Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

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  • The Fertile Crescent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    War in the Fertile Crescent

    Everyone is free to use the text on this blog as they want. There is no copyright etc. This because knowledge is more important than rules and regulations.

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The origin of Baghdad

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on December 8, 2014

Ma/Ba/Pa – Mama/Baba/Papa

Asherah pole and Irminsul – mighty pillar

Sanskrit bhaga


Bhaga is known as “the giver” because he bestows not just worldly wealth and security but spiritual abundance and devotion as well. He is the male counterpart of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth.

Bhaga is said to be blind in that he distributes wealth and abundance regardless of the person’s station in life. Hindu mythology contains various stories that describe his blindness. In the best known myth, Bhaga is blinded by the warrior, Virabhadra, an incarnation that Shiva created to exact revenge on his wife’s father, Dakshas. Bhaga was a priest at the fire sacrifice where Shiva’s beloved wife, Sati, killed herself.

Bhaga’s wife was Siddhi, the personification of the mystical powers (siddhis) attained through spiritual practices such as yoga and meditation. By meditating on the Adityas, including Bhaga, the yogi can awaken powers of the higher consciousness within.


The name Bagavan consists of the words Bagi meaning: idol and avan meaning: city.


Urartu, corresponding to the biblical Kingdom of Ararat or Kingdom of Van, was an Iron Age kingdom centred on Lake Van in the Armenian Highlands. Strictly speaking, Urartu is the Assyrian term for a geographical region, while “kingdom of Urartu” or “Biainili lands” are terms used in modern historiography for the Armenian (Hurro-Urartian) speaking Iron Age state that arose in that region.

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

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

“Urartu” is cognate with the Biblical “Ararat,” Akkadian “Urashtu,” and Armenian “Ayrarat.” The name used by the local population as a toponym was Biainili (or Biaineli), which forms the root of the Armenian “Van”, hence the names “Kingdom of Van (Bianili)” or “Vannic Kingdom.”

Scholars such as Carl Ferdinand Friedrich Lehmann-Haupt (1910) believed that the people of Urartu called themselves Khaldini after their god Khaldi, one of the three chief deities of Ararat (Urartu). His shrine was at Ardini.

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

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


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

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


Bagavan was an ancient Armenian church-city complex situated in the south-east of what is now Ağrı Province, in eastern Turkey. It was situated in the south east of Bagrevand province, a region of the old Armenia ruled first by Mamikonians and then by the Bagratuni family, of the Historical Armenia’s Ayrarat region. The Bagdasarian are a noble family of Nakharars in Armenia and are of hereditary right to Bagrevand with Armenia in the province of Ararat. Variations include Bagawanean, Bagawanian, Bagdasarean. The name Bagavan consists of the words Bagi meaning: idol and avan meaning: city.

Founded in the pagan Armenia as a religious center, it was the site of tombs of the pre-Christian rulers of Armenia. It was a well known settlement in the pagan and later medieval Armenia times because of a huge monastic complex in it known as St. Hovhannes Mkrtich (St. John the Baptist) Monastery of Bagavan.

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

After that, this place was marked by a huge number of crosses engraved in the riverside rocks and pagan temples were reconstructed as monasteries. In the nearby slopes of mount Npat dozen of chapels stood, praying places of famous Catholics Nerses the Great (second half of the 4th century).

Therefrom he watched Dzirav’s battle between the Armenians and Persians. The monastery has three churches, and their most famous bishops were Yeznik Koghbatsi and Movses Khorenatsi. Under whose leadership it became the main monastery in the Bagrevand and Arsharunik districts. Final phase of construction ended in 639.

During Russo-Persian wars from 1877–78 it was damaged, but after a period of repairs, it remained functioning until Armenian Genocide in 1915. In the late 1940s the monastery was also known in “Turkish: Üç Kilise” “Three Churches” was completely destroyed by the Turkish Army, along with 4,000 other Armenian monasteries in eastern half of today’s Turkey.

The church is 46 meters in length, 27 meters in width and 20 meters in height (with dimensions comparable to the Armenian Apostolic churches of Dvin, Zvartnots and Talin). The outward appearance of the temple is made of strict shaped masonries and ornaments, a contrast to the well brightened interior. People of 19th century associated the monastery’s appearance with the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople (now Istanbul). The monastery had 5 doors and 51 windows.

This monastery was destroyed to foundation by Turks in the late 1940s. Part of its stones were used in the construction of houses in Taşteker village that was founded around the monastery, but most of them were removed to the town of Ağrı, where they were laid in the lower stonework of the principal mosque erected in 1950.


The Bagratuni or Bagratid royal dynasty was a royal family of Armenia that formerly ruled many regional polities of the medieval Kingdom of Armenia, such as Syunik, Lori, Vaspurakan, Vanand, Taron, and Tayk, and the Kingdom itself in the 10th and 11th centuries.

The Bagratid family first emerged as nakharars, members of the hereditary nobility of Armenia. Their holdings were in the region of Sper, in the Chorokhi valley. As early as 288-301, the Bagratid prince Smbat held the hereditary Armenian titles of Aspet, which means Master of the Horse, and T’agatir, which means Coronant of the King.

The Bagratid dynasties in Armenia and Bagrationi in Georgia – count among the longest-reigning royal families in the Caucasus (and in Europe), starting as princely houses and attaining to the royal status in both countries in the 9th century.

The origins of the Bagratids are disputed though more widely accepted version has it that the both dynasties had common roots, beginning in Armenia and branching later into Georgia. The Armenian house went extinct by the 12th century while the Georgian line continues to this day as the nominal Royal House of Georgia according to Cyrill Tourmanoff.

The root of the names Bagrationi and Bagratuni, Bagrat-, derives from the Old Persian Bagadāta, “God-Given”. In Armenia and Georgia, the respective names for the Bagratid dynasties literally translate to “The children of/house established by Bagrat” (Bagrat + Classical Greek: – id, “the children”).

Rival tales have been developed in Georgia and Armenia regarding the origins of the dynasties. The Bagratids of Armenia are speculated to have been an offshoot of the Orontid Dynasty, Achaemenid satraps and, later, kings of Armenia (c 400 – c 200 BC).

They had their original appanage in Bagrevand, a region of the old Armenia ruled first by Mamikonians and then by the Bagratuni family in historic north-central Armenia, and claimed their descent from a solar deity Angl-Thork, the tutelary god of the Orontids, until their conversion to Christianity. Thereafter, this claim was abandoned in favor of the mythical ancestor of the Armenians, Hayk.

Later, under biblical influences, they entertained another claim, of Hebrew ancestry, first articulated by Moses of Khorene, and developed by the Georgians into a claim of their descent from the biblical king-prophet David.

The Battle of Bagrevand was fought on 25 April 775, in the plains of Bagrevand, between the forces of the Armenian princes who had rebelled against the Abbasid Caliphate and the caliphal army. The battle resulted in a crushing Abbasid victory, with the death of the main Armenian leaders.

The Mamikonian family’s power in particular was almost extinguished. The battle signalled the beginning of a large-scale Armenian migration into the Byzantine Empire.

The Bagdasarian are a noble family of Nakharars in Armenia and are of hereditary right to Bagrevand with Armenia in the province of Ararat. Variations include Bagawanean, Bagawanian, Bagdasarean.

Once the Georgian branch, who had quickly acculturated in the new environment, assumed royal power, the myth of their biblical origin helped to assert their legitimacy and emerged as a main ideological pillar of the millennium-long Bagrationi rule in Georgia from 575 AD to 1810 AD.

The traditional Georgian narrative regarding the origin of the Bagrationi can be traced back to the 11th century. According to the Georgian chronicler of that time Sumbat Davitis-Dze, as published by Prince Vakhushti Bagrationi (1696–1757), who added chronological interpretations, the ancestors of the dynasty traced their descent to the biblical King David, and came from Palestine around 530 AD.

Tradition has it that of seven refugee brothers of the Davidic line, three of them settled in Armenia and the other four in Kartli (also known as Iberia by Classical authors), where they intermarried with the local ruling houses and acquired some lands in hereditary possession.

One of the four brothers, Guaram (died in 532), allegedly gave an origin to a line subsequently called Bagrationi after his son Bagrat. A successor, Guaram, was installed as a presiding prince of Kartli under the Byzantine protectorate and bestowed, on this occasion, with the Byzantine court title of Kouropalates in 575. Thus, according to this version, began the dynasty of the Georgian Bagratids, who ruled until 1801.

This tradition had been given a general acceptance until the early 20th century. While the Jewish origin, let alone the biblical descent of the Bagratids, has been largely discounted by modern scholarship, the issue of their origin still remains controversial.

Several Soviet-era historians of Georgia developed a view summarized by N. Berdzenishvili and et al. in their standard reference book on the history of Georgia: “The illustrious dynasty of the Bagratids originated in the most ancient Georgian kingdom of Tao-Klarjeti. This ancient Georgian kingdom is in Turkey and called Speri (today İspir).

Through their farsighted, flexible policies, the Bagratid achieved great influence from the sixth through eighth centuries. One of their branches moved out to Armenia, the other to Iberia, and both won for themselves the dominant position among the other rulers of Transcaucasia.”

Certain, generation by generation, history of the family begins only in the 8th century, when the downfall of the rival clan of the Mamikonians helped the Bagratids to emerge as a major force in the ongoing struggle against the Arab rule.

Modern scholarship outside of Georgia, notably Cyril Toumanoff, gives little credit to the medieval narratives, regarding both claimed biblical descent and descent from Guaram.

Toumanoff traces the origins of the family to ancient Ispir, but according to him, the Georgian branch of the family appeared only in the 8th century, during an anti-Arab rebellion in 772, when one of the sons of Ashot III the Blind, called Vasak fled into Iberia (Georgia).

His son, Adarnase, was granted hereditary possessions in Klarjeti and Samtskhe by the Georgian dynast Archil. Adarnase’s son Ashot gained the principate of Iberia and founded the last royal dynasty of Georgia.

According to Prince Cyril Toumanoff, the earliest Bagratid prince was chronicled as early as AD 314. In the 8th century, a later Bagratid prince (also named Smbat) revolted against the Arab Caliphate but the revolt was defeated.

The Bagratid Princes of Armenia are known as early as 1st century BC when they served under the Artaxiad Dynasty. Unlike most noble families on Armenia they held only strips of land, as opposed to the Mamikonians, who held a unified land territory. These are the earliest Bagratid princes in Armenia prior to the establishment of the kingdom, as mentioned by the Union of Armenian Noblemen.

Ashot I was the first Bagratid King, the founder of the Royal dynasty. He was recognized as prince of princes by the court at Baghdad in 861, which provoked war with local Arab emirs. Ashot won the war, and was recognized as King of the Armenians by Baghdad in 885. Recognition from Constantinople followed in 886.

In an effort to unify the Armenian nation under one flag, the Bagratids subjugated other Armenian noble families through conquests and fragile marriage alliances. Eventually, some noble families such as the Artsrunis and the Siunis broke off from the central Bagratid authority.

Ashot III the Merciful transferred their capital to the city of Ani, now famous for its ruins. They kept power by playing off the competition between the Byzantine Empire and the Arabs.

They assumed the Persian-influenced titles of the King of Kings. However, with the start of the 10th century and on, the Bagratunis broke up into different branches, breaking up the unified kingdom in a time when unity was needed in the face of Seljuk and Byzantine pressure. The rule of the Ani branch ended in 1045 with the conquest of Ani by the Byzantines.

The Kars branch held on until 1064. The dynasty of Cilician Armenia is believed to be a branch of the Bagratids, later took the throne of an Armenian Kingdom in Cilicia. The founder, Ruben I, had an unknown relationship to the exiled king Gagik II. He was either a younger family member or kinsman. Ashot, son of Hovhannes (son of Gagik II), was later governor of Ani under the Shaddadid dynasty.


The Armenian church style known as Bagaran plan, is uniquely Armenian architectural concept where four columns are used to support a square upon which it becomes possible to build a dome.

The origianal Bagaran style church or rather chapel, was built in the 7th century, 624-631, on the right shore of Akhurian River in East Armenia during the Bagratunian Kingdom. “Bag-aran” means the “abode of god,” the author said.

According to Melkon Armen Nercissian Khandjian, this style of architecture can be seen in Eastern Armenia, notably in the churches of Edjmiyadzin built in 301-304 and renovation of the same in 484. Therefore, the roots of Bagaran style may go to pre-Christian heathenism period.

The Bagaran church style may have spread westward, even to Europe, under the Byzantine Armenian/Macedonian Emperors of the 9th century. The church Germine-de-Pres was built by Armenian architect Odo le Messin for the French monarch Charlemagne.

Empress Teophano, of Armenian descent, built Bagaran style two churches in Germany. Her daughter Theophano built a church in same style in Kohn, Germany. Armenian emigrants built Bagaran planned churches in Belgium, Italy and Byzantium. Chapel of San Satiro in Milan, was based on Bagaran plan, and was known to Leonardo.

Armenians inspire Leonardo Da Vinci in painting his famous “The Last Supper”


Magi (Latin plural of magus; Ancient Greek: magos; Old Persian: maguš, Persian:‎ mogh; English singular magian, mage, magus, magusian, magusaean; Kurdish: manji) is a term, used since at least the 6th century BC, to denote followers of Zoroastrianism or Zoroaster.

