Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

On the origin of bread

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 17, 2018

At an 14,400-year-old Natufian hunter-gatherer site – a site known as Shubayqa 1 located in the Black Desert in northeastern Jordan – researchers have discovered the charred remains of a flatbread baked by hunter-gatherers 14,400 years ago. It is the oldest direct evidence of bread found to date, predating the advent of agriculture by at least 4,000 years.

The findings suggest that bread production based on wild cereals may have encouraged hunter-gatherers to cultivate cereals, and thus contributed to the agricultural revolution in the Neolithic period. Bread is otherwise strongly associated with agriculture, and is found in Neolithic sites in Anatolia and Europe from around 9,100 years ago.

Bread was central to the formation of early human societies. This in turn led to the formation of towns, as opposed to the nomadic lifestyle, and gave rise to more and more sophisticated forms of societal organization. From the western half of Asia, where wheat was domesticated, cultivation spread north and west, to Europe and North Africa.

In the northern Syrian, eastern Anatolian region of the Levant, the Epipaleolithic Natufian culture that existed from around 12,500 to 9,500 BC in the Levant, a region in the Eastern Mediterranean, developed the first fully agricultural culture with the addition of wild grains, later being supplemented with domesticated sheep and goats, which were probably domesticated first by the Zarzian culture of Northern Iraq and Iran, which like the Natufian culture may have also developed from Kebaran.

The Younger Dryas is often linked to the Neolithic Revolution, the adoption of agriculture in the Levant.[82][83] 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 is 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.

Çayönü is a Neolithic settlement in southeastern Anatolia inhabited around 7200 to 6600 BC. It is located forty kilometres north-west of Diyarbakır, at the foot of the Taurus mountains. It lies near the Boğazçay, a tributary of the upper Tigris River and the Bestakot, an intermittent stream.

According to Der Spiegel of either 6 March or 3 June 2006, the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne has discovered that the genetically common ancestor of 68 contemporary types of cereal still grows as a wild plant in the Vavilov zone on the slopes of Mount Karaca (Karaca Dağ), which is located in close vicinity to Çayönü.

The results strongly suggest that slopes of Karaca Dağ provided the site for the first domestication of einkorn wheat approximately 9,000 years ago. Robert Braidwood wrote that “insofar as unit HA can be considered as representing all of the major pre-historic occupation at Cayonu, cultivated emmer along with cultivated einkorn was present from the earliest sub-phase.”

Çayönü, Cafer Höyük, Nevalı Çori is possibly the place where the pig (Sus scrofa) was first domesticated. The wild fauna include wild boar, wild sheep, wild goat and cervids. The Neolithic environment included marshes and swamps near the Boğazçay, open wood, patches of steppe and almond-pistachio forest-steppe to the south. It’s also the site where the world’s taurine cattle were domesticated from the aurochs.

Nevalı Çori (Turkish: Nevali Çori) was an early Neolithic settlement on the middle Euphrates, in Şanlıurfa Province, Southeastern Anatolia, Turkey. The site is known for having some of the world’s oldest known temples and monumental sculpture. Together with the earlier site of Göbekli Tepe, it has revolutionised scientific understanding of the Eurasian Neolithic period. The oldest domesticated Einkorn wheat was found there.

Parallels are known from Cayönü and Göbekli Tepe. Monolithic pillars similar to those at Göbekli Tepe were built into its dry stone walls, its interior contained two free-standing pillars of 3 m height. The excavator assumes light flat roofs. Similar structures are only known from Göbekli Tepe so far.

Portasar (Armenian for “Mountain Navel”), also known as Göbekli Tepe (Turkish for “Potbelly Hill”) is an archaeological site in the Southeastern Anatolia approximately 12 km (7 mi) northeast of the city of Şanlıurfa. The tell includes two phases of use believed to be of a social or ritual nature dating back to the 10th–8th millennium BCE.

During the first phase, belonging to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA), circles of massive T-shaped stone pillars were erected – the world’s oldest known megaliths. The surviving structures, then, not only predate pottery, metallurgy, and the invention of writing or the wheel, but were built before the so-called Neolithic Revolution, i.e., the beginning of agriculture and animal husbandry around 9000 BCE. But the construction of Göbekli Tepe implies organization of an advanced order not hitherto associated with Paleolithic, PPNA, or PPNB societies.

The site was abandoned after the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB). Around the beginning of the 8th millennium BCE Göbekli Tepe lost its importance. The advent of agriculture and animal husbandry brought new realities to human life in the area, and the “Stone-age zoo” apparently lost whatever significance it had had for the region’s older, foraging communities.

But the complex was not simply abandoned and forgotten to be gradually destroyed by the elements. Instead, each enclosure was deliberately buried under as much as 300 to 500 cubic meters (390 to 650 cu yd) of refuse consisting mainly of small limestone fragments, stone vessels, and stone tools. Many animal, even human, bones have also been identified in the fill. Why the enclosures were buried is unknown, but it preserved them for posterity.

Gobekli Tepe is one of several sites in the vicinity of Karaca Dağ, an area which geneticists suspect may have been the original source of at least some of our cultivated grains. Recent DNA analysis of modern domesticated wheat compared with wild wheat has shown that its DNA is closest in sequence to wild wheat found on Karaca Dağ 30 km (20 mi) away from the site, suggesting that this is where modern wheat was first domesticated.

Karaca in eastern Anatolia was also known as ‘Mount Masia’. The traditional Armenian name of Ararat is Masis or Massis. However, nowadays, the terms Masis and Ararat are both widely, often interchangeably, used in Armenian. The folk etymology expressed in Movses Khorenatsi’s History of Armenia derives the name from king Amasya, the great-grandson of the legendary Armenian patriarch Hayk, who is said to have called the mountain Masis after himself.

According to Russian orientalist Anatoly Novoseltsev the word Masis derives from Middle Persian masist, “the largest.” According to Armenian historian Sargis Petrosyan the mas root in Masis means “mountain”, cf. Proto-Indo-European *mņs-. According to archaeologist Armen Petrosyan it originates from the Māšu (Mashu) mountain mentioned in the Epic of Gilgamesh, which sounded Māsu in Assyrian.

Mashu, as described in the Epic of Gilgamesh of Mesopotamian mythology, is a great cedar mountain through which the hero-king Gilgamesh passes via a tunnel on his journey to Dilmun after leaving the Cedar Forest, a forest of ten thousand leagues span. Siduri, the Alewife, lived on the shore, associated with “the Waters of Death” that Gilgamesh had to cross to reach Utnapishtim, the far-away.

Utnapishtim or Utanapishtim is a character in the Epic of Gilgamesh who is tasked by Enki (Ea) to abandon his worldly possessions and create a giant ship to be called Preserver of Life. He was also tasked with bringing his wife, family, and relatives along with the craftsmen of his village, baby animals, and grains. The oncoming flood would wipe out all animals and people not on the ship, a concept similar to the biblical story of Noah’s Ark.

The corresponding location of Mashu in reality has been the topic of speculation, as no confirming evidence has been found. It has been suggested that in the Sumerian version, through its association with the sun god Utu, “(t)he Cedar Mountain is implicitly located in the east, whereas in the Akkadian versions, Gilgamesh’s destination (is) removed from the east” and “explicitly located in the north west, in or near Lebanon”.

The Turkish name of Ararat is Ağrı (“pain” or “sorrow”) Dağı (“mountain”), i.e. “Mountain of Ağrı”. This name has been known since the late Middle Ages. The traditional Persian name is Kūh-e Nūḥ (“mountain of Noah”). The Kurdish name of the mountain is çiyayê Agirî (“fiery mountain”).

The mountain is known as Ararat in European languages, however, none of the native peoples have traditionally referred to the mountain by that name. Ararat (sometimes Ararad) is the Greek version of the Hebrew spelling RRṬ of the name Urartu, a kingdom that existed in the Armenian plateau in the 9th–6th centuries BC.

In the trilingual Behistun Inscription, carved in 521 or 520 BC by the order of Darius I, the country referred to as Urartu in Babylonian is called Arminiya in Old Persian and Harminuia in the Elamite language.

It is unknown what language was spoken by the peoples of Urartu at the time of the existence of the kingdom, but there is linguistic evidence of contact between the proto-Armenian language and the Urartian language at an early date (sometime between the 3rd—2nd millennium BC), occurring prior to the formation of Urartu as a kingdom.

The Hurro-Urartian languages are an extinct language family of the Ancient Near East, comprising only two known languages: Hurrian and Urartian, both of which were spoken in the Taurus mountains area. However, being heirs to the Urartian realm, the earliest identifiable ancestors of the Armenians are the peoples of Urartu.

German orientalist and Bible critic Wilhelm Gesenius speculated that the word “Ararat” came from the Sanskrit word Arjanwartah, meaning “holy ground.” Armenian historians usually tie the origin of the word “Ararat” to the root of the endonym of the indigenous peoples of the Armenian Highland (“ar–”), including the Armenians.

In the 33rd year of his reign, while he was in the Armenian Highlands in 1446 BC, Thutmose III of Egypt, referred to the people of Ermenen (Armenians), and says in their land “heaven rests upon its four pillars”.

Since ancient times the cult of sun worship occupied a special place in Armenian mythology. The main proto-Armenian god was Ar, the god of Sun, Fire and Revival. It is connected with light, sun, fire found in Ararat (the people of Ar), Arev (Sun), Arpi (Light of heaven), Ararich (God or Creator), Aryan, Rta, Arta etc.

The name is connected to the Indo-European root Ar- meaning “assemble/create” which is vastly used in names of or regarding the Sun, light, or fire, found in Ararat, Aryan, Arta etc. The names Armen and Arman, feminine Arminé, are common given names by Armenians. Armin is also a Persian given name, and is an ancient Zoroastrian given name, meaning Guardian of Aryan Land. Armin meanings in Urdu & English is Dweller Of The Garden Of Eden.

The Proto-Indo-Iranian term is hypothesized to have proto-Indo-European origins, while it is probably a Near-Eastern loanword from the Ugaritic ary, kinsmen. In Akkadian ayyaru means “young man”. In ancient Roman religion and myth, Mars was the god of war and also an agricultural guardian, a combination characteristic of early Rome.

Maryannu (the name ‘maryannu’ although plural takes the singular ‘marya’, which in Sanskrit means young warrior, and attaches a Hurrian suffix) is an ancient word for the caste of chariot-mounted hereditary warrior nobility which existed in many of the societies of the Middle East during the Bronze Age. The term is attested in the Amarna letters written by Haapi.

At the beginning of the Late Bronze Age most would have spoken either Hurrian or Aryan but by the end of the 14th century most of the Levant maryannu had Semitic names. It has been postulated the Proto-Indo-European root word is *haerós with the meanings “members of one’s own (ethnic) group, peer, freeman” as well as the Indo-Iranian meaning of Aryan. Some authors have connected the Indo-European root *ar- meaning “to assemble”.

In Hittite arā- means “friend” from arā, “right, proper(ly)”, derived in turn from Sanskrit áram, “fittingly” and ṛtá-, “truth, order” as well as Greek “to fit together, construct, equip” (< IE *haer-, “fit”), with its derivative “friendship”. The word is probably non-Semitic, possibly a kulturwort, a word borrowed among many languages denoting a cross-cultural concept.

The first extant record of Indic Mitra, in the form mi-it-ra-, is in the inscribed peace treaty of c. 1400 BC between Hittites and the Hurrian kingdom of the Mitanni in the area southeast of Lake Van in Asia Minor. Mitra appears there together with four other Indic divinities as witnesses and keepers of the pact.

Both Vedic Mitra and Avestan Mithra derive from an Indo-Iranian common noun *mitra-, generally reconstructed to have meant “covenant, treaty, agreement, promise.” This meaning is preserved in Avestan miθra “covenant.” In Sanskrit and modern Indo-Aryan languages, mitra means “friend,” one of the aspects of bonding and alliance.

The ethnicity of the people of Mitanni is difficult to ascertain. A treatise on the training of chariot horses by Kikkuli contains a number of Indo-Aryan glosses. It is suggested that this vocabulary was derived from the still undivided Indo-Iranian language, but it has later been shown that specifically Indo-Aryan features are present.

Graeco-(Armeno)-Aryan is a hypothetical clade within the Indo-European family, ancestral to the Greek language, the Armenian language, and the Indo-Iranian languages. Graeco-Aryan unity would have become divided into Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian by the mid-third millennium BC.

Conceivably, Proto-Armenian would have been located between Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian, consistent with the fact that Armenian shares certain features only with Indo-Iranian (the satem change) but others only with Greek (s > h).

Graeco-Aryan has comparatively wide support among Indo-Europeanists for the Indo-European homeland to be located in the Armenian Highlands, the “Armenian hypothesis”. Early and strong evidence was given by Euler’s 1979 examination on shared features in Greek and Sanskrit nominal flection.

Used in tandem with the Graeco-Armenian hypothesis, the Armenian language would also be included under the label Aryano-Greco-Armenic, splitting into proto-Greek/Phrygian and “Armeno-Aryan” (ancestor of Armenian and Indo-Iranian).

Aratta is a land that appears in Sumerian myths surrounding Enmerkar and Lugalbanda, two early and possibly mythical kings of Uruk also mentioned on the Sumerian king list. Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta is a legendary Sumerian account composed in the Neo-Sumerian period (ca. 21st century BC). It is one of a series of accounts describing the conflicts between Enmerkar and the unnamed king of Aratta.

Aratta is described in Sumerian literature as a fabulously wealthy place full of gold, silver, lapis lazuli and other precious materials, as well as the artisans to craft them. Aratta is remote and difficult to reach. It is home to the goddess Inanna, who transfers her allegiance from Aratta to Uruk.

Because it gives a Sumerian account of the confusion of tongues, and also involves Enmerkar constructing temples at Eridu and Uruk, it has, since the time of Samuel Kramer, been compared with the Tower of Babel narrative in the Book of Genesis.

Asha or arta is a concept of cardinal importance to Zoroastrian theology and doctrine. In the moral sphere, aša/arta represents what has been called “the decisive confessional concept of Zoroastrianism”. The significance of the term is complex, with a highly nuanced range of meaning. It is commonly summarized in accord with its contextual implications of ‘truth’ and ‘right(eousness)’, ‘order’ and ‘right working’.

Its Old Persian equivalent is arta-. In Middle Iranian languages the term appears as ard-. Ardini, known as Muṣaṣir in Assyrian, which is Akkadian for Exit of the Serpent/Snake, was an ancient city of Urartu, attested in Assyrian sources of the 9th and 8th centuries BC. The city’s tutelary deity was dḪaldi, also known as Khaldi, who was one of the three chief deities of Urartu. Some sources claim that the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation, Hayk, is derived from Ḫaldi.

The word is also the proper name of the divinity Asha, the Amesha Spenta that is the hypostasis or “genius” of “Truth” or “Righteousness”. In the Younger Avesta, this figure is more commonly referred to as Asha Vahishta (Aša Vahišta, Arta Vahišta), “Best Truth”. The Middle Persian descendant is Ashawahist or Ardwahisht; New Persian Ardibehesht or Ordibehesht.

In the Vedic religion, Ṛta or ṛtaṃ (“that which is properly/ excellently joined; order, rule; truth”) is the principle of natural order which regulates and coordinates the operation of the universe and everything within it. In the hymns of the Vedas, Ṛta is described as that which is ultimately responsible for the proper functioning of the natural, moral and sacrificial orders.

Vedic ṛtá and its Avestan equivalent aša both derive from Proto-Indo-Iranian *Hr̥tás “truth”, which in turn continues Proto-Indo-European *hr-tós “properly joined, right, true”, from the root *her-. The derivative noun ṛtam is defined as “fixed or settled order, rule, divine law or truth”. However, the term can be translated as “that which has moved in a fitting manner”, abstractly as “universal law” or “cosmic order”, or simply as “truth”. The latter meaning dominates in the Avestan cognate to Ṛta, aša.

The term appears in Vedic texts and in post-Vedic texts, both as Ṛta and derivatives of the term. For example, in the 2nd-century BCE text Mahabhasya of Patanjali, he explains Ṛtaka to be the grammatically correct form of name for a son, where then the name would mean “truthling”.

Conceptually, it is closely allied to the injunctions and ordinances thought to uphold it, collectively referred to as Dharma, and the action of the individual in relation to those ordinances, referred to as Karma – two terms which eventually eclipsed Ṛta in importance as signifying natural, religious and moral order in later Hinduism.

Sanskrit scholar Maurice Bloomfield referred to Ṛta as “one of the most important religious conceptions of the “Rigveda”, going on to note that, “from the point of view of the history of religious ideas we may, in fact we must, begin the history of Hindu religion at least with the history of this conception”.

Oldenberg (1894) surmised that the concept of Ṛta originally arose in the Indo-Aryan period from a consideration of the natural order of the world and of the occurrences taking place within it as doing so with a kind of causal necessity.

Both Vedic Ṛta and Avestan aša were conceived of as having a tripartite function which manifested itself in the physical, ethical and ritual domains. In the context of Vedic religion, those features of nature which either remain constant or which occur on a regular basis were seen to be a manifestation of the power of Ṛta in the physical cosmos. In the human sphere, Ṛta was understood to manifest itself as the imperative force behind both the moral order of society as well as the correct performance of Vedic rituals.

The notion of a universal principle of natural order is by no means unique to the Vedas, and Ṛta has been compared to similar ideas in other cultures, such as Ma’at in Ancient Egyptian religion, Moira and the Logos in Greek paganism, and the Tao.

Vedic Mitra is a prominent deity of the Rigveda distinguished by a relationship to Varuna, the protector of rta. Together with Varuna, he counted among the Adityas, a group of solar deities, also in later Vedic texts. Vedic Mitra is the patron divinity of honesty, friendship, contracts and meetings. In Zoroastrianism, Mithra is a member of the trinity of ahuras, protectors of asha/arta, “truth” or “[that which is] right”.

The Natufian communities may be the ancestors of the builders of the first Neolithic settlements of the region, which may have been the earliest in the world. Natufians founded Jericho which may be the oldest city in the world.

The culture was unusual in that it supported a sedentary or semi-sedentary population even before the introduction of agriculture. Some evidence suggests deliberate cultivation of cereals, specifically rye, by the Natufian culture, at Tell Abu Hureyra, the site of earliest evidence of agriculture in the world. Generally, though, Natufians exploited wild cereals. Animals hunted included gazelles.

According to Christy G. Turner II, there is archaeological and physical anthropological evidence for a relationship between the modern Semitic-speaking populations of the Levant, Persian Gulf and the Natufians. However modern Levantines have substantial Iran Neolithic/Chalcolithic, Anatolia Neolithic and Caucasus Hunter Gatherer-like admixture since the Bronze Age.

The Natufian developed in the same region as the earlier Kebaran industry (Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine/Israel). It is generally seen as a successor, which evolved out of elements within that preceding culture. There were also other industries in the region, such as the Mushabian culture of the Negev and Sinai, which are sometimes distinguished from the Kebaran or believed to have been involved in the evolution of the Natufian.

The Kebaran or Kebarian culture was an archaeological culture in the eastern Mediterranean area (c. 18,000 to 12,500 BP), named after its type site, Kebara Cave south of Haifa. The Kebaran were a highly mobile nomadic population, composed of hunters and gatherers in the Levant and Sinai areas who used microlithic tools.

The Kebaran culture, with its use of microliths, is associated with the use of the bow and arrow and the domestication of the dog. The Kebaran is also characterised by the earliest collecting of wild cereals, known due to the uncovering of grain grinding tools. It was the first step towards the Neolithic Revolution.

The Kebaran is preceded by the Athlitian phase of the Antelian, an Upper Paleolithic phase of the Levant that evolved from the Emiran culture, and followed by the proto-agrarian Natufian culture of the Epipalaeolithic. The Emiran culture existed in the Levant between the Middle Paleolithic and the Upper Paleolithic periods.

Emiran culture apparently developed from the local Mousterian without rupture, keeping numerous elements of the Levalloise-Mousterian, together with the locally typical Emireh point. The Mousterian is a techno-complex (archaeological industry) of flint lithic tools associated primarily with Neanderthals, as well as with the earliest anatomically modern humans in Eurasia.

The Emireh point is the type tool of stage one of the Upper Paleolithic, first identified in the Emiran culture. Numerous stone blade tools were used, including curved knives similar to those found in the Chatelperronian culture of Western Europe. Like the Chattelperronian, Elmireh is associated with late Neanderthal people rather than with Homo sapiens.

The Emiran eventually evolved into the Antelian culture, still of Levalloise tradition but with some Aurignacian influences. The Aurignacian is an archaeological tradition of the Upper Palaeolithic associated with European early modern humans (EEMH). The sophistication and self-awareness demonstrated in the work led archaeologists to consider the makers of Aurignacian artifacts the first modern humans in Europe.

It is thought to have originated from the earlier Levantine Ahmarian culture, a Paleolithic archeological industry in Levant dated at 46,000-42,000 BP and thought to be related to Levantine Emiran and younger European Aurignacian cultures. Ahmarian is considered to be the likely source of first modern humans who migrated to Europe to form Aurignacian culture known as Cro-Magnons.

Although European Bohunician culture that may be linked to Emiran and Ahmarian itself and dated at 48,000 BP may predate it. Bohunician assemblages are considered similar to Emiran and Ahmarian ones and Bohunician culture may be linked to them.

Bohunician industry was a paleolithic archeological industry in South-Central and East Europe. The earliest artifacts assigned to this culture are dated using radiocarbon dating at 48,000 BP. Which may make the earliest presence of modern humans in Europe predating Aurignacian.

An Early Aurignacian or Proto-Aurignacian stage is dated between about 43,000 and 37,000 years ago. The Aurignacian proper lasts from about 37,000 to 33,000 years ago. A Late Aurignacian phase transitional with the Gravettian dates to about 33,000 to 26,000 years ago. The type site is Aurignac, Haute-Garonne, south-west France.

On genetic evidence it has been argued that both Aurignacian and the Dabba culture of North Africa came from an earlier big game hunting Aurignacian culture of the Levant.

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The origin of the “god issue”

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 15, 2018

According to A. Audin, who interprets the god as the issue of a long process of development, it started from two solar pillars located on the eastern side of temples, each of them marking the direction of the rising sun at the dates of the two solstices. The southeastern corresponding to the Winter and the northeastern to the Summer solstice.

These two pillars would be at the origin of the theology of the divine twins, one of whom is mortal (related to the NE pillar, as confining with the region where the sun does not shine) and the other is immortal (related to the SE pillar and the region where the sun always shines).

Later these iconographic models evolved in the Middle East and Egypt into a single column representing two torsos and finally a single body with two heads looking at opposite directions.

Isimud (also Isinu; Usmû; Usumu (Akkadian) is a minor god, the messenger of the god Enki, in Sumerian mythology. In ancient Sumerian artwork, Isimud is easily identifiable because he is always depicted with two faces facing in opposite directions in a way that is similar to the ancient Roman god Janus.

Lammu

In art, lamassu (Cuneiform: AN.KAL; Sumerian: lamma; Akkadian: lamassu; sometimes called a lamassus) were depicted as hybrids, with bodies of either winged bulls or lions and heads of human males. The motif of a winged animal with a human head is common to the Near East, first recorded in Ebla around 3000 BC.

In some writings, it is portrayed to represent a female deity. A less frequently used name is shedu (Cuneiform: AN.KAL×BAD; Sumerian: alad; Akkadian, šēdu) which refers to the male counterpart of a lamassu.

The Lammasu or Lumasi represent the zodiacs, parent-stars or constellations. They are depicted as protective deities because they encompass all life within them. To protect houses, the lamassu were engraved in clay tablets, which were then buried under the door’s threshold.

They were often placed as a pair at the entrance of palaces. At the entrance of cities they were sculpted in colossal size and placed as a pair. One at each side of the door of the city, that generally had doors in the surrounding wall, each one looking towards one of the cardinal points.

In Hittite, the Sumerian form dlamma is used both as a name for the so-called “tutelary deity”, identified in certain later texts with Inara, and a title given to similar protective gods. 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.

In the classical period of Greek mythology, Artemis was often described as the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. Amongst the Hurrians and later Hittites Nergal was known as Aplu, a name derived from the Akkadian Apal Enlil, (Apal being the construct state of Aplu) meaning “the son of Enlil”.

Gobekli Tepe

Göbekli Tepe, Turkish for “Potbelly Hill”, is an archaeological site in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey, approximately 12 km (7 mi) northeast of the city of Şanlıurfa. The tell includes two phases of use believed to be of a social or ritual nature dating back to the 10th–8th millennium BCE.

During the first phase, belonging to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA), circles of massive T-shaped stone pillars were erected – the world’s oldest known megaliths. More than 200 pillars in about 20 circles are currently known through geophysical surveys. Each pillar has a height of up to 6 m (20 ft) and weighs up to 10 tons. They are fitted into sockets that were hewn out of the bedrock.

In the second phase, belonging to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB), the erected pillars are smaller and stood in rectangular rooms with floors of polished lime. The site was abandoned after the PPNB. Younger structures date to classical times.

The details of the structure’s function remain a mystery. It was excavated by a German archaeological team under the direction of Klaus Schmidt from 1996 until his death in 2014. Schmidt believed that the site was a sanctuary where people from a wide region periodically congregated, not a settlement.

Gobekli Tepe’s hilltop site was not defensive or residential and the indications are that it was a sacred area and that the two pillars outside the entrance of some of the circles represented a gateway between secular and religious ground.

Three layers could be distinguished up to now at the site. The oldest Layer III (10th millenium BC) is characterized by monolithic T-shaped pillars weighing tons, which were positioned in circle-like structures. The pillars were interconnected by limestone walls and benches leaning at the inner side of the walls. In the centre of these enclosures there are always two bigger pillars, with a height of over 5 m. The circles measure 10-20 m.

Two huge central pillars are surrounded by a circle formed by – at current state of excavation – 11 pillars of similar T-shape. Most of these pillars are decorated with depictions of animals, foxes, birds (e.g. cranes, storks and ducks), and snakes being the most common species in this enclosure, accompanied by a wide range of figurations including the motives of boar, aurochs, gazelle, wild donkey and larger carnivores.

In particular these central pillars of Enclosure D allow demonstrating the anthropomorphic appearance of the T-shaped pillars. They might have been gods who had T-shapes instead of heads because it was forbidden to see their faces. The T-shaped stones around the circle may have been their companions.

Gobekli Tepe’s hilltop site was not defensive or residential and the indications are that it was a sacred area and that the two pillars outside the entrance of some of the circles represented a gateway between secular and religious ground.

According to Andrew Collins the central pillars of Enclosure D target Deneb, the brightest star in the constellation of Cygnus, also known as the celestial bird, or swan, and one of the brightest stars in the night sky and one corner of the Summer Triangle, as it extinguishes on the north-northwestern horizon.

Other structures at Göbekli Tepe were built perhaps with different considerations in mind. Enclosure B’s central pillars are unlikely to have targeted Deneb during the epoch in question.

