Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

Archive for July, 2015

The coiling of the snake – Consciousness

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 20, 2015

Drawing by Theodoros Pelecanos, in a 1478 copy[1] of a lost alchemical tract by Synesius.

The Celtic Triskele, also called the spiral of life, the triple spiral and the triple goddess, is three equal spirals radiating from a common center. The Celtic Triskele was found in the remnants of an ancient temple from the Bronze Age in Ireland.Because, at times, it is drawn in one continuous line, the triskele represents a continuous movement of time. It is probably this unending quality of the spiral that attracts us so greatly, and has contributed to it remaining on of the most popular Celtic symbols.

Ouroboros

Ouroboros

The ouroboros often symbolizes self-reflexivity or cyclicality, especially in the sense of something constantly re-creating itself, the eternal return, and other things such as the phoenix which operate in cycles that begin anew as soon as they end. It can also represent the idea of primordial unity related to something existing in or persisting from the beginning with such force or qualities it cannot be extinguished.

While first emerging in Ancient Egypt and India, the ouroboros has been important in religious and mythological symbolism, but has also been frequently used in alchemical illustrations, where it symbolizes the circular nature of the alchemist’s opus. It is also often associated with Gnosticism, Hermeticism and Hinduism.

Carl Jung interpreted the ouroboros as having an archetypal significance to the human psyche. The Jungian psychologist Erich Neumann writes of it as a representation of the pre-ego “dawn state”, depicting the undifferentiated infancy experience of both mankind and the individual child.

Gnosticism

In Gnosticism, a serpent biting its tail symbolized eternity and the soul of the world. The Gnostic text Pistis Sophia describes the disc of the sun as a 12-part dragon with his tail in his mouth.

Divine balance

the entwined serpents representing divine balance in the west

DNA

the entwined serpents representing the human DNA

The Creator

Plato described the ouroboros as the first living thing; a self-eating, circular being—the universe as an immortal, mythologically constructed entity. The living being had no need of eyes because there was nothing outside of him to be seen; nor of ears because there was nothing to be heard; and there was no surrounding atmosphere to be breathed; nor would there have been any use of organs by the help of which he might receive his food or get rid of what he had already digested, since there was nothing which went from him or came into him: for there was nothing beside him.

Of design he created thus; his own waste providing his own food, and all that he did or suffered taking place in and by himself. For the Creator conceived that a being which was self-sufficient would be far more excellent than one which lacked anything; and, as he had no need to take anything or defend himself against any one, the Creator did not think it necessary to bestow upon him hands: nor had he any need of feet, nor of the whole apparatus of walking; but the movement suited to his spherical form which was designed by him, being of all the seven that which is most appropriate to mind and intelligence; and he was made to move in the same manner and on the same spot, within his own limits revolving in a circle.

All the other six motions were taken away from him, and he was made not to partake of their deviations. And as this circular movement required no feet, the universe was created without legs and without feet.

Snake goddess

Snake Goddess indicates figurines of a woman holding a snake in each hand found during excavation of Minoan archaeological sites in Crete dating from approximately 1600 BCE. These figurines were found only in house sanctuaries, where the figurine appears as “the goddess of the household”, and they are probably related with the Paleolithic tradition regarding women and domesticity.

The first ‘Snake Goddess’ figurines to be discovered were found by the British archaeologist Arthur Evans in 1903, in the temple repositories of Knossos. The figurines are made of faience, a technique for glazing earthenware and other ceramic vessels by using a quartz paste. This material symbolized in old Egypt the renewal of life, therefore it was used in the funeral cult and in the sanctuaries. After firing this produces bright colors and a lustrous sheen.

These two figurines are today exhibited at the Herakleion Archeological Museum in Crete. It is possible that they illustrate the fashion of dress of Minoan women: a tight bodice which left the breasts bare, a long flounced skirt, and an apron made of material with embroidered or woven decoration. The larger of these figures has snakes crawling over her arms up to her tiara. The smaller figure holds two snakes in her raised hands, which seems to be the imitation of a panther. These were usually symbols of an earth goddess.

In particular, one of the snake goddesses was found in few pieces apart, and was later filled with a solution of paraffin to preserve it from further damage. The goddess is depicted just as in other statues (crown on head, hands grasping snakes and so on…) The expression on her face is described as lifelike, and is also wearing the typical Minoan dress. Also another figure found in Berlin, made of bronze, looks more like a snake charmer with the snakes on top of her head. Many Minoan statues and statuettes seem to express a sort of pride.

Clay sculptures with raised hands and curling snakes were found in the “house of the double axes” in Knossos, in Asine, in Gournia, and in Myrtos. Objects with snakes curling up the sides of clay-tubes were also found in Cyprus and Palestine.

The snake goddess’s Minoan name may be related with A-sa-sa-ra, a possible interpretation of inscriptions found in Linear A texts. Although Linear A is not yet deciphered, Palmer relates tentatively the inscription a-sa-sa-ra-me which seems to have accompanied goddesses, with the Hittite išhaššara, which means “mistress”.

Her exposed and amplified breasts suggest a show of womanhood very much similar to Lady Godiva. The figurines may illustrate the fashion of dress of Minoan women.

The serpent is often symbolically associated with the renewal of life because it sheds its skin periodically. A similar belief existed in the ancient Mesopotamians and Semites, and appears also in Hindu mythology.

The Pelasgian myth of creation refers to snakes as the reborn dead. However, Nilsson noticed that in the Minoan religion the snake was the protector of the house, as it later appears also in Greek religion. Among the Greek Dionysiac cult it signified wisdom and was the symbol of fertility.

The serpents were considered the protectors of the temples and the chthonic masters of the ancient earth goddess. In Greece the old oracles were devoted to the mother goddess. According to a Greek legend Apollo came to Delphi carrying Cretan priests, and there he possessed the oracle after slaying the serpent Python, the daughter of Gaia.

Nammu

In Sumerian mythology, Nammu (also Namma, spelled ideographically NAMMA = ENGUR) was a primeval goddess, corresponding to Tiamat in Babylonian mythology.

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

Nammu is not well attested in Sumerian mythology. She may have been of greater importance prehistorically, before Enki took over most of her functions. An indication of her continued relevance may be found in the theophoric name of Ur-Nammu, the founder of the Third Dynasty of Ur.

According to the Neo-Sumerian mythological text Enki and Ninmah, Enki is the son of An and Nammu. Nammu is the goddess who “has given birth to the great gods”. It is she who has the idea of creating mankind, and she goes to wake up Enki, who is asleep in the Apsu, so that he may set the process going.

The Atrahasis-Epos has it that Enlil requested from Nammu the creation of humans. And Nammu told him that with the help of Enki (her son) she can create humans in the image of gods.

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

Tiamat

In Mesopotamian Religion (Sumerian, Assyrian, Akkadian and Babylonian), Tiamat is a primordial goddess of the ocean, mating with Abzû (the god of fresh water) to produce younger gods. She is the symbol of the chaos of primordial creation, depicted as a woman she represents the beauty of the feminine, depicted as the glistening one.

It is suggested that there are two parts to the Tiamat mythos, the first in which Tiamat is a creator goddess, through a “Sacred marriage” between salt and fresh water, peacefully creating the cosmos through successive generations. In the second “Chaoskampf” Tiamat is considered the monstrous embodiment of primordial chaos. Some sources identify her with images of a sea serpent or dragon.

In the Enûma Elish her physical description includes a tail, a thigh, “lower parts” (which shake together), a belly, an udder, ribs, a neck, a head, a skull, eyes, nostrils, a mouth, and lips. She has insides (possibly “entrails”), a heart, arteries, and blood.

Tiamat is usually described as a sea serpent or dragon, however assyriologist Alexander Heidel disagreed with this identification and argued that “dragon form can’t be imputed to Tiamat with certainty”.

Other scholars have disregarded Heidel’s argument, Joseph Fontenrose in particular found it “not convincing” and concluded that “there is reason to believe that Tiamat was sometimes, not necessarily always, conceived as a dragoness”.

While the Enûma Elish does not specifically state that Tiamat is a dragon, only that she gave birth to dragons and serpents among a more general list of monsters including scorpion men and merpeople, other sources containing the same myth do refer to her as a dragon.

The depiction of Tiamat as a multi-headed dragon was popularized in the 1970s as a fixture of the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game inspired by earlier sources associating Tiamat with later mythological characters, such as Lotan.

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

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

Tiamat was later known as Thalattē (as a variant of thalassa, the Greek word for “sea”) in the Hellenistic Babylonian writer Berossus’ first volume of universal history. It is thought that the name of Tiamat was dropped in secondary translations of the original religious texts (written in the East Semitic Akkadian language) because some Akkadian copyists of Enûma Elish substituted the ordinary word for “sea” for Tiamat, since the two names had become essentially the same due to association.

Thorkild Jacobsen and Walter Burkert both argue for a connection with the Akkadian word for sea, tâmtu, following an early form, ti’amtum. Burkert continues by making a linguistic connection to Tethys. He finds the later form, thalatth, to be related clearly to Greek thalatta or thalassa, “sea”. Tiamat also has been claimed to be cognate with Northwest Semitic tehom (the deeps, abyss), in the Book of Genesis 1:2.

The Babylonian epic Enuma Elish is named for its incipit: “When above” the heavens did not yet exist nor the earth below, Apsu the freshwater ocean was there, “the first, the begetter”, and Tiamat, the saltwater sea, “she who bore them all”; they were “mixing their waters”.

It is thought that female deities are older than male ones in Mesopotamia and Tiamat may have begun as part of the cult of Nammu, a female principle of a watery creative force, with equally strong connections to the underworld, which predates the appearance of Ea-Enki.

Harriet Crawford finds this “mixing of the waters” to be a natural feature of the middle Persian Gulf, where fresh waters from the Arabian aquifer mix and mingle with the salt waters of the sea.

This characteristic is especially true of the region of Bahrain, whose name in Arabic means “two seas”, and which is thought to be the site of Dilmun, the original site of the Sumerian creation beliefs. The difference in density of salt and fresh water drives a perceptible separation.

Ariadne

Barry Powell suggested that the snake goddess reduced in legend into a folklore heroine was Ariadne (utterly pure or the very holy one), who is often depicted surrounded by Maenads and satyrs.

Europa

In a relative Greek myth Europa, who is sometimes identified with Astarte in ancient sources, was a Phoenician princess who Zeus abducted and carried to Crete.

Astarte

Some scholars relate the snake goddess with the Phoenician Astarte (virgin daughter). She was the goddess of fertility and sexuality and her worship was connected with orgiastic cult. Her temples were decorated with serpentine motifs.

Enki

The planet Mercury, associated with Babylonian Nabu (the son of Marduk) was in Sumerian times, identified with Enki (EN.KI(G)). 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.”

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

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

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.

Ningishzida

Ningishzida is a Mesopotamian deity of the underworld. His name in Sumerian is translated as “lord of the good tree” by Thorkild Jacobsen. In Sumerian mythology, he appears in Adapa’s myth as one of the two guardians of Anu’s celestial palace, alongside Dumuzi. He was sometimes depicted as a serpent with a human head.

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

The Adapa myth mentions Ningizzida and Tammuz (or Dumuzi) and refers to the serpent god as male. His wife is Azimua and also Geshtinanna, while his sister is Amashilama. In some texts Ningishzida is said to be female, which means “Nin” would then refer to Lady, which is mostly how the word is used by the Sumerians. He or she was one of the ancestors of Gilgamesh.

Ningishzida is the earliest known symbol of snakes twining around an axial rod. It predates the Caduceus of Hermes, the Rod of Asclepius and the biblical Nehushtan of Moses by more than a millennium. One Greek myth on origin of the caduceus is part of the story of Tieresias, who found two snakes copulating and killed the female with his staff.

Nabu

The planet Mercury was in Sumerian times, identified with Enki, but was later associated with Babylonian Nabu (the son of Marduk). Nabu is the Assyrian and Babylonian god of wisdom and writing, worshipped by Babylonians as the son of Marduk and Sarpanitum and as the grandson of Ea. As a god of wisdom and writing he was identified by the Greeks with Hermes, by the Romans with Mercury, and by the Egyptians with Thoth.

Due to his role as Marduk’s minister and scribe, Nabu became the god of wisdom and writing (including religious, scientific and magical texts) taking over the role from the Sumerian goddess Nisaba. Nabu became one of the principal gods in Assyria; Assyrians addressed many prayers and inscriptions to Nabu and named children after him.

Tanit

the Phoenician goddess Tanit, worshipped as a patron goddess of Carthage, literally meaning “of the mind”, or “conceived in the mind”, or “power of the mind”

Diktynna

Diktynna, aka the Cretan “Mistress of the Wild”, is a possible identification.

Ra-Osiris

The first known appearance of the ouroboros motif is in the Enigmatic Book of the Netherworld, an ancient Egyptian funerary text in KV62, the tomb of Tutankhamun, in the 14th century BC. The text concerns the actions of the god Ra and his union with Osiris in the underworld.

In an illustration from this text, two serpents, holding their tails in their mouths, coil around the head and feet of an enormous god, who may represent the unified Ra-Osiris. Both serpents are manifestations of the deity Mehen, who in other funerary texts protects Ra in his underworld journey. The whole divine figure represents the beginning and the end of time.

The ouroboros appears elsewhere in Egyptian sources, where, like many Egyptian serpent deities, it represents the formless disorder that surrounds the orderly world and is involved in that world’s periodic renewal. The symbol persisted in Egypt into Roman times, when it frequently appeared on magical talismans, sometimes in combination with other magical emblems.

The 4th-century AD Latin commentator Servius was aware of the Egyptian use of the symbol, noting that the image of a snake biting its tail represents the cyclical nature of the year. The symbol of the Ouroboros is also highly prominent within mystical literature and is circular appealing to our primordial desire for unity and continuity.

Mehen

In Ancient Egypt the name Mehen meaning ‘coiled one’ referred to a mythological snake-god and to a game. The earliest references to Mehen occur in the Coffin Texts. Mehen is a protective deity who is depicted as a snake which coils around the sun god Ra during his journey through the night, for instance in the Amduat.

In the German-Egyptian dictionary by R. Hannig it is said that the Mehen (mḥn) or the Mehenet (mḥnt) snake is equivalent to the Ouroboros from the Greek tail-devouring snake, an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its own tail.

Renenutet

the ancient Egyptian goddess Renenutet, who often appeared in the form of a hooded cobra

Wadjet

Evans tentatively linked the snake goddess with the Egyptian snake goddess Wadjet but did not pursue this connection. Statuettes similar to the “snake goddess” identified as priest of Wadjud and magician were found in Egypt. Both goddesses have a knot with a projecting looped cord between their breasts. Evans noticed that these are analogous to the sacral knot, a name given by him to a knot with a loop of fabric above and sometimes fringed ends hanging down below.

Numerous such symbols in ivory, faience, painted in frescoes or engraved in seals sometimes combined with the symbol of the double-edged axe or labrys which was the most important Minoan religious symbol. Such symbols were found in Minoan and Mycenaean sites. It is believed that the sacral knot was the symbol of holiness on human figures or cult-objects. Its combination with the double-axe can be compared with the Egyptian ankh (eternal life), or with the tyet (welfare/life) a symbol of Isis (the knot of Isis).

Wadjet (“green one”), the serpent goddess of Lower Egypt from the Pre-dynastic period demonstrates the earliest known representation of a single serpent entwined around a pole – in this case a papyrus reed (refer to first glyph): Wadjet Hieroglyph, was known to the Greek world as Uto or Buto among other names. She is not to be confused with the Egyptian demon Apep, who is also represented as a snake in Egyptian mythology.

Wadjet had a famous oracle in the city Dep, which became part of the city that the Egyptians named Per-Wadjet, House of Wadjet, and the Greeks called Buto (Desouk now), a city that was an important site in the Predynastic era of Ancient Egypti and the cultural developments of the Paleolithic. According to Herodotus this may have been the source of the oracular tradition which spread to Greece from Egypt.

She was said to be the patron and protector of Lower Egypt and upon unification with Upper Egypt, the joint protector and patron of all of Egypt with the “goddess” of Upper Egypt. The image of Wadjet with the sun disk is called the uraeus, and it was the emblem on the crown of the rulers of Lower Egypt. She was also the protector of kings and of women in childbirth.

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

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

Wadjet was closely associated in the Egyptian pantheon with the Eye of Ra, a powerful protective deity. The hieroglyph for her eye is shown below; sometimes two are shown in the sky of religious images. Per-Wadjet also contained a sanctuary of Horus, the child of the sun deity who would be interpreted to represent the pharaoh. Much later, Wadjet became associated with Isis as well as with many other deities.

In the relief shown to the right, which is on the wall of the Hatshepsut Temple at Luxor, there are two images of Wadjet: one of her as the uraeus sun disk with her head through an ankh and another where she precedes a Horus hawk wearing the double crown of united Egypt, representing the pharaoh whom she protects.