The word means “skilled magicians, astrologers,” from Latin magi, plural of magus “magician, learned magician,” from Greek magos, a word used for the Persian learned and priestly class as portrayed in the Bible (said by ancient historians to have been originally the name of a Median tribe), from Old Persian magush “magician”.

The earliest known usage of the word Magi is in the trilingual inscription written by Darius the Great, known as the Behistun Inscription. Old Persian texts, pre-dating the Hellenistic period, refer to a Magus as a Zurvanic, and presumably Zoroastrian, priest.

Pervasive throughout the Eastern Mediterranean and Western Asia until late antiquity and beyond, mágos, “Magian” or “magician,” was influenced by (and eventually displaced) Greek goēs, the older word for a practitioner of magic, to include astrology, alchemy and other forms of esoteric knowledge.

This association was in turn the product of the Hellenistic fascination for (Pseudo‑)Zoroaster, who was perceived by the Greeks to be the “Chaldean”, “founder” of the Magi and “inventor” of both astrology and magic, a meaning that still survives in the modern-day words “magic” and “magician”.

Zoroaster, also known as Zarathustra, was the founder of Zoroastrianism. Though he was a native speaker of Old Avestan and lived in the eastern part of the Iranian plateau, his birthplace is uncertain. He is credited with the authorship of the Yasna Haptanghaiti as well as the Gathas, hymns which are at the liturgical core of Zoroastrian thinking. Most of his life is known through the Zoroastrian texts.

The 2005 Encyclopedia Iranica article on the history of Zoroastrianism summarizes the issue with “while there is general agreement that he did not live in western Iran, attempts to locate him in specific regions of eastern Iran, including Central Asia, remain tentative.”

Urartu, corresponding to the biblical Kingdom of Ararat or Kingdom of Van, was an Iron Age kingdom centred on Lake Van in the Armenian Highlands. Scholars such as Carl Ferdinand Friedrich Lehmann-Haupt (1910) believed that the people of Urartu called themselves Khaldini after their god Khaldi.

Chaldea or Chaldaea, from Greek Chaldaia; Akkadian: māt Ḫaldu; Hebrew: Kaśdim; Aramaic: Kaldo) was a small Semitic nation which emerged between the late 10th and early 9th century BC, surviving until the mid 6th century BC. It was located in the marshy land of the far south eastern corner of Mesopotamia, and briefly came to rule Babylon.

During a period of weakness in the East Semitic speaking kingdom of Babylonia, new tribes of West Semitic-speaking migrants arrived in the region from The Levant (Aramea, modern Syria) between the 11th and 10th centuries BC. The earliest waves consisted of Suteans and Arameans, followed a century or so later by the Kaldu, a group who became known later as the Chaldeans or the Chaldees.

The Chaldeans originally spoke a West Semitic language similar to Aramaic, however they eventually adopted the Babylonian dialect of Akkadian, the same East Semitic language, save for slight peculiarities in sound and in characters, as Assyrian Akkadian. During the Assyrian Empire, the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser III introduced an Akkadian infused Eastern Aramaic as the lingua franca of his empire.

In the time of Ashur-nirari III (ca. 1200 BC, the beginning Bronze Age collapse), the Phrygians and others invaded and destroyed the Hittite Empire, already weakened by defeats against Assyria.

Some parts of Assyrian ruled Hanilgalbat was temporarily lost to the Phrygians also, however the Assyrians defeated the Phrygians and regained these colonies. The Hurrians still held Katmuhu and Paphu. In the transitional period to the Early Iron Age, Mitanni was settled by invading Semitic Aramaean tribes.

Though belonging to the same West Semitic ethnic group, and migrating from the same Levantine regions as the slightly earlier arriving Arameans, they are to be differentiated from them to some degree; and the Assyrian king Sennacherib, for example, is careful in his inscriptions to distinguish them.

When they came to briefly possess the whole of southern Mesopotamia, the name “Chaldean” became synonymous with “Babylonian” for a short time, particularly to the Greeks and Jews, this despite the Chaldeans not being Babylonians, and their tenure as rulers of Southern Mesopotamia lasting a mere five decades or so.

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

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

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

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

The disappearance of the Chaldeans as an ethnicity and Chaldea as a land is evidenced by the fact that the Persian rulers of the Achaemenid Empire (539 – 330 BC) did not retain a province called Chaldea, nor did they refer to Chaldeans as a race of people in their written annals.

This is in contrast to Assyria, and for a time Babylonia also, where the Persians retained Assyria and Babylonia as distinct and named geo-political entities within the Achaemenid Empire, and in the case of the Assyrians in particular, Achaemenid records show Assyrians holding important positions within the empire, particularly with regards to the military and civil administration.

This complete absence of Chaldeans from historical record also continues throughout the Seleucid Empire, Parthian Empire, Roman Empire, Sassanid Empire, Byzantine Empire and after the Arab Islamic conquest and Mongol Empire.

In English, the term “magi” is most commonly used in reference to the magicians from the east who visit Jesus in Chapter 2 of the Gospel of Matthew Matthew 2:1, and are now often translated as “wise men” in English versions.

The plural “magi” entered the English language from Latin around 1200, in reference to these. The singular appears considerably later, in the late 14th century, when it was borrowed from Old French in the meaning magician together with magic.

The Avestan word ‘magâunô’, i.e. the religious caste of the Medes into which Zoroaster was born, (Yasna 33.7: so I can be heard beyond Magi), seems to be the origin of the term.

The term only appears twice in Iranian texts from before the 5th century BC, and only one of these can be dated with precision. This one instance occurs in the trilingual Behistun inscription of Darius the Great, and which can be dated to about 520 BC.

In this trilingual text, certain rebels have ‘magian’ as an attribute; in the Old Persian portion as maγu- (generally assumed to be a loan word from Median). The meaning of the term in this context is uncertain.

The other instance appears in the texts of the Avesta, i.e. in the sacred literature of Zoroastrianism. In this instance, which is in the Younger Avestan portion, the term appears in the hapax moghu.tbiš, meaning “hostile to the moghu”, where moghu does not (as was previously thought) mean “magus”, but rather “a member of the tribe” or referred to a particular social class in the proto-Iranian language and then continued to do so in Avestan.

An unrelated term, but previously assumed to be related, appears in the older Gathic Avestan language texts. This word, adjectival magavan meaning “possessing maga-“, was once the premise that Avestan maga- and Median (i.e. Old Persian) magu- were co-eval (and also that both these were cognates of Vedic Sanskrit magha-).

While “in the Gathas the word seems to mean both the teaching of Zoroaster and the community that accepted that teaching,” and it seems that Avestan maga- is related to Sanskrit magha-, “there is no reason to suppose that the western Iranian form magu (Magus) has exactly the same meaning” as well.

But it “may be, however,” that Avestan moghu (which is not the same as Avestan maga-) “and Medean magu were the same word in origin, a common Iranian term for ‘member of the tribe’ having developed among the Medes the special sense of ‘member of the (priestly) tribe’, hence a priest.”

The oldest surviving Greek reference to the magi – from Greek μάγος (mágos, plural: magoi) – might be from 6th century BC Heraclitus (apud Clemens Protrepticus 12), who curses the magi for their “impious” rites and rituals. A description of the rituals that Heraclitus refers to has not survived, and there is nothing to suggest that Heraclitus was referring to foreigners.

Better preserved are the descriptions of the mid-5th century BC Herodotus, who in his portrayal of the Iranian expatriates living in Asia minor uses the term “magi” in two different senses. In the first sense (Histories 1.101), Herodotus speaks of the magi as one of the tribes/peoples (ethnous) of the Medes. In another sense (1.132), Herodotus uses the term “magi” to generically refer to a “sacerdotal caste”, but “whose ethnic origin is never again so much as mentioned.”

According to Robert Charles Zaehner, in other accounts, “we hear of Magi not only in Persia, Parthia, Bactria, Chorasmia, Aria, Media, and among the Sakas, but also in non-Iranian lands like Samaria, Ethiopia, and Egypt. Their influence was also widespread throughout Asia Minor. It is, therefore, quite likely that the sacerdotal caste of the Magi was distinct from the Median tribe of the same name.”

Other Greek sources from before the Hellenistic period include the gentleman-soldier Xenophon, who had first-hand experience at the Persian Achaemenid court. In his early 4th century BC Cyropaedia, the Athenian depicts the magians as authorities for all religious matters (8.3.11), and imagines the magians to be responsible for the education of the emperor-to-be.


Pasture (from the Latin pastus, past participle of pascere ”to feed”) is land used for grazing. Pasture lands in the narrow sense are enclosed tracts of farmland, grazed by domesticated livestock, such as horses, cattle, sheep or swine.

The vegetation of tended pasture, forage, consists mainly of grasses, with an interspersion of legumes and other forbs (non-grass herbaceous plants). Pasture is typically grazed throughout the summer, in contrast to meadow which is ungrazed or used for grazing only after being mown to make hay for animal fodder.

Pasture in a wider sense additionally includes rangelands, other unenclosed pastoral systems, and land types used by wild animals for grazing or browsing.


Moorland or moor is a type of habitat found in upland areas in temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands and montane grasslands and shrublands biomes, characterised by low-growing vegetation on acidic soils.

Moorland nowadays generally means uncultivated hill land (such as Dartmoor in South West England), but the Old English mōr also refers to low-lying wetlands (such as Sedgemoor, also SW England). It is closely related to heath although experts disagree on precisely what distinguishes the types of vegetation.

Generally, moor refers to highland, high rainfall zones, whereas heath refers to lowland zones which are more likely to be the result of human activity.

Ba in Sumerian means share, portion, rations, wages, or to give, provide, divide, apportion, distribute or to pay.

The paper deals with lexical matches between two ancient Near Eastern languages: Sumerian and Hurrian (Hurro-Urartian); namely, several basic terms (like ‘hand,’ ‘rain,’ etc.), that demonstrate phonetical similarities in both languages, are discussed. Four possible scenarios are evaluated from the typological, etymological and statistical points of view: (1) chance coincidences; (2) lexical borrowings from Sumerian into Hurro-Urartian or vice versa; (3) genetic relationship between Sumerian and Hurro-Urartian; (4) prehistoric language shift: adoption by a Hurro-Urartian (or closely related) group of the Sumerian language or vice versa. Out of these four, two scenarios—lexical borrowings and genetic relationship—are typologically unlikely. The statistical probability of chance coincidences is low, although formally this explanation cannot be excluded. The fourth scenario—language shift—fits linguistic evidence and does not contradict archaeological data.

The Proto-Armenians

The Kura–Araxes culture or the early trans-Caucasian culture was a civilization that existed from 3400 BC until about 2000 BC, which has traditionally been regarded as the date of its end, but it may have disappeared as early as 2600 or 2700 BC. Altogether, the early Trans-Caucasian culture, at its greatest spread, enveloped a vast area approximately 1,000 km by 500 km.

The earliest evidence for this culture is found on the Ararat plain; thence it spread northward in Caucasus by 3000 BC (but never reaching Colchis), and during the next millennium it proceeded westward to the Erzurum plain, southwest to Cilicia, and to the southeast into an area below the Urmia basin and Lake Van, and finally down to the borders of present day Syria.

The name of the culture is derived from the Kura and Araxes river valleys. Its territory corresponds to parts of modern Armenia, Azerbaijan, Chechnya, Dagestan, Georgia, Ingushetia and North Ossetia. It is, however, considered above all to be indigenous to the Caucasus, and its major variants characterized (according to Caucasus historian Amjad Jaimoukha) later major cultures in the region.

Their metal goods were widely distributed, recorded in the Volga, Dnieper and Don-Donets systems in the north, into Syria and Palestine in the south, and west into Anatolia. There is evidence of trade with Mesopotamia, as well as Asia Minor. It may have given rise to the later Khirbet Kerak ware culture found in Syria and Canaan after the fall of the Akkadian Empire.

Their pottery was distinctive; in fact, the spread of their pottery along trade routes into surrounding cultures was much more impressive than any of their achievements domestically. It was painted black and red, using geometric designs for ornamentation. Examples have been found as far south as Syria and Israel, and as far north as Dagestan and Chechnya.

The spread of this pottery, along with archaeological evidence of invasions, suggests that the Kura-Araxes people may have spread outward from their original homes, and most certainly, had extensive trade contacts. Jaimoukha believes that its southern expanse is attributable primarily to Mitanni and the Hurrians.

The Shengavit Settlement is an archaeological site in present day Yerevan, Armenia located on a hill south-east of Lake Yerevan. It was inhabited during a series of settlement phases from approximately 3200 BC cal to 2500 BC cal in the Kura Araxes (Shengavitian) period of the Early Bronze Age and irregularly re-used in the Middle Bronze Age until 2200 BC cal. Its pottery makes it a type site of the Kura-Araxes or Early Transcaucasian Period and the Shengavitian culture area.

Urartian, Vannic, and (in older literature) Chaldean (Khaldian, or Haldian) are conventional names for the language spoken by the inhabitants of the ancient kingdom of Urartu that was located in the region of Lake Van, with its capital near the site of the modern town of Van, in the Armenian Highland, modern-day Eastern Anatolia region of Turkey. It was probably spoken by the majority of the population around Lake Van and in the areas along the upper Zab valley.

First attested in the 9th century BCE, Urartian ceased to be written after the fall of the Urartian state in 585 BCE, and presumably it became extinct due to the fall of Urartu. It must have been replaced by an early form of Armenian, perhaps during the period of Achaemenid Persian rule, although it is only in the fifth century CE that the first written examples of Armenian appear.

