Mesolithic language, even if there are doubts about this due to the fact that terms for domesticated animals that are found in Proto-Berber can also be reconstructed for Proto-Afroasiatic.

If we go with the Eurasian origin hypothesis for Proto-Afroasiatic, then this raises the question what Y-Haplogroups might have been spread with the spread of the Afroasiatic languages, since both the spread pattern and the age of E1b1b does not match such a scenario.

If we take the evidence of the Chadic peoples, R1b-V88 was certainly one of the Haplogroups, but it would be highly doubtful that it was the only one. The next most obvious choice, in my opinion, that potentially fits an expansion pattern for the Afroasiatic languages is Haplogroup J1.

This Haplogroup is usually associated with the spread of the Semitic languages, and considering the distribution (in particular high concentrations in the Caucasus) it is pretty clear that J1 as a whole cannot be Semitic, and that probably only the subclade J1c3 (aka J-P58) is genuinely associated with the spread of the Semitic languages.

I’m not wholly convinced, however: there is this paper by Fregel et al. 2009 about the Y-Haplogroups of the Guanches (the aboriginals of the Canary Isles, which are thought to have spoken a relative of the Berber languages, hence Afroasiatic), and it would appear that Haplogroup J1 was present amongst the ancient Guanches.

I’m not sure if this is genuine evidence that J1 is indeed Afroasiatic (especially, I think it remains to be discussed which subclades really are involved), it certainly supports the possibility of an out-of-the-Middle East migration, and is consistent with the general scenario.

So, to summarize both J1 (perhaps J1c3?) and R1b-V88 may have been associated with the spread of the Afroasiatic languages, and that the Proto-Afroasiatic homeland lies in the Middle East, and not in Africa.

It should be pointed out that a recurring scenario (most notably Ehret’s “North Erythrean” and Militarev’s “North Afrasian”) is a ‘northern’ grouping that includes Berber, Chadic, Egyptian and Semitic. Even Ehret concedes that a common farming vocabulary can be constructed for sub-groupings of Afroasiatic, and if we combine this with the genetic evidence, it would make sense to suggest that the spread of the “northern” Afroasiatic languages was indeed the result of a Neolithic spread, which is reflected today by the distribution of Y-Haplorgoup R1b-V88 in Africa. If there is genuine Cushitic J1 (which remains to be seen), we must likewise assume that the ancestors of Cushitic arrived from the Middle East, and in my opinion a wholly Middle Eastern homeland may be warranted then.

Little agreement exists on the subgrouping of the five or six branches of Afroasiatic: Semitic, Egyptian, Berber, Chadic, Cushitic, and Omotic. However, Christopher Ehret (1979), Harold Fleming (1981), and Joseph Greenberg (1981) all agree that the Omotic branch split from the rest first. However, Igor M. Diakonoff (1996) subdivides Afroasiatic in two, grouping Berber, Cushitic, and Semitic together as East-West Afrasian (ESA), and Chadic with Egyptian as North-South Afrasian (NSA). He excludes Omotic from Afroasiatic.

The most commonly cited genetic marker in recent decades has been the Y chromosome, which is passed from father to son along paternal lines in un-mixed form, and therefore gives a relatively clear definition of one human line of descent from common ancestors.

Several branches of humanity’s Y DNA family tree have been proposed as having an association with the spread of Afroasiatic languages.

Haplogroup E1b1b is thought to have originated in Horn of Africa. In general, Afroasiatic speaking populations have relatively high frequencies of this haplogroup, with the notable exception of Chadic speaking populations. Christopher Ehret and Shomarka Keita have suggested that the geography of the E1b1b lineage coincides with the distribution of Afroasiatic languages.

Haplogroup J1c3 (Y-DNA), formally known as “J1e”, is actually a more common paternal lineage than E1b1b in most Semitic speaking populations, but this is associated with Middle Eastern origins and has apparently been spread from there after the original dispersion of Afroasiatic.

Haplogroup R1b1a (R-V88), and specifically its sub-clade R-V69, has a very strong relationship with Chadic speaking populations, who unlike other Afroasiatic speakers have low frequencies of Haplogroup E1b1b.

The majority of R-V88 was found in northern and central Africa, in Chadic speaking populations. It is less common in neighbouring populations. The authors also found evidence of high concentration in Western Egypt and evidence that the closest related types of R1b are found in the Middle East, and to a lesser extent southern Europe.

They proposed that an Eastern Saharan origin for Chadic R1b would agree with linguistic theories such as those of Christopher Ehret, that Chadic and Berber form a related group within Afroasiatic, which originated in the area of the Sahara.

In contrast to the evidence from paternally inherited Y DNA, a recent study has shown that a branch of mitochondrial haplogroup L3 links the maternal ancestry of Chadic speakers from the Sahel with Cushitic speakers from Horn of Africa.

Other mitochondrial lineages that are associated with Afroasiatic include mitochondrial haplogroups M1 and haplogroup U6. Gonzalez et al. 2007 suggest that Afroasiatic speakers may have dispersed from Horn of Africa carrying the subclades M1a and U6a1.

According to an autosomal DNA study by Hodgson et al. (2014), the Afroasiatic languages were likely spread across Africa and the Near East by an ancestral population(s) carrying a newly identified non-African genetic component, which the researchers dub the “Ethio-Somali”.

This Ethio-Somali component is today most common among Afroasiatic-speaking populations in the Horn of Africa. It is most closely related to the Maghrebi non-African genetic component, and is believed to have diverged from all other non-African ancestries at least 23,000 years ago.

On this basis, the researchers suggest that the original Ethio-Somali carrying population(s) probably arrived in the pre-agricultural period from the Near East, having crossed over into northeastern Africa via the Sinai peninsula. The population then likely split into two branches, with one group heading westward toward the Maghreb and the other moving south into the Horn.

A related hypothesis that associates the origin of the ancestors of Afroasiatic speakers as the result of a reflux population from Southwest Asia during the Late Palaeolithic was previously put forward by Daniel McCall.

Supporters of a non-North or Northeast African origin for Afroasiatic are particularly common among those with a background in Semitic or Egyptological studies, or amongst archaeological proponents of the “farming/language dispersal hypothesis” according to which major language groups dispersed with early farming technology in the Neolithic.

The leading linguistic proponent of this idea in recent times is Alexander Militarev. Arguments for and against this position depend upon the contested proposal that farming-related words can be reconstructed in Proto-Afroasiatic, with farming technology being widely thought to have spread from the Levant into Africa.

Buut an Asiatic origin need not be associated exclusively with the migration of agricultural populations: according to linguists, words for dog (an Asian domesticate) reconstruct to Proto-Afroasiatic as well as words for bow and arrow, which according to archaeologists spread rapidly across North Africa once they were introduced from the Near East i.e. Ounan points.

The appearance of linguistic terms such as dog, bow, and arrow in Proto-Afroasiatic makes a date earlier than 9,500 BC (coinciding with the end of the Younger Dryas) highly unlikely since dogs only appear at the earliest in the archaeological record after 12,000 BC in the Near East, and arrowheads only appear after 9,500 BC in Africa as a result of introduction from the Near East.

A scenario that also fits the linguistic evidence is one in which Afroasiatic languages were introduced into Africa together with advanced hunting techniques before the subsequent introduction of agriculture.