The twin pillars marking the entrance to the apse in Enclosure A were orientated almost exactly northwest to southeast, while those in Enclosure F (a smaller, much later structure west of the main group) are aligned east-northeast or west-southwest, very close to the angle at which the sun rises on the summer solstice and sets on the winter solstice.

(Di) Janus and (J) Diana 

According to Macrobius who cites Nigidius Figulus and Cicero, Janus and Jana (Diana) are a pair of divinities, worshipped as Apollo or the sun and moon, whence Janus received sacrifices before all the others, because through him is apparent the way of access to the desired deity.

Though he was usually depicted with two faces looking in opposite directions as Janus Geminus (twin Janus) or Bifrons, in some places he was Janus Quadrifrons, or the four-faced. The Janus quadrifrons, although having a different meaning, seems to be connected to the same theological complex, as its image purports an ability to rule over every direction, element and time of the year. It did not give rise to a new epithet though.

Janus is the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, and endings, who is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past. Numa in his regulation of the Roman calendar called the first month Januarius after Janus, according to tradition considered the highest divinity at the time.

He was likely the most important god in the Roman archaic pantheon, and was often invoked together with Iuppiter (Jupiter). Janus frequently symbolized change and transitions such as the progress of past to future, from one condition to another, from one vision to another, and young people’s growth to adulthood. He represented time, because he could see into the past with one face and into the future with the other.

Hence, Janus was worshipped at the beginnings of the harvest and planting times, as well as at marriages, deaths and other beginnings. He represented the middle ground between barbarism and civilization, rural and urban space, youth and adulthood. Having jurisdiction over beginnings Janus had an intrinsic association with omens and auspices.

The function god of beginnings has been clearly expressed in numerous ancient sources, among them most notably Cicero, Ovid, and Varro. As a god of motion, Janus looks after passages, causes actions to start and presides over all beginnings. Since movement and change are interconnected, he has a double nature, symbolised in his two headed image.

He has under his tutelage the stepping in and out of the door of homes, the ianua, which took its name from him, and not vice versa. Similarly, his tutelage extends to the covered passages named iani and foremost to the gates of the city, including the cultic gate of the Argiletum, named Ianus Geminus or Porta Ianualis from which he protects Rome against the Sabines.

He is also present at the Sororium Tigillum, where he guards the terminus of the ways into Rome from Latium. He has an altar, later a temple near the Porta Carmentalis, where the road leading to Veii ended, as well as being present on the Janiculum, a gateway from Rome out to Etruria.

The connection of the notions of beginning (principium), movementy, transition (eundo), and thence time has been clearly expressed by Cicero. In general, Janus is at the origin of time as the guardian of the gates of Heaven: Jupiter himself can move forth and back because of Janus’s working.

In one of his temples, probably that of Forum Holitorium, the hands of his statue were positioned to signify the number 355 (the number of days in a lunar year), later 365, symbolically expressing his mastership over time.

He presides over the concrete and abstract beginnings of the world, such as religion and the gods themselves, he too holds the access to Heaven and to other gods: this is the reason why men must invoke him first, regardless of the god they want to pray or placate.

He is the initiator of human life, of new historical ages, and financial enterprises: according to myth he was the first to mint coins and the as, first coin of the liberal series, bears his effigy on one face.

Gemini

Geminus (twin, double, paired, or one who is a twin) is the first epithet of Janus in Macrobius’s list. Although the etymology of the word is unclear, it is certainly related to his most typical character, that of having two faces or heads. The proof are the numerous equivalent expressions.

The origin of this epithet might be either concrete. It can be referring directly to the image of the god, to a feature of the Ianus of the Porta Belli, the double gate ritually opened at the beginning of wars, or abstract, deriving metaphorically from the liminal, intermediary functions of the god.

Gemini is the third astrological sign in the zodiac, originating from the constellation of Gemini. Under the tropical zodiac, the sun transits this sign between May 21 and June 21. Its name is Latin for “twins”. Gemini is dominated by Castor and Pollux, two bright stars that appear relatively very closely together forming an o shape, encouraging the mythological link between the constellation and twinship.

The twin above and to the right (as seen from the Northern Hemisphere) is Castor, whose brightest star is α Gem; it is a second-magnitude star and represents Castor’s head. The twin below and to the left is Pollux, whose brightest star is β Gem (more commonly called Pollux); it is of the first magnitude and represents Pollux’s head.

Furthermore, the other stars can be visualized as two parallel lines descending from the two main stars, making it look like two figures. H. A. Rey has suggested an alternative to the traditional visualization that connected the stars of Gemini to show twins holding hands.

In Greek mythology, the symbol of the twins is based on the Dioscuri, one mortal (Castor) and one immortal (Polydeuces; also known as Pollux) that were granted shared half-immortality after the death of the mortal brother.

Castor and Polydeuces, collectively known as the Dioscuri, was the children of Leda, an Aetolian princess who became a Spartan queen. Her myth gave rise to the popular motif in Renaissance and later art of Leda and the Swan.

Leda was the daughter of the Aetolian king Thestius, and wife of king Tyndareus of Sparta. She was the mother of Helen of Troy, Clytemnestra, and Castor and Pollux, also spelled “Kastor and Polydeuces”). Leda also had other daughters by Tyndareus: Timandra, Phoebe, and Philonoe.

Leda was admired by Zeus. As a swan, Zeus fell into her arms for protection from a pursuing eagle. Their consummation, on the same night as Leda lay with her husband Tyndareus, resulted in two eggs from which hatched Helen (later known as the beautiful “Helen of Troy”), Clytemnestra, and Castor and Pollux (also known as the Dioscuri).

Which children are the progeny of Tyndareus the mortal king, and which are of Zeus and thus half-immortal, is not consistent among accounts, nor is which child hatched from which egg. The split is almost always half mortal, half divine, although the pairings do not always reflect the children’s heritage pairings.

Pollux was the son of Zeus, who seduced Leda, while Castor was the son of Tyndareus, king of Sparta and Leda’s husband. Castor and Pollux are sometimes both mortal, sometimes both divine. One consistent point is that if only one of them is immortal, it is Pollux. It is also always stated that Helen is the daughter of Zeus.

Another account of the myth states that Nemesis was the mother of Helen, and was also impregnated by Zeus in the guise of a swan. A shepherd found the egg and gave it to Leda, who carefully kept it in a chest until the egg hatched. When the egg hatched, Leda adopted Helen as her daughter. Zeus also commemorated the birth of Helen by creating the constellation Cygnus, the Swan, in the sky.

Castor and Pollux were also mythologically associated with St. Elmo’s fire in their role as the protectors of sailors. When Castor died, because he was mortal, Pollux begged his father Zeus to give Castor immortality, and he did, by uniting them together in the heavens.

In Babylonian astronomy, the stars Castor and Pollux were known as the Great Twins (MUL.MASH.TAB.BA.GAL.GAL). The Twins were regarded as minor gods and were called Meshlamtaea and Lugalirra, meaning respectively “The One who has arisen from the Underworld” and the “Mighty King”. Both names can be understood as titles of Nergal, the major Babylonian god of plague and pestilence, who was king of the Underworld.

Nergal

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

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

He has also been called “the king of sunset”. Over time Nergal developed from a war god to a god of the underworld. In the mythology, this occurred when Enlil and Ninlil gave him the underworld. In this capacity he has associated with him a goddess Allatu or Ereshkigal, though at one time Allatu may have functioned as the sole mistress of Aralu, ruling in her own person.

Nergal’s chief temple at Cuthah bore the name Meslam, from which the god receives the designation of Meslamtaeda or Meslamtaea, “the one that rises up from Meslam”. The name Meslamtaeda/Meslamtaea indeed is found as early as the list of gods from Fara while the name Nergal only begins to appear in the Akkadian period.

Amongst the Hurrians and later Hittites Nergal was known as Aplu, a name derived from the Akkadian Apal Enlil, (Apal being the construct state of Aplu) meaning “the son of Enlil”. Aplu may be related with Apaliunas who is considered to be the Hittite reflex of Apeljōn, an early form of the name Apollo.

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

Hymns and votive and other inscriptions of Babylonian and Assyrian rulers frequently invoke him, but we do not learn of many temples to him outside of Cuthah. Local associations with his original seat—Kutha—and the conception formed of him as a god of the dead acted in making him feared rather than actively worshipped.

The Assyrian king Sennacherib speaks of one at Tarbisu to the north of the Assyrian capital of Nineveh, but significantly, although Nebuchadnezzar II (606–586 BC), the great temple-builder of the neo-Babylonian monarchy, alludes to his operations at Meslam in Cuthah, he makes no mention of a sanctuary to Nergal in Babylon.

A certain confusion exists in cuneiform literature between Ninurta and Nergal. The worship of Nergal does not appear to have spread as widely as that of Ninurta, but in the late Babylonian and early Persian period, syncretism seems to have fused the two divinities, which were invoked together as if they were identical.

In Assyro-Babylonian ecclesiastical art the great lion-headed colossi serving as guardians to the temples and palaces seem to symbolise Nergal, just as the bull-headed colossi probably typify Ninurta.

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The spread of the bull

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 15, 2018

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. 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.

The oldest known J2a samples at present were identified in remains from the Hotu Cave in northern Iran, dating from 9100-8600 BC, and from Kotias Klde in Georgia, dating from 7940-7600 BC. This confirms that haplogroup J2 was already found around the Caucasus and the southern Caspian region during the Mesolithic period.

The first appearance of J2 during the Neolithic came in the form of a 10,000 year-old J2b sample from Tepe Abdul Hosein in north-western Iran in what was then the Pre-Pottery Neolithic.

The present geographic distribution of haplogroup J2 suggests that it could initially have dispersed during the Neolithic from the Zagros mountains and northern Mesopotamia across the Iranian plateau to South Asia and Central Asia, and across the Caucasus to Russia (Volga-Ural).

Notwithstanding its strong presence in West Asia today, haplogroup J2 does not seem to have been one of the principal lineages associated with the rise and diffusion of cereal farming from the Fertile Crescent and Anatolia to Europe.

The development of early cereal agriculture is thought to have been conducted by men belonging primarily to haplogroups G2a (northern branch, from Anatolia to Europe), as well as E1b1b and T1a (southern branch, from the Levant to the Arabian peninsula and North Africa).

The first expansion probably correlated with the diffusion of domesticated of cattle and goats (starting c. 8000-9000 BCE), rather than with the development of cereal agriculture in the Levant. A second expansion would have occured with the advent of metallurgy.

It is very likely that J2a, J1-Z1828, L1b, T1a-P77 and G2a-L293 were the dominant male lineages the Early Bronze Age Kura-Araxes culture (3,400-2,000 BCE), which expanded from the South Caucasus to eastern Anatolia, northern Mesopotamia and the western Iran.

From then on, J2 could have propagated through Anatolia and the Eastern Mediterranean with the rise of early civilizations during the Late Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age. 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 seafaringcivilisations from the middle Bronze Age to the Iron Age were dominated by J2 men.

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. It is very possible that bronze technology spread from the South Caucasus across the Iranian plateau until the Indus Valley, giving rise to the Harappan Civilisation.

The Minoan civilization emerged from 2,700 BC and could have been founded by colonists from the Kura-Araxes culture who would have brought bronze working with them. Modern Cretans have the highest percentage of G2a (11%), J1 (8.5%), J2a (32%), and L + T (2.5% together) in Greece (and the highest percentage of J1 and J2a in all Europe for that matter), the three haplogroups associated with the Kura-Araxes culture.

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.

It has been hypothetised that R1b people 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. 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.

The third branch (P297), which is the most common form in Europe, crossed the Caucasus into the vast Pontic-Caspian Steppe, which provided ideal grazing grounds for cattle. Both R1b-V88 and R1b-M269 probably split soon after cattle were domesticated, approximately 10,500 years ago (8,500 BCE).

R1b-M269 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 any case, M73 would be a pre-Indo-European branch of R1b, just like V88 and M335.

R1b-M269 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.

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Hydra, Cancer and The Serpent

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 15, 2018

The Snake is a universal symbol of immortality and creativity in myth through out the ages and in virtually all lands inhabited by humans.  Many snakes shed their skin at various times, revealing a shiny new skin underneath.   Thus snakes have become symbols of rebirth, transformation, immortality, and healing.  We find images representing the power of the Snake. The snake symbolizes everything from the Devil to the highest order of angels.

The serpent is often symbolically associated with the renewal of life because it sheds its skin periodically. A similar belief existed in the ancient Mesopotamians and Semites, and appears also in Hindu mythology. The Pelasgian myth of creation refers to snakes as the reborn dead. In the Minoan religion the snake was the protector of the house, as it later appears also in Greek religion. Among the Greek Dionysiac cult it signified wisdom and was the symbol of fertility.

In ancient Mesopotamia, Nirah, the sukkal, or personal attendant, of Ištaran, the local god of the Sumerian city-state of Der, was identified with snakes and may appear in the form of a snake on kudurrus (boundary stones).

Representations of two intertwined serpents are common in Sumerian art and Neo-Sumerian artwork and still appear sporadically on cylinder seals and amulets until as late as the thirteenth century BC.

The horned viper (Cerastes cerastes) appears in Kassite and Neo-Assyrian kudurrus and is invoked in Assyrian texts as a magical protective entity. A dragon-like creature with horns, the body and neck of a snake, the forelegs of a lion, and the hind-legs of a bird appears in Mesopotamian art from the Akkadian Period until the Hellenistic Period (323 BCE–31 BCE).

This creature, known in Akkadian as the mušḫuššu, meaning “furious serpent”, was used as a symbol for particular deities and also as a general protective emblem. It seems to have originally been the attendant of the Underworld god Ninazu, but later became the attendant to the Hurrian storm-god Tishpak, as well as, later, Ninazu’s son Ningishzida, the Babylonian national god Marduk, the scribal god Nabu, and the Assyrian national god Ashur.

Snake cults were well established in Canaanite religion in the Bronze Age, for archaeologists have uncovered serpent cult objects in Bronze Age strata at several pre-Israelite cities in Canaan: two at Megiddo, one at Gezer, one in the sanctum sanctorum of the Area H temple at Hazor, and two at Shechem.

In the surrounding region, serpent cult objects figured in other cultures. A late Bronze Age Hittite shrine in northern Syria contained a bronze statue of a god holding a serpent in one hand and a staff in the other. In 6th-century Babylon, a pair of bronze serpents flanked each of the four doorways of the temple of Esagila.

At the Babylonian New Year’s festival, the priest was to commission from a woodworker, a metalworker and a goldsmith two images one of which “shall hold in its left hand a snake of cedar, raising its right [hand] to the god Nabu”. At the tell of Tepe Gawra, at least seventeen Early Bronze Age Assyrian bronze serpents were recovered.

In the Gospel of John 3:14–15, Jesus makes direct comparison between the raising up of the Son of Man and the act of Moses in raising up the serpent as a sign, using it as a symbol associated with salvation: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life”.

The snake goddess

The snake goddess’s Minoan name may be related with A-sa-sa-ra, a possible interpretation of inscriptions found in Linear A texts. Although Linear A is not yet deciphered it is related tentatively to the inscription a-sa-sa-ra-me which seems to have accompanied goddesses, with the Hittite išhaššara, which means “mistress”. Some scholars relate the snake goddess with the Phoenician Astarte (virgin daughter).

The snake goddess was the goddess of fertility and sexuality and her worship was connected with an orgiastic cult. Her temples were decorated with serpentine motifs. Astarte was connected with fertility, sexuality, and war. Her symbols were the lion, the horse, the sphinx, the dove, and a star within a circle indicating the planet Venus.

In a related Greek myth Europa, who is sometimes identified with Astarte in ancient sources, was a Phoenician princess whom Zeus abducted and carried to Crete. In Greek mythology, Europa was the mother of King Minos of Crete, a woman with Phoenician origin of high lineage, and after whom the continent Europe was named.

It is suggested that the snake goddess reduced in legend into a folklore heroine was Ariadne (utterly pure or the very holy one), who is often depicted surrounded by Maenads and satyrs. Ariadne, in Greek mythology, was the daughter of Minos (the King of Crete and a son of Zeus) and Pasiphaë (Minos’ queen and a daughter of Helios).

Ariadne is mostly associated with mazes and labyrinths because of her involvement in the myths of the Minotaur and Theseus. Her father put her in charge of the labyrinth where sacrifices were made as part of reparations (either to Poseidon or to Athena, depending on the version of the myth); later, she helped Theseus overcome the Minotaur and save the potential sacrificial victims. In other stories, she became the bride of the god Dionysus, with the question of her being mortal or a goddess varying in those accounts.

Wadjet

The snake goddess has been linked with the Egyptian snake goddess Wadjet (“Green One”), known to the Greek world as Uto or Buto among other names including Wedjat, Uadjet, and Udjo. Statuettes similar to the “snake goddess” identified as priest of Wadjud and magician have been found in Egypt.

She was one of the earliest Egyptian deities and was often depicted as a cobra, as she is the serpent goddess. The center of her cult was in Per-Wadjet, later called Buto by the Greeks. She became the patroness of the Nile Delta and the protector of all of Lower Egypt, and upon unification with Upper Egypt, the joint protector and patron of all of Egypt “goddess” of Upper Egypt.

At the time of the unification of Egypt, the image of Nekhbet, the goddess who was represented as a white vulture and held the same position as the patron of Upper Egypt, joined the image of Wadjet on the Uraeus that would encircle the crown of the pharaohs who ruled the unified Egypt.

The importance of their separate cults kept them from becoming merged as with so many Egyptian deities. Together, they were known as the nebty or The Two Ladies, who became the joint protectors and patrons of the unified Egypt.

She was also the protector of kings and of women in childbirth. Wadjet was said to be the nurse of the infant god Horus. With the help of his mother Isis, they protected Horus from his treacherous uncle, Set, when they took refuge in the swamps of the Nile Delta.

The “Going Forth of Wadjet” was celebrated on December 25 with chants and songs. An annual festival held in the city celebrated Wadjet on April 21. Other important dates for special worship of her were June 21, the summer solstice, and March 14. She also was assigned the fifth hour of the fifth day of the moon.

As the patron goddess, she was associated with the land and depicted as a snake-headed woman or a snake—usually an Egyptian cobra, a venomous snake common to the region; sometimes she was depicted as a woman with two snake heads and, at other times, a snake with a woman’s head. Her oracle was in the renowned temple in Per-Wadjet that was dedicated to her worship and gave the city its name. This oracle may have been the source for the oracular tradition that spread to Greece from Egypt.

Wadjets existed long before the rise of this cult when they originated as the eye of Wadjet as a cobra. The Egyptian word wꜢḏ signifies blue and green. It is also the name for the well-known “Eye of the Moon”. Wadjets are also the name of the symbols called the Eye of the Moon, Eye of Hathor, the Eye of Horus, and the Eye of Ra—depending upon the dates of the references to the symbols.

Indeed, in later times, she was often depicted simply as a woman with a snake’s head, or as a woman wearing the uraeus (from the Greek ouraîos, “on its tail”; from Egyptian jʿr.t (iaret), “rearing cobra”), the stylized, upright form of an Egyptian cobra (asp, serpent, or snake), used as a symbol of sovereignty, royalty, deity and divine authority in ancient Egypt.

The image of Wadjet with the sun disk is called the uraeus, and it was the emblem on the crown of the rulers of Lower Egypt. The Uraeus is a symbol for the goddess Wadjet.  The pharaohs wore the uraeus as a head ornament: either with the body of Wadjet atop the head, or as a crown encircling the head; this indicated Wadjet’s protection and reinforced the pharaoh’s claim over the land.

In whatever manner that the Uraeus was displayed upon the pharaoh’s head, it was, in effect, part of the pharaoh’s crown. The pharaoh was recognized only by wearing the Uraeus, which conveyed legitimacy to the ruler. There is evidence for this tradition even in the Old Kingdom during the third millennium BCE. Several goddesses associated with or being considered aspects of Wadjet are depicted wearing the uraeus as well.

Later, the pharaohs were seen as a manifestation of the sun god Ra, and so it also was believed that the Uraeus protected them by spitting fire on their enemies from the fiery eye of the goddess. In some mythological works, the eyes of Ra are said to be uraei.

As the Uraeus was seen as a royal symbol, the deities Horus and Set were also depicted wearing the symbol on their crowns. In early ancient Egyptian mythology, Horus would have been the name given to any king as part of the many titles taken, being identified as the son of the goddess Isis.

According to the later mythology of Re, the first Uraeus was said to have been created by the goddess Isis, who formed it from the dust of the earth and the spittle of the then-current sun deity.[citation needed] In this version of the mythology, the Uraeus was the instrument with which Isis gained the throne of Egypt for Osiris. Isis is associated with and may be considered an aspect of Wadjet.

The uraeus originally had been her body alone, which wrapped around or was coiled upon the head of the pharaoh or another deity. Wadjet was depicted as a cobra. As patron and protector, later Wadjet often was shown coiled upon the head of Ra; in order to act as his protection, this image of her became the uraeus symbol used on the royal crowns as well.

Another early depiction of Wadjet is as a cobra entwined around a papyrus stem, beginning in the Predynastic era (prior to 3100 BC) and it is thought to be the first image that shows a snake entwined around a staff symbol.

This is a sacred image that appeared repeatedly in the later images and myths of cultures surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, called the caduceus, which may have had separate origins. Her image also rears up from the staff of the “flagpoles” that are used to indicate deities, as seen in the hieroglyph for “uraeus” and for “goddess” in other places.

Hydra and the serpent

There were two “serpent” constellations in Babylonian astronomy, known as Mušḫuššu and Bašmu. It appears that Mušḫuššu was depicted as a hybrid of a dragon, a lion and a bird, and loosely corresponded to Hydra, the water snake. Bašmu was a horned serpent (c.f. Ningishzida) and roughly corresponds to the constellation of Eudoxus of Cnidus on which the Serpens of Ptolemy is based.

The other Babylonian constellation, called Bašmu, was depicted as a horned serpent (c.f. Ningishzida), and loosely corresponded to a constellation nemed óphis (“snake”) created by the Greek astronomer Eudoxus of Cnidus in the 4th century BC, on which Ptolemy’s Serpens constellation was based.

The Sumerian, Babylonian, and Assyrian mythology celebrated the deeds of the war and hunting god Ninurta, who is credited with slaying 11 monsters on an expedition to the mountains, including a seven-headed serpent, who is possibly identical with the Mushmahhu and Bashmu, whose constellation (despite having a single Head) was later associated by the Greeks with the Hydra.

The Greek constellation of Hydra is an adaptation of a Babylonian constellation: the MUL.APIN includes a “serpent” constellation (MUL.DINGIR.MUŠ) that loosely corresponds to Hydra. It is one of two Babylonian “serpent” constellations (the other being the origin of the Greek Serpens), a mythological hybrid of serpent, lion and bird.

The constellation Hydra was known in Babylonian astronomical texts as Bashmu (“the Serpent”; MUŠ.ŠÀ.TÙR or MUŠ.ŠÀ.TUR, lit. “Venomous Snake”). The constellation is also sometimes associated in Babylonian contexts with Marduk’s dragon, the Mushhushshu.

Eudoxus of Cnidus (c. 390-337 BC) was an ancient Greek astronomer, mathematician, scholar, and student of Archytas and Plato. His name Eudoxus means “honored” or “of good repute” (from eu “good” and doxa “opinion, belief, fame”). It is analogous to the Latin name Benedictus.

The Serpent

Ophiuchus (“Serpent-Bearer”) is a large constellation straddling the celestial equator. It is commonly represented as a man grasping a serpent (“the Serpent”) that is represented by the constellation Serpens, a constellation of the northern hemisphere unique among the modern constellations in being split into two non-contiguous parts.

The interposition of his body divides the snake constellation Serpens into two parts, Serpens Caput (Serpent Head) to the west and Serpens Cauda (Serpent Tail) to the east, which are nonetheless counted as one constellation.

Ophiuchus straddles the equator but lies predominately to its south. However, Rasalhague, a fairly conspicuous star in its north. The constellation extends southward to −30° declination. In the northern hemisphere it is best visible in summer.

In figurative representations, the body of the serpent is represented as passing behind Ophiuchus between Mu Serpentis in Serpens Caput and Nu Serpentis in Serpens Cauda. The brightest star in Serpens is the red giant star Alpha Serpentis, or Unukalhai, in Serpens Caput.

In Greek mythology, Serpens represents a snake held by the healer Asclepius. Represented in the sky by the constellation Ophiuchus, Asclepius once killed a snake, but the animal was subsequently resurrected after a second snake placed a revival herb on it before its death.

As snakes shed their skin every year, they were known as the symbol of rebirth in ancient Greek society, and legend says Asclepius would revive dead humans using the same technique he witnessed.

Although this is likely the logic for Serpens’ presence with Ophiuchus, the true reason is still not fully known. Sometimes, Serpens was depicted as coiling around Ophiuchus, but the majority of atlases showed Serpens passing either behind Ophiuchus’ body or between his legs.

In some ancient atlases, the constellations Serpens and Ophiuchus were depicted as two separate constellations, although more often they were shown as a single constellation.

One notable figure to depict Serpens separately was Johann Bayer; thus, Serpens’ stars are cataloged with separate Bayer designations from those of Ophiuchus. When Eugène Delporte established modern constellation boundaries in the 1920s, he elected to depict the two separately.

However, this posed the problem of how to disentangle the two constellations, with Deporte deciding to split Serpens into two areas—the head and the tail—separated by the continuous Ophiuchus. These two areas became known as Serpens Caput and Serpens Cauda, caput being the Latin word for head and cauda the Latin word for tail.

Hydra and Cancer

Hydra is the largest of the 88 modern constellations, measuring 1303 square degrees. Also one of the longest constellations at over 100 degrees, its southern end abuts Libra and Centaurus and its northern end borders Cancer. It has a long history. It is commonly represented as a water snake.

The shape of Hydra resembles a twisting snake, and features as such in some Greek myths. One myth associates it with a water snake that a crow served Apollo in a cup when it was sent to fetch water; Apollo saw through the fraud, and angrily cast the crow, cup, and snake, into the sky. It is also associated with the monster Hydra, with its many heads, killed by Hercules, who is represented in another constellation.

The Lernaean Hydra or Hydra of Lerna, more often known simply as the Hydra, was a serpentine water monster in Greek and Roman mythology. Its lair was the lake of Lerna in the Argolid, which was also the site of the myth of the Danaïdes.

Hydra was depicted as having the torso of a fish, a tail of a snake, the forepaws of a lion, the hind-legs of an eagle, with wings, and with a head comparable to Marduk’s dragon, the Mushhushshu. Hydra had poisonous breath and blood so virulent that even its scent was deadly.

Lerna was reputed to be an entrance to the Underworld, and archaeology has established it as a sacred site older than Mycenaean Argos. According to Hesiod, the Hydra was the offspring of Typhon and Echidna (“She-Viper”), a monster, half-woman and half-snake, who lived alone in a cave. She was the mate of the fearsome monster Typhon and was the mother of monsters.

