Cradle of Civilization

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Archive for July, 2014

The Biology of Belief

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 31, 2014

The next great advance in biology will change more than science textbooks—it will revolutionize the way you live your life.

In the past, we’ve been taught that living beings are like machines run by biochemicals and DNA, explains Dr. Bruce H. Lipton. What we now know is that our entire biology is shaped by the intelligence of each of our 50 trillion cells. And the single most important way to influence them is through the energy of our beliefs.

Today we are in a time where we are straddled between two worlds. There’s the old paradigm that says the world is flat, man is made solely of material matter and that genes (and therefore pharmaceuticals) govern our health.

It is a system that many institutions and financial investments are built on. And even as it falls apart before our very pockets, our politicians, scientists and health agencies are willing to keep the old lie in place. Funding shapes the research which results in the pseudonym we now call ‘science.’

Despite the efforts to resist change, the truth and new paradigm are emerging. Our reluctance to embrace recent findings is understandable. The new truth puts the responsibility for our own health in our own hands. This new paradigm forces us to look at ourselves; at our institutions, at life itself in a very different light.

No longer can we completely trust our medical profession that is shaped by big drug companies profit margins. No longer can we unconsciously leave our finances in the hands of those we only vote for once or twice every four years. No longer can we ignore the deadly chemical and emotional toxins we feed ourselves and our children daily. Buckminster Fuller said that if we could get just 5% of the world’s population to be truly responsible, we could save the world.

One of those responsible pioneers, is author and speaker Dr. Bruce Lipton. Dr. Lipton began his scientific career as a cell biologist. He received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Virginia at Charlottesville before joining the Department of Anatomy at the University of Wisconsin’s School of Medicine in the 70’s. His experiments, and that of other leading edge scientists, have examined in great detail the processes by which cells receive information.  It shows that genes and DNA do not control our biology; that instead DNA is controlled by signals from outside the cell, including the energetic messages emanating from our positive and negative thoughts.

Traditional cell biology says molecules control biology. Dr. Lipton on the other hand focuses on the mechanisms through which energy in the form of our beliefs can affect our biology, including our genetic code! Facts reveal for example, that genes do not control cancer or heart disease. Cells, it turns out, are intelligent. They read our environmental and mental and emotional stimuli and adjust their behavior. They translate information into a biochemical ‘awareness’ that regulates their activity. They, eat, excrete and communicate intelligently to exchange information. They are controlled by signals coming from our own thinking and from the food we ingest.  Experiments conducted by Dr. Lipton reveal that the outer layer of a cell is the organic equivalent of a computer chip, and the cell’s equivalent of a brain. Feed a brain too much mercury for example, and the result could be Alzhiemers.

His deepened understanding of cell biology highlighted the mechanisms by which the quality of energy itself controls bodily function. Dr. Lipton’s profoundly hopeful synthesis of the latest and best research in cell biology and quantum physics is being hailed as a major breakthrough showing that our bodies can be changed as we retrain our thinking.

His book ‘The Biology of Belief’ is an awakening in the field of New Biology. Foundational pillars of science are based on a dogmatic beliefs. These beliefs are not based in fact and are increasingly being proven to be false. The more the public grasps the new findings, the better choices and world we can live in. Science will follow the money. More than half of the population are seeking alternatives and renewing the belief in nature. Change the thought environment and the cells (‘we”) will change our behavior.

Human beings are a like a skin covered petri dish made of trillions of little minds (cells) trying to survive. The brain controls our chemistry and our mind controls the brain. What that means and what quantum physics have proven is that decision and intention play a part is shaping the physical world. We now know that adopting new beliefs is not only spiritually and emotionally comforting, but vitally important to physical health.  There can be a chasm of difference between what someone may feel is actually healthy for themselves and what scientists deem a person needs. In our search for sustainability perhaps the urge for sovereignity can  replace greed and the power of consciousness instead can begin to create a belief in ourselves.

The Biology of Belief

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The Indo-Aryans

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 30, 2014

India History Map - Aryans 1500 BC

Aryans

Not better, not worse – All equal 🙂 

Aryan (disambiguation)

The language referred to as Proto-Indo-European (PIE): is ancestral to the Celtic, Italic (including Romance), Germanic, Baltic, Slavic, Indo-Iranian, Albanian, Armenian, Greek, and Tocharian languages.

There is an agreement that the PIE community split into two major groups from wherever its homeland was situated (its location is unknown), and whenever the timing of its dispersal (also unknown).

One headed west for Europe and became speakers of Indo-European (all the languages of modern Europe save for Basque, Hungarian, Estonian, and Finnish) while others headed east for Eurasia to become Indo-Iranians.

The Indo-Iranians were a community that spoke a common language prior to their branching off into the Iranian and Indo-Aryan languages.

Indo-European

The Maykop culture (also spelled Maikop), ca. 3700 BC-3000 BC, was a major Bronze Age archaeological culture in the Western Caucasus region of Southern Russia. It extends along the area from the Taman Peninsula at the Kerch Strait to near the modern border of Dagestan and southwards to the Kura River. The culture takes its name from a royal burial found in Maykop kurgan in the Kuban River valley.

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

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

The Maykop kurgan was extremely rich in gold and silver artifacts; unusual for the time. The Maykop culture is believed to be one of the first to use the wheel. Its inhumation practices were characteristically Indo-European, typically in a pit, sometimes stone-lined, topped with a kurgan (or tumulus). Stone cairns replace kurgans in later interments.

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

The Maykop nobility enjoyed horse riding and probably used horses in warfare. It should be noted that the Maykop people lived sedentary lives, and horses formed a very low percentage of their livestock, which mostly consisted of pigs and cattle.

The culture has been described as, at the very least, a “kurganized” local culture with strong ethnic and linguistic links to the descendants of the Proto-Indo-Europeans. It has been linked to the Lower Mikhaylovka group and Kemi Oba culture, and more distantly, to the Globular Amphora and Corded Ware cultures, if only in an economic sense.

Gamkrelidze and Ivanov, whose views are somewhat controversial, suggest that the Maykop culture (or its ancestor) may have been a way-station for Indo-Europeans migrating from the South Caucasus and/or eastern Anatolia to a secondary Urheimat on the steppe. This would essentially place the Anatolian stock in Anatolia from the beginning, and at least in this instance, agrees with Colin Renfrew’s Anatolian hypothesis.

Considering that some attempt has been made to unite Indo-European with the Northwest Caucasian languages, an earlier Caucasian pre-Urheimat is not out of the question. However, most linguists and archaeologists consider this hypothesis incorrect, and prefer the Eurasian steppes as the genuine IE Urheimat.

The Yamna culture (known in English as “Pit [Grave] Culture” or “Ochre Grave Culture”, 3600–2300 BC) is a late copper age/early Bronze Age culture of the Southern Bug/Dniester/Ural region (the Pontic steppe). The name also appears in English as Pit Grave Culture or Ochre Grave Culture.

The culture was predominantly nomadic, with some agriculture practiced near rivers and a few hillforts. Characteristic for the culture is the inhumations in kurgans (tumuli) in pit graves with the dead body placed in a supine position with bent knees. The bodies were covered in ochre. Multiple graves have been found in these kurgans, often as later insertions.

Significantly, animal grave offerings were made (cattle, sheep, goats and horse), a feature associated with Proto-Indo-Europeans (including Proto-Indo-Iranians). The earliest remains in Eastern Europe of a wheeled cart were found in the “Storozhova mohyla” kurgan (Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, excavated by Trenozhkin A.I.) associated with the Yamna culture.

It is the strongest candidate for the Urheimat (homeland) of the Proto-Indo-European language, along with the preceding Sredny Stog culture, now that archaeological evidence of the culture and its migrations has been closely tied to the evidence from linguistics.

Pavel Dolukhanov argues that the emergence of the Pit-Grave culture represents a social development of various local Bronze Age cultures, representing “an expression of social stratification and the emergence of chiefdom-type nomadic social structures”, which in turn intensified inter-group contacts between essentially heterogeneous social groups.

In its western range it was succeeded by the Catacomb culture (2800–2200 BC), to a group of related cultures in the early Bronze Age occupying essentially what is present-day Ukraine, and in the east by the Poltavka culture (2700—2100 BC) and the Srubna culture (Timber-grave culture, 18th–12th centuries BC).

The Catacomb culture was the first to introduce corded pottery decorations into the steppes and shows a profuse use of the polished battle axe, providing a link to the West. Parallels with the Afanasevo culture, including provoked cranial deformations, provide a link to the East.

The name Catacomb culture comes from its burial practices. These are similar to those of the Yamna culture, but with a hollowed-out space off the main shaft, creating the “catacomb”. Animal remains were incorporated into a small minority of graves.

In certain graves there was the distinctive practice of what amounts to modelling a clay mask over the deceased’s face, creating an obvious if not necessarily correct association to the famous gold funeral mask of Agamemnon, the son of king Atreus and queen Aerope of Mycenae.

The Tashtyk culture was an archaeological culture that flourished in the Yenisei valley in Siberia from the first to the fourth century CE, perhaps equivalent to the Yenisei Kirghiz. Located in the Minusinsk Depression, environs of modern Krasnoyarsk, eastern part of Kemerovo Oblast, it was preceded by the Tagar culture, thought to have been Caucasoids of the Scythian circle.

Tashtyk settlements and hill-forts have been unearthed throughout the Yenisei region, particularly the Sayan canyon area. Their most imposing monuments were immense barrows-crypt structures; these have yielded large quantities of clay and metal vessels and ornaments. In addition, numerous petrographic carvings have been found.

During his excavations of the Oglahty cemetery south of Minusinsk, Leonid Kyzlasov discovered a number of mummies with richly decorated plaster funerary masks showing Western Eurasian features, though this would not rule out some East Asian admixture, as revealed by ancient DNA.

The economy was essentially stock-breeding, although traces of grain have been found. There seem to have been skilled specialists, particularly metal-workers.

The origin of the Catacomb culture is disputed. Jan Lichardus enumerates three possibilities: a local development departing from the previous Yamna Culture only, a migration from Central Europe, or an oriental origin.

The linguistic composition of the Catacomb culture is unclear. Within the context of the Kurgan hypothesis expounded by Marija Gimbutas, an Indo-European component is hard to deny, particularly in the later stages. Placing the ancestors of the Greek, Armenian and Paleo-Balkan dialects here is tempting, as it would neatly explain certain shared features.

More recently, the Ukrainian archaeologist V. Kulbaka has argued that the Late Yamna cultures of ca. 3200–2800 BC, esp. the Budzhak, Starosilsk, and Novotitarovka groups, might represent the Greek-Armenian-“Aryan”(=Indo-Iranian) ancestors (Graeco-Aryan, Graeco-Armenian), and the Catacomb culture that of the “unified” (to ca. 2500 BC) and then “differentiated” Indo-Iranians.

Grigoryev’s (1998) version of the Armenian hypothesis based on the Glottalic theory connects Catacomb culture with Indo-Aryans, because catacomb burial ritual had roots in South-Western Turkmenistan from the early 4th millennium (Parkhai cemetery). The same opinion is supported by Leo Klejn in his various publications.

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

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

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

The Armenian hypothesis argues for the latest possible date of Proto-Indo-European (sans Anatolian), roughly a millennium later than the mainstream Kurgan hypothesis. In this, it figures as an opposite to the Anatolian hypothesis, in spite of the geographical proximity of the respective suggested Urheimaten, diverging from the timeframe suggested there by as much as three millennia.

Graeco-Aryan (or 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 3rd 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-Armeno-Aryan has comparatively wide support among Indo-Europeanists for the Indo-European Homeland to be located in the Armenian Highland. 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-Armeno-Aryan 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).

In the context of the Kurgan hypothesis, Greco-Aryan is also known as “Late PIE” or “Late Indo-European” (LIE), suggesting that Greco-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. By 2500 BC, Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian had separated, moving westward and eastward from the Pontic Steppe, respectively.

If Graeco-Aryan is a valid group, Grassmann’s law may have a common origin in Greek and Sanskrit. (Note, however, that Grassmann’s law in Greek postdates certain sound changes that happened only in Greek and not Sanskrit, which suggests that it cannot strictly be an inheritance from a common Graeco-Aryan stage. Rather, it is more likely an areal feature that spread across a then-contiguous Graeco-Aryan-speaking area after early Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian had developed into separate dialects but before they ceased being in geographic contact.)

Poltavka culture, an early to middle Bronze Age archaeological culture of the middle Volga from about where the Don-Volga canal begins up to the Samara bend, with an easterly extension north of present Kazakhstan along the Samara River valley to somewhat west of Orenburg, seems to be seen as an early manifestation of the Srubna culture.

There is evidence of influence from the Maykop culture to its south. The only real things that distinguish it from the Yamna culture are changes in pottery and an increase in metal objects. Tumulus inhumations continue, but with less use of ochre. It is presumptively early Indo-Iranian (Proto-Indo-Iranian).

It was succeeded by the Sintashta culture (2100–1800 BCE), also known as the Sintashta-Petrovka culture or Sintashta-Arkaim culture, a Bronze Age archaeological culture of the northern Eurasian steppe on the borders of Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

The people of the Sintashta culture are thought to have spoken Proto-Indo-Iranian, the ancestor of the Indo-Iranian language family. This identification is based primarily on similarities between sections of the Rig Veda, an Indian religious text which includes ancient Indo-Iranian hymns recorded in Vedic Sanskrit, with the funerary rituals of the Sintashta culture as revealed by archaeology.

There is however linguistic evidence of a list of common vocabulary between Finno-Ugric and Indo-Iranian languages. While its origin as a creole of different tribes in the Ural region may make it inaccurate to ascribe the Sintashta culture exclusively to Indo-Iranian ethnicity, interpreting this culture as a blend of two cultures with two distinct languages is a reasonable hypothesis based on the evidence.

The Srubna culture, which ousted the Catacomb culture from ca. the 17th century, was a Late Bronze Age culture occuping the area along and above the north shore of the Black Sea from the Dnieper eastwards along the northern base of the Caucasus to the area abutting the north shore of the Caspian Sea, west of the Ural Mountains to come up against the domain of the approximately contemporaneous and somewhat related Andronovo culture.

The economy was mixed agriculture and livestock breeding. The historical Cimmerians have been suggested as descended from this culture. It was succeeded by Scythians and Sarmatians in the 1st millennium BC and by the Khazars and Kipchaks in the first millennium AD. The origin of the Cimmerians is unclear. They are mostly supposed to have been related to either Iranian or Thracian speaking groups, or at least to have been ruled by an Iranian elite.

Indo-Aryan

Indo-Aryan or Indic peoples are an ethno-linguistic group referring to the wide collection of peoples united as native speakers of the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-Iranian language family. Today, there are over one billion native speakers of Indo-Aryan languages, most of them native to South Asia, where they form the majority.

The separation of Indo-Aryans proper from Indo-Iranians is commonly dated, on linguistic grounds, to roughly 1800 BCE. The Nuristani languages probably split in such early times, and are classified as either remote Indo-Aryan dialects or as an independent branch of Indo-Iranian. By the mid 2nd millennium BCE early Indo-Aryans had reached Assyria in the west (the Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni) and the northern Punjab in the east (the Rigvedic tribes).

The spread of Indo-Aryan languages has been connected with the spread of the chariot in the first half of the 2nd millennium BCE. Some scholars trace the Indo-Aryans (both Indo-Aryans and European Aryans) back to the Andronovo culture (2nd millennium BCE).

Other scholars have argued that the Andronovo culture proper formed too late to be associated with the Indo-Aryans of India, and that no actual traces of the Andronovo culture (e.g. warrior burials or timber-frame materials) have been found in India and Southern countries like Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

Archaeologist J.P. Mallory (1998) finds it “extraordinarily difficult to make a case for expansions from this northern region to northern India” and remarks that the proposed migration routes “only [get] the Indo-Iranian to Central Asia, but not as far as the seats of the Medes, Persians or Indo-Aryans” (Mallory 1998; Bryant 2001: 216). Therefore he prefers to derive the Indo-Aryans from the intermediate stage of the Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC) culture, in terms of a “Kulturkugel” model of expansion.