The Mushabian culture (alternately, Mushabi or Mushabaean) is an Archaeological culture suggested to have originated east of the Levantine Rift Valley c. 14,000 BC in the Middle Epipaleolithic period. Although the Mushabian industry was once thought to have originated in the Nile Valley it is now known to have originated in the previous lithic industries of the Levant, and may even indicate diffusion of this technique in the other direction.

The migration of farmers from the Middle East into Europe is believed to have significantly influenced the genetic profile of contemporary Europeans. The Natufian culture which existed about 12,000 years ago in the Levant, has been the subject of various archeological investigations as the Natufian culture is generally believed to be the source of the European and North African Neolithic.

The Mediterranean Sea and the Sahara Desert were formidable barriers to gene flow between Sub-Saharan Africa and Europe. But Europe was periodically accessible to Africans due to fluctuations in the size and climate of the Sahara. At the Strait of Gibraltar, Africa and Europe are separated by only 15 km of water. At the Suez, Eurasia is connected to Africa forming a single land mass.

The Nile river valley, which runs from East Africa to the Mediterranean Sea, served as a bidirectional corridor in the Sahara desert that frequently connected people from Sub-Saharan Africa with the peoples of Eurasia.

According to Bar-Yosef the Natufian culture emerged from the mixing of the Geometric Kebaran (indigenous to the Levant) and the Mushabian (also indigenous to the Levant). Modern analyses comparing 24 craniofacial measurements reveal a predominantly cosmopolitan population within the pre-Neolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Age Fertile Crescent, supporting the view that a diverse population of peoples occupied this region during these time periods. In particular, evidence demonstrates the presence of North European, Central European, Saharan and strong Sub-Saharan African presence within the region, especially among the Epipalaeolithic Natufians of Israel.

These studies further argue that over time the Sub-Saharan influences would have been “diluted” out of the genetic picture due to interbreeding between Neolithic migrants from the Near East and indigenous hunter-gatherers whom they came in contact with.

Ricaut et al. (2008) associate the Sub-Saharan influences detected in the Natufian samples with the migration of E1b1b lineages from East Africa to the Levant and then into Europe. Entering the late mesolithic Natufian culture, the E1b1b1a2 (E-V13) sub-clade has been associated with the spread of farming from the Middle East into Europe either during or just before the Neolithic transition. E1b1b1 lineages are found throughout Europe but are distributed along a South-to-North cline, with a E1b1b1a mode in the Balkans.

Recently, it has been proposed that E3b originated in sub-Saharan Africa and expanded into the Near East and northern Africa at the end of the Pleistocene. E3b lineages would have then been introduced from the Near East into southern Europe by immigrant farmers, during the Neolithic expansion.

A Mesolithic population carrying Group III lineages with the M35/M215 mutation expanded northwards from sub-Saharan to North Africa and the Levant. The Levantine population of farmers that dispersed into Europe during and after the Neolithic carried these African Group III M35/M215 lineages, together with a cluster of Group VI lineages characterized by M172 and M201 mutations.

Although a migration of people from Africa bringing E-M78 lineages into the Levant took place c. 14,700 years ago it as yet cannot be linked with any of the Levantine cultures at the time (Hamran, Mushabian, Ramonian, Geometric Kebaran) or later (Natufian, Harifian, Khiamian) since all are known to have originated in the Levant.

Since a material culture cannot be connected with the E-M78 immigrants into the Levant it is likely they were assimilated into the various Levantine cultures beginning with the Ramonian culture, which was present in the Sinai 14,700 years ago.

This migration coincided with the population overflow in the Sinai and Negev that caused the Geometric Kebarans to fall back to the Mediterranean core area which in turn caused them to develop the Natufian culture as a result of the population increase in the Mediterranean park forest.

E-M78, like its parent clade E-V68, is thought to have an African origin. Based on genetic STR variance data, Cruciani et al. (2007) suggests that this subclade originated in “Northeastern Africa”, which in the study refers specifically to the region of Egypt and Libya.

Prior to Cruciani et al. (2007), Semino et al. (2004) had proposed a place of origin for E-M78 further south in East Africa. This was because of the high frequency and diversity of E-M78 lineages in the region of Ethiopia.

However, Cruciani et al. (2007) were able to study more data, and concluded that the E-M78 lineages in the Horn of Africa were dominated by relatively recent branches (see E-V32 below).

They concluded that the region of Egypt was the likely place of origin of E-M78 based on “the peripheral geographic distribution of the most derived subhaplogroups with respect to northeastern Africa, as well as the results of quantitative analysis of UEP and microsatellite diversity”.

Cruciani et al. (2007) also note this as evidence for “a corridor for bidirectional migrations” between Northeast Africa (Egypt and Libya in their data) on the one hand and East Africa on the other.

Because Cruciani et al. (2007) also proposed that E-M35, the parent clade of E-M78, originated in East Africa during the paleolithic and subsequently spread to the region of Egypt. E-M78 in East Africa, is therefore the result of a back migration. The authors believe there were “at least 2 episodes between 23.9–17.3 ky and 18.0–5.9 ky ago”.

Another probable migration to the south from Egypt was noted by Hassan et al. (2008) based upon their survey of Sudan. Specifically E-V12 and E-V22, “might have been brought to Sudan from North Africa after the progressive desertification of the Sahara around 6,000-8,000 years ago”.

Northwards from Egypt and Libya, E-M78 migrated into the Middle East, but additionally Trombetta et al. (2011) proposed that the earlier E-V68 carrying population may have migrated by sea directly from Africa to southwestern Europe, because they observed cases of E-V68* (without the M78 mutation) only in Sardinia, and not in the Middle Eastern samples. Concerning E-M78, like other forms of E-V68 there is evidence of multiple routes of expansion out of an African homeland.

On the other hand, while there were apparently direct migrations from North Africa to Iberia and Southern Italy (of people carrying E-V68*, E-V12, E-V22, and E-V65), the majority of E-M78 lineages found in Europe belong to the E-V13 sub-clade which appears to have entered Europe at some time undeterminded from the Near East, where it apparently originated, via the Balkans.

Coming to similar conclusions as the Cruciani and Trombetta team, Battaglia et al. (2008), writing prior to the discovery of E-V68, describe Egypt as “a hub for the distribution of the various geographically localized M78-related sub-clades” and, based on archaeological data, they propose that the point of origin of E-M78 (as opposed to later dispersals from Egypt) may have been in a refugium which “existed on the border of present-day Sudan and Egypt, near Lake Nubia, until the onset of a humid phase around 8500 BC.

The northward-moving rainfall belts during this period could have also spurred a rapid migration of Mesolithic foragers northwards in Africa, the Levant and ultimately onwards to Asia Minor and Europe, where they each eventually differentiated into their regionally distinctive branches”.

The division of E-V68 into sub-clades such as E-V12, E-V13, etc. has largely been the work of an Italian team including Fulvio Cruciani, Beniamino Trombetta, Rosario Scozzari and others. They started on the basis of STR studies in 2004, and then in 2006 they announced the discoveries of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) mutations which could define most of the main branches with better clarity, which was then discussed further in 2007. These articles were the basis of the updated phylogenies found in Karafet (2008), and ISOGG, which is in turn the basis of the phylogeny given below.