According to legend, if one of the hydra’s heads was cut off, two more would grow in its place. However, Hercules burned out the roots of the heads he severed to prevent them from growing again, and thus overcame the hydra.

In the canonical Hydra myth the monster is killed by Heracles (Hercules) using sword and fire, as the second of his Twelve Labors. It possessed many heads, the exact number of which varies according to the source. Later versions of the Hydra story add a regeneration feature to the monster: for every head chopped off, the Hydra would regrow a couple of heads.

In Greek mythology Eurystheus sent Heracles to slay the Hydra, which Hera had raised just to slay Heracles. Upon reaching the swamp near Lake Lerna, where the Hydra dwelt, Heracles covered his mouth and nose with a cloth to protect himself from the poisonous fumes. He shot flaming arrows into the Hydra’s lair, the spring of Amymone, a deep cave from which it emerged only to terrorize neighboring villages.

He then confronted the Hydra, wielding either a harvesting sickle (according to some early vase-paintings), a sword, or his famed club. The chthonic creature’s reaction to this decapitation was botanical: two grew back, an expression of the hopelessness of such a struggle for any but the hero. The weakness of the Hydra was that it was invulnerable only if it retained at least one head.

The details of the struggle are explicit in the Bibliotheca: realizing that he could not defeat the Hydra in this way, Heracles called on his nephew Iolaus for help. His nephew then came upon the idea (possibly inspired by Athena) of using a firebrand to scorch the neck stumps after each decapitation. Heracles cut off each head and Iolaus cauterized the open stumps.

Seeing that Heracles was winning the struggle, Hera sent a giant crab to distract him. He crushed it under his mighty foot. The Hydra’s one immortal head was cut off with a golden sword given to Heracles by Athena. Heracles placed the head—still alive and writhing—under a great rock on the sacred way between Lerna and Elaius, and dipped his arrows in the Hydra’s poisonous blood. Thus his second task was complete.

The alternate version of this myth is that after cutting off one head he then dipped his sword in its neck and used its venom to burn each head so it could not grow back. Hera, upset that Heracles had slain the beast she raised to kill him, placed it in the dark blue vault of the sky as the constellation Hydra. She then turned the crab into the constellation Cancer (“The Crab”).

Heracles would later use arrows dipped in the Hydra’s poisonous blood to kill other foes during his remaining labors, such as Stymphalian Birds and the giant Geryon.

Greek and Roman writers related that Hera placed the Hydra and crab as constellations in the night sky after Heracles had slew them. When the sun is in the sign of Cancer, the constellation Hydra has its head nearby. In fact, both constellations derived from the earlier Babylonian signs: Bashmu (“The Venomous Snake”) and Alluttu (“The Crayfish”).

Cancer

Cancer is the fourth astrological sign in the Zodiac, originating from the constellation of Cancer. It spans 90° and 120° celestial longitude. Cancer a northern sign and its opposite is southern sign is Capricorn. Cancer is said to be the house of Neptune and the exaltation of Jupiter.

Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this area between approximately June 21 and July 23, and under the sidereal zodiac, the Sun transits this area between approximately July 16 and August 15.

Cancer was the location of the Sun’s most northerly position in the sky (the summer solstice) in ancient times, though this position now occurs in Taurus due to the precession of the equinoxes, around June 21. This is also the time that the Sun is directly overhead at 23.5°N, a parallel now known as the Tropic of Cancer.

In astrology, Cancer is the cardinal sign of the Water trigon, which is made up of Cancer, Pisces, and Scorpio. The Water Trigon is one of four elemental trigons, fire, earth, air, and water. When a trigon is influential, it affects changes on earth.

Cancer is said to have been the place for the Akkadian Sun of the South, perhaps from its position at the summer solstice in very remote antiquity. But afterwards it was associated with the fourth month Duzu (June–July in the modern western calendar), and was known as the Northern Gate of Sun.

In ancient times, Cancer was known as the “dark sign” because of the obscured visibility of its constellation in the night sky. It is considered a negative sign, whose domicile, or ruling planet, is the Moon. The Indian language Sanskrit shares a common ancestor with Greek, and the Sanskrit name of Cancer is Karka and Karkata. Vedic astrology the sign is named Karka and its Lord is Moon.

In Babylonia the constellation was known as MUL.AL.LUL, a name which can refer to both a crab and a snapping turtle. There also appears to be a strong connection between the Babylonian constellation and ideas of death and a passage to the underworld.

This may be the origin of these ideas in later Greek myths associated with Hercules and the Hydra. Some scholars have suggested that Karkinos was a late addition to the myth of Hercules in order to make the Twelve Labors correspond to the twelve signs of the Zodiac.

Though some depictions of Cancer feature a lobster, the sign is most often represented by the crab, based on the Karkinos, a giant crab that harassed Heracles during his fight with the Hydra. Heracles was able to kill the crab by smashing its shell with his foot. As a reward for its efforts serving her, Hera placed the crab in the sky and it became Cancer. The Indian language Sanskrit shares a common ancestor with Greek, and the Sanskrit name of Cancer is Karka and Karkata.

Scarab

The modern symbol for Cancer represents the pincers of a crab, but Cancer has been represented as many types of creatures, usually those living in the water, and always those with an exoskeleton. In the Egyptian records of about 2000 BC it was described as Scarabaeus (Scarab), the sacred emblem of immortality.

Scarabs were popular amulets and impression seals in Ancient Egypt. For reasons that are not clear amulets in the form of scarab beetles had become enormously popular in Ancient Egypt by the early Middle Kingdom (approx. 2000 BCE).

They remained popular for the rest of the pharaonic period and beyond. During that long period the function of scarabs repeatedly changed. From the middle Bronze Age, other ancient peoples of the Mediterranean and the Middle East imported scarabs from Egypt and also produced scarabs in Egyptian or local styles, especially in the Levant.

They are connected to the religious significance of the Egyptian god Khepri or ḫprj, derived from Egyptian language verb ḫpr, meaning “develop”, “come into being”, or “create”.

Young dung beetles, having been laid as eggs within the dung ball, emerge from it fully formed. Therefore, Khepri also represented creation and rebirth, and he was specifically connected with the rising sun and the mythical creation of the world.

The god was connected with the scarab beetle (ḫprr in Egyptian), because the scarab rolls balls of dung across the ground, an act that the Egyptians saw as a symbol of the forces that move the sun across the sky. Khepri was thus a solar deity. The ancient Egyptians believed that Khepri renewed the sun every day before rolling it above the horizon, then carried it through the other world after sunset, only to renew it, again, the next day.

There was no cult devoted to Khepri, and he was largely subordinate to the greater sun god Ra. Often, Khepri and another solar deity, Atum, were seen as aspects of Ra: Khepri was the morning sun, Ra was the midday sun, and Atum was the sun in the evening.

Khepri was principally depicted as a scarab beetle, though in some tomb paintings and funerary papyri he is represented as a human male with a scarab as a head. He is also depicted as a scarab in a solar barque held aloft by Nun. The scarab amulets that the Egyptians used as jewelry and as seals represent Khepri.

The Labbu Myth

The Labbu Myth or possibly Kalbu Myth, depending on the reading of the first character in the antagonist’s name, which is always written as KAL may be read as Lab, Kal, Rib and Tan, is an ancient Mesopotamian creation epic with its origin no later than the Old Babylonian period.

It is a folktale also known as or “The Slaying of Labbu” possibly of the Diyala region as the later version seems to feature the god Tišpak as its protagonist and may be an allegory representing his replacement of the chthonic serpent-god Ninazu at the top of the pantheon of the city of Ešnunna.

It was possibly a precursor of the Enûma Eliš, where Labbu, meaning “Raging One” or “lion”, was the prototype of Tiamat and of the Canaanite tale of Baal fighting Yamm. In the earlier version Nergal is playing this part.

Extant in two very fragmentary copies, an Old Babylonian and a later Assyrian one from the Library of Ashurbanipal, which have no complete surviving lines, the Labbu Myth relates the tale of a possibly leonine certainly serpentine monster, a fifty-league long Bašmu (Ba.Aš.Ma) or sixty-league long Mušḫuššu (MUŠ-ḪUŠ), depending on the version and reconstruction of the text.

The opening of the Old Babylonian version recalls that of Gilgamesh. The vast dimensions of Labbu are described. The sea, tāmtu has given birth to the dragon. The fragmentary line “He raises his tail…” identified him for Neil Forsyth as a precursor of a later Adversary, the dragon of Revelation 12:4, whose tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth.

In the later version, Labbu is created by the god Enlil who “drew [a picture of] the dragon in the sky”, to wipe out humanity whose raucous noise has been disturbing this deity’s sleep, a recurring motif in Babylonian creation epics. Whether this refers to the Milky Way or a comet is not clear.

The pantheon of Babylonian gods are terrified by this apparition and appeal to the moon god Sîn or fertility goddess Aruru who conscripts Tišpak/Nergal to counter this threat and “exercise kingship”, presumably over Ešnunna, as its reward.

Tišpak/Nergal raises objections to tangling with the serpent but, after a gap in the narrative, a god whose name is abraded provides guidance on military strategy. A storm erupts and the victor, who may or may not be Tišpak or Nergal, in accordance with the advice given, fires an arrow to slay the beast.

The epic fragments are not part of a cosmogony, as the cities of men already exist. The myth’s function as a justification of Tishpak’s accession as king, “as a consequence of his ‘liberation’ of the nation, sanctioned by the decision of a divine council.”

Nergal

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

He has also been called “the king of sunset”. Over time Nergal developed from a war god to a god of the underworld. In the mythology, this occurred when Enlil and Ninlil gave him the underworld.

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

A certain confusion exists in cuneiform literature between Ninurta (slayer of Asag and wielder of Sharur, an enchanted mace) and Nergal. Nergal has epithets such as the “raging king,” the “furious one,” and the like.

Tishpak

Tishpak was a warrior god possibly identical with the Hurrian god Teshup, who is depicted holding a triple thunderbolt and a weapon, usually an axe (often double-headed) or mace.

Taru was the name of a similar Hattic Storm God, whose mythology and worship as a primary deity continued and evolved through descendant Luwian and Hittite cultures. In these two, Taru was known as Tarhun / Tarhunt- / Tarhuwant- / Tarhunta, names derived from the Anatolian root *tarh”to defeat, conquer”.

The sacred bull common throughout Anatolia was his signature animal, represented by his horned crown or by his steeds Seri and Hurri, who drew his chariot or carried him on their backs.

Teshub reappears in the post-Hurrian cultural successor kingdom of Urartu as Tesheba, one of their chief gods; in Urartian art he is depicted standing on a bull. In Assyro-Babylonian ecclesiastical art the great lion-headed colossi serving as guardians to the temples and palaces seem to symbolise Nergal, just as the bull-headed colossi probably typify Ninurta.

Ninazu

Ninazu was the patron deity of the city of Eshnunna until he was superseded by Tispak. His sanctuaries were the E-sikul and E-kurma. Unlike his close relative Nergal, he was generally benevolent. In the text Enki and Ninhursag he was described as the consort of Ninsutu, one of the eight deities born to relieve the illness of Enki.

In some texts the god Ninazu is the son of Nergal and Allatu/Ereshkigal. Ninazu was a god of the underworld, and of healing. He was the son of Enlil and Ninlil or, in alternative traditions, of Ereshkigal and Gugalana, the first husband of Ereshkigal.

He was the father of Ningiszida, a Mesopotamian deity of vegetation and the underworld, sometimes depicted as a serpent with a human head. Ningishzida is sometimes the son of Ninazu and Ningiridda, even though the myth Ningishzida’s journey to the netherworld suggests he is the son of Ereshkigal.

Ningishzida 

Ningishzida (nin-g̃iš-zid-da) is a Mesopotamian deity of vegetation and the underworld. Thorkild Jacobsen translates Ningishzida as Sumerian for “lord of the good tree”.

In Mesopotamian mythology Ningishzida, is sometimes depicted as a serpent with horns. In other depictions, he is shown as human but is accompanied by bashmu, horned serpents. Ningishzida shares the epithet Ušumgallu or Ushumgallu (“great serpent / dragon”), with several other Mesopotamian gods.

In Sumerian mythology, he appears in Adapa’s myth as one of the two guardians of Anu’s celestial palace, alongside Dumuzi, also known as Tammuz, the ancient Mesopotamian god of shepherds, who was also the primary consort of the goddess Inanna (later known as Ishtar).

Following an inscription found at Lagash, he was the son of Anu, the heavens. His wife is Azimua, one of the eight deities born to relieve the illness of Enki, and also Geshtinanna, the ancient Sumerian goddess of agriculture, fertility, and dream interpretation, the so-called “heavenly grape-vine”. Geshtinanna is the sister of Dumuzid.

His sister is Amashilama, who dies to join him in the Underworld. She tells him that “the day that dawns for you will also dawn for me; the day you see, I shall also see”, referring to the fact that day in the world above is night in the Underworld.

However, in some texts Ningishzida is said to be female, which means “Nin” would then refer to Lady, which is mostly how the word is used by the Sumerians. He or she was one of the ancestors of Gilgamesh.

The Horned Serpent

The Horned Serpent appear in European and Near Eastern mythology. The ram-horned serpent is a well-attested cult image of north-west Europe before and during the Roman period. It appears three times on the Gundestrup cauldron, and in Romano-Celtic Gaul was closely associated with the horned or antlered god Cernunnos, in whose company it is regularly depicted.

This pairing is found as early as the fourth century BC in Northern Italy, where a huge antlered figure with torcs and a serpent was carved on the rocks in Val Camonica. A bronze image at Étang-sur-Arroux and a stone sculpture at Sommerécourt depict Cernunnos’ body encircled by two horned snakes that feed from bowls of fruit and corn-mash in the god’s lap.

Also at Sommerécourt is a sculpture of a goddess holding a cornucopia and a pomegranate, with a horned serpent eating from a bowl of food. At Yzeures-sur-Creuse a carved youth has a ram-horned snake twined around his legs, with its head at his stomach.

At Cirencester, Gloucestershire, Cernunnos’ legs are two snakes which rear up on each side of his head and are eating fruit or corn. According to Miranda Green, the snakes reflect the peaceful nature of the god, associated with nature and fruitfulness, and perhaps accentuate his association with regeneration.

Other deities occasionally accompanied by ram-horned serpents include “Celtic Mars” and “Celtic Mercury”. The horned snake, and also conventional snakes, appear together with the solar wheel, apparently as attributes of the sun or sky god.

The description of Unktehi or Unktena is, however, more similar to that of a Lindorm in Northern Europe, especially in Southern Scandinavia, and most of all as described in folklore in Eastern Denmark and southern Sweden. There, too, it is a water creature of huge dimensions, while in Southern Sweden it is a huge snake, the sight of which was deadly. This latter characteristic is reminiscent of the basilisk.

The death of vegetation

The death of vegetation is associated with the travel to the underworld of Ningishzida. Anzili or Enzili was a Hittite goddess. Her name is sometimes written with the Sumerogram IŠTAR or the compounde IŠTAR-li. Along with the goddess Zukki, Anzili was involved in rituals to aid childbirth.

Anzili and Zukki are among the many Hittite deities, whose temporary disappearance is the topic of myth (compare Telipinu, the Sun goddess of Arinna, Inara, the kurša-hunting bag, Ḫannaḫanna, the Gulšeš, and various weather gods, including the weather god of Kuliwišna).

The standard pattern is that the deity disappears as a result of their anger and they have to be molified in order to bring them back. In the case of Anzili and Zukki, the goddesses are so angry that they put their shoes on the wrong feet – left on right and right on left – and they put their clothes on back to front, so that their cloak pins are on the back. Then they both departed from mankind. The back-to-front clothes of the goddesses might be understood as a symbol of the symbolic destruction of the cosmic order which results from the goddesses’ departure.

Telipinu (“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.

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. After Telepinu disappeared, his father, the Storm-god Tarhunt (also called Teshub), complained to Ḫannaḫanna (from Hittite ḫanna- “grandmother”), a Hurrian Mother Goddess related to or influenced by the Sumerian goddess Inanna.

Hannahannah 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. She also recommended to the Tarhunt that he should pay the Sea-god the bride-price for the Sea-god’s daughter, so she can wed Telipinu.

Finally, Kamrušepa, goddess of magic, calmed Telipinu by giving his anger to the Doorkeeper of the Underworld. In other references it is a mortal priest who prays for all of Telipinu’s anger to be sent to bronze containers in the underworld, from which nothing escapes.

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.

After the dragon Illuyanka wins an encounter with the storm god, the latter asks Inara to give a feast, most probably the Purulli festival, a Hattian spring festival, held at Nerik, dedicated to the earth goddess Hannahanna, who is married to a new king.

Inara decides to use the feast to lure and defeat Illuyanka, who was her father’s archenemy. The dragon and his family gorge themselves on the fare at the feast, becoming quite drunk, which allows Hupasiyas to tie a rope around them. Inara’s father can then kill Illuyanka, thereby preserving creation.

The central ritual of the Puruli festival is dedicated to the destruction of the dragon Illuyanka by the storm god Teshub. The corresponding Assyrian festival is the Akitu of the Enuma Elish. Also compared are the Canaanite Poem of Baal and Psalms 93 and 29.

The mother goddess Hannahanna promises Inara land and a man during a consultation by Inara. Inara enlists the aid of a mortal named Hupasiyas of Zigaratta by becoming his lover. Inara built a house on a cliff and gave it to Hupasiyas.

She left one day with instructions that he was not to look out the window, as he might see his family. But he looked and the sight of his family made him beg to be allowed to return home. It is not known what happened next, but there is speculation that Inara killed Hupasiyas for disobeying her, or for hubris, or that he was allowed to return to his family.

Inara then disappears. When Ḫannaḫanna was informed of this by the Storm-god’s bee, she apparently began a search with the help of her female attendant. Her father looks for her, joined by Hannahanna with a bee.

After her anger is banished to the Dark Earth, she returns rejoicing, and mothers care once again for their kin. Another means of banishing her anger was through burning brushwood and allowing the vapor to enter her body. Either in this or another text she appears to consult with the Sun god and the War god, but much of the text is missing.

Apparently, like Demeter, Ḫannaḫanna disappears for a while in a fit of anger and while she is gone, cattle and sheep are stifled and mothers, both human and animal take no account of their children. The story resembles that of Demeter and her daughter Persephone, also called Kore (“the maiden”), in Greek myth.

Persephone

In Greek mythology, Persephone is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter and is the queen of the underworld. Homer describes her as the formidable, venerable majestic princess of the underworld, who carries into effect the curses of men upon the souls of the dead. In Roman mythology, she is called Proserpina, and her mother, Ceres and her father Jupiter.

Persephone was married to Hades, the god 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.

Persephone as a vegetation goddess and her mother Demeter were the central figures of the Eleusinian mysteries, which promised the initiated a more enjoyable prospect after death. In some versions, Persephone is the mother of Zeus’s sons Dionysus, Iacchus, or Zagreus, and the little-attested Melinoe. The origins of her cult are uncertain, but it was based on very old agrarian cults of agricultural communities.

In Classical Greek art, Persephone is invariably portrayed robed, often carrying a sheaf of grain. She may appear as a mystical divinity with a sceptre and a little box, but she was mostly represented in the process of being carried off by Hades.

To her alone were dedicated the mysteries celebrated at Athens in the month of Anthesterion, the eighth month of the Attic calendar, corresponding to the lunar term around February and March. Probably from Anthestḗria, an Attic and Ionian festival held around this time in honor of Dionysus, the dead, and the coming spring, named for the flowers used to decorate homes, drinking vessels, and children.

The existence of so many different forms of her name shows how difficult it was for the Greeks to pronounce the word in their own language and suggests that the name may have a Pre-Greek origin. Persephatta is considered to mean “female thresher of grain”.

The first constituent of the name originates in Proto-Greek “perso-” (related to Sanskrit “parṣa-“), “sheaf of grain” and the second constituent of the name originates in Proto-Indo European *-gʷn-t-ih, from the root *gʷʰen- “to strike”. An alternative etymology is from pherein phonon, “to bring (or cause) death”.

The epithets of Persephone reveal her double function as chthonic and vegetation goddess. The surnames given to her by the poets refer to her character as Queen of the lower world and the dead, or her symbolic meaning of the power that shoots forth and withdraws into the earth.

Her common name as a vegetation goddess is Kore, and in Arcadia she was worshipped under the title Despoina, “the mistress”, a very old chthonic divinity. Plutarch identifies her with spring and Cicero calls her the seed of the fruits of the fields. In the Eleusinian mysteries, her return is the symbol of immortality and hence she was frequently represented on sarcophagi.

In the mystical theories of the Orphics and the Platonists, Kore is described as the all-pervading goddess of nature who both produces and destroys everything, and she is therefore mentioned along or identified with other mystic divinities such as Isis, Rhea, Ge, Hestia, Pandora, Artemis, and Hecate.

Bašmu

Bašmu or Bashmu (cuneiform: MUŠ.ŠÀ.TÙR or MUŠ.ŠÀ.TUR, lit. “Venomous Snake”) was an ancient Mesopotamian mythological creature, a horned snake with two forelegs and wings. It was also the Akkadian name of the Babylonian constellation (MUL.DINGIR.MUŠ) equivalent to the Greek Hydra.

The Sumerian terms ušum (portrayed with feet) and muš-šà-tùr (“birth goddess snake”, portrayed without feet) may represent differing iconographic types or different demons.

It is first attested by a 22nd-century BC cylinder inscription at Gudea. Mythology In the Angim, or “Ninurta’s return to Nippur”, it was identified as one of the 11 “warriors” (ur-sag) defeated by Ninurta.

Bašmu was created in the sea and was “sixty double-miles long”, according to a fragmentary Assyrian myth which recounts that it devoured fish, birds, wild asses, and men, securing the disapproval of the gods who sent Nergal or Palil (“snake charmer”) to vanquish it.

It was one of the 11 monsters created by Tiamat in the Enuma Elish creation myth. It had “six mouths, seven tongues and seven …-s on its belly”.

Ušumgallu

Ušumgallu or Ushumgallu (Sumerian: ušum.gal, “Great Dragon”) was one of the three horned snakes in Akkadian mythology, along with the Bašmu and Mušmaḫḫū. Usually described as a lion-dragon demon, it has been somewhat speculatively identified with the four-legged, winged dragon of the late 3rd millennium BC.

Its name became a royal and divine epithet, for example: ušumgal kališ parakkī, “unrivaled ruler of all the sanctuaries”. Marduk is called “the ušumgallu-dragon of the great heavens”.

The late neo-Assyrian text “Myth of the Seven Sages” recalls: “The fourth (of the seven apkallu’s, “sages”, is) Lu-Nanna, (only) two-thirds Apkallu, who drove the ušumgallu-dragon from É-ninkarnunna, the temple of Ištar of Šulgi.” Aššur-nāṣir-apli II placed golden icons of ušumgallu at the pedestal of Ninurta.

The Seven-headed Serpent (from Sumerian muš-saĝ-7: snake with seven heads) was hung on the “shining cross-beam” of Ninurta’s chariot. The Dragon (Sumerian: Ušum or Ushum), who also was one of the warriors slain by Ninurta, was hung on the seat of his chariot according to the ancient source.

Mušmaḫḫū

Mušmaḫḫū (Sumerian MUŠ.MAḪ, Akkadian muš-ma-ḫu; meaning “Exalted/distinguished Serpent”) was an ancient Mesopotamian mythological hybrid of serpent, lion and bird. He is one of the three horned snakes, with his companions, Bašmu and Ušumgallu, with whom he may have shared a common mythological origin.

He is sometimes identified with the seven-headed serpent slain by Ninurta in the mythology of the Sumerian period. In Angim or “Ninurta’s return to Nippur”, the storm god describes one of his weapons as “the seven-mouthed muš-mah serpent”, reminiscent of the Greek myth of Heracles and the seven headed Lernaean Hydra he slew in the second of his Twelve labours.

An engraved shell of the Early Dynastic period shows Ninurta slaying the seven-headed mušmaḫḫū. In the Epic of Creation, Enûma Eliš, Tiāmat gives birth (alādu) to mythical serpents, described as mušmaḫḫū, “with sharp teeth, merciless fangs, instead of blood she filled their bodies with venom”. Tiamat is said to have “clothed the raging lion-dragons with fearsomeness”.

Nabu

The god Nabû, the ancient Mesopotamian patron god of literacy, the rational arts, scribes and wisdom, was worshipped by the Babylonians and the Assyrians, and gained prominence among the Babylonians in the 1st millennium BC when he was identified as the son of the god Marduk. He was described as “he who tramples the lion-dragon” in the hymn to Nabû.

Nabu wore a horned cap, and stood with his hands clasped in the ancient gesture of priesthood. He rode on a winged dragon known as Mušḫuššu that originally belonged to his father Marduk. Due to his role as an oracle, Nabu was associated with the Mesopotamian moon god Sin.

In Babylonian astrology, Nabu was identified with the planet Mercury.  In Hellenistic times Nabu was identified and sometimes syncretized, with the Greek god Apollo. As the god of literacy and wisdom, Nabu was linked by the Romans with Mercury, and by the Egyptians with Thoth.

Nabu was known as Nisaba (Sumerian: NAGA; later ŠE.NAGA), also known by the epithet Nanibgal (Sumerian:  AN.NAGA; later AN.ŠE.NAGA), the Sumerian goddess of writing, learning, and the harvest, in the Sumerian pantheon. 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.

Nāga

Nāga is the Sanskrit and Pali word for a deity or class of entity or being taking the form of a very great snake, specifically the king cobra, found in the Indian religions of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. A female nāga is a nāgin” or nāgini”.

In Sanskrit, a nāgá is a cobra, the Indian cobra (Naja naja). A synonym for nāgá is phaṇin. There are several words for “snake” in general, and one of the very commonly used ones is sarpá. Sometimes the word nāgá is also used generically to mean “snake”. The word is cognate with English ‘snake’, Germanic: *snēk-a-, Proto-IE: *(s)nēg-o-.

The mythological serpent race that took form as cobras often can be found in Hindu iconography. The nāgas are described as the powerful, splendid, wonderful and proud semidivine race that can assume their physical form either as human, partial human-serpent or the whole serpent.

Their domain is in the enchanted underworld, the underground realm filled with gems, gold and other earthly treasures called Naga-loka or Patala-loka. They are also often associated with bodies of waters — including rivers, lakes, seas, and wells — and are guardians of treasure.

Their power and venom made them potentially dangerous to humans. However, they often took beneficial protagonist role in Hindu mythology, such as in Samudra manthan mythology, Vasuki, a nāgarāja who abides on Shiva’s neck, became the churning rope for churning of the Ocean of Milk. Their eternal mortal enemies are the Garudas, the legendary semidivine birdlike-deity.

Ardini

Ḫaldi (also known as Khaldi) was one of the three chief deities of Urartu. His shrine was at Ardini (likely from Armenian Artin, meaning “sun rising” or to “awake”), in Akkadian known as Muṣaṣir, meaning “Exit of the Serpent/Snake”, an ancient city of Urartu.