Likewise, Asko Parpola (1988) connects the Indo-Aryans to the BMAC. But although horses were known to the Indo-Aryans, evidence for their presence in the form of horse bones is missing in the BMAC.

Parpola (1988) has argued that the Dasas, a term that potentially designated a distinct group within the Aryan fold or may refer to the non-Aryans living in the Indian subcontinent according to the Harvard professor and author, Wendy Doniger, were the “carriers of the Bronze Age culture of Greater Iran” living in the BMAC and that the forts with circular walls destroyed by the Indo-Aryans were actually located in the BMAC.

Parpola (1999) elaborates the model and has “Proto-Rigvedic” Indo-Aryans intrude the BMAC around 1700 BCE. He assumes early Indo-Aryan presence in the Late Harappan horizon from about 1900 BCE, and “Proto-Rigvedic” (Proto-Dardic) intrusion to the Punjab as corresponding to the Swat culture from about 1700 BCE.

Recently Leo Klejn proposed a hypothesis of linking the earliest stage of Indo-Aryan peoples with the Catacomb culture (ca. 2800–2200 BC), a group of related cultures in the early Bronze Age occupying essentially what is present-day Ukraine.

The linguistic composition of the Catacomb culture is unclear. Within the context of the Kurgan hypothesis expounded by Marija Gimbutas, an Indo-European component is hard to deny, particularly in the later stages. Placing the ancestors of the Greek, Armenian and Paleo-Balkan dialects here is tempting, as it would neatly explain certain shared features.

More recently, the Ukrainian archaeologist V. Kulbaka has argued that the Late Yamna cultures of ca. 3200–2800 BC, esp. the Budzhak, Starosilsk, and Novotitarovka groups, might represent the Greek-Armenian-“Aryan”(=Indo-Iranian) ancestors (Graeco-Aryan, Graeco-Armenian), and the Catacomb culture that of the “unified” (to ca. 2500 BC) and then “differentiated” Indo-Iranians.

Grigoryev’s (1998) version of the Armenian hypothesis connects Catacomb culture with Indo-Aryans, because catacomb burial ritual had roots in South-Western Turkmenistan from the early 4th millennium (Parkhai cemetery). The same opinion is supported by Leo Klejn in his various publications.

The Iranian people or Iranic people

Iranian refers to the languages of Iran (Iranian), parts of Pakistan (Balochi and Pashto), Afghanistan (Pashto and Dari), and Tadjikistan (Tajiki) and Indo-Aryan, Sanskrit, Urdu and its many related languages.

The Iranian people or Iranic people are a diverse Indo-European ethno-linguistic group that comprises the speakers of Iranian languages. Their areas of settlement were on the Iranian plateau (mainly Iran and Afghanistan) and certain neighbouring areas of Asia (such as parts of the Caucasus, Eastern Turkey, Northeast Syria, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Bahrain, Oman, northern Iraq, Northwestern and Western Pakistan) reflecting changing geopolitical range of the Iranian dynasties and the Iranian history.

Their current distribution spreads across the Iranian plateau, and stretches from the Caucasus in the north to the Persian Gulf in the south, and from the Xinjiang in the east to eastern Turkey in the west – a region that is sometimes called the “Iranian cultural continent”, or Greater Iran by some scholars, and represents the extent of the Iranian languages and significant influence of the Iranian peoples, through the geopolitical reach of the Iranian empire.

The Iranian peoples comprise the present day Persians, Ossetians, Kurds, Pashtuns, Tajiks, Balochs, Lurs, and their sub-groups of the historic Medes, Massagetaes, Sarmatians, Scythians, Parthians, Alans, Bactrians, Soghdians and other people of Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Iranian plateau.

Other possible groups are the Cimmerians who are mostly supposed to have been related to either Iranian or Thracian speaking group, or at least to have been ruled by an Iranian elite and Xiongnu of probable Saka origin.

With numerous artistic, scientific, architectural and philosophical achievements and numerous kingdoms and empires that bridged much of the civilized world in antiquity, the Iranian peoples were often in close contact with the Greeks, Romans, Peoples of the Caucasus, Egyptians, Indians, Chinese, Turks and Arabs.

The various religions of the Iranian people, including Zoroastrianism, Mithraism and Manichaeism, are believed by some scholars to have been significant early philosophical influences on Christianity and Judaism.

The Iranians had domesticated horses, had traveled far and wide, and from the late 2nd millennium BC to early 1st millennium BC they had migrated to and settled on the Iranian Plateau.

The division into an “Eastern” and a “Western” group by the early 1st millennium is visible in Avestan vs. Old Persian, the two oldest known Iranian languages. The Old Avestan texts known as the Gathas are believed to have been composed by Zoroaster, the founder of Zoroastrianism, with the Yaz culture (c. 1500 BCE – 1100 BCE) as a candidate for the development of Eastern Iranian culture.

By the early 1st millennium, Ancient Iranian peoples such as Medes, Persians, Bactrians, Parthians and Scythians populated the Iranian plateau, and other Scythian tribes, along with Cimmerians, Sarmatians and Alans populated the steppes north of the Black Sea. The Saka and the Scythian tribes spread as far west as the Balkans and as far east as Xinjiang.

Scythians as well formed the Indo-Scythian Empire, and Bactrians formed a Greco-Bactrian Kingdom founded by Diodotus I, the satrap of Bactria. The Kushan Empire, with Bactrian roots/connections, once controlled much of Pakistan, some of Afghanistan and Tajikistan. The Kushan elite (who the Chinese called the Yuezhi) were either a Tocharian-speaking (another Indo-European branch) people or an Eastern Iranian language-speaking people.

During the 1st centuries of the 1st millennium BCE, the ancient Persians established themselves in the western portion of the Iranian plateau and appear to have interacted considerably with the Elamites and Babylonians, while the Medes also entered in contact with the Assyrians based in nearby Mesopotamia.

For approximately three centuries after arriving in the region, the Medes and Persians fell under the domination of the Assyrian Empire (911–609 BCE). In 646 BCE, Susa and many other cities of Elam were plundered and wrecked by Ashurbanipal, King of Assyria, allowing the Iranian peoples to become the predominant group in Iran.

After the death of Ashurbanipal in 627 BCE, the Assyrian Empire began to unravel due to a series of bitter civil wars. In 616 BCE the Median king Cyaxares came into power, united the Medes and Persians, and in alliance with Nabopolassar of Babylon and the Scythians, attacked the Assyrian Empire.

By 609 BCE, the Assyrians and their Egyptian allies had been defeated. This began the Iranian domination in the Iranian Plateau. Persians formed the Achaemenid Empire by the 6th century BCE, while the Scythians dominated the Eurasian steppe.

Remnants of the Median language and Old Persian show their common Proto-Iranian roots, emphasized in Strabo and Herodotus’ description of their languages as very similar to the languages spoken by the Bactrians and Soghdians in the east.

Following the establishment of the Achaemenid Empire, the Persian language (referred to as “Farsi” in Persian) spread from Pars or Fars Province to various regions of the Empire, with the modern dialects of Iran, Afghanistan (also known as Dari) and Central-Asia (known as Tajiki) descending from Old Persian.

Old Persian appears to have been established in written form by 519 BCE, following the creation of the Old Persian script, inspired by the cuneiform script of the Assyrians. Old Persian is attested in the Behistun Inscription (c. 519 BCE), recording a proclamation by Darius the Great.

In southwestern Iran, the Achaemenid kings usually wrote their inscriptions in trilingual form (Elamite, Babylonian and Old Persian) while elsewhere other languages were used. The administrative languages were Elamite in the early period, and later Imperial Aramaic.

The early inhabitants of the Achaemenid Empire appear to have adopted the religion of Zoroastrianism. The Baloch who speak a west Iranian language relate an oral tradition regarding their migration from Aleppo, Syria around the year 1000 CE, whereas linguistic evidence links Balochi to Kurmanji, Soranî, Gorani and Zazaki.

While the Iranian tribes of the south are better known through their texts and modern counterparts, the tribes which remained largely in the vast Eurasian expanse are known through the references made to them by the ancient Greeks, Persians, Indo-Aryans as well as by archaeological finds.

Many ancient Sanskrit texts make references to tribes like Sakas, Paradas, Kambojas, Bahlikas, Uttaramadras, Madras, Lohas, Parama Kambojas, Rishikas, Tukharas or Tusharas etc. and locate them in the Uttarapatha in north-west, in Central Asia, around Hindukush range in northern Pakistan. The Greek chronicler, Herodotus (5th century BCE) makes references to a nomadic people, the Scythians; he describes them as having dwelt in what is today southern Russia.

It is believed that these Scythians were conquered by their eastern cousins, the Sarmatians, who are mentioned by Strabo as the dominant tribe which controlled the southern Russian steppe in the 1st millennium CE. These Sarmatians were also known to the Romans, who conquered the western tribes in the Balkans and sent Sarmatian conscripts, as part of Roman legions, as far west as Roman Britain.

The Sarmatians of the east became the Alans, who also ventured far and wide, with a branch ending up in Western Europe and North Africa, as they accompanied the Germanic Vandals during their migrations.

The modern Ossetians are believed to be the sole direct descendants of the Alans, as other remnants of the Alans disappeared following Germanic, Hunnic and ultimately Slavic migrations and invasions. Another group of Alans allied with Goths to defeat the Romans and ultimately settled in what is now called Catalonia (Goth-Alania).

The modern Ossetians claim to be the descendants of the Alano-Sarmatians and their claims are supported by their Northeast Iranian language, while culturally the Ossetians resemble their Caucasian neighbors, the Kabardians and Circassians.

Some of the Saka-Scythian tribes in Central Asia would later move further southeast and invade the Iranian plateau, large sections of present day Afghanistan and finally deep into present day Pakistan. The modern Sarikoli in southern Xinjiang and the Ossetians of the Caucasus are remnants of the various Saka tribes.

Another Iranian tribe related to the Saka-Scythians was the Parni in Central Asia, and who later become indistinguishable from the Parthians, speakers of a northwest-Iranian language. Many Iranian tribes, including the Khwarazmians, Massagetae and Sogdians, were assimilated and/or displaced in Central Asia by the migrations of Turkic tribes emanating out of Xinjiang and Siberia.

The most dominant surviving Eastern Iranian peoples are represented by the Pashtuns, whose origins are generally believed to be from the province of Ghor, from which they began to spread until they reached as far west as Herat, north to areas of southern and eastern Afghanistan; and as eastward towards the Indus. The Pashto language shows affinities to the Avestan and Bactrian.

Various extinct Iranian peoples existed in the eastern Caucasus, including the Azaris, while some Iranian peoples remain in the region, including the Talysh and the Tats (including the Judeo-Tats, who have relocated to Israel), found in Azerbaijan and as far north as the Russian republic of Dagestan. A remnant of the Sogdians is found in the Yaghnobi speaking population in parts of the Zeravshan valley in Tajikistan.

Aryan

The term Iranian is derived from the Old Iranian ethnical adjective Aryana which is itself a cognate of the Sanskrit word Arya. The name Iran is from Aryānām; lit: “(Land) of the Aryans”.

The old Proto-Indo-Iranian term Arya, per Thieme meaning “hospitable”, is believed to have been one of the self-referential terms used by the Aryans, at least in the areas populated by Aryans who migrated south from Central Asia. Another meaning for Aryan is “noble”.

In the late part of the Avesta (Vendidad 1), one of their homelands was referred to as Airyanem Vaejah. The homeland varied in its geographic range, the area around Herat (Pliny’s view) and even the entire expanse of the Iranian plateau (Strabo’s designation).

The academic usage of the term Iranian is distinct from the state of Iran and its various citizens (who are all Iranian by nationality and thus popularly referred to as Iranians) in the same way that Germanic peoples is distinct from Germans.

Many citizens of Iran are not necessarily “Iranian peoples” by virtue of not being speakers of Iranian languages. Unlike the various terms connected with the Aryan arya in Old Indian, the Old Iranian term has solely an ethnic meaning and there can be no doubt about the ethnic value of Old Iran.

The Avesta clearly uses “airya” as an ethnic name, where it appears in expressions such as airyāfi; daiŋˊhāvō “Iranian lands, peoples,” airyō.šayanəm “land inhabited by Iranians,” and airyanəm vaējō vaŋhuyāfi; dāityayāfi; “Iranian stretch of the good Dāityā,” the river Oxus, the modern Āmū Daryā.

The term “Ariya” appears in the royal Old Persian inscriptions as the name of the language of the Old Persian version of the inscription of Darius the Great in Behistun, as the ethnic background of Darius in inscriptions at Naqsh-e-Rostam and Susa and Xerxes in the inscription from Persepolis and as the definition of the God of Iranian peoples, Ahuramazda, in the Elamite version of the Behistun inscription.

For example in the Dna and Dse Darius and Xerxes describe themselves as “An Achaemenian, A Persian son of a Persian and an Aryan, of Aryan stock”. Although Darius the Great called his language the Iranian language, modern scholars refer to it as Old Persian because it is the ancestor of modern Persian language.

The Old Persian and Avestan evidence is confirmed by the Greek sources”. Herodotus in his Histories remarks about the Iranian Medes that: “These Medes were called anciently by all people Arians”.

In Armenian sources, the Parthians, Medes and Persians are collectively referred to as Iranians. Eudemus of Rhodes apud Damascius (Dubitationes et solutiones in Platonis Parmenidem 125 bis) refers to “the Magi and all those of Iranian (áreion) lineage”; Diodorus Siculus (1.94.2) considers Zoroaster (Zathraustēs) as one of the Arianoi.

Strabo, in his “Geography”, mentions the unity of Medes, Persians, Bactrians and Sogdians: The name of Ariana is further extended to a part of Persia and of Media, as also to the Bactrians and Sogdians on the north; for these speak approximately the same language, with but slight variations.

The trilingual inscription erected by Shapur’s command gives a more clear description. The languages used are Parthian, Middle Persian and Greek. In Greek, the inscription says: “ego … tou Arianon ethnous despotes eimi”(“I am lord of the kingdom (Gk. nation) of the Aryans”) which translates to “I am the king of the Iranian people”. In the Middle Persian, Shapour states: “ērānšahr xwadāy hēm” and in Parthian he states: “aryānšahr xwadāy ahēm”.

The Bactrian language (a Middle Iranian language) inscription of Kanishka, the founder of the Kushan empire at Rabatak, which was discovered in 1993 in an unexcavated site in the Afghanistan province of Baghlan, clearly refers to this Eastern Iranian language as Arya.

In the post-Islamic era, one can still see a clear usage of the term Iran in the work of the 10th-century historian Hamzeh Isfahani. In his book the history of Prophets and Kings writes: “Aryan which is also called Pars (Persia) is in the middle of these countries and these six countries surround it because the South East is in the hands China, the North of the Turks, the middle South is India, the middle North is Rome, and the South West and the North West is the Sudan and Berber lands”.

All this evidence shows that the name arya “Iranian” was a collective definition, denoting peoples who were aware of belonging to the one ethnic stock, speaking a common language, and having a religious tradition that centered on the cult of Ahura Mazdā.

Anīrān or Anērān is an ethno-linguistic term that signifies “non-Iranian” or “non-Iran (Aryan).” Thus, in a general sense, ‘Aniran’ signifies lands where Iranian languages are not spoken. In a pejorative sense, it denotes “a political and religious enemy of Iran and Zoroastrianism.”

The term ‘Aniran’ derives from Middle Persian anērān, Pahlavi ʼnyrʼn, an antonym of ērān that in turn denoted either the people or the state of Sassanid Iran. However, “in Zoroastrian literature and possibly in Sasanian political thought as well, the term has also a markedly religious connotation.