Migration of Chadic speaking pastoralists within Africa based on population structure of Chad Basin and phylogeography of mitochondrial L3f haplogroup

Guardian: Men from Britain and Ireland are Descended Mostly from Ancient Farmers and the R1b Haplogroup is shared with Continental Europe & Chad

Afro-Asiatic Languages and Uniparental Genetic Markers

The origin of Afro-Asiatic

Afroasiatic Urheimat

The westward wanderings of Cushitic pastoralists

Retracing the mtDNA haplogroups of the original R1b people

Haplogroup R1b (Y-DNA)

Haplogroup R1b (Y-DNA)

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Hakemi Use

Posted by Fredsvenn on April 10, 2015

https://i0.wp.com/antiquity.ac.uk/projgall/tekin/images/fig1.jpg

The site of Hakemi Use is 70 km east of Diyarbakır, on the south bank of the Tigris River, within the flood zone of the Ilısu Dam. The main site, Hakemi Use I, is a mound about 120 m in diameter and 4 m high, with occupation from the Late Neolithic to Iron Age. Hakemi Use II, a few hundred metres to the east, is medieval in date. Hakemi Use I was used as a cemetery at that time. Salvage excavations have been carried out since 2001 by Halil Tekin of Hacettepe University.

The most important result of the excavations is that Hakemi Use is the only excavated site from the Hassuna/Samarra Period in south-eastern Anatolia. The C14 dates have not reached us yet, but the site can be dated to 6100-5950 BC according to the pottery and small finds. The site shows similarities to Tell Sabi Abyad on the Balikh River and levels 1-5 of Hakemi Use are possibly contemporary with levels 7-4 of Tell Sabi Abyad. Hakemi Use is the northernmost excavated site dating to the Hassuna/Samarra Period.

Hakemi Use

Hakemi Use

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Obsidian assemblage of Mezraa Teleilat

Posted by Fredsvenn on April 10, 2015

Understanding the cultural and chronological transitions from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) to the Pottery Neolithic (PN), which date between 8,500 and 8,200 cal. BP, has been a problem in Near East archaeology.

Most Pre-Pottery Neolithic sites were either abandoned or were less intensely occupied towards end of the PPNB due to a number of reasons that archaeologists have puzzled over. Fortunately, recent archaeological discoveries in the Levant and northern Mesopotamia have provided invaluable data to help resolve some of these problems.

A few sites, such as Mezraa Teleilat, Akarçay Tepe, Tell Halula in Middle Euphrates Valley, Çayönüin Upper Tigris area, and ‘Ain Ghazal in Jordan, among hundreds of Neolithic excavations in northern and southern Levant, provide convincing evidence for a continuous occupation from PPNB to PN.

Mezraa Teleilat in the Middle Euphrates Basin in southeastern Turkey is one of the most promising sites and has great potentialto illuminate the enigmatic PPNB-PN transition basedon its following attributes: chronologically continuousoccupation; large exposures with many buildings (ca. 5000 m2); careful excavation methods and recording carried out at the site; richness of flint and obsidian artifacts; proximity to raw material resources from the Euphrates and other varied ecological zones; and a gateway between the Levant, Mesopotamia, western Anatolia, Cyprus and, hence, access to the Neolithic groups that lived in these areas. All these qualities make Mezraa Teleilat’s flint and obsidian assemblages worthy of study.

This paper originates from a much broader perspective based on the author’s Ph.D. thesis, but it intends to describe a narrower artifact assemblage, namely the obsidian assemblage, found in LPPNB, Transitional, and Pottery Neolithic contexts.

The goal of this paper is to bring attention to the Neolithic obsidian assemblages of Mezraa Teleilat, which have only recently been investigated and, hence, are not well known in the broader scholarly community.

Obsidian assemblage of Mezraa Teleilat

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Mezraa-Teleilat settlement ‘impressed’ ware and transferring Neolithic life style?

Posted by Fredsvenn on April 10, 2015

Abstract

The contexts and attributes indicating village life vary in time and space as this new Neolithic “way of living” spread to the Mediterranean coast, to Europe and to Asia. Specically, one of the basic properties of the Mediterranean Neolithic is a kind of  pottery known for its specialized decoration called “Impresso”.

Although this type of pottery is prevalent in Western Mediterranean regions, it is rare elsewhere except  for some parts of the East Mediterranean coast and certain parts of Anatolia.

The geographical expansion of “Impresso” pottery has been used for a long time as atool for discussions on the origin and the spread of the Mediterranean Neolithic. Discovering a type of pottery that is technically, aesthetically similar to “Impresso” pottery will help to answer some of the issues mentioned previously.

This poster discusses the properties of this ware, both generally around the Mediterranean and  specically within the site of Mezraa-Teleilat, in South-East Anatolia. As mentioned  previously, “Impresso” pottery can be simply dened as pottery with a special kind of decoration made by pressing an object, such as bamboo, a comb, a nail, a shell ontothe wet surface of a vessel.

Introduction

One of the most important problems in Near Eastern Archaeology is under standing how village life, beginning in the PPN and depending entirely on agriculture, spread to new regions after the transition to the PN.

After the PPN period, which lasted from 12.000 – to the 6th millenium BC, developed in a small area, village life spread rapidly along the Mediterranean coast to Portugal, through Continental Europe to the Netherlands, and to inner Asia.

In all of these regions the evolution of pottery can be diagnostic of chronology. The reasons for the spread of village life – via migration or knowledge or technology – are important hyphotheses in need of answers.

The contexts and attributes that indicate village life vary in time and space as this new Neolithic ‘way of living’ spread to the Mediterranean coast, to Europe and to Asia. Specifically, one of the basic properties of the Mediterranean Neolithic is a kind of pottery known for itsspecialized decoration called ‘Impressed’.

Although this type of pottery is prevalent in Western Mediterranean regions, it is rare elsewhere except for some parts of the East Mediterranean coast and certain parts of Anatolia. The geographical expansion of Impressed pottery has been used for a long time as a tool for discussions on the origin and the spread of the Mediterranean Neolithic.

Discovering a type of pottery that is technically or aesthetically similar to Impressed pottery will help answer some of the issues mentioned previously. We believe it is useful to introduce this ware group at this subject in order to assist our colleagues in uncovering the origin and spread of Neolithic Culture.

This paper discusses the properties of this ware, both generally around the Mediterranean and specically within the site of Mezraa-Teleilat.

Mezraa-Teleilat Settlement “Impressed” Ware and Transferring Neolithic Life Style

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An introduction to the I Ching

Posted by Fredsvenn on April 8, 2015

I Ching

I Ching Online

The ancient book of wisdom at the heart of every computer

An introduction to the I Ching

Painted pottery culture

The I Ching, also known as the Classic of Changes or Book of Changes in English, is an ancient divination text and the oldest of the Chinese classics, refering to the Chinese texts which originated before the imperial unification by the Qin dynasty in 221 BC, particularly the “Four Books and Five Classics” of the Neo-Confucian tradition, themselves a customary abridgment of the “Thirteen Classics”.

The I Ching was originally a divination manual in the Western Zhou period (1046–771 BC), but over the course of the Warring States period and early imperial period was transformed into a cosmological text with a series of philosophical commentaries known as the “Ten Wings.”