An interpretation of the Milky Way was that it was the primal snake, Wadjet, the protector of Egypt. In this interpretation she was closely associated with Hathor and other early deities among the various aspects of the great mother goddess, including Mut and Naunet. The association with Hathor brought her son Horus into association also. The cult of Ra absorbed most of Horus’s traits and included the protective eye of Wadjet that had shown her association with Hathor.

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

She later became identified with the war goddess of Lower Egypt, Bast, who acted as another figure symbolic of the nation, consequently becoming Wadjet-Bast. In this role, since Bast was a lioness, Wadjet-Bast was often depicted with a lioness head.

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

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

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

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

Unut

Unut, alt. Wenut or Wenet, is a prehistoric Egyptian snake goddess. Originally, she had the form of a snake and was called “The swift one”. She came from the fifteenth Upper Egyptian province and was worshipped with Thoth at its capital Hermopolis (in Egyptian: Wenu). Later she was depicted with a woman’s body and a hare’s head. She was taken into the cult of Horus and later of Ra.

Her name can be represented with five different hieroglyphs, but she appears rarely in literature and inscriptions. An exceptional sculpture of her has been found by American archaeologists and is probably the only one of its kind found so far. Her name was taken into the highest royal position just once in the long Egyptian history. The only king bearing her name was Unas. Her male companion is Wenenu, who was sometimes regarded as a form of Osiris or Ra.

The constellation Hydra was known in Babylonian astronomical texts as MUŠ (“the serpent”). It was depicted as a snake drawn out long with the forepaws of a lion, no hind-legs, with wings, and with a head comparable to the mušḫuššu dragon. This monstrous serpent may have inspired the Lernaean Hydra of Greek mythology and ultimately the modern Hydra constellation.

Bel and the Dragon, a deuterocanonical Biblical text, relates a story that Koldewey thought involved a mušḫuššu/sirrush. In a temple dedicated to Bel (Nebuchadnezzar’s god), priests had a “great dragon or serpent, which they of Babylon worshipped.”

Daniel, the protagonist of the Book of Daniel, was confronted with this creature by the priests in the apocryphal text. They challenged him to match his invisible God against their living god. Eventually, Daniel poisoned the creature.

Manasa

the Indian snake goddess Manasa, the tutelary deity of snakes and fertility, worshipped mainly in Bengal an the eastern parts of India

Mandala

In Hinduism and Buddhism, we also find the mandala. The mandala, in Jungian terms reflects the centre of the cosmos as well as the fundamental spiritual core of man. As we develop ourselves and our sense of inner perfect, we approach the centre of the mandala.

Shiva in Hinduism represents the duality of creation and destruction and thus the birth of life through opposites. This god is often represented within a circle. This circle represents the circular nature of the universe and time- death-rebirth, creation-destruction, love-hate, spring-winter- the eternal dance of the cosmos.

Halo

The Ouroboros represent in Asia in Hinduism an animal Halo often in the form of a snake or lizard represented by a god or goddess. For example Shiva statues often have an Ouroboros surrounding them in the form of a snake eating his tail. The Halo is a symbol of the divine aura that cloaks those that have witnessed the divine nature of the cosmos. They are circular and appeal to our primal obsession with circles.

Kundalini

Ouroboros symbolism has been used to describe Kundalini energy. According to the second century Yoga Kundalini Upanishad, “The divine power, Kundalini, shines like the stem of a young lotus; like a snake, coiled round upon herself she holds her tail in her mouth and lies resting half asleep as the base of the body” (1.82).

Sarama

It is also suggested that Hermes is cognate of the Vedic Sarama (Sanskrit: Saramā; Tamil: Carapai; Thai: Trichada; Malay: Marcu Dewi), a mythological being referred to as the bitch of the gods, or Deva-shuni.

She first appears in one of Hinduism’s earliest texts, the Rig Veda, in which she helps the god-king Indra to recover divine cows stolen by the Panis, a class of demons. This legend is alluded to in many later texts, and Sarama is often associated with Indra. The epic Mahabharata, and some Puranas, also make brief reference to Sarama.

Early Rig-Vedic works do not depict Sarama as canine, but later Vedic mythologies and interpretations usually do. She is described as the mother of all dogs, in particular of the two four-eyed brindle dogs of the god Yama, and dogs are given the matronymic Sarameya (“offspring of Sarama”). One scripture further describes Sarama as the mother of all wild animals.

Orientalist Max Müller suggests that the word Sarama may mean “the runner”, with the stem originating from the Sanskrit root sar (“to go”), but he is unable to account for the second part of the name, ama.

Professor Monier-Williams translates Sarama as “the fleet one”. The etymological treatise Nirukta by Yaska mentions that Sarama derives her name from her quick movement. Mahidhara, a commentator of the Vajasaneyi Samhita, states that Sarama is “she who entertains (remante) the gods”. More broadly, Sarama has also come to mean any female dog.

There are two epithets for Sarama in the original Rig Veda. Firstly, she is described as supadi, which means “having good feet”, “fair-footed” or “quick”, an epithet only used for Sarama in the text. Her other epithet is subhaga – “the fortunate one”, or “the beloved one” – a common epithet of the Ushas, the Dawn. Sarama’s other name Deva-shuni means “divine bitch” or “bitch of the gods”.

Hermes

Another interpretation is that Kundalini equates to the entwined serpents of the caduceus of the Greek god Hermes, an Olympian god in Greek religion and mythology, son of Zeus and the Pleiad Maia, a god of transitions and boundaries.

Hermes is quick and cunning, and moves freely between the worlds of the mortal and divine, as emissary and messenger of the gods, intercessor between mortals and the divine, and conductor of souls into the afterlife. He is protector and patron of travelers, herdsmen, thieves, orators and wit, literature and poets, athletics and sports, invention and trade.

In some myths he is a trickster, and outwits other gods for his own satisfaction or the sake of humankind. His attributes and symbols include the herma, the rooster and the tortoise, purse or pouch, winged sandals, winged cap, and his main symbol is the herald’s staff, the Greek kerykeion or Latin caduceus which consisted of two snakes wrapped around a winged staff.

Mercury

In the Roman adaptation of the Greek pantheon (see interpretatio romana), Hermes is identified with the Roman god Mercury, who, though inherited from the Etruscan deity Turms, developed many similar characteristics, such as being the patron of commerce.

Mercury is a major Roman god, being one of the Dii Consentes within the ancient Roman pantheon. He is the patron god of financial gain, commerce, eloquence (and thus poetry), messages, communication (including divination), travelers, boundaries, luck, trickery and thieves; he is also the guide of souls to the underworld.

He was considered the son of Maia and Jupiter in Roman mythology. His name is possibly related to the Latin word merx (“merchandise”; compare merchant, commerce, etc.), mercari (to trade), and merces (wages); another possible connection is the Proto-Indo-European root merĝ- for “boundary, border” (cf. Old English “mearc”, Old Norse “mark” and Latin “margō”) and Greek as the “keeper of boundaries,” referring to his role as bridge between the upper and lower worlds.

In Ovid’s Fasti, Mercury is assigned to escort the nymph Larunda to the underworld. Mercury, however, fell in love with Larunda and made love to her on the way. Larunda thereby became mother to two children, referred to as the Lares, invisible household gods.

Because Mercury was not one of the early deities surviving from the Roman Kingdom, he was not assigned a flamen (“priest”), but he did have his own major festival, on May 15, the Mercuralia. During the Mercuralia, merchants sprinkled water from his sacred well near the Porta Capena on their heads.

Mercury has influenced the name of many things in a variety of scientific fields, such as the planet Mercury, and the element mercury. The word mercurial is commonly used to refer to something or someone erratic, volatile or unstable, derived from Mercury’s swift flights from place to place. He is often depicted holding the caduceus in his left hand.

Lares

Lares (singular Lar) were guardian deities in ancient Roman religion. Their origin is uncertain; they may have been hero-ancestors, guardians of the hearth, fields, boundaries or fruitfulness, or an amalgam of these. They share similarities with Lahmu, meaning parent star or constellation, is the name of a protective and beneficent deity, the first-born son of Abzu and Tiamat, and his sister Laḫamu.

Archaic Rome’s Etruscan neighbours practiced domestic, ancestral or family cults very similar to those offered by later Romans to their Lares. The word itself seems to derive from the Etruscan lar, lars, or larth, meaning “lord”.

Ancient Greek and Roman authors offer “heroes” and “daimones” as translations of “Lares”; the early Roman playwright Plautus (c. 254–184 BC) employs a Lar Familiaris as a guardian of treasure on behalf of a family, as a plot equivalent to the Greek playwright Menander’s use of a heroon (as an ancestral hero-shrine). Weinstock proposes a more ancient equivalence of Lar and Greek hero, based on his gloss of a 4th-century BC Latin dedication to the Roman ancestor-hero Aeneas as Lare (Lar).

Lugus

When they described the gods of Celtic and Germanic tribes, rather than considering them separate deities, the Romans interpreted them as local manifestations or aspects of their own gods, a cultural trait called the interpretatio Romana.

Mercury in particular was reported as becoming extremely popular among the nations the Roman Empire conquered; Julius Caesar wrote of Mercury being the most popular god in Britain and Gaul, regarded as the inventor of all the arts. This is probably because in the Roman syncretism, Mercury was equated with the Celtic god Lugus, and in this aspect was commonly accompanied by the Celtic goddess Rosmerta.

Although Lugus may originally have been a deity of light or the sun (though this is disputed), similar to the Roman Apollo, his importance as a god of trade made him more comparable to Mercury, and Apollo was instead equated with the Celtic deity Belenus.

Odin

Romans associated Mercury with the Germanic god Wotan (from Old Norse Óðinn), by interpretatio Romana; 1st-century Roman writer Tacitus identifies him as the chief god of the Germanic peoples.

In Old Norse sources, whence most surviving information about the god stems, Odin is associated with healing, death, royalty, the gallows, knowledge, battle, sorcery, poetry, frenzy, and the runic alphabet, and is the husband of the goddess Frigg.

In wider Germanic mythology and paganism, Odin was known in Old English as Wóden, in Old Saxon as Wōden, and in Old High German as Wuotan or Wodan, all stemming from the reconstructed Proto-Germanic theonym *wōđanaz.

Jörmungandr

In Norse mythology, the ouroboros appears as the serpent Jörmungandr, one of the three children of Loki and Angrboda, which grew so large that it could encircle the world and grasp its tail in its teeth. In the legends of Ragnar Lodbrok, such as Ragnarssona þáttr, the Geatish king Herraud gives a small lindworm as a gift to his daughter Þóra Town-Hart after which it grows into a large serpent which encircles the girl’s bower and bites itself in the tail.

The serpent is slain by Ragnar Lodbrok who marries Þóra. Ragnar later has a son with another woman named Kráka and this son is born with the image of a white snake in one eye. This snake encircled the iris and bit itself in the tail, and the son was named Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye.

Sirius

Sirius is the brightest star (in fact, a star system) in the Earth’s night sky. With a visual apparent magnitude of −1.46, it is almost twice as bright as Canopus, the next brightest star. The name “Sirius” is derived from the Ancient Greek: Seirios (“glowing” or “scorcher”). In Scandinavia, the star has been known as Lokabrenna (“burning done by Loki”, or “Loki’s torch”). In Sanskrit it is known as Mrgavyadha “deer hunter”, or Lubdhaka “hunter”. As Mrgavyadha, the star represents Rudra (Shiva).

Tir

In Iranian mythology, especially in Persian mythology and in Zoroastrianism, the ancient religion of Persia, Sirius appears as Tishtrya and is revered as the rain-maker divinity (Tishtar of New Persian poetry). Beside passages in the sacred texts of the Avesta, the Avestan language Tishtrya followed by the version Tir in Middle and New Persian is also depicted in the Persian epic Shahnameh of Ferdowsi.

Due to the concept of the yazatas, powers which are “worthy of worship”, Tishtrya is a divinity of rain and fertility and an antagonist of apaosha, the demon of drought. In this struggle, Tishtrya is beautifully depicted as a white horse.

Tishtrya (Tištrya) is the Avestan language name of an Zoroastrian benevolent divinity associated with life-bringing rainfall and fertility. Tishtrya is Tir in Middle- and Modern Persian. As has been judged from the archaic context in which Tishtrya appears in the texts of the Avesta, the divinity/concept is almost certainly of Indo-Iranian origin.

In a hymn of the Avesta (incorporated by Ferdowsi, with due acknowledgement, in the Shahnameh), Tishtrya is involved in a cosmic struggle against the drought-bringing demon Apaosha. According to the myth, in the form of a pure white horse the god did battle with the demon who, in contrast, had assumed the form of a terrifying black horse. Apaosa soon gained the upper hand over Tishtrya, who was weakened from the lack of sufficient prayers and sacrifices from humankind.

The yazata proceeded to call upon the Creator Ahura Mazda, who himself then intervened by offering a sacrifice to the overwhelmed god. Infused with the power brought by this sacrifice, Tishtrya was able to overcome Apaosa, and his rains were able to flow to the parched fields and pastures unabated by drought. This story serves to underscore the importance of votive offerings and sacrifice in religious tradition.

In the Zoroastrian religious calendar, the 13th day of the month and the 4th month of the year are dedicated to Tishtrya/Tir, and hence named after the entity. In the Iranian civil calendar, which inherits its month names from the Zoroastrian calendar, the 4th month is likewise named Tir.

During the Achaemenid period, Tishtrya was conflated with Semitic Nabu-*Tiri, and thus came to be associated with the Dog Star, Sirius. The Tiregan festival, previously associated with *Tiri (a reconstructed name), was likewise transferred to Tishtrya. During the Hellenic period, Tishtrya came to be associated with Pythian Apollo, patron of Delphi, and thus a divinity of oracles.

Celestial wolf

Sirius is also known colloquially as the “Dog Star”, reflecting its prominence in its constellation, Canis Major (Greater Dog). The heliacal rising of Sirius marked the flooding of the Nile in Ancient Egypt and the “dog days” of summer for the ancient Greeks, while to the Polynesians in the southern hemisphere it marked winter and was an important star for navigation around the Pacific Ocean.

In Chinese astronomy the star is known as the star of the “celestial wolf” in the Mansion of Jǐng. Farther afield, many nations among the indigenous peoples of North America also associated Sirius with canines; the Seri and Tohono O’odham of the southwest note the star as a dog that follows mountain sheep, while the Blackfoot called it “Dog-face”. The Cherokee paired Sirius with Antares as a dog-star guardian of either end of the “Path of Souls”.

The Pawnee of Nebraska had several associations; the Wolf (Skidi) tribe knew it as the “Wolf Star”, while other branches knew it as the “Coyote Star”. Further north, the Alaskan Inuit of the Bering Strait called it “Moon Dog”.

Bow and arrow

Several cultures also associated the star with a bow and arrows. The Ancient Chinese visualized a large bow and arrow across the southern sky, formed by the constellations of Puppis and Canis Major. In this, the arrow tip is pointed at the wolf Sirius. A similar association is depicted at the Temple of Hathor in Dendera, where the goddess Satet has drawn her arrow at Hathor (Sirius). Known as “Tir”, the star was portrayed as the arrow itself in later Persian culture.

Sirius is mentioned in Surah, An-Najm (“The Star”), of the Qur’an, where it is given the name الشِّعْرَى (transliteration: aš-ši‘rā or ash-shira; the leader). The verse is: “That He is the Lord of Sirius (the Mighty Star).” (An-Najm:49) Ibn Kathir said in his commentary “Ibn ‘Abbas, Mujahid, Qatada and Ibn Zayd said about Ash-Shi`ra that it is the bright star, named Mirzam Al-Jawza’ (Sirius), which a group of Arabs used to worship.” The alternate name Aschere, used by Johann Bayer, is derived from this.

In Theosophy, it is believed the Seven Stars of the Pleiades transmit the spiritual energy of the Seven Rays from the Galactic Logos to the Seven Stars of the Great Bear, then to Sirius. From there is it sent via the Sun to the god of Earth (Sanat Kumara), and finally through the seven Masters of the Seven Rays to the human race.

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The fire bird in mythology

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 18, 2015

Firebird (Slavic folklore)

Sirin

The Golden Bird

Phoenix

Peacock

Hazaran Blbul – in Armenian mythology, Phoenix, sacred firebird found in the mythologies of many cultures, Bennu – Egyptian firebird, Huma (mythology) – Persian firebird, (Жар-Птица) – Firebird (Slavic folklore), the Thunderbird is a legendary creature in certain North American indigenous peoples’ history and culture, the Greek ‘φοινιξ’, meaning the color purple-red or crimson. They and the Romans subsequently pictured the bird more like a peacock or an eagle, etc.