An anēr person is not merely non-Iranian, but specifically non-Zoroastrian; and anēr designates also worshipers of the Devas or adherents of other religions.” In these texts of the 9th-12th century, “Arabs and Turks are called anēr, as are Muslims generally, the latter in a veiled manner.”

In present-day academia, the term “Aryan” has been replaced in most cases by the terms “Indo-Iranian” and “Indo-European”, and “Aryan” is now mostly limited to its appearance in the term of the “Indo-Aryan languages” in South Asia.

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

The Ossetians and Ossetia received their name from the Russians, who adopted the Georgian designations Osi (sing., pl.: Osebi) and Oseti (“the land of Osi”), used since the Middle Ages for the Iranian-speaking population of the Central Caucasus and probably based on the old Alan self-designation “As”. The Alans were also known over the course of their history by another group of related names including the variations Asi, Aorsi and Os

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

This practice was put into question by the new Ossetian nationalism in the early 1990s, when the dispute between the Ossetian subgroups of Digoron and Iron over the status of the Digoron dialect made the Ossetian intellectuals search for a new inclusive ethnic name.

This, combined with the effects of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict, led to the popularization of “Alania”, the name of the medieval Sarmatian confederation, to which the Ossetians traced their origin, and inclusion of this name into the official republican title of North Ossetia in 1994.

The folk beliefs of the Ossetian people are rooted in their Sarmatian origin and Christian religion, with the pagan gods transcending into Christian saints. The Nart saga serves the basic pagan mythology of the region.

The Nart sagas are a series of tales originating from the North Caucasus. They form the basic mythology of the tribes in the area, including Abazin, Abkhaz, Circassian, Ossetian, Karachay-Balkar and Chechen-Ingush folklore.

The term nart comes from the Ossetian name of Narts, Nartæ, which is plurale tantum of “nar”. The origin of the root nar is probably of Iranian origin, from Proto-Iranian nar for “hero”, “man”, descended from Proto-Indo-European *h₂nḗr.

However, Vasily Abaev declined this etymology relying on two arguments. The first argument is that the descendant of Indo-European root *h₂nḗr in Ossetic is næl (“male”), and the second point is that the central hero of the saga is the woman Satana. Instead, Abaev suggested a Mongolian origin of nar, from Mongolian word nara for “sun”.

The first written account of the material is due to the Kabardian author Shora Begmurzin Nogma (who wrote in Russian 1835-1843, published posthumously in 1861, German translation by Adolf Berge in 1866). The stories exist in the form of prose tales as well as epic songs.

It is generally known that all the Nart corpora have an ancient Iranian core, inherited from the Scythians, Sarmatians, and Alans (the Alans being the ancestors of the Ossetians). However, they also contain abundant local North Caucasian accretions of great antiquity, which sometimes reflect an even more archaic past.

Based especially on the Ossetian versions, the sagas have long been valued as a window towards the world of the Iranian-speaking cultures of antiquity. For example, the philologist Georges Dumézil used the Ossetian division of the Narts into three clans to support his Trifunctional Hypothesis that the Proto-Indo-Europeans were similarly divided into three castes—warriors, priests, and commoners. Additionally John Colarusso appends that Caucasian myths have common parallels within Indo-European, Turkic and Mongolic traditions.

The Northwest Caucasian (Circassian, Abkhaz-Abasin and Ubykh) versions are also highly valuable, because they are more archaic and preserve “all the odd details constituting the detritus of earlier traditions and beliefs”, as opposed to the Ossetian ones, which have been “reworked to form a smooth narrative”.

Some motifs in the Nart sagas are shared by Greek mythology. The story of Prometheus chained to Mount Kazbek or to Mount Elbrus in particular is similar to an element in the Nart sagas. These shared motifs are seen by some as indicative of an earlier proximity of the Caucasian peoples to the ancient Greeks, also shown in the myth of the Golden Fleece, in which Colchis is generally accepted to have been part of modern-day Georgia.

In the book From Scythia to Camelot, authors C. Scott Littleton and Linda A. Malcor speculate that many aspects of the Arthurian legends are derived from the Nart sagas. The proposed vector of transmission is the Alans, some of whom migrated into northern France at around the time the Arthurian legends were forming. As expected, these parallels are most evident in the Ossetian versions, according to researcher John Colarusso.

There are some differences between the various versions of the Nart legends. For example, the Ossetian versions depict the Nartic tribe as composed of three distinct clans who sometimes rival one another. (the brave Æxsærtægkatæ, to whom the most prominent Narts belong, the rich Borætæ and the wise Alægatæ), while the Circassian ones do not depict such a division, and the Abkhaz ones are unique in describing the Narts as a single nuclear family composed of Satanaya’s one hundred sons. Yet all of these versions describe the Narts as a single coherent group of mostly “good” heroes.

In contrast, the Nakh (Chechen-Ingush) legends sometimes depict the Nart-Orxustxoi, a group including the most prominent Narts known from the other versions (e.g. Seska-Solsa corresponding to Sosruko/Soslan, Khamtsha-Patarish corresponding to Batraz/Batradz etc.) as warlike bandits, who fight against local good heroes such as Koloi-Kant and Qinda-Shoa (the latter corresponding to Sawway/Shawey).

Albania (Latin: Albānia, Greek: Albanía, in Old Armenian: Ałuankʿ (Aguank), Parthian: Ardhan, Middle Persian: Arran; Georgian: Rani); usually referred to as Caucasian Albania for disambiguation with the modern state of Albania; the native name for the country is unknown) is a name for the historical region of the eastern Caucasus, that existed on the territory of present-day republic of Azerbaijan (where both of its capitals were located) and partially southern Dagestan.

The Principality of Arbanon or Albanon (Albanian: Arbër or Arbëria), was the first Albanian state during the Middle Ages. The state was established by archon Progon in the region of Kruja, in ca 1190.

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The US invest in Israel

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 29, 2014

US National Security Adviser Susan Rice says the United States will increase its investment in Israel’s Iron Dome missile system next year.

“In recent weeks, on average, over 100 rockets a day have been fired at Israel. Iron dome has literally meant the difference between life and death, and I’m deeply proud that President Obama helped make it possible,” she said during her speech at the National Leadership Assembly for Israel in Washington, D.C. on Monday.

“I’m proud that with his enthusiastic support, the United States will more than double our investment in Iron Dome in 2015,” Rice added.

US will more than double investment in Israel’s Iron Dome in 2015: Rice

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Palestine before 1948

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 29, 2014

http://bolanvoice.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/palestine-al-nakba-day1.jpg

Palestinian refugees leaving the Galilee in October–November 1948

Haifa - حيفا : Haifa Palestinians are pushed into the sea to make way for persecuted European Jews to have a home soon after Haifa's occupation, April 1948

Jaffa - يافا : The Exodus Of Jaffa's Residents Via Boats, May-1948. <a href=/Acre/Acre/Picture13753.html>Click here</a> to see another unique picture for the people of Acre (Akka) as they were being pushed into the see. Ironically, Israelis claim that Palestinians are trying to commit this crime! Click on image to see a larger picture.

Palestinian exodus may relate to one of the following events:

1948 Palestinian exodus

1948 Palestinian exodus from Lydda and Ramle

1967 Palestinian exodus

1949–56 Palestinian exodus

Palestinian exodus from Kuwait (Gulf War)

Causes of the 1948 Palestinian exodus

The First World War in Gaza and the Battle for Palestine

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St. Sion “Mashtots Hairapet” Church

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 29, 2014

Few people are aware that the Zvartnots Zion Church by the Garni Temple in the 7th century was built by Catholicos Nerses III. The monument was completely destroyed by time and the only reason they survived.

Garni (Armenian: Գառնի) is a major village in the Kotayk Province of Armenia. The settlement has an ancient history, and is best known for the nearby Hellenistic Garni temple (Armenian: Գառնիի հեթանոսական տաճար Gařnii het’anosakan tačar), a first century Hellenic temple near Garni, Armenia.

It is the only pagan temple in Armenia that survived the Christianization of the country in the early 4th century. It is also the only “Greco-Roman colonnaded building” in Armenia and the entire former Soviet Union. The temple had collapsed in the 1679 earthquake and was reconstructed between 1969 and 1974, under the supervision of Alexander Sahinian.

The area was first occupied in the 3rd millennium BC along easily defensible terrain at one of the bends of the Azat River. In the 8th century BC the area was conquered by the Urartian King Argishti I.

The fortification at Garni was erected probably sometime in the 3rd century BC as a summer residence for the Armenian Orontid and Artaxiad royal dynasties. Later around the 1st century BC the fortress of Garni became the last refuge of King Mithridates of Armenia and where he and his family were assassinated by his son-in-law and nephew Rhadamistus.

Rhadamistus (Georgian: რადამისტი) (died 58) was one of the sons of King Pharasmanes I of Iberia. His mother was an unnamed Armenian princess of the Artaxiad dynasty, who was the daughter of the Artaxiad Armenian monarchs Tigranes IV and his sister-wife Erato.

Rhadamistus was a Georgian royal prince of the Pharnavazid dynasty of the Kingdom of Iberia who reigned over the Kingdom of Armenia from 51 to 53 and 54 to 55. He was considered an usurper and tyrant, who was overthrown in a rebellion supported by the Parthian Empire.

Nerses III the Builder (Armenian: Ներսես Գ Շինող) was the Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church between 641 and 661. He was originally from the village of Ishkhan in Tayk. He ruled at a troubled time during which Armenia had to choose between their neighbors Byzantines and Persians along with their new conquerors the Arabs.

Catholicos Nerses III received the title of the Builder due to the grand construction works he undertook during his reign. The most important ones were the construction of a chapel over the pit of imprisonment of St. Gregory the Illuminator at Khor Virap (which was replaced a thousand years later by the current church) and the magnificent cathedral of Zvartnots. One tradition says he might have been buried on the northern side of the church.

Next to the Temple are the foundations of St. Sion church, built in 659 and commissioned by Catholicos Nerses III the Builder. Partially excavated in 1907-1911, excavations were completely uncovered in 1949. The church was a variation of the central dome church type with cross wings and is considered a copy of the church of Zvartnots. The interior of the cruciform walls form four semi circular apses, with annexes between the entrances into the wings of the cross.

The main altar and the annexes have horseshoe shaped apses, which, together with the cruciform plan make the space appear much larger than it is. The central square lay beneath the dome. The church itself was entered on the Northern and Western sides. The entire structure rested on a plain inscribed into a 24 faceted sphere with a diameter of 24 meters, on top of a two stepped stylobate. 2-3 rows of finely polished tufa block masonry set in lime are what remain of the church.

Adjoining the north end of St. Sion are the foundations of a small 12th century basilica, built to house the grave of Catholicos Mashtots Yeghivardetsi, who in 876 escaped Arab invaders attacking Echmiadzin and moved the Holy See (and its treasure) to Garni where he died and was buried. His gravestone is just north of the church ruins.

The fortress was eventually sacked in 1386 by Timur Lenk (1336–1405), a Turko-Mongol ruler of Barlas lineage who conquered West, South and Central Asia and founded the Timurid dynasty. In 1679 an earthquake devastated the area destroying the temple.

Before the end of 1399, Timur started a war with Bayezid I, sultan of the Ottoman Empire, and the Mamluk sultan of Egypt Nasir-ad-Din Faraj. Bayezid began annexing the territory of Turkmen and Muslim rulers in Anatolia. As Timur claimed sovereignty over the Turkmen rulers, they took refuge behind him.

In 1400 Timur invaded Christian Armenia and Georgia. Of the surviving population, more than 60,000 of the local people were captured as slaves, and many districts were depopulated.

Then Timur turned his attention to Syria, sacking Aleppo and Damascus. The city’s inhabitants were massacred, except for the artisans, who were deported to Samarkand.

He invaded Baghdad in June 1401. After the capture of the city, 20,000 of its citizens were massacred. Timur ordered that every soldier should return with at least two severed human heads to show him. (Many warriors were so scared they killed prisoners captured earlier in the campaign just to ensure they had heads to present to Timur.)

During his lifetime, Timur emerged as the most powerful ruler in the Muslim world after defeating the Mamluks of Egypt and Syria, the emerging Ottoman Empire and the declining Sultanate of Delhi. Timur also decisively defeated the Christian Knights Hospitaller at Smyrna, styling himself a Ghazi.

By the end of his reign, Timur had also gained complete control over all the remnants of the Chagatai Khanate, Ilkhanate, Golden Horde and even attempted to restore the Yuan dynasty.

Timur’s armies were feared throughout Asia, Africa, and Europe, sizable parts of which were laid waste by his campaigns. Scholars estimate that his military campaigns caused the deaths of 17 million people, amounting to about 5% of the world population, leading to a predominantly barbaric legacy.

Garni

Garni Temple

Rhadamistus

Timur

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Elamite religion

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 29, 2014

The Elamites practised polytheism. Khumban was the name of the most important male god in the Elamite pantheon. His name apparently means “commander” in Elamite, as it is derived from the Elamite verb huba “to command”. Most sources state that Humban was the god of the sky, though there are also a few sources who claim that he was the god of the earth.

The Elamites also referred to Humban by his epithet Napirisha, which in later times became the name he was almost exclusively known by. Several Elamite kings, mostly from the Neo-Elamite period, were named in honour of Khumban. Over 20 Elamite kings were named in honour of Humban (which is consistent with the fact that nearly all rulers of Elam bore theophoric names).

In Ancient Mesopotamian religion, Humbaba (Assyrian spelling) or Huwawa (Sumerian spelling), also Humbaba the Terrible, was a monstrous giant of immemorial age raised by Utu, the Sun. Humbaba was the guardian of the Cedar Forest, where the gods lived, by the will of the god Enlil, who “assigned [Humbaba] as a terror to human beings.” He is the brother of Pazuzu and Enki and son of Hanbi.

His sumerian equivalent is Anu. Several Elamite kings, mostly from the Neo-Elamite period, were named in honour of Khumban. Kumarbi is the chief god of the Hurrians. He is the son of Anu (the sky), and father of the storm-god Teshub. He was identified by the Hurrians with Sumerian Enlil, and by the Ugaritians with El.

Alalu was a primeval deity of the Hurrian mythology. After nine years of reign, Alalu was defeated by his son Anu. Anuʻs son Kumarbi also defeated his father, and his son Teshub defeated him, too. Scholars have pointed out the similarities between the Hurrian creation myth and the story from Greek mythology of Uranus, Cronus, and Zeus. Alalu fled to the underworld.

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

Alalu was identified by the Greeks as Hypsistos. He was also called Alalus. He is considered to have housed “the Hosts of Sky”, the divine family, because he was a progenitor of the gods, and possibly the father of Earth.

Khumban along with his wife Kiririsha (or Kirisha), who at one stage became the most important goddess of Elam, ranked second only to her husband Khumban, and another god, Inshushinak, one of the major gods of the Elamites and the protector deity of Susa, formed part of the supreme triad of the Elamite pantheon.

Kiririsha, which in Elamite means “the Great Goddess”, was first known as the ‘Lady of Liyan’ – an Elamite port on Persian Gulf (near modern-day Bushire, Iran), where she and Humban had a temple that was erected by Humban-Numena. There was later (ca. 1250 BC) a temple built to her at Chogha Zanbil.

She was often called ‘the Great’, or ‘the divine mother’. She seems to have been primarily worshipped in the south of Elam, as another goddess, Pinikir, held her position in the north. Eventually, by about 1800 BC, the two had merged and the cult of Kiririsha also came to be practised in Susiana.

Humban was married to the mother goddess Pinikir, but he later divorced her and remarried with the goddess Kiririsha. However, it should be noted that some sources state that Kiririsha may have been an epithet of Pinikir (thus making Pinikir and Kiririsha one and the same person), while other sources view them as separate goddesses whose cults eventually merged (by about 1800 BC).

This Pinikir vs. Kiririsha matter is a bit of a murky area, in part caused by the fact that little is known about the Elamite religion as well as the fact that the Elamite language is not yet fully understood by modern linguists.