The other two chief deities were Theispas, the Urartian weather-god, notably the god of storms and thunder, of Kumenu, and the solar god Shivini of Tushpa, who is equal to Utu in Sumerian, Shiva in Hinduism, Mithra in Mithraism, Ra in Egypt and Artinis by the Armenians.

Khaldi was portrayed as a man with or without wings, standing on a lion. Some sources claim that the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation, Hayk, is derived from Ḫaldi. Arubani, the Urartian’s goddess of fertility and art, was the wife of Khaldi.

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

The location of Ardini is not known with certainty, although there are a number of hypotheses in the Zagros south of Lake Urmia. It was attested in Assyrian sources of the 9th and 8th centuries BC. It was acquired by the Urartian King Ishpuini ca. 800 BC. The temple, built in 825 BC, was an important temple in the holy city of Urartu.

The name Musasir in Akkadian means exit of the serpent/snake. MUŠ is the Sumerian term for “serpent”. The form mušḫuššu is the Akkadian nominative of the Sumerian MUŠ.ḪUS (“reddish snake”, sometimes also translated as “fierce snake” or “splendor serpent”).

The mušḫuššu is a creature depicted on the reconstructed Ishtar Gate of the city of Babylon, dating to the 6th century BC. It was a mythological hybrid, a scaly dragon with hind legs resembling the talons of an eagle, feline forelegs, a long neck and tail, a horned head, a snake-like tongue, and a crest.

It was the sacred animal of Marduk and his son Nabu during the Neo-Babylonian Empire. It was taken over by Marduk from Tishpak, an Akkadian god who replaced the god Ninazu as the tutelary deity of the city of Eshnunna, an ancient Sumerian and later Akkadian city and city-state in central Mesopotamia c. 3000-1700 BC.

Serpent (symbolism)

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Maktsentralisering gjennom historien

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 15, 2018

Menneskeheten har blitt stadig mer brutal og krigen har blitt en del av våre liv. Vi lever i en verden med krig, sult, urett og forurensning. Viktige kjennetegn ved samfunnet som vi har i dag er blant annet privatisering, konkurranse, ekspansjon, frie markeder, profitt og stadig større konserner; på mange måten oppskriften til sosialdarwenisme, nyliberalisme eller hyperkapitalisme, hvor det er den sterkeste som overlever.

Dagens ledere fører en politikk som står i motstrid til alt som er nødvendig for å oppnå fred, globalt demokrati, økonomisk likhet og rettferdighet, økologisk beskyttelse av miljøet, og global stabilitet. De representerer valgene til en alt for mektig elite som er fast bestemt på å konsolidere sin økonomiske og politiske makt. Dette uten å ta hensyn til kostnadene for verdenssamfunnet og naturen for øvrig.

Men har det ikke alltid vært sånn?

Neolittiske befolkninger deler mange egenskaper, som for eksempel å leve i småskala, familiebaserte samfunn, som var mer egalitære enn bystatene og høvdingene i bronsealderen. Menneskene levde sammen i stammer, uten privat eiendomsrett, uten klasseskiller og de sosiale strukturene som karakteriserer senere samfunnsepoker.

Ifølge den litauisk-amerikanske arkeologen Marija Gimbutas, som er kjent for sin forskning i neolittisk og bronsealderens kulturer i «Gamle Europa», et begrep hun selv innførte, gikk man med indoeuropeernes ankomst fra et gudinne- og kvinneorientert («matristisk») neolittisk samfunn til en indoeuropeisk patriarkalsk («androkratisk») bronsealderkultur.

I henhold til dette var de førstnevnte samfunnene fredelige gynosentriske (kvinnestyrte) samfunn som tillot homoseksualitet og fremmet en økonomisk likhet, mens de sistnevnte var «androkratiske» eller mannsdominerte og invaderte Europa og påtvang de innfødte deres hierarkiske styre av mannlige krigere.

Hennes verker, utgitt i årene 1946 og 1971, introduserte nye synsvinkler ved å kombinere tradisjonell arkeologisk forarbeid med lingvistisk og mytologisk tolkninger, men hun fikk til dels blandet mottagelse blant sine kollegaer, dels ble hun betraktet som radikal og nyskapende, dels preget av forenklinger og spekulasjoner.

Çatal Höyük (Çatal er tyrkisk for «gaffel» og Höyük betyr «haug») er en stor neolittisk og kalkolittisk bosetning i sørlige Anatolia. De tidligste lagene i bosetningen er datert til omkring 7500 f.vt, som vil si sen neolittisk tidsalder, og stedet var bosatt til minst 6200 f.vt. Det var en storby med opptil ti tusen innbyggere i «Det Gamle Europa».

Çatal Höyük er den største og mest sofistikerte neolittiske bosetningen som noensinne er avdekket, og regnes som et av verdens tidligste vellykkede bysamfunn. Her levde folk fredelig i to tusen år. De kjente ikke til klasseskiller og kvinner og menn ser ut til å ha vært helt, likestilte, uten engang noen skarp arbeidsdeling mellom kjønnene.

Når arkeologer skal avgjøre hva slags form for hierarkier som fantes i et samfunn, ser de på gravfunn og på bygninger, og selvsagt på kunsten. Det er ingenting i Catalhöyuk som tyder på at enkeltmennesker eller enkelte familier hadde spesielt mye større hus enn andre eller ble gravlagt med mere pomp og prakt. Alle, kvinner, menn og barn, ble gravlagt med samme omhu.

Det fantes imidlertid noen underlige begravelses-skikker – som å mure hodeskaller eller også hele skjeletter inn under sengeplasser. Kvinner ble i disse tilfellene gravlagt under de største sengeplassene, menn og barn under de mindre. Dette, og funn av kvinnefigurer eller gudinner i åpenbare autoritetspositurer (sittende på troner etc), kan tyde på at noen kvinner i særdeleshet var spesielt viktige – kanskje som prestinner, høvdinger eller representanter for Gudinnen?

James Mellaart var den første til å starte utgravninger ved Catal Höyuk. Han var overbevist om at folkene i Catal Höyuk hadde dyrket en Stor Gudinne og hennes sønn eller elsker – symbolisert i oksen. Marija Gimbutas satte Catal Höyuk i sammenheng til det Gamle Europa, der gudinnene eller Gudinnen rådet over det religiøse verdensbildet.

Nyere forskere er ikke så glade i å trekke store sammenhenger over tid og sted. De er skeptiske til tanken om en Gudinne-religion og hevder at Mellaart og Gimbutas tar feil. Det er ikke noe som tyder på at det var matriarki eller patriarki. Istedet har man fastslått at menn og kvinner var likestilte og hadde den samme sosiale status. Det var maktbalanse.

Det var denne maktbalansen som kom til å endre seg. Etter hvert som vi oppfant jordbruket og begynte å temme dyr, lærte å utvinne metaller og å skrive, oppsto den private eiendom, arbeidsspesialisering og klasseskiller. Mens noen styrte og bestemte var det andre som måtte arbeide og slite. For som Bertold Brecht spør i sitt dikt “En lesende arbeiders spørsmål” – “Hvem bygde Theben med de sju portene?”

Om man tar Ubaid-perioden (6500 — c. 3800 f.vt.) i det sørlige Irak som et eksempel så ser man at det pågikk en stadig mer polarisert sosial lagdeling med oppveksten av en eliteklasse bestående av høvdinger og avtagende egalitarisme. Samfunnet bar preg av “trans-egalitære” konkurrerende husholdninger, hvor noen falt bak som følge av nedadgående sosial mobilitet.

Høvdingene var trolig ledere av familiegrupper som på en eller annen måte var knyttet til administrasjonen av templets helligdom og var ansvarlig for å løse konflikter og opprettholde sosial orden. Det kan se ut til at slike ulike kollektive metoder, kanskje forekomster av hva Thorkild Jacobsen har kalt primitivt demokrati, hvor tvister tidligere ble løst gjennom et råd av ens venner, ikke lenger var tilstrekkelig for lokalsamfunnets behov.

Yamnaya horisonten, som befant seg nord for Kaukasus og som var besto som en blanding av folk fra det armenske høylandet og lokale østeuropeiske jegersamlere, er preget av sosial tilpasning til høy mobilitet – oppfinnelsen av den politiske infrastrukturen for å håndtere større besetninger fra mobile hjem basert på steppene.

Det er et uttrykk for en sosial utvikling av ulike lokale bronsealderkulturer som leder mot sosial stratifisering og fremvekst av nomadiske høvdingsamfunn, som igjen intensiverte kontaktgrupper mellom hovedsakelig heterogene sosiale grupper.

Under den senere jernalderen var samfunnet preget av ennå mer vold. Bevis fra arkeologi har identifisert begynnelsen på jernproduksjon i det armenske høylandet en gang rundt 1200 f.vt., skjønt en del arkeologiske spor antyder også tidligere dato.

En gang rundt 3000 f.Kr. var jern et sjeldent og kostbart metall i Det nære østen. Jernets kvaliteter, sammenlignet med bronse, ble ikke forstått. Mellom 1200-1000 f.vt. ble forståelsen av jernmetallurgien og nyttegjøringen av jernobjekter spredt raskt og vidtomspennende.

Som en del av tiden sen bronsealder og tidlig jernalder var det en periode knyttet til sammenbruddet av sentrale autoriteter, en generell avbefolkning, særlig i de meget urbane områdene, tap av skriveferdigheter i Antaolia og rundt Egeerhavet, og dens begrensning andre steder, forsvinning av etablerte mønstrene av den internasjonale langdistansehandelen, økende ondsinnet og voldelig kamper om makten hos eliten, og reduserte muligheter for eliten på grunn av avbefolkningen.

Bronsealderens sammenbrudd er en karakterstikk som er gitt av de historikere som ser overgangen i Midtøsten og den østlige delen av Middelhavet fra sen bronsealder til tidlig jernalder som et voldelig, plutselig og kulturelt sammenbrudd. Særlig Robert Drews har gjort seg til talsmann for at tilsynekomst av utstrakt infanteri med nylig oppfunnet våpen og rustning, som støpte framfor smidde spydhoder og lange sverd, og kastespyd, revolusjonerte kutt-og-kast-våpen.

Et antall mennesker har snakket om kulturelle minner fra katastrofen som fortellinger om en «tapt gullalder». Hesiod har eksempelvis snakket om gullalderen, sølvalderen og bronsealderen, skilt fra den moderne og frastøtende grusomme jernalderens verden ved heltenes tidsalder.

Astraia («stjernejomfruen») var i henhold til gresk mytologi den siste av guddommene til å leve sammen med menneskene under den mytologiske gullalderen, en av de fem nedadgående periodene for menneskeheten. Hun flyktet fra den nye ondskapen og lovløsheten i menneskeheten under jernalderen og steg opp til himmelen for å bli stjernene i stjernebildet Virgo, også kjent som Jomfruen.

Hun representerer renhet og uskyld, men blir assosiert med rettferdighet, og ble således delvis eller helt identifisert med Dike, rettferdighetens gudinne, og med Nemesis, gudinne for rettferdig indignasjon. Den nærliggende konstellasjonen Libra reflekterte hennes symbolske tilknytning til Dike, som blant romerne er kjent som Justitia.

Ifølge legenden vil Astraea en dag komme tilbake til Jorden, og bringe henne tilbake den utopiske gullalderen som hun var ambassadøren til.

Vi har hver og en av oss et valg

The origin of democracy and the city states

Early men and women were equal

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Reality and illusion – concealed and observed – consciousness and energy – masculine and feminine – death and alive

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 1, 2018

The Trimūrti typically consist of Brahma (the ”creator”), Vishnu (the “preserver”), and Shiva (the “destroyer”), though individual denominations may vary from that particular line-up. When all three deities of the Trimurti incarnate into a single avatar known as Dattatreya.

Maya (“magic” or “illusion”) originally denoted the magic power with which a god can make human beings believe in what turns out to be an illusion. By extension, it later came to mean the powerful force that creates the cosmic illusion that the phenomenal world is real.

The Mandaeans are Semites and speak a dialect of Eastern Aramaic known as Mandaic. Within the Middle East, but outside of their community, the Mandaeans are more commonly known as the Ṣubba (singular: Ṣubbī) or Sabians.

The term Ṣubba is derived from the Aramaic root related to baptism, the neo-Mandaic is Ṣabi. In Islam, the “Sabians” are described several times in the Qur’an as People of the Book, alongside Jews and Christians. Occasionally, Mandaeans are called “Christians of Saint John”.

According to most scholars, Mandaeaism originated sometime in the first three centuries AD, in either southwestern Mesopotamia or the Syro-Palestinian area. However, some scholars take the view that Mandaeanism is older and dates from pre-Christian times.

The name ‘Mandaean’ is said to come from the Aramaic manda or mandaiia from meaning “knowledge” or “Knowledge of Life,” as does Greek gnosis. This etymology suggests that the Mandaeans may well be the only sect surviving from late Antiquity to identify themselves explicitly as Gnostics.

In contrast with the religious texts of the western Gnostic sects formerly found in Syria and Egypt, the earliest Mandaean religious texts suggest a more strictly dualistic theology, typical of other Iranian religions such as Zoroastrianism, Zurvanism, Manichaeism, and the teachings of Mazdak.

In these texts, instead of a large pleroma, there is a discrete division between light and darkness. The ruler of darkness is called Ptahil (similar to the Gnostic Demiurge), and the originator of the light (i.e. God) is only known as “the great first Life from the worlds of light, the sublime one that stands above all works.”

When this being emanated, other spiritual beings became increasingly corrupted, and they and their ruler Ptahil created our world. The name Ptahil is suggestive of the Egyptian Ptah – the Mandaeans believe that they were resident in Egypt for a while – joined to the semitic El, meaning “god”.

The issue is further complicated by the fact that Ptahil alone does not constitute the demiurge but only fills that role insofar as he is the creator of our world. Rather, Ptahil is the lowest of a group of three “demiurgic” beings, the other two being Yushamin (a.k.a. Joshamin) and Abathur.

Abathur’s demiurgic role consists of his sitting in judgment upon the souls of mortals. The role of Yushamin, the senior being, is more obscure; wanting to create a world of his own, he was severely punished for opposing the King of Light. The name may derive from Iao haš-šammayim (in Hebrew: Yahweh “of the heavens”).

While Mandaeans agree with other gnostic sects that the world is a prison governed by the planetary archons, they do not view it as a cruel and inhospitable one. According to Manichaeism, a major religious movement that was founded by the Iranian prophet Mani (Syriac: mɑni, Latin: Manes; c. 216–276) in the Sasanian Empire, cosmos is based on a struggle between a good, spiritual world of light, and an evil, material world of darkness.

Through an ongoing process that takes place in human history, light is gradually removed from the world of matter and returned to the world of light, whence it came. Its beliefs were based on local Mesopotamian religious movements and Gnosticism.

Maya (Sanskrit: “magic” or “illusion”) is a fundamental concept in Hindu philosophy. It has multiple meanings in Indian philosophies depending on the context. In ancient Vedic literature, Māyā literally implies extraordinary power and wisdom.

Maya originally denoted the magic power with which a god can make human beings believe in what turns out to be an illusion. By extension, it later came to mean the powerful force that creates the cosmic illusion that the phenomenal world is real.

For the Nondualists, maya is thus that cosmic force that presents the infinite brahman (the supreme being) as the finite phenomenal world. Maya is reflected on the individual level by human ignorance (ajnana) of the real nature of the self, which is mistaken for the empirical ego but which is in reality identical with brahman.

Maya has multiple meanings in Indian philosophies depending on the context. In ancient Vedic literature, Māyā literally implies extraordinary power and wisdom. In later Vedic texts and modern literature dedicated to Indian traditions, Māyā connotes a magic show, an illusion where things appear to be present but are not what they seem.

Māyā is also a spiritual concept connoting that which exists, but is constantly changing and thus is spiritually unreal, and the power or the principle that conceals the true character of spiritual reality.

In Buddhism, Maya is the name of Gautama Buddha’s mother. In Hinduism, Maya is also an epithet for goddess, and the name of a manifestation of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, prosperity and love. Maya is also a name for girls.

Lakshmi is the wife and shakti (energy) of Vishnu (the “preserver”), one of the principal deities of Hinduism and the Supreme Being in the Vaishnavism Tradition. The Trimūrti (“three forms”) is the trinity of supreme divinity in Hinduism in which the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction are personified as a triad of deities.

The Trimūrti typically consist of Brahma (the ”creator”), Vishnu (the “preserver”), and Shiva (the “destroyer”), though individual denominations may vary from that particular line-up. When all three deities of the Trimurti incarnate into a single avatar known as Dattatreya.

Maya is used to denote both Prakriti (“nature”) and the deluding power. Prakriti is the dynamic energy of God. Prakṛti, also Prakṛiti or Prakṛuti, is a key concept in Hinduism that refers to the primal matter with three different innate qualities (Guṇas) whose equilibrium is the basis of all observed empirical reality.

Prakriti is a Vedic era concept, which means “making or placing before or at first, the original or natural form or condition of anything, original or primary substance.” It connotes “the material world, nature, body, matter, physical and psychological character, constitution, temper, disposition, phenomenal universe” in Hindu texts.

It contrasts with Purusha which is pure awareness and metaphysical consciousness. While Purusha is the principle of pure consciousness Prakriti is the principle of matter, where Purusha is the masculine in every living being as consciousness Prakriti is the feminine and substrate which accepts the Purusha.

In Samkhya-Yoga texts, Prakriti is the potency that brings about evolution and change in the empirical universe. It is described in Bhagavad Gita as the “primal motive force”. It is the essential constituent of the universe and is at the basis of all the activity of the creation. In Jainism the term Prakriti is used in its theory of Karma, and is considered “that form of matter which covers the perfections of the soul (jiva) and prevents its liberation”.

In Indian languages derived from Indo-European Sanskrit roots, Prakriti refers to the feminine aspect of all life forms, and more specifically a woman is seen as a symbol of Prakriti. In Hindu mythologies, Prakriti is the feminine aspect of existence, the personified will and energy of the Supreme (Brahman); while in Shaktism, the Goddess is presented as both the Brahman and the Prakriti. The term is also found in the texts of other Indian religions such as Jainism, and Buddhism.

According to some schools of Hinduism, Prakriti exists eternally as a separate entity from God. Just like Him, it is unborn, uncreated, independent and indestructible. It either acts independently of Him or acts in unison with Him as a co-creator or partner.

According to other schools, Prakriti is the dynamic energy of God, either latent or created on purpose. It comes into existence during the act of creation, as a manifestation of His Will, to envelop the beings He creates and subject them to the state of duality. Whether it is independent of Him or dependent, all schools of Hinduism, with a few exceptions, recognize God as the Creator.

According to Samkhya and the Bhagavad Gita Prakrti is composed of the three gunas which are tendencies or modes of operation, known as rajas (creation), sattva (preservation), and tamas (destruction).

Sattva encompasses qualities of goodness, light, and harmony. Rajas is associated with concepts of energy, activity, and passion; so that, depending on how it is used, it can either have a supportive or hindering effect on the evolution of the soul. Tamas is commonly associated with inertia, darkness, insensitivity. Souls who are more tamasic are considered imbued in darkness and take the longest to reach liberation.

Kālī is a Hindu goddess and is one of the ten Mahavidyas, a list which combines Sakta and Buddhist goddesses. Kali’s earliest appearance is that of a destroyer of evil forces. She is the goddess of one of the four subcategories of the Kulamārga, a category of tantric Saivism.

Over time she has been worshipped by devotional movements and tantric sects variously as the Divine Mother, Mother of the Universe, Adi Shakti, or Adi Parashakti. Shakta Hindu and Tantric sects additionally worship her as the ultimate reality or Brahman. She is also seen as divine protector and the one who bestows moksha, or liberation.

Kālī is the feminine form of kālam (“black, dark coloured”). Kālī also shares the meaning of “time” or “the fullness of time” with the masculine noun “kāla”—and by extension, time as “changing aspect of nature that bring things to life or death.” Other names include Kālarātri (“the black night”), and Kālikā (“the black one”).

The homonymous kāla (“appointed time”), which depending on context can mean “death,” is distinct from kāla (“black”), but has been associated through popular etymology. The association is seen in a passage from the Mahābhārata, depicting a female figure who carries away the spirits of slain warriors and animals.

She is called kālarātri (“night of death”) and also kālī (“the black one”). Kālī is also the feminine form of Kāla, an epithet of Shiva, and thus the consort of Shiva. She is often depicted naked which symbolizes her being beyond the covering of Maya since she is pure (nirguna) being-consciousness-bliss and far above prakriti.

She is shown as very dark as she is brahman in its supreme unmanifest state. She has no permanent qualities—she will continue to exist even when the universe ends. It is therefore believed that the concepts of color, light, good, bad do not apply to her.

There are many varied depictions of the different forms of Kali. The most common shows her with four arms and hands, showing aspects of creation and destruction. She is often portrayed standing or dancing on her consort, the Hindu god Shiva, who lies calm and prostrate beneath her.

Consciousness and energy are dependent upon each other, since Shiva depends on Shakti, or energy, in order to fulfill his role in creation, preservation, and destruction. In this view, without Shakti, Shiva is a corpse—unable to act.

There are several interpretations of the symbolism behind the commonly represented image of Kali standing on Shiva’s supine form. A common one is that Shiva symbolizes purusha, the universal unchanging aspect of reality, or pure consciousness.

Kali represents Prakriti, nature or matter, sometimes seen as having a feminine quality. The merging of these two qualities represent ultimate reality. A tantric interpretation sees Shiva as consciousness and Kali as power or energy.

In Norse mythology, Hel is a being who presides over a realm of the same name, where she receives a portion of the dead. Scholarly theories have been proposed that she may have been considered a goddess with potential Indo-European parallels in Bhavani, Kali, and Mahakali.

In Norse mythology, Sif is a goddess associated with earth. She is the wife of the thunder god Thor and is known for her golden hair. Scholars have proposed that Sif’s hair may represent fields of golden wheat, that she may be associated with fertility, family and wedlock.

The name Sif is the singular form of the plural Old Norse word sifjar. Sifjar only appears in singular form when referring to the goddess as a proper noun. Sifjar is cognate to the Old English sib (meaning “affinity, connection, by marriage”).

The swastika used in Buddhist art and scripture is known as a manji (Japanese; whirlwind), and represents Dharma, universal harmony, and the balance of opposites. In China, it is called wan. It is derived from the Hindu religious swastika, but it is not identical in meaning.

The Manji is made up of several elements: a vertical axis representing the joining of heaven and earth, a horizontal axis representing the connection of yin and yang, and the four arms, representing movement- the whirling force created by the interaction of these elements.

When facing left, it is the Omote (front facing) Manji, representing love and mercy. Facing right, it represents strength and intelligence, and is called the Ura (rear facing) Manji. In Zen Buddhism, the Manji represents an ideal harmony between love and intellect.

In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang (“dark-bright”, “negative-positive”) describes how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.

Many tangible dualities (such as light and dark, fire and water, expanding and contracting) are thought of as physical manifestations of the duality symbolized by yin and yang. This duality lies at the origins of many branches of classical Chinese science and philosophy as well as being a primary guideline of traditional Chinese medicine, and a central principle of different forms of Chinese martial arts and exercise.

Duality is found in many belief systems, but yin and yang are parts of an oneness that is also equated with the Tao. The term ‘dualistic-monism’ or dialectical monism has been coined in an attempt to express this fruitful paradox of simultaneous unity/duality.

Yin and yang can be thought of as complementary (rather than opposing) forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the assembled parts. According to this philosophy, everything has both yin and yang aspects (for instance, shadow cannot exist without light).

Either of the two major aspects may manifest more strongly in a particular object, depending on the criterion of the observation. The yin yang (i.e. taijitu symbol) shows a balance between two opposites with a portion of the opposite element in each section.

In Taoist metaphysics, distinctions between good and bad, along with other dichotomous moral judgments, are perceptual, not real; so, the duality of yin and yang is an indivisible whole. In the ethics of Confucianism on the other hand, most notably in the philosophy of Dong Zhongshu (c. 2nd century BC), a moral dimension is attached to the idea of yin and yang.

Yin and yang are semantically complex words. A reliable Chinese-English dictionary gives the following translation equivalents: Yin:negative/passive/female principle in nature, the moon, shaded orientation, covert; concealed; hidden, negative etc. Yang: positive/active/male principle in nature, the sun, in relief, open; overt, belonging to this world, masculine.

Shiva (Śiva, lit. the auspicious one) is one of the principal deities of Hinduism. He is worshiped as the supreme god within Shaivism, one of the three most influential denominations in contemporary Hinduism. He is the destroyer within the Trimurti, the Hindu trinity that includes Brahma and Vishnu. In Shaivism tradition, Shiva is the “creator, destroyer and regenerator”.

At the highest level, Shiva is regarded as formless, limitless, transcendent and unchanging absolute Brahman, and the primal Atman (soul, self) of the universe. He is regarded as the patron god of yoga, meditation and arts.

Shiva has many benevolent and fearsome depictions. 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. In his fierce aspects, he is often depicted slaying demons.

Lingam (“sign, symbol or mark”; also linga, Shiva linga), is an abstract or aniconic representation of the Hindu deity Shiva, used for worship in temples, smaller shrines, or as self-manifested natural objects. In traditional Indian society, the linga is seen as a symbol of the energy and potential of Shiva himself. The lingam is often represented as resting on disc shaped platform.

Shakti (yoni) and Shiva (lingam) is united just like Mars and Venus – but they are one – they are the two parts of the coin. The lingam (meaning “sign”, “symbol” or “phallus”), an abstract or aniconic representation of the Hindu deity, Shiva, worshipped as a symbol of generative power, is often represented alongside the yoni (meaning “origin”, “source”, “vagina” or “womb”), a symbol of the goddess or of his consort Shakti (Kali), the female creative energy that moves through the entire universe.

Since the late 19th century, some have interpreted the yoni and the lingam as aniconic representations of the vulva and a phallus respectively. The lingam is the transcendental source of all that exists.

The lingam united with the yoni represents the nonduality of immanent reality and transcendental potentiality. Their union represents the “indivisible two-in-oneness of male and female, the passive space and active time from which all life originates”. Their union represents the eternal process of creation and regeneration. As Shiva is represented as an endless fire, Lingam-yoni denotes origin of an endless fire which created the universe.

In Mesopotamian mythology, Ereshkigal (“Queen of the Great Earth”) was the goddess of Kur, the land of the dead or underworld in Sumerian mythology. In later East Semitic myths she was said to rule Irkalla alongside her husband Nergal. Sometimes her name is given as Irkalla, which signifies 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”.

In Sumerian myths, Ereshkigal was the only one who could pass judgment and give laws in her kingdom. In the ancient Sumerian poem Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld Ereshkigal is described as Inanna’s older sister. Inanna, the ancient Sumerian goddess of love, beauty, sex, desire, fertility, war, combat, justice, and political power, and Ereshkigal represent polar opposites. Inanna is the Queen of Heaven, but Ereshkigal is the queen of Irkalla.