When the wild gardens in the valley at the foot of Mount Ararat bloom, thousands of birds sing their wonderful songs in unison. People welcome the arrival of spring and recall the legend of Hazaran Blbul*, without whose help spring would never have come.

That tiny bird with bright plumage always sang the loudest. Her magical art revived withered gardens, so mountains and valleys bloomed with lush vegetation. The bird never raised any hatchlings for there was only one of its kind on earth. Upon reaching old age, when the bird felt that death was imminent, she arranged a nest of rare herbs and strange plants. The herbs were dry and flammable. At the time of its death, the bird and its nest burned to ashes. Then out of the warm ashes formed a small lump that in turn, grew into a nestling that looked very much like Hazaran Blbul.

The first Armenian tribes and legendary heroic kings knew of the ability of Hazaran Blbul to rise from the ashes, soar into the sky, and summon the onset of spring. They believed that there would always be prosperity, happiness, and love anywhere that tiny bird sang.

No one ever dared to offend it or catch it. Because if you startled Hazaran Blbul, she would leave the blooming valley forever and no force would be able to bring it back to the foothills of Mount Ararat. The magic bird continues to serve people today. It provides inspiration for painters and artists, faith for the elderly, love for the young, and hope for all those who have wandered away from their native land.

Armenian Hazaran Blbul – In the Armenian tale, the bird does not glow, but rather makes the land bloom through its song. It belongs to a flying magical (bird)-girl called “Huri Peri”. No one ever dared to offend it or catch it. Because if you startled Hazaran Blbul, she would leave the blooming valley forever and no force would be able to bring it back And I think the original explanation of this phenomenon is in Armenian tale. The phoenix is consistently characterized as a bird with brightly colored plumage, which, after a long life, dies in a fire of its own making only to rise again from the ashes.

There are 2 versions of Egyptian Bennu bird myth. One version of the myth says that the Bennu bird burst forth from the heart of Osiris. In the more prevalent myths, the Bennu created itself from a fire that was burned on a holy tree in one of the sacred precincts of the temple of Ra.

The Huma, also known as the “bird of paradise,” is a Persian mythological bird. It consumes itself in fire every few hundred years, only to rise anew from the ashes. The Huma is considered to be a compassionate bird and its touch is said to bring great fortune.

The Greeks adapted the word bennu and identified it with their own word phoenix ‘φοινιξ’, meaning the color purple-red or crimson. They and the Romans subsequently pictured the bird more like a peacock or an eagle. According to Greek mythology, the phoenix lived in Arabia next to a well. At dawn, it bathed in the water of the well, and the Greek sun-god Apollo stopped his chariot (the sun) in order to listen to its song.

The phoenix (known as Garuda in Sanskrit) is the mystical fire bird which is considered as the chariot of the Hindu god Vishnu. Its reference can be found in the Hindu epic Ramayana.

In China, the phoenix is called Feng-huang and symbolizes completeness, incorporating the basic elements of music, colors, nature, as well as the joining of yin and yang. It is a symbol of peace, and represents fire, the sun, justice, obedience, and fidelity. The Feng-huang, unlike the phoenix which dies and is reborn, is truly immortal although it only appears in times of peace and prosperity.

In Slavic folklore, the Firebird (Russian: Жар-пти́ца, Zhar-ptitsa; Ukrainian: Жар-пти́ця, Zhar-ptica; Serbian: Жар-птица or Žar-ptica; Croatian: Žar ptica; Bulgarian: Жар-птица, Zhar-ptitsa; Macedonian: Жар-птица, Žar-ptica; Polish: Żar-ptak; Czech: Pták Ohnivák; Slovak: Vták Ohnivák) and Hungarian: Tűzmadár is a magical glowing bird from a faraway land, which is both a blessing and a bringer of doom to its captor.

In Czech folklore, it is called Pták Ohnivák (Fire-like Bird) and appears, for example, in a Karel Jaromír Erben fairy tale, also as an object of a difficult quest. Moreover, in the beginning of this fairy tale, the bird steals magical golden apples belonging to a king and is therefore pursued by the king’s servants in order to protect the precious apples.

The thunderbird is a legendary creature in certain North American indigenous peoples’ history and culture. It is considered a supernatural bird of power and strength. It is especially important, and frequently depicted, in the art, songs and oral histories of many Pacific Northwest Coast cultures, and is found in various forms among the peoples of the American Southwest, Great Lakes, and Great Plains.

The thunderbird’s name comes from the common belief that the beating of its enormous wings causes thunder and stirs the wind. The Lakota name for the thunderbird is Wakį́nyąn, from wakhąn, meaning “sacred”, and kįyą, meaning “winged”. The Kwakwaka’wakw have many names for the thunderbird, and the Nuu-chah-nulth (Nootka) called it Kw-Uhnx-Wa. The Ojibwa word for a thunderbird that is closely associated with thunder is animikii, while large thunderous birds are known as binesi.

The Garuda is a large bird-like creature, or humanoid bird that appears in both Hinduism and Buddhism. Garuda is the mount (vahana) of the Lord Vishnu. Garuda is the Hindu name for the constellation Aquila. The brahminy kite and phoenix are considered to be the contemporary representations of garuda. Indonesia adopts a more stylistic approach to the Garuda’s depiction as its national symbol, where it depicts a Javanese eagle (being much larger than a kite).

In Hinduism, Garuda is a Hindu divinity, usually the mount (vahana) of the Lord Vishnu. Garuda is depicted as having the golden body of a strong man with a white face, red wings, and an eagle’s beak and with a crown on his head. This ancient deity was said to be massive, large enough to block out the sun. Garuda is known as the eternal sworn enemy of the Nāga serpent race and known for feeding exclusively on snakes, such behavior may have referred to the actual short-toed eagle of India.

Pamola (also known as Pamolai, P-mol-a, Pomola, and Bmola) is a legendary bird spirit that appears in Abenaki mythology. This spirit causes cold weather. Specifically, according to the Penobscot tribal nation. Pamola is said to be the god of Thunder and protector of the mountain. The Penobscot people describe him as having the head of a moose, the body of a man and the wings and feet of an eagle.

The Rain Bird in Native American legend was a bird who brought rain. A Rain Bird design is used in some Native American pottery. The name was borrowed by the Rain Bird Corporation to name their irrigation sprinkler. The Rain Bird was known by the coastal Native Americans as the bringer of life. The reason behind it was that Rain (The bringer of life) brought life to the coastal Natives by watering their plants and hence, giving food & water to the animals they hunted.

In Judaism, the phoenix is known as Milcham or Chol (or Hol): According to the Midrash Rabbah, upset by her situation and jealous of creatures still innocent, Eve tempted all the other creatures of the garden to do the same. Only the Chol (phoenix) resisted. As a reward, the phoenix was given eternal life. This reference, however, is controversial since chol has been translated as phoenix, sand, and palm tree in different versions.

The ideology of the phoenix fit perfectly with the story of Christ. The phoenix’s resurrection from death as new and pure can be viewed as a metaphor for Christ’s resurrection, central to Christian belief. The phoenix is referenced by the early Christian Apostolic Father Clement in The First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians. Most of the Christian-based phoenix symbolism appears within works of literature, especially in Medieval and Renaissance Christian literature that combined classical and regional myth and folklore with more mainstream doctrine.

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Surya and Saranya in Hinduism

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 18, 2015

Planets in astrology

Planets in astrology have a meaning different from the modern astronomical understanding of what a planet is. Before the age of telescopes, the night sky was thought to consist of two very similar components: fixed stars, which remained motionless in relation to each other, and “wandering stars”, which moved relative to the fixed stars over the course of the year.

To the Greeks and the other earliest astronomers, this group comprised the five planets visible to the naked eye, and excluded the Earth. Although strictly the term “planet” applied only to those five objects, the term was latterly broadened, particularly in the Middle Ages, to include the Sun and the Moon (sometimes referred to as “Lights”), making a total of seven planets. Astrologers retain this definition today.

To ancient astrologers, the planets represented the will of the gods and their direct influence upon human affairs. To modern astrologers the planets represent basic drives or urges in the unconscious, or energy flow regulators representing dimensions of experience. They express themselves with different qualities in the twelve signs of the zodiac and in the twelve houses. The planets are also related to each other in the form of aspects.

Modern astrologers differ on the source of the planets’ influence. Hone writes that the planets exert it directly through gravitation or another, unknown influence. Others hold that the planets have no direct influence in themselves, but are mirrors of basic organizing principles in the universe. In other words, the basic patterns of the universe repeat themselves everywhere, in fractal-like fashion, and “as above so below”.

Therefore, the patterns that the planets make in the sky reflect the ebb and flow of basic human impulses. The planets are also associated, especially in the Chinese tradition, with the basic forces of nature.

The planets in Hindu astrology are known as the Navagraha or “nine realms” (Tamily kōṇmīṉ, “imperial stars”), which includes the planets Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn; the Sun; the Moon; and positions in the sky, Rahu (north or ascending lunar node) and Ketu (south or descending lunar node).

In Chinese astrology, the planets are associated with the life forces of yin and yang and the five elements, which play an important role in the Chinese form of geomancy known as Feng Shui.

Surya (the first sign)

Surya (“the Supreme Light”), also known as Aditya, Bhanu or Ravi Vivasvana in Sanskrit, and in Avestan Vivanhant, is the chief solar deity in Hinduism and generally refers to the Sun. He is the chief of the Graha (Sanskrit gráha “seizing, laying hold of, holding”, Tamil: kōḷ), the Navagraha, astrological figures in Hindu astrology, the nine Indian Classical planets and important elements of Hindu astrology. He is the son of Aditi and Kashyap, and equavalent to Sol, the solar deity in Ancient Roman religion, Apollo and Helios.

Surya has the following associations: the colors – copper or red, the metals – gold or brass, the gemstone – ruby, the direction – east and the season of summer. The food grain associated with him is wheat.

He is often depicted riding a chariot harnessed by seven horses which might represent the seven colors of the rainbow or the seven chakras in the body. He is also the presiding deity of Sunday. He is regarded as the Supreme Deity by Saura sect and Smartas worship him as one of the five primary forms of God. The sun god, Zun, worshipped by the Afghan Zunbil dynasty, is thought to be synonymous with Surya.

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

Like some other deities, such as Shiva (who are worshiped by saints, normal worshipers and demons), Surya has a following of the same types of beings. A group of Raksasas known as Yatudhanas were the followers of Surya and wandered with him. It is mentioned that Bhauvana the Daitya offered a prayer to Surya with the Rathantara saman and was immediately turned into an elephant.

In Vedic astrology Surya is considered a mild malefic on account of his hot, dry nature. He represents soul, will-power, fame, the eyes, general vitality, courage, kingship, father, highly placed persons and authority. He is exalted in the sign Mesha, is in mulatrikona in the sign Simha and is in debilitation in the sign Tula.

Surya is lord of three nakshatras or lunar mansions: Krittika, corresponding to the open star cluster called Pleiades in western astronomy, one of the clusters which makes up the constellation Taurus, Uttara Phalguni, corresponding to Denebola (β Leo, β Leonis, Beta Leonis, “tail of the lion”), the third brightest star in the zodiac constellation of Leo, and Uttara Ashadha, knwn as the constellation of Sagittarius.

Surya is the father of the famous tragic hero Karna, described in the Indian epic Mahabharata, by a human princess named Kunti. His sons, Shani and Yama, are responsible for the judgment of human life. Shani provides the results of one’s deeds during one’s life through appropriate punishments and rewards while Yama grants the results of one’s deeds after death.

Apollo

Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in classical Greek and Roman religion and Greek and Roman mythology. The ideal of the kouros (a beardless, athletic youth), Apollo has been variously recognized as a god of music, truth and prophecy, healing, the sun and light, plague, poetry, and more.

He is known in Greek-influenced Etruscan mythology as Apulu. He is the son of Zeus and Leto, and has a twin sister, the chaste huntress Artemis, s one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities.

Her Roman equivalent is Diana. Some scholars believe that the name, and indeed the goddess herself, was originally pre-Greek. Homer refers to her as Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron: “Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals”. The Arcadians believed she was the daughter of Demeter.

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

As the patron of Delphi (Pythian Apollo), Apollo was an oracular god—the prophetic deity of the Delphic Oracle. Medicine and healing are associated with Apollo, whether through the god himself or mediated through his son Asclepius, yet Apollo was also seen as a god who could bring ill-health and deadly plague.

Amongst the god’s custodial charges, Apollo became associated with dominion over colonists, and as the patron defender of herds and flocks. As the leader of the Muses (Apollon Musegetes) and director of their choir, Apollo functioned as the patron god of music and poetry. Hermes created the lyre for him, and the instrument became a common attribute of Apollo. Hymns sung to Apollo were called paeans.

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

Helios

The Greek Helios is the inherited word for the Sun, from Proto-Indo-European *sóh₂wl̥, cognate with Latin sol, Sanskrit surya, Old English swegl, Old Norse sól, Welsh haul, etc. The Greek sun god had various bynames or epithets, which over time in some cases came to be considered separate deities associated with the Sun. Most notably, Helios is closely associated with, and sometimes consciously identified with, Apollo.

Diodorus Siculus of Sicily reported that the Chaldeans called Cronus (Saturn) by the name Helios, or the sun, and he explained that this was because Saturn was the most conspicuous of the planets.

Among these is Hyperion (superus, “high up”), Elektor (of uncertain derivation, often translated as “beaming” or “radiant”; especially in the combination elektor Hyperion), Phaëton “the radiant”, Hekatos (of Apollo, also Hekatebolos “far-shooter”, i.e. the sun’s rays considered as arrows).

Ra

The Greek counterpart of Surya is Helios and his Egyptian counterpart is Ra or Re, the ancient Egyptian solar deity, who by the Fifth Dynasty (2494 to 2345 BCE) had become a major god in ancient Egyptian religion, identified primarily with the midday sun. In later Egyptian dynastic times, Ra was merged with the god Horus, as Ra-Horakhty (“Ra, who is Horus of the Two Horizons”). He was believed to rule in all parts of the created world: the sky, the earth, and the underworld.

Ra was associated with the falcon or hawk. When in the New Kingdom the god Amun rose to prominence he was fused with Ra as Amun-Ra. During the Amarna Period, Akhenaten suppressed the cult of Ra in favour of another solar deity, the Aten, the deified solar disc, but after the death of Akhenaten the cult of Ra was restored.

The cult of the Mnevis bull, an embodiment of Ra, had its centre in Heliopolis and there was a formal burial ground for the sacrificed bulls north of the city. All forms of life were believed to have been created by Ra, who called each of them into existence by speaking their secret names. Alternatively humans were created from Ra’s tears and sweat, hence the Egyptians call themselves the “Cattle of Ra.”

In the myth of the Celestial Cow it is recounted how mankind plotted against Ra and how he sent his eye as the goddess Sekhmet to punish them. When she became bloodthirsty she was pacified by drinking beer mixed with red dye.

Saranya

Surya had three wives: Saranya, Ragyi and Prabha. Saranya or Saraṇyū (also known as Saranya, Sanjna, or Sangya) was the mother of Vaivasvata Manu (the seventh, i.e., present Manu) and the twins Yama (the Lord of Death) and his sister Yami. She also bore him Revanta (“brilliant”), a minor Hindu deity, and the twins known as the Ashvins, divine horsemen and physicians to the Devas, the Indian Dioscuri (the Indian and Greek myths being regarded as identical).

Saranya, being unable to bear the extreme radiance of Surya, created a superficial entity from her shadow called Chhaya (“shadow” or “shade”) and instructed her to act as Surya’s wife in her absence. Chhaya was born from the shadow of Saranya and replaced Saranya in her house, after the latter abandoned her husband.

Chhaya mothered two sons Savarni Manu (the eighth, i.e., next Manu), who is destined to be the next and eighth Manu (progenitor of mankind) – the ruler of the next Manvantara period, and Shani (the planet Saturn), and two daughters, a feared graha; goddess Tapti, the personification of river Tapti, and Vishti.

Saranya, the the goddess of clouds in Hindu mythology, is the daughter of Visvakarman (Sanskrit “all-accomplishing, maker of all, all-doer”), the personified omnipotence and the abstract form of the creator God according to the Rigveda. She is the female form of the adjective saraṇyú. Her name meaning “quick, fleet, nimble”, used for rivers and wind in the Rigveda.

She is sometimes associated with Demeter, Greek goddess of agriculture, and etymologically, Saranyu may be related to Helen of Troy. In Rigveda 10.17, she is the daughter of Tvastar, and, like Helen, is abducted, and Vivasvat is given a replacement bride instead. According to Max Müller and A. Kuhn, Demeter is the mythological equivalent of the Sanskrit Saranyu, who, having turned herself into a mare, is pursued by Vivasvat.

According to Farnell, the meaning of the epithet is to be looked for in the original conception of Erinys, in Greek mythology also known as Furies, female chthonic deities of vengeance; they were sometimes referred to as “infernal goddesses”, which was that of an earth-goddess akin to Ge, thus naturally associated with Demeter, rather than that of a wrathful avenging deity.