This was the name of an obscure but very old god in Elamite religion. It is uncertain what the meaning of his name was in the Elamite language. Most sources equate him with the Babylonian god Anu, so he must have been a god of the heavens.

There are also sources (virtually all of them questionable) that claim that he was the god of the underworld, but obviously this should be taken with a grain of salt.

Jabru was possibly the father of the god Humban and later replaced by him – this is much like his Babylonian counterpart Anu, who was eventually replaced by his son Enlil. Nothing else is known about Jabru, unfortunately.

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Ancient Iran

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 29, 2014

 

Posted Image

Expansion of agriculture from the Middle East to Europe (9500-3800 BCE)

Expansion of agriculture from the Middle East to Europe (9500-3800 BCE)

Map of late Neolithic cultures in Europe - Eupedia

Map of early Bronze Age cultures in Europe - Eupedia

Migration map of Y-haplogroup R1b from the Paleolithic to the end of the Bronze Age - Eupedia
 Migration map of Y-haplogroup R1b from the Neolithic to the late Bronze Age - Eupedia
Suggested map of Y-DNA distribution in Europe around 100 CE
Historical migrations of R1b until 3200 years before present
 (Haplogroup R1b is connected with the Indo-European languages)
Haplogroup J2

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

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

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

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

There is a distinct association of ancient J2 civilisations with bull worship. The oldest evidence of a cult of the bull can be traced back to Neolithic central Anatolia, notably at the sites of Çatal höyük and Alaca Höyük. Bull depictions are omnipresent in Minoan frescos and ceramics in Crete. Bull-masked terracotta figurines and bull-horned stone altars have been found in Cyprus (dating back as far as the Neolithic, the first presumed expansion of J2 from West Asia).

The Hattians, Sumerians, Babylonians, Canaaites, and Carthaginians all had bull deities (in contrast with Indo-European or East Asian religions). The sacred bull of Hinduism, Nandi, present in all temples dedicated to Shiva or Parvati, does not have an Indo-European origin, but can be traced back to Indus Valley civilisation.

Minoan Crete, Hittite Anatolia, the Levant, Bactria and the Indus Valley also shared a tradition of bull leaping, the ritual of dodging the charge of a bull. It survives today in the traditional bullfighting of Andalusia in Spain and Provence in France, two regions with a high percentage of J2 lineages.

Haplogroup G

Haplogroup G descends from macro-haplogroup F, which is thought to represent the second major migration of Homo sapiens out of Africa, at least 60,000 years ago. While the earlier migration of haplogroups C and D had followed the coasts of South Asia as far as Oceania and the Far East, haplogroup F penetrated through the Arabian peninsula and settled in the Middle East. Its main branch, macro-haplogroup IJK would become the ancestor of 80% of modern Eurasian people. Haplogroup G had a slow start, evolving in apparent isolation for tens of thousands of years, possibly in Southwest Asia, cut off from the wave of colonisation of Eurasia.

As of early 2014, there were 286 mutations (SNPs) defining haplogroup G, confirming that this paternal lineage experienced a severe bottleneck before splitting into happlogroups G1 and G2. Haplogroup G1 might have originated around modern Iran, while G2 would have developed in Southwest Asia during the Upper Paleolithic, probably in the Late Glacial period (19,000 to 12,000 years ago). At that time humans would all have been hunter-gatherers, and in most cases living in small nomadic or semi-nomadic tribes. Members of haplogroup G2 appear to have been closely linked to the development of early agriculture in the Levant part of the Fertile Crescent, starting 11,500 years before present. The G2a branch expanded to Anatolia, the Caucasus and Europe, while G2b ended up secluded in the southern Levant and is now found mostly among Jewish people.

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

The highest genetic diversity within haplogroup G is found between the Levant and the Caucasus, in the Fertile Crescent, which is a good indicator of its region of origin. It is thought that early Neolithic farmers expanded from the Levant and Mesopotamia westwards to Anatolia and Europe, eastwards to South Asia, and southwards to the Arabian peninsula and North and East Africa. The domestication of goats and cows first took place in the mountainous region of eastern Anatolia, including the Caucasus and Zagros. This is probably where the roots of haplogroup G2a (and perhaps of all haplogroup G) are to be found. So far, the only G2a people negative for subclades downstream of P15 or L149.1 were found exclusively in the South Caucasus region.

 

Map - Tell es Sawwan and Samarra

Map showing the location of Samarra

 

Eridu

Kermanshah

Iran 7000 years civilization

There are records of numerous other ancient civilizations on the Iranian plateau before the emergence of Iranian tribes during the Early Iron Age. The Early Bronze Age saw the rise of urbanization into organized city states and the invention of writing (the Uruk period) in the Near East. While Bronze Age Elam made use of writing from an early time, the Proto-Elamite script remains undeciphered, and records from Sumer pertaining to Elam are scarce.

There are also dozens of pre-historic sites across the Iranian plateau pointing to the existence of ancient cultures and urban settlements in the 4th millennium BCE, One of the earliest civilizations in Iranian plateau was the Jiroft Civilization in southeastern Iran, in the province of Kerman. It is one of the most artifact-rich archaeological sites in the Middle East. Archaeological excavations in Jiroft led to the discovery of several objects belonging to the 4th millennium BCE.

There is a large quantity of objects decorated with highly distinctive engravings of animals, mythological figures, and architectural motifs. The objects and their iconography are unlike anything ever seen before by archeologists. Many are made from chlorite, a gray-green soft stone; others are in copper, bronze, terracotta, and even lapis lazuli. Recent excavations at the sites have produced the world’s earliest inscription which pre-dates Mesopotamian inscriptions.

Evidence for Upper Paleolithic and Epipaleolithic periods are known mainly from the Zagros region in the caves of Kermanshah and Khoramabad and a few number of sites in the Alborz range and Central Iran. There are also 10,000-year-old human and animal figurines from Teppe Sarab in Kermanshah Province among the many other ancient artifacts.

Kermanshah region was also one of the first places in which human settlements including Asiab, Qazanchi, Tappeh Sarab, Chia Jani, and Ganj-Darreh between 8,000-10,000 years ago. This is about the same time that the first potteries pertaining to Iran were made in Ganj-Darreh, near present-day Harsin.

In May 2009, based on a research conducted by the University of Hamedan and UCL, the head of Archeology Research Center of Iran’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization announced that the one of the oldest prehistorian village in the Middle East dating back to 9800 B.P., was discovered in Sahneh, located west of Kermanshah. Remains of later village occupations and early Bronze Age are found in a number of mound sites in the city itself.

In the 8th millennium BCE, agricultural communities such as Chogha Bonut (the earliest village in Susiana) started to form in western Iran, either as a result of indigenous development or of outside influences. Around about the same time the earliest known clay vessels and modeled human and animal terracotta figurines were produced at Ganj Dareh, also in western Iran.

Ganj Dareh (Persian: “Treasure Valley” in Persian, or “Treasure Valley Hill” if tepe/tappeh (hill) is appended to the name) is a Neolithic settlement in the Iranian Kurdistan portion of Iran. It is located in the east of Kermanshah, in the central Zagros Mountains.

First discovered in 1965, it was excavated by Canadian archaeologist, Philip Smith during the 1960s and 1970s, for four field seasons. The oldest settlement remains on the site date back to ca. 10,000 years ago, and have yielded the earliest evidence for goat domestication in the world.

Zayandeh River Culture, literally “Zāyandé-Rūd Civilization”) is a hypothetical pre-historic culture that is theorized to have flourished around the Zayandeh River in Iran in the 6th millennium BC.

Archaeologists speculate that a possible early civilization existed along the banks of the Zayandeh River, developing at the same time as other ancient civilizations appeared alongside rivers in the region, such as the Sumerian civilization in Iraq and the Indus Valley civilization in ancient India.

During the 2006 excavations, the Iranian archaeologists uncovered some artifacts that they linked to those from Sialk, a large ancient archeological site (a tepe or Persian tappeh, “hill” or “mound”) in a suburb of the city of Kashan, Isfahan Province, in central Iran, close to Fin Garden, and Marvdasht.

Tepe Sialk is the culture that inhabited this area has been linked to the Zayandeh River Culture. The Sialk ziggurat was built around the 3000 BC. A joint study between Iran’s Cultural Heritage Organization, the Louvre, and the Institut Francais de Recherche en Iran also verifies the oldest settlements in Sialk to date back to 5500–6000 BC.

Sialk, and the entire area around it, is thought to have first originated as a result of the pristine large water sources nearby that still run today. The Cheshmeh ye Soleiman (“Solomon’s Spring”) has been bringing water to this area from nearby mountains for thousands of years.

The Fin garden, built in its present form in the 17th century, is a popular tourist attraction. It is here that the kings of the Safavid dynasty would spend their vacations away from their capital cities. It is also here that Piruz Nahavandi (Abu-Lu’lu’ah), the Persian assassin of Caliph Umar, is buried. All these remains are located in the same location where Sialk is.

The south-western part of Iran was part of the Fertile Crescent where most of humanity’s first major crops were grown, in villages such as Susa (where a settlement was first founded possibly as early as 4395 cal BCE) and settlements such as Chogha Mish, dating back to 6800 BCE.

There are 7,000-year-old jars of wine excavated in the Zagros Mountains (now on display at the University of Pennsylvania) and ruins of 7,000-year-old settlements such as Sialk are further testament to that. The two main Neolithic Iranian settlements were the Zayandeh River Culture and Ganj Dareh.

Tappeh-ye Choghā Mīsh (Persian language; ČOḠĀ MĪŠ), chogha meaning hall and mish meaning Ewe in the Luri language, dating back to 6800 BC, is the site of a Chalcolithic settlement in Western Iran, located in the Khuzistan Province on the Susiana Plain. It was occupied at the beginning of 6800 BC and continuously from the Neolithic up to the Proto-Literate period.

Chogha Mish was a regional center during the late Uruk period of Mesopotamia and is important today for information about the development of writing. At Chogha Mish, evidence begins with an accounting system using clay tokens, over time changing to clay tablets with marks, finally to the cuneiform writing system.

Susa is one of the oldest-known settlements of Iran and the world. Chogha Bonut (Persian Choghā bonut) is an archaeological site in southwestern Iran, located in the Khuzistan Province (Susiana Plain). It is believed that the site was settled as early as 7200 BCE, making it the oldest lowland village in southwestern Iran.

Based on C14 dating, the time of foundation of the city is as early as 4395 BCE, a time that goes beyond the age of civilization in Mesopotamia. The general perception among archeologists is that Susa was an extension of the Sumerian city state of Uruk. In its later history, Susa became the capital of Elam, which emerged as a state found 4000 BCE.

It all began about 6000 years ago when the dwellers of the sweeping plains of what is now Southwestern Iran began to establish settlements that would grow into cities bustling with rich commerce. Susa (Shush), capital of the region known as Elam, was first among them, and it would be followed by the Elamite cities such as Anshan.

Standing as it did between the Indus valley to the east and the ancient civilization of Sumer to the west, Susa became a focal point for trade. It also became a rich prize for conquerors.

In historic literature, Susa appears in the very earliest Sumerian records: for example, it is described as one of the places obedient to Inanna, patron deity of Uruk, in Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta.

Susa was an ancient city located in the lower Zagros Mountains about 250 km (160 mi) east of the Tigris River, between the Karkheh and Dez Rivers. Its name in Elamite was written variously Ŝuŝan, Ŝuŝun, etc. The origin of the word Susa is from the local city deity Inshushinak.

The modern Iranian town of Shush is located at the site of ancient Susa. Shush is the administrative capital of the Shush County of Iran’s Khuzestan province. It had a population of 64,960 in 2005.

In politics, Susa was the capital of a state called Šušan, which occupied approximately the same territory of modern Khūzestān Province centered on the Karun River. Šušan is sometimes mistaken as synonymous with Elam, but it was a distinctly separate cultural and political entity.

In historic literature, Susa appears in the very earliest Sumerian records: for example, it is described as one of the places obedient to Inanna, patron deity of Uruk, in Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta. Greek mythology attributed the founding of Susa to king Memnon of Aethiopia, a character from Homer’s Trojan War epic, the Iliad. Susa is also mentioned in the Ketuvim of the Hebrew Bible by the name Shushan, mainly in Esther, but also once each in Nehemiah and Daniel.

In urban history, Susa is one of the oldest-known settlements of the region. Based on C14 dating, the foundation of a settlement there occurred as early as 4395 BCE. Archeologists have dated the first traces of an inhabited Neolithic village to c 7000 BCE. Evidence of a painted-pottery civilization has been dated to c 5000 BCE.

Shortly after Susa was first settled its inhabitants erected a temple on a monumental platform that rose over the flat surrounding landscape. The exceptional nature of the site is still recognizable today in the artistry of the ceramic vessels that were placed as offerings in a thousand or more graves near the base of the temple platform.

Nearly two thousand pots were recovered from the cemetery most of them now in the Louvre. The vessels found are eloquent testimony to the artistic and technical achievements of their makers, and they hold clues about the organization of the society that commissioned them.

Painted ceramic vessels from Susa in the earliest first style are a late, regional version of the Mesopotamian Ubaid ceramic tradition that spread across the Near East during the fifth millennium BC. Susa I style was very much a product of the past and of influences from contemporary ceramic industries in the mountains of western Iran.

Like its Chalcolithic neighbor Uruk, Susa began as a discrete settlement in the Susa I period (c 4000 BCE). Two settlements, called Acropolis and Apadana, would later merge to form Susa proper. The founding of Susa corresponded with the abandonment of nearby villages. Potts suggests that the city may have been founded to try to reestablish the previously destroyed settlement at Chogha Mish, dating back to 6800 BC.

Chogha Mish was a regional center during the late Uruk period of Mesopotamia and is important today for information about the development of writing. At Chogha Mish, evidence begins with an accounting system using clay tokens, over time changing to clay tablets with marks, finally to the cuneiform writing system.

Susa was firmly within the Uruk cultural sphere during the Uruk period. An imitation of the entire state apparatus of Uruk, proto-writing, cylinder seals with Sumerian motifs, and monumental architecture, is found at Susa. Susa may have been a colony of Uruk. As such, the periodization of Susa corresponds to Uruk; Early, Middle and Late Susa II periods (3800–3100 BCE) correspond to Early, Middle, and Late Uruk periods.

Although the history of the time is murky, the third millennium B.C. seems to have been marked by frequent warfare between Elamites and Mesopotamian forces from Akkad, who eventually overran and occupied Susa. In time the armies of Elam regained the city, but control would fall intermittently to Elamites and to Mesopotamians for centuries to come.

Susa III (3100–2900 BCE) corresponds with Uruk III period. Ambiguous reference to Elam appears also in this period in Sumerian records. Susa enters history during the Early Dynastic period of Sumer. A battle between Kish and Susa is recorded in 2700 BCE.

Elam was an ancient civilization centered in the far west and southwest of modern-day Iran, stretching from the lowlands of what is now Khuzestan (Luristan o Bakhtiari Lurs) and Ilam Province as well as a small part of southern Iraq.

The Elamites called their country Haltamti, Sumerian ELAM, Akkadian Elamû, female Elamītu “resident of Susiana, Elamite”. The modern name Elam is a transcription from Biblical Hebrew, corresponding to the Sumerian elam(a), the Akkadian elamtu, and the Elamite haltamti.

Additionally, it is known as Elam in the Hebrew Bible, where they are called the offspring of Elam, eldest son of Shem (Genesis 10:22, Ezra 4:9).

Elamite is traditionally thought to be a language isolate, and completely unrelated to the neighbouring Semitic, Sumerian (also an isolate), and the later Indo-European Iranian languages that came to dominate the region.

It was written in a cuneiform adapted from the Semitic Akkadian script of Assyria and Babylonia, although the very earliest documents were written in the quite different “Linear Elamite” script.