The Western Zhou period (1046–771 BC) was the first half of the Zhou dynasty of ancient China. It began when King Wu of Zhou overthrew the Shang dynasty at the Battle of Muye. The dynasty was successful for about seventy-five years and then slowly lost power.

The former Shang lands were divided into hereditary fiefs which became increasingly independent of the king. In 771 the Zhou were driven out of the Wei River valley; afterwards that real power was in the hands of the king’s nominal vassals.

The Spring and Autumn period was a period in Chinese history from approximately 771 to 476 BC (or according to some authorities until 403 BC), which corresponds roughly to the first half of the Eastern Zhou dynasty.

The Warring States period was a period following the Spring and Autumn period and concluding with the victory of the state of Qin in 221 BC, creating a unified China under the Qin dynasty.

Different scholars use dates for the beginning of the period ranging between 481 BC and 403 BC, but Sima Qian’s date of 475 BC is most often cited. Most of this period coincides with the second half of the Eastern Zhou dynasty, although the Chinese sovereign (king of Zhou) was merely a figurehead.

After becoming part of the Five Classics in the 2nd century BC, the I Ching was the subject of scholarly commentary and the basis for divination practice for centuries across the Far East, and eventually took on an influential role in Western understanding of Eastern thought.

The I Ching uses a type of divination called cleromancy, which produces apparently random numbers. Four numbers between 6 and 9 are turned into a hexagram, which can then be looked up in the I Ching book, arranged in an order known as the King Wen sequence.

The interpretation of the readings found in the I Ching is a matter of centuries of debate, and many commentators have used the book symbolically, often to provide guidance for moral decision making as informed by Confucianism.

The hexagrams themselves have often acquired cosmological significance and paralleled with many other traditional names for the processes of change such as yin and yang and Wu Xing.

The I Ching is an influential text that is read throughout the world. Several sovereign states have employed I Ching hexagrams in their flags, and the text has provided inspiration to the worlds of religion, psychoanalysis, business, literature, and art.

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The church complex of Bagrevand

Posted by Fredsvenn on April 7, 2015

St. Hovhan Church, Bagrevand

Cultural genocide – Armenia

Armenian cultural heritage in Turkey

Bel, signifying “lord” or “master”, is a title rather than a genuine name, applied to various gods in the Mesopotamian religion of Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia. Bel is represented in Greek as Belos and in Latin as Belus. Linguistically Bel is an East Semitic form cognate with Northwest Semitic Ba‘al with the same meaning.

Early translators of Akkadian believed that the ideogram for the god called in Sumerian Enlil was to be read as Bel in Akkadian. This is now known to be incorrect; but one finds Bel used in referring to Enlil in older translations and discussions.

Bêlit is a form of the Akkadian language word beltu or beltum (meaning “lady, mistress”) as used in noun compounds; it appears in titles of goddesses, such as bêlit-ili “lady of the gods”, an Akkadian title of Ninhursag. The word bêlit appears in Greek form as Beltis, considered to be the name of the wife of the god Bêl.

Baal, also rendered Baʿal, is a North-West Semitic title and honorific meaning “master”, “lord”, “owner” (male), “keeper”, “husband”, which became the usual designation of the great weather-god of the Western Semites. The title is used for various gods who were patrons of cities in the Levant and Asia Minor, cognate to Akkadian Bēlu. A Baalist or Baalite means a worshipper of Baal.

Bagmashtu (also known as Bagparti, Bagvarti, Bagbartu) is an Urartian goddess, and the consort or wife of the chief Urartian god Haldi. Although throughout most of Urartu Arubani, the Urartian’s goddess of fertility and art, is known as Khaldi’s wife, at the excavation of Musasir references to “Khaldi and his wife, Bagmashtu” were found inscribed on some of the items.

It is assumed that when Urartu expanded its territories to include the area Musasir, local gods were incorporated and a new pantheon was created for that region. The locality and addition of Bagmashtu are supported by the fact that her name is of Armenian origin.

The name Baghdad is pre-Islamic and its origins are under some dispute. The site where the city of Baghdad came to stand has been populated for millennia and by the 8th century AD several Aramaic Christian villages had developed there, one of which was called Baghdad, the name which would come to be used for the Abbasid metropolis.

The name has been used as Baghdadu on Assyrian cuneiform and Babylonian records going back to at least 2000 BC. An inscription by Nebuchadnezzar (600 BC) describes how he rebuilt the old Babylonian town of Bagh-dadu. There used to be another Babylonian settlement called Baghdad, in upper Mesopotamia, near the ancient city of Edessa. The name has not been attested outside of Mesopotamia.

Even though the name has been attested in pre-Persian times, a Persian origin has been accepted by most scholars. It has been proposed that the name is a Middle Persian compound of Bag “god” and dād “given”, translating to “God-given” or “God’s gift”, from which comes Modern Persian Baɣdād. This in turn can be traced to Old Persian.

Another proposal is the Persian compound bāğ “garden” and dād “fair”, translating to “The fair garden”. However, a Persian explanation remains somewhat problematic, given that the name was used long before the Persians arrived in Mesopotamia.

Bagrevand was a region of the old Armenia ruled first by Mamikonians and then by the Bagratuni family. The Bagdasarian are a noble family of Nakharars in Armenia and are of hereditary right to Bagrevand with Armenia in the province of Ararat. Variations include Bagawanean, Bagawanian, Bagdasarean.

The Battle of Bagrevand was fought on 25 April 775, in the plains of Bagrevand, between the forces of the Armenian princes who had rebelled against the Abbasid Caliphate and the caliphal army.

The battle resulted in a crushing Abbasid victory, with the death of the main Armenian leaders. The Mamikonian family’s power in particular was almost extinguished. The battle signalled the beginning of a large-scale Armenian migration into the Byzantine Empire.

The battle was a watershed in Transcaucasian politics. The defeat of the Armenian revolt eliminated the power of several of the nakharar houses, most notably the Mamikonian, Gnuni, Amatuni, Rshtuni, Saharuni and Kamsarakan families, which survived either as dependants of other families, or as exiles in Byzantium.

On the other hand, the Artsruni, who switched over to the Caliphate in time, profited from the power vacuum to rise to power in Vaspurakan, while the Bagratuni, after retreating for a while to their mountain strongholds, managed to reclaim a dominant position in the country during the 9th century.

Bagavan, consisting of the words bagi (meaning: idol) and avan (meaning: city) was an ancient Armenian church-city complex situated in the south-east of what is now Ağrı Province, in eastern Turkey.

It was a well known settlement in the pagan and later medieval Armenia times because of a huge monastic complex in it known as St. Hovhannes Mkrtich (St. John the Baptist) Monastery of Bagavan.

Bagavan was situated in the south east of Bagrevand province of the Historical Armenia’s Ayrarat region. Founded in the pagan Armenia as a religious center, it was the site of tombs of the pre-Christian rulers of Armenia.

Here, in the waters of Aratsani (Eastern Euphrates) river in 314, the baptism of King Tiridates III of Armenia by Gregory Illuminator (Armenian: Գրիգոր Լուսավորիչ) took place, becoming the first Christian King of Armenia, which marked the start of a Christian medieval Kingdom of Armenia. The Armenian Apostolic Church as a separate independent Christian denomination emerged later.