In the early 6th century BC, the Urartian Kingdom was replaced by the Armenian Orontid dynasty. In the trilingual Behistun inscription, carved in 521 or 520 BC by the order of Darius the Great of Persia, the country referred to as Urartu in Assyrian is called Arminiya in Old Persian and Harminuia in Elamite.

Urartian is closely related to Hurrian, a somewhat better documented language attested for an earlier, non-overlapping period, approximately from 2000 BCE to 1200 BCE (written by native speakers until about 1350 BCE). The two languages must have developed quite independently from approximately 2000 BCE onwards.

Although Urartian is not a direct continuation of any of the attested dialects of Hurrian, many of its features are best explained as innovative developments with respect to Hurrian as we know it from the preceding millennium. The closeness holds especially true of the so-called Old Hurrian dialect, known above all from Hurro-Hittite bilingual texts.

Shupria (Shubria) or Arme-Shupria (Akkadian: Armani-Subartu) from the 3rd millennium BC) was a Hurrian-speaking kingdom, known from Assyrian sources beginning in the 13th century BC, located in the Armenian Highland, to the southwest of Lake Van, bordering on Ararat proper. The capital was called Ubbumu. Scholars have linked the district in the area called Arme or Armani, to the name Armenia.

Weidner interpreted textual evidence to indicate that after the Hurrian king Shattuara of Mitanni was defeated by Adad-nirari I of Assyria in the early 13th century BC, he then became ruler of a reduced vassal state known as Shubria or Subartu. The name Subartu (Sumerian: Shubur) for the region is attested much earlier, from the time of the earliest Mesopotamian records (mid 3rd millennium BC).

Together with Armani-Subartu (Hurri-Mitanni), Hayasa-Azzi and other populations of the region such as the Nairi fell under Urartian (Kingdom of Ararat) rule in the 9th century BC, and their descendants, according to most scholars, later contributed to the ethnogenesis of the early Armenians.

The land of Subartu (Akkadian Šubartum/Subartum/ina Šú-ba-ri, Assyrian mât Šubarri) or Subar (Sumerian Su-bir/Subar/Šubur) is mentioned in Bronze Age literature. Subartu may have been in the general sphere of influence of the Hurrians.

The name also appears as Subari in the Amarna letters, and, in the form Šbr, in Ugarit, and came to be known as the Hurrians or Subarians and their country was known as Subir, Subartu or Shubar.

Subartu was apparently a polity in Northern Mesopotamia, at the upper Tigris. Most scholars accept Subartu as an early name for Assyria proper on the Tigris, although there are various other theories placing it sometimes a little farther to the east, north or west of there.

Its precise location has not been identified. From the point of view of the Akkadian Empire, Subartu marked the northern geographical horizon, just as Martu, Elam and Sumer marked “west”, “east” and “south”, respectively.

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

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

Eannatum of Lagash was said to have smitten Subartu or Shubur, and it was listed as a province of the empire of Lugal-Anne-Mundu; in a later era Sargon of Akkad campaigned against Subar, and his grandson Naram-Sin listed Subar along with Armani (Armenians) among the lands under his control. Ishbi-Erra of Isin and Hammurabi also claimed victories over Subar.

There are various alternate theories associating the ancient Subartu with one or more modern cultures, including Armenian or Kurdish tribes. Some scholars, such as Harvard Professor Mehrdad Izady, claim to have identified Subartu with the current Kurdish tribe of Zibaris inhabiting the northern ring around Mosul up to Hakkari in Turkey.

Amongst the names of peoples mentioned in the Sanskrit epic of ancient India Mahābhārata, there occurs a name Sauvīra secondary nominal derivative of *Suvīra whch may be Subīra with a v < b correspondence.

Lexical Matches between Sumerian and Hurro-Urartian: Possible Historical Scenarios

Who Were the Hurrians?

Middle Eastern Mythology

Hurrians and Subarians



The name Baghdad is pre-Islamic and its origins are under some dispute. The site where the city of Baghdad came to stand has been populated for millennia and by the 8th century AD several Aramaic Christian villages had developed there, one of which was called Baghdad, the name which would come to be used for the Abbasid metropolis. At Bagdad, besides the memorials of the caliphate, may be seen a few remains of the old Babylonian city of Bagdadu.

Bag-da-du is the ancient name of Baghdad, the capital and the ancient largest city of modern Iraq. The city and the name of Baghdad are pre-Islamic and pre-Arabic. The etymology and epistomolgy of the name suggest that it is not of an Arabic origin.

According to the Encyclopaedia of Islam, the name Baghdad was related to previous settlements on the site. Muslim authors took for Persian origins. They gave different “hypothetical explanations”, the most
common of which was “given by God” or “gift of God.” Others tended to give the name an Aramaic origin, meaning “the home enclosure of sheep.” The mention of Baghdadu in the Hammurabi Code proved that it was an ancient name. Baghdatha figured repeatedly in the Talmud and that made Baghdad the more acceptable reading.

Addu and Dadu were the names given to Rimmon in Syria, Adad or Hadad being a further name by which the god was known in Assyria. Besides Dadu we also find the forms Dadda and Dadi. In Hadad-Rimmon the two names of the Air-god are united, while a comparison of Jo-ram and Hado-ram shows that at Hamath Hado or Addu was identified with the national god of Israel. In the Babylonian contract-tablets the name of the Syrian god Ben-Hadad appears as Bin-Addu.

The name has been used as Baghdadu on Assyrian cuneiform and Babylonian records going back to at least 2000 BC. Baghdad, as a name, had been mentioned as Baghdadu on the Assyrian cuneiform records of the 9th century BC, and Babylonian bricks bearing the Royal Seal of King Nebuchadnezzar (6th century BC) were found in the Tigris here. It also appeared in many other historical records prior to the Christian era.

An inscription by Nebuchadnezzar (600 BC) describes how he rebuilt the old Babylonian town of Bagh-dadu. There used to be another Babylonian settlement called Baghdad, in upper Mesopotamia, near the ancient city of Edessa. The name has not been attested outside of Mesopotamia.

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

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

Whatever settlement existed, historic Baghdad was undoubtedly founded by the 2nd of the Abbasid Caliphs, Abu Ja’far al-Mansur (AD 754-775), who had established his capital (The Round City) in almost the same location on the west bank of the Tigris River in 762 AD.

al-Mansur founded a completely new city for his capital, and choosed the name Madinat al-Salaam (“Dar Essalam”) or City of Peace. This was the official name on coins, weights, and other official usage, although the common people continued to use the old name. By the 11th century, “Baghdad” became almost the exclusive name for the world-renowned metropolis.


The Akkadian Empire was an ancient Semitic empire centered in the city of Akkad and its surrounding region in ancient Mesopotamia which united all the indigenous Akkadian speaking Semites and the Sumerian speakers under one rule within a multilingual empire. The Akkadian Empire controlled Mesopotamia, the Levant, and parts of Iran.

During the 3rd millennium BC, there developed a very intimate cultural symbiosis between the Sumerians and the Semitic Akkadians, which included widespread bilingualism. Akkadian gradually replaced Sumerian as a spoken language somewhere around the turn of the 3rd and the 2nd millennia BC (the exact dating being a matter of debate).

The Akkadian Empire reached its political peak between the 24th and 22nd centuries BC, following the conquests by its founder Sargon of Akkad (2334–2279 BC). Under Sargon and his successors, Akkadian language was briefly imposed on neighboring conquered states such as Elam. Akkad is sometimes regarded as the first empire in history, though there are earlier Sumerian claimants.

After the fall of the Akkadian Empire, the Akkadian people of Mesopotamia eventually coalesced into two major Akkadian speaking nations: Assyria in the north, and, a few centuries later, Babylonia in the south.

Akkad (also spelled Akkade or Agade) was the capital of the Akkadian Empire, which was the dominant political force in Mesopotamia at the end of the third millennium BCE. The existence of Akkad is known only from textual sources; its location has not yet been identified, although scholars have proposed a number of different sites. Most recent proposals point to a location east of the Tigris.

Before Akkad was identified in Mesopotamian cuneiform texts, the city was known only from a single reference in Genesis 10:10 where it is written (Accad). The city of Akkad is mentioned more than 160 times in cuneiform sources ranging in date from the Akkadian period itself (2350–2170 or 2230–2050 BCE, according to respectively the Middle or Short Chronology) to the 6th century BCE.

The name of the city is spelled as a-ga-dèKI or URIKI, which is variously transcribed into English as Akkad, Akkade or Agade. The etymology of a-ga-dè is unclear but not of Akkadian origin. Sumerian, Hurrian and Lullubean etymologies have been proposed instead.

The non-Akkadian origin of the city’s name suggests that the site may have already been occupied in pre-Sargonic times, as also suggested by the mentioning of the city in one pre-Sargonic year-name. The inscription on the Bassetki Statue records that the inhabitants of Akkad built a temple for Naram-Sin after he had crushed a revolt against his rule.

The main goddess of Akkad was Ishtar, who was called ‘Aštar-annunîtum or ‘Warlike Ishtar’ and who was identified with the Sumerian goddess Inanna. Her husband Ilaba was also revered in Akkad. Ishtar and Ilaba were later worshipped at Sippar in the Old Babylonian period, possibly because Akkad itself had been destroyed by that time.

The precise archaeological site of the city-state of Akkad has not yet been found. The form Agade appears in Sumerian, for example in the Sumerian King List; the later Assyro-Babylonian form Akkadû (“of or belonging to Akkad”) was likely derived from this.

The etymology and meaning of Akkad (writtenèKI or URIKI) are unknown. Centuries later, the neo-Babylonian king Nabonidus mentioned in his archaeological records that Ishtar’s worship in Agade was later superseded by that of the goddess Anunit, whose shrine was at Sippar – suggesting proximity of Sippar and Agade.

Despite numerous searches, the city has never been found. One theory holds that Agade was situated opposite Sippar on the left bank of the Euphrates, and was perhaps the oldest part of the city of Sippar. Another theory is that the ruins of Akkad are to be found beneath modern Baghdad. Reputedly it was destroyed by invading Gutians with the fall of the Akkadian Empire.

The first known mention of the city-state of Akkad is in an inscription of Enshakushanna of Uruk, where he claims to have defeated Agade—indicating that it was in existence well before the days of Sargon of Akkad, whom the Sumerian King List claims to have built it.

Akkad is mentioned once in the Tanakh – Book of Genesis 10:10: The mainstays of his [Nimrod’s] kingdom were Babylon, Erech, Accad, and Calneh in the land of Shinar (JPS). The Greek (LXX) spelling in this passage is Archad.


Babylon (Akkadian: Bābili(m); Sumerian logogram: KÁ.DINGIR.RAKI; Hebrew: Bavel; Ancient Greek: Babylṓn; Old Persian: Bābiru; Arabic: Bābil) was originally a small Semitic Akkadian speaking city dating from the period of the Akkadian Empire c. 2300 BC.

The remains of the city are in present-day Hillah, Babil Governorate, Iraq, about 85 kilometres (53 mi) south of Baghdad, comprising a large tell of broken mud-brick buildings and debris in the fertile Mesopotamian plain between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

The city itself was built upon the Euphrates, and divided in equal parts along its left and right banks, with steep embankments to contain the river’s seasonal floods.

The Greek form Babylon is an adaptation of Akkadian Babili. The Babylonian name as it stood in the 1st millennium BC had been changed from an earlier Babilli in early 2nd millennium BC, meaning “Gate of God” or “Gateway of the God” (bāb-ili) by popular etymology. The earlier name Babilla appears to be an adaptation of a non-Semitic source of unknown origin or meaning.

In the Hebrew Bible, the name appears as Bavel; Tiberian Bāvel; Syriac Bāwēl), interpreted in the Book of Genesis (11:9) to mean “confusion” (viz. of languages), from the verb bilbél, “to confuse”.

Linguist I.J. Gelb, has suggested that the name Babil is an echo of an earlier city name. Herzfeld wrote about Bawer in Ancient Iran, and the name Babil could be an echo of Bawer. David Rohl holds that the original Babylon is to be identified with Eridu. The Bible in Genesis 10 indicates that a biblical king named Nimrod was the original founder of Babel (Babylon). Joan Oates claims in her book Babylon that the rendering Gateway of the gods is no longer accepted by modern scholars.

Ctesias, who is quoted by Diodorus Siculus and in George Syncellus’s Chronographia, claimed to have access to manuscripts from Babylonian archives which date the founding of Babylon to 2286 BC by Belus who reigned as Babylon’s first king for fifty five years.

Another figure is from Simplicius, who recorded that Callisthenes in the 4th century BC travelled to Babylon and discovered astronomical observations on cuneiform tablets stretching back 1903 years before the taking of Babylon by Alexander the Great in 331 BC. This makes the sum 1903 + 331 which equals 2234 BC as the founding date for Babylon.

A similar figure is found in Berossus, who according to Pliny, stated that astronomical observations commenced at Babylon 490 years before the Greek era of Phoroneus, and consequently in 2243 BC.

Stephanus of Byzantium wrote that Babylon was built 1002 years before the date (given by Hellanicus of Mytilene) for the siege of Troy (1229 BC), which would date Babylon’s foundation to 2231 BC.