In 2006, two even older inscriptions in a similar script were discovered at Jiroft to the east of Elam, leading archaeologists to speculate that Linear Elamite had originally spread from further east to Susa. The emergence of written records from around 3000 BC also parallels Mesopotamian history, where slightly earlier records have been found.

It seems to have developed from an even earlier writing known as “proto-Elamite”, but scholars are not unanimous on whether or not this script was used to write Elamite or another language, and it has not yet been deciphered. Several stages of the language are attested; the earliest date back to the third millennium BC, the latest to the Achaemenid Empire.

The Elamite language may have survived as late as the early Islamic period. Ibn al-Nadim among other Islamic medieval historians, for instance, wrote that “The Iranian languages are Fahlavi (Pahlavi), Dari, Khuzi, Persian and Suryani (Assyrian)”, and Ibn Moqaffa noted that Khuzi was the unofficial language of the royalty of Persia, “Khuz” being the corrupted name for Elam.

Its culture played a crucial role during the Persian Achaemenid dynasty that succeeded Elam, when the Elamite language remained among those in official use.

In the Old Elamite period (Middle Bronze Age), Elam consisted of kingdoms on the Iranian plateau, centered in Anshan, and from the mid-2nd millennium BC, it was centered in Susa in the Khuzestan lowlands. The high country of Elam was increasingly identified by its low-lying later capital, Susa. Geographers after Ptolemy called it Susiana.

The Elamite civilization was primarily centered in the province of what is modern-day Khuzestān and Ilam in prehistoric times. The modern provincial name Khuzestān is derived from the Persian name for Susa: Old Persian Hūjiya “Elam”, in Middle Persian Huź “Susiana”, which gave modern Persian Xuz, compounded with -stån “place” (cf. Sistan “Saka-land”).

Knowledge of Elamite history remains largely fragmentary, reconstruction being based on mainly Mesopotamian (Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian) sources. The history of Elam is conventionally divided into three periods, spanning more than two millennia.

The period before the first Elamite period is known as the proto-Elamite period. Proto-Elamite civilization grew up east of the Tigris and Euphrates alluvial plains; it was a combination of the lowlands and the immediate highland areas to the north and east.

At least three proto-Elamite states merged to form Elam: Anshan (modern Khuzestan Province), Awan (modern Luristan and Bakhtiari Lurs) and Shimashki (modern Kerman).

References to Awan are generally older than those to Anshan, and some scholars suggest that both states encompassed the same territory, in different eras. To this core Shushiana (modern Khuzestan) was periodically annexed and broken off.

In addition, some Proto-Elamite sites are found well outside this area, spread out on the Iranian plateau; such as Warakshe, Sialk (now a suburb of the modern city of Kashan) and Jiroft in Kerman Province.

The state of Elam was formed from these lesser states as a response to invasion from Sumer during the Old Elamite period. Elamite strength was based on an ability to hold these various areas together under a coordinated government that permitted the maximum interchange of the natural resources unique to each region. Traditionally, this was done through a federated governmental structure.

The Proto-Elamite city of Susa was founded around 4000 BC in the watershed of the river Karun. It is considered to be the site of Proto-Elamite cultural formation. During its early history, it fluctuated between submission to Mesopotamian and Elamite power.

The earliest levels exhibit pottery that has no equivalent in Mesopotamia, but for the succeeding period, the excavated material allows identification with the culture of Sumer of the Uruk period.

Proto-Elamite influence from the Mesopotamia in Susa becomes visible from about 3200 BC, and texts in the still undeciphered Proto-Elamite writing system continue to be present until about 2700 BC.

The Proto-Elamite period ends with the establishment of the Awan dynasty. The earliest known historical figure connected with Elam is the king Enmebaragesi of Kish (c. 2650 BC?), who subdued it, according to the Sumerian king list. Elamite history can only be traced from records dating to beginning of the Akkadian Empire in around 2300 BC onwards.

The Proto-Elamite states in Jiroft and Zabol (not universally accepted), present a special case because of their great antiquity. Archaeologists have suggested that a close relationship between the Jiroft civilisation and the Elamite civilisation is evidenced by striking similarities in art and culture, as well as by Elamite language writings found in Jiroft.

The Old Elamite period began around 2700 BC. Historical records mention the conquest of Elam by Enmebaragesi the Sumerian king of Kish in Mesopotamia. Three dynasties ruled during this period.

We know of twelve kings of each of the first two dynasties, those of Awan (or Avan; c. 2400–2100 BC) and Simash (c. 2100–1970 BC), from a list from Susa dating to the Old Babylonian period. Two Elamite dynasties said to have exercised brief control over parts of Sumer in very early times include Awan and Hamazi; and likewise, several of the stronger Sumerian rulers, such as Eannatum of Lagash and Lugal-anne-mundu of Adab, are recorded as temporarily dominating Elam.

The Avan dynasty was partly contemporary with that of the Mesopotamian emperor Sargon of Akkad, who not only defeated the Awan king Luhi-ishan and subjected Susa, but attempted to make Akkadian the official language there.

From this time, Mesopotamian sources concerning Elam become more frequent, since the Mesopotamians had developed an interest in resources (such as wood, stone, and metal) from the Iranian plateau, and military expeditions to the area became more common.

With the collapse of Akkad under Sargon’s great great-grandson, Shar-kali-sharri, Elam declared independence under the last Avan king, Kutik-Inshushinak (c. 2240–2220 BC), and threw off the Akkadian language, promoting in its place the brief Linear Elamite script.

Kutik-Inshushinnak conquered Susa and Anshan, and seems to have achieved some sort of political unity. Following his reign, the Awan dynasty collapsed as Elam was temporarily overrun by the Guti, a people speaking a Language Isolate, from what is now Northwest Iran.

About a century later, the Sumerian king, Shulgi of Ur retook the city of Susa and the surrounding region. During the first part of the rule of the Simashki dynasty, Elam was under intermittent attack from Mesopotamians and Gutians, alternating with periods of peace and diplomatic approaches.

Shu-Sin of Ur, for example, gave one of his daughters in marriage to a prince of Anshan. But the power of the Sumerians was waning; Ibbi-Sin in the 21st century did not manage to penetrate far into Elam, and in 2004 BC, the Elamites, allied with the people of Susa and led by king Kindattu, the sixth king of Simashk, managed to sack Ur and lead Ibbi-Sin into captivity—thus ending the third dynasty of Ur.

The Akkadian kings of Isin, successor state to Ur, did manage to drive the Elamites out of Ur, rebuild the city, and to return the statue of Nanna that the Elamites had plundered. The succeeding dynasty, the Eparti (c. 1970–1770 BC), also called “of the sukkalmahs” because of the title borne by its members, was contemporary with the Old Babylonian period in Mesopotamia.

This period is confusing and difficult to reconstruct. It was apparently founded by Eparti I. During this time, Susa was under Elamite control, but Mesopotamian states such as Larsa continually tried to retake the city.

Around 1850 BC Kudur-mabug, apparently king of another Akkadian state to the north of Larsa, managed to install his son, Warad-Sin, on the throne of Larsa, and Warad-Sin’s brother, Rim-Sin, succeeded him and conquered much of southern Mesopotamia for Larsa.

Notable Eparti dynasty rulers in Elam during this time include Sirukdukh (c. 1850 BC), who entered various military coalitions to contain the power of the Mesopotamian states; Siwe-Palar-Khuppak, who for some time was the most powerful person in the area, respectfully addressed as “Father” by Mesopotamian kings such as Zimrilim of Mari, and even Hammurabi of Babylon, and Kudur-Nahhunte, who plundered the temples of Akkad.

But Elamite influence in Mesopotamia did not last. Around 1760 BC, Hammurabi drove out the Elamites, overthrew Rim-Sin of Larsa, and established Babylonian dominance in Mesopotamia. Little is known about the latter part of this dynasty, since sources again become sparse with the Kassite rule of Babylon (from c. 1595 BC).

The Middle Elamite period began with the rise of the Anshanite dynasties around 1500 BC. Their rule was characterized by an “Elamisation” of Susa, and the kings took the title “king of Anshan and Susa”.

While the first of these dynasties, the Kidinuids continued to use the Akkadian language frequently in their inscriptions, the succeeding Igihalkids and Shutrukids used Elamite with increasing regularity.

Likewise, Elamite language and culture grew in importance in Susiana. The Kidinuids (c. 1500–1400) are a group of five rulers of uncertain affiliation. They are identified by their use of the older title, “king of Susa and of Anshan”, and by calling themselves “servant of Kirwashir”, an Elamite deity, thereby introducing the pantheon of the highlands to Susiana.

Of the Igehalkids (c. 1400–1210), ten rulers are known, and there were possibly more. Some of them married Kassite princesses. The Kassite king of Babylon Kurigalzu II temporarily occupied Elam c. 1320 BC, and later (c. 1230) another Kassite king, Kashtiliash IV, fought Elam unsuccessfully. Kassite power waned, as they became dominated by the northern Mesopotamian Middle Assyrian Empire.

Kiddin-Khutran of Elam repulsed the Kassites by defeating Enlil-nadin-shumi in 1224BC and Adad-shuma-iddina around 1222BC–1217BC. Under the Igehalkids, Akkadian inscriptions were rare, and Elamite highland gods became firmly established in Susa.

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

Šušan was incorporated by Sargon the Great into his Akkadian Empire in approximately 2330 BCE. It was the capital of an Akkadian province until ca. 2240 BCE, when its governor, Kutik-Inshushinak, rose up in rebellion and made it an independent state, making it a literary center.

Following this, the city was conquered by the neo-Sumerian Ur-III dynasty, and held until Ur finally collapsed at the hands of the Elamites under Kindattu in ca. 2004 BCE. At this time, Susa became an Elamite capital under the Epartid dynasty, and in 1400 BCE, of the Igihalkid dynasty that “Elamaized” Šušan.

In ca. 1175 BCE the Elamites under Shutruk-Nahhunte plundered the original stele bearing the Code of Hammurabi, the world’s first known written laws, and took it to Susa. Archeologists found it in 1901. Nebuchadnezzar I of the Babylonian empire plundered Susa around fifty years later.

The country and city of Anshan had been assumed by scholars to be somewhere in the central Zagros mountain range. During recent years Anshan has been associated by various writers with different parts of south Iran. In 1970 an extensive archeological site called Malīān, located on the Dašt-e Bayżā in western northwest of, Khuzestan Province.

The Elamite city appears to have been quite ancient; it makes an appearance in the early Sumerian epic Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta as being en route between Uruk and the legendary Aratta, supposedly around the time writing was developed.

At various times, Anshan provided, in its own right, the source for a number of Elamite dynasties that sometimes competed for extent and influence with other prominent Elamite cities.

Manishtushu claimed to have subjugated Anshan, but as the Akkadian empire weakened under his successors, the native governor of Susa, Kutik-Inshushinak, a scion of the Awan dynasty, proclaimed his independence from Akkad and captured Anshan (some scholars have speculated that the name Awan is an alternate form of Anshan).

Following this, Gudea of Lagash claimed to have subjugated Anshan, and the Neo-Sumerian rulers Shulgi and Shu-Sin of Ur are said to have maintained their own governors over the place.

However their successor, Ibbi-Sin, seems to have spent his reign engaged in a losing struggle to maintain control over Anshan, ultimately resulting in the Elamite sack of Ur in 2004 BC, at which time the statue of Nanna, and Ibbi-Sin himself, were captured and removed to Anshan. In the Old Babylonian period, king Gungunum of Larsa dated his 5th regnal year after the destruction of Anshan.

From the 15th century BC, Elamite rulers at Susa began using the title “King of Anshan and Susa” (in Akkadian texts, the toponyms are reversed, as “King of Susa and Anshan”), and it seems probable that Anshan and Susa were in fact unified for much of the “Middle Elamite period”. The last king to claim this title was Shutruk-Nahhunte II (ca. 717-699 BC).

Finds at Tall-i Malyan included primarily Proto-Elamite and Middle Elamite cuneiform tablets, seals, and a pottery sequence important to dating the chronology of the region. The most notable find was a building brick of Elamite king Hatelutus-Insusinak which confirmed that the site was indeed Anshan.

A “Jiroft culture” has been postulated as an early Bronze Age (late 3rd millennium BC) archaeological culture, located in what is now Iran’s Sistan and Kermān Provinces. The hypothesis is based on a collection of artifacts that were confiscated in Iran and accepted by many to have derived from the Jiroft area in south central Iran, reported by online Iranian news services, beginning in 2001.

Archeological excavations in Jiroft led to the discovery of several objects belonging to the fourth millennium BC. Archeologists have found many artifacts confirming the existence of a rich civilization dating back to the third millennium BC, during the 5 previous excavational phases.

According to Majidzadeh, geophysical operations by French experts in the region indicate the existence at least 10 historical and archaeological periods in the region belonging to different civilizations who lived in this area during different periods of time in history.

According to the French experts who studied this area, the evidence remained from these civilizations may be traced up to 11 meters under the ground. “What is obvious is that the evidence of Tal-i-Iblis culture in Bardsir can be traced in all parts of the region. Tal-i-Iblis culture, known as Ali Abad period (fourth millennium BC) was revealed by Joseph R. Caldwell, American archaeologist,” said Majidzadeh.

The inscription, discovered in a palace, was carved on a brick whose lower left corner only has remained, explained Yousof Majid Zadeh, head of the Jiroft excavation team. “The two remaining lines are enough to recognize the Elamite script,” he added.

“The only ancient inscriptions known to experts before the Jiroft discovery were cuneiform and hieroglyph,” said Majid Zadeh, adding that” The new-found inscription is formed by geometric shapes and no linguist around the world has been able to decipher it yet.”

Archeologists believe the discovered inscription is the most ancient script found so far and that the Elamite written language originated in Jiroft, where the writing system developed first and was then spread across the country.

The proposed type site is Konar Sandal, near Jiroft in the Halil River area. Other significant sites associated with the culture include; Shahr-e Sukhteh (Burnt City), Tepe Bampur, Espiedej, Shahdad, Tal-i-Iblis and Tepe Yahya.

Shahr-e Sūkhté, meaning “[The] Burnt City”), also spelled as Shahr-e Sukhteh and Shahr-i Shōkhta, is an archaeological site of a sizable Bronze Age urban settlement, associated with the Jiroft culture. It is located in Sistan and Baluchistan Province, the southeastern part of Iran, on the bank of the Helmand River, near the Zahedan-Zabol road. In July 2014 it was placed on the World Heritage List of UNESCO.

The reasons for the unexpected rise and fall of the Burnt City are still wrapped in mystery. Artifacts recovered from the city demonstrate a peculiar incongruity with nearby civilizations of the time and it has been speculated that Shahr-e-Sookhteh might ultimately provide concrete evidence of a civilization east of prehistoric Persia that was independent of ancient Mesopotamia.

Nindowari, also known as Nindo Damb, is a Kulli archaeological site, dating back to chalcolithic period, in Kalat District of Balochistan, Pakistan. Archaeological investigation of the site suggests that the Nindowari complex was occupied by the Harappans before the Kulli civilization arrived and that the Kulli culture was related to or possibly derived from the Harappan culture.

Nindowari is a site of the prehistoric Kulli culture of Balochistan with links to the Harappan Civilization. The site, spread over an area of 124 acres and 75 feet (23 m) high, is the largest Kulli complex site discovered so far.

The site offers evidence that Kulli culture might be strongly associated with the Harappan Civilization if not directly derived from it. Artifacts excavated from the site show that the two cultures had close interaction.

The Kulli culture was a prehistoric culture in southern Balochistan (Gedrosia) in Pakistan ca. 2500 – 2000 BCE. The pottery and other artifacts are similar to those of the Indus Valley Civilization and it is not clear whether the Kulli culture is a local variation of the Indus Valley Civilization or an own culture complex. The culture is named after an archaeological site discovered by Sir Aurel Stein.

More than 100 settlement sites are known but very few are excavated. Some of them have the size of small towns and are similar to those of the Indus Valley Civilization. Agriculture was the economical base of this people. Near many Kulli culture sites dams were found, providing evidence for a highly developed water management system.