After that, this place was marked by a huge number of crosses engraved in the riverside rocks and pagan temples were reconstructed as monasteries.

In the nearby slopes of mount Npat dozen of chapels stood, praying places of famous Catholics Nerses the Great (second half of the 4th century). Therefrom he watched Dzirav’s battle between the Armenians and Persians.

The monastery had three churches, and their most famous bishops were Yeznik Koghbatsi and Movses Khorenatsi. Under whose leadership it became the main monastery in the Bagrevand and Arsharunik districts. Final phase of construction ended in 639.

The church is 46 meters in length, 27 meters in width and 20 meters in height (with dimensions comparable to the Armenian Apostolic churches of Dvin, Zvartnots and Talin). The monastery had 5 doors and 51 windows.

The outward appearance of the temple is made of strict shaped masonries and ornaments, a contrast to the well brightened interior. People of 19th century associated the monastery’s appearance with the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople (now Istanbul).

Trdat the Architect (circa 940s – 1020; Latin: Tiridates) was the chief architect of the Bagratuni kings of Armenia, whose tenth-century monuments have been argued to be the forerunners of Gothic architecture which came to Europe several centuries later.

Trdat was active in Armenia before and after his reconstruction of the Hagia Sophia. In 961, Ashot III moved his capital from Kars to the great city of Ani where he assembled new palaces and rebuilt the walls.

The Catholicosate was moved to the Argina district in the suburbs of Ani where Trdat completed the building of the Catholicosal palace and the Mother Cathedral of Ani. This cathedral offers an example of a cruciform domed church within a rectangular plan.

Trdat is also believed to have designed or supervised the construction of Surb Nshan (Holy Sign, completed in 991), the oldest structure at Haghpat Monastery.

After a great earthquake in 989 ruined the dome of Hagia Sophia, the Byzantine officials summoned Trdat to Byzantium to organize repairs. The restored dome was completed by 994.

During Russo-Persian wars from 1877–78 the church complex of Bagrevand was damaged, but after a period of repairs, it remained functioning until Armenian Genocide in 1915.

In the late 1940s the monastery, also known in “Turkish: Üç Kilise” “Three Churches”, was completely destroyed by the Turkish Army, along with 4,000 other Armenian monasteries in eastern half of today’s Turkey.

Part of its stones were used in the construction of houses in Taşteker village that was founded around the monastery, but most of them were removed to the town of Ağrı, where they were laid in the lower stonework of the principal mosque erected in 1950.

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Inara and Ishara

Posted by Fredsvenn on April 6, 2015

Inara

Hannahannah is a Hurrian Mother Goddess related to the pre-Sumerian goddess Inanna. Hannahannah was also identified with the Hurrian goddess Hebat, the mother goddess of the Hurrians, known as “the mother of all living”. Hebat is married to Teshub, and is likely to have had a later counterpart in the Phrygian goddess Cybele.

The Hittite sun goddess Arinniti was later assimilated with Hebat. A prayer of Queen Puduhepa makes this explicit: “To the Sun-goddess of Arinna, my lady, the mistress of the Hatti lands, the queen of Heaven and Earth.

Sun-goddess of Arinna, thou art Queen of all countries! In the Hatti country thou bearest the name of the Sun-goddess of Arinna; but in the land which thou madest the cedar land thou bearest the name Hebat.”

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.

Telipinu (Te(-e)-li-pí-nu(-ú), Hattic: Talipinu or Talapinu, “Exalted Son”) was a Hittite god who most likely served as a patron of farming, though he has also been suggested to have been a storm god or an embodiment of crops.

He was a son of the weather god Teššub and the solar goddess Arinniti according to their mythology. His wife was the goddess Hatepuna, though he was also paired with Šepuru and Kašḫa at various cultic centres.

Hatepuna, also known as Hatepinu, is a Hattian goddess. Her Name originates in Hattic ha, “sea”, and puna, “Child”. She is the daughter of the sea god and becomes the wife of Telipinu because of the rescue of Istanu (Ištanu; from Hattic Estan, “Sun-god”). Tarhun and the sea god agree under the meditation of Hannahannah to a bride price.

Telipinu was honored every nine years with an extravagant festival in the autumn at Ḫanḫana and Kašḫa, wherein 1000 sheep and 50 oxen were sacrificed and the symbol of the god, an oak tree, was replanted. He was also invoked formulaically in a daily prayer for King Muršili II under the latter’s reign.

The Telipinu Myth is an ancient Hittite myth about Telipinu, whose disappearance causes all fertility to fail, both plant and animal. In order to stop the havoc and devastation, the gods seek Telipinu but fail to find him. Hannahannah, the mother goddess, sent a bee to find him; when the bee did, stinging Telipinu and smearing wax on him, the god grew angry and began to wreak destruction on the world. Finally, Kamrušepa, a Hittite goddess of healing, medicine, and magic, calmed Telipinu by giving his anger to the Doorkeeper of the Underworld.

Christopher Siren reports that Hannahannah is associated with the Gulses in Hittite mythology, the Hutena, the goddesses of fate, in Hurrian mythology. They are similar to the Norns of Norse mythology or the Moirai of ancient Greece.

Inara, in Hittite–Hurrian mythology, was the goddess of the wild animals of the steppe and daughter of the Storm-god Teshub/Tarhunt. She corresponds to the “potnia theron” of Greek mythology, better known as Artemis. She is also a Queen of the deities, and her brother is Sarruma. Her mother is probably Hebat.

The mother goddess Hannahannah promises Inara land and a man during a consultation by Inara. Inara then disappears. Her father looks for her, joined by Hannahannah with a bee.

The story resembles that of the harvest goddess Demeter and her daughter Persephone, also called Kore or Cora (“the maiden”), the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, and the queen of the underworld, in Greek myth.

Though Demeter is often described simply as the goddess of the harvest, she presided also over the sacred law, and the cycle of life and death. She and her daughter Persephone were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries that predated the Olympian pantheon.

In the Linear B Mycenean Greek tablets of circa 1400–1200 BC found at Pylos, the “two mistresses and the king” may be related with Demeter, Persephone and Poseidon. Her Roman equivalent is Ceres, and the equivalent to Persephone is Proserpina.

Homer describes Persephone as the formidable, venerable majestic princess of the underworld, who carries into effect the curses of men upon the souls of the dead. Persephone was abducted by Hades, the god-king of the underworld.

The myth of her abduction represents her function as the personification of vegetation, which shoots forth in spring and withdraws into the earth after harvest; hence, she is also associated with spring as well as the fertility of vegetation. Similar myths appear in the Orient, in the cults of male gods like Attis, Adonis and Osiris, and in Minoan Crete.

Inanna (Neo-Assyrian MUŠ; Sumerian: Inanna; Akkadian: Ištar) was the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare, and goddess of the E-Anna temple at the city of Uruk, her main centre. Inanna was the most prominent female deity in ancient Mesopotamia. As early as the Uruk period (ca. 4000–3100 BC), Inanna was associated with the city of Uruk.

In Sumerian mythology, Anu (also An; from Sumerian An, “sky, heaven”) was a sky-god, the god of heaven, lord of constellations, king of gods, spirits and demons, and dwelt in the highest heavenly regions. It was believed that he had the power to judge those who had committed crimes, and that he had created the stars as soldiers to destroy the wicked. His attribute was the royal tiara. His attendant and minister of state was the god Ilabrat.