Usha

Saranya, sometimes called “Usha”, Sanskrit for “dawn”, a Vedic deity, and consequently a Hindu deity as well. Sanskrit uṣas is an s-stem, i.e. the genitive case is uṣásas. It is from PIE *hausos-, cognate to Greek Eos and Latin Aurora.

Ushas is an exalted goddess in the Rig Veda but less prominent in post-Rigvedic texts. She is often spoken of in the plural, “the Dawns.” She is portrayed as warding off evil spirits of the night, and as a beautifully adorned young woman riding in a golden chariot on her path across the sky. Due to her color she is often identified with the reddish cows, and both are released by Indra from the Vala cave at the beginning of time.

In the “family books” of the Rig Veda (e.g. RV 6.64.5), Ushas is the divine daughter—a divó duhitâ —of Dyaus Pita (“Sky Father”). In one recent Hindu interpretation, Sri Aurobindo in his Secret of the Veda, described Ushas as “the medium of the awakening, the activity and the growth of the other gods; she is the first condition of the Vedic realisation. By her increasing illumination the whole nature of man is clarified; through her [mankind] arrives at the Truth, through her he enjoys [Truth’s] beatitude.”

Shukra (Śukra), the Sanskrit for “clear, pure” or “brightness, clearness”, is the name of the son of Bhrigu, and preceptor of the Daityas, and the guru of the Asuras, identified with the planet Venus, one of the Navagrahas. He presides over Shukravar “Friday”. Shukra is etymologically identical with Shukla “light”.

Manu

In Hindu mythology, Sraddhadeva Manu is the current Manu and the progenitor of the current humanity (manvantara). He is the seventh of the 14 Manus of the current kalpa (aeon). He was the king of Dravida (in present-day South India) during the epoch of the Matsya Purana (literally, the ancient chronicle of Matsya) before the great flood. He is the son of Surya, also known as Vivasvat, and therefore, is also known as Vaivasvata. Besides, he is also called Satyavrata (“the honest one”).

Forewarned about the flood by the matsya avatar of Vishnu, he saved the humanity by building a boat that carried his family and the seven sages to safety. He married Shraddha and had ten children including Ila and Ikshvaku, the progenitors of the Lunar Dynasty and Solar Dynasty respectively.

According to the Matsya Purana, the Matsya Avatar of Vishnu first appeared as a shaphari (a small carp), to Sraddhadeva, while he washed his hands in a river flowing down the Malaya Mountains in his land of Dravida.

The little fish asked the king to save Him, and out of compassion, he put it in a water jar. It kept growing bigger and bigger, until the king first put it in a bigger pitcher, and then deposited it in a well. When the well also proved insufficient for the ever-growing fish, the King placed it in a tank (reservoir), that was two yojanas (16 miles) in height above the surface and on land, as much in length, and a yojana (8 miles) in breadth.

As it grew further, the king had to put the fish in a river, and when even the river proved insufficient, he placed it in the ocean, after which it nearly filled the vast expanse of the great ocean.

It was then that Vishnu, revealing himself, informed the king of an all-destructive deluge which would be coming very soon. The king built a huge boat which housed his family, the seven sages, 9 types of seeds, and animals to repopulate the earth, after the deluge would end and the oceans and seas would recede. At the time of deluge, Vishnu appeared as a horned fish and Shesha appeared as a rope, with which the king fastened the boat to horn of the fish.

The boat was perched after the deluge on the top of the Malaya Mountains. After the deluge, Manu’s family and the seven sages repopulated the earth. This narrative is similar to other flood myths such as that of Gilgamesh and Noah.

Matsya Purana (literally, the ancient chronicle of Matsya) is one of the oldest of the 18 post-Vedic Hindu scriptures called the Puranas. The scripture is a composite work dated to c. 250–500 CE. It narrates the story of Matsya, the first of ten major Avatars of the Hindu god Vishnu.

During the period of mahapralaya, Lord Vishnu had taken Matsya Avatar (fish incarnation) to save the seeds of all lives and Manu. Matsya Purana contains a comprehensive description of Manu and Matsya avatar. The Padma Purana categorizes Matsya Purana as a Tamas Purana (Purana of darkness or ignorance).

Shani

Hindus believed in the existence of nine planets called Navagraha. Shani, also known as Śanaiścara, equivalent to Cronus and Saturn, is one of the Navagraha (the nine primary celestial beings in Hindu astrology) of Jyotiṣa. He is embodied in the planet Saturn and is the Lord of Saturday, and is equated to the Greek Cronus (the Titan father of Zeus), the Babylonian Ninurta and the Roman Saturn.

The word shani also denotes the seventh day or Saturday in most Indian languages. The word shani comes from Śanayē Kramati Saḥ (the one who moves slowly), because Saturn takes about 30 years to revolve around the Sun. Shani Jayanti the birth anniversary of Lord Shani falls on the Amavasya (New moon day) of Jyeshta month of Hindu calendar.

Shani is a deva and son of Surya and his wife Chhaya, hence also known as Chayyaputra. He is the elder brother of Yama, the Hindu god of death, who in some scriptures corresponds to the deliverance of justice. Surya’s two sons Shani and Yama judge. Shani gives the results of one’s deeds through one’s life through appropriate punishments and rewards; Yama grants the results of one’s deeds after death.

It is said that when Shani opened his eyes as a baby for the very first time, the sun went into an eclipse, which clearly denotes the impact of Shani on astrological charts. He is known as the greatest teacher and well wisher for the righteous as well the greatest punisher for those who follow the path of evil, betrayal, backstabbing and unjust revenge.

Shani is also known as the lord of masses and his blessings are thus considered very important in an individual’s horoscope for bestowing him with mass following and popularity. He is depicted dark in colour, clothed in black; holding a sword, arrows and two daggers and mounted on a crow, which is Shani’s vāhana. As protector of property, Shani is able to repress the thieving tendencies of birds.

Yama

Yama or Yamarāja, equated with Pluto (“wealth”) and Hades (“the unseen”), is the god of death, belonging to an early stratum of Vedic mythology. In Sanskrit, his name can be interpreted to mean “twin”. In the Zend-Avesta he is called “Yima”. According to the Vishnu Purana, his parents are the sun-god Surya and Saranya.

In the Vedas, Yama is said to have been the first mortal who died. By virtue of precedence, he became the ruler of the departed, called “Lord of the Pitrs”. Mentioned by the Buddha in the Pali canon, Yama subsequently entered Buddhist, Chinese, Tibetan, Korean, Vietnamese, and Japanese mythology as a wrathful god under various transliterations. He is otherwise also called as “Dharmaraja”.

In a disputable etymology, W. Meid (1992) has linked the names Yama (reconstructed in Proto-Indo-European as *yemos) and the name of the primeval Norse frost giant Ymir, which can be reconstructed in Proto-Germanic as *umijaz or *jumijaz, in the latter case possibly deriving from PIE *ym̥yos, from the root yem “twin”. In his myth, however, Ymir is not a twin, and only shares with Yama the characteristics of being primeval and mortal. However, Ymir is a hermaphrodite and engenders the race of giants.

A parallel character in Iranian mythology and Zoroastrianism is known as Yima Xšaēta, who appears in the Avesta. The pronunciation “Yima” is peculiar to the Avestan dialect; in most Iranian dialects, including Old Persian, the name would have been “Yama”. In the Avesta, the emphasis is on Yima’s character as one of the first mortals and as a great king of men.

Over time, *Yamaxšaita was transformed into Jamšēd or Jamshid, celebrated as the greatest of the early shahs of the world. Both Yamas in Zoroastrian and Hindu myth guard hell with the help of two four-eyed dogs.

Yami

Yama is the brother of the current Manu Vaivasvatha and of his older sister Yami, which H. H. Wilson indicates to mean the Yamuna river, which like the Ganges is highly venerated in Hinduism and worshipped as goddess Yamuna, throughout its course. It is a sacred river in Hinduism and the main tributary of the Ganges (Ganga), the holiest river of Hinduism. In the Vedas, Yamuna is known as Yami, while in later literature, she is called Kalindi. According to Harivamsa Purana her name is Daya.

In Hindu mythology, she is the daughter of Sun God, Surya, and is associated with her twin brother and partner Yama, the god of death, hence also known as Yami and according to popular legends, bathing in its sacred waters frees one from the torments of death. Later, she is associated with the god Krishna as one of Ashtabharya, his consort as well and plays an important role in his early life as a river. Bathing and drinking Yamuna’s waters is regarded to remove sin.

The Ashvins

The Ashvins or Ashwini Kumaras (Sanskrit: aśvin-, dual aśvinau), in Hindu mythology, are two Vedic gods, divine twin horsemen in the Rigveda, sons of Saranyu. They symbolise the shining of sunrise and sunset, appearing in the sky before the dawn in a golden chariot, bringing treasures to men and averting misfortune and sickness.

They are the doctors of gods and are devas of Ayurvedic medicine. They are represented as humans with head of a horse. In the epic Mahabharata, King Pandu’s wife Madri is granted a son by each Ashvin and bears the twins Nakula and Sahadeva who, along with the sons of Kunti, are known as the Pandavas.

They are also called Nasatya (dual nāsatyau “kind, helpful”) in the Rigveda; later, Nasatya is the name of one twin, while the other is called Dasra (“enlightened giving”). By popular etymology, the name nāsatya is often incorrectly analysed as na+asatya “not untrue”=”true”.

Various Indian holy books like Mahabharat, Puranas etc., relate that Ashwini Kumar brothers, the twins, who were Raj Vaidhya (Royal Physicians) to Devas during Vedic times, first prepared Chyawanprash formulation for Chyawan Rishi at his Ashram on Dhosi Hill near Narnaul, Haryana, India, hence the name Chyawanprash.

The Ashvins can be compared with the Dioscuri (the twins Castor and Pollux) of Greek and Roman mythology, and especially to the divine twins Ašvieniai of the ancient Baltic religion. The Nasatya twins are invoked in a treaty between Suppiluliuma and Shattiwaza, kings of the Hittites and the Mitanni respectively.

Visvakarman

Visvakarman is the presiding deity of all artisans and architects. He is believed to be the “Principal Architect of the Universe”, and the root concept of the later Upanishadic figures of Brahman and Purusha.

Vishwakarma is visualized as Ultimate reality (later developed as Brahman) in the Rig Veda, from whose navel all visible things Hiranyagarbha emanate. The same imagery is seen in Yajurveda purusha sukta, in which the divine smith Tvastar emerging from Vishwakarma. In the later puranic period this concept paved the way to the imagery of Padmanabha and Sadasiva.

In the Vedic period the term first appeared as an epithet of Indra, Surya, and Agni. In that time the later developed creator concept of Brahma might have been intertwined with the concept of Vastospati and Bṛhaspati, or Brahmanaspathi.

In the last phase of vedic period and during the growth of monotheism, this realistic God concept becoming more abstract and one can see Vishwakarma [the invisible creative power] emerged as the supreme god who was perceived as a hotar, the unborn [Aja] creator and name giver of all other gods who have lot of faces, eyes and feet on every side; and who helps Tvashtar (the visible creative power of viswakarma) in producing all the Heavenly, Earthly and other Celestial realms and preserves them through the exercise of his arms and wings.

He sacrificed himself to himself for the evolution of this visible world, thus he is Purusha or Narayana His attributes like Vachaspathy connect him with Brahaspathi (the Guru of Gods). Again, Yajurveda pictured him as the Prajapati and in the Atharva veda he is mentioned as Pashupati.

Shwethashwatharopanishad described him as Rudrasiva, the one who is dwelling in all living forms. Na Bhoomir Na Jalam Chaiva Na Teejo Nacha Vaayavaha Na chakasam na chitthasha Na budhi khrana gocharam Nacha Brahmaa Na Vishnuscha Na Rudrascha Taarakaaha Sarvashoonya niralambam Swayambhu Viswakarmana.

According to the above hymn, from Moolastambha purana which is something similar to Nasadeeya suktha It/He was the one who created himself from thyself when there was no earth, water, light, air and akasha,and even the Thrimurthies Later in the post vedic and brahmanic period, the term Vishwakarma is appeared both as the Rsi and the Silpi.

In yajurveda the term is seen as one of names of pancha risis. Though the term is an epithet of suryanarayana, one of the seven rays of Surya is also known as Viswakarma. Bhuvana Vishwakarma (Atharva/Angirasa Gothra) is a vedic Rsi who was the author of Rg 10-81,82 suktha, (Prabasa Vishwakarma) was probably a silpi and the son of Prabhas, the eighth hermit of the legendary Astam vasu and Yogasiddha, sister of Brihaspati. He is said to have revealed the Sthapatya Veda / Vastu Shastra or fourth Upa-veda, and presides over the sixty-four mechanical arts.

Vishvakarma created five prajapathies — from his five faces such as Sadyojāta,Vāmadeva, Aghora, Tatpuruṣha, Īsāna. They are Manu, Maya, Twosta, Silpy, Viswajna and their respective Rishis are Sanaga Brahma Rishi, Sanaathana Brahma Rishi, Ahbhuvanasa Brahma Rishi, Prathnasa Brahma Rishi, and Suparnasa Brahma Rishi, and created five Vedas:- from his five faces such as Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda, Atharvana Veda, Pranava Veda.

Since Vishwakarma is the divine engineer of the world, as a mark of reverence, he is not only worshiped by the engineering and architectural community but also by all professionals. It is customary for craftsmen to worship their tools in his name.

Vishwakarma is visualized as Ultimate reality (later developed as Brahman) in the Rig Veda, from whose navel all visible things Hiranyagarbha emanate. The same imagery is seen in Yajurveda purusha sukta, in which the divine smith Tvastar emerging from Vishwakarma. In the later puranic period this concept paved the way to the imagery of Padmanabha and Sadasiva.

Tvaṣṭṛ

In later puranas Vishvakarma is sometimes identified with Vedic Tvastar, a solar deity in the Mahābhārata and the Harivaṃśa. Silpi Vishwakarma is the designer of all the flying chariots of the gods, and all their weapons and divine attributes.

Vishwakarma/Tvastr is also credited with creating the missiles used in the mythological era, including the Vajra, the sacred weapon of Lord Indra, from the bones of sage Dadhichi. He is regarded as the supreme worker, the very essence of excellence and quality in craftsmanship.

Tvaṣṭṛ is mentioned as the son of Kāśyapa and Aditi and is said to have made the three worlds with pieces of the Sun god, Surya. In the historical Vedic religion, Tvaṣṭṛ is the first-born creator of the universe. The Purusha Sukta refers to the Purusha as Tvastr, who is the visible form of creativity emerged from the navel of the invisible Vishvakarman.

In the Yajurveda, Purusha Sukta and the tenth mandala of the Rigveda, his character and attributes are merged with the concept of Hiranyagharbha/Prajapathy or Brahma. The term, also transliterated as Tvaṣṭr, nominative Tvaṣṭā, is the heavenly builder, the maker of divine implements, especially Indra’s Vajra and the guardian of Soma.

Tvaṣṭṛ is mentioned 65 times in the Ṛgveda and is the former of the bodies of men and animals,’ and invoked when desiring offspring, called garbha-pati or the lord of the womb. The term Tvaṣṭṛ is mentioned in the Mitanni treaty, which establishes him as a proto-Indo-Iranian divinity.

As per Ṛgveda Tvaṣṭr known belongs to clan of the Bhṛgus. Similarly, as mentioned in the epic Mahābhārata, Tvaṣṭr is Śukra’s son. Tvaṣṭṛ is sometimes associated or identified with similar deities,such as Savitṛ, Prajāpatī, Viśvakarman and Puṣan.

He is the father of Saranyu, who twice bears twins to Surya (RV 10.17.1), Yama and Yami, identified as the first humans to be born on Earth. He is also the father of Viśvarūpa or Triśiras who was killed by Indra, in revenge Tvaṣṭṛ created Vrtra a fearsome dragon. Surprisingly he is also inferred to as Indra’s father.

Tvaṣṭṛ is a solar deity in the Mahābhārata and the Harivaṃśa. He is mentioned as the son of Kāśyapa and Aditi and is said to have made the three worlds with pieces of the Sun god, Surya.

Tuisto

According to Tacitus’s Germania (98 CE), Tuisto is the divine ancestor of the Germanic peoples. The figure remains the subject of some scholarly discussion, largely focused upon etymological connections and comparisons to figures in later (particularly Norse) Germanic mythology. In the larger Indo-European pantheon, Tuisto is equated to the Vedic Tvastar.

The Germania manuscript corpus contains two primary variant readings of the name. The most frequently occurring, Tuisto, is commonly connected to the Proto-Germanic root tvai (“two”) and its derivative tvis (“twice”; “doubled”). Allusions to intersex is entirely conjectural, as the tvia/tvis roots are also the roots of any number of other concepts/words in the Germanic languages. Take for instance the Germanic “twist”, which, in all but the English has the primary meaning of “dispute/conflict”.