All of these dates place Babylon’s foundation in the 23rd century BC; however, since the decipherment of cuneiform in recent centuries, cuneiform records have not been found to correspond with such classical (post-cuneiform) accounts.

An indication of Babylon’s early existence may be a later tablet describing the reign of Sargon of Akkad (c. 23rd century BC short chronology). The so-called Weidner Chronicle states that it was Sargon himself who built Babylon “in front of Akkad” (ABC 19:51).

Another later chronicle likewise states that Sargon “dug up the dirt of the pit of Babylon, and made a counterpart of Babylon next to Akkad”. (ABC 20:18–19). Van de Mieroop has suggested that those sources may refer to the much later Assyrian king Sargon II of the Neo-Assyrian Empire rather than Sargon of Akkad.

By around the 19th century BC, much of southern Mesopotamia was occupied by Amorites, nomadic tribes from the northern Levant who were Northwest Semitic speakers, unlike like the native Akkadians of southern Mesopotamia and Assyria, who were East Semitic speakers.

The Amorites at first did not practice agriculture like more advanced Mesopotamians, preferring a semi nomadic lifestyle, herding sheep. Over time, Amorite grain merchants rose to prominence and established their own independent dynasties in several south Mesopotamian city-states, most notably Isin, Larsa, Eshnunna, Lagash, and later, founding Babylon as a state.

Originally a minor administrative center, it became part of an independent city-state in 1894 BC in the hands of a migrant Amorite dynasty not native to ancient Mesopotamia. However it was not until the early 18th century BC that a ruler of this state was recorded as King of Babylon.

The Amorites aside, the Babylonians were more often ruled by other foreign migrant dynasties throughout their history, such as by the Kassites, Arameans, Elamites and Chaldeans, as well as by their fellow Mesopotamians, the Assyrians.

Claiming to be the successor of the more ancient Sumero-Akkadian city of Eridu, Babylon, hitherto a minor city, eclipsed Nippur as the “holy city” of Mesopotamia around the time an Amorite king named Hammurabi first created the short lived Babylonian Empire in the 18th century BC. Babylon grew and South Mesopotamia came to be known as Babylonia.

The empire quickly dissolved upon Hammurabi’s death and Babylon spent long periods under Assyrian, Kassite and Elamite domination. After being destroyed and then rebuilt by the Assyrians, Babylon again became the seat of the Neo-Babylonian Empire from 608 to 539 BC which was founded by Chaldeans from the south east corner of Mesopotamia, and whose last king was an Assyrian from Northern Mesopotamia.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. After the fall of Babylon it came under the rules of the Achaemenid, Seleucid, Parthian, Roman and Sassanid empires.

 Bau (Sumerian)

Baba was a Babylonian goddess of healing, the consort of Ninurta (Nin Ur: God of War). At the city of Kiš she was considered to be the wife of the god Zababa, a warrior god, patron deity of Kiš. In the Old Babylonian period she was syncretized with various healing goddesses such as Ninisinna, Gula, and Nintinugga.

The name Bau is more common in the oldest period and gives way to Gula after the First Babylonian Dynasty. Other names borne by this goddess are Nin-Karrak, Nin Ezen, Ga-tum-dug and Nm-din-dug, the latter signifying “the lady who restores to life”, or the Goddess of Healing.

After the Great Flood, she helped “breathe life” back into mankind. The designation well emphasizes the chief trait of Bau-Gula which is that of healer. She is often spoken of as “the great physician,” and accordingly plays a specially prominent role in incantations and incantation rituals intended to relieve those suffering from disease. She is, however, also invoked to curse those who trample upon the rights of rulers or those who do wrong with poisonous potions.

As in the case of Ninurta, the cult of Bau-Gula is prominent in Shirgulla and in Nippur. While generally in close association with her consort, she is also invoked alone, giving her more dominance than most of the goddesses of Babylonia and Assyria.

She appears in a prominent position on the designs accompanying the Kudurrus boundary-stone monuments of Babylonia, being represented by a portrait, when other gods and goddesses are merely pictured by their shrines, by sacred animals or by weapons.

In neo-Babylonian days her cult continues to occupy a prominent position, and Nebuchadrezzar II speaks of no less than three chapels or shrines within the sacred precincts of E-Zida in the city of Borsippa, besides a temple in her honour at Babylon.

Kubaba, or Kug-Baba, is the name of the only Queen in the Sumerian king list. Her reign as the only “king” of the 3rd Dynasty of Kish was one of peace and prosperity. Her reign is contemporary with the “Early Dynastic III” period of Sumer. Her reign is listed to have lasted for 100 years.

Kubaba was the tutelary goddess who protected the ancient Syrian city of Carchemish. Her cult spread, and her name was adapted for the main goddess of the Hittite successor-kingdoms in Anatolia, and later developed into Phrygian Cybele.

Phrygian inscriptions with her image in rock-cut sculptures identify her as matar (“mother”) and, in one instance matar kubileya. The Phrygian goddess otherwise bears little resemblance to Kubaba, who was a sovereign deity at Sardis, known to Greeks as Kybebe.

Shrines in her honour spread throughout Mesopotamia. In the Hurrian area she may be identified with Kebat, or Hepat, one title of the Hurrian Mother Goddess Hannahannah (from Hurrian hannah, “mother”). In the Aramaean period that followed, Heba became Hawah, the Syrian snake Goddess and mother of all living, who emerged in the Bible as Eve.

Bel (Akkadian)

Bel (from Akkadian bēlu), signifying “lord” or “master”, is a title rather than a genuine name, applied to various gods in the Mesopotamian religion of Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia. The feminine form is Belit ‘Lady, Mistress’. Bel is named in the Bible at Isaiah 46:1 and Jeremiah 50:2 and 51:44.

Bêlit is a form of the Akkadian language word beltu or beltum (meaning “lady, mistress”) as used in noun compounds; it appears in titles of goddesses, such as bêlit-ili “lady of the gods”, an Akkadian title of Ninhursag.

The word bêlit appears in Greek form as Beltis (Βελτις), considered to be the name of the wife of the god Bêl, represented in Greek as Belos and in Latin as Belus. Linguistically Bel is an East Semitic form cognate with Northwest Semitic Ba‘al with the same meaning.

Belet-Seri (also spelled Beletseri, Belit-Sheri, Belit-Tseri) in Babylonian and Akkadian mythology is an underworld goddess. The recorder of the dead entering the underworld, she is known as the “Scribe of the Earth”.

It is Belet-seri who keeps the records of human activities so she can advise the queen of the dead, Erishkigal, on their final judgement. Married to Amurru, the God of Nomads, she’s known as ‘Queen of the Desert.’ Beginning in the Old Babylonian Period, Belet-Seri was identified with the goddess Gestinanna.

In Babylonian religion, Belit Ilani was a title described as meaning “mistress of the gods” and the name of the “evening star of desire”. It has been associated with Ninlil and Astarte and has been found inscribed on portraits of a woman blessing a suckling child with her right hand.

Theophilus G. Pinches noted that Belit Ilani or Nnlil or had seven different names (such as Nintud, Ninhursag, Ninmah, etc.) for seven different localities in ancient Sumer.

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

Bel became especially used of the Babylonian god Marduk and when found in Assyrian and neo-Babylonian personal names or mentioned in inscriptions in a Mesopotamian context it can usually be taken as referring to Marduk and no other god.

Similarly Belit without some disambiguation mostly refers to Bel Marduk’s spouse Sarpanit. However Marduk’s mother, the Sumerian goddess called Ninhursag, Damkina, Ninmah and other names in Sumerian, was often known as Belit-ili ‘Lady of the Gods’ in Akkadian.

Of course other gods called “Lord” could be and sometimes were identified totally or in part with Bel Marduk. The god Malak-bel of Palmyra is an example, though in the later period from which most of our information comes he seems to have become very much a sun god. Similarly Zeus Belus mentioned by Sanchuniathon as born to Cronus/El in Peraea is certainly most unlikely to be Marduk.

I. H. D. Rouse in 1940 wrote an ironic end note to Book 40 of his edition of Nonnus’ Dionysiaca about a very syncretistic hymn sung by Dionysus to Tyrian Heracles, that is, to Ba‘al Melqart whom Dionysus identifies with Belus on the Euphrates (who should be Marduk!) and as a sun god:

… the Greeks were as firmly convinced as many modern Bible-readers that the Semites, or the Orientals generally, worshipped a god called Baal or Bel, the truth of course being that ba’al is a Semitic word for lord or master, and so applies to a multitude of gods. This “Bel,” then, being an important deity, must be the sun, the more so as some of the gods bearing that title may have been really solar.

Baal (NW Semitic)

Baal, also rendered Baʿal, is a North-West Semitic title and honorific meaning “master” or “lord” that is used for various gods who were patrons of cities in the Levant and Asia Minor, cognate to Akkadian Bēlu. A Baalist or Baalite means a worshipper of Baal.

Baal, god worshiped in many ancient Middle Eastern communities, especially among the Canaanites, who apparently considered him a fertility deity and one of the most important gods in the pantheon.

As a Semitic common noun baal (Hebrew baʿal) meant “owner” or “lord,” although it could be used more generally; for example, a baal of wings was a winged creature, and, in the plural, baalim of arrows indicated archers. Yet such fluidity in the use of the term baal did not prevent it from being attached to a god of distinct character.As such, Baal designated the universal god of fertility, and in that capacity his title was Prince, Lord of the Earth. He was also called the Lord of Rain and Dew, the two forms of moisture that were indispensable for fertile soil in Canaan. In Ugaritic and Old Testament Hebrew, Baal’s epithet as the storm god was He Who Rides on the Clouds. In Phoenician he was called Baal Shamen, Lord of the Heavens.

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

Nevertheless, few if any biblical uses of “Baal” refer to Hadad, the lord over the assembly of gods on the holy mount of Heaven; most refer to a variety of local spirit-deities worshiped as cult images, each called baal and regarded in the Hebrew Bible in that context as a false god.

Baʿal (bet-ayin-lamedh) is a Semitic word signifying “The Lord, master, owner (male), keeper, husband”, which became the usual designation of the great weather-god of the Western Semites. Cognates include Standard Hebrew Báʿal, Akkadian Bēl.

In Hebrew, the word ba’al means “husband” or “owner”, and is related to a verb meaning to take possession of, for a man, to consummate a marriage. The word “ba’al” is also used in many Hebrew phrases, denoting both concrete ownership as well as possession of different qualities in one’s personality. The feminine form is Baʿalah‎, signifying “a mistress: -that has, a mistress”; Arabic baʿalah, a rare word for “wife”.

The words themselves had no exclusively religious connotation; they are honorific titles for heads of households or master craftsmen, but not for royalty. The meaning of “lord” as a member of royalty or nobility is more accurately translated as Adon in biblical Hebrew.

In modern Levantine Arabic, the word báʿal serves as an adjective describing farming that relies only on rainwater as a source of irrigation. Probably it is the last remnant of the sense of Baal the god in the minds of the people of the region. In the Amharic language, the Semitic word for “owner” or “husband, spouse” survives with the spelling bal.

Because more than one god bore the title “Baal” and more than one goddess bore the title “Baalat” or “Baalah,” only the context of a text, the definitive article, or a genetive following the word in construct can denote which particular god, a text is speaking of.


Baldr (also Balder, Baldur) is the second son of the god Odin and the goddess Frigg. He is the god of summer sun, light, and radiance. His twin brother is the blind god of darkness, Hodr. He has numerous brothers, such as Thor and Váli.

His wife is called Nanna. They have a son called Forseti, god of justice. In Gylfaginning, Snorri relates that Baldr had the greatest ship ever built, named Hringhorni, and that there is no place more beautiful than his hall, Breidablik.

In the 12th century, Danish accounts by Saxo Grammaticus and other Danish Latin chroniclers recorded a euhemerized account of his story. Compiled in Iceland in the 13th century, but based on much older Old Norse poetry, the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda contain numerous references to the death of Baldr as both a great tragedy to the Æsir and a harbinger of Ragnarök.

Baldur once had a nightmare that he would be killed. His mother, Frigg, made all the things on Earth vow not to hurt him. The mistletoe did not vow, however, and Frigg considered it to be so unimportant that she thought nothing of it. Loki found out that the mistletoe had not vowed, and thus made a spear out of mistletoe, and tricked Hohr into killing Baldur with it.

The death of Baldur is believed to be the beginning of Ragnarok. Many gods and goddesses will come to his funeral. His wife Nana also died of sadness. His father, Odin, placed the golden ring Draupnir on Baldur, but he later sent the ring back from Hell. This ring somehow came to Freyr’s hand. After Ragnarok and the death of Odin, Baldur and Hodr came back to Asgard, and they rule in place of their father.



Jacob Grimm in his Teutonic Mythology (ch. 11) identifies Old Norse Baldr with the Old High German Baldere (2nd Merseburg Charm, Thuringia), Palter (theonym, Bavaria), Paltar (personal name) and with Old English bealdor, baldor “lord, prince, king” (used always with a genitive plural, as in gumena baldor “lord of men”, wigena baldor “lord of warriors”, et cetera).

Old Norse shows this usage of the word as an honorific in a few cases, as in baldur î brynju (Sæm. 272b) and herbaldr (Sæm. 218b), both epithets of heroes in general.

Grimm traces the etymology of the name to *balþaz, whence Gothic balþs, Old English bald, Old High German pald, all meaning “bold, brave”. But the interpretation of Baldr as “the brave god” may be secondary.