He was one of the oldest gods in the Sumerian pantheon and part of a triad including Enlil (god of the air) and Enki (god of water). He was called Anu by the later Akkadians in Babylonian culture. By virtue of being the first figure in a triad consisting of Anu, Enlil, and Enki (also known as Ea), Anu came to be regarded as the father and at first, king of the gods.

Anu is so prominently associated with the E-anna temple in the city of Uruk (biblical Erech) in southern Babylonia that there are good reasons for believing this place to be the original seat of the Anu cult. If this is correct, then the goddess Inanna (or Ishtar) of Uruk may at one time have been his consort.

Inanna’s name derives from Lady of Heaven (Sumerian: nin-an-ak). The cuneiform sign of Inanna, however, is not a ligature of the signs lady (nin) and sky (an). These difficulties have led some early Assyriologists to suggest that originally Inanna may have been a Proto-Euphratean goddess, possibly related to the Hurrian mother goddess Hannahannah (from Hittite hanna- “grandmother”), accepted only latterly into the Sumerian pantheon, an idea supported by her youthfulness, and that, unlike the other Sumerian divinities, at first she had no sphere of responsibilities. The view that there was a Proto-Euphratean substrate language in Southern Iraq before Sumerian is not widely accepted by modern Assyriologists.

One of these myths is Inanna’s descent to the netherworld and her reception by her sister who presides over it; Ereshkigal traps her sister in her kingdom and Inanna is only able to leave it by sacrificing her husband Dumuzi in exchange for herself.

Nane

Nane was an Armenian pagan mother goddess. She was the goddess of war, wisdom, and motherhood, and the daughter of the supreme god Aramazd. Nane looked like a young beautiful woman in the clothing of a warrior, with spear and shield in hand, like the Greek Athena, with whom she identified in the Hellenic period. In Armenia and other countries, the name Nane continues to be used as a personal name. Her cult was closely associated with the cult of the goddess Anahit.

According to some authors, Nane was adopted from the Akkadian goddess Nanaya, from the Phrygian goddess Cybele, or was from Elamite origin. Nanaya (Sumerian NA.NA.A; also transcribed as Nanâ, Nanãy or Nanãya; in Greek: Nαναια or Νανα) is the canonical name for a goddess worshipped by the Sumerians and Akkadians, a deity who personified “voluptuousness and sensuality”. Her cult was large and was spread as far as Syria and Iran.

She later became syncretised with the Babylonian Tashmetum, an Akkadian goddess, the consort of the god Nabu. She is called upon to listen to prayers and to grant requests. Tashmetum and Nabu both shared a temple in the city of Borsippa, in which they were patron deities. Tashmetum’s name means “the lady who listens”. She is also known as Tashmit and Tashmetu, and she was known by the epithets Lady of Hearing and Lady of Favor.

Nabu is the Assyrian and Babylonian god of wisdom and writing, worshipped by Babylonians as the son of Marduk and his consort, Sarpanitum, and as the grandson of Ea (Enki). Nabu’s consort was Tashmetum. The etymology of his name is disputed. It could be derived from the root nb´ for “to call or announce”, meaning something like “He who has called”.

Nabu is accorded the office of patron of the scribes, taking over from the Sumerian goddess Nisaba, the Sumerian goddess of writing, learning, and the harvest.

In late Babylonian astrology, Nabu was connected with the planet Mercury. As the god of wisdom and writing, he was equated by the Greeks to either Apollo or Hermes, the latter identified by the Romans with their own god Mercury.

In Babylonian mythology, Sarpanit (alternately Sarpanitu, Zarpanit, Zarpandit, Zerpanitum, Zerbanitu, or Zirbanit) is a mother goddess and the consort of the chief god, Marduk. Her name means “the shining one”, and she is sometimes associated with the planet Venus. By a play on words her name was interpreted as zēr-bānītu, or “creatress of seed”, and is thereby associated with the goddess Aruru, who, according to Babylonian myth, created mankind.

Her marriage with Marduk was celebrated annually at New Year in Babylon. She was worshipped via the rising moon, and was often depicted as being pregnant. She is also known as Erua. She may be the same as Gamsu, Ishtar, and/or Beltis.

Ba/Bel/Baal

Bêlit is a form of the Akkadian language word beltu or beltum (meaning “lady, mistress”) as used in noun compounds; it appears in titles of goddesses, such as bêlit-ili “lady of the gods”, an Akkadian title of Ninhursag. The word bêlit appears in Greek form as Beltis, considered to be the name of the wife of the god Bêl.

Bel, signifying “lord” or “master”, is a title rather than a genuine name, applied to various gods in the Mesopotamian religion of Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia. Bel is represented in Greek as Belos and in Latin as Belus. Linguistically Bel is an East Semitic form cognate with Northwest Semitic Ba‘al with the same meaning.

Early translators of Akkadian believed that the ideogram for the god called in Sumerian Enlil was to be read as Bel in Akkadian. This is now known to be incorrect; but one finds Bel used in referring to Enlil in older translations and discussions.

Bel became especially used of the Babylonian god Marduk and when found in Assyrian and neo-Babylonian personal names or mentioned in inscriptions in a Mesopotamian context it can usually be taken as referring to Marduk and no other god. Similarly Belit without some disambiguation mostly refers to Bel Marduk’s spouse Sarpanit. However Marduk’s mother, the Sumerian goddess called Ninhursag, Damkina, Ninmah and other names in Sumerian, was often known as Belit-ili ‘Lady of the Gods’ in Akkadian.

Baal, also rendered Baʿal, is a North-West Semitic title and honorific meaning “master”, “lord”, “owner” (male), “keeper”, “husband”, which became the usual designation of the great weather-god of the Western Semites.

The title is used for various gods who were patrons of cities in the Levant and Asia Minor, cognate to Akkadian Bēlu. A Baalist or Baalite means a worshipper of Baal.

“Baal” may refer to any god and even to human officials. In some texts it is used for Hadad, a god of thunderstorms, fertility and agriculture, and the lord of Heaven. Baal is often represented by the symbol of the bull. Since only priests were allowed to utter his divine name, Hadad, Ba‛al was commonly used.

Prior to the discovery of the Ugaritic texts it was sometimes thought that there were various and quite-separate gods called Baal. However, it is now generally accepted that there was one great Canaanite storm-and-fertility deity Baal-Hadad, and local manifestations of this one god.

Despite the tendency in the Hebrew Bible to avoid the use of the word as a proper name, it is now quite clear that by pre-Israelite times the term had become the usual name of the weather-god of Syria-Palestine.

In Norse mythology, the Vanir (singular Vanr) are a group of gods associated with fertility, wisdom, nature, magic, and the ability to see the future. The Vanir are one of two groups of gods (the other being the Æsir) and are the namesake of the location Vanaheimr (Old Norse “Home of the Vanir”). After the Æsir–Vanir War, the Vanir became a subgroup of the Æsir. Subsequently, members of the Vanir are sometimes also referred to as members of the Æsir.