The second variant of the name, occurring originally in manuscript E, is Tuisco (sometimes rendered Tuiscon). One proposed etymology for this variant reconstructs a Proto-Germanic tiwisko, and connects this with Proto-Germanic Tiwaz, yielded the meaning “son of Tiu”. This interpretation implies that Tuisco is the son of the sky god (Proto-Indo-European Dyeus) and the earth-goddess.

Connections have been proposed between the 1st century figure of Tuisto and the hermaphroditic primeval being Ymir in later Norse mythology, attested in 13th century sources, based upon etymological and functional similarity. Meyer (1907) sees the connection as so strong, that he considers the two to be identical.

Lindow (2001), while mindful of the possible semantic connection between Tuisto and Ymir, notes an essential functional difference: while Ymir is portrayed as an “essentially … negative figure” – Tuisto is described as being “celebrated” (celebrant) by the early Germanic peoples in song, with Tacitus reporting nothing negative about Tuisto.

Jacob (2005) attempts to establish a genealogical relationship between Tuisto and Ymir based on etymology and a comparison with (post-)Vedic Indian mythology: as Tvastr, through his daughter Saranyū and her husband Vivaswān, is said to have been the grandfather of the twins Yama and Yami, so Jacob argues that the Germanic Tuisto (assuming a connection with Tvastr) must originally have been the grandfather of Ymir (cognate to Yama). Incidentally, Indian mythology also places Manu (cognate to Germanic Mannus), the Vedic progenitor of mankind, as a son of Vivaswān, thus making him the brother of Yama/Ymir.

Tacitus relates that “ancient songs” (Latin carminibus antiquis) of the Germanic peoples celebrated Tuisto as “a god, born of the earth” (deum terra editum’). These songs further attributed to him a son, Mannus, who in turn had three sons, the offspring of whom were referred to as Ingaevones, Herminones and Istaevones, living near the Ocean (proximi Oceano), in the interior (medii), and the remaining parts (ceteri) of the geographical region of Germania, respectively.

Tacitus’s report falls squarely within the ethnographic tradition of the classical world, which often fused anthropogony, ethnogony, and theogony together into a synthetic whole. The succession of father-son-three sons parallels occurs in both Germanic and non-Germanic Indo-European areas. The essential characteristics of the myth have been theorized as ultimately originating in Proto-Indo-European society around 2,000 BCE.

According to Rives (1999), the fact that the ancient Germanic peoples claimed descent from an earth-born god was used by Tacitus to support his contention that they were an indigenous population: the Latin word indigena was often used in the same sense as the Greek autochthonos, meaning literally ‘[born from] the earth itself’ (from χθών – chthōn “earth”).

Lindauer (1975) notes that, although this claim is to be judged as one made out of simple ignorance of the facts on the part of Tacitus, he was not entirely wrong, as he made the judgement based on a comparison with the relatively turbulent Mediterranean region of his day.

The sequence in which one god has a son, who has three famous sons, has a resemblance to how Búri has a son Borr who has three sons: Odin, Vili and Vé. The same tradition occurs with the Slavs and their expansion, in the legend of Lech, Čech and Rus.

In 1498, a monk named Annio da Viterbo published fragments known as “Pseudo-Berossus”, now considered a forgery, claiming that Babylonian records had shown that Tuiscon or Tuisto, the fourth son of Noah, had been the first ruler of Scythia and Germany following the dispersion of peoples, with him being succeeded by his son Mannus as the second king.

Later historians (e.g. Johannes Aventinus) managed to furnish numerous further details, including the assertion by James Anderson that this Tuiscon was in fact none other than the biblical Ashkenaz, son of Gomer.

Tyr

Týr (Old Norse: Týr) is a god associated with law and heroic glory in Norse mythology, portrayed as one-handed. Corresponding names in other Germanic languages are Gothic Teiws, Old English Tīw and Old High German Ziu and Cyo, all from Proto-Germanic *Tīwaz. The Latinised name is Tius or Tio. It is assumed that Tîwaz was overtaken in popularity and in authority by both Odin and Thor at some point during the Migration Age, as Odin shares his role as God of war.

In the late Icelandic Eddas, Tyr is portrayed, alternately, as the son of Odin (Prose Edda) or of Hymir (Poetic Edda), while the origins of his name and his possible relationship to Tuisto (see Tacitus’ Germania) suggest he was once considered the father of the gods and head of the pantheon, since his name is ultimately cognate to that of *Dyeus (cf. Dyaus), the reconstructed chief deity in Indo-European religion.

Týr is a god of war and will take mead, meat and blood for sacrifice. If a warrior carved the rune Tîwaz on his weapon he would be dedicating it to Týr and strengthen the outcome of a battle to be in his favor. After a warrior has dedicated his weapon to Týr he should not lose it or break it. Tiw was equated with Mars in the interpretatio germanica. Tuesday is in fact “Tīw’s Day” (also in Alemannic Zischtig from zîes tag), translating dies Martis.

Old Norse Týr, literally “god”, plural tívar “gods”, comes from Proto-Germanic *Tīwaz (cf. Old English Tīw, Old High German Zīo), which continues Proto-Indo-European *deiwós “celestial being, god” (cf. Welsh duw, Latin deus, Lithuanian diẽvas, Sanskrit dēvá, Avestan daēvō “demon”). And *deiwós is based in *dei-, *deyā-, *dīdyā-, meaning ‘to shine’.

The earliest attestation for Týr’s continental counterpart occurs in Gothic tyz “the t-rune” in the 9th-century Codex Vindobonensis 795. The name is later attested in Old High German as Cyo in the A Wessobrunn prayer ms. of 814. The Negau helmet inscription (2nd century b.c.) may actually record the earliest form, teiva, but this interpretation is tentative.

Týr in origin was a generic noun meaning “god”, e.g. Hangatyr, literally, the “god of the hanged”, as one of Odin’s names, which was probably inherited from Tyr in his role as god of justice.

Planets in astrology

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In the beginning of our Civilization

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 16, 2015

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A new paper in Science uses Bayesian phylogeographic methods to model the spatial expansion of Indo-European languages from their Anatolian homeland. An informative video shows how the authors estimate the process took place across space and time.

Proto-Indo-European homeland in Neolithic Anatolia

PIE didn’t start in the Armenian Highland – this is based on Liguistics, Archeology, Haplogroups etc etc. However, Semitic share a lot in common with IE, and there are no reason to think that Semitic wasn’t first talked in Syria 3750 BC.

Portasar or Göbekli Tepe is regarded as an archaeological discovery of the greatest importance since it could profoundly change the understanding of a crucial stage in the development of human society. Ian Hodder of Stanford University said, “Göbekli Tepe changes everything”. It shows that the erection of monumental complexes was within the capacities of hunter-gatherers and not only of sedentary farming communities as had been previously assumed. As excavator Klaus Schmidt put it, “First came the temple, then the city.”

Not only its large dimensions, but the side-by-side existence of multiple pillar shrines makes the location unique. There are no comparable monumental complexes from its time. Nevalı Çori, a Neolithic settlement also excavated by the German Archaeological Institute and submerged by the Atatürk Dam since 1992, is 500 years younger. Its T-shaped pillars are considerably smaller, and its shrine was located inside a village. The roughly contemporary architecture at Jericho is devoid of artistic merit or large-scale sculpture, and Çatalhöyük, perhaps the most famous Anatolian Neolithic village, is 2,000 years later.

At present the complex raises more questions for archaeology and prehistory than it answers. It remains unknown how a force large enough to construct, augment, and maintain such a substantial complex was mobilized and compensated or fed in the conditions of pre-sedentary society.

Scholars cannot interpret the pictograms, and do not know for certain what meaning the animal reliefs had for visitors to the site; the variety of fauna depicted, from lions and boars to birds and insects, makes any single explanation problematic.

As there is little or no evidence of habitation, and the animals pictured are mainly predators, the stones may have been intended to stave off evils through some form of magic representation. Alternatively, they could have served as totems.

The assumption that the site was strictly cultic in purpose and not inhabited has also been challenged by the suggestion that the structures served as large communal houses, “similar in some ways to the large plank houses of the Northwest Coast of North America with their impressive house posts and totem poles.”

It is not known why every few decades the existing pillars were buried to be replaced by new stones as part of a smaller, concentric ring inside the older one. Human burial may or may not have occurred at the site. The reason the complex was carefully backfilled remains unexplained. Until more evidence is gathered, it is difficult to deduce anything certain about the originating culture or the site’s significance.

In the border area between Turkey, Syria and Iraq, in an area formerly known as Western Armenia, cultures like the Halaf and the Hassuna cultures, not to forget the Shulaveri Shomu culture, developed, while in Central Iraq the Samarra culture developed, and in the south of Iraq the Ubaid culture developed. All these cultures have in common that they have teir root in the Armenian Highland.

Jarmo (Qal’at Jarmo) is an archeological site located in Southern Kurdistan [northern Iraq] on the foothills of Zagros Mountains east of Kirkuk city. It was one of the oldest agricultural communities in the world, dating back to 7090 BCE. Jarmo is broadly contemporary with such other important Neolithic sites such as Jericho in the southern Levant and Çatal Hüyük in Anatolia.

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

The Ubaid culture flowered in southern Iraq before moving up north. The Ubaid pottery of southern Mesopotamia has been connected via Choga Mami Transitional ware to the pottery of the Samarra period culture (c. 5700 – 4900 BC C-14) in the north, who were the first to practice a primitive form of irrigation agriculture along the middle Tigris River and its tributaries.

Later on the Sumerian culture was created. The Sumerians were a non-Semitic people, and spoke a language isolate; a number of linguists believed they could detect a substrate language beneath Sumerian, names of some of Sumer’s major cities are not Sumerian, revealing influences of earlier inhabitants.

It is speculated by some archaeologists that Sumerian speakers were farmers who moved down from the north, after perfecting irrigation agriculture there. According to this view, farming peoples spread down into southern Mesopotamia because they had developed a temple-centered social organization for mobilizing labor and technology for water control, enabling them to survive and prosper in a difficult environment.

Others have suggested a continuity of Sumerians, from the indigenous hunter-fisherfolk traditions, associated with the Arabian bifacial assemblages found on the Arabian littoral, while the Sumerians themselves claimed kinship with the people of Dilmun, associated with Bahrein in the Persian Gulf. Professor Juris Zarins believes the Sumerians may have been the people living in the Persian Gulf region before it flooded at the end of the last Ice Age.

Sumer was one of the ancient civilizations and historical regions in southern Mesopotamia, modern-day southern Iraq, during the Chalcolithic and the Early Bronze ages. Although the earliest specimens of writing in the region do not go back much further than ca. 2500 BC, modern historians have suggested that Sumer was first permanently settled between ca. 5500 and 4000 BC by a non-Semitic people who spoke the Sumerian language (pointing to the names of cities, rivers, basic occupations, etc., as evidence). These conjectured, prehistoric people are now called “proto-Euphrateans” or “Ubaidians”, and are theorized to have evolved from the Samarra culture of northern Mesopotamia.

According to the Sumerian king list, Uruk was founded by the king Enmerkar. Though the king-list mentions a king of Eanna before him, the epic Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta relates that Enmerkar constructed the House of Heaven (Sumerian: e2-anna; Cuneiform: E.AN) for the goddess Inanna in the Eanna District of Uruk. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh builds the city wall around Uruk and is king of the city.

Uruk went through several phases of growth, from the Early Uruk period (4000–3500 BC) to the Late Uruk period (3500–3100 BC). The city was formed when two smaller Ubaid settlements merged. The temple complexes at their cores became the Eanna District and the Anu District dedicated to Inanna and Anu, respectively. The Anu District was originally called ‘Kullaba’ (Kulab or Unug-Kulaba) prior to merging with the Eanna District. Kullaba dates to the Eridu period when it was one of the oldest and most important cities of Sumer.

There are different interpretations about the purposes of the temples. However, it is generally believed they were a unifying feature of the city. It also seems clear that temples served both an important religious function and state function. The surviving temple archive of the Neo-Babylonian period documents the social function of the temple as a redistribution center.

Aratta is a land that appears in Sumerian myths surrounding Enmerkar and Lugalbanda, two early and possibly mythical kings of Uruk also mentioned on the Sumerian king list.

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

Inanna’s name derives from Lady of Heaven (Sumerian: nin-an-ak). The cuneiform sign of Inanna; however, is not a ligature of the signs lady (Sumerian: nin; Cuneiform: SAL.TUG2) and sky (Sumerian: an; Cuneiform: AN).

These difficulties have led some early Assyriologists to suggest that originally Inanna may have been a Proto-Euphratean goddess, possibly related to the Hurrian mother goddess Hannahannah, accepted only latterly into the Sumerian pantheon, an idea supported by her youthfulness, and that, unlike the other Sumerian divinities, at first she had no sphere of responsibilities. The view that there was a Proto-Euphratean substrate language in Southern Iraq before Sumerian is not widely accepted by modern Assyriologists.

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

The mother goddess Hannahannah (from Hittite hanna- “grandmother”) promises Inara land and a man during a consultation by Inara. Inara then disappears. Her father looks for her, joined by Hannahannah with a bee. The story resembles that of Demeter and her daughter Persephone, in Greek myth. Hannahannah was also identified with the Hurrian goddess Hebat.

The Ubaidians (though never mentioned by the Sumerians themselves) are assumed by modern-day scholars to have been the first civilizing force in Sumer, draining the marshes for agriculture, developing trade, and establishing industries, including weaving, leatherwork, metalwork, masonry, and pottery.

However, some scholars contest the idea of a Proto-Euphratean language or one substrate language. It has been suggested by them and others, that the Sumerian language was originally that of the hunter and fisher peoples, who lived in the marshland and the Eastern Arabia littoral region, and were part of the Arabian bifacial culture.

Reliable historical records begin much later; there are none in Sumer of any kind that have been dated before Enmebaragesi (c. 26th century BC). Professor Juris Zarins believes the Sumerians were settled along the coast of Eastern Arabia, today’s Persian Gulf region, before it flooded at the end of the Ice Age. Sumerian literature speaks of their homeland being Dilmun.

Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB, circa 7,600-6,000 BC) is a division of the Neolithic developed by Kathleen Kenyon during her archaeological excavations at Jericho in the West Bank. Cultural tendencies of this period differ from the earlier Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) period in that people living during this period began to depend more heavily upon the use of domesticated animals to supplement their earlier mixed agrarian and hunter-gatherer diet, a different set of tools, and new architectural styles.

Like the earlier PPNA people, the PPNB culture developed from the Earlier Natufian but shows evidence of a northerly origin, possibly indicating an influx from the region of north eastern Anatolia, the Armenian Highland. The culture disappeared during the 8.2 kiloyear event, a term that climatologists have adopted for a sudden decrease in global temperatures that occurred approximately 8,200 years before the present, or c. 6200 BCE, and which lasted for the next two to four centuries.

In the following Munhatta and Yarmukian post-pottery Neolithic cultures that succeeded it, rapid cultural development continues, although PPNB culture continued in the Amuq valley, where it influenced the later development of Ghassulian culture. Work at the site of ‘Ain Ghazal in Jordan has indicated a later Pre-Pottery Neolithic C period which existed between 8,200 and 7,900 BP.

Juris Zarins has proposed that a Circum Arabian Nomadic Pastoral Complex developed in the period from the climatic crisis of 6200 BCE, partly as a result of an increasing emphasis in PPNB cultures upon animal domesticates, and a fusion with Harifian hunter gatherers in Southern Palestine, with affiliate connections with the cultures of Fayyum and the Eastern Desert of Egypt. Cultures practicing this lifestyle spread down the Red Sea shoreline and moved east from Syria into southern Iraq.

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

This might be due to the 5.9 kiloyear event, one of the most intense aridification events during the Holocene Epoch, at the end of the Older Peron, which in the eastern Arabian Peninsula may have contributed to an increase in relatively greater social complexity, corresponding to an end of the local Ubaid.

The 5.9 kiloyear event occurred around 3900 BC (5,900 years BP), ending the Neolithic Subpluvial and probably initiating the most recent desiccation of the Sahara desert. Thus, it also triggered worldwide migration to river valleys, such as from central North Africa to the Nile valley, which eventually led to the emergence of the first complex, highly organized, state-level societies in the 4th millennium BC. It is associated with the last round of the Sahara pump theory.

The region of origin of the reconstructed Proto-Semitic language, ancestral to historical and modern Semitic languages in the Middle East, is still uncertain and much debated. However, a recent Bayesian analysis identified an origin for Semitic languages in the Levant (modern Syria and Lebanon) around 3750 BC with a later single introduction from what is now Southern Arabia into the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia) around 800 BC.