Hieros gamos or Hierogamy (“holy marriage”) is a sexual ritual that plays out a marriage between a god and a goddess, especially when enacted in a symbolic ritual where human participants represent the deities.

Sacred prostitution was common in the Ancient Near East as a form of “Sacred Marriage” or hieros gamos between the king of a Sumerian city-state and the High Priestess of Inanna. Along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers there were many shrines and temples dedicated to Inanna. The temple of Eanna, meaning “house of heaven” in Uruk was the greatest of these.

The temple housed Nadītu, priestesses of the goddess. The high priestess would choose for her bed a young man who represented the shepherd Dumuzid, consort of Inanna, in a hieros gamos celebrated during the annual Duku ceremony, just before Invisible Moon, with the autumn Equinox (Autumnal Zag-mu Festival).

It is thought that female deities are older than male ones in Mesopotamia and Tiamat may have begun as part of the cult of Nammu or Namma, a primeval goddess, corresponding to Tiamat in Babylonian mythology.

Ma is a Sumerian word meaning “land” that in Sumerian mythology was also used to regard Primordial Land. 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. 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.

Namma was a female principle of a watery creative force, with equally strong connections to the underworld, which predates the appearance of Ea-Enki. Nammu is not well attested in Sumerian mythology. She may have been of greater importance prehistorically, before Enki took over most of her functions.

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. Reay Tannahill in Sex in History (1980) singled out Nammu as the “only female prime mover” in the cosmogonic myths of antiquity.

In the religion of ancient Babylon, Tiamat (TI.AMAT or TAM.TUM, Greek: Thaláttē) is a primordial goddess of the salt sea, mating with Abzû, the god of fresh water, to produce younger gods. Tiamat was the “shining” personification of salt water who roared and smote in the chaos of original creation. She and Apsu filled the cosmic abyss with the primeval waters. She is “Ummu-Hubur who formed all things”.

Tiamat is the symbol of the chaos of primordial creation. She is referred to as a woman, and described as the glistening one. Some sources identify her with images of a sea serpent or dragon. The Enûma Elish states that Tiamat gave birth to dragons and serpents among a more general list of monsters including scorpion men and merpeople, but does not identify her form as that of a dragon; however, other sources containing the same myth do refer to her as such.

The Babylonian epic Enuma Elish is named for its incipit: “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 “mixing their waters”.

Abzu (or Apsû) fathered upon Tiamat the elder deities Lahmu and Lahamu (masc. the “hairy”), a title given to the gatekeepers at Enki’s Abzu/E’engurra-temple in Eridu. Lahmu and Lahamu, in turn, were the parents of the ‘ends’ of the heavens (Anshar, from an-šar = heaven-totality/end) and the earth (Kishar); Anshar and Kishar were considered to meet at the horizon, becoming, thereby, the parents of Anu (Heaven) and Ki (Earth).

It is suggested that there are two parts to the Tiamat mythos, the first in which Tiamat is a creator goddess, through a sacred marriage between salt and fresh water, peacefully creating the cosmos through successive generations. In the second Chaoskampf Tiamat is considered the monstrous embodiment of primordial chaos.

In the Enûma Elish, the Babylonian epic of creation, she gives birth to the first generation of deities; her husband, Apsu, correctly assuming they are planning to kill him and usurp his throne, later makes war upon them and is killed.

In the myth recorded on cuneiform tablets, the deity Enki (later Ea) believed correctly that Apsu was planning to murder the younger deities, upset with the chaos they created, and so captured him and held him prisoner beneath his temple the E-Abzu. This angered Kingu, their son, who reported the event to Tiamat, whereupon she fashioned eleven monsters to battle the deities in order to avenge Apsu’s death.

These were her own offspring: Bašmu (“Venomous Snake”), Ušumgallu (“Great Dragon”), Mušmaḫḫū (“Exalted Serpent”), Mušḫuššu (“Furious Snake”), Laḫmu (the “Hairy One”), Ugallu (the “Big Weather-Beast”), Uridimmu (“Mad Lion”), Girtablullû (“Scorpion-Man”), Umū dabrūtu (“Violent Storms”), Kulullû (“Fish-Man”) and Kusarikku (“Bull-Man”).

Enraged, she, too, wars upon her husband’s murderers, taking on the form of a massive sea dragon, she is then slain by Enki’s son, the storm-god Marduk, but not before she had brought forth the monsters of the Mesopotamian pantheon, including the first dragons, whose bodies she filled with “poison instead of blood”. Marduk then forms heavens and the earth from her divided body.

Tiamat possessed the Tablet of Destinies and in the primordial battle she gave them to Kingu, the deity she had chosen as her lover and the leader of her host, and who was also one of her children.

The deities gathered in terror, but Anu, (replaced later, first by Enlil and, in the late version that has survived after the First Dynasty of Babylon, by Marduk, the son of Ea), first extracting a promise that he would be revered as “king of the gods”, overcame her, armed with the arrows of the winds, a net, a club, and an invincible spear.

The Tiamat myth is one of the earliest recorded versions of the Chaoskampf, the battle between a culture hero and a chthonic or aquatic monster, serpent or dragon. Chaoskampf motifs in other mythologies linked directly or indirectly to the Tiamat myth include the Hittite Illuyanka myth, and in Greek tradition Apollo’s killing of the Python as a necessary action to take over the Delphic Oracle.

Ishara (išḫara) is an ancient deity of unknown origin from northern modern Syria. She is a pre-Hurrian and perhaps pre-Semitic deity. She first appeared in Ebla and was incorporated to the Hurrian pantheon from which she found her way to the Hittite pantheon. 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. Variants of the name appear as Ašḫara (in a treaty of Naram-Sin of Akkad with Hita of Elam) and Ušḫara (in Ugarite texts). In Ebla, there were various logographic spellings involving the sign AMA “mother”. In Alalah, her name was written with the Akkadogram IŠTAR plus a phonetic complement -ra, as IŠTAR-ra.

Ishara first appears in the pre-Sargonic texts from Ebla and then as a goddess of love in Old Akkadian potency-incantations. 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 (I 301-304) she is called upon to bless the couple on the honeymoon.

She was, however, associated with the underworld. Her astrological embodiment is the constellation Scorpio and she is called the mother of the Sebitti (the Seven Stars). While she was considered to belong to the entourage of Ishtar, she was invoked to heal the sick.

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

The Sumerian goddess Sherida, consort of the sun god Utu, is one of the oldest Mesopotamian gods. As the Sumerian pantheon formalized, Utu became the primary sun god, and Sherida was syncretized into a subordinate role as an aspect of the sun alongside other less powerful solar deities and took on the role of Utu’s consort.

Attested in inscriptions from pre-Sargonic times, her name (as “Aya”), consort of the sun god Shamash, was a popular personal name during the Ur III period (21st-20th century BCE), making her among the oldest Semitic deities known in the region.

Aya (or Aja) in Akkadian mythology was a mother goddess. Aya is Akkadian for “dawn”, and by the Akkadian period she was firmly associated with the rising sun and with sexual love and youth. By the Neo-Babylonian period at the latest (and possibly much earlier), Shamash and Aya were associated with a practice known as Hasadu, which is loosely translated as a “sacred marriage.” The Babylonians sometimes referred to her as kallatu (the bride), and as such she was known as the wife of Shamash.

As the lord of the visible and invisible universe god undertakes five different functions, namely, creator, preserver, destroyer, concealer and bestower of grace. In his role as concealer he unleashes the power of Maya through Prakriti to conceal himself from what he creates and delude all the living beings (jivas) into thinking that what they experience through their senses is true and that they are independent of the objects and other beings they perceive through their senses. Maya therefore causes ignorance and through ignorance perpetuates the notion of duality, which is responsible for our bondage and mortality upon earth.

When we know that maya is the power that blinds us, binds us and deludes us, we become aware of the extent of its influence and its role in our lives. Out of this awareness comes a sense of caution and discriminating, which ultimately leads to our salvation. But till we reach that stage, we remain in the grip of maya, like fish, caught helplessly in a net. Saivism recognizes maya as one of the pasas (bonds) or malas (impurities).

It is responsible for our animal (pasu) existence or beingness and becomingness. It causes in us ignorance and egoism and binds us to the objects we desire and seek. It makes us believe that the objective world in which we live and experience alone is true. It draws us outwardly and binds us to the things, we love or hate or we want to possess or get rid of.

It is responsible for our experience of time and space which otherwise do not exist. It conceals our true nature and makes us believe that we are mere physical and mental beings. Through its powerful pull, it draws us forcefully into the objective reality of the world in which we live and binds us to things and events through our thoughts and desires.

Unlike the western religion, in Hinduism God is not separate from His creation. His creation is an extension of Him and an aspect of Him. This world comes into existence, when God expands Himself outwardly, like a web woven by a spider. In His subjective and absolute state, His creation is unreal and illusory, but in our objective and sensory experience and in our beingness it is very much real and tangible.

It is a projection or reflection of Him, like the objects in the mirror and the mirror itself, different from Him somewhat, but also not so different, dependent but virtually distinct. He uses the concealing power of His own maya to draw Himself into Prakriti and conceal Himself in it as a limited and diluted being.

It is through the senses and their activity that beings are subjected to delusion. The Bhagavadgita explains the process thus, “By constantly thinking of the sense objects, a mortal being becomes attached to them. Attached thus he develops various desires, from which in turn ensues anger. From anger comes delusion, and from delusion arises confusion of memory. From confusion of memory arises loss of intelligence and when intelligence is lost the breath of life is also lost (2.60-63).”

So the sense first draw out and involve us with what we see and experience. Through this constant contact with the sense objects, we develop attachment with them. This attachment in turn causes desires.

Because of the desires, we want to own and possess things, we develop likes and dislikes, attraction and aversion. We draw ourselves into situations and relationships we believe will lead to our happiness and fulfillment. We become so involved in the process and with Prakriti that we forget who we are and why we are here or what we need to do in order to be ourselves.

Maya causes delusion in many ways. Under the influence of Maya an individual loses his intelligence and power of discretion. He forgets his true nature. He loses contact with his true self and believes that he is the physical self with a mind and body that are subject to constant change, instability, and birth and death.

In that delusion he believes that he is doer of his actions, that he is responsible for his actions, that he is alone and independent, that he cannot live with or without certain things and so on, where as in truth he is an aspect of God, who has concealed himself, who is actually the real doer, and for whose experience all this has been created.

Because of his ignorant thinking, he develops attachment with worldly objects and wants to possess them. He spends his life in the pursuit of unworthy objectives in the world considering them to be imperative for his success, survival, happiness and personal pride.

He accepts as true what his senses perceive, ignoring the truth that is hidden in every thing or that lies beyond his mind and senses. Driven by passions and emotions, instincts and desires, he suffers from the conflicting experiences and sensations of heat and cold, happiness and sorrow, success and failure, and union and separation from what is desirable and undesirable.

He becomes restless, driven by the passions and emotions of his unstable and undisciplined mind. Deluded thus, he pursues wrong aims, indulges in wrong actions and suffers from the consequences of his own actions and gets caught in the cycle of births and deaths. One can overcome the power of maya, by developing detachment, by withdrawing the senses from sense objects, by surrendering to God and by performing desireless actions accepting God as the doer.

The world in which we live is a projection of God and unreal. It is unreal not because it does not exist, but because it is unstable, impermanent, unreliable and illusory. It is unreal because it hides the Truth and shows us things that lead to our ignorance. It is unreal because it changes its colors every moment. What is now is not what is next.

In one moment so many things happen here. Many new souls enter. Many depart also. Friends become enemies and enemies friends. The sun and the earth change their positions continuously in space and time, while the wind moves, the rivers flow and the oceans shift their currents.

The people who live on earth are also very fickle. Their minds are never stable. Their thoughts never cease. They seem to live today and disappear tomorrow. While all this is going on in the whole wide world, at the microscopic level, millions of atoms, cells and molecules in the bodies shift and change their positions or get destroyed.

The world in which we live gives us an apparent illusion of stability, where as in truth it is not. It is an illusion to believe that this world is the same always, or that the people we deal with are the same all the time. The world is therefore an illusion, not because it does not exist in the physical sense, but because it is unstable, ever changing, impermanent, unreliable and most important of all never the same.

The scriptures say that it would be unwise on our part to center our lives around such an unstable world, because if you spend your precious life for the sake of impermanent and unreliable things, you are bound to regret in the end for wasting your life in the pursuit of emptiness. The real world lies beyond our ordinary senses where our existence would be eternal and where things would not change the way they do in this plane.

The philosophy is very simple but difficult to follow. After all what is illusion? It is something like a mirage which misleads you into wrong thinking and wrong actions. This world precisely does that. It offers you happiness but leads you into the darkness of suffering. It tempts you with many things and when you run after them you find them to be unreal and incapable of quenching your thirst for stability and permanence.

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Chaoskampf – How the ones in power portray their enemies, foreigners and the old (and comming) world order – and sometimes themselves – as a fierce power

Posted by Fredsvenn on June 30, 2018

Chaoskampf

The motif of Chaoskampf (“struggle against chaos”) is ubiquitous in myth and legend, depicting a battle of a culture hero deity with a chaos monster, often in the shape of a serpent or dragon. The same term has also been extended to parallel concepts in the Middle East and North Africa, such as the abstract conflict of ideas in the Egyptian duality of Maat and Isfet or the battle of Horus and Set.

The origins of the Chaoskampf myth most likely lie in the Proto-Indo-European religion whose descendants almost all feature some variation of the story of a storm god fighting a sea serpent representing the clash between the forces of order and chaos.

Early work by German academics such as Gunkel and Bousset in comparative mythology popularized translating the mythological sea serpent as a “dragon.” In particular, the Typhonomachy is generally thought to have been influenced by several Near Eastern monster-slaying myths.

Indo-European examples of this mythic trope include Thor vs. Jörmungandr (Norse), Tarḫunz vs. Illuyanka (Hittite), Indra vs. Vritra (Vedic), Θraētaona vs. Aži Dahāka (Avestan) and Zeus vs. Typhon (Greek) among others. Non-Indo-European examples of this trope are Yahweh vs. Leviathan (Hebrew), Susano’o vs. Yamata no Orochi (Japanese) and Mwindo vs. Kirimu (African).

The mušḫuššu

Ḫaldi (also known as Khaldi) was one of the three chief deities of Urartu. He was portrayed as a man with or without wings, standing on a lion. Some sources claim that the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation, Hayk, is derived from Ḫaldi. Arubani, the Urartian’s goddess of fertility and art, was the wife of Khaldi.

The other two chief deities were Theispas, the Urartian weather-god, notably the god of storms and thunder, of Kumenu, and the solar god Shivini of Tushpa, who is equal to Utu in Sumerian, Shiva in Hinduism, Mithra in Mithraism, Ra in Egypt and Artinis by the Armenians.

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

The location of Ardini is not known with certainty, although there are a number of hypotheses in the Zagros south of Lake Urmia. It was attested in Assyrian sources of the 9th and 8th centuries BC. It was acquired by the Urartian King Ishpuini ca. 800 BC. The temple, built in 825 BC, was an important temple in the holy city of Urartu.

The name Musasir in Akkadian means exit of the serpent/snake. MUŠ is the Sumerian term for “serpent”. The form mušḫuššu is the Akkadian nominative of the Sumerian MUŠ.ḪUS (“reddish snake”, sometimes also translated as “fierce snake” or “splendor serpent”).

The mušḫuššu is a creature depicted on the reconstructed Ishtar Gate of the city of Babylon, dating to the 6th century BC. It was a mythological hybrid, a scaly dragon with hind legs resembling the talons of an eagle, feline forelegs, a long neck and tail, a horned head, a snake-like tongue, and a crest.

It is the sacred animal of Marduk and his son Nabu during the Neo-Babylonian Empire. It was taken over by Marduk from Tishpak, an Akkadian god who replaced the god Ninazu as the tutelary deity of the city of Eshnunna, an ancient Sumerian and later Akkadian city and city-state in central Mesopotamia c. 3000-1700 BC.

Set and the Set animal

In ancient Egyptian art, the Set animal, or sha, is usually depicted at rest, either lying down or seated. The shape of the head often resembles a giraffe, causing confusion between the two signs. The general body shape is that of a canine.

The linguistic use of these hieroglyphs in the Egyptian language is as the determinative for words portraying “items with chaos”, example words related to “suffering, violence, perturbation”, and also for “violent storms” of the atmosphere, a “tempest”.

The earliest representations of what might be the Set animal comes from a tomb dating to the Amratian culture (“Naqada I”) of prehistoric Egypt (3790 BC–3500 BC), though this identification is uncertain.

However, according to Egyptologist Richard H. Wilkinson, the first known use of the Set animal was upon a ceremonial Scorpion Macehead of Scorpion II of Naqada III. The head and the forked tail of the Set animal are clearly present.

It was soon after portrayed mounted upon the serekhs of the Second Dynasty kings Seth-Peribsen and Khasekhemwy. In Twelfth Dynasty tombs at Beni Hasan; and, in the form of Set, in the royal cartouches of the Nineteenth Dynasty pharaohs Seti I and Seti II and the Twentieth Dynasty king Setnakhte and his descendants.

Drawings of the sha appear in Egyptian artwork from Naqada III until at least the period of the New Kingdom, a period of some two thousand years. Although sometimes described as a fantastic or composite animal, it was depicted in a realistic manner more typical of actual creatures.

The Set animal is the totemic animal of the god Set, a god of the desert, storms, disorder, violence, and foreigners in ancient Egyptian religion. Set had a positive role where he accompanies Ra on his solar boat to repel Apep, the serpent of Chaos.

In Egyptian mythology, Set is portrayed as the usurper who killed and mutilated his own brother Osiris. Osiris’ wife Isis reassembled (remembered) Osiris’ corpse and resurrected her dead husband long enough to conceive his son and heir Horus. Horus sought revenge upon Set, and the myths describe their conflicts.

Set was depicted standing on the prow of Ra’s barge defeating the dark serpent Apep or Apophis was the ancient Egyptian deity who embodied chaos (ı͗zft in Egyptian) and was thus the opponent of light and Ma’at (order/truth).

In some Late Period representations, such as in the Persian Period Temple of Hibis at Khargah, Set was represented in this role with a falcon’s head, taking on the guise of Horus. In the Amduat Set is described as having a key role in overcoming Apep.

Set had a vital role as a reconciled combatant. He was lord of the red (desert) land where he was the balance to Horus’ role as lord of the black (soil) land. The Set-animal is one of the portrayals of the god Set. The other common hieroglyph used to represent Set is a seated god with the head of the Set animal.

During the Second Intermediate Period (1650–1550 BC), a group of Asiatic foreign chiefs known as the Hyksos (literally, “rulers of foreign lands”) gained the rulership of Egypt, and ruled the Nile Delta, from Avaris.

They chose Set, originally Upper Egypt’s chief god, the god of foreigners and the god they found most similar to their own chief god, as their patron. Set then became worshiped as the chief god once again.

When, c. 1522 BC, Ahmose I overthrew the Hyksos and expelled them, Egyptians’ attitudes towards Asiatic foreigners became xenophobic, and royal propaganda discredited the period of Hyksos rule. The Set cult at Avaris flourished, nevertheless, and the Egyptian garrison of Ahmose stationed there became part of the priesthood of Set.

The demonization of Set took place after Egypt’s conquest by several foreign nations in the Third Intermediate and Late Periods. Set, who had traditionally been the god of foreigners, thus also became associated with foreign oppressors, including the Assyrian and Persian empires.

It was during this time that Set was particularly vilified, and his defeat by Horus widely celebrated. The Greeks would later associate Set with Typhon, a monstrous and evil force of raging nature. Both were sons of deities representing the Earth (Gaia and Geb) who attacked the principal deities (Osiris for Set, Zeus for Typhon). Nevertheless, throughout this period, in some outlying regions of Egypt, Set was still regarded as the heroic chief deity.

Set has also been classed as a trickster deity who, as a god of disorder, resorts to deception to achieve bad ends. Yet it is perhaps most telling that Seth’s cult persisted with astonishing potency even into the latter days of ancient Egyptian religion.

Typhon

Because Set was identified with the Greek Typhon from c. 500 BC, the animal is also commonly known as the Typhonian animal or Typhonic beast. Typhon was a monstrous serpentine giant and the most deadly creature in Greek mythology.

According to Hesiod, Typhon was the son of Gaia and Tartarus. However one source has Typhon as the son of Hera alone, while another makes Typhon the offspring of Cronus. Typhon and his mate Echidna were the progenitors of many famous monsters.

Typhon attempted to overthrow Zeus for the supremacy of the cosmos. The two fought a cataclysmic battle, which Zeus finally won with the aid of his thunderbolts. Defeated, Typhon was cast into Tartarus, buried underneath Mount Etna or the island of Ischia.

Typhon mythology is part of the Greek succession myth, which explained how Zeus came to rule the gods. Typhon’s story is also connected with that of Python (the serpent killed by Apollo), and both stories probably derived from several Near Eastern antecedents.

The Typhonomachy, Zeus’ battle and defeat of Typhon, is just one part of a larger “Succession Myth” given in Hesiod’s Theogony (i.e. “the genealogy or birth of the gods”), a poem by Hesiod (8th – 7th century BC) describing the origins and genealogies of the Greek gods.

The Thogony describes how Uranus, the original ruler of the cosmos, hid his offspring away inside Gaia, but was overthrown by his Titan son Cronus, who castrated Uranus, and how in turn, Cronus, who swallowed his children as they were born, was himself overthrown by his son Zeus, whose mother had given Cronus a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes to swallow, in place of Zeus.

However Zeus is then confronted with one final adversary, Typhon, which he quickly defeats. Now clearly the supreme power in the cosmos, Zeus is elected king of gods. Zeus then establishes and secures his realm through the apportionment of various functions and responsibilities to the other gods, and by means of marriage.

Finally, by swallowing his first wife Metis (“wisdom,” “skill,” or “craft”), who was destined to produce a son stronger than himself, Zeus is able to put an end to the cycle of succession. Metis was an Oceanid, the daughters of Oceanus and his sister Tethys, who were three thousand in number.

Typhon’s story seems related to that of another monstrous offspring of Gaia: Python, the serpent killed by Apollo at Delphi, suggesting a possible common origin. Besides the similarity of names, their shared parentage, and the fact that both were snaky monsters killed in single combat with an Olympian god, there are other connections between the stories surrounding Typhon, and those surrounding Python.

Although the Delphic monster killed by Apollo is usually said to be the male serpent Python, in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, the earliest account of this story, the god kills a nameless she-serpent (drakaina), subsequently called Delphyne, who had been Typhon’s foster-mother.

Delphyne and Echidna, besides both being intimately connected to Typhon—one as mother, the other as mate—share other similarities. Both were half-maid and half-snake, a plague to men, and associated with the Corycian cave in Cilicia.

Python was also perhaps connected with a different Corycian Cave than the one in Cilicia, this one on the slopes of Parnassus above Delphi. Just as the Corcian cave in Cilicia was thought to be Typhon and Echidna’s lair, and associated with Typhon’s battle with Zeus, there is evidence to suggest that the Corycian cave above Delphi was supposed to be Python’s (or Delphyne’s) lair, and associated with his (or her) battle with Apollo.

From at least as early as Pindar, and possibly as early as Homer and Hesiod (with their references to the Arimoi and Arima), Typhon’s birth place and battle with Zeus were associated with various Near East locales in Cilicia and Syria, including the Corycian Cave, Mount Kasios, and the Orontes River.

Besides this coincidence of place, the Hesiodic succession myth, (including the Typhonomachy), as well as other Greek accounts of these myths, exhibit other parallels with several ancient Near Eastern antecedents, and it is generally held that the Greek accounts are intimately connected with, and influenced by, these Near Eastern counterparts.

Tiamat

It is thought that female deities are older than male ones in Mesopotamia and Tiamat may have begun as part of the cult of Nammu or Namma, a primeval goddess, corresponding to Tiamat in Babylonian mythology.

Ma is a Sumerian word meaning “land” that in Sumerian mythology was also used to regard Primordial Land. 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. 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.

Namma was a female principle of a watery creative force, with equally strong connections to the underworld, which predates the appearance of Ea-Enki. Nammu is not well attested in Sumerian mythology. She may have been of greater importance prehistorically, before Enki took over most of her functions.

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. Reay Tannahill in Sex in History (1980) singled out Nammu as the “only female prime mover” in the cosmogonic myths of antiquity.

In the religion of ancient Babylon, Tiamat (TI.AMAT or TAM.TUM, Greek: Thaláttē) is a primordial goddess of the salt sea, mating with Abzû, the god of fresh water, to produce younger gods. Tiamat was the “shining” personification of salt water who roared and smote in the chaos of original creation. She and Apsu filled the cosmic abyss with the primeval waters. She is “Ummu-Hubur who formed all things”.

Tiamat is the symbol of the chaos of primordial creation. She is referred to as a woman, and described as the glistening one. Some sources identify her with images of a sea serpent or dragon. The Enûma Elish states that Tiamat gave birth to dragons and serpents among a more general list of monsters including scorpion men and merpeople, but does not identify her form as that of a dragon; however, other sources containing the same myth do refer to her as such.

The Babylonian epic Enuma Elish is named for its incipit: “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 “mixing their waters”.

Abzu (or Apsû) fathered upon Tiamat the elder deities Lahmu and Lahamu (masc. the “hairy”), a title given to the gatekeepers at Enki’s Abzu/E’engurra-temple in Eridu. Lahmu and Lahamu, in turn, were the parents of the ‘ends’ of the heavens (Anshar, from an-šar = heaven-totality/end) and the earth (Kishar); Anshar and Kishar were considered to meet at the horizon, becoming, thereby, the parents of Anu (Heaven) and Ki (Earth).

It is suggested that there are two parts to the Tiamat mythos, the first in which Tiamat is a creator goddess, through a sacred marriage between salt and fresh water, peacefully creating the cosmos through successive generations. In the second Chaoskampf Tiamat is considered the monstrous embodiment of primordial chaos.

In the Enûma Elish, the Babylonian epic of creation, she gives birth to the first generation of deities; her husband, Apsu, correctly assuming they are planning to kill him and usurp his throne, later makes war upon them and is killed.

In the myth recorded on cuneiform tablets, the deity Enki (later Ea) believed correctly that Apsu was planning to murder the younger deities, upset with the chaos they created, and so captured him and held him prisoner beneath his temple the E-Abzu. This angered Kingu, their son, who reported the event to Tiamat, whereupon she fashioned eleven monsters to battle the deities in order to avenge Apsu’s death.

These were her own offspring: Bašmu (“Venomous Snake”), Ušumgallu (“Great Dragon”), Mušmaḫḫū (“Exalted Serpent”), Mušḫuššu (“Furious Snake”), Laḫmu (the “Hairy One”), Ugallu (the “Big Weather-Beast”), Uridimmu (“Mad Lion”), Girtablullû (“Scorpion-Man”), Umū dabrūtu (“Violent Storms”), Kulullû (“Fish-Man”) and Kusarikku (“Bull-Man”).