Baltic (cf. Lithuanian baltas, Latvian balts), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰel-, has a word meaning “the white, the good”, and Grimm speculates that the name may originate as a Baltic loan into Proto-Germanic.

In continental Saxon and Anglo-Saxon tradition, the son of Woden is called not Bealdor but Baldag (Sax.) and Bældæg, Beldeg (AS.), which shows association with “day”, possibly with Day personified as a deity which, Grimm points out, would agree with the meaning “shining one, white one, a god” derived from the meaning of Baltic baltas, further adducing Slavic Belobog and German Berhta.

Balts comes from an unattested verb *balt (“to become white”) (of which balts originally was the past participle form; compare. Lithuanian verb bálti, and compare. Latvian 17th-century derived verb baltīt (“to make, paint something white”), later replaced by other verbs, derived from balts: from Proto-Baltic *bal-, from Proto-Indo-European *bʰel-, *bʰol- (“shiny, white”). Cognates include Lithuanian báltas, Sudovian baltas.

In several Indo-European languages, reflexes of the stem *bʰel-, *bʰol- are often found in words relating to water or humid places, probably due to their shiny, reflective surfaces: Illyrian *balta (“marsh, swamp”), Albanian baltë (“mud, sludge, swamp”), Proto-Slavic *bolto (“swamp, lake”) (Old Church Slavonic блато (blato, “lake”), Russian болото (bolóto, “marsh, swamp”) (dialectal “puddle, lake”), Czech bláto (“mud; pl. swamp”), Polish błoto (“mud, swamp”)).

This usage is also attested in Baltic languages, as in, e.g., Old Prussian placename Namuynbalt (swamp). It left also traces in Latvian, in the names of lakes or swamps (Baltenis, Baltiņa purvs), and is a possible source of the word balti (“Balts, Baltic”).


One of the two Merseburg Incantations names Balder, and mentions a figure named Phol, considered to be another name for Baldr. Many scholars assume that Phol is just another name for Balder and the evidence from the charm would seem to confirm this. However it is strange that the same God should be referred to by two different names within the same charm.

Rudolf Simek [Dictionary of Northern Mythology] contests the assumption that it is the same God and puts forward a different theory. He associates Phol with the Goddess Volla referred to in the charm. He asserts that the Nordic equivalent of the German Volla is Fulla, the Goddess of fullness and thus links Her to Freyja and thus Phol with Freyr.

The great Jacob Grimm appears to be convinced in his Teutonic Mythology Volume 1 that Balder and Phol are one and the same divinity. He refers to a Pholesauwa or Pholesouwa 10-12 miles from Passau mentioned in a document drawn up between 774-788 AD. This would appear to be a place of His worship.

There is also a Pholespiunt on the Altmuehl between Eichstaedt and Kipfenberg in a forest. The Fulla traditions also refer to Pholesbrunnen in Thuringia. He cites other examples in his work such as Poelde in the Harz mountains so it is clear that Phol was a recognised German deity whether or not He was the same as Balder.

Grimm finds parallels between Phol and other Indo-European deities: “I incline to this last hypothesis, and connect Phol and Pol (whose o may very well have sprung from the Celtic Beal, Beul, Bel, Belenus, a divinity of light or fire, the Slav. Bielbogh, Belbogh (white-god), the adj. biel, bel (albus), Lith. baltas, which last with its extension T makes it probable that Baeldag and Baldr are of the same root, but have not undergone consonant-change.

Phol and Paltar therefore are in their beginning one, but reveal to us two divergent historical developments of the same word, and a not unimportant difference in the mythology of the several Teutonic races.” [Grimm]

Grimm concludes that this God was known to Thuringians and the Bavarians as Phol although they knew of His alternative names of Paltar and Balder. The Saxons and Westphalians knew Him as Baldag and Baeldag. Clearly Phol was known to not only the Teutons but other northern Aryan peoples such as the Balts, Slavs and Celts. Thus we may infer from this that His origins go back to a shared northern Aryan common past.

However we may also be able to draw a link to the Hellenic Apollo. There is not only a remarkable similarity between the names of Phol and Apollo but both were divinities of light and associated with the North. Six months every year Apollo would wander north to the land of the Hyperboreans.

By contrast Balder would be consigned to the underworld of Hel, although not merely for six months of the year although this part of the solar myth may be a distortion to fit in with the myth of Ragnarok.

Phol or Pol/A-pol-lo may also be considered to be the God of the Pole, the pole that is which connects the Hyperborean and Thulean far North with the Pole Star. He is thus both a solar and a polar deity. There is a common connecting thread that runs through the whole of Germanic and Aryan mythology-the emphasis on BOTH the polar and the solar. Phol, the masculine pole and polar God: Sol the feminine solar Goddess, a contrast of opposites.

The ancient Teutons had a practice of erecting poles as representing their Gods. A wooden pole or carved image of a God would be erected in a heap of stones and worshipped. This was common during the Germanic Bronze Age and Iron Age and also far back into the European Stone Age. The phallic association is obvious as well as the link with the Irminsul.

Pool / Bog

Pool, a small and rather deep collection of (usually) fresh water, as one supplied by a spring, or occurring in the course of a stream; a reservoir for water, is from Middle English pool, pole, pol, from Old English pōl (“pool”), from Proto-Germanic *pōlaz (“pool, pond”), from Proto-Indo-European *bale- (“bog, marsh”).

A bog is a wetland that accumulates peat, a deposit of dead plant material—often mosses, and in a majority of cases, sphagnum moss. It is one of the four main types of wetlands. Other names for bogs include mire, quagmire, and muskeg; alkaline mires are called fens. They are frequently covered in ericaceous shrubs rooted in the sphagnum moss and peat. The gradual accumulation of decayed plant material in a bog functions as a carbon sink.

Bogs occur where the water at the ground surface is acidic and low in nutrients. In some cases, the water is derived entirely from precipitation, in which case they are termed ombrotrophic (cloud-fed). Water flowing out of bogs has a characteristic brown colour, which comes from dissolved peat tannins.

In general, the low fertility and cool climate result in relatively slow plant growth, but decay is even slower owing to the saturated soil. Hence, peat accumulates. Large areas of the landscape can be covered in many meters deep in peat. Bogs have distinctive assemblages of animal, fungal and plant species, and are of high importance for biodiversity, particularly in landscapes that are otherwise settled and farmed.

Cognate with Scots puil (“pool”), Saterland Frisian Pol (“pool”), West Frisian poel (“pool”), Dutch poel (“pool”), Low German Pohl, Pul (“pool”), German Pfuhl (“quagmire, mudhole”), Danish pøl (“puddle”), Swedish pöl (“puddle, pool”), Icelandic pollur (“puddle”), Lithuanian bala (“bog, marsh, swamp, pool”), Latvian bala (“a muddly, treeless depression”), Russian boloto, “swamp, bog, marsh”).

Pole is from Middle English pole, pal, from Old English pāl (“a pole, stake, post; a kind of hoe or spade”), from Proto-Germanic *palaz, *pālaz (“pole”), from Latin pālus (“stake, pale, prop, stay”) from Old Latin *paglus, from Proto-Indo-European *pāǵe- (“to nail, fasten”).

Cognate with Scots pale, paill (“stake, pale”), North Frisian pul, pil (“stake, pale”), Saterland Frisian Pool (“pole”), West Frisian poal (“pole”), Dutch paal (“pole”), German Pfahl (“pile, stake, post, pole”), Danish pæl (“pole”), Swedish påle (“pole”), Icelandic páll (“hoe, spade, pale”), Old English fæc (“space of time, while, division, interval; lustrum”).

The pool symbol

The pool symbol in Egyptian mythology represents water. It is a rectangle, longer horizontally than vertically, with seven equally spaced vertical zigzag lines within it.

It can also represent the primal waters that the Egyptians believed was the source of all things, which they called Nun. Occasionally, the sun god is depicted as a sun arising from the pool symbol.

Egyptian pharaohs had decreed that objects in paintings and the like should be instantly recognizable to the viewer. Hence, reflecting pools were shown from a bird’s-eye view, even if the rest of the image was shown from the side.


Nu (“watery one”), also called Nun (“inert one”) is the deification of the primordial watery abyss in Egyptian mythology. In the Ogdoad cosmogony, the word nu means “abyss”.

The Ancient Egyptians envisaged the oceanic abyss of the Nun as surrounding a bubble in which the sphere of life is encapsulated, representing the deepest mystery of their cosmogony.

In Ancient Egyptian creation accounts the original mound of land comes forth from the waters of the Nun. The Nun is the source of all that appears in a differentiated world, encompassing all aspects of divine and earthly existence. In the Ennead cosmogony Nun is perceived as transcendent at the point of creation alongside Atum the creator god.

Nu was shown usually as male but also had aspects that could be represented as female or male. Nunet (also spelt Naunet) is the female aspect, which is the name Nu with a female gender ending. The male aspect, Nun, is written with a male gender ending.

As with the primordial concepts of the Ogdoad, Nu’s male aspect was depicted as a frog, or a frog-headed man. In Ancient Egyptian art, Nun also appears as a bearded man, with blue-green skin, representing water. Naunet is represented as a snake or snake-headed woman.

Beginning with the Middle Kingdom Nun is described as “the Father of the Gods” and he is depicted on temple walls throughout the rest of Ancient Egyptian religious history.

The Ogdoad includes with Naunet and Nun, Amaunet and Amun, Hauhet and Heh, and Kauket with Kuk. Like the other Ogdoad deities, Nu did not have temples or any center of worship. Even so, Nu was sometimes represented by a sacred lake, or, as at Abydos, by an underground stream.

In the 12th Hour of the Book of Gates Nu is depicted with upraised arms holding a “solar bark” (or barque, a boat). The boat is occupied by eight deities, with the scarab deity Khepri standing in the middle surrounded by the seven other deities.

During the late period when Egypt became occupied the negative aspect of the Nun (chaos) became the dominant perception, reflecting the forces of disorder that were set loose in the country.

The Abzu

The Abzu (Cuneiform: ZU.AB; Sumerian: abzu; Akkadian: apsû) also called engur, (Cuneiform: LAGAB×HAL; Sumerian: engur; Akkadian: engurru) literally, ab=’water’ (or ‘semen’) zu=’to know’ or ‘deep’ was the name for fresh water from underground aquifers that was given a religious fertilizing quality in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology. Lakes, springs, rivers, wells, and other sources of fresh water were thought to draw their water from the abzu.


Eridu (Cuneiform: NUN.KI; Sumerian: eriduki; Akkadian: irîtu) is an ancient Sumerian city in what is now Tell Abu Shahrain, Dhi Qar Governorate, Iraq. Eridu was long considered the earliest city in southern Mesopotamia, and is still today argued to be the oldest city in the world.

Eridu, also transliterated as Eridug, could mean “mighty place” or “guidance place”. In the Sumerian king list, Eridu is named as the city of the first kings. The king list continues: In Eridu, Alulim became king; he ruled for 28800 years. Alalngar ruled for 36000 years. 2 kings; they ruled for 64800 years. Then Eridu fell and the kingship was taken to Bad-tibira.

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

Adapa U-an, elsewhere called the first man, was a half-god, half-man culture hero, called by the title Abgallu (ab=water, gal=big, lu=man) of Eridu. He was considered to have brought civilization to the city from Dilmun (probably Bahrain), and he served Alulim.

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

The stories of Inanna, goddess of Uruk, describe how she had to go to Eridu in order to receive the gifts of civilization. At first Enki, the god of Eridu attempted to retrieve these sources of his power, but later willingly accepted that Uruk now was the centre of the land. This seems to be a mythical reference to the transfer of power northward, mentioned above.

Babylonian texts also talk of the creation of Eridu by the god Marduk as the first city, “the holy city, the dwelling of their [the other gods] delight”.

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

The Egyptologist David Rohl has conjectured that Eridu, to the south of Ur, was the original Babel and site of the Tower of Babel, rather than the later city of Babylon, for several reasons. Other scholars have discussed at length a number of additional correspondences between the names of “Babylon” and “Eridu”.

Historical tablets state that Sargon of Akkad (ca. 2300 BC) dug up the original “Babylon” and rebuilt it near Akkad, though some scholars suspect this may in fact refer to the much later Assyrian king Sargon II.

The urban nucleus of Eridu was Enki’s temple, called House of the Aquifer (Cuneiform: E2.ZU.AB; Sumerian: e2-abzu; Akkadian: bītu apsû), which in later history was called House of the Waters (Cuneiform: E2.LAGAB×HAL; Sumerian: e2-engur; Akkadian: bītu engurru). The name refers to Enki’s realm. His consort Ninhursanga had a nearby temple at Ubaid.

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


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

Enki was the deity of crafts (gašam); mischief; water, seawater, lakewater (a, aba, ab), intelligence (gestú, literally “ear”) and creation (Nudimmud: nu, likeness, dim mud, make beer). It has been suggested that etymologiically Ea was comes from the term *hyy (life), referring to Enki’s waters as life giving.

He was associated with the southern band of constellations called stars of Ea, but also with the constellation AŠ-IKU, the Field (Square of Pegasus). Beginning around the second millennium BCE, he was sometimes referred to in writing by the numeric ideogram for “40,” occasionally referred to as his “sacred number.” The planet Mercury, associated with Babylonian Nabu (the son of Marduk) was in Sumerian times, identified with Enki.