Numerous theories have been proposed for the etymology of Vanir. Scholar R. I. Page says that, while there are no shortages of etymologies for the word, it is tempting to link the word with “Old Norse vinr, ‘friend’, and Latin Venus, ‘goddess of physical love.'”

Scholars have theorized that the Vanir may be connected to small pieces of gold foil found in Scandinavia at some building sites from the Migration Period to the Viking Age and occasionally in graves. They have speculated whether the Vanir originally represented pre-Indo-European deities or Indo-European fertility gods, and have theorized a form of the gods as venerated by the pagan Anglo-Saxons.

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

The name Bagavan consists of the words Bagi meaning: idol and avan meaning: city. Bagavan was situated in the south east of Bagrevand province of the Historical Armenia’s Ayrarat region. Founded in the pagan Armenia as a religious center, it was the site of tombs of the pre-Christian rulers of Armenia.

Bagmashtu (also known as Bagparti, Bagvarti, Bagbartu) is an Urartian goddess, and the consort or wife of the chief Urartian god Haldi. Although throughout most of Urartu Arubani, the Urartian’s goddess of fertility and art, is known as Khaldi’s wife, at the excavation of Musasir references to “Khaldi and his wife, Bagmashtu” were found inscribed on some of the items.

It is assumed that when Urartu expanded its territories to include the area Musasir, local gods were incorporated and a new pantheon was created for that region. The locality and addition of Bagmashtu are supported by the fact that her name is of Armenian origin.

The name Baghdad is pre-Islamic and its origins are under some dispute. The site where the city of Baghdad came to stand has been populated for millennia and by the 8th century AD several Aramaic Christian villages had developed there, one of which was called Baghdad, the name which would come to be used for the Abbasid metropolis.

The name has been used as Baghdadu on Assyrian cuneiform and Babylonian records going back to at least 2000 BC. An inscription by Nebuchadnezzar (600 BC) describes how he rebuilt the old Babylonian town of Bagh-dadu. There used to be another Babylonian settlement called Baghdad, in upper Mesopotamia, near the ancient city of Edessa. The name has not been attested outside of Mesopotamia.

Even though the name has been attested in pre-Persian times, a Persian origin has been accepted by most scholars. It has been proposed that the name is a Middle Persian compound of Bag “god” and dād “given”, translating to “God-given” or “God’s gift”, from which comes Modern Persian Baɣdād. This in turn can be traced to Old Persian.

Another proposal is the Persian compound bāğ “garden” and dād “fair”, translating to “The fair garden”. However, a Persian explanation remains somewhat problematic, given that the name was used long before the Persians arrived in Mesopotamia.

Ishara

Ar/As – Ra

Ar/As – Asha/Arta – Ishara(Ishtar)/Ashur – Isis (Aset or Iset) /Osiris (Usir or Ausar)

Ishara is the Hittite word for “treaty, binding promise”, also personified as a goddess of the oath. 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.

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”. 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-).

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.

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).

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.

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”.

Ishara was also worshipped within the Hurrian pantheon. She was associated with the underworld. Her astrological embodiment is the constellation Scorpio and she is called the mother of the Sebitti (the Seven Stars).

Ishara was well known in Syria from the third millennium BC. 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 it says: ‘For Ishara the bed is made’ and in Atra-hasis she is called upon to bless the couple on the honeymoon.”

Ishtar is the East Semitic Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, war, and sex. She is the counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna, and is the cognate for the Northwest Semitic Aramean goddess Astarte. She was particularly worshipped in northern Mesopotamia, at the Assyrian cities of Nineveh, Ashur and Arbela (Erbil).

Like Inanna, Ishtar was the daughter of An. Besides the lions on her gate, her symbol is an eight-pointed star. In the Babylonian pantheon, she “was the divine personification of the planet Venus”.

Even for the gods Ishtar’s love was fatal. In her youth the goddess had loved Tammuz, god of the harvest, and — if one is to believe Gilgamesh — this love caused the death of Tammuz.

Her cult may have involved sacred prostitution, though this is debatable. Guirand referred to her holy city Uruk as the “town of the sacred courtesans” and to her as the “courtesan of the gods”.

Like Ishtar, the Greek Aphrodite and the Aramean Northwestern Semitic Astarte were love goddesses. Donald A. Mackenzie, an early popularizer of mythology, draws a parallel between the love goddess Aphrodite and her “dying god” lover Adonis on one hand, and the love goddess Ishtar and her “dying god” lover Tammuz on the other.

Some scholars have suggested that the myth of Adonis was derived in post-Homeric times by the Greeks indirectly from the Eastern Semites of Mesopotamia (Assyria and Babylonia), via the Aramean and Canaanite Western Semites, the Semitic title ‘Adon’, meaning ‘lord’, having been mistaken for a proper name. This theory, however, cannot be accepted without qualifications.

Joseph Campbell, a more recent scholar of comparative mythology, equates Ishtar, Inanna, and Aphrodite, and he draws a parallel between the Egyptian goddess Isis who nurses Horus, and the Assyrian-Babylonian goddess Ishtar who nurses the god Tammuz.

Ashur (also, Assur, Aššur; written A-šur, also Aš-šùr) is an East Semitic god, and the head of the Assyrian pantheon in Mesopotamian religion, worshipped mainly in the northern half of Mesopotamia, and parts of north-east Syria and south east Asia Minor which constituted old Assyria. He may have had a solar iconography.

Surya (“the Supreme Light”), also known as Aditya, Bhanu or Ravi, is the chief solar deity in Hinduism and generally refers to the Sun. Surya is the chief of the Navagraha, the nine Indian Classical planets and important elements of Hindu astrology. His Greek counterpart is Helios and his Egyptian counterpart is Ra.

He is often depicted riding a chariot harnessed by seven horses which might represent the seven colors of the rainbow or the seven chakras in the body. He is also the presiding deity of Sunday. Surya is regarded as the Supreme Deity by Saura sect and Smartas worship him as one of the five primary forms of God.

Surya is also known as “Mitra” (meaning friend) for his life nourishing properties. The Mitra form of ‘Surya’ had been worshiped mostly in Gujarat, where a clan of Suryawanshi kings was known as Mitrawanshi kshatriyas, also known by its derivative name “Maitrakas”.

Ashur the son of Shem is sometimes compared with the figure of the deity Ashur, for whom a temple was dedicated in the early capital city of Aššur – traditionally by an early Assyrian king named Ushpia in ca. the 21st century BC. It is highly likely that the city and indeed the Assyrian nation and people, were named in honour of this deity.

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.”

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.

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.

By the time the Neo-Sumerian Ur-III dynasty collapsed at the hands of the Elamites in ca. the 21st century BC, the local Akkadian kings, including those in Assur, had shaken off the Sumerian yoke. An Assyrian king named Ushpia who reigned in ca. the 21st century BC is credited with dedicating the first temple of the god Assur in his home city.

Ushpia was an early Assyrian king who ruled c. 2030 BC, according to the Assyrian King List (AKL). Like most other of the “kings who lived in tents”, his name is not regarded as Semitic, but more likely Hurrian.

Ushpia is also alleged to have founded the temple of Ashur at the city of Assur, according to the much later inscriptions of Shalmaneser I (13th century BC) and Esarhaddon (8th century BC). However, he has yet to be confirmed by contemporary artifacts and nothing else of him is known.