The pottery of the Kulli culture shows different forms. There are globular beakers, small flasks, tall vases, cups and dishes. Large storage jars are sometimes painted. The only types in common with the Indus Valley Civilization are dishes on a stand and perforated vessels.

Kulli culture pottery bears sometimes a painted decoration. The paintings are arranged in horizontal bands over the vessels. There are geometrical patterns and sometimes bands with figures of animals with plants. A popular motif is the zebu-bull.

The figures appear highly stylised. The paint used is always black on the red surface of the vessels. This is similar to the decorated pottery of the Indus Valley Civilization, although the red of the Kulli pottery appears brighter.

Other typical Kulli culture objects are rough clay figurines of zebu bulls and women. The women figurines are again highly stylized but show elaborate hair styles and many personal ornaments, such as necklaces and bangles. The bull figures are often painted. There were also found clay carts for the bulls. At Mehi were found several decorated chlorite vessels, imported from Tepe Yahya and attesting trade contacts with the Eastern Iran. Copper and bronze was known.

The proposition of grouping these sites as an “independent Bronze Age civilization with its own architecture and language”, intermediate between Elam to the west and the Indus Valley Civilization to the east, is due to Yousef Majidzadeh, head of the archaeological excavation team in Jiroft.

Other conjectures (e.g. Daniel T. Potts, Piotr Steinkeller) have connected the Konar Sandal with the obscure city-state of Marhashi (Mar-ḫa-ši, Marhashi, Marhasi, Parhasi, Barhasi; in earlier sources Waraḫše), that apparently lay to the east of Elam proper.

Many artifacts associated with Jiroft were recovered from looters described as “destitute villagers” who had scavenged the area south of Jiroft before 2001, when a team led by Yousef Majidzadeh began excavations. The team uncovered more than two square kilometers of remains from a city dating back to at least the late 3rd millennium BC. The data Madjidzadeh’s team has gathered demonstrates that Jiroft’s heyday was from 2500 B.C. to 2200 BC.

The looted artifacts and some vessels recovered by the excavators were of the so-called “intercultural style” type of pottery known from Mesopotamia and the Iranian Plateau, and since the 1960s from nearby Tepe Yahya, an archaeological site in Kermān Province, Iran, some 220 km south of Kerman city, 90 km south of Baft city and 90 km south-west of Jiroft.

Habitation in Tepe Yahya spans the 6th to 2nd millennia BCE and the 10th to 4th centuries BCE. In the 3rd millennium BCE, the city was a production center of chlorite pottery which was exported to Mesopotamia. In this period, the area was under Elamite influence, and tablets with Proto-Elamite inscriptions were found.

The “Jiroft civilization” hypothesis proposes that this “intercultural style” is in fact the distinctive style of a previously unknown, long-lived civilization. This is not universally accepted.

Marhaši was a 3rd millennium BC polity situated east of Elam, on the Iranian plateau. It is known from Mesopotamian sources, and its precise location has not been identified, though some scholars link it with Jiroft.

The Awan kings of Elam were in conflict with a Sumerian ruler’s attempt to seize the market at Warakshe, a kingdom apparently near Elam on the Iranian plateau, rich in luxury products of all types, especially precious stones.

During the Akkadian Empire, Warakshe was conquered by Sargon the Great, and king Abalgamash of Warakshe and his general Sidgau, along with Luh-ishan of Awan, rebelled unsuccessfully against Rimush, while Hishep-ratep of Awan in alliance with Warakshe was defeated by Naram-Sin.

King Shulgi of the Ur-III dynasty gave his daughter Nialimmidashu in marriage to king Libanukshabash of Marhashi in his 18th year, in an attempt to forge an alliance, but this proved short-lived, for Shulgi’s successor Amar-Sin records having to campaign against their new king, Arwilukpi.

Hammurabi of Babylonia’s 30th year name was “Year Hammurabi the king, the mighty, the beloved of Marduk, drove away with the supreme power of the great gods the army of Elam who had gathered from the border of Marhashi, Subartu, Gutium, Tupliash (Eshnunna) and Malgium who had come up in multitudes, and having defeated them in one campaign, he (Hammurabi) secured the foundations of Sumer and Akkad.”

The Awan Dynasty was the first dynasty of Elam of which anything is known today, appearing at the dawn of historical record. The Elamites were likely major rivals of neighboring Sumer from remotest antiquity; they were said to have been defeated by Enmebaragesi of Kish (ca. 25th century BC), who is the earliest archaeologically attested Sumerian king, as well as by a later monarch, Eannatum I of Lagash.

Awan was a city or possibly a region of Elam whose precise location is not certain, but it has been variously conjectured to be north of Susa, in south Luristan, close to Dezful, or Godin Tepe, an archaeological site in western Iran, situated in the valley of Kangavar in Kermanshah Province.

According to the Sumerian king list, a dynasty from Awan exerted hegemony in Sumer at one time. It mentions three Awan kings, who supposedly reigned for a total of 356 years. Their names have not survived on the extant copies, apart from the partial name of the third king, “Ku-ul…”, who it says ruled for 36 years. This information is not considered reliable, but it does suggest that Awan had political importance in the 3rd millennium BC.

A royal list found at Susa gives 12 names of the kings in the Awan dynasty. As there are very few other sources for this period, most of these names are not certain.

Little more of these kings’ reigns is known, but Elam seems to have kept up a heavy trade with the Sumerian city-states during this time, importing mainly foods, and exporting cattle, wool, slaves and silver, among other things. A text of the time refers to a shipment of tin to the governor of the Elamite city of Urua, which was committed to work the material and return it in the form of bronze — perhaps indicating a technological edge enjoyed by the Elamites over the Sumerians.

It is also known that the Awan kings carried out incursions in Mesopotamia, where they ran up against the most powerful city-states of this period, Kish and Lagash. One such incident is recorded in a tablet addressed to Enetarzi, a minor ruler or governor of Lagash, testifying that a party of 600 Elamites had been intercepted and defeated while attempting to abscond from the port with plunder.

Events become a little clearer at the time of the Akkadian Empire (ca. 2300 BC), when historical texts tell of campaigns carried out by the kings of Akkad on the Iranian plateau. Sargon of Akkad boasted of defeating a “Luh-ishan king of Elam, son of Hishiprashini”, and mentions plunder seized from Awan, among other places. Luhi-ishan is the eighth king on the Awan king-list, while his father’s name “Hishiprashini” is a variant of that of the ninth listed king, Hishepratep – indicating either a different individual, or if the same, that the order of kings on the Awan king list has been jumbled.

Sargon’s son and successor, Rimush, is said to have conquered Elam, defeating its king who is named as Emahsini. Emahsini’s name does not appear on the Awan kinglist, but the Rimush inscriptions claim that the combined forces of Elam and Warahshe, led by General Sidgau, were defeated at a battle “on the middle river between Awan and Susa”. Scholars have adduced a number of such clues that Awan and Susa were probably adjoining territories.

With these defeats, the low-lying, westerly parts of Elam became a vassal of Akkad centred at Susa. This is confirmed by a document of great historical value, a peace treaty signed between Naram-Sin of Akkad and an unnamed king or governor of Awan, probably Khita or Helu. It is the oldest document written in Elamite cuneiform that has been found.

Although Awan was defeated, the Elamites were able to avoid total assimilation. The capital of Anshan, located in a steep and mountainous area, was never reached by Akkad. The Elamites remained a major source of tension, that would contribute to destabilizing the Akkadian state, until it finally collapsed under Gutian pressure.

When the Akkadian empire started to break down around 2240 BC, it was Kutik-Inshushinak (or Puzur-Inshushinak), the governor of Susa on behalf of Akkad, who liberated Awan and Elam, ascending to the throne.

By this time, Susa had started to gain influence in Elam (later, Elam would be called Susiana), and the city began to be filled with temples and monuments. Kutik-Inshushinak next defeated Kimash and Hurtum (neighboring towns rebelling against him), destroying 70 cities in a day. Next he established his position as king, defeating all his rivals and taking Anshan, the capital. Not content with this, he launched a campaign of devastation throughout northern Sumer, seizing such important cities as Eshnunna.

When he finally conquered Akkad he was declared king of the four quarters, owner of the known world. Later, Ur-Nammu of Ur, founder of the 3rd dynasty of Ur defeated Elam, ending the dynasty of Awan.

Kutik-Inshushinak’s work was not only as a conqueror; he created Elam’s organization and the administrative structure. He extended the temple of Inshushinak, where he erected a statue of her.

After his defeat, the Awan dynasty disappears from history, probably cut down by the Guti or Lullubi tribes that then sowed disorder in Mesopotamia and the Zagros, and Elam was left in the hands of the Shimashki dynasty.

The toponym “Awan” only occurs once more following the reign of Kutik-Inshushinak, in a year-name of Ibbi-Sin of Ur. The name Anshan, on the other hand, which only occurs once before this time (in an inscription of Manishtushu), becomes increasingly more commonplace beginning with king Gudea of Lagash, who claimed to have conquered it around the same time. It has accordingly been conjectured that Anshan not only replaced Awan as one of the major divisions of Elam, but that it also included the same territory.

Discovered in 1961, Godin Tepe was excavated from 1965 to 1973 by a Canadian expedition headed by T. Cuyler Young Jr. and sponsored by the Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto, Canada). The importance of the site was due to its control over the early lapis-lazuli trade between Badakhshan in Afghanistan and the Mesopotamian flood plain.

Although the excavations concentrated on levels II (ended c. 500 BC?) to V (c. 3200 BC-3000 BC), the site was inhabited since much earlier, c. 5000 BC. Traces of wine and beer found in ceramics dated to c. 3500 BC and along with the findings at Hajji Firuz Tepe, provide evidence of the early production of those beverages in the Zagros Mountains.

During the 1973 campaign, level V was excavated through a deep cut from the citadel. It was occupied during the period 3200 BC-3000 BC. The pottery of level V show influences from the Uruk culture, with parallels at Susa, Uruk (IV) and Nippur. The typical Jemdet Nasr tall storage jars, known from Nippur, and the bevelled rim bowls of Uruk are missing however.

Thirteen seal impressions and two cylinder seals were found at level V. They were obviously produced locally, as shown by the discovery of an uncarved cylinder. The seal impressions show a parallel with Uruk, Susa and other sites in Khuzestan. They were partly decorated with drill holes. Steatite served as raw material for these, sometimes treated with tempering.

At level V some 43 clay tablets were found of which 27 were preserved in one piece. They contained primarily accounts, like those discovered at temporary Proto-Elamite and Uruk period sites in western Iran and Mesopotamia.

At the end of level V there was a clear gap in the settlement sequence. There were signs of fire, such as room 22 whose roof was burned. The houses were in general well-preserved and contained many artefacts, but objects made of the precious metal were lacking. The archaeological evidence support the idea the settlement was abandoned quickly, but in an orderly manner.

Level IV (3000-2650 BC) represents the “invasion” of the e Kura–Araxes culture or the early trans-Caucasian culture, a civilization that existed from 3400 BC until about 2000 BC. The only notable architectural remains of this period consist of a number of plastered hearths.

Hajji Firuz Tepe is in the Gadar River valley in West Azarbaijan province in northwestern Iran. The site was excavated between 1958 and 1968 by archaeologists from the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

The excavations revealed a Neolithic village that was occupied in the second half of the sixth millennium BC where some of the oldest archaeological evidence of grape-based wine was discovered in the form of organic residue in a pottery jar.

The plain in which Hajji Firuz Tepe is located lies in the northwestern part of the Zagros Mountains at an elevation of 1,300–1,350 metres (4,270–4,430 ft) amsl. The Gadar River flows through it toward the east to eventually end in marshes bordering Lake Urmia.

The area is an important crossroads, with routes leading in all directions, including an easy route toward the west, crossing the Zagros Mountains via Rowanduz and Arbil toward the Mesopotamian Plains. The Gadar River valley falls within both the modern and ancient distribution zones of the wild grape (Vitis vinifera subsp. sylvestris) and of the terebinth.

The origins of wine predate written records, and modern archaeology is still uncertain about the details of the first cultivation of wild grapevines. Wild grapes grow in Georgia, the northern Levant, coastal and southeastern Turkey, northern Iran, and Armenia. The fermenting of strains of this wild Vitis vinifera subsp. sylvestris (the ancestor of the modern wine grape, V. vinifera) would have become easier following the development of pottery during the later Neolithic, c. 11,000 BC. However, the earliest evidence so far discovered dates from millennia afterwards.

Patrick McGovern argued that the domestication of the wine grape and winemaking may have originated in what is now Georgia in the Caucasus and spread south from there. The earliest archaeological evidence of wine production yet found has been at sites in Georgia (c. 6000 BC) and Iran (c. 5000 BC).

The Iranian jars contained a form of retsina, using turpentine pine resin to more effectively seal and preserve the wine. Production spread to other sites in Greater Iran and Grecian Macedonia by c. 4500 BC. The Greek site is notable for the recovery at the site of the remnants of crushed grapes.

The oldest-known winery was discovered in the “Areni-1” cave in Vayots Dzor, Armenia. Dated to c. 4100 BC, the site contained a wine press, fermentation vats, jars, and cups. Archaeologists also found V. vinifera seeds and vines. Commenting on the importance of the find, McGovern said, “The fact that winemaking was already so well developed in 4000 BC suggests that the technology probably goes back much earlier.”

Domesticated grapes were abundant in the Near East from the beginning of the early Bronze Age, starting in 3200 BC. There is also increasingly abundant evidence for winemaking in Sumer and Egypt in the 3rd millennium BC.

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The snake and the serpopard

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 29, 2014

 

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Naga

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Narmer Palette, Egypt

Jiroft

Tepe Giyan

About serpentine Deities of resurrection, about mainly

Nin-ĝišzida, the ‘Lady of the Good Tree’ literally translated, using evocative imagery from Indian Naga cults which still are the exact same as their Sumerian and Elamite cousins of former times, about their power over seven headed serpents and dragons…about time.

The serpopard

The serpopard is a term applied by some modern researchers to what is described as a mythical animal known from Ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian depictions. This term is not used in any original texts, and is an interpretation made only recently.

The “serpopard” has been defined as a cross between a serpent and leopard and is supposed to feature the body of the latter, and a long neck and head representing the former.

The image generally is classified as a feline, and with close inspection resembles an unusually long-necked lioness. It bears the characteristic tuft of the species at the end of the tail, there are no spots, the round-eared head most closely resembles the lioness rather than a serpent, because serpents do not have ears, and there are no typical serpent features such as scales, tongue, or head shape.

The image is featured specifically on decorated cosmetic palettes from the Pre-Dynastic Period of Egypt, and more extensively, as design motifs on cylinder seals in the Protoliterate Period of Mesopotamia (circa 3500-3000 BCE). Depictions of fantastic animals also are known from Elam and Mesopotamia, as well as many other cultures.

Similar images of such mythical animals are known from other contemporaneous cultures, and there are other examples of late-predynastic objects (including other palettes and knife handles) which borrow similar elements from Mesopotamian iconography.

Ningishzida

In Mesopotamia, the use of these “serpent-necked lions” and other animals and animal hybrids are thought to be “manifestations of the chthonic aspect of the god of natural vitality, who is manifest in all life breaking forth from the earth”. He was sometimes depicted as a serpent with a human head.

Ningishzida (Sumerian: nin-g̃iš-zid-da), a Mesopotamian deity of the underworld, is the earliest known symbol of snakes twining (some say copulation) around an axial rod. It predates the Caduceus of Hermes, the Rod of Asclepius and the staff of Moses by more than a millennium. One Greek myth of origin of the caduceus is part of the story of Tiresias, who found two snakes copulating and killed the female with his staff.