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

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

The name Ea is allegedly Hurrian in origin while others claim that his name ‘Ea’ is possibly of Semitic origin and may be a derivation from the West-Semitic root *hyy meaning “life” in this case used for “spring”, “running water.” In Sumerian E-A means “the house of water”, and it has been suggested that this was originally the name for the shrine to the god at Eridu.

In the city Eridu, Enki’s temple was known as E2-abzu (house of the cosmic waters) and was located at the edge of a swamp, an abzu. Certain tanks of holy water in Babylonian and Assyrian temple courtyards were also called abzu (apsû). Typical in religious washing, these tanks were similar to the washing pools of Islamic mosques, or the baptismal font in Christian churches.

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

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

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

Enki and later Ea were apparently depicted, sometimes, as a man covered with the skin of a fish, and this representation, as likewise the name of his temple E-apsu, “house of the watery deep”, points decidedly to his original character as a god of the waters. Around the excavation of the 18 shrines found on the spot, thousands of carp bones were found, consumed possibly in feasts to the god.

It is, however, as the third figure in the triad (the two other members of which were Anu and Enlil) that Ea acquires his permanent place in the pantheon. To him was assigned the control of the watery element, and in this capacity he becomes the shar apsi; i.e. king of the Apsu or “the deep”.

The Apsu was figured as the abyss of water beneath the earth, and since the gathering place of the dead, known as Aralu, was situated near the confines of the Apsu, he was also designated as En-Ki; i.e. “lord of that which is below”, in contrast to Anu, who was the lord of the “above” or the heavens.

Of his cult at Eridu, which goes back to the oldest period of Mesopotamian history, nothing definite is known except that his temple was also associated with Ninhursag’s temple which was called Esaggila, “the lofty head house” (E, house, sag, head, ila, high; or Akkadian goddess = Ila), a name shared with Marduk’s temple in Babylon, pointing to a staged tower or ziggurat (as with the temple of Enlil at Nippur, which was known as E-kur (kur, hill)), and that incantations, involving ceremonial rites in which water as a sacred element played a prominent part, formed a feature of his worship.

This seems also implicated in the epic of the hieros gamos or sacred marriage of Enki and Ninhursag (above), which seems an etiological myth of the fertilisation of the dry ground by the coming of irrigation water (from Sumerian a, ab, water or semen).

Sacred prostitution was common in the Ancient Near East as a form of “Sacred Marriage” or hieros gamos between the king of a Sumerian city-state and the High Priestess of Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare.

Along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers there were many shrines and temples dedicated to Inanna. The temple of Eanna, meaning “house of heaven” in Uruk was the greatest of these.

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

The early inscriptions of Urukagina in fact go so far as to suggest that the divine pair, Enki and Ninki, were the progenitors of seven pairs of gods, including Enki as god of Eridu, Enlil of Nippur, and Su’en (or Sin) of Ur, and were themselves the children of An (sky, heaven) and Ki (earth).

The pool of the Abzu at the front of his temple was adopted also at the temple to Nanna (Akkadian Sin) the Moon, at Ur, and spread from there throughout the Middle East. It is believed to remain today as the sacred pool at Mosques, or as the holy water font in Catholic or Eastern Orthodox churches.

As Ea, Enki had a wide influence outside of Sumer, being equated with El (at Ugarit) and possibly Yah (at Ebla) in the Canaanite ‘ilhm pantheon, he is also found in Hurrian and Hittite mythology, as a god of contracts, and is particularly favourable to humankind. Enki/Ea is essentially a god of civilization, wisdom, and culture. He was also the creator and protector of man, and of the world in general.

 Ba (Egyptian)

The ancient Egyptians believed that a human soul was made up of five parts: the Ren, the Ba, the Ka, the Sheut, and the Ib. In addition to these components of the soul there was the human body (called the ha, occasionally a plural haw, meaning approximately sum of bodily parts). The other souls were aakhu, khaibut, and khat.

The ‘Ba’ was everything that makes an individual unique, similar to the notion of ‘personality’. (In this sense, inanimate objects could also have a ‘Ba’, a unique character, and indeed Old Kingdom pyramids often were called the ‘Ba’ of their owner).

The ‘Ba’ is an aspect of a person that the Egyptians believed would live after the body died, and it is sometimes depicted as a human-headed bird flying out of the tomb to join with the ‘Ka’ in the afterlife.

In the Coffin Texts one form of the Ba that comes into existence after death is corporeal, eating, drinking and copulating. Louis Žabkar argued that the Ba is not part of the person but is the person himself, unlike the soul in Greek, or late Judaic, Christian or Muslim thought. The idea of a purely immaterial existence was so foreign to Egyptian thought that when Christianity spread in Egypt they borrowed the Greek word psyche to describe the concept of soul and not the term Ba.

Žabkar concludes that so particular was the concept of Ba to ancient Egyptian thought that it ought not to be translated but instead the concept be footnoted or parenthetically explained as one of the modes of existence for a person.

In another mode of existence the Ba of the deceased is depicted in the Book of Going Forth by Day returning to the mummy and participating in life outside the tomb in non-corporeal form, echoing the solar theology of Re (or Ra) uniting with Osiris each night.

The word ‘bau’, plural of the word ba, meant something similar to ‘impressiveness’, ‘power’, and ‘reputation’, particularly of a deity. When a deity intervened in human affairs, it was said that the ‘Bau’ of the deity were at work [Borghouts 1982].


In Egyptian mythology, Babi, also Baba, was the deification of the baboon, one of the animals present in Egypt. His name is usually translated as Bull of the baboons, and roughly means Alpha male of all baboons, i.e. chief of the baboons.

Since Baboons exhibit many human characteristics, it was believed in early times, at least since the Predynastic Period, that they were deceased ancestors. In particular, the alpha males were identified as deceased rulers, referred to as the great white one (Hez-ur in Egyptian), since Hamadryas baboon (the species prevalent in Egypt) alpha males have a notable light grey streak. For example, Narmer is depicted in some images as having transformed into a baboon.

Since baboons were considered to be the dead, Babi was viewed as an underworld deity. Baboons are extremely aggressive, and omnivorous, and so Babi was viewed as being very bloodthirsty, and living on entrails.

Consequently, he was viewed as devouring the souls of the unrighteous after they had been weighed against Ma’at (the concept of truth/order), and was thus said to stand by a lake of fire, representing destruction.

Since this judging of righteousness was an important part of the underworld, Babi was said to be the first-born son of Osiris, the god of the dead in the same regions in which people believed in Babi.

Baboons also have noticeably high sex drives, in addition to their high level of genital marking, and so Babi was considered the god of virility of the dead. He was usually portrayed with an erection, and due to the association with the judging of souls, was sometimes depicted as using it as the mast of the ferry which conveyed the righteous to Aaru, a series of islands. Babi was also prayed to, in order to ensure that an individual would not suffer from impotence after death.


Pharaoh is the common title of the kings of Ancient Egyptian dynasties until the Graeco-Roman conquest. The title originates in the Egyptian term pr ˤ3, literally “great house”, describing the royal palace. Historically, however, “pharaoh” only started being used as a title for the king during the New Kingdom, specifically during the middle of the eighteenth dynasty, after the reign of Hatshepsut.

Pharaoh, meaning “Great House”, originally referred to the king’s palace, but during the reign of Thutmose III (ca. 1479–1425 BC) in the New Kingdom, after the foreign rule of the Hyksos during the Second Intermediate Period, became the form of address for a person who was king and the son of the god Ra.

“The Egyptian sun god Ra, considered the father of all pharaohs, was said to have created himself from a pyramid-shaped mound of earth before creating all other gods.” (Donald B. Redford, Ph.D., Penn State).

The term pharaoh ultimately was derived from a compound word represented as pr-3, written with the two biliteral hieroglyphs pr “house” and “column”. It was used only in larger phrases such as smr pr-aa ‘Courtier of the High House’, with specific reference to the buildings of the court or palace.

From the twelfth dynasty onward the word appears in a wish formula ‘Great House, may it liv, prosper, and be in health’, but again only with reference to the royal palace and not the person.

The earliest instance where pr-aa is used specifically to address the ruler is in a letter to Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten), who reigned c. 1353–1336 BCE, which is addressed to ‘Pharaoh, all life, prosperity, and health!

During the eighteenth dynasty (sixteenth to fourteenth centuries BCE) the title pharaoh was employed as a reverential designation of the ruler. About the late twenty-first dynasty (tenth century BCE), however, instead of being used alone as before, it began to be added to the other titles before the ruler’s name, and from the twenty-fifth dynasty (eighth to seventh centuries BCE) it was, at least in ordinary usage, the only epithet prefixed to the royal appellative.

From the nineteenth dynasty onward pr- on its own was used as regularly as hm.f, ‘Majesty’. The term therefore evolved from a word specifically referring to a building to a respectful designation for the ruler, particularly by the twenty-second dynasty and twenty-third dynasty.

For instance, the first dated instance of the title pharaoh being attached to a ruler’s name occurs in Year 17 of Siamun on a fragment from the Karnak Priestly Annals. Here, an induction of an individual to the Amun priesthood is dated specifically to the reign of Pharaoh Siamun.

This new practice was continued under his successor Psusennes II and the twenty-first dynasty kings. Meanwhile the old custom of referring to the sovereign simply as pr-aa continued in traditional Egyptian narratives.

By this time, the Late Egyptian word is reconstructed to have been pronounced *par-ʕoʔ whence comes Ancient Greek pharaō and then Late Latin pharaō. From the latter, English obtained the word “Pharaoh”.

In the Hebrew Bible, the title also occurs as *par-ʕoʔ (פרעה). Over time, *par-ʕoʔ evolved into Sahidic Coptic prro and then rro (by mistaking p- as the definite article prefix “the” from Ancient Egyptian p).

Bhaga (Sanskrit)

Sanskrit bhaga is a term for “lord, patron”, but also for “wealth, prosperity”. The cognate term in Avestan and Old Persian is baga, of uncertain meaning but used in a sense in which “lord, patron” might also apply.

A Slavic cognate is bog “god”. While the word “bog” denoted nearly all Slavic gods, the word Deva in its cognate Div was used only for the creator god – Rod, the Slavic equivalent of Brahma.

The semantics is similar to English lord (from hlaford “bread warden”), the idea being that it is part of the function of a chieftain or leader to distribute riches or spoils among his followers.

Personified, Bhaga is one of the Adityas, a god of wealth and marriage in Hinduism. Virabhadra, a great powerful hero created by Shiva, once blinded him.

In the Rigveda Bhaga is the god who supervises the distribution of goods and destiny to each man corresponding to his merits. The word apparently, is cognative to “Bhagavan” and “Bhagya”, terms used in several Indian languages to refer to God and destiny respectively.

In some references Bhag, Bhaga or Bhagya is miss-termed as Lord Sun. In fact Bhagya is the son of Lord Sun. Father Sun awarded him with the powers to give away or take away anything from the human race. He is the real and practical benefactor among all the 33 Crore deities.

Bhagavan (Hinduism)

Bhagavan, (alternate spellings including Bhagvān, Bhagwan or Bhagawan, from the Sanskrit nt-stem bhaga-vant- nominative Bhagavān) is a term for God used in Hinduism, particularly in the Vaisnava traditions where God is conceived as a caring, compassionate person concerned for the welfare of his creatures. It is generally translated by the English word Lord.

Bhagavan literally means “possessing fortune, prosperous” (from the noun bhaga, meaning “fortune, wealth”, cognate to Slavic bog “god”, Russian bogatyj “wealthy”), and hence “illustrious, divine, venerable, holy”, etc.

Bhagavan can also be an honorific title for a God-realized (i.e. fully enlightened) human being or an incarnation of God in human form (avatara) such as Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. In the Pali scriptures Gautama Buddha is referred to as Bhagavan Buddha (translated with the phrase ‘Lord Buddha’ or ‘The Blessed One’).

In Hinduism it indicates the Supreme Being or Absolute Truth conceived as a Personal God. This personal feature indicated by the word Bhagavan differentiates its usage from other similar terms such as Brahman, the “Supreme Spirit” or “spirit”, and thus, in this usage, Bhagavan is analogous to the Christian conception of God the Father. In Vaisnavism, a devotee of Bhagvan Krishna is called a Bhāgavata.

Bhagavan used as a title of veneration is often directly used as “Lord”, as in “Bhagavan Rama”, “Bhagavan Krishna”, “Bhagavan Shiva”, etc. In Buddhism and Jainism, Gautama Buddha, Mahavira and other Tirthankaras, Buddhas and bodhisattvas are also venerated with this title. The feminine of Bhagavat is Bhagawatī and is an epithet of Durga and other goddesses.

Bey (Turkish)

Bey (Ottoman Turkish: Bey, Arabic: Bek, Persian: Beg or Beyg) is a Turkish and Altaic title for chieftain, traditionally applied to the leaders (for men) of small tribal groups. The title for female royal families was Begum. Beg means as great.

The regions or provinces where “beys” ruled or which they administered were called beylik, roughly meaning “emirate” or “principality” in the first case, “province” or “governorate” in the second (the equivalent of duchy in other parts of Europe).

Today, the word is still used informally as a social title for men (somewhat like the English word “mister”). Unlike “mister” however, it follows the name and is used generally with first names and not with last names.