The climate catastrophe produced the Kish civilization, a time period corresponding to the early East Semitic era in Mesopotamia and the Levant. Coined by Ignace Gelb, the epoch began in the early 4th millennium BC. The tradition encompasses the sites of Ebla and Mari in the Levant, Nagar in the north, and the proto-Akkadian sites of Abu Salabikh and Kish in central Mesopotamia which constituted the Uri region as it was known to the Sumerians.

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

A few commentators have associated the end of the Uruk period with the climate changes linked to the Piora Oscillation, an abrupt cold and wet period in the climate history of the Holocene Epoch, other explanation is the arrival of the East Semitic tribes represented by the Kish civilization.

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 between the 3rd and the 2nd millennia BC (the exact dating being a matter of debate).

Sumerian civilization took form in the Uruk period (4th millennium BC), continuing into the Jemdat Nasr and Early Dynastic periods. During the 3rd millennium BC, a close cultural symbiosis developed between the Sumerians, who spoke a language no relatives of which are known today; see language isolate, and the Semitic Akkadian speakers, which included widespread bilingualism.

The influence of Sumerian on Akkadian (and vice versa) is evident in all areas, from lexical borrowing on a massive scale, to syntactic, morphological, and phonological convergence. This has prompted scholars to refer to Sumerian and Akkadian in the 3rd millennium BC as a Sprachbund.

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.

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

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

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

The non-Semitic toponyms preserved in Akkadian and Palaeo-Syrian languages suggests that Syria and Mesopotamia were originally inhabited by a non-Semitic population. Edward Lipinski believes that support for an African origin is provided by what he describe as a possible relationship between Afro-Asiatic and the Niger–Congo languages, whose Urheimat probably lies in Nigeria–Cameroon.

He states that the most numerous isoglosses and lexicostatistical convergences link proto-Semitic to Libyco-Berber and concludes that proto-Semitic speakers were still living in the Neolithic Subpluvial in the 5th millennium BC when the Sahara was much wetter, retaining a link with Berber long after other Egyptic and Proto-Chadic separated.

According to Lipinski, rock drawings attest to a Neolithic culture in the Sahara that collapsed due to desertification and climate change ca. 3500 BC, forcing the Proto-Semites to emigrate en masse through the Nile Delta to western Asia. They were probably responsible for the collapse of the Ghassulian culture in Palestine around 3300 BC.

Another indication of the arrival of the proto-Semitic culture is the appearance of tumuli in 4th and 3rd millennium Palestine, which were typical characteristic of Neolithic North Africa. It is possible that at this point, the ancestors of the speakers of Elamite moved towards Iran, although the inclusion of Elamite in Afroasiatic is only contemplated by a tiny minority.

The earliest wave of Semitic speakers was the Akkadians, who entered the Fertile Crescent via Palestine and Syria and eventually founded the first Semitic empire at Kish. Their relatives, the Amorites, followed them and settled Syria before 2500 BC. The collapse of the Bronze Age culture in Palestine led the Southern Semites southwards, where they reached the highlands of Yemen after 2000 BC. Those crossed back to the Horn of Africa between 1500–500 BC.

The same authors dated Proto-Indo-European at 8.4ky, in agreement with the work of Gray and Atkinson. In the current paper they re-analyze the data of Kitchen et al. (2009) for Semitic languages, and their estimate is somewhat younger than 5,750 years of that paper. All in all, it’s good to see different researchers using different techniques but coming up with similar solutions.

The earliest attestations of a Semitic language are in Akkadian, dating to ca. the 23rd century BC and Eblaite, but earlier evidence of Akkadian comes from personal names in Sumerian texts circa 2800 BC. Researchers in Egypt also claim to have discovered Canaanite snake spells that “date from between 3000 and 2400 BC”.

The specific appearance of the donkey (an African animal) in Proto-Semitic but total absence of any reference to wheeled vehicles rather narrowly dates Proto-Semitic to between 3,800 BC and 3,500 BC.

It is increasingly clear that while the Proto-Indo-Europeans originated in the Neolithic Near East, the Proto-Semites followed them by about three thousand years. In the latter case there is also a Y-chromosome marker (J-P58) with an apparent age in impeccable agreement with the linguistic evidence, now that the genealogical-“evolutionary” mutation wars seem to have been won.

This also brings into focus the weakness of the argument that Anthony (2007) (p. 76) brings to the table by hypothesizing that the first farmers of northern Syria were Afro-Asiatic speakers like the Semites of the Near Eastern lowlands.

Semites come into the picture 5,000 years after the onset of the Neolithic, and 3,000 years after the Proto-Indo-Europeans. Their relationship with Afroasiatic speakers of Africa make it quite likely that they lived in the south, probably in Arabia, and certainly not in eastern Anatolia or northern Syria.

Indeed, the recent discovery that haplogroup J1*(xP58) is associated with Northeast Caucasian languages, together with the absence or paucity of J1 in most African Afroasiatic speakers suggests to me that the J-P58 Proto-Semites may be the result of the transfer of an African language on a basically West Asian population. Such a scenario might also explain some of the -incorrectly quantified, but nonetheless existent- African genetic components in both Jews and Arabs, as well as the pastoralist/dry-climate J1 associations.

In North Mesopotamia the Ubaid period runs only between about 5300 and 4300 BC. It is preceded by the Halaf period and the Halaf-Ubaid Transitional period and succeeded by the Late Chalcolithic period. The period from 4500–4000 BC saw a period of intense and rapid urbanisation with the Ubaid culture spread into northern Mesopotamia and was adopted by the Halaf culture. Ubaid artifacts spread also all along the Arabian littoral, showing the growth of a trading system that stretched from the Mediterranean coast through to Oman.

The Leyla-Tepe culture is a culture of archaeological interest from the Chalcolithic era. Its population was distributed on the southern slopes of the Central Caucasus (modern Azerbaijan, Agdam District), from 4350 until 4000 BC. The culture has also been linked to the north Ubaid period monuments, in particular, with the settlements in the Eastern Anatolia Region (Arslan-tepe, Coruchu-tepe, Tepechik, etc.). The settlement is of a typical Western-Asian variety, with the dwellings packed closely together and made of mud bricks with smoke outlets.

It has been suggested that the Leyla-Tepe were the founders of the Maykop culture (3700 BC-3000 BC), a major Bronze Age archaeological culture in the Western Caucasus region of Southern Russia. Radiocarbon dates for various monuments of the Maykop culture are from 3950 – 3650 – 3610 – 2980 calBC.

It extends along the area from the Taman Peninsula at the Kerch Strait to near the modern border of Dagestan and southwards to the Kura River. The culture takes its name from a royal burial found in Maykop kurgan in the Kuban River valley.

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

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

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

The Leyla-Tepe culture is a culture of archaeological interest from the Chalcolithic era. Its population was distributed on the southern slopes of the Central Caucasus (modern Azerbaijan, Agdam District), from 4350 until 4000 BC. Similar amphora burials in the South Caucasus are found in the Western Georgian Jar-Burial Culture.

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

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

In 2010, nearly 200 Bronze Age sites were reported stretching over 60 miles between the Kuban and Nalchik rivers, at an altitude of between 4,620 feet and 7,920 feet. They were all “visibly constructed according to the same architectural plan, with an oval courtyard in the center, and connected by roads.”

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

The Maykop people lived sedentary lives, and horses formed a very low percentage of their livestock, which mostly consisted of pigs and cattle. Archaeologists have discovered a unique form of bronze cheek-pieces, which consists of a bronze rod with a twisted loop in the middle and a thread through her nodes that connects with bridle, halter strap and headband. Notches and bumps on the edges of the cheek-pieces were, apparently, to fix nose and under-lip belts.

Its inhumation practices were characteristically Indo-European, typically in a pit, sometimes stone-lined, topped with a kurgan (or tumulus). Stone cairns replace kurgans in later interments. Gamkrelidze and Ivanov, whose views are highly controversial, suggest that the Maykop culture (or its ancestor) may have been a way-station for Indo-Europeans migrating from the South Caucasus and/or eastern Anatolia to a secondary Urheimat on the steppe.

This would essentially place the Anatolian stock in Anatolia from the beginning, and in this respect only, agrees with Colin Renfrew’s Anatolian hypothesis. Considering that some attempt has been made to unite Indo-European with the Northwest Caucasian languages, an earlier Caucasian pre-Urheimat is not out of the question.

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.

There is evidence of trade with Mesopotamia, as well as Asia Minor. 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.

The economy was based on farming and livestock-raising (especially of cattle and sheep). They grew grain and various orchard crops, and are known to have used implements to make flour. They raised cattle, sheep, goats, dogs, and in its later phases, horses.

In the earliest phase of the Kura-Araxes culture, metal was scarce, but the culture would later display “a precocious metallurgical development, which strongly influenced surrounding regions”. They worked copper, arsenic, silver, gold, tin, and bronze. Their metal goods were widely distributed, from the Volga, Dnieper and Don-Donets river systems in the north to Syria and Palestine in the south and Anatolia in the west.

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 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. Altogether, the early Trans-Caucasian culture, at its greatest spread, enveloped a vast area approximately 1,000 km by 500 km.

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 may have given rise to the later Khirbet Kerak ware culture found in Syria and Canaan after the fall of the Akkadian Empire.

The culture is closely linked to the approximately contemporaneous Maykop culture of Ciscaucasia. The Kura-Araxes culture was contiguous, and had mutual influences, with the Maikop culture in the Northwest Caucasus. According to E.I. Krupnov (1969:77), there were elements of the Maikop culture in the early memorials of Chechnya and Ingushetia in the Meken and Bamut kurgans and in Lugovoe in Serzhen-Yurt.

Similarities between some features and objects of the Maikop and Kura-Araxes cultures, such as large square graves, the bold-relief curvilinear ornamentation of pottery, ochre-coloured ceramics, earthen hearth props with horn projections, flint arrowheads, stone axes and copper pitchforks are indicative of a cultural unity that pervaded the Caucasus in the Neolithic Age.

Inhumation practices are mixed. They are also remarkable for the production of wheeled vehicles (wagons and carts), which were sometimes included in burial kurgans. Flat graves are found, but so are substantial kurgan burials, the latter of which may be surrounded by cromlechs, something that point to a heterogeneous ethno-linguistic population.

Late in the history of this culture, its people built kurgans of greatly varying sizes, containing greatly varying amounts and types of metalwork, with larger, wealthier kurgans surrounded by smaller kurgans containing less wealth. This trend suggests the eventual emergence of a marked social hierarchy. Their practice of storing relatively great wealth in burial kurgans was probably a cultural influence from the more ancient civilizations of the Fertile Crescent to the south.

Hurrian and Urartian elements are quite probable, as are Northeast Caucasian ones. Some authors subsume Hurrians and Urartians under Northeast Caucasian as well as part of the Alarodian theory. The presence of Kartvelian languages was also highly probable. Influences of Semitic languages and Indo-European languages are also highly possible, though the presence of the languages on the lands of the Kura–Araxes culture is more controversial.

The Trialeti culture, named after Trialeti region of Georgia, is attributed to the first part of the 2nd millennium BC. In the late 3rd millennium BC, settlements of the Kura-Araxes culture began to be replaced by early Trialeti culture sites. The Trialeti culture was the second culture to appear in Georgia, after the Shulaveri-Shomu culture which existed from 6000 to 4000 BC. The Trialeti culture shows close ties with the highly developed cultures of the ancient world, particularly with the Aegean, but also with cultures to the south, such as probably the Sumerians and their Akkadian conquerors.

The Trialeti culture was known for its particular form of burial. The elite were interred in large, very rich burials under earth and stone mounds, which sometimes contained four-wheeled carts. Also there were many gold objects found in the graves. These gold objects were similar to those found in Iran and Iraq. They also worked tin and arsenic. This form of burial in a tumulus or “kurgan”, along with wheeled vehicles, is the same as that of the Kurgan culture which has been associated with the speakers of Proto-Indo-European.

In fact, the black burnished pottery of especially early Trialeti kurgans is similar to Kura-Araxes pottery. In a historical context, their impressive accumulation of wealth in burial kurgans, like that of other associated and nearby cultures with similar burial practices, is particularly noteworthy. This practice was probably a result of influence from the older civilizations to the south in the Fertile Crescent.

The Armenian language (hayeren) is an Indo-European language spoken by the Armenians. It is the official language of the Republic of Armenia and the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. It has historically been spoken throughout the Armenian Highlands and today is widely spoken in the Armenian diaspora. Armenian has its own unique script, the Armenian alphabet, invented in 405 AD by Mesrop Mashtots.

Linguists classify Armenian as an independent branch of the Indo-European language family. It is of interest to linguists for its distinctive phonological developments within the Indo-European languages. Some linguists group Armenian with Greek and the Indo-Iranian family into a higher-level subgroup of Indo-European, which is defined by such shared innovations as the augment. More recently, others have proposed a Balkan grouping including Greek, Phrygian, Armenian, and Albanian.

Armenia was a monolingual country by the second century BC at the latest. Its language has a long literary history, with a fifth-century Bible translation as its oldest surviving text. There are two standardized modern literary forms, Eastern Armenian and Western Armenian, with which most contemporary dialects are mutually intelligible.

While the Armenians were known to history much earlier (for example, they were mentioned in the 6th century BC Behistun Inscription and Xenophon’s 4th century BC history, The Anabasis), the oldest surviving Armenian-language text is the 5th-century AD Bible translation of Mesrop Mashtots, who created the Armenian alphabet in 405 AD, at which time it had 36 letters. He is also credited by some with the creation of the Georgian alphabet.

The loans from Iranian languages initially led linguists to erroneously classify Armenian as an Iranian language. The distinctness of Armenian was only recognized when Hübschmann (1875) used the comparative method to distinguish two layers of Iranian loans from the older Armenian vocabulary.

I. M. Austin (1942) concluded that there was an early contact between Armenian and Anatolian languages, based on what he considered common archaisms, such as the lack of a feminine and the absence of inherited long vowels. However, unlike shared innovations (or synapomorphies), the common retention of archaisms (or symplesiomorphy) is not necessarily considered evidence of a period of common isolated development.

Soviet linguist Igor Diakonov (1985) noted the presence in Old Armenian of what he calls a Caucasian substratum, identified by earlier scholars, consisting of loans from the Kartvelian and Northeast Caucasian languages. Noting that the Hurro-Urartian peoples inhabited the Armenian homeland in the second millennium b.c., Diakonov identifies in Armenian a Hurro-Urartian substratum of social, cultural, and animal and plant terms.

Some of the terms he gives admittedly have an Akkadian or Sumerian provenance, but he suggests they were borrowed through Hurrian or Urartian. Given that these borrowings do not undergo sound changes characteristic of the development of Armenian from Proto-Indo-European, he dates their borrowing to a time before the written record but after the Proto-Armenian language stage.

Graeco-Aryan (or Graeco-Armeno-Aryan) is a hypothetical clade within the Indo-European family, ancestral to the Greek language, the Armenian language, and the Indo-Iranian languages. Graeco-Aryan unity would have become divided into Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian by the mid 3rd millennium BC.

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

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

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

In the context of the Kurgan hypothesis, Greco-Aryan is also known as “Late PIE” or “Late Indo-European” (LIE), suggesting that Greco-Aryan forms a dialect group which corresponds to the latest stage of linguistic unity in the Indo-European homeland in the early part of the 3rd millennium BC. By 2500 BC, Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian had separated, moving westward and eastward from the Pontic Steppe, respectively.

If Graeco-Aryan is a valid group, Grassmann’s law may have a common origin in Greek and Sanskrit. Note, however, that Grassmann’s law in Greek postdates certain sound changes that happened only in Greek and not Sanskrit, which suggests that it cannot strictly be an inheritance from a common Graeco-Aryan stage.

Rather, it is more likely an areal feature that spread across a then-contiguous Graeco-Aryan-speaking area after early Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian had developed into separate dialects but before they ceased being in geographic contact.

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Armenia and Mesopotamia

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 14, 2015

Armenia has been suggested by early 20th century Armenologists that Old Persian Armina and the Greek Armenoi are continuations of an Assyrian toponym Armânum or Armanî. The name is connected to the Indo-European root Ar- meaning “assemble/create” which is vastly used in names of or regarding the Sun, light, or fire, found in Ararat, Aryan, Arta etc.

Armin is a given name or surname, and is an ancient Zoroastrian given name, meaning Guardian of Aryan Land and an Ancient Greek given name (the modern form of Ariobarzanes), meaning “exalting the Aryans”. In Teutonic the meaning of the name Armin is: warrior. In Hebrew the meaning of the name Armin is: High place.