Enraged, she, too, wars upon her husband’s murderers, taking on the form of a massive sea dragon, she is then slain by Enki’s son, the storm-god Marduk, but not before she had brought forth the monsters of the Mesopotamian pantheon, including the first dragons, whose bodies she filled with “poison instead of blood”. Marduk then forms heavens and the earth from her divided body.

Tiamat possessed the Tablet of Destinies and in the primordial battle she gave them to Kingu, the deity she had chosen as her lover and the leader of her host, and who was also one of her children.

The deities gathered in terror, but Anu, (replaced later, first by Enlil and, in the late version that has survived after the First Dynasty of Babylon, by Marduk, the son of Ea), first extracting a promise that he would be revered as “king of the gods”, overcame her, armed with the arrows of the winds, a net, a club, and an invincible spear.

The Tiamat myth is one of the earliest recorded versions of the Chaoskampf, the battle between a culture hero and a chthonic or aquatic monster, serpent or dragon. Chaoskampf motifs in other mythologies linked directly or indirectly to the Tiamat myth include the Hittite Illuyanka myth, and in Greek tradition Apollo’s killing of the Python as a necessary action to take over the Delphic Oracle.

 

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Gobekli Tepe: The Cosmic Connection – Did its Builders Have Their Eyes on the Skies?

Posted by Fredsvenn on June 30, 2018

Gobekli Tepe’s hilltop site was not defensive or residential and the indications are that it was a sacred area and that the two pillars outside the entrance of some of the circles represented a gateway between secular and religious ground.

Three layers could be distinguished up to now at the site. The oldest Layer III (10th millenium BC) is characterized by monolithic T-shaped pillars weighing tons, which were positioned in circle-like structures. The pillars were interconnected by limestone walls and benches leaning at the inner side of the walls. In the centre of these enclosures there are always two bigger pillars, with a height of over 5 m. The circles measure 10-20 m.

Two huge central pillars are surrounded by a circle formed by – at current state of excavation – 11 pillars of similar T-shape. Most of these pillars are decorated with depictions of animals, foxes, birds (e.g. cranes, storks and ducks), and snakes being the most common species in this enclosure, accompanied by a wide range of figurations including the motives of boar, aurochs, gazelle, wild donkey and larger carnivores.

In particular these central pillars of Enclosure D allow demonstrating the anthropomorphic appearance of the T-shaped pillars. They might have been gods who had T-shapes instead of heads because it was forbidden to see their faces. The T-shaped stones around the circle may have been their companions.

The oblong T-heads can be regarded as abstract depictions of the human head, the smaller side representing the face. Clearly visible are arms on the pillars’ shafts with hands brought together above the abdomen.

The depiction of belts and loincloths in the shape of animal skins underlines the impression that these T-shaped pillars own an anthropomorphic identity and therefore should be regarded as pillar-statues more precisely. Some small bones from a foxtail found in front of one of the central pillar’s hints at the presence of a real fur here once, maybe as some kind of offering or indeed to be understood as a genuine counterpart to the loincloth depicted.

Since this relief of a loincloth is covering the genital region of the pillar-statues, we cannot be sure about the gender of the two individuals depicted in the centre. But some help may come from the clay figurines from the PPN B site of Nevalı Çori about 50 km north of Göbekli Tepe, now flooded by the Atatürk dam reservoir.

Apparently, of those figurines depicting both, male and female individuals, only the male ones are wearing belts. Thus, it is highly probable to assume that the pair of pillars in Enclosure D should represent two male individuals, too.

In the knowledge that megalithic monuments worldwide have been found to possess alignments towards celestial bodies, such as the sun, moon and stars, it is reasonable to suggest that something similar might have been going on at Göbekli Tepe, with the most obvious candidates for orientation being the various sets of twin pillars at the center of the monuments.

These could well have acted as astronomical markers of some kind, especially in the knowledge that in the past a clear view of the local horizon in all directions would have been available from the position of the various enclosures, which grace the summit of a mountain ridge visible for miles around.

Even a cursory glance at the positioning of the different sets of twin pillars shows them to be aligned roughly north-south, suggesting that they are unlikely to have targeted the sun, moon, or planets, which rise in the east and set in the west.

Clearly, if their orientations meant anything, then the enclosures must have been built to target a star or stellar object of some kind that either rose or set close to the north-south meridian line that divides the sky in two and crosses directly overhead.

Orion

Establishing the orientations of the enclosures’ central pillars was put to chartered engineer Rodney Hale, who for the past 15 years has made a detailed study of stellar alignments at prehistoric and sacred sites around the world.

He examined survey plans of the monuments at Göbekli Tepe and determined that the central pillars in Enclosures B, C, D and E (the “Felsentempel,” or “rock temple,” located to the west of the main group) all seemed to be aligned just west of north and, equally, just east of south.

Among the southern star groups and constellations looked at by Hale were the Hyades, Taurus, the Pleiades and Orion (more specifically its three “belt” stars), all of which have been claimed to match the orientations of the twin pillars in the various enclosures at Göbekli Tepe during the epoch of their construction, c. 9500–8000 BC.

Out of these, just one candidate emerged as perhaps playing some role at Göbekli Tepe, and this was Orion, the celestial hunter. However, there is a fundamental problem in even assuming that the enclosures were built to face south, for although the human-like features of the central monoliths are all turned in this direction, there is no reason to assume they are observing the southern skyline.

More likely is that they face the entrant approaching from the south, in the same manner that statues in churches face the worshipper approaching the high altar. Church altars are placed in the east, since this is the direction of heaven in Christian tradition. Just because Jesus, St. Michael, or the Virgin Mary might face away from the high altar, does not mean that they gaze out towards the western skyline.

In Göbekli Tepe’s case, if its enclosures did have a high altar, then it would be in the north, the direction of darkness, where the sun never rises. It is, on the other hand, the direction of the celestial pole, the turning point of the heavens.

Northerly orientations of early Neolithic cult buildings have been determined in southeast Anatolia at various other early Neolithic sites such as Çayönü, Nevali Çori, and Hallan Cemi. Thus it seems likely that Göbekli Tepe’s enclosures are oriented towards the north, and not the south. Indeed, the T-shaped termination of Enclosure D’s eastern central pillar is tilted downwards in order to greet the entrant, like some kind of god-king receiving his subjects.

Vega and Deneb

There is a possibility that the twin pillars represent the position of Vega, also designated Alpha Lyrae (α Lyrae, abbreviated Alpha Lyr or α Lyr), and/or Deneb, also designated alpha Cygni (α Cygni, abbreviated Alpha Cyg, α Cyg).

Both of these stars would have appeared somewhat higher in the sky and slightly to the right (north) of the ‘downward wriggling snake’ (Serpens) around 10,950 BC. Vega has been extensively studied, and it is said to be the next most important star in the sky after the Sun.

These bright stars would have been pole-stars in earlier millennia (Vega in circa 12,000 BC and Deneb in circa 16,000 BC), and it is possible that the people of Göbekli Tepe still referenced at least one of them, and even continued to use them to define north or a preferred direction.

This possibility is supported by the general orientation of enclosure D, which is in the region of 5 to 10 degrees west of true north. This correlates reasonably well with the position of Vega in 10,950 BC, which would have been around 8 degrees west of true north at the sunset of the summer solstice.

Vega is the brightest star in the constellation of Lyra. It is the fifth-brightest star in the night sky, and the second-brightest star in the northern celestial hemisphere after Arcturus. It is relatively close at only 25 light-years from the Sun, and, together with Arcturus and Sirius, one of the most luminous stars in the Sun’s neighborhood.

The Assyrians named Vega Dayan-same, the “Judge of Heaven”, while in Akkadian it was Tir-anna, “Life of Heaven”. In Babylonian astronomy, Vega may have been one of the stars named Dilgan, “the Messenger of Light”.

To the ancient Greeks, the constellation Lyra was formed from the harp of Orpheus, with Vega as its handle. For the Roman Empire, the start of autumn was based upon the hour at which Vega set below the horizon.

Vega and Deneb would have had an altitude of 42 and 67 degrees respectively at the time, and so both should have been visible from enclosure D (GT is built on the south side of a hill, near the top, on ground with a shallow gradient).

According to Andrew Collins the central pillars of Enclosure D target Deneb, the brightest star in the constellation of Cygnus, also known as the celestial bird, or swan, and one of the brightest stars in the night sky and one corner of the Summer Triangle, as it extinguishes on the north-northwestern horizon.

Before 9500 BC, Deneb was circumpolar, in that it never set, although after this time, due to the effects of precession, it started to extinguish each night on the north-northwestern horizon.

As the centuries went by, the star’s setting position moved further and further west of north in a manner that not only makes sense of the alignments of the various sets of twin pillars at Göbekli Tepe, but also provides realistic construction dates for the enclosures in question.

Together with other avian constellations near the summer solstice, Vultur cadens and Aquila, Cygnus may be a significant part of the origin of the myth of the Stymphalian Birds, one of The Twelve Labours of Hercules.

Vulture shamanism

The traditional name Vega (earlier Wega) comes from a loose transliteration of the Arabic word wāqi‘ meaning “falling” or “landing”, via the phrase an-nasr al-wāqi‘, “the falling eagle/vulture”. The constellation was represented as a vulture in ancient Egypt, and as an eagle or vulture in ancient India.

Vultures are also prominent in ancient mythology. They were amazed by the vultures ability to only consume death and still produce life. The vulture became associated with rebirth and many gods featured vulture wings or faces.

Vultures were also believed to being the creature that kept the balance of life and death in order. As long as the vultures consumed the dead and were able to reproduce the balance of life was in working order. Vultures also became a feminine symbol because of its rebirth myths.

Clear carvings and depictions of vultures, as well as representations of birdmen, have been found at Göbekli Tepe and other PPN sites in SE Turkey and North Syria. The main relationship between key PPN sites such as Göbekli Tepe and Nevali Çori is the fact that their layout, design and art are the same. They were constructed by the same unique people.

They connect with Çatal Hüyük, the oldest Neolithic city anywhere in the world, situated in southern-central Turkey and dating to 6500 BC, because this was a latter development of the same high culture, and so this city – excavated first in the early 1960s by British archaeologist James Mellaart – can tell us much about the earlier cults at places such as Göbekli Tepe and Nevali Çori.

Like, for example, the Neolithic cult of the dead. At Çatal Hüyük, we find frescoes of vultures accompanying the soul of the deceased into the next world, and also of shamans taking the form of vultures for presumed shamanic practices, such as contacting or journeying into the other world.

Since statues of birdmen, as well as those of vultures, have been found at both Göbekli Tepe and Nevali Çori, we can be pretty sure that the same cult existed here as far back as 11,500-10,000 BP.

There is some evidence to suggest that over time as this culture developed the bird image evolved into that of a vulture-goddess. But most importantly at least one of the murals from Çatal Hüyük apparently shows a human being dressed in a vulture skin.

Taking an eight-thousand year old image of a “human in a vulture skin” and turning it into an early Vulture Shamanism culture could be stretching things a bit… and one should always be careful of making assumptions when the evidence in support of pet theories is tenuous. However, in the last few decades archaeological research has come to light which, when added to the evidence from Çatal Hüyük, begins to lend very strong weight to the idea of a shamanic connection.

The Shaman can “fly” in trance, travelling to the realm of the spirits where he can then either do battle against malign entities, or try and persuade, flatter, cajole or otherwise entreat the spirits to act for the benefit of one or more human beings.

The Eagle 

The golden eagle is the most common national animal in the world. It is also a common motif in the national symbols of countries that have not officially made it the national animal or national bird. The reasons for this are various, but among the nations that use the golden eagle as or in a state symbol, there are two clear traditions that help explain the modern usage.

Among European countries, the golden eagle was the model for the aquila, the most prominent symbol of the Roman legions and more generally the Roman civilization that had such a powerful impact on Western culture.

Eagles were particularly prominent in Roman culture. Many banners, coins and insignias from Rome feature eagles. Furthermore, some classical Roman traditions were carried on by the Eastern Roman Empire in the Southern and Eastern of Europe and the Holy Roman Empire in Central and Western Europe, transmitting the use of the golden eagle to several modern states.

This association of the golden eagle with Rome has also led to the adoption of similar symbols in other countries. Another large tradition of using the golden eagle can be found in the Arab world, where the eagle is historically a symbol of power in Arabic poetry, and was according to legend the personal emblem of Saladin.

The double-headed eagle is one of the oldest symbols. One of the earliest images of the eagle was found during excavations of the Sumerian city of Lagash in Mesopotamia. Ancient Hittites also well knew the symbol. Hittites, like the Sumerians, used it for religious purposes.

The eagle has been a sun symbol and is an attribute of sun gods in many cultures. The eagle is a symbol with multiple meanings. In addition, the eagle is always associated with strength, courage, morality and wisdom. It was considered as a sacred emblem of Zeus, Jupiter, Ninurta (Ningirsu), Nergal and Ashur.

In many cultures, eagles were viewed as a link between terrestrial mankind and celestial deities. The eagle was also considered to be a messenger of the gods, which connected the earth and celestial sphere. In ancient Sumerian mythology, the mythical king Etana was said to have been carried into heaven by an eagle.

Most researchers of this symbol believe the eagle is associated with the sun. The logic here is that the eagle is the king of birds and the sun the is the king of all the planets.  The eagle flies above all, and is closest to the sun.

The eagle personifies power and nobility, reminding to a man of his exalted origin and divine nature. Large outstretched wings are a symbol of protection, sharp claws are a symbol of uncompromising struggle against evil, and white head symbolizes just power.

An eagle with antiquity was known as the royal symbol. It symbolizes rule. It is a sign of kings of the earth and heaven. The double-headed eagle represents the possibility of amplification of power, its extension to the west and east. Allegorically an ancient image of a two-headed bird could represent an unsleeping guardian who sees everything in the east and the west.

On the Adda Seal, Enki is depicted with two streams of water flowing into each of his shoulders: one the Tigris, the other the Euphrates. Alongside him are two trees, symbolizing the male and female aspects of nature.

He is shown wearing a flounced skirt and a cone-shaped hat. An eagle descends from above to land upon his outstretched right arm. This portrayal reflects Enki’s role as the god of water, life, and replenishment.

 

Sabazios is the horseman and sky father god of the Phrygians and Thracians. In Indo-European languages, such as Phrygian, the -zios element in his name derives from dyeus, the common precursor of Latin deus (‘god’) and Greek Zeus. The eagle is one of his symbols.

In Christianity, the eagle is the embodiment of divine love, justice, courage, spirit, faith, as well as the symbol of resurrection. As in other traditions, the eagle played a messenger of heaven.

Eagles are often prominent in the Bible, though are sometimes mixed with carrion birds and are not specifically identifiable to species. As the most widespread eagle in the Middle East and Eurasia, certainly many said references must pertain to the golden eagle.

The use of eagles seems generally heavier in the Torah or the Old Testament than in the New Testament. In biblical times, eagles and other meat-eating birds were banned from being eaten since their diet was considered unsavory.

However, eagles are mentioned in the Bible as being admired for their swiftness, great physical power and their seemingly endless endurance. Eagles are one of four dimensions of creation, as a messenger of God, and a skilled predator.

In Hellenistic religion, the golden eagle is the signature bird of the god Zeus, a connection most notable in the myth of Ganymede, where the god adopted the form of a golden eagle to kidnap the boy, as well as the eagle-like daimon Aetos Dios Theoi: Eagle of Zeus.

In Roman religion, the eagle was both the symbol and the messenger of the Roman sky-god, Jupiter. When an emperor died, his body was burned in a funeral pyre and an eagle was released above his ashes to carry his soul to the heavens. At least a few sources also associate it with Helios.

Eagles play a small role in Celtic mythology. In the Welsh tale of Llew Llaw Gyffes, the protagonist escapes death at the hands of a hunter by taking an eagle’s form and killing the hunter who assaulted him.

In Norse mythology, the golden eagle sits atop Yggdrasil, the great ash tree that runs through the universe. A squirrel, Ratsatosk, carries messages and insults between the eagle at the crown and a serpent gnawing at the tree roots.

The heavenly eagle

 Anzû (AN.ZU could mean simply “heavenly eagle”), also known as Zû and Imdugud (Sumerian: AN.IM.DUGUD; meaning “heavy wind”), is a lesser divinity or monster in several Mesopotamian religions. He was conceived by the pure waters of the Apsu and the wide Earth, or as son of Siris, the patron of beer who is conceived of as a demon, which is not necessarily evil.

Anzû was depicted as a massive bird who can breathe fire and water, although Anzû is alternately depicted as a lion-headed eagle. The name of the mythological being usually called Anzû was actually written in the oldest Sumerian cuneiform texts as AN.IM.MI or MUŠEN (meaning “bird”). In texts of the Old Babylonian period, the name is more often found as AN.IM.DUGUD.

Thokild Jacobsen proposed that Anzu was an early form of the god Abu, a minor god of plants who was later syncretized with Ninurta/Ningursu, a god associated with thunderstorms. Abu was referred to as “Father Pasture”, illustrating the connection between rainstorms and the fields growing in Spring.

Abu was one of the eight deities born to relieve the illness of Enki. Abu means “father of plants and vegetation.” Stephen Langdon has proposed that Abu may have been an early name of Tammuz, on the basis that Abu was identified as the consort of Inanna, and that the name Abu did not appear in texts later than the Third Dynasty of Ur.

According to Jacobsen, this god was originally envisioned as a huge black thundercloud in the shape of an eagle, and was later depicted with a lion’s head to connect it to the roar of thunder. Some depictions of Anzu therefore depict the god alongside goats (which, like thunderclouds, were associated with mountains in the ancient Near East) and leafy boughs.

The connection between Anzu and Abu is further reinforced by a statue found in the Tell Asmar Hoard depicting a human figure with large eyes, with an Anzu bird carved on the base. It is likely that this depicts Anzu in his symbolic or earthly form as the Anzu-bird, and in his higher, human-like divine form as Abu.

Though some scholars have proposed that the statue actually represents a human worshiper of Anzu, others have pointed out that it does not fit the usual depiction of Sumerian worshipers, but instead matches similar statues of gods in human form with their more abstract form or their symbols carved onto the base.

In Sumerian and Akkadian mythology, Anzû is a divine storm-bird and the personification of the southern wind and the thunder clouds. This demon—half man and half bird—stole the “Tablet of Destinies” from Enlil and hid them on a mountaintop.

Anu ordered the other gods to retrieve the tablet, even though they all feared the demon. According to one text, Marduk killed the bird; in another, it died through the arrows of the god Ninurta.

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. 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.

Anzu also appears in the story of “Inanna and the Huluppu Tree”, which is recorded in the preamble to the Sumerian epic poem Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Netherworld. Anzu appears in the Sumerian Lugalbanda and the Anzud Bird (also called: The Return of Lugalbanda).

Also in Babylonian myth, Anzû is a deity associated with cosmogeny. Anzû is represented as stripping the father of the gods of umsimi (which is usually translated “crown” but in this case, as it was on the seat of Bel, it refers to the “ideal creative organ”).

Regarding this, Charles Penglase writes that “Ham is the Chaldean Anzû, and both are cursed for the same allegorically described crime,” which parallels the mutilation of Uranus by Cronus and of Osiris by Set.

The Roc (from Persian: ruḵ) is an enormous legendary bird of prey in the popular mythology of the Middle East. The roc appears in Arabic geographies and natural history, popularized in Arabian fairy tales and sailors’ folklore.

Ibn Battuta tells of a mountain hovering in the air over the China Seas, which was the roc. The popular story collection One Thousand and One Nights includes tales of Abd al-Rahman and Sinbad the Sailor, both of which include the roc.

The Garuda, also known as Tarkshya and Vynateya, is a legendary bird or bird-like creature in Hindu, Buddhist and Jain mythology. He is variously the vehicle mount (vahana) of the Hindu god Vishnu, a dharma-protector and Astasena in Buddhism, and the Yaksha of the Jain Tirthankara Shantinatha. In Hinduism, Garuda is a divine eagle-like sun bird and the king of birds.

Garuda is described as the king of birds and a kite-like figure. He is shown either in zoomorphic form (giant bird with partially open wings) or an anthropomorphic form (man with wings and some bird features). Garuda is generally a protector with power to swiftly go anywhere, ever watchful and an enemy of the serpent.

In the Mahabharata, Garutman is stated to be same as Garuda, then described as the one who is fast, who can shapeshift into any form and enter anywhere. He is a powerful creature in the epics, whose wing flapping can stop the spinning of heaven, earth and hell. He is described to be the vehicle mount of the Hindu god Vishnu, and typically they are shown together.

Garuda is a part of state insignia in India, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia. The Indonesian official coat of arms is centered on the Garuda. The national emblem of Indonesia is called Garuda Pancasila.

The Northern Cross and the Summer Triangle

The Summer Triangle is an astronomical asterism involving an imaginary triangle drawn on the northern hemisphere’s celestial sphere, with its defining vertices at Altair, Deneb, and Vega, the brightest stars in the three constellations of Aquila, Cygnus, and Lyra, respectively.

The Northern Cross is a prominent astronomical asterism in the northern hemisphere celestial sphere, corresponding closely with the constellation Cygnus The Swan. It is much larger than the more famous Southern Cross and consists of the brightest stars in Cygnus, Deneb, Sadr, Gienah, Delta Cygni and Albireo. The ‘head’ of the cross, Deneb, is also part of the Summer Triangle asterism.

Like the Summer Triangle, the Northern Cross is a prominent indicator of the seasons. Near midnight, the Cross lies virtually overhead at mid-northern latitudes during the summer months; it can also be seen during spring in the early morning to the East. In the autumn the cross is visible in the evening to the West until November. It never dips below the horizon at or above 45° north latitude.

The Dark Rift

Deneb is a marker for what lies behind it – the opening of the Dark Rift, the stream of dark stellar debris that splits the Milky Way from Cygnus down to the area of Sagittarius and Scorpius, where the sun makes its pass across the Milky Way.

All over the world, from India and Egypt to Mexico and South America, the Dark Rift has been seen as an entrance to the sky-world, a place of the ancestors, a land of the gods, and the source of cosmic creation. For example, the ancient Maya of Central America pictured Xibalba, their “underworld,” as accessible via a sky-road known as ri b’e xib’alb’a, the Black Road, identified as the Milky Way’s Dark Rift.

Its actual entrance or location was represented by cave and mouth imagery, often accompanied by a glyph known as the Cross Bands glyph. It has the appearance of a letter X inside a square frame, and has been identified with the Cygnus stars in their guise as a celestial cross, made up of five specific stars.

The actual road to Xibalba (a word meaning “place of fear”) is shown as a caiman crocodile, its long jaws the twin streams created by the Dark Rift, with its head, eyes and gullet located in the vicinity of the Cygnus region.

Turn the Milky Way on its side and the Dark Rift’s likeness to a crocodile’s head and jaws are unmistakable, confirming that the entrance to Xibalba; i.e., the opening of the Dark Rift, was via its gullet.

In Mayan mythology the solar god One Hunahpu was reborn from the mouth of the caiman, a sure reference to his emergence from the Dark Rift. The sun-god was then imagined as being carried along the length of the creature’s open jaws to the place where the ecliptic, the sun’s path, crosses the Milky Way in the vicinity of the stars of Sagittarius and Scorpius.

This is a point corresponding, visually at least, with the nuclear bulge in the galactic plane that marks the center of the Milky Way galaxy. The sun-god was conceived as reaching this point at the moment of sunrise on the winter solstice, an act that completed an annual solar cycle.

Similar ideas regarding a spirit world existing beyond the opening to the Dark Rift are held even today by a number of Native American tribes. The most consistent story that emerges from their beliefs and practices tells of how in death the soul departs westwards towards the setting sun, a journey that can take three to four days to complete. When it finally reaches the edge of the world it stands on a coastal shoreline, with the underworld visible beneath the surface of the water and the sky-world above in the night sky.

If the sky-world is chosen as the soul’s final destination, it must make a leap of faith into the night sky in order to access a star portal symbolized by something that native tribes refer to as the Hand Constellation. It is a symbol found again and again in the decorated art of the mound building cultures of Ohio.

In fact, it is likely that a psychopomp, in the form of a bird, was thought to accompany new souls entering this world. This, of course, is the role played in many parts of Europe and Asia by the stork, although in the Baltic (and seemingly in Siberia), it was a white swan that played this same role. In its guise as a celestial bird, Cygnus is identified with the swan throughout the Eurasian continent.

In Egyptian and Hindu myth it was a primordial goose or swan that brought forth the universe with its honk, although in many other countries the swan was said to have laid the egg that either formed the earth or heavens, or became the sun.

The holed stone

Further evidence of Göbekli Tepe’s proposed astronomical alignments comes from Enclosure D. A small stone pillar standing around five feet (1.5 m) tall has been found in its north-northwestern perimeter wall, exactly behind and in line with its central pillars. The stone is rectangular in shape and, unlike the rings of radially oriented pillars found in the main enclosures it has one of its wider faces turned towards the center of the structure.

The significance of this stone is that it has a hole some seven to eight inches in diameter bored through it horizontally at a height of around four feet off the ground. Covering the stone are a series of curved lines, which flow in pairs and converge just beneath the hole before trailing off towards the stone’s right-hand corner.

Very likely they are a naive representation of the human torso with legs coming together and bent towards the right-hand edge of the stone. If so, then this would make the hole synchronous with the vulva, or human birth canal.

If the enclosure’s twin pillars were indeed orientated towards Deneb during the epoch in question, then a person, a shaman or priest perhaps, would have been able to look through the stone’s sighting hole in order to see Deneb setting on the north-northwestern horizon, a quite magnificent sight that cannot have happened by chance alone. Clearly, this was powerful evidence that the enclosure really was directed towards this all-important star.

The Vulture Stone

Confirming the Göbekli builders’ apparent interest in Cygnus is Pillar 43. Located in the north-northwestern section of Enclosure D, it stands just a few yards away from the holed stone. Here we see a vulture positioned at the end of the line of small squares.

It stands erect, with its wings articulated in a manner resembling human arms. It also has slightly bent knees (or it is pregnant) and bizarre flat feet, in the shape of oversized clowns’ shoes, indicating that this is very likely a shaman in the guise of a vulture, or a spirit bird with anthropomorphic attributes.

Similar vultures with articulated legs are depicted on the walls of shrines at Çatal Höyük, the neolithic city in southern-central Turkey, which dates to c. 7000–5600 BC, and these too are interpreted either as anthropomorphs, or shamans adorned in the manner of vultures.

Just above the vulture’s right wing is a carved circle, like a ball, or sun disk. Klaus Schmidt (Göbekli Tepe’s discoverer) interprets this “ball” as a human head, and this is almost certainly what it is, for on the back of another vulture lower down the register is a headless, or soulless, figure, mimicking very similar examples of headless figures found in association with images of vultures and excarnation towers at Çatal Höyük.