The word entered English from Turkish bey, itself derived from Old Turkic beg, which – in the form bäg – has been mentioned as early as in the Orkhon inscriptions, two memorial installations erected by the Göktürks written in Old Turkic alphabet in the early 8th century in the Orkhon Valley in Mongolia, and is usually translated as “tribal leader”.

The dialect variations bäk, bek, bey, biy, bi, and pig all derive from the Old Turkic form. The actual origin of the word is still disputed, though it is mostly agreed that it was a loan-word in Old Turkic. This Turkic word is usually considered a borrowing from an Iranian language.

However, German Turkologist Gerhard Doerfer assessed the derivation from Iranian as superficially attractive but quite uncertain and pointed out the possibility that the word may be genuinely Turkic.

Three principal etymologies have been proposed by scholars:

– The Middle Persian title bag (also baγ/beγ, Old Iranian baga; cf. Sanskrit भगवत् / bhagvan) meaning lord and master. It was one of the royal titles of the Sassanian kings. Peter Golden derives the word via Sogdian bġy from the same Iranian root. It is ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *bhag- (“to spare, divide; to endow, give”).

– The Chinese title pö (the older form being pök or pak; according to Edwin Pulleyblank perjk), meaning older brother and feudal lord, often lower members of the aristocracy.

– The Old Turkic nobility expression bay (“rich person, noble”) as an alternative usage of the Old Turkic title bey.

English scholar Harold Bailey considers bay (in the sense of “possessions”) as a borrowing from Iranian, whereas Russian linguist Sergei Starostin assumes a derivation from Proto-Turkic *bāj (“rich, noble; many, numerous”), itself ultimately from a potential Proto-Altaic root *bēǯu (“numerous, great”, cf. Old Japanese p(j)iida-/pui-). Within Turkic *bāj (“rich”) in turn is probably hard to distinguish from *baj (~ -ń) (“holy; god; true, reliable, honest”).

The word bagh

Bhaga (Hinduism) One of the Adityas, a god of wealth and marriage in Hinduism. In the Rigveda Bhaga is the god who supervises the distribution of goods and destiny to each man corresponding to his merits.

– “Dispenser”, gracious lord , patron (applied to gods, especially to Savitr)

– Bhaga

– Sun

– Mud

– Good fortune, happiness, welfare, prosperity

– Dignity, majesty, distinction, excellence, beauty, loveliness

– Love, affection, sexual passion, amorous pleasure, dalliance

– The female organs, pudendum muliebre, vulva

According to Beekes it comes from Proto-Indo-European *bʰ(e)h₂g- (“to divide, distribute”) with a semantic shift “I received a share” → “I consumed” → “I ate”. Cognates include Sanskrit bhajati (“divide, apportion”), Old Persian (baga, “god”) and Avestan (baga-, “part”). Compare (bagaîos) and Proto-Slavic *bogъ.

Bahuvrihi adjectives *ubogъ (“poor, miserable”) and *nebogъ (“poor, miserable”), as well as the later derivation *bogatъ (“rich”) prove that *bogъ was originally also an adjective meaning “earthly wealth/well-being; fortune”, with a semantic shift to “dispenser of wealth/fortune” and finally “god”.

Semantic parallel can be drawn to Indo-Iranian languages: compare Old Persian (baga, “god”), Avestan (baγa-, “god”) (but also (bag-, “apportion”)), as well as Sanskrit epithet often applied to gods (bhága, “dispenser, gracious lord, patron”), proving that Slavic noun had both abstract and concrete meanings. The same Iranian source, but via a Turkic language, also probably gave Proto-Slavic *banъ.

This convincing parallel has led some linguists (e.g. Roman Jakobson) to claim that *bogъ is an Iranian borrowing. Slavic-Iranian parallelism can be further extended to the expressions of Slavic mythology: Dažbog, Belobog and Chernobog, which prove an existence of Iranian dualism in Proto-Slavic mythology.

On a more formal level, absence of Winter’s law (if held to apply in open syllables) precludes derivation from hypothetical Proto-Indo-European *bʰeh₂gos, *bʰagos.

Some connect it to Ancient Greek ἔφαγον (éphagon, “to eat, devour”) via a semantic shift “I received a share” > “I consumed” > “I ate”. This would in turn all derive from the Proto-Indo-European root *bʰeh₂g-, bʰag- (“to distribute, divide”).

Bāgh or Baug, usually translated garden, refers to an enclosed area with permanent cultures (many types of trees and shrubs) as well as flowers. It usually has Irano-Islamic architectural elements. Also known as Bageecha or Bagicha.


Deities of Slavic religion, arranged in cosmological and functional groups, are inherited through mythology and folklore. Both in the earliest Slavic religion and in modern Slavic Native Faith’s theology and cosmology, gods are arranged as a hierarchy of powers begotten by the supreme God of the universe, Rod, known as Deivos in the earliest Slavic religion.

According to Helmold’s Chronica Slavorum (compiled 1168–1169), “obeying the duties assigned to them, [the deities] have sprung from his [the supreme God’s] blood and enjoy distinction in proportion to their nearness to the god of the gods”.

Throughout their long but preserved history, the Hindu gods have taken other form than the one they had originally had in the Vedas. At some historical times, Surya was more important than Vishnu. Shiva, too, does not have his name (Shiva) in the Vedas. Scholars believe that a much older name represents him instead – Rudra, which sounds like the word used for the most ancient Slavic god – Rod, who was the primordial god – creator of the universe.

Slavic languages have many similarities with Sanskrit, for example – catúr (number four), which is spelled as “chetyre” in Russian and “shtyri” in Slovak, means the same thing. The origin of the word “red” (English), or “rot” (German) probably comes from the primordial adoration of the god of fire, most likely a deity like Slavic Rod, Hindu Agni or Rudra.

There are many words with similar sounding both in European languages and Sanskrit – for example, the Sanskrit word “rakta” – English “red” (“rudy” in Czech, “rouge” in French, “rojo” in Spanish, etc.). The origin of the word “red” most probably dwells in fire, which had been adored and personified by all ancient and tribal cultures.

The general Slavic term for “god” or “deity” is bog, whose original meaning is both “wealth” and its “giver”. The term is related to Sanskrit bhaga and Avestan baga. Some Slavic gods are worshipped to this day in folk religion, especially in countrysides, despite longtime Christianisation of Slavic lands, apart from the relatively recent phenomenon of organised Slavic Native Faith (Rodnovery).

Slavic folk belief holds that the world organises itself according to an oppositional and yet complementary cosmic duality through which the supreme God expresses itself, represented by Belobog (“White God”) and Chernobog (“Black God”), collectively representing heavenly-masculine and earthly-feminine deities, or waxing light and waning light gods, respectively. The two are also incarnated by Svarog–Perun and Veles, whom have been compared to the Indo-Iranian Mitra and Varuna, respectively.

All bright male gods, especially those whose name has the attributive suffix -vit, “lord”, are epithets, denoting aspects or phases in the year of the masculine radiating force, personified by Perun (the “Thunder” and “Oak”). Veles, as the etymology of his name highlights, is instead the god of poetic inspiration and sight.

The underpinning Mokosh (“Moist”), the great goddess of the earth related to the Indo-Iranian Anahita, has always been the focus of a strong popular devotion, and is still worshipped by many Slavs, chiefly Russians.

Rod is a conception of supreme God of the universe and of all its gods in Slavic Native Faith (Rodnovery). He is seen as the absolute, primordial God of the universe and of all other gods. The supreme creator of all things and kins and their power of generation.

The same concept is also known as Sud (“Judge”) and Prabog (“Pre-God”, “First God”) among South Slavs. Scholars have defined Rod as the “general power of birth and reproduction”. The root *rod means “birth”, “origin”, “kinship”, “tribe” and “destiny”. Sud, literally “Judge”, is a South Slavic name for the supreme God, especially when conceived as the interweaving of destiny. Prabog is another name for the same concept, this time from the Slovak tradition, and literally means “Pre-God”, “First-God”, “Primordial God”.

In some old writings the name appears as Hrodo, Chrodo, Krodo, or the Latinised form Crodone. The 15th-century Saxon Chronicle attests that “Krodo” was worshipped also by Saxon tribes, who inhabited modern-day northern and eastern Germany together with West Slavic tribes.

The name “Rod” is attested in Old Church Slavonic and Old East Slavic sources (as Rodu) about pre-Christian religion, where it refers to divinity, ancestrality and procreativity. Michel Mathieu-Colas (2017) defines it as the “primordial God”, but the term also literally means the generative power of the family and “kin”, “birth”, “origin” and “fate” as well. The negative form, that is urod, means anything wretched, deformed, degenerated, monstrous.

In modern Slavic Native Faith, Rod is largely aniconic. Traditional iconography shows Rod governing the four elements: He stands on a fish, symbol of water; with one hand he heightens a wheel, symbol of the sun and of the cycles of the universe; with the other hand he holds a bucket of flowers, symbol of the blooming earth; and around his waist he has a fluttering linen belt, symbol of air.

As attested by Helmold (c. 1120–1177) in his Chronica Slavorum, the Slavs believed in a single God begetting all the lesser spirits governing nature, and worshipped it by their means. According to Helmold, “obeying the duties assigned to them, [the deities] have sprung from his [the supreme God’s] blood and enjoy distinction in proportion to their nearness to the god of the gods”.

In the earliest Slavic religion the supreme God of Heaven was called Deivos, but this name was soon abandoned to be replaced by the concept of Rod. At an early stage of Slavic history “Rod” replaced “Deivos” as the conception of the supreme God. Deivos, “Heaven”, was the name of the God of Heaven in the earliest Slavic religion, cognate with the Proto-Indo-European *Dyeus (cf. Sanskrit Deva, Latin Deus, Old High German Ziu and Lithuanian Dievas).

The name “Deivos” was abandoned when the Slavs, in line with the parallel developments in Proto-Indo-Iranian religion, shifted the meaning of the Indo-European descriptor of heavenly deities (Avestan daeva, Old Church Slavonic div, both going back to Proto-Indo-European *deiwos, “celestial”) to the designation of evil entities, and began to describe gods by the term for both “wealth” and its “givers” (Avestan baga, Old Church Slavonic bog). At first the term “Deivos” was replaced with the term for “clouds”, cf. Slavic Nebo.

Rod is frequently accompanied by a supreme mother goddess, Rozanica (“Generatrix” or “Genitrix”, also spelled Rodzhanitsa and in other variants), frequently represented in her three aspects who interweave the fate of mankind, the Rozanicy, as attested in the expression Rod–Rodzanicy (“God and the Goddesses”). She is also known as Razivia or Rodiva, or simply Deva, “Goddess”, of whom all lesser goddesses are manifestations.

In two of her aspects she is also qualified as Baba, meaning the “Old Lady”, “Crone”, “Hag”; and Krasopani, meaning the “Beautiful Lady”. She has been compared to the Greek Aphrodite and the Indic Lakshmi, and especially to the Roman Juno, female consort of the supreme God, whom collectively represented the Junones, the Norse Disir, the spirits of female lineages who determined fate.

Among South Slavs, where Rod is known as Sud (“Judge”), the three goddesses of fate are known as Sudenica or Sudica (plural Sudenicy), and by other variants of the name, which literally means “She who Judges”.

The Sudenicy are sometimes represented as good-natured old women, and other times as beautiful young women with sparkling eyes, clad in white garments, with their heads covered in white cloths, adorned with gold and silver jewels and precious stones, and holding burning candles in their hands. In other traditions they are planly atired, with only a wreath of flowers around their heads.

While Rod represents the forefathers from the male side, Rozanica represents the ancestresses from the female side. Through the history of the Slavs, the latter gradually became more prominent than the former, because of the importance of the mother to the newborn child. Viljo Johannes Mansikka noted that in Slavic countries, the Greek terms týchi (“luck”) and eímarméni (“destiny”) are sometimes translated as rod and rozanica.

The Russian volkhvs Veleslav (Ilya Cherkasov) and Dobroslav (Aleksei Dobrovolsky) explain Rod as a life force that comes in nature and is “all-pervasive” or “omnipresent”. Cosmologically speaking, Rod is conceived as the spring of universal emanation, which articulates in a cosmic hierarchy of gods. This emanation proceeds according to an order or harmony, Prav (the “Right”).

The supreme God acts in primordial undeterminacy (chaos), giving rise to the circular pattern of Svarog (“Heaven”), which constantly multiplies generating new worlds (world-eggs).

Prav works by means of a dual dynamism, conceptualised as Belobog (“White God”) and Chernobog (“Black God”); they are two aspects of the same, appearing in reality as the forces of waxing and waning, giving rise to polarities like up and down, light and dark, male and female, singular and plural. Man and woman are further symbolised by father Svarog (Heaven) itself and mother Lada (“Beauty”).

Belobog, Bilobog, Belbog, Bialbog, Byelobog, Bielobog, Belun or Bylun, Bielboh or Bialun (all names meaning White God) is a reconstructed Slavic deity of light and Sun, the counterpart of dark and cursed Chernobog (Black God).

It is uncertain whether such a deity was ever worshipped by polytheist Slavs, as there are no reliable historic records which mention this name. While in the past a great deal of scholars studying Slavic mythology took the dualism of Belobog and Chernobog for granted, modern research of the matter makes this theory very hard to maintain.