Asha is the Avestan language term (corresponding to Vedic language ṛta) for a concept of cardinal importance to Zoroastrian theology and doctrine. Its Old Persian equivalent is arta-.[c] In Middle Iranian languages the term appears as ard-.[a]

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

The significance of the term is complex, with a highly nuanced range of meaning. It is commonly summarized in accord with its contextual implications of ‘truth’ and ‘right(eousness)’, ‘order’ and ‘right working’.

Armina – Armenia

It has been suggested by early 20th century Armenologists that Old Persian Armina and the Greek Armenoi are continuations of an Assyrian toponym Armânum or Armanî. There are certain Bronze Age records identified with the toponym in both Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources. The earliest is from an inscription which mentions Armânum together with Ibla (Ebla) as territories conquered by Naram-Sin of Akkad in ca. 2250 BC.

ArAtTa

Aratta (later Urartu/Ararat and then Armenia) is a land that appears in Sumerian myths surrounding Enmerkar and Lugalbanda, two early and possibly mythical kings of Uruk also mentioned on the Sumerian king list. It is described in Sumerian literature as a fabulously wealthy place full of gold, silver, lapis lazuli and other precious materials, as well as the artisans to craft them. It is remote and difficult to reach. It is home to the goddess Inanna, who transfers her allegiance from Aratta to Uruk. It is conquered by Enmerkar of Uruk.

ArMe-Shupria/ArMani-Subartu

The land of Armani-Subartu (Akkadian Šubartum/Subartum/ina Šú-ba-ri, Assyrian mât Šubarri) or Arme-Shupria (Sumerian Su-bir/Subar/Šubur) was a Proto-Armenian Hurrian-speaking kingdom located in the Armenian Highland, to the southwest of Lake Van, bordering on Ararat proper, mentioned in Bronze Age literature from the 3rd millennium BC. The name also appears as Subari in the Amarna letters, and, in the form Šbr, in Ugarit.

Some scholars suggest that Subartu is an early name for Assyria proper on the Tigris and westward, although there are various other theories placing it sometimes a little farther to the east and/or north. 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, which has been identified with Aleppo, among the lands under his control. Ishbi-Erra of Isin and Hammurabi also claimed victories over Subar.

The country is known from Assyrian sources beginning in 1300 BC. Scholars have linked the district in the area called Arme or Armani, to the name Armenia. Later, there is reference to a district in the area called Arme or Urme, which some scholars have linked to the name Armenia. Shubria was part of the Urartu confederation.

Weidner interpreted textual evidence to indicate that after the Hurrian king Shattuara of Mitanni was defeated by Adad-nirari I of the Middle Assyrian Empire 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).

Tigris

Subartu was apparently a polity in Northern Mesopotamia, at the upper Tigris, an Ancient Greek form of the name borrowed from Old Persian Tigrā, itself from Elamite Tigra, itself from Sumerian Idigna or Idigina, probably from *id (i)gina “running water”, which can be interpreted as “the swift river”, contrasted to its neighbor, the Euphrates, whose leisurely pace caused it to deposit more silt and build up a higher bed than the Tigris.

The Sumerian form was borrowed into Akkadian as Idiqlat, and from there into the other Semitic languages (cf. Hebrew Ḥîddeqel, Syriac Deqlaṯ, Arabic Dijla). Another name for the Tigris used in Middle Persian was Arvand Rud, literally “swift river”. Today, however, Arvand Rud refers to the confluence of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers (known in Arabic as the Shatt al-Arab). In Kurdish, it is also known as Ava Mezin, “the Great Water”.

The name of the Tigris in languages that have been important in the region: The Tigris appears twice in the Bible. In the Book of Genesis, where it is the third of the four rivers branching off the river issuing out of the Garden of Eden, and Daniel received one of his visions “when I was by that great river the Tigris”.

In Sumerian mythology, the Tigris was created by the god Enki, who filled the river with flowing water. In Hittite and Hurrian mythology, Aranzah (or Aranzahas in the Hittite nominative form) is the Hurrian name of the Tigris River, which was divinized. He was the son of Kumarbi and the brother of Teshub and Tašmišu, one of the three gods spat out of Kumarbi’s mouth onto Mount Kanzuras. Later he colluded with Anu and Teshub to destroy Kumarbi in the Kumarbi Cycle.

Van

The Great Zab or Upper Zab (Arabic:‎ al-Zāb al-Kabīr, Kurdish: Zêy Badînan or Zêyê Mezin‎, Syriac: zāba ʻalya) is an approximately 400-kilometre (250 mi) long river flowing through Turkey and Iraq. It rises in Turkey near Lake Van and joins the Tigris in Iraq south of Mosul.

This area was the heartland of Armenians, who lived in these areas right up to the late 19th century when the Ottoman Empire seized all the land from the natives. Tushpa, the capital of Urartu, was located near the shores of Lake Van, on the site of what became medieval Van’s castle, west of present-day Van city. The ruins of the medieval city of Van are still visible below the southern slopes of the rock on which Van Castle is located.

Tushpuea is an Araratian (Urartian) goddess from which the city of Tushpa derived its name. She may have been the wife of the solar god Shivini or Artinis (the present form of the name is Artin, meaning “sun rising” or to “awake”, and it persists in Armenian names to this day) as both are listed as third, in the list of male and female deities on the Mheri-Dur inscription. It is hypothesized that the winged female figures on Urartian ornaments and cauldrons depict this goddess.

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

Under the ancient name of Tushpa, Van was the capital of the Urartian kingdom in the 9th century BC. The early settlement was centered on the steep-sided bluff now known as Van Castle (Van Kalesi), close to the edge of Lake Van and a few kilometers west of the modern city. Here have been found Urartian cuneiform inscriptions dating to the 8th and 7th centuries BC.

Great Zab

The Great Zab rises in Turkey in the mountainous region east of Lake Van at an elevation of approximately 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) amsl and joins the Tigris on its left bank in Iraq. In Turkey, the Great Zab traverses the provinces of Van and Hakkâri, whereas in Iraq it flows through Duhok Governorate and Erbil Governorate.

The Zagros Mountains have been occupied since at least the Lower Palaeolithic, and Neanderthal occupation of the Great Zab basin has been testified at the archaeological site of Shanidar Cave. Historical records for the region are available from the end of the third millennium BCE onward.

Evidence for human occupation of the Zagros reaches back into the Lower Palaeolithic, as evidenced by the discovery of many cave-sites dating to that period in the Iranian part of the mountain range. Middle Palaeolithic stone tool assemblages are known from Barda Balka, a cave-site south of the Little Zab; and from the Iranian Zagros.

A Mousterian stone tool assemblage – produced by either Neanderthals or anatomically modern humans – was recently excavated in Arbil, claimed as one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in history. Human settlement at Erbil can be dated back to possibly 5000 BC.

Neanderthals also occupied the site of Shanidar. This cave-site, located in the Sapna Valley, has yielded a settlement sequence stretching from the Middle Palaeolithic up to the Epipalaeolithic period. The site is particularly well known for its Neanderthal burials.

The Epipalaeolithic occupation of Shanidar, contemporary with the use of the Kebaran stone tool assemblage, is the oldest evidence for anatomically modern human occupation of the Great Zab basin. The following Protoneolithic, or Natufian, occupation is contemporary with the oldest occupation of the nearby open-air site Zawi Chemi Shanidar.

M’lefaat on the Khazir River (a tributary to the Great Zab) was a small village of hunter-gatherers dating to the 10th millennium BCE that was contemporary with the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A in the Levant. An archaeological survey of the Citadel of Arbil, in the plain south of the lower course of the Great Zab, has shown that this site was continuously occupied at least from the 6th millennium BCE upward.

The earliest historical reference to the region dates to the Ur III dynasty, when king Shulgi mentioned the city of Urbilum – the ancient name of modern-day Arbil. The great Assyrian capitals of Assur, Nineveh, Nimrud and Dur-Sharrukin were all located in the foothill zone where the Great Zab flows into the Tigris, and the Great Zab basin became increasingly integrated into the Middle Assyrian and Neo-Assyrian empires. Nimrud, the capital of the empire until 706 BCE, was located only 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) away from the confluence of the Great Zab with the Tigris.

The Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II constructed a canal called Patti-Hegalli that tapped water from the Great Zab to irrigate the land around Nimrud, and this canal was restored by his successors Tiglath-Pileser III and Esarhaddon. This canal ran along the right bank of the Great Zab and cut through a rock bluff by means of a tunnel and is still visible today. After the fall of the Neo-Assyrian empire, the Medes gained control of the area, followed by the Achaemenids in 550 BCE.

Little Zab

The region enters history at the end of the 3rd millennium BCE, when Arbil is mentioned as Urbilum by king Shulgi of the Ur III dynasty. From that time onward, the Little Zab basin became increasingly entangled in the affairs of the successive Mesopotamian empires that sought control over the Zagros Mountains.

In the early second millennium BCE, king Shamshi-Adad of Upper Mesopotamia waged war to the land of Qabra, which was probably located along the lower course of the Little Zab, and installed garrisons in the conquered towns. The archive of clay tablets found at Tell Shemshara (ancient Shusharra) shows that the local governor switched allegiance and became a vassal of Shamshi-Adad.

During the 14th century BCE, the region was part of the Mitannian kingdom, with sites like Nuzi and Tell al-Fakhar, south of the Little Zab, yielding clay tablet archives for this period.

During the late second–early first millennia BCE, the lower Little Zab basin belonged to the heartland of the Middle Assyrian and Neo-Assyrian empires. After the fall of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, control of the Zagros shifted first to the Medes and in 550 BCE to the Achaemenid Empire.

The last Achaemenid ruler Darius III was defeated by Alexander the Great at the Battle of Gaugamela in northern Iraq and after Alexander’s death in 323, the area fell to his Seleucid successors.

Zarzian culture

Both open-air and cave sites are attested for the Zarzian culture, an archaeological culture of late Paleolithic and Mesolithic in Southwest Asia which straddles the Upper and Epipalaeolithic periods. The period of the culture is estimated about 18,000-8,000 years BC. It was preceded by the Baradostian culture in the same region and was related to the Imereti culture of the Caucasus.

Andy Burns states “The Zarzian of the Zagros region of Iran is contemporary with the Natufian but different from it. The only dates for the entire Zarzian come from Palegawra Cave, and date to 17,300-17,000BP, but it is clear that it is broadly contemporary with the Levantine Kebaran, with which it shares features. It seems to have evolved from the Upper Palaeolithic Baradostian.”

There are only a few Zarzian sites and the area appears to have been quite sparsely populated during the Epipalaeolithic. Faunal remains from the Zarzian indicate that the temporary form of structures indicate a hunter-gatherer subsistence strategy, focused on onager, red deer and caprines. Better known sites include Palegawra Cave, Shanidar B2 and Zarzi.” The Zarzian culture seems to have participated in the early stages of what Kent Flannery has called the broad spectrum revolution.

The Zarzian culture is found associated with remains of the domesticated dog and with the introduction of the bow and arrow. It seems to have extended north into the Gobustan (Kobystan) region and into Eastern Iran as a forerunner of the Hissar and related cultures.

After the Zarzian, the focus of human occupation shifted from cave-sites, which continue to be used as secondary or seasonal occupation sites up to today, to open-air sites and it was in this period that the trend toward domestication of plants and animals set in. Domestication of the goat probably occurred first in this area of the Zagros.

The Broad Spectrum Revolution 

The Broad Spectrum Revolution (BSR) hypothesis, proposed by Kent Flannery in a 1968 paper presented to a London University symposium, suggested that the emergence of the Neolithic in Southwest Asia was prefaced by increases in dietary breadth among foraging societies. The broad spectrum revolution followed the ice age around 13000 BC in the Middle East and 10,000 BC in Europe.

During this time, there was a transition from focusing on a few main food sources to gathering/hunting a “broad spectrum” of plants and animals. Flannery’s hypothesis, meant to help explain the adoption of agriculture, suggest (following Lewis Binford’s equilibrium model) that population growth in optimal habitats led to demographic pressure within nearby marginal habitats as daughter groups migrated.

The search for more food within these marginal habitats forced foragers to diversify the types of food sources harvested, broadening the subsistence base outward to include more fish, small game, water fowl, invertebrates likes snails and shellfish, as well as previously ignored or marginal plant sources.

Most importantly, Flannery argues that the need for more food in these marginal environments led to the deliberate cultivation of certain plant species, especially cereals. In optimal habitats, these plants naturally grew in relatively dense stands, but required human intervention in order to be efficiently harvested in marginal zones. Thus, the broad spectrum revolution set the stage for domestication and rise of permanent agricultural settlement.

Jarmo

Jarmo (Qal’at Jarmo) is an archeological site located on the foothills of Zagros Mountains east of Kirkuk city. It was one of the oldest agricultural communities in the world, dating back to 7090 BCE. Jarmo is broadly contemporary with such other important Neolithic sites such as Jericho in the southern Levant and Çatal Hüyük in Anatolia.

Jarmo is one of the oldest sites at which pottery has been found, appearing in the most recent levels of excavation, which dates it to the 7th millennium BC. This pottery is handmade, of simple design and with thick sides, and treated with a vegetable solvent. There are clay figures, zoomorphic or anthropomorphic, including figures of pregnant women which are taken to be fertility goddesses, similar to the Mother Goddess of later Neolithic cultures in the same region.

Agricultural activity is attested by the presence of stone sickles, cutters, bowls and other objects, for harvesting, preparing and storing food, and also by receptacles of engraved marble. In the later phases instruments made of bone, particularly perforating tools, buttons and spoons, have been found. Further research has shown that the villagers of Jarmo grew wheat of two types, emmer and einkorn, a type of primitive barley and lentils (it is common to record the domestication of grains, less so of pulses).

Their diet, and that of their animals, also included species of wild plant, peas, acorns, carob seeds, pistachios and wild wheat. Snail shells are also abundant. There is evidence that they had domesticated goats, sheep and dogs. On the higher levels of the site pigs have been found, together with the first evidence of pottery.

The excavations exposed a small village, covering an area of 12,000 to 16,000 m², and which has been dated (by carbon-14) to 7090 BC, for the oldest levels, to 4950 BC for the most recent. The entire site consists of twelve levels. Jarmo appears to be two older, permanent Neolithic settlements and, approximately, contemporary with Jericho or the Neolithic stage of Shanidar. The high point is likely to have been between 6,200 and 5,800 BC.

This small village consisted of some twenty five houses, with adobe walls and sun-dried mud roofs, which rested on stone foundations, with a simple floor plan dug from the earth. These dwellings were frequently repaired or rebuilt. In all, about 150 people lived in the village, which was clearly a permanent settlement.

In the earlier phases there is a preponderance of objects made from stone, silex- using older styles- and obsidian. The use of this latter material, obtained from the area of Lake Van, 200 miles away, suggests that some form of organized trade already existed, as does the presence of ornamental shells from the Persian Gulf. In the oldest level baskets have been found, waterproofed with pitch, which is readily available in the area.

Pottery occurs from the early occupation levels onward; in its later phases it resembles pottery from Hassuna. The early occupation of Tell Shemshara, in the Ranya Plain, can also be dated to this period. The excavations showed that the site was occupied, although not continuously, from the Hassuna period (early sixth millennium BCE) until the 14th century CE.

Tell Shemshara

Tell Shemshara sits along the Little Zab, a tributary of the Tigris. Its strategic location in the northeastern corner of the Ranya Plain in the Zagros Mountains gave Shemshara control over travelling routes in all directions, particularly toward the north and east. It is a primarily Ubaid, Hassuna, and Samarra culture occupation with some later Babylonian graves. It is considered the type site for the Samarran culture, the precursor of the Ubaid culture.

The excavations at the main mound revealed 16 occupation layers, ranging in date from the Hassuna period (early sixth millennium BCE) to the 14th century CE. Layers 16–9 dated to the Hassuna period. This occupation was characterized by rows of stones that are interpreted by the excavators as foundations for mudbrick walls, a pebble floor and a clay basin in the final occupation layer.

Pottery, which has only been found in abundance in layers 13–9, shows stylistic links with that of Hassuna and Tell es-Sawwan, an important Samarran period archaeological site in Saladin Province, Iraq, located 110 kilometres (68 mi) north of Baghdad, and south of Samarra.

Tell es-Sawwan

The inhabitants of Tell es-Sawwan were farmers who used irrigation from the Tigris to support their crops, as rainfall was unreliable. They used stone and flint tools similar to those of the Hassuna culture. Their prosperity, probably based on the dependability of irrigated crops, is evidenced by the presence of fine Samarran ware and beautiful, translucent marble vessels.

Underfloor graves of adults and children contained terracotta and alabaster statuettes of women and men, in various poses; some of these had the eyes and pointed heads typical of the Ubaid period.

Obsidian was the preferred material for stone tools, with flint making up only 15 percent of the total assemblage. Whereas the flint was procured locally, the obsidian was obtained from two sources in eastern Turkey – one as yet unidentified, the other one being the volcanic Nemrut Dağ, a 2,134 m (7,001 ft) high mountain in southeastern Turkey more than 300 kilometres (190 mi) away from Shemshara.