And we can be sure that the “ball” does indeed represent a human head as similar balls are seen in the prehistoric rock art of the region, where their context also makes it clear they represent human souls.

So the headless figure represents not only the human skeleton but also a dead man whose soul has departed in the form of a ball-like head that is now under the charge of the vulture, which is arguably a bird spirit with anthropomorphic; i.e. human like, attributes.

Conclusion

Everything points towards Enclosure D’s holed stone and Vulture Stone next to it being not just confirmation of Deneb’s place in the mindset of the Göbekli builders but also in the site’s role as a place where the rites of birth, death, and rebirth were celebrated both in its architectural design and in the highly symbolic carved art left behind by its builders.

It is confirmation also of the incredible role played by Cygnus and the Milky Way’s Dark Rift in the cosmological beliefs of the Upper Paleolithic age and, later, among the early Neolithic peoples of Anatolia. These are incredible revelations that entirely alter our currently held views on the mindset of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic world.

Other structures at Göbekli Tepe were built perhaps with different considerations in mind. Enclosure B’s central pillars are unlikely to have targeted Deneb during the epoch in question.

The twin pillars marking the entrance to the apse in Enclosure A were orientated almost exactly northwest to southeast, while those in Enclosure F (a smaller, much later structure west of the main group) are aligned east-northeast or west-southwest, very close to the angle at which the sun rises on the summer solstice and sets on the winter solstice.

The vulture in mythology

Gobekli Tepe: The Cosmic Connection – Did its Builders Have Their Eyes on the Skies?

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The concept of freedom (Ama-gi) and justice

Posted by Fredsvenn on June 27, 2018

Bilderesultat for marianne

The concept of freedom (Ama-gi)

Manumission, or affranchisement, is the act of an owner freeing his or her slaves. Ama-gi is a Sumerian word written ama-gi or ama-ar-gi. It has been translated as “freedom”, as well as “manumission”, “exemption from debts or obligations”, and “the restoration of persons and property to their original status” including the remission of debts.

Other interpretations include a “reversion to a previous state” and release from debt, slavery, taxation or punishment. The word originates from the noun ama “mother” (sometimes with the enclitic dative case marker ar), and the present participle gi «return, restore, put back”, thus literally meaning “returning to mother”.

Assyriologist Samuel Noah Kramer has identified it as the first known written reference to the concept of freedom. Referring to its literal meaning “return to the mother”, he wrote in 1963 that “we still do not know why this figure of speech came to be used for “freedom.”

The earliest known usage of the word was in the reforms of Urukagina (c. 2400 BC), a ruler (ensi) of the city-state Lagash in Mesopotamia. He is best known for his reforms to combat corruption, which are sometimes cited as the first example of a legal code in recorded history.

In it, he exempted widows and orphans from taxes; compelled the city to pay funeral expenses (including the ritual food and drink libations for the journey of the dead into the lower world); and decreed that the rich must use silver when purchasing from the poor, and if the poor does not wish to sell, the powerful man (the rich man or the priest) cannot force him to do so.

Urukagina’s code has been widely hailed as the first recorded example of government reform, seeking to achieve a higher level of freedom and equality. It limited the power of the priesthood and large property owners, and took measures against usury, burdensome controls, hunger, theft, murder, and seizure (of people’s property and persons); as he states, “The widow and the orphan were no longer at the mercy of the powerful man”.

However, despite these apparent attempts to curb the excesses of the elite class, it seems elite or royal women enjoyed even greater influence and prestige in his reign than previously. Anyway, he is praised as a social reformer, getting rid of gross abuses of power that had taken hold in Lagash.

By the Third Dynasty of Ur, it was used as a legal term for the manumission of individuals. It is related to the Akkadian word anduraāru(m), meaning “freedom”, “exemption” and “release from (debt) slavery”.

The liberty cap

The Phrygian cap or liberty cap is a soft conical cap with the top pulled forward, associated in antiquity with several peoples in Eastern Europe and Anatolia, including Phrygia, Dacia, and the Balkans.

In early modern Europe it came to signify freedom and the pursuit of liberty. In artistic representations it signifies freedom and the pursuit of liberty.

It is used in the coat of arms of certain Republics or of republican State institutions in the place where otherwise a Crown would be used (in the heraldry of monarchies). It thus came to be identified as a symbol of the republican form of government.

A number of national personifications, in particular France’s Marianne, are commonly depicted wearing the Phrygian cap. Marianne is a national symbol of the French Republic, a personification of liberty and reason, and a portrayal of the Goddess of Liberty.

Marianne is one of the most prominent symbols of the French Republic, and is officially used on most government documents. Marianne is a significant republican symbol. As a national icon she represents opposition to monarchy and the championship of freedom and democracy against all forms of oppression.

Although the image of Marianne did not garner significant attention until 1792, the origins of this “goddess of Liberty” date back to 1775, when Jean-Michel Moreau painted her as a young woman dressed in Roman style clothing with a Phrygian cap atop a pike held in one hand that years later would become a national symbol across France.

Gods and goddesses

Ishara is an ancient deity of unknown origin from northern modern Syria. She first appeared in Ebla and was incorporated to the Hurrian pantheon from which she found her way to the Hittite pantheon. In Hurrian and Semitic traditions, Išḫara is a love goddess, often identified with Inanna / Ishtar.

Ishara is a pre-Hurrian and perhaps pre-Semitic deity, later incorporated into the Hurrian pantheon. From the Hurrian Pantheon, Ishara entered the Hittite pantheon and had her main shrine in Kizzuwatna.

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.

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

Hausos (*h₂éusōs) is the reconstructed name for the Proto-Indo-European goddess of the dawn. The Dawn Goddess is hypothesised to have been one of the most important deities to the Proto-Indo-Europeans, due to the consistency of her characterisation.

Her attributes have not only been mixed with those of solar goddesses in some later traditions, but have subsequently expanded and influenced female deities in other mythologies.

Derivatives of her found throughout various Indo-European mythologies include the Greek goddess Eos, the Roman goddess Aurōra, the Vedic goddess Uṣás, the Lithuanian goddess Aušrinė (cf. Lith. aušrà “dawn”), and possibly also the (West) Germanic goddess *Austrǭ (Old English Ēostre, Old High German *Ōstara).

Due to the dawn heralding the sun and inducing the daily routine, the Dawn Goddess is associated with instilling the cosmic order. Ushas is the arouser of Ṛta, while the role of Aušrinė as the maid of the sun renders her a moral example in Lithuanian traditions and helped her syncretism with the Virgin Mary.

In spite of the association of the dawn with life, counterintuitively the dawn was possibly also associated with aging and decay in Proto-Indo-European myth, probably under the assumption that each dawn brings human beings closer to death or alternatively that sun rays induce rot.

In the Rig Veda, Ushas is “The ancient goddess, born again and again, dressed in the same color, causes the mortal to age and wears away his life-span, as a cunning gambler carries off the stakes” and “Bringing old age, thou hast come, O unageing Dawn … Unageing, thou dost make to age all else”, while in Greek Mythology Eos famously asks Zeus for Tithonus to maintain his immortality but not his age, reducing him to a cricket.

The birch tree is consistently associated with purity, spring, moral purity and light in Indo-European religions, indicating that it was possibly emblematic of the Dawn Goddess.

The Dawn Goddess was associated with weaving, a behaviour sometimes used as a metaphor for the generative properties of sunlight. This characteristic is normally seen in solar goddesses and it might indicate a large amount of syncretism between dawn and solar deities.

Nearly all reflexes are associated with reddish horses, perhaps due to syncretism with solar goddesses as well as the hypothesised relation with the Divine Twins. Red cows are also sacred to Ushas, while Eos is linked with songbirds and cicadas. Spiders are also possibly illustrative of this goddess, due to their association with weaving.

Aya (or Aja) in Akkadian mythology was a mother goddess, consort of the sun god Shamash. She developed from the Sumerian goddess Sherida, consort of Utu.

Sherida is one of the oldest Mesopotamian gods, attested in inscriptions from pre-Sargonic times, her name (as “Aya”) was a popular personal name during the Ur III period (21st-20th century BCE), making her among the oldest Semitic deities known in the region.

As the Sumerian pantheon formalized, Utu became the primary sun god and Sherida was syncretized into a subordinate role as an aspect of the sun alongside other less powerful solar deities (c.f. Ninurta) and took on the role of Utu’s consort.

Aya is Akkadian for “dawn”, and by the Akkadian period she was firmly associated with the rising sun and with sexual love. and youth. The Babylonians sometimes referred to her as kallatu (the bride), and as such she was known as the wife of Shamash.

By the Neo-Babylonian period at the latest (and possibly much earlier), Shamash and Aya were associated with a practice known as Hasadu, which is loosely translated as a “sacred marriage.”

Utu, later worshipped by East Semitic peoples as Shamash, was the ancient Mesopotamian god of the sun, justice, morality, and truth, and the twin brother of the goddess Inanna, the Queen of Heaven.

Utu was the twin brother of Inanna, the Queen of Heaven, whose domain encompassed a broad variety of different powers. In Sumerian texts, Inanna and Utu are shown as extremely close; in fact, their relationship frequently borders on incestuous.

Utu was worshipped in Sumer from the very earliest times. The oldest documents mentioning him date to around 3500 BC, during the first stages of Sumerian writing.

His main temples, which were both known as E-babbar (“White House”), were located in Sippar and in Larsa. Utu continued to be venerated until the end of Mesopotamian culture and was worshipped for well over 3,000 years.

Utu’s main personality characteristics are his kindness and generosity, but, like all other Mesopotamian deities, he was not above refusing a request which inconvenienced him.

He was believed to ride through the heavens in his sun chariot and see all things that happened in the day. He was the enforcer of divine justice and was thought to aid those in distress. Utu was believed to take an active role in human affairs, and was thought to aid those in distress.

In the Sumerian flood myth, Utu emerges after the flood waters begin to subside, causing Ziusudra, the hero of the story, to throw open a window on his boat and fall down prostrate before him. Ziusudra sacrifices a sheep and an ox to Utu for delivering him to salvation.

The Sumerians believed that, as he rode through heaven, Utu saw everything that happened in the world. Alongside his sister Inanna, Utu was the enforcer of divine justice. At night, Utu was believed to travel through the Underworld as he journeyed to the east in preparation for the sunrise.

The Sumerians believed that, as he rode through heaven, Utu saw everything that happened in the world. Alongside his sister Inanna, Utu was the enforcer of divine justice. At night, Utu was believed to travel through the Underworld as he journeyed to the east in preparation for the sunrise.

On his way through the Underworld, Utu was believed to pass through the garden of the sun-god, which contained trees that bore precious gems as fruit.

According to Sumerian mythology, he helped protect Dumuzid when the galla demons tried to drag him to the Underworld and he appeared to the hero Ziusudra after the Great Flood. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, he helps Gilgamesh defeat the ogre Humbaba.

The Sun goddess of Arinna is the chief goddess and wife of the weather god Tarḫunna in Hittite mythology. She protected the Hittite kingdom and was called the “Queen of all lands.” Her cult centre was the sacred city of Arinna.

In addition to the Sun goddess of Arinna, the Hittites also worshipped the Sun goddess of the Earth and the Sun god of Heaven, while the Luwians originally worshipped the old Proto-Indo-European Sun god Tiwaz.

Distinguishing the various solar deities in the texts is difficult since most are simply written with the Sumerogram dUTU (Solar deity). As a result, the interpretation of the solar deities remains a subject of debate.

During the Hittite New Kingdom, she was identified with the Hurrian-Syrian goddess Hepat, also transcribed, Khepat, also spelled Hepa or Hepatu. Her name has been compared to Hebrew Ḥawwa (Eve) and with Greek Hecate.

Hebat was the mother goddess of the Hurrians, known as the mother of all living and “Queen of heaven”. She is represented as a matronly figure either standing on a lion or seated on a throne. The mother goddess is likely to have had a later counterpart in the Phrygian goddess Cybele (Phrygian: Matar Kubileya/Kubeleya “Kubileya/Kubeleya Mother”, perhaps “Mountain Mother”).

Cybele is an Anatolian mother goddess; she may have a possible precursor in the earliest neolithic at Çatalhöyük in Anatolia, where statues of plump women, sometimes sitting, have been found in excavations dated to the 6th millennium BC and identified by some as a mother goddess.

She is Phrygia’s only known goddess, and was probably its state deity. Her Phrygian cult was adopted and adapted by Greek colonists of Asia Minor and spread to mainland Greece and its more distant western colonies around the 6th century BC. In Greece, Cybele met with a mixed reception. She was partially assimilated to aspects of the Earth-goddess Gaia, her Minoan equivalent Rhea, and the harvest–mother goddess Demeter.

In Rome, Cybele was known as Magna Mater (“Great Mother”). Roman mythographers reinvented her as a Trojan goddess, and thus an ancestral goddess of the Roman people by way of the Trojan prince Aeneas. With Rome’s eventual hegemony over the Mediterranean world, Romanized forms of Cybele’s cults spread throughout the Roman Empire.

In Greco-Roman mythology, Aeneas (“praised”) was a Trojan hero, the son of the prince Anchises and the goddess Aphrodite (Venus). His father was a first cousin of King Priam of Troy (both being grandsons of Ilus, founder of Troy), making Aeneas a second cousin to Priam’s children (such as Hector and Paris).

He is a character in Greek mythology and is mentioned in Homer’s Iliad. Aeneas receives full treatment in Roman mythology, most extensively in Virgil’s Aeneid, where he is an ancestor of Romulus and Remus

Many of her Greek cults included rites to a divine Phrygian castrate shepherd-consort Attis, who was the consort of Cybele in Phrygian and Greek mythology. His priests were eunuchs, the Galli, as explained by origin myths pertaining to Attis and castration. Attis was also a Phrygian god of vegetation. In his self-mutilation, death and resurrection he represents the fruits of the earth which die in winter only to rise again in the spring.

The Hilaria (“cheerful, merry”) were ancient Roman religious festivals celebrated on the March equinox to honor Cybele. It was a day on which a person married, and on which a son was born. The day of its celebration was the first after the vernal equinox, or the first day of the year which was longer than the night. The winter with its gloom had died, and the first day of a better season was spent in rejoicings.

Adonis was the mortal lover of the goddess Aphrodite in Greek mythology. Adonis’s name comes from a Canaanite word meaning “lord”, which is related to Adonai, one of the titles used to refer to the God of the Hebrew Bible and still used in Judaism to the present day. Modern scholars consider the story of Aphrodite and Adonis to be derived from the earlier Mesopotamian myth of Inanna (Ishtar) and Dumuzid (Tammuz).

Aphrodite is the ancient Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation. She is identified with the planet Venus, which is named after the Roman goddess Venus, with whom Aphrodite was extensively syncretized. Aphrodite’s major symbols include myrtles, roses, doves, sparrows, and swans.

Isis was a major goddess in ancient Egyptian religion whose worship spread throughout the Greco-Roman world. Isis was first mentioned in the Old Kingdom (c. 2686–2181 BCE) as one of the main characters of the Osiris myth, in which she resurrects her slain husband, the divine king Osiris, and produces and protects his heir, Horus.

The worship of Isis was ended by the rise of Christianity 400-500 CE. Her worship may have influenced some Christian beliefs and practices, such as the veneration of Mary, but the evidence for this influence is ambiguous and often controversial. Isis continues to appear in Western culture, particularly in esotericism and modern paganism, often as a personification of nature or the feminine aspect of divinity.

She was usually portrayed in art as a human woman wearing a throne-like hieroglyph on her head. During the New Kingdom (c. 1550–1070 BCE), as she took on traits that originally belonged to Hathor, the preeminent goddess of earlier times, Isis came to be portrayed wearing Hathor’s headdress: a sun disk between the horns of a cow.

The planet Mars is named after the Roman god of war Mars. In Babylonian astronomy, the planet was named after Nergal, their deity of fire, war, and destruction, most likely due to the planet’s reddish appearance. The planet was known by the ancient Egyptians as “Horus of the Horizon”, then later Her Deshur (“Ḥr Dšr”), or “Horus the Red”.

In the Skanda Purana, a Hindu religious text, Mars is known as the deity Mangala and was born from the sweat of Shiva. The planet is called Angaraka in Sanskrit, after the celibate god of war who possesses the signs of Aries and Scorpio, and teaches the occult sciences.

Arta / rta – Druj

Asha (also arta; Avestan: aša/arta) is a concept of cardinal importance to Zoroastrian theology and doctrine. In the moral sphere, aša/arta represents what has been called “the decisive confessional concept of Zoroastrianism”. Its Old Persian equivalent is arta-. In Middle Iranian languages the term appears as ard-.

Avestan aša and its Vedic equivalent ṛtá both derive from Proto-Indo-Iranian *ṛtá- “truth”, which in turn continues Proto-Indo-European *hr-to- “properly joined, right, true”, from the root *har.

It is unclear whether the Avestan variation between aša and arta is merely orthographical. Benveniste suggested š was only a convenient way of writing rt and should not be considered phonetically relevant. According to Gray, š is a misreading, representing – not /ʃ/ – but /rr/, of uncertain phonetic value but “probably” representing a voiceless r.

The significance of the term is complex, with a highly nuanced range of meaning. It is commonly summarized in accord with its contextual implications of ‘truth’ and ‘right(eousness)’, ‘order’ and ‘right working’. The word is also the proper name of the divinity Asha, the Amesha Spenta that is the hypostasis or “genius” of “Truth” or “Righteousness”.

The opposite of Avestan aša is druj, “deceit, falsehood”. Avestan druj, like its Vedic Sanskrit cousin druh, appears to derive from the PIE root *dhreugh, also continued in Persian d[o]rūġ “lie”, German Trug “fraud, deception”. Old Norse draugr and Middle Irish airddrach mean “spectre, spook”. The Sanskrit cognate druh means “affliction, afflicting demon”.

In Avestan, druj- has a secondary derivation, the adjective drəguuaṇt- (Later Avestan druuaṇt-), “partisan of deception, deceiver” for which the superlative draojišta- and perhaps the comparative draoj(ii)ah- are attested.

The concept of Ṛta originally arose in the Indo-Aryan period from a consideration of the natural order of the world and of the occurrences taking place within it as doing so with a kind of causal necessity. Ṛta was understood to manifest itself as the imperative force behind both the moral order of society as well as the correct performance of Vedic rituals.

The notion of a universal principle of natural order is by no means unique to the Vedas, and Ṛta has been compared to similar ideas in other cultures, such as Ma’at in Ancient Egyptian religion, Moira and the Logos in Greek paganism, and the Tao.

In Sumerian mythology, a me ( Sumerian: me; Akkadian: paršu) is one of the decrees of the gods that is 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 mes were originally collected by Enlil and then handed over to the guardianship of Enki, who was to broker them out to the various Sumerian centers, beginning with his own city of Eridu and continuing with Ur, Meluhha, and Dilmun.

Maat or Ma’at refers to the ancient Egyptian concepts of truth, balance, order, harmony, law, morality, and justice. Maat was also the goddess who personified these concepts, and regulated the stars, seasons, and the actions of mortals and the deities who had brought order from chaos at the moment of creation.

Her ideological opposite was Isfet or Asfet (meaning “injustice”, “chaos”, or “violence”; as a verb, “to do evil”), an ancient Egyptian term from Egyptian mythology used in philosophy, which was built on a religious, social and politically affected dualism.

Isfet was thought to be the counterpart of the term Ma’at (meaning “(world-) order” or “harmony”). According to ancient Egyptian beliefs, Isfet and Ma’at built a complementary and also paradoxical dualism: one could not exist without its counterpart. Isfet and Ma’at balanced each other.

Ma’at was to overcome isfet, “that which is difficult,” “evil,” “difficult,” “disharmonious,” and “troublesome.” Isfet was to be overcome by good and to replace disunity with unity and disorder with order.

An Egyptian king (pharaoh) was appointed to “achieve” Ma’at, which means that he had to keep and protect justice and harmony by destroying Isfet. A responsible kingship meant that Egypt would remain in prosperity and at peace of Ma’at.

However, if Isfet were to rise, humanity would decay and return to a primordial state. Decay was unacceptable as a natural course of events, which meant that the world was separated from the cosmos and away from order.

The universe was cyclical meaning it had repeated sequences: the daily sunsetting and its rising, annual seasons and flooding of the Nile. On the other hand, when Ma’at was absent, and Isfet unleashed then the Nile flood failed and the country fell into famine.

Therefore, Ancient Egyptians believed through their rituals of the cosmic order it would bring forth prosperity to the gods and goddesses who controlled the cosmos. The principles of the contrariness between Isfet and Ma’at are exemplified in a popular tale from the Middle Kingdom, called “the moaning of the Bedouin”.

Armenia (Ara)

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On the origin of the Greeks – The Graeco-Armeno-Aryan family and the origin of the Indo-European languages

Posted by Fredsvenn on June 23, 2018

“Minoans, Mycenaeans, and modern Greeks also had some ancestry related to the ancient people of the Caucasus, Armenia, and Iran,” said co-lead author Dr. Iosif Lazaridis, a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard Medical School.

Minoans and Mycenaeans were genetically similar, having at least three-quarters of their ancestry from the first Neolithic farmers of western Anatolia and the Aegean, and most of the remainder from ancient populations related to those of the Caucasus and Iran.

However, the Mycenaeans differed from Minoans in deriving additional ancestry from an ultimate source related to the hunter–gatherers of eastern Europe and Siberia, introduced via a proximal source related to the inhabitants of either the Eurasian steppe or Armenia. 

The Minoan civilization was an Aegean Bronze Age civilization on the island of Crete and other Aegean Islands which flourished from about 2600 to 1600 BC, before a late period of decline, finally ending around 1100. It preceded the Mycenaean civilization of ancient Greece.

The civilization was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century through the work of British archaeologist Arthur Evans. It has been described as the earliest of its kind in Europe, with historian Will Durant calling the Minoans “the first link in the European chain”.

The term “Minoan”, which refers to the mythical King Minos, originally described in the pottery of the period. Minos was associated in Greek mythology with the labyrinth and the Minotaur, which Evans identified with the site at Knossos (the largest Minoan site). According to Homer, Crete once had 90 cities.

The Minoan period saw trade between Crete, Aegean and Mediterranean settlements, particularly the Near East. Through their traders and artists, the Minoan cultural influence reached beyond Crete to the Cyclades, the Old Kingdom of Egypt, copper-bearing Cyprus, Canaan and the Levantine coast and Anatolia.

“Horns of Consecration” is an expression coined by Sir Arthur Evans to describe the symbol, ubiquitous in Minoan civilization, that represents the horns of the sacred bull: Sir Arthur Evans concluded, after noting numerous examples in Minoan and Mycenaean contexts, that the Horns of Consecration were “a more or less conventionalised article of ritual furniture derived from the actual horns of the sacrificial oxen”

The much-photographed porous limestone horns of consecration on the East Propyleia at Knossos (illustration, right) are restorations, but horns of consecration in stone or clay were placed on the roofs of buildings in Neopalatial Crete, or on tombs or shrines, probably as signs of sanctity of the structure.

The symbol also appears on Minoan seals, often accompanied by double axes and bucrania, which are part of the iconography of Minoan bull sacrifice. Horns of consecration are among the cultic images painted on the Minoan coffins called larnakes, sometimes in isolation; they may have flowers between the horns, or the labrys.

Excavations in the past twenty years have strongly suggested that the Minoan “horns” have their origins in Anatolia. In Anatolia, horned objects which we consider served as precursors of the Minoan “horns of consecration” fall into three classes.

Examples of the first of these classes have been found in EB II hearths at Beycesultan in western Anatolia and at Tarsus, ocated on the mouth of the Berdan River (Cydnus in antiquity), which empties into the Mediterranean.

Survivals of this type of “horns” are also found in Late Bronze Age Kusura C and Beycesultan III–II. The second class consists of the pot-stands or andirons connected with Khirbet Kerak ware in the ‘Amuq, Palestine, north-east Anatolia, and the Caucasus.

Dark Faced Burnished Ware or DFBW is the earliest form of pottery developed in the western world. Some notable examples of Dark Faced Burnished Ware (DFBW) were found at Tell Judaidah (and nearby Tell Dhahab) in Amuq as well as at Ras Shamra and Tell Boueid in north western Syria.

Neolithic Ras Shamra, also known as Ugarit was important enough to be fortified with a wall early on, perhaps by 6000 BCE, though the site is thought to have been inhabited earlier. Ugarit was important perhaps because it was both a port and at the entrance of the inland trade route to the Euphrates and Tigris lands.

Ugarit had close connections to the Hittite Empire, sent tribute to Egypt at times, and maintained trade and diplomatic connections with Cyprus (then called Alashiya), documented in the archives recovered from the site and corroborated by Mycenaean and Cypriot pottery found there.

The city reached its heyday between 1800 and 1200 BC, when it ruled a trade-based coastal kingdom, trading with Egypt, Cyprus, the Aegean, Syria, the Hittites, and much of the eastern Mediterranean.

Alashiya, also spelled Alasiya, was a state which existed in the Middle and Late Bronze Ages, and was situated somewhere in the Eastern Mediterranean. It was a major source of goods, especially copper, for Ancient Egypt and other states in the Ancient Near East. It is referred to in a number of the surviving texts and is now thought to be the ancient name of Cyprus, or an area of Cyprus.

The name of the state transliterated as “Alashiya” is found on texts written in Egyptian, Hittite, Akkadian, Mycenean (Linear B) and Ugaritic. It corresponds to the Biblical Elishah. Alashiya had sizable copper production during the Bronze Age.

The Hurrians had a reputation in metallurgy. The Sumerians borrowed their copper terminology from the Hurrian vocabulary. Copper was traded south to Mesopotamia from the Armenian Highland.

The Khabur Valley had a central position in the metal trade. Khabur ware, a specific type of pottery named after the Khabur River region, in northeastern Syria, where large quantities of it were found, is characterized by reddish painted lines with a geometric triangular pattern and dots. The pottery’s distribution is not confined to the Khabur region, but spreads across northern Iraq and is also found at a few sites in Turkey and Iran.

Other finds of DFBW have been made at Yumuktepe in Mersin on the Mediterranean coast of southern Anatolia where comparative studies were made defining different categories of ware that have been generally grouped as DFBW.

It is thought to have come as a development of White Ware and takes its name from the often dark coloured choice of clays from which it is made. DFBW has long been considered the forebear of the more polished examples such as Ancient Greek pottery. Fine painting on Greek pottery goes back to the Minoan pottery and Mycenaean pottery of the Bronze Age, some later examples of which show the ambitious figurative painting that was to become highly developed and typical.

After many centuries dominated by styles of geometric decoration, becoming increasingly complex, figurative elements returned in force in the 8th century. From the late 7th century to about 300 BC evolving styles of figure-led painting were at their peak of production and quality and were widely exported.