Lagash had a temple dedicated to Ningishzida, and Gudea, patesi of Lagash in the 21st century BC (short chronology), was one of his devotees. In the Louvre, there is a famous green steatite vase carved for king Gudea of Lagash, dedicated by its inscription: “To the god Ningiszida, his god Gudea, Ensi (governor) of Lagash, for the prolongation of his life, has dedicated this”. Ningishzida was one of the ancestors of Gilgamesh.

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. His title is that of ‘Nin’, a feminine determinative and generally translated as ‘Lady’. Despite this Nin-ĝišzida is generally translated as ‘Lord of the Good Tree’ (which would be ‘En’).

In Sumerian mythology, Ningishzida appears in Adapa’s myth as one of the two guardians of Anu’s celestial palace, alongside Tammuz or Dumuzi (Akkadian: Duʾzu, Dūzu; Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D), Sumerian: Dumu, “child, son” + Zi(d), “faithful, true”).

Tammuz was the name of a Sumerian god of food and vegetation, also worshiped in the later Mesopotamian states of Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia. In cult practice, the dead Tammuz was widely mourned in the Ancient Near East. Locations associated in antiquity with the site of his death include both Harran and Byblos, among others.

In Babylonia, the month Tammuz was established in honor of the eponymous god Tammuz, who originated as a Sumerian shepherd-god, Dumuzid or Dumuzi, the consort of Inanna and, in his Akkadian form, the parallel consort of Ishtar.

The Levantine Adonis (“lord”), who was drawn into the Greek pantheon, was considered by Joseph Campbell among others to be another counterpart of Tammuz, son and consort. The Aramaic name “Tammuz” seems to have been derived from the Akkadian form Tammuzi, based on early Sumerian Damu-zid. The later standard Sumerian form, Dumu-zid, in turn became Dumuzi in Akkadian. Tamuzi also is Dumuzid or Dumuzi.

Beginning with the summer solstice came a time of mourning in the Ancient Near East, as in the Aegean: the Babylonians marked the decline in daylight hours and the onset of killing summer heat and drought with a six-day “funeral” for the god.

Recent discoveries reconfirm him as an annual life-death-rebirth deity: tablets discovered in 1963 show that Dumuzi was in fact consigned to the Underworld himself, in order to secure Inanna’s release, though the recovered final line reveals that he is to revive for six months of each year .

His wife is Azimua, one of the eight deities born to relieve the illness of Enki, and also Geshtinanna/Ngeshtin-ana, a minor goddess in Sumerian mythology, the so-called “heavenly grape-vine”, while his sister is Amashilama.

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

Her hair is sometimes depicted in an omega shape, and she at times wears a horned head-dress and tiered skirt, often with bow cases at her shoulders, and not infrequently carries a mace or baton surmounted by an omega motif or a derivation, sometimes accompanied by a lion cub on a leash. She is the tutelary deity to several Sumerian leaders.

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

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

Some of the names above were once associated with independent goddesses (such as Ninmah and Ninmenna), who later became identified and merged with Ninhursag, and myths exist in which the name Ninhursag is not mentioned.

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

Geshtinanna is involved in the account of Dumuzi trying to escape his fate at the hands of Inanna and Ereshkigal. When Dumuzi died, Geshtinanna lamentated days and nights. In her house he is changed into a gazelle before being caught and transported to the underworld. After her death, she became the goddess of wine and cold seasons. She is a divine poet and interpreter of dreams.

A Sumerian tablet from Nippur reads: She can make the lament for you, my Dumuzid, the lament for you, the lament, the lamentation, reach the desert — she can make it reach the house Arali; she can make it reach Bad-tibira; she can make it reach Dul-šuba; she can make it reach the shepherding country, the sheepfold of Dumuzid “O Dumuzid of the fair-spoken mouth, of the ever kind eyes,” she sobs tearfully, “O you of the fair-spoken mouth, of the ever kind eyes,” she sobs tearfully. “Lad, husband, lord, sweet as the date, […] O Dumuzid!” she sobs, she sobs tearfully.

The Adapa myth refers to the serpent god Ningizzida as a male. In trying to figure why this was so Sumerologists draw a blank and simply consider that this was the case with other male Deities (generally conceived by En-lil within the Underworld) and so perhaps it meant little. However what the ‘Nin’ title indicates is the Underworld origins of such Deities, were the black Underworld is personified as Feminine, they emerge from below and hey presto they are Masculine.

Kālī, also known as Kālikā, is the Hindu goddess associated with empowerment, shakti. She is the fierce aspect of the goddess Durga (Parvati). The name Kali comes from kāla, which means black, time, death, lord of death: Shiva.

Since Shiva is called Kāla— the eternal time — the name of Kālī, his consort, also means “Time” or “Death” (as in “time has come”). Hence, Kāli is the Goddess of Time and Change.

Although sometimes presented as dark and violent, her earliest incarnation as a figure of annihilation of evil forces still has some influence. Various Shakta Hindu cosmologies, as well as Shākta Tantric beliefs, worship her as the ultimate reality or Brahman.

Comparatively recent devotional movements largely conceive Kāli as a benevolent mother goddess. Kālī is represented as the consort of Lord Shiva, on whose body she is often seen standing. Shiva lies in the path of Kali, whose foot on Shiva subdues her anger.

The Underworld aspect of Nin-ĝišzida was serpentine, the roots of the good tree that he represented, the sign for tree root, ‘arina’, which consists of two crossed signs for serpent (MUŠ)this understood as a vast underground network and source of power, as in any forest were all is inter-connected at root level, a natural inter-net of sorts.

The cultic centre of Ningišzida was rural Gišbanda (also a chapel in é-anna at Uruk) meaning “Young Tree”,between Ur and Lagaš in southern Sumer, his father was Nin-azu son of Ereskigal [variant tradition, of Enlil/Ninlil] serpentine and born within the Underworld, spouse of Nin-girda a daughter of Enki, and thus Ningišzida had family connection across the Sumerian pantheon divide.

‘O primeval place, deep mountain founded in an artful fashion, shrine, terrifying place lying in a pasture, a dread whose lofty ways none can fathom, Ĝišbanda, neck-stock, meshed net, shackles of the great underworld from which none can escape, your exterior is raised up, prominent like a snare, your interior is where the sun rises, endowed with wide-spreading plenty. Your prince is the prince who stretches out his pure hand, the holy one of heaven, with luxuriant and abundant hair hanging at his back, Nin-ĝišzida.

Ningishzida is sometimes the son of Ninazu and Ningiridda, even though the myth Ningishzidda’s journey to the netherworld suggests he is the son of Ereshkigal. Following an inscription found at Lagash, he was the son of Anu, the heavens.

Nin-ĝišzida was understood as having a child named Damu, in terms of family continuity Nin-azu would infer ‘ knowing the waters’, followed by ‘ of the Good Tree’, and Damu the child,” power in the sap that rises in trees and bushes in the spring.”, there is of course also sexual associations in all of this, were the serpent was a metaphor for a penis often.

The connectivity with En-Ki and the waters of the Abzu of great importance in the generation of the sacred tree, but also the connectivity to En-lil, Lord of the Wind, important in determining this generation as an act of the will, and the particular spiritual qualities of Nin-ĝišzida.

Lord with holy dignity, imbued with great savage awesomeness! My king, Ningiszida, imbued with great savage awesomeness! Hero, falcon preying on the gods, my king — dignified, with sparkling eyes, fully equipped with arrows and quiver, impetuous leopard, murderous, howling dragon.

It is such qualities that have given Nin-ĝišzida a particular reputation, however there is a marked difference between the serpentine Underworld associations of the roots and those of the firm and upright tree above ground, this as the staff of rule that when thrown to the ground is as a wriggling serpent, held above ground that of weighty, fair, upright and absolute judgement..Ningiszida, your mouth is that of a snake with a great tongue, a magician…anyone who went against could expect a bite from the vengeful serpent Goddess Nin-Ki, hence serpents associated with boundary stones and contracts.

It is such qualities that have given Nin-ĝišzida a particular reputation, however there is a marked difference between the serpentine Underworld associations of the roots and those of the firm and upright tree above ground, this as the staff of rule that when thrown to the ground is as a wriggling serpent, held above ground that of weighty, fair, upright and absolute judgement.. Ningiszida, your mouth is that of a snake with a great tongue, a magician…anyone who went against could expect a bite from the vengeful serpent Goddess Nin-Ki, hence serpents associated with boundary stones and contracts.

Shepherd, you understand how to keep a check on the black-headed. The sheep and lambs come to seek you out, and you understand how to wield the sceptre over the goats and kids, into the distant future. Ningiszida, you understand how to wield the sceptre, into the distant future

In such judgement he could be expected to be impartial.

You should not say to Ningishzida: “Let me live!”…Sumerian Proverb

These qualities are also strongly evidenced in the serpent cult of Ištar-ān which was located in the border region between Sumer and Elam, Ištar-ān as Venus-Morning star an epitaph of Nin-ĝišzida as seen in his descent into the Underworld narrative, were his sister asks to sail with him on the Dragon boat into the Underworld, were the skipper of the Dragon boat (Hydra constellation) is Nin-Sirsir, ‘the slithering one’;

My young man Damu, let me sail away with you, brother let me sail away with you. Ištar-ān of the bright visage, let me sail away with you,… Nin-ĝišzida , let me sail away with you

It can of course not be denied that Ninazu and Ningišzida are Sumerian gods, but the evidence suggests that their ophidian traits were developed under the influence of transtigridian religious ideas. In fact, as has been repeatedly shown, a religious interest in snakes in these regions goes back deep into prehistory and through the ages remains quite visible in the iconography of Elam and the Iranian mountains.

Of course dragons emerging from the Underworld is something people naturally worry about, but Nin-ĝišzida in the context of Sumerian religion was understood as harnessing those mighty forces of nature toward generative purpose and countering evil aspects through establishment of order.

Ištaran

Ištaran (also Gusilim) was the local god of the city of Der, a Sumerian city-state at the site of modern Tell Aqar near al-Badra in Iraq’s Wasit Governorate. It was east of the Tigris River on the border between Sumer and Elam. Its name was possibly Durum.

His cult flourished from the Early Dynastic III Period until the Middle Babylonian Period, after which his name is no longer attested in the personal names of individuals.

Although his three main traits are that of a dying god, an arbitrator and judge, and a chthonic snake god, he is also related with the sky: he is Venus (Ištar-ān) and one of his names is An-gal/Anû rabû “Great An.” He appears with the lower body of a winding snake.

Ištar-ān had a most unfortunate end in his sacrificial aspect, in that he was taken to the Temple precinct of his sister Istar and had all of the blood beaten out of him to nourish the Underworld, whilst she watched and lamented.

The cult of Nin-ĝišzida then either derived from or assimilated that of Ištar-ān, but the relationship is interesting as to why the Sumerians needed two Gods of resurrection, and generally kept them seperate despite similarities.

In some ways Dumuzid is a victim of fate which he tries to avoid, his roots are not in the Underworld, as a son of En-ki he is an unwilling victim within the greater scheme of things, with Nin-ĝišzida it is simply his will and nature to emerge from the depths like a dragon…”When your great word comes to the earth, you are indeed a great mušhuššu.”

The beast and symbol of Ištaran, as frequently represented on kudurrus, is a snake (presumably representing Nirah, “Little snake”, a minor male chthonic deity, the snake god who acted as Ištaran’s minister and who carried the title The radiant god and The son of the house of Der”). He appears with the lower body of a winding snake.

Ištaran is a male deity associated with justice. This role can be inferred from his assertion of the borders of Umma and Lagaš, while Gudea (ca. 2144-2124 BCE), the ruler of Girsu, said of himself, “I justly decide the lawsuits of my city like Ištaran”.

In the poems praising the Ur III king, Šulgi (2094-2047 BCE), his justice is “comparable to that of Ištaran”, and a song to Nergal praises the god thus: “Like Ištaran … you reach correct judgments”.

There is a suggestion of an ophidian nature of Ištaran. Depictions from the Akkadian period show a snake-like form, an element which may have later split off and become Nirah, Ištaran’s messenger, whose logogram was dMUŠ, or dMUŠ.TUR, ‘snake’ and ‘little snake’ respectively. Further, a Kurigalzu dated brick from Der shows a snake above the inscription, which mentions Dagan.

Although his three main traits are that of a dying god, an arbitrator and judge, and a chthonic snake god, he is also related with the sky: He is Venus (Ištar-ān). Ištaran is often equated with Anu rabû “Great Anu” and in the Babylonian Chronicles relating to Esarhaddon (680-669 BCE) the usual writing for his name is replaced with AN.GAL.

Both these factors place Ištaran high in the pantheon. In the god list, AN = Anum, Ištaran is assigned a vizier Qudmu, a counsellor Rasu, a son Zizanu, and two standing gods Turma and Itur-matiššu. While the god-list AN = Anum does not attest a spouse, Šarrat-Deri, “Queen of Der”, or Deritum, seems to be Ištaran’s wife at the time of Esarhaddon.

Ištaran was the chief deity of Der (Logogram: BAD.AN), Tell al-‘Aqar, near modern Badra, which is on the ancient border between Mesopotamia and Elam. Ištaran’s cult in Der is attested in the Babylonian Chronicle’s references to the time of Esarhaddon, and the cult at Der may have continued into the Seleucid period (312-63 BCE).

A stamped brick of the Kassite king Kurigalzu II (1332-1308 BCE), which was found near Badra, records the renewal of a temple of Ištaran, the é-dim-gal-kal-am-ma, “House, great bond of the land”, and in the Sumerian text The Temple Hymns, Ištaran’s temple is similarly said to be located in Der.

In the Early Dynastic period (2900-2350 BCE) there may have been a cultic installation on the border between Umma and Lagaš because the border between these two regions was said to be fixed “in accordance with the command of Ištaran”.

In Early Dynastic Lagaš and Umma Ištaran is invoked in personal names. This practice continues through the third millennium, e.g., Simat-Ištaran, “Symbol of Ištaran”, the sister of the Ur III king Šu-Suen (2037-2029 BCE). Similar attestations are found until the end of the Kassite Dynasty (1374-1159 BCE).

There are references to this deity’s beautiful face in Sumerian literature, “Ištaran of the bright visage”, while other depictions reflect his snake-like nature.

The reading of the logographic writing KA.DI is now well established as Ištaran, but it was previously misread Gusilim and Sat(a)ran. Ištaran has an Emesal variant Ez(z)eran, and an Akkadian variant Iltaran (Lambert 1976-80a).

Egypt

Similarly to other ancient peoples, the Egyptians are known for their very accurate depictions of the creatures they observed. Their composite creatures, assembled for deities who had become merged in religious concepts, have very recognizable features of the animals originally representing those deities merged.

Lionesses played an important role in the religious concepts of both Upper and Lower Egypt, and are likely to have been designated as animals associated with protection and royalty. Upper and Lower Egypt each worshipped lioness war goddesses as protectors; the intertwined necks of the serpopards may thus represent the unification of the state.

The long necks may be a simple exaggeration, used as a framing feature in an artistic motif, either forming the cosmetic mixing area as in the Narmer Palette, also known as the Great Hierakonpolis Palette or the Palette of Narmer, a significant Egyptian archeological find, dating from about the 31st century BC, containing some of the earliest hieroglyphic inscriptions ever found, or surrounding it as in the Small Palette of Nekhen (Hierakonopolis).

Wadjet

An early depiction of Wadjet (Egyptian wḏyt, “green one”), known to the Greek world as Uto or Buto among other names, is as a cobra entwined around a papyrus stem, beginning in the Predynastic era (prior to 3100 B.C.) and it is thought to be the first image that shows a single snake entwined around a staff symbol – in this case a papyrus reed (refer to first glyph): Wadjet Hieroglyph.

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 “flag” poles that are used to indicate deities, as seen in the hieroglyph for uraeus above and for goddess in other places. Wadjet is not to be confused with the Egyptian demon Apep, an evil god in ancient Egyptian religion depicted as a snake/serpent and a dragon, the deification of darkness and chaos (ı͗zft in Egyptian), and thus opponent of light and Ma’at (order/truth), whose existence was believed from the 8th Dynasty (mentioned at Moalla) onwards.