In around 2000 BC, Puzur-Ashur I founded a new dynasty, and his successors such as Ilushuma, Erishum I and Sargon I left inscriptions regarding the building of temples to Ashur, Adad and Ishtar in the city.

Aser

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 religion. 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. 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.

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”.

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”.

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 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.

(A)Shivini

Shivini or Artinis (the present form of the name is Artin, meaning “sun rising” or to “awake”, and it persists in Armenian names to this day) was a solar god in the mythology of the Urartu. He is the third god in a triad with Khaldi and Theispas and is cognate with the triad in Hinduism called Shivam.

The Assyrian god Shamash is a counterpart to Shivini. He was depicted as a man on his knees, holding up a solar disc. His wife was most likely a goddess called Tushpuea who is listed as the third goddess on the Mheri-Dur inscription. Shivini is generally considered a good god, like that of the Egyptian solar god, Aten, and unlike the solar god of the Assyrians, Ashur to whom sometimes human sacrifices were made.

Shiva (Sanskrit: Śiva, meaning “The Auspicious One”), also known as Mahadeva (“Great God”), is one of the main deities of Hinduism. He is the supreme god within Shaivism, one of the three most influential denominations in contemporary Hinduism. He is one of the five primary forms of God in the Smarta tradition, and “the Destroyer” or “the Transformer” among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine.

At the highest level, Shiva is regarded limitless, transcendent, unchanging and formless. Shiva also has many benevolent and fearsome forms. In benevolent aspects, he is depicted as an omniscient Yogi who lives an ascetic life on Mount Kailash, as well as a householder with wife Parvati and his two children, Ganesha and Kartikeya and in fierce aspects, he is often depicted slaying demons. Shiva is also regarded as the patron god of yoga and arts.

The main iconographical attributes of Shiva are the third eye on his forehead, the snake Vasuki around his neck, the crescent moon adorning, the holy river Ganga flowing from his matted hair, the trishula as his weapon and the damaru as his instrument. Shiva is usually worshiped in the aniconic form of Lingam.

Urash

Uraš or Urash, in Sumerian mythology is a goddess of earth, and one of the consorts of the sky god Anu. She is the mother of the goddess Ninsun and a grandmother of the hero Gilgamesh.

However, Uras may only have been another name for Antum, Anu’s wife. The name Uras even became applied to Anu himself, and acquired the meaning “heaven”. Ninurta (Nin Ur: God of War) also was apparently called Uras in later times.

In Mesopotamian mythology, Ereshkigal (EREŠ.KI.GAL, lit. “Queen of the Great Earth”) was the goddess of Irkalla, the land of the dead or underworld. Sometimes her name is given as Irkalla, similar to the way the name Hades was used in Greek mythology for both the underworld and its ruler, and sometimes it is given as Ninkigal, lit. “Great Lady of the Earth” or “Lady of the Great Earth”.

Ereshkigal was the only one who could pass judgment and give laws in her kingdom. The main temple dedicated to her was located in Kutha.

The goddess Inanna refers to Ereshkigal as her older sister in the Sumerian hymn “The Descent of Inanna” (which was also in later Babylonian myth, also called “The Descent of Ishtar”). Inanna’s trip and return to the underworld is the most familiar of the myths concerning Ereshkigal.

Ereshkigal is the sister and counterpart of Inanna/Ishtar, the symbol of nature during the non-productive season of the year. Ereshkigal was also a queen that many gods and goddesses looked up to in the underworld. She is known chiefly through two myths, believed to symbolize the changing of the seasons, but perhaps also intended to illustrate certain doctrines which date back to the Mesopotamia period. According to the doctrine of two kingdoms, the dominions of the two sisters are sharply differentiated, as one is of this world and one of the world of the dead.

Hermod

Ninshubur (also known as Ninshubar, Nincubura or Ninšubur) was the sukkal or second-in-command of the goddess Inanna in Sumerian mythology. A goddess in her own right, her name can be translated as ‘Queen of the East’, and she was said to be a messenger and traveller for the other gods. As Inanna was associated with the planet Venus, Ninshubur was said to be associated with Mercury, as Venus and Mercury appear together in the sky.

Ninshubur accompanied Inanna as a vassal and friend throughout Inanna’s many exploits. She helped Inanna fight Enki’s demons after Inanna’s theft of the sacred me. Later, when Inanna became trapped in the Underworld, it was Ninshubur who pleaded with Enki for her mistress’s release. Though described as an unmarried virgin, in a few accounts Ninshubur is said to be one of Inanna’s lovers. In later Akkadian mythology, Ninshubur was male. In “A hymn to Nergal” Ninshubur appeared as the minister of the underworld.

Due to similarities between the two, some believe the later Hermes, an Olympian god in Greek religion and mythology, son of Zeus and the Pleiad Maia, to have been based in part on Ninshubur.

The planet Mercury was in Sumerian times identified with Enki. In late Babylonian astrology, Nabu, worshipped by Babylonians as the son of Marduk and his consort, Sarpanitum, and as the grandson of Enki, was connected with the planet Mercury. Nabu was the Assyrian and Babylonian god of wisdom and writing, but also sometimes worshiped as a fertility god and as a god of water.

The etymology of his name is disputed. It could be derived from the root nb´ for “to call or announce”, meaning something like “He who has called”.

As the god of wisdom and writing, Nabu was equated by the Greeks to either Apollo or Hermes, the latter identified by the Romans with their own god Mercury. The astronomical symbol for Mercury is a stylized version of Hermes’ caduceus.

The weekday name Wednesday derives from the Old English name of the god: ‘Woden’s day’. Cognate terms are found in other Germanic languages, such as Old High German wōdnesdæg, Middle Low German wōdensdach (Dutch Woensdag), and Old Norse Óðinsdagr (Danish Onsdag). All of these terms derive from Proto-Germanic Wodensdag, itself Germani interpretation of Latin Dies Mercurii (“Day of Mercury”).

The earliest records of the Germanic peoples were recorded by the Romans, and in these works Odin is frequently referred to—via a process known as interpretatio romana (where characteristics perceived to be similar by Romans result in identification of a non-Roman god as a Roman deity)—as the Roman god Mercury.

Another approach to Odin has been in terms of his function and attributes. Many early scholars interpreted him as a wind-god or especially as a death-god. He has also been interpreted in the light of his association with ecstatic practices, and Jan de Vries compared him to the Hindu god Rudra and the Greek Hermes.

Hermóðr the Brave (Old Norse “war-spirit”, anglicized as Hermod) is a figure in Norse mythology, the son of the god Odin. Hermóðr appears distinctly in section 49 of the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning. There, it is described that the gods were speechless and devastated at the death of Baldr, unable to react due to their grief.

After the gods gathered their wits from the immense shock and grief of Baldr’s death Frigg asked the Æsir who amongst them wished “to gain all of her love and favor” by riding the road to Hel. Whoever agreed was to offer Hel a ransom in exchange for Baldr’s return to Asgard. Hermóðr agrees to this and set off with Sleipnir to Hel.

Hermóðr is called “son” of Odin in most manuscripts, while in the Codex Regius version—normally considered the best manuscript—Hermóðr is called sveinn Óðins ‘Odin’s boy’, which in the context is as likely to mean ‘Odin’s servant’.

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