Ghassulian culture, a culture and an archaeological stage dating to the Middle and Late Chalcolithic Period in the Southern Levant (c. 4400 – c. 3500 BC), correlates closely with the Amratian (4000 to 3500 BC), a culture of prehistoric Upper Egypt, and also seems to have affinities (e.g., the distinctive churns, or “bird vases”) with early Minoan materials in Crete.

The Ghassulian culture has been identified at numerous other places in southern Palestine, especially in the region of Beersheba. Its type-site, Teleilat Ghassul (Teleilat el-Ghassul, Tulaylat al-Ghassul), is located in the eastern Jordan Valley near the northern edge of the Dead Sea, in modern Jordan.

The Ghassulian stage was characterized by small settlements of farming peoples, immigrants from the north, who built mud-brick, trapezoid-shaped houses or underground dwellings and created remarkable polychrome wall paintings. Their pottery was highly elaborate, including footed bowls and horn-shaped drinking goblets, indicating the cultivation of wine.

Their pottery was elaborate in style, and included footed bowls and horn-shaped goblets. Several samples display the use of sculptural decoration or of a reserved slip (a clay and water coating partially wiped away while still wet). The Ghassulians also smelted copper. Evidence indicates that they buried their dead in stone dolmens.

Natufian culture also demonstrates the earliest domestication of the dog, and the assistance of this animal in hunting and guarding human settlements may have contributed to the successful spread of this culture.

In the northern Syrian, eastern Anatolian region of the Levant, Natufian culture at Cayonu and Mureybet developed the first fully agricultural culture with the addition of wild grains, later being supplemented with domesticated sheep and goats, which were probably domesticated first by the Zarzian culture of Northern Iraq and Iran, which like the Natufian culture may have also developed from Kebaran.

By 8500–7500 BC, the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) culture developed out of the earlier local tradition of Natufian in Southern Palestine, dwelling in round houses, and building the first defensive site at Jericho (guarding a valuable fresh water spring).

This was replaced in 7500 BC by Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB), dwelling in square houses, coming from Northern Syria and the Euphrates bend. Like the earlier PPNA people, the PPNB culture developed from the Mesolithic Natufian culture. However, it shows evidence of a northerly origin, possibly indicating an influx from the region of north eastern Anatolia and Southern Caucasus, Armenia.

The culture disappeared during the 8.2 kiloyear event, a term that have been adopted for a sudden decrease in global temperatures that occurred approximately 8,200 years before the present, or c. 6200 BC, and which lasted for the next two to four centuries.

In the following Munhatta and Yarmukian post-pottery Neolithic cultures that succeeded it, rapid cultural development continues, although PPNB culture continued in the Amuq valley, where it influenced the later development of the Ghassulian culture.

The Pre-Pottery Neolithic culture came to an end around the time of the 8.2 kiloyear event. At ‘Ain Ghazal, located along the banks of the Zarqa River near Amman, Jordan, the culture continued a few more centuries as the so-called Pre-Pottery Neolithic C culture. At the site of ‘Ain Ghazal the early Pottery Neolithic (PN) period is dated from 6,400 to 5,000 BC.

During the period of 8500–7500 BC, another hunter-gatherer group, showing clear affinities with the cultures of Egypt (particularly the Outacha retouch technique for working stone) was in Sinai.

This Harifian culture may have adopted the use of pottery from the Isnan culture and Helwan culture of Egypt, which lasted from 9000 to 4500 BC, and subsequently fused with elements from the PPNB culture during the climatic crisis of 6000 BC.

It has been proposed that a Circum Arabian Nomadic Pastoral Complex developed in the period from the climatic crisis of 6200 BCE. Partly as a result of an increasing emphasis in PPNB cultures upon domesticated animals, and a fusion with Harifian hunter gatherers in the Southern Levant, with affiliate connections with the cultures of Fayyum and the Eastern Desert of Egypt.

Cultures practicing this lifestyle spread southwards along the Red Sea coast and moved east from Syria into southern Iraq. These cultures are represented by the spread of the first Nomadic pastoralists in the Ancient Near East and probably became associated with the first appearance of Semites in this area.

These extended cultures penetrated the Arabian bifacial cultures, which became progressively more Neolithic and pastoral, and extending north and eastwards, to lay the foundations for the tent-dwelling Martu and Akkadian peoples of Mesopotamia.

In the Amuq valley of Syria, PPNB culture seems to have survived, influencing further cultural developments further south. Nomadic elements fused with PPNB to form the Minhata Culture and Yarmukian Culture (6400–6000 BC) located in the central Jordan Valley, on the northern bank of the Yarmouk River.

The Yarmoukian people abandoned their nomadic lifestyle in favor of permanent settlement, marking the shift from hunting and gathering to agriculture. It is the oldest culture in the Levant to make use of pottery. The pottery vessels are in a variety of shapes and sizes and were put to various domestic uses.

The Minhata Culture and Yarmukian Culture were to spread southwards, beginning the development of the classic mixed farming Mediterranean culture, and from 5600 BC were associated with the Ghassulian culture of the region, the first chalcolithic culture of the Levant. This period also witnessed the development of megalithic structures, which continued into the Bronze Age.

The reasons for the slow decline of the Minoan civilization, beginning around 1550 BC, are unclear; theories include Mycenaean invasions from mainland Greece and the major volcanic eruption of Santorini. Some of its best art is preserved in the city of Akrotiri on the island of Santorini, which was destroyed by the Minoan eruption.

The Minoan language is the language (or languages) of the ancient Minoan civilization of Crete written in the Cretan hieroglyphs and later in the Linear A syllabary. Though meager, the inscriptions show a language that bears no obvious kinship to Indo-European or Semitic languages; the language appears to be unrelated to Etruscan or any other known ancient language of the Aegean or Asia Minor.

Raymond A. Brown, after listing a number of words of pre-Greek origin from Crete suggests a relation between Eteocretan, Lemnian (Pelasgian), Minoan, and Tyrrhenian, coining the name “Aegeo-Asianic” for the proposed language family.

While Eteocretan is possibly descended from the Minoan language of Linear A inscriptions of a millennium earlier, until there is an accepted decipherment of Linear A, that language must also remain unclassified and the question of a relationship between the two remains speculative, especially as there seem to have been other non-Greek languages spoken in Crete.

As the Cretan hieroglyphs are undeciphered and Linear A only partly deciphered, the Minoan language is unknown and unclassified. Indeed, with the existing evidence, it seems impossible to be certain that the two scripts record the same language, or even that a single language is recorded in each. The Eteocretan language, attested in a few alphabetic inscriptions from Crete 1,000 years later, is possibly a descendant of Minoan, but it is itself unclassified.

Tyrsenian (also Tyrrhenian), named after the Tyrrhenians, is a hypothetical extinct family of closely related ancient languages proposed by Helmut Rix (1998), that consists of the Etruscan language of central Italy, the Raetic language of the Alps, and the Lemnian language of the Aegean Sea.

A larger Aegean family including Eteocretan, Minoan and Eteocypriot has been proposed by G. M. Facchetti, and is supported by S. Yatsemirsky, referring to some alleged similarities between on the one hand Etruscan and Lemnian (a language attested in the Aegean, widely thought to be related to Etruscan), and on the other hand some languages such as Minoan and Eteocretan.

If these languages could be shown to be related to Etruscan and Rhaetic, they would constitute a pre-Indo-European family stretching from (at the very least) the Aegean islands and Crete across mainland Greece and the Italian peninsula to the Alps. Facchetti proposes a hypothetical language family derived from Minoan in two branches.

From Minoan he proposes a Proto-Tyrrhenian from which would have come the Etruscan, Lemnian and Rhaetic languages. James Mellaart has proposed that this language family is related to the pre-Indo-European Anatolian languages, based upon place name analysis. From another Minoan branch would have come the Eteocretan language.

A relation with the Anatolian languages within Indo-European has been proposed, but is not generally accepted (although Leonard R. Palmer did show that some Linear A inscriptions were sensible as a variant of Luwian).

If these languages are an early Indo-European stratum rather than pre-Indo-European, they would be associated with Krahe’s Old European hydronymy and would date back to a Kurganization during the early Bronze Age.

A number of mainly Soviet or post-Soviet linguists, including Sergei Starostin, suggested a link between the Tyrrhenian languages and the Northeast Caucasian languages, based on claimed sound correspondences between Etruscan, Hurrian and Northeast Caucasian languages, numerals, grammatical structures and phonologies. This claim was renewed by Ed Robertson (2006).

The language group would have died out around the 3rd century BC in the Aegean (by assimilation of the speakers to Greek), and as regards Etruscan around the 1st century AD in Italy (by assimilation to Latin). Finally, Raetic died out in the 3rd century AD, by assimilation to Vulgar Latin, and later to Germanic in the north.

A new study that aims to investigate the biological origins of the Etruscans has revealed a migration event from the Armenian Highlands into Tuscany (Central Italy) at around 850 BCE. The analysis revealed that people of Tuscany poses a sizable amount of genetic traces from Middle East in particular the Armenian Highlands.

Of all the Mid-East populations tested in the study, Armenians appear to show the least amount of difference with people of Tuscany and the greatest amount of genetic affinity. The data indicate that the admixture event between local Tuscans and Middle Easterners could have occurred in Central Italy about 2,600–3,100 years ago (y.a.). This coincides with the advent of the Etruscan civilization.

Interestingly, these results appears to coincide with the accounts of some ancient historians like Herodotus who theorized that Etruscans emigrated from Asia Minor around 1,200 BCE as the result of a famine. Norwegian scholar Dr. Bugge, also suggested that the Etruscan language was of Armenian extraction.

Other scholars like Vahan M. Kurkjian have identified Urartean art, architecture, language and general cultural traces of kinship to the Etruscans of the Italian peninsula. Armenian genetic traces among the populations of Tuscany therefore corroborate with the Etruscan-Armenian theory.

The technique of casting bronze ornaments spread from Urartu to the neighboring countries, in particular to Phrygia, and then to Europe. Urartian cauldron ornaments have been found in Rhodes, Athens, Boeotia, Delphi, Olympia and in Etruscan tombs.

Urartu, which corresponds to the biblical mountains of Ararat, is the name of a geographical region commonly used as the exonym for the Iron Age kingdom also known by the modern rendition of its endonym, the Kingdom of Van, centered around Lake Van in the Armenian Highlands.

The written language that the kingdom’s political elite used is referred to as Urartian, which appears in cuneiform inscriptions in Armenia and eastern Turkey. Other names used to refer to the language are “Khaldian” (also “Haldian”), or “neo-Hurrian”.

The Hurro-Urartian languages are an extinct language family of the Ancient Near East, comprising only two known languages: Hurrian and Urartian, both of which were spoken in the Taurus mountains area.

It is unknown what language was spoken by the peoples of Urartu at the time of the existence of the kingdom, but there is linguistic evidence of contact between the proto-Armenian language and the Urartian language at an early date (sometime between the 3rd—2nd millennium BC), occurring prior to the formation of Urartu as a kingdom.

The kingdom rose to power in the mid-9th century BC, but went into gradual decline and was eventually conquered by the Iranian Medes in the early 6th century BC. The geopolitical region would re-emerge as Armenia shortly after. Being heirs to the Urartian realm, the earliest identifiable ancestors of the Armenians are the peoples of Urartu.

Although the Minoan language and writing systems (Linear A) remain undeciphered, and are the subject of academic dispute, they apparently conveyed a language entirely different from the later Greek. It is related to the Linear B script, which succeeded the Linear A and was used by the Mycenaean civilization.

Mycenaean Greece (or Mycenaean civilization) was the last phase of the Bronze Age in Ancient Greece, spanning the period from approximately 1600–1100 BC. It represents the first advanced civilization in mainland Greece, with its palatial states, urban organization, works of art and writing system. Mycenaean Greek is the most ancient attested form of the Greek language, .

Ancient DNA analysis reveals Minoan and Mycenaean origins. An analysis of ancient DNA has revealed that Ancient Minoans and Mycenaens were genetically similar with both peoples descending from early Neolithic farmers. They likely migrated from Anatolia to Greece and Crete thousands of years prior to the Bronze Age. Modern Greeks, in turn, are largely descendants of the Mycenaeans, the study found.

Minoans, Mycenaeans, and modern Greeks also had some ancestry related to the ancient people of the Caucasus, Armenia, and Iran. This finding suggests that some migration occurred in the Aegean and southwestern Anatolia from further east after the time of the earliest farmers.

While both Minoans and Mycenaeans had both “first farmer” and “eastern” genetic origins, Mycenaeans traced an additional minor component of their ancestry to ancient inhabitants of Eastern Europe and northern Eurasia. This type of so-called Ancient North Eurasian (ANE) ancestry is one of the three ancestral populations of present-day Europeans, and is also found in modern Greeks.

The difference between the two groups is that the Mycenaeans had 4-16% of DNA of ancestors from Eastern Europe or Siberia. This suggests that a second wave of people from the Eurasian steppe came to mainland Greece by way of Eastern Europe or Armenia.

This type of so-called Ancient North Eurasian (ANE) ancestry is one of the three ancestral populations of present-day Europeans, and is also found in modern Greeks. Modern Greeks share similar proportions of DNA from the same ancestral sources as Mycenaeans, although they have inherited a little less DNA from ancient Anatolian farmers and a bit more DNA from later migrations to Greece.

Genomic studies also indicate that ANE was introduced to Europe by way of the Yamna culture, long after the Paleolithic. The ANE genetic component is visible in tests of the Yamnaya people, and seems to make up 50% of their ancestry indirectly. It is also reported in modern-day Europeans (5%–18% ANE admixture), but not of Europeans predating the Bronze Age.

Pre-Kura-Araxes/Late Chalcolithic materials from the settlement of Boyuk Kesik and the kurgan necropolis of Soyuq Bulaq in northwestern Azerbaijan, and a pre-Kura-Araxes kurgan, Kavtiskhevi, in central Georgia, can be related to remains from the metal-working Late Chalcolithic site of Leilatepe on the Karabakh steppe near Agdam (Narimanov et al. 2007) and from the earliest level at the multi-period site of Berikldeebi in Kvemo Kartli.

They reveal the presence of early 4th millennium raised burial mounds or kurgans in the southern Caucasus. Similarly, on the basis of her survey work in eastern Anatolia north of the Oriental Taurus mountains, C. Marro (2007)likens chafffaced wares collected at Hanago in the Sürmeli Plain and Astepe and Colpan in the eastern Lake Van district in northeastern Turkey with those found at the sites mentioned above and relates these to similar wares (Amuq E/F) found south of the Taurus Mountains in northern Mesopotamia

The dating of the Maikop culture essentially signifies that there is no chronological hiatus separating the collapse of the Chalcolithic Balkan centre of metallurgical production and the appearance of Maikop and the sudden explosion of Caucasian metallurgical production and use of arsenical copper/bronzes.

More than forty calibrated radiocarbon dates on Maikop and related materials now support this high chronology; and the revised dating for the Maikop culture means that the earliest kurgans occur in the northwestern and southern Caucasus and precede by several centuries those of the Pit-Grave (Yamnaya) cultures of the western Eurasian steppes.

The calibrated radiocarbon dates suggest that the Maikop ‘culture’ seems to have had a formative influence on steppe kurgan burial rituals and what now appears to be the later development of the Pit-Grave (Yamnaya) culture on the Eurasian steppes.

In other words, sometime around the middle of the 4th millennium BCE or slightly subsequent to the initial appearance of the Maikop culture of the NW Caucasus, settlements containing proto-Kura-Araxes or early Kura-Araxes materials first appear across a broad area that stretches from the Caspian littoral of the northeastern Caucasus in the north to the Erzurum region of the Anatolian Plateau in the west.

For simplicity’s sake these roughly simultaneous developments across this broad area will be considered as representing the beginnings of the Early Bronze Age or the initial stages of development of the KuraAraxes/Early Transcaucasian culture.

The ‘homeland’ (itself a very problematic concept) of the Kura-Araxes culture-historical community is difficult to pinpoint precisely, a fact that may suggest that there is no single well-demarcated area of origin, but multiple interacting areas including northeastern Anatolia as far as the Erzurum area, the catchment area drained by the Upper Middle Kura and Araxes Rivers in Transcaucasia and the Caspian corridor and adjacent mountainous regions of northeastern Azerbaijan and southeastern Daghestan.

The Kura-Araxes culture originated in the south Caucasian piedmont. Its beginning was virtually the same time as Majkop (C. 3800 – 3500BC), and both likely began due to influences and impulses from the Mesopotamia and/or Iran, whether trade or colonization, etc.

The culture of the Transcaucasian heartland of Georgia, Armenia, eastern Anatolia and Azerbaijan (i.e., the basin of the Kura and Araxes Rivers, sensu lato) is linked to pottery observed in early 3rd millennium BCE sites in Iran (Yanik Tepe ware), southeast Anatolia (Red/Black Burnished ware) and the Levant (Khirbet Kerak ware), thereby establishing the existence of one of the most extensive ceramic provinces of the Ancient Near East.

Notably absent at Cilician sites, but well-represented in the Amuq (Phase H), Red Black Burnished Ware can be traced to earlier traditions in northeastern Anatolia and the Kura and Araxes Valleys of Transcaucasia (modern Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan), where it is referred to as Karaz or Pulur Ware, and later in the southern Levant, where it is called Khirbet Kerak Ware.

Named after the south Levantine type-site of Khirbet Kerak (Beit Yerah), on the southern shores of the Sea of Galilee / Lake Kinneret (in which excavations the ware was first defined during the 1920s), Khirbet Kerak Ware is also known as Red Black Burnished Ware (sometimes hyphenated “Red-Black”) in west Syrian and Amuq Valley contexts. In Transcaucasia – from which area it seems ultimately to have originated – the ware is also referred to as Karaz or Pulur Ware.

The Red Black Burnished Ware is also found in significant quantities along the Syrian coast (at such sites as Ras Shamra – Ugarit and its neighbours) and in the Orontes River valley (the Amuq plain, Hama, Ghab).

The red-black burnished ware (Karaz ware) is recovered in large quantities from the Early Bronze Age (EBA) II and IIIa levels at Tell Ta’yinat, a low-lying ancient tell on the east bank at the bend of the ancient Orontes river along the southwestern edge of the Amuq valley. It is among the most commonly used pottery on the site. This type of pottery diminishes through the end of the last phase of EBA.

The beginning of mobile populations, marked by kurgans and the contemporaneous building of walls at Shengavit, Mokhra Blur, and Ravaz, is already evident in the early 3rd millennium BC. Ultimately, in the homeland, the Kura-Araxes adaptation would be displaced by a more mobile and militaristic one associated with the so-called Kurgan Cultures.

By 3000 BCE, groups bearing this identity had migrated from the south Caucasus to southwest across a wide area from the Taurus Mountains down into the southern Levant, southeast along the Zagros Mountains, and north across the Caucasus Mountains. So the expansion from the southern Caucasus to southwest and southeast mirrors that from Majkop to the Northeast and Northwest.

While broadly (and somewhat imprecisely) defined, these regions constitute on present evidence the original core area out of which the Kura-Araxes ‘culture-historical community’ emerged. Kura-Araxes materials found in other areas are primarily intrusive in the local sequences.

Indeed, many, but not all, sites in the Malatya area along the Upper Euphrates drainage of eastern Anatolia (e.g., Norsun-tepe, Arslantepe) and western Iran (e.g., Yanik Tepe, Godin Tepe) exhibit— albeit with some overlap—a relatively sharp break in material remains, including new forms of architecture and domestic dwellings, and such changes support the interpretation of a subsequent spread or dispersal from this broadly defined core area in the north to the southwest and southeast.

The archaeological record seems to document a movement of peoples north to south across a very extensive part of the Ancient Near East from the end of the 4th to the first half of the 3rd millennium BCE. Although migrations are notoriously difficult to document on archaeological evidence, these materials constitute one of the best examples of prehistoric movements of peoples available for the Early Bronze Age.

The Yamna period is the most important one in the creation of Indo-European culture and society. The Yamna culture is identified with the late Proto-Indo-Europeans, and is the strongest candidate for the Urheimat (homeland) of the Proto-Indo-European language along with the preceding Sredny Stog culture.

The Yamna people were the likely result of admixture between eastern European hunter-gatherers with high affinity to the Mal’ta–Buret’ culture or other closely related people and hunter-gatherers from the Caucasus (CHG), who probably arrived from somewhere in the Near East, and is identified as related to a Chalcolithic people from the Armenian Highland.

A 2015 genetic study by Haak et al. (2015) argues that their findings of gene flow of a population that shares traits with modern-day Armenians into the Yamna pastoralist culture lends support to the Armenian hypothesis since the Yamna partly descended from a Near Eastern population, which resembles present-day Armenians.

David Reich, in his 2018 publication Who We Are and How We Got Here, states that the most likely location of the population that first spoke an Indo-European language was south of the Caucasus Mountains, perhaps in present-day Iran or Armenia.

This because ancient DNA from people who lived there matches what we would expect for a source population both for the Yamna and for ancient Anatolians. Nevertheless, Reich also states that some, if not most of the Indo-European languages were spread by the Yamna people.

The Catacomb culture (c. 2800–2200 BC) is a group of related cultures in the early Bronze Age in the Pontic steppe occupying essentially what is present-day eastern Ukraine and southern Russia. It was preceded by the Yamna culture.

Within the context of the Kurgan hypothesis an Indo-European component is speculated about, particularly in the later stages. Placing the ancestors of the Greek, Albanian and Armenian (perhaps Paleo-Balkan) dialects here is tempting, as it would neatly explain certain shared features.

Grigoryev’s (1998) version of the Armenian hypothesis connects Catacomb culture with Indo-Aryans, because catacomb burial ritual had roots in the southwestern Turkmenistan as can be seen at the Parkhai cemetery in the Sumbar Valley Region, which researchers have concluded is from 3000-2250 BC.

The Graeco-Armenian hypothesis originated in 1924 with Holger Pedersen, who noted that agreements between Armenian and Greek lexical cognates are more common than between Armenian and any other Indo-European language.

During the mid-to-late 1920s, Antoine Meillet further investigated morphological and phonological agreements and postulated that the parent languages of Greek and Armenian were dialects in immediate geographical proximity to their patent language, Proto-Indo-European.

Meillet’s hypothesis became popular in the wake of his Esquisse d’une grammaire comparée de l’arménien classique. G. R. Solta does not go as far as postulating a Proto-Graeco-Armenian stage but concludes that the lexicon and the morphology clearly make Greek the language that is the most closely related to Armenian.

Eric Hamp supports the Graeco-Armenian thesis and even anticipates a time that we should speak of Helleno-Armenian (the postulate of a Graeco-Armenian proto-language). James Clackson is more reserved, considers the evidence of a Graeco-Armenian subgroup to be inconclusive and believes Armenian to be in a larger Graeco-Armeno-Aryan family.

Evaluation of the hypothesis is tied up with the analysis of the poorly attested Phrygian language. While Greek is attested from very early times, allowing a secure reconstruction of a Proto-Greek language dating to about the 3rd millennium BC, the history of Armenian is opaque.

Graeco-Armenian (or Helleno-Armenian) is the hypothetical common ancestor of Greek and Armenian that postdates Proto-Indo-European. Graeco-Aryan has comparatively wide support among Indo-Europeanists for the Armenian hypothesis that the homeland of Indo-European was in the Armenian Highlands.

Graeco-Aryan is also known as Late Proto-Indo-European or Late Indo-European to suggest that Graeco-Aryan forms a dialect group, which corresponds to the latest stage of linguistic unity in the Indo-European homeland in the early part of the 3rd millennium BC.

Proto-Armenian, would have been between Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian, which would be consistent with the fact that Armenian shares some features only with Indo-Iranian (the satem change) but others only with Greek.

The hypothetical Proto-Graeco-Armenian stage would need to date to the 3rd millennium BC and would be only barely different from either late Proto-Indo-European or Graeco-Armeno-Aryan.

The arrival of the Indo-Europeans coincides with the Mycenaean civilization. The Mycenaean Greeks were the first to introduce Linear B, an Indo-European language, into Greece. Mycenaean culture was distinctly unique from its predecessors in Greece, and is recognized by historians to have been introduced from the east.

By 2500 BC, Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian had separated, moving westward and eastward from the Pontic Steppe, respectively. Proto-Greek would be practically equivalent to Mycenaean Greek from the 17th century BC and closely associate Greek migration to Greece with the Indo-Aryan migration to India at about the same time.

The Indo-European expansion at the transition to the Late Bronze Age, including the possibility of Indo-European Kassites, a people of the ancient Near East, who controlled Babylonia after the fall of the Old Babylonian Empire c. 1531 BC and until c. 1155 BC.

The first extant record of Indic Mitra, in the form mi-it-ra-, is in the inscribed peace treaty of c. 1400 BC between Hittites and the Hurrian kingdom of the Mitanni in the area southeast of Lake Van in Asia Minor. Mitra appears there together with four other Indic divinities as witnesses and keepers of the pact.

The ethnicity of the people of Mitanni is difficult to ascertain. A treatise on the training of chariot horses by Kikkuli contains a number of Indo-Aryan glosses. Kammenhuber (1968) suggested that this vocabulary was derived from the still undivided Indo-Iranian language, but Mayrhofer (1974) has shown that specifically Indo-Aryan features are present.

Maryannu is an ancient word for the caste of chariot-mounted hereditary warrior nobility which existed in many of the societies of the Middle East during the Bronze Age. Although the name ‘maryannu’ is plural it takes the singular ‘marya’, which in Sanskrit means young warrior, and attaches a Hurrian suffix.

It is suggested that at the beginning of the Late Bronze Age most would have spoken either Hurrian or Aryan but by the end of the 14th century most of the Levant maryannu had Semitic names.

Tutmoses III of Egypt (1500 BC) mentions the people of ‘Ermenen’ paying tribute when he held his court at Ninevah, and says that in their land “heaven rests upon its four pillars.” (note: Tutmose III was the first Pharaoh to cross the Euphrates to reach the Armenian Highlands).

Armani, (also given as Armanum) was an ancient kingdom mentioned by Sargon of Akkad and his grandson Naram-Sin of Akkad. It was suggested by early 20th century Armenologists that Armani is one of the earliest form of the name Armenia.

However, Aratta is a land that appears in Sumerian myths surrounding Enmerkar and Lugalbanda, two early and possibly mythical kings of Uruk also mentioned on the Sumerian king list.

Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta is a legendary Sumerian account composed in the Neo-Sumerian period (ca. 21st century BC). It is one of a series of accounts describing the conflicts between Enmerkar and the unnamed king of Aratta.

Aratta is described in Sumerian literature as a fabulously wealthy place full of gold, silver, lapis lazuli and other precious materials, as well as the artisans to craft them. Aratta is remote and difficult to reach. It is home to the goddess Inanna, who transfers her allegiance from Aratta to Uruk.

Because it gives a Sumerian account of the confusion of tongues, and also involves Enmerkar constructing temples at Eridu and Uruk, it has, since the time of Samuel Kramer, been compared with the Tower of Babel narrative in the Book of Genesis.

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Early Neolithic wine of Georgia in the South Caucasus

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