The image of Wadjet, the serpent Goddess of Lower Egypt from the Pre-dynastic period, with the sun disk formed the royal crown, the Uraeus, worn by the rulers of Lower Egypt, and it was the emblem on the crown of the rulers of Lower Egypt. It encircled their heads and the cobra flare and head extended from their foreheads.

Her name means “papyrus-colored one”, as wadj is the ancient Egyptian word for the color green (in reference to the color of the papyrus plant) and the et is an indication of her gender, and is derived from the term for the symbol of her domain, Lower Egypt, the papyrus.

Its hieroglyphs differ from those of the Green Crown (Red Crown) of Lower Egypt only by the determinative, which in the case of the crown was a picture of the Green Crown and, in the case of the goddess, a rearing cobra.

The ancient Egyptian word Wedjat signifies blue and green. It is also the name for the well known Eye of the Moon. Indeed, in later times, she was often depicted simply as a woman with a snake’s head, or as a woman wearing the uraeus. The uraeus originally had been her body alone, which wrapped around or was coiled upon the head of the pharaoh or another deity

She was originally the ancient local goddess of the city of Dep (Buto), which became part of the city that the Egyptians named Per-Wadjet, House of Wadjet, a city that was an important site in the Predynastic era of Ancient Egypt and the cultural developments of the Paleolithic.

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.

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.

An annual festival held in the city celebrated Wadjet. 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.

Buto, Butus, or Butosus, now Tell al-Fara’in (Pharaohs’ Mound) near the city of Desouk, was an ancient city located 95 km east of Alexandria in the Nile Delta of Egypt. The city stood on the Sebennytic arm of the Nile, near its mouth, and on the southern shore of the Butic Lake. Buto originally was two cities, Pe and Dep, which merged into one city that the Egyptians named Per-Wadjet. It is the modern Kem Kasir.

Her oracle was located in her renowned temple in that city, Per-Wadjet, which 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.

An interpretation of the Milky Way was that it was the primal snake, Wadjet, the protector of Egypt. In this interpretation she was closely associated with Hathor and other early deities among the various aspects of the great mother goddess, including Mut and Naunet.

The association with Hathor brought her son Horus into association also. Per-Wadjet also contained a sanctuary of Horus, the child of the sun deity who would be interpreted to represent the pharaoh.

The cult of Ra absorbed most of Horus’s traits and included the protective eye of Wadjet that had shown her association with Hathor. She became a sun goddess whose eye later became the eye of Horus or the eye of Ra.

She later became closely associated with the war goddess of Lower Egypt, Bast (Bastet), the fierce goddess depicted as a lioness warrior and protector who acted as another figure symbolic of the nation, consequently becoming Wadjet-Bast. In this role, since Bast was a lioness, Wadjet-Bast was often depicted with a lioness head. Wadjet as Wadjet-Bast, depicted as the body of a woman with a lioness head, wearing the uraeus.

When identified as the protector of Ra, who was also a sun deity associated with heat and fire, she was sometimes said to be able to send fire onto those who might attack, just as the cobra spits poison into the eyes of its enemies. In this role she was called the Lady of Flame.

After Lower Egypt had been conquered by Upper Egypt and they were unified, the lioness goddess of Upper Egypt, Sekhmet, was seen as the more powerful of the two warrior goddesses. It was Sekhmet who was seen as the Avenger of Wrongs, and the Scarlet Lady, a reference to blood, as the one with bloodlust. She is depicted with the solar disk and Wadjet, however.

Eventually, Wadjet’s position as patron led to her being identified as the more powerful goddess Mut, whose cult had come to the fore in conjunction with rise of the cult of Amun, and eventually being absorbed into her as the Mut-Wadjet-Bast triad.

When the pairing of deities occurred in later Egyptian myths, since she was linked to the land, after the unification of Lower and Upper Egypt she came to be thought of as the wife of Hapy, a deity of the Nile, which flowed through the land.

Wadjet, as the goddess of Lower Egypt, had a big temple at the ancient Imet (now Tell Nebesha) in the Nile Delta. She was worshipped in the area as the ‘Lady of Imet’. Later she was joined by Min and Horus to form a triad of deities. This was based on an Osiriac model identified elsewhere in Egypt.

Archaeological evidence shows that Upper Egyptian culture replaced the Buto-culture at the delta when Upper and Lower Egypt were unified, and the replacement is considered important evidence for the unification of the two portions of Egypt into one entity.

At that time Wadjet, considered the patron deity of Lower Egypt, joined Nekhbet, who was represented as a white vulture and held the same position as the patron of Upper Egypt, and together they were known as the two ladies who were the patrons of the unified Egypt. The image of Nekhbet joined Wadjet on the Uraeus that would encircle the crown of the pharaohs who ruled the unified Egypt.

Iran

The ancient culture of Bactria along the Amu Darya river (now in Afghanistan), the Margiana culture along the Murghab river (now in Turkmenistan), the proto-Iranian culture in the deserts south of the Caspian all reveal enough strong parallels in ornamentation that some archeologists have grouped them into one of the following appellations: Bactria-Margiana Archeological Complex (BMAC), Outer Iranian culture, or proto-Iranian culture.

Whether the shared cultural items and ornamental motifs arrived through exchange or whether they were brought into new areas by immigrants is still being debated by the scholars.

Nāga

Nāga is the Sanskrit and Pāli word for a deity or class of entity or being, taking the form of a very great snake—specifically the king cobra, found in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. A female Nāga is a nāgī or nāgiṇī.

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-.

Nehushtan

Snake cults had been well established in Canaan in the Bronze Age: 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 Kodesh Hakodashim (Holy of Holies) of the Area H temple at Hazor, and two at Shechem.

The Nehushtan in the Hebrew Bible was a sacred object in the form of a snake of brass upon a pole. The priestly source of the Torah says that Moses used a ‘fiery serpent’ to cure the Israelites from snakebites. (Numbers 21:4-9)

King Hezekiah (reigned 715/716 – 687 BCE) instituted a religious iconoclastic reform and destroyed “the brazen serpent that Moses had made; for unto those days the children of Israel did offer to it; and it was called Nehushtan.” (2 Kings 18:4) The tradition of naming it Nehushtan is no older than the time of Hezekiah.

According to Lowell K. Handy, the Nehushtan was originally the symbol of a minor god of snakebite-cure within the Temple. The name of this god is unknown; however, the use of “brazen serpent” is a subtle play on words that are based on the metal that the snake is made of: nachash means “serpent”, while nechoshet means “brass” or “bronze”.

The Serpent of bronze in Numbers 21 is a well known image for Christians because of its use by Jesus in the Gospel of John. Jesus discussed his destiny with a Jewish teacher named Nicodemus by referencing a passage in Chukat of the Torah.

Jesus gave a direct comparison between the raising up of the Son of Man and the act of the Mosaic serpent being raised up. Charles Spurgeon asserted that in this passage, Jesus was referring to his forthcoming crucifixion, and demonstrating the significance of the cross as spiritual healing from the curse of sin.

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 – (John 3:14-15).

Jiroft culture

Serpopard

Naga

Narmer Palette

Lady of the Good Tree

Transtigridian Snake Gods

Istaran God of Justice

Symbol of snakes

Caduceus

Ningishzida

Ningishzidas’ journey to the Netherworld

Tammuz

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Iraq: The minorities of Nineveh Plain

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 28, 2014

Nineveh plains

All 30 churches and monasteries are under ISIS control. Crosses have been removed from all of them. Many of them have been burned, destroyed and looted. Many are been used as ISIS centers. All non-Sunni communities have been targeted by ISIS. Christian, Yazidi and Shiite religious sites have been destroyed. Turkish and Shabak Shiites have fled from their homes and villages.

A Yazidi temple in the Nineveh plains

A Yazidi temple in the Nineveh plains

The conflict in Iraq is often framed as a struggle between Shias and Sunnis and Arabs and Kurds – but the country is home to a number of minority groups who find themselves caught in the violence and in political bargains beyond their control.

Christians, Turkmen, Yazidis, Shabak, Sabian Mandaeans, Bahais, Kakais and Faili Kurds have lived in Iraq for a very long time – some for centuries, others for thousands of years.

Many of them live in Nineveh, a culturally rich province 250 miles (400km) north-west of Baghdad.

Since the US-led invasion of 2003, Nineveh has been wracked by two parallel conflicts – between the central government and extremist Islamist groups, and the central government and the autonomous Kurdish region.

Persecuted under the Ottomans, Saddam Hussein’s Baathists and nowadays by jihadists, and facing prejudice and intolerance, some of the smaller minority groups, such as the Shabak, Yazidis and Bahais, have led a life of secrecy. This in turn has given rise to misconceptions and suspicions about them, and led to further persecutions.

Sources indicate that Iraqi Christians have been targeted by attacks since the beginning of the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Iraqi Christians are reportedly targeted by armed groups for their perceived alliance or association with the West.

In 2013, Open Doors International’s World Watch List, which is a list of the 50 countries in the world in which “religious persecution” of Christians is the “worst”, ranked Iraq fourth among the countries in which Christians face the most “persecution”.

However, Human Rights Watch notes that organized criminals sometimes pretend to be anti-Christian jihadists even if they have “a real motive of extortion and thievery”. Similarly, the IILHR reports that armed groups that target Christians for murder and kidnapping [for ideological reasons] may also rob them for profit.

Additionally, AsiaNews writes that Christians in northern Iraq are murdered and kidnapped “for the purpose of extortion” and have also been “caught in the crossfire between Arabs, Turkmen and Kurds vying for power and control of the area’s rich oil resources” (7 Jan. 2013).

With the takeover of Mosul, Nineveh’s capital, on 10 June by the Islamic State (formerly known as ISIL),  and the following systematic persecution of Assyrians, Shiites, Yazidis and Shabak – all non-Sunni groups, the minorities in the city fled en mass to the villages in the Nineveh plains or further north to Kurdish cities. Many of them took up arms alongside the Kurdish forces.

Since then, there has been a steady flow of reports of attacks carried out by the Islamists against minority groups and destruction of their places of worship. The Islamic State itself has posted pictures of dozens of historic and religious sites in Nineveh that it demolished, under the pretext that reverence of such sites is heretical.

According to Khedr Doumli, a Yezidi researcher and expert on minority affairs in the region, the descruction included the loss of life and funds, the destruction of “nine ancient shrines, seminaries, churches and archaeological sites,” the payment of ransoms “that have reached around 2 million dollars,” mass emigration and attacks on minority areas including “plundering funds and property in more than 11 Shabaki villages.”

according to Ghazwan Eliyas, head of the Chaldean Cultural Society in Ninevah’s Al-Hamdaniya District: “All churches, libraries, and Christian places have been targeted by ISIS. There are no longer Christians in Mosul.”

The Kurds

The oil-rich, fertile and historic plains of northern and eastern Nineveh have a population of around half a million. Most are Christians, followers of the ancient Mesopotamian Yazidi faith and members of the ethno-religious Shabak community.

The Kurdish Peshmerga has been present here since the US-led invasion in 2003 and is now the force that many residents look to for protection against armed groups.

ISIL forces have launched small-scale attacks on certain targets in Nineveh plains including an attack on Wednesday on Christian-dominated district of Hamdaniya, east of Mosul. But, according to Halgurd Hikmat, a spokesman for the KRG ministry of Peshmerga affairs, the Peshmerga repulsed the attack and prevented ISIL forces from making any avdances.

In recent weeks, the Peshmerga expanded its reach by maintaining control of a key strategic area around Rabia, including a major border crossing between Iraq and Syria.

The KRG has also dispatched thousands more troops to confront any ISIL push towards the Nineveh plains, and has, in effect, consolidated its de-facto grip on the territory.

Such actions in the past would have drawn significant local opposition. There have been tensions between the KRG and segements of the local population over the past decade as Kurds have tried to solidify their control over the Nineveh plains.

Most parts of the disputed territories have suffered from negligence by the Baghdad and Kurdish governments due to their unclear administrative status. Many roads and buildings here appear in need of urgent repair.

But the deadly mix of the rise of ISIL and the ongoing sectarian war between Sunni armed groups and the Shia-dominated Iraqi army has generated unprecedented support for the Peshmerga among vulnerable religious minorities here out of pragmatic considerations.

Kurds, aspiring to build an independent state, welcome the change of heart, having long desired to include the Nineveh plains in such a state.

Iraqi Kurdistan’s President Massoud Barzani has repeatedly said that he regards independence a “natural right” of Kurds – and, as the rest of Iraq descends into even greater carnage, Kurds might be tempted more than ever to push for their independence.

The Nineveh plains have been among a wide swathe of disputed territory, control of which has been contested by both officials in Baghdad and the KRG.

The Peshmerga is now also in control of other disputed areas in Kirkuk, Salahaddin and Diyala.

Caught Between ISIS and the Kurds

Bakhdida

On June 25 Kurdish fighters clashed with ISIS in the town of Baghdede (AINA 2014-06-26), also called Baghdede in Assyrian and Qaraqosh in Turkish, an Assyrian town 20 kilometers southeast of Mosul, causing 50,000 Assyrians to flee (AINA 2014-06-26).

Baghdede is the Assyrian name of the town. It is also known as Qaraqosh in Turkish and al-Hamdaniya in Arabic.

A report issued by the Assyrian Federation of Sweden asserts the Kurds provoked the confrontation by entering Sunni Arab villages with bulldozers and attempting to dig trenches. The report states that Kurdish forces, known as the Zerevani militia, arrived on June 24 and began digging trenches in the eastern part of Baghdede. On June 25 they entered the Arab villages, which led to clashes between the Arabs and the Kurds. The Arabs called ISIS and other groups near Mosul for support. The fighting quickly escalated and the two sides began shelling each other.

The Arabs contacted Catholic Archbishop Youhana Boutros Moshe and asked him to convery a truce offer to the Kurds. The Arabs told the Bishop they were fighting the Kurds, not the Assyrians. The commander of the Kurdish militia rejected the truce offer and told the Bishop to tell the Arabs they must leave Baghdede for the shelling to stop.

AINA contacted several sources on the ground in Baghdede to verify this account. According to AINA’sources, the Kurds

  • were building a trench around Baghdede and parts of it went through Arab villages
  • did not allow Arab patients to go into Baghdede for medical treatment
  • told all government employees not to go to work
  • killed some Arabs

The report by the Assyrian Federation of Sweden concludes that this was not an attack initiated by ISIS, but that ISIS and other groups came to the aid of the Sunni Arabs shortly after Kurds entered their villages.

Nearly 80% of the residents of Baghdede (Hamdaniya/Qaraqosh) have returned after fleeing from fighting between ISIS and Kurds. There is still a severe shortage of electricity and water still cut off. Residents are using wells for water. All municipal services have stopped. The same conditions exist for the Assyrian towns of Bartilla, Bashiqa and Bahzany.

Iraq: The minorities of Nineveh Plain

In pictures: Iraq shrines destroyed

PressTV – West targets Christian identity in Mideast via ISIL

Kurds Provoked Confrontation With ISIS in Iraq: Report

ISIS, Kurds Clash Near Assyrian Town, 2000 Assyrian Families Driven From Mosul

Information about the present situation in North Iraq – 23.07.2014

Iraq: Situation of Christians in the north, the Kurdistan region, and Baghdad, including incidents of violence and displacement; government protection (2010-2013)

Syrian Catholic Archbishop Moshe’s appeal to the international community: Save us!

Iraq’s Christians seek refuge with Kurds

Religious minorities facing oppression in ISIS-controlled areas in Iraq: sources

Iraq’s minorities left between scorpions and a hard place

Assyrian International News Agency

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The origin of the terms “Canaan,” “Phoenician”, and “Purple”

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 28, 2014

The Origin of the Terms “Canaan,” “Phoenician”, and “Purple”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

 
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