In the later half of the 12th century, the German priest Helmold described, in his work Chronica Slavorum, beliefs and customs of several West Slavic tribes who were still polytheists at the time. Amongst other things, he stated that:

The Slavs, they say, have one peculiar custom: during feasts, they pass a goblet amongst them in circle, for purpose not to praise, but rather to curse in the names of gods, good and evil, for every good thing praising a good god, and for every bad thing cursing an evil god. This god of woe in their language is called Diabolous (*in Latin) or Zherneboh, meaning black god.

On the basis of this inscription, many modern mythographers assumed that, if the evil god was Chernobog, the Black God, then the good god should be Belobog or the White God. However, the name of Belobog is not mentioned by Helmold anywhere in his Chronica, nor is it ever mentioned in any of the historic sources that describe the gods of any Slavic tribe or nation.

Additionally, the inscription quoted above is more likely Helmold’s own interpretation than an accurate description of Slavic pre-monotheistic beliefs: Helmold, being German, did not know the language of Slavs, and being a Christian priest, did not have much, if any, contact with the polytheists themselves.

Another clue for existence of Belobog is a number of toponyms in Slavic countries which have that name. They include Bělbožice in Czech Republic, Bilobozhnytsia in Ukraine, and Bialoboze recorded in Poland.

Sometimes the toponyms are paired with those having the name Chernobog as in the case of hills Bileboh and Czorneboh near Bautzen in Sorbia, and of the Czech Bělbožice which is likewise paired with Černíkovice. This was one of the arguments for the dualism theory.


Belenus (also Belenos, Belinus, Bel, Beli Mawr; Celtic: possibly, “Bright One”) is a sun god from Celtic mythology and, in the 3rd century, the patron deity of the Italian city of Aquileia. Called the “Fair Shining One” (or “The Shining God”), he was one of the most ancient and most-widely worshiped Celtic deities and is associated with the ancient fire festival and modern Sabbat Beltane.

Beli Mawr (“Beli the Great”) was an ancestor figure in Middle Welsh literature and genealogies. He is the father of Cassivellaunus, Arianrhod, Lludd Llaw Eraint, Llefelys, and Afallach. In certain medieval genealogies he is listed as the husband of Anna, cousin of Mary, mother of Jesus.

According to the Welsh Triads, Beli and Dôn were the parents of Arianrhod, but the mother of Beli’s other children—and the father of Dôn’s other children—is not mentioned in the medieval Welsh literature. Several royal lines in medieval Wales traced their ancestry to Beli. The Mabinogi names Penarddun as a daughter of Beli Mawr, but the genealogy is confused; it is possible she was meant to be his sister rather than daughter.

The origin of the name Beli is still a matter of debate among scholars. The most popular hypothesis sees the name Beli as a Middle Welsh reflex of the Gaulish and Brittonic divine name Belenus (also attested as a personal name), but a more recent alternative is that proposed by the Celticist John T. Koch, who suggests that Beli derives from a Proto-Celtic name Belgius or Bolgios borne by one of the chieftains who led the Gallic invasion of Macedonia in 280–279 BCE. He therefore proposes that this great leader Belgius came to be regarded as the namesake and ancestor of the powerful Brittonic and Gallic tribal group, the Belgae, whence would have come the doctrine that Beli was the ancestor of tribal dynasties.

Belenus is one of the most ancient and most widely worshipped of the pagan Celtic deities; he was associated with pastoralism. He was associated with the horse (as shown by the clay horse figurine offerings at Belenos’s Sainte-Sabine shrine in Burgundy) and also the wheel. Perhaps like Apollo, with whom he became identified in the Augustan History, Belenos was thought to ride the sun across the sky in a horse-drawn chariot.

A great fire festival, called Beltane (or Beltine), was held on May 1 and was probably originally connected with his cult. On that day the cattle were purified and protected by fire before being put out to the open pastures for the summer. Despite associations of his name with fire or the sun, Belenus was not a sun god; in fact, there is no Celtic evidence for the worship of the sun as such, even though it was often used in religious imagery.

There are about 31 extant dedications to Belenus, an unusually high number for a religion that specialized in the number and diversity of its divine names and epithets. The cult of Belenus was practiced in northern Italy, Noricum in the eastern Alps, southern Gaul, and probably Britain.

In Irish, the festival is usually called Lá Bealtaine (“day of Beltane”) while the month of May is Mí Bhealtaine (“month of Beltane”). In Scottish Gaelic, the month is called (An) Cèitean or a’ Mhàigh, and the festival is Latha Bealltainn. Sometimes the older Scottish Gaelic spelling Bealltuinn is used. The word Céitean comes from Céad Shamhain, an old alternative name for the festival.

In modern Scottish Gaelic, Latha Buidhe Bealltainn or Là Buidhe Bealltainn (“the yellow day of Beltane”) is used to describe the first day of May. This term Lá Buidhe Bealtaine is also used in Irish and is translated as “Bright May Day”. In Ireland it is referred to in a common folk tale as Luan Lae Bealtaine; the first day of the week (Monday/Luan) is added to emphasise the first day of summer.

Since the early 20th century it has been commonly accepted that Old Irish Beltaine is derived from a Common Celtic *belo-te(p)niâ, meaning “bright fire”. The element *belo- might be cognate with the English word bale (as in bale-fire) meaning “white” or “shining”; compare Old English bael, and Lithuanian/Latvian baltas/balts, found in the name of the Baltic; in Slavic languages byelo or beloye also means “white”, as in Беларусь (White Russia or Belarus) or Бе́лое мо́ре (White Sea).

A more recent etymology by Xavier Delamarre would derive it from a Common Celtic *Beltinijā, cognate with the name of the Lithuanian goddess of death Giltinė, the root of both being Proto-Indo-European *gʷelH- (“suffering, death”).

In Ó Duinnín’s Irish dictionary (1904), Beltane is referred to as Céadamh(ain) which it explains is short for Céad-shamh(ain) meaning “first (of) summer”. The dictionary also states that Dia Céadamhan is May Day and Mí Céadamhan is the month of May.

Beltane is the anglicised name for the Gaelic May Day festival. Most commonly it is held on 1 May, or about halfway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. In Irish the name for the festival day is Lá Bealtaine, in Scottish Gaelic Là Bealltainn and in Manx Gaelic Laa Boaltinn/Boaldyn. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals—along with Samhain, Imbolc and Lughnasadh—and is similar to the Welsh Calan Mai.

Beltane is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature, and it is associated with important events in Irish mythology. It marked the beginning of summer and was when cattle were driven out to the summer pastures. Rituals were performed to protect the cattle, crops and people, and to encourage growth. Special bonfires were kindled, and their flames, smoke and ashes were deemed to have protective powers. The people and their cattle would walk around the bonfire or between two bonfires, and sometimes leap over the flames or embers.

All household fires would be doused and then re-lit from the Beltane bonfire. These gatherings would be accompanied by a feast, and some of the food and drink would be offered to the aos sí. Doors, windows, byres and the cattle themselves would be decorated with yellow May flowers, perhaps because they evoked fire.

In parts of Ireland, people would make a May Bush: a thorn bush decorated with flowers, ribbons and bright shells. Holy wells were also visited, while Beltane dew was thought to bring beauty and maintain youthfulness. Many of these customs were part of May Day or Midsummer festivals in other parts of Great Britain and Europe.

There are 51 known inscriptions dedicated to Belenus, mainly concentrated in Cisalpine Gaul (Aquileia/Carni), Noricum and Gallia Narbonensis, but also extend far beyond into Celtic Britain and Iberia.[2][4][5] Images of Belenus sometimes show him to be accompanied by a female, thought to be the Gaulish deity Belisama.

In Celtic polytheism, Belisama was a goddess worshipped in Gaul. She is identified with Minerva in the interpretatio romana. The etymology of her name has been taken to translate to “brightest one”, i.e. containing a superlative suffix -isama attached to the root bel “bright”; based on this she has also been speculatively claimed as companion of Belenus, whose name seems to contain the same root. But the root bel has also (for either deity) been interpreted differently, e.g. as bel “strong”.

The identification with Minerva in Gallo-Roman religion is established in a Latin inscription from Saint-Lizier (anciently Consoranni), Ariège department (CIL XIII, 8). The French toponyms Beleymas and Bellême (found in the Dordogne and Orne departments, respectively) are based on the theonym. The presence of the goddess in Britain is more difficult to establish. Based on Ptolemy listing a “Belisama estuary”, River Ribble in England seems to have been known by the name Belisama in Roman times.

Tertullian writing in c. 200 AD identifies Belenus as the national god of Noricum. Inscriptions dedicated to Belenus are concentrated in the Eastern Alps and Gallia Cisalpina, but there is evidence that the popularity of the god became more widespread in the Roman period.

The third-century emperors Diocletian and Maximian each dedicated an inscription to Belenus in the region of Aquileia. A further 6 votive inscriptions of Belenus were discovered at Altinum, Concordia and Iulium Carnicum. The soldiers of Maximinus Thrax, who laid siege to Aquileia in 238, reported seeing an appearance of the god defending the city from the air.

In epigraphy, the forms Belenus, Belinus and Bellenus are on record. Other variants may be corruptions of the same name; thus, a single inscription found near Oulx has Belanus, and Herodian has Belin.

The etymology of the name is unclear. Suggestions are informed by the identification with Apollo, but the wide range of attributes of Apollo as the god of light, knowledge, music and poetry, mantic oracles, healing and medicine, etc. opens a wide field of possible parallels. Apollo Karneios with horns from ram (beran) cognates with qeren (“to shine”, “have horns”) from *qarn. (For l and r relationship see liquid consonant).

The historically favoured interpretation of the name is a “bright/shining one,” from a root *bhel “to shine”, interpreting Belenus as solar deity in origin (compare the first element in Beltane, from a *belo-te(p)nia “bright fire”). Alternatively, the name may be from a Proto-Celtic *Guelenos, containing a root for “source, well”, suggesting identification as a god of healing springs.

Yet another suggestion (by Schrijver 1999) suggests a connection with henbane, known as belenuntia, bellinuncium, bellenium in antiquity (surviving in Spanish beleño). Henbane in Latin was known as apollinaris herba (“herb of Apollo”).

Renaissance scholar Pierre Pithou explained the name as deriving from Greek belos “arrow”, here taken to refer to the sun’s rays, but even in early modern scholarship, the simplistic identification of Apollo/Belenus with the Sun was questioned; Bernard de Montfaucon argued that by the time of the identification of Apollo Belenus, the ancients in their civil worship had long ceased to treat Apollo and Sol as the same deity.

Suggestions in early modern scholarship also included comparison with Semitic Bel, Belus. In this context, linguistically Bel is an East Semitic form cognate with Northwest Semitic Baal with the same meaning. In ancient Gaul and Britain, Apollo may have been equated with fifteen or more different names and epithets (notably Grannos, Borvo, Maponus, Moritasgus and others).

An epithet of Belenus may have been Vindonnus. Apollo Vindonnus had a temple at Essarois near Châtillon-sur-Seine in Burgundy. The sanctuary was based on a curative spring. Part of the temple pediment survives, bearing an inscription to the god and to the spirit of the springs and, above it, the head of a radiate sun-deity.

Many votive objects were brought to the shrine, some of oak, and some of stone. Some offerings take the form of images of hands holding fruit or a cake; others represent the parts of the body requiring a cure. In many cases the pilgrims appear to have suffered from eye afflictions. In a single inscription, Belenus is given the epithet Teutorix. This is the basis of a suggestion according to which the Germanic name Theodoric was in origin a theonym borrowed from Gaulish into early Germanic religion.

The Welsh given name Llywelyn combines the theonyms Lugus and Belenus. The name of the ancient British king Cunobelinus may mean “hound of Belinos”. Alternatively, in accordance with modern Welsh rendering “Cynfelyn,” it could mean “precursor to Belinos,” “one who precedes Belinos.” The name of legendary king Belinus in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain is probably also derived from this god.

Beli Mawr (i.e. “Beli the Great”), an ancestor figure in medieval Welsh literature, has also been connected to the theonym, but alternative suggestions connect the name to Gaulish Bolgios and the tribal name of the Belgae, a large Gallic-Germanic confederation of tribes living in northern Gaul, between the English Channel, the west bank of the Rhine, and northern bank of the river Seine, from at least the third century BC.

The Belgae were discussed in depth by Julius Caesar in his account of his wars in Gaul. Some peoples in Britain were also called Belgae and O’Rahilly equated them with the Fir Bolg in Ireland. The Belgae gave their name to the Roman province of Gallia Belgica and, much later, to the modern country of Belgium; today “Belgae” is also Latin for “Belgians”.

The consensus among linguists is that the ethnic name Belgae comes from the Proto-Celtic root *belg- or *bolg- meaning “to swell (particularly with anger/battle fury/etc.)”, cognate with the Dutch adjective gebelgd, “to be very angry” and verbolgen, “being angry”, and the Old English verb belgan, “to be angry” (from Proto-Germanic *balgiz), derived ultimately from the Proto-Indo-European root *bhelgh- (“to swell, bulge, billow”). Thus, a Proto-Celtic ethnic name *Bolgī could be interpreted as “The People who Swell (particularly with anger/battle fury)”.

Diodorus Siculus named Cornwall (Cornovii, that can originate from “horn”) Belerion, the first recorded place name in the British Isles. This is usually derived from the root bel “bright” (meaning “shining land” or similar) and not necessarily connected to the theonym.

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