Nemrut Dağ is notable for the summit where a number of large statues are erected around what is assumed to be a royal tomb from the 1st century BC. King Antiochus I Theos of Commagene built on the mountain top a tomb-sanctuary flanked by huge statues 8–9 m (26–30 ft) high of himself, two lions, two eagles and various Greek, Armenian, and Iranian gods. Antiochus was half Armenian, a distant member of the Orontid Dynasty and half Greek.

A unique piece in this assemblage is a dagger of over 35.5 centimetres (14.0 in) in length, broken in four pieces due to a fire. Other artefacts that have been found at the site include stone bowls, bracelets and quern-stones and small objects made of bone.

Whereas the main mound seems to have been abandoned after the Hassuna occupation, scarce archaeological material from the Uruk (fourth millennium BCE) and Jemdet Nasr periods (early third millennium BCE) has been found on the lower town.

A small archive recovered from the Middle Bronze Age layers (early second millennium BCE) revealed that, at least in that period, the site was called Shusharra and was the capital of a small, semi-independent polity called māt Utêm or “land of the gatekeeper” ruled by a man called Kuwari.

The archaeological fieldwork in the Ranya Plain showed that this area was occupied during the Ubaid, Uruk and Ninevite V periods – roughly from the middle 6th to the mid-3rd millennium BCE. Evidence for these periods comes from the Citadel of Arbil as well.

Ubaid

The Ubaid period (ca. 6500 to 3800 BC) is a prehistoric period of Mesopotamia. The name derives from Tell al-Ubaid where the earliest large excavation of Ubaid period material was conducted initially by Henry Hall and later by Leonard Woolley.

In South Mesopotamia the period is the earliest known period on the alluvium although it is likely earlier periods exist obscured under the alluvium. In the south it has a very long duration between about 6500 and 3800 BC when it is replaced by the Uruk period.

Ubaid 1, sometimes called Eridu (5300–4700 BC), a phase limited to the extreme south of Iraq, on what was then the shores of the Persian Gulf. This phase, showing clear connection to the Samarra culture to the north, saw the establishment of the first permanent settlement south of the 5 inch rainfall isohyet. These people pioneered the growing of grains in the extreme conditions of aridity, thanks to the high water tables of Southern Iraq.

Ubaid 2 (4800–4500 BC), after the type site of the same name, saw the development of extensive canal networks from major settlements. Irrigation agriculture, which seems to have developed first at Choga Mami (4700–4600 BC) and rapidly spread elsewhere, form the first required collective effort and centralised coordination of labour in Mesopotamia.

Ubaid 3/4, sometimes called Ubaid I and Ubaid II — In the period from 4500–4000 BC saw a period of intense and rapid urbanisation with the Ubaid culture spread into northern Mesopotamia and was adopted by the Halaf culture. Ubaid artifacts spread also all along the Arabian littoral, showing the growth of a trading system that stretched from the Mediterranean coast through to Oman. The earliest evidence for sailing has been found in Kuwait indicating that sailing was known by the Ubaid 3 period.

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

In North Mesopotamia the period runs only between about 5300 and 4300 BC. It is preceded by the Halaf period and the Halaf-Ubaid Transitional period and succeeded by the Late Chalcolithic period. Halaf culture ended by 5000 BC after entering the so called Halaf-Ubaid Transitional period. Many Halafians settlements were abandoned, and the remaining ones showed Ubaidian characters. The new period is named Northern Ubaid to distinguish it from the proper Ubaid in southern Mesopotamia.

There are two explanations were presented for the transformation. The first maintain an invasion and a replacement of the Halafians by the Ubaidians, however, there is no hiatus between the Halaf and northern Ubaid which exclude the invasion theory. The most plausible theory is a Halafian adoption of the Ubaid culture.

Previously, the Syrian plains were not considered as the homeland of Halaf culture, and the Halafians were seen either as hill people who descended from the nearby mountains of southeastern Anatolia, or herdsmen from northern Iraq. However, those views changed with the recent archaeology conducted since 1986 by Peter Akkermans, which have produced new insights and perspectives about the rise of Halaf culture. A formerly unknown transitional culture between the pre-Half Neolithic’s era and Halaf’s era was uncovered in the Balikh valley, at Tell Sabi Abyad (the Mound of the White Boy).

Currently, eleven occupational layers have been unearthed in Sabi Abyad, levels from 11 to 7 are considered pre-Halaf, from 6 to 4 transitional, and from 3 to 1 early Halaf. No hiatus in occupation is observed except between levels 11 and 10. The new archaeology demonstrated that Halaf culture was not sudden and was not the result of foreign people, but rather a continuous process of indigenous cultural changes in northern Syria, that spread to the other regions.

Hamoukar

Hamoukar is a large archaeological site located in the Jazira region of northeastern Syria (Al Hasakah Governorate), near the Iraqi and Turkish borders. Most importantly, archaeologists believe that Hamoukar was thriving as far back as 4000 BC and independently from Sumer.

The origins of urban settlements have generally been attributed to the riverine societies of southern Mesopotamia (in what is now southern Iraq). This is the area of ancient Sumer, where around 4000 BC the Mesopotamian cities such of Ur and Uruk emerged.

In 2007, following the discoveries at Hamoukar, some archiologists have argued that the Cradle of Civilization could have extended further up the Tigris River and included the part of northern Syria where Hamoukar is located.

Archaeological discovery suggests that civilizations advanced enough to reach the size and organizational structure that was necessary to be considered a city and could have emerged before the advent of a written language.

Previously it was believed that a system of written language was a necessary predecessor of that type of complex city. Until now, the oldest cities with developed seals and writing were thought to be Sumerian Uruk and Ubaid in southern Mesopotamia.

The evidence at Hamoukar indicates that some of the fundamental ideas behind cities—including specialization of labor, a system of laws and government, and artistic development—may have begun earlier than was previously believed.

The discovery of a large city is exciting for archaeologists. While they have found small villages and individual pieces that date much farther back than Hamoukar, nothing compares to the discovery of this size.

Excavation work undertaken in 2005 and 2006 has shown that this city was destroyed by warfare by around 3500 BC-—probably the earliest urban warfare attested so far in the archaeological record of the Near East. Contiuned excavations in 2008 and 2010 expand on that.

Tell Brak

Eye Idols made of alabaster or bone have been found in Tell Hamoukar. Eye Idols have also been found in Tell Brak (Nagar, Nawar), an ancient city in Syria. Its remains constitute a tell located in the Upper Khabur region, near the modern village of Tell Brak, 50 kilometers north-east of Al-Hasaka city, Al-Hasakah Governorate.

It is the biggest settlement from Syria’s Late Chalcolithic period. Tell Brak is the modern name of the tell, while the city’s most ancient name is unknown. During the second half of the third millennium BC, the city was known as Nagar and later on, Nawar.

Starting as a small settlement in the seventh millennium BC, Tell Brak evolved during the fourth millennium BC into one of the biggest cities in Northern Mesopotamia, and interacted with the cultures of southern Mesopotamia.

Tell Brak is the modern name of the tell, whose earliest period (A), is dated to the proto Halaf culture c. 6500 BC, when a small settlement existed. Many objects dated to that period were discovered including the Halaf pottery. By 5000 BC, Halaf culture transformed into Northern Ubaid, and many Ubaid materials were found in Tell Brak.

Excavations and surface survey of the site and its surroundings, unearthed a large platform of patzen bricks that dates to late Ubaid, and revealed that Tell Brak developed as an urban center slightly earlier than better known cities of southern Mesopotamia, such as Uruk.

Tell Brak was a religious center from its earliest periods, its famous “Eye Temple” is unique in the Fertile Crescent, and its main deity, Belet-Nagar, was revered in the entire Khabur region, making the city a pilgrimage site. The culture of Tell Bral was defined by the different civilizations that inhabited it, and it was famous for its glyptic style, equids and glass. When independent, the city was ruled by a local assembly or by a monarch.

In southern Mesopotamia, proper Ubaid evolved into the Uruk period. The new culture used military and commercial means to expand its civilization. Northern Mesopotamia entered the period designated Late Chalcolithic / Northern Uruk period, during which, Tell Brak, whose original name is unknown, started to expand.

Phase Brak (E), witnessed the building of the city’s walls, and Tell Brak expansion beyond the mound to form a lower town. The city continued to expand during phase (F). Four mass graves dating to c. 3800–3600 BC were discovered in the surroundings of the tell, and they suggest that the process of urbanization was accompanied by internal social stress, and an increase in the organization of warfare.

Northern Mesopotamia evolved independently from the south during the Late Chalcolithic / early and middle Northern Uruk (4000-3500 BC). This period was characterized by a strong emphasis on holy sites, among which, the “Eye Temple” was the most important in Tell Brak.

The first half of phase (F) (designated LC3), saw the erection of the “Eye temple”, which was named for the thousands of small alabaster “Eye idols” figurines discovered in it. Those idols were also found in area TW.

Interactions with the Mesopotamian south grew during the second half of phase (F) (designated LC4) c. 3600 BC, and an Urukean colony was established in the city. With the end of Uruk culture c 3000 BC, Tell Brak’s Urukean colony was abandoned and deliberately leveled by its occupants. Tell Brak contracted during the following phases (H) and (J), and became limited to the mound.

By late Northern Uruk and especially after 3200 BC, northern Mesopotamia came under the full cultural dominance of the southern Uruk culture, which affected Tell Brak’s architecture and administration.

The southern influence is most obvious in the level named the “Latest Jemdet Nasr” of the “Eye Temple”, which had southern elements such as cone mosaics. The Uruk infiltration was peaceful, and it is first noted in the context of feasting, as commercial deals during that period were ratified through feasting.

Evidence exist for an interaction with the Mesopotamian south during phase (H), represented by the existence of materials similar to the ones produced during the southern Jemdet Nasr period. The city remained a small settlement during the Ninevite 5 period, with a small temple and associated sealing activities.

The city contracted at the beginning of the third millennium BC, before expanding again around c. 2600 BC, when it became known as Nagar, and was the capital of a regional kingdom that controlled the Khabur river valley.

Leyla-Tepe culture 

The Leyla-Tepe culture is a culture of archaeological interest from the Chalcolithic era. Its population was distributed on the southern slopes of the Central Caucasus (modern Azerbaijan, Agdam District), from 4350 until 4000 B.C.

The Leyla-Tepe culture includes a settlement in the lower layer of the settlements Poilu I, Poilu II, Boyuk-Kesik I and Boyuk-Kesik II. They apparently buried their dead in ceramic vessels. Similar amphora burials in the South Caucasus are found in the Western Georgian Jar-Burial Culture, an archaeological culture that was widespread in the second century B.C. to the eighth century A.D. in the basins of the Kura and Araks rivers in Transcaucasia, particularly in Caucasian Albania.

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

Maykop Culture

It has been suggested that the Leyla-Tepe were the founders of the Maykop culture (3700 BC-3000 BC), a major Bronze Age archaeological culture in the Western Caucasus region of Southern RussiaIt extending along the area from the Taman Peninsula at the Kerch Strait to near the modern border of Dagestan and southwards to the Kura River. Radiocarbon dates for various monuments of the Maykop culture are from 3950 – 3650 – 3610 – 2980 BC.

The culture takes its name from a royal burial found in Maykop kurgan in the Kuban River valley. In the south it borders the approximately contemporaneous Kura-Araxes culture (3500—2200 BC), which extends into eastern Anatolia and apparently influenced it. To the north is the Yamna culture, including the Novotitorovka culture (3300—2700), which it overlaps in territorial extent. It is contemporaneous with the late Uruk period in Mesopotamia.

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

New data revealed the similarity of artifacts from the Maykop culture with those found recently in the course of excavations of the ancient city of Tell Khazneh in northern Syria, the construction of which dates back to 4000 BC. After the discovery of the Leyla-Tepe culture in the 1980s it was suggested that elements of the Maykop culture migrated to the south-eastern slopes of the Caucasus in modern Azerbaijan.

The Leyla-Tepe culture is a culture of archaeological interest from the Chalcolithic era. Its population was distributed on the southern slopes of the Central Caucasus (modern Azerbaijan, Agdam District), from 4350 until 4000 B.C. Similar amphora burials in the South Caucasus are found in the Western Georgian Jar-Burial Culture.

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

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

In 2010, nearly 200 Bronze Age sites were reported stretching over 60 miles between the Kuban and Nalchik rivers, at an altitude of between 4,620 feet and 7,920 feet. They were all “visibly constructed according to the same architectural plan, with an oval courtyard in the center, and connected by roads.”

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

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

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

The Maykop people lived sedentary lives, and horses formed a very low percentage of their livestock, which mostly consisted of pigs and cattle. Archaeologists have discovered a unique form of bronze cheek-pieces, which consists of a bronze rod with a twisted loop in the middle and a thread through her nodes that connects with bridle, halter strap and headband. Notches and bumps on the edges of the cheek-pieces were, apparently, to fix nose and under-lip belts.

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

However, it recognized that this culture may be a product of at least two traditions: the local steppe tradition embraced in the Novosvobodna culture and foreign elements from south of the Caucasus which can be charted through imports in both regions.

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

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

Although there are no proofs of lexical borrowing between PIE and North Caucasian, there are a few undeniable areal-typological parallels in phonology and grammar. Some features generally attributed to PIE are not found in the majority of languages of North and Northeastern Eurasia, while they are common, or universally present, in the languages of the Caucasus (especially North Caucasus).

Those features include the high consonant-to-vowel ratio, tonal accent, number suppletion in personal pronouns, the presence of gender and the morphological optative and, possibly, the presence of glottalized consonants and ergativity.

Abkhazo-Adyghean

The Circassians are a North Caucasian ethnic group native to Circassia, who were displaced in the course of the Russian conquest of the Caucasus in the 19th century, especially after the Russian–Circassian War in 1864. The term “Circassian” includes the Adyghe (Circassian: 6Adyge) and Kabardian people.

In their own language the Circassians refer to themselves as Adyghe (also transliterated as Adyga, Adyge, Adygei, Adyghe, Attéghéi). The name is believed to derive from atté “height” to signify a mountaineer or a highlander, and ghéi “sea”, signifying “a people dwelling and inhabiting a mountainous country near the sea coast”, or “between two seas”.

A common name for the Adyghe is Circassians, a name which is occasionally applied to Adyghe and Abaza from the North Caucasus. The name Circassian represents a Latinisation of Cherkess, the Turkic name for the Adyghe, and originated in the 15th century with medieval Genoese merchants and travellers to Circassia.

But the earliest known form of the name “Cherkess” dates from the time of the Mongols who invaded the North Caucasus in medieval times, and who called the Adyghe “Serkesut”, a term which appears in Mongol texts from the 12th century.

The Turkic peoples and Russians call the Adyghe Cherkess. Folk etymology usually explains the name Cherkess as “warrior cutter” or “soldier cutter”, from the Turkic words cheri (soldier) and kesmek (to cut), so that Cherkess would mean “soldier-cutter”.

The Abkhazians call their state Аҧсны (Apsny, Aṗsny), which is popularly etymologized as “a land/country of the soul”, but literally means “a country of mortals (mortal beings)”. It possibly first appeared in the 7th century in an Armenian text as Psin(oun), perhaps referring to the historical Apsilians.

The Circassians mainly speak the Circassian language, a Northwest Caucasian language, also called Abkhazo-Adyghean, or sometimes Pontic (as opposed to Caspian for the Northea Caucasian languages), a group of languages spoken in the northwestern Caucasus region.

The Adyghe people originate in the North Caucasus region, an area they are believed to have occupied as early as the Stone Age period, with traces of them dating back as far as 8000 BC.

In about 4000 BC the Maykop culture flourished in the North Caucasus region and influenced all subsequent cultures in the North Caucasus region as well as other parts of the region that would become southern Russia. Archaeological findings, mainly of dolmens in North-West Caucasus region, indicate a megalithic culture in the region.

Haplogroup G

As of early 2014, there were 286 mutations (SNPs) defining haplogroup G, confirming that this paternal lineage experienced a severe bottleneck before splitting into happlogroups G1 and G2, which is the most frequent Y-DNA haplogroup among Adyghe and indeed it’s frequent among multiple western Caucasus peoples.

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

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

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

Haplogroup G2a(SNP P15+) has been identified in Neolithic human remains in Europe dating between 5000-3000BC. Furthermore, the majority of all the male skeletons from the European Neolithic period have so far yielded Y-DNA belonging to this haplogroup.

The oldest skeletons confirmed by ancient DNA testing as carrying haplogroup G2a were five found in the Avellaner cave burial site for farmers in northeastern Spain and were dated by radiocarbon dating to about 7000 years ago.

At the Neolithic cemetery of Derenburg Meerenstieg II in north central Germany, with burial artifacts belonging to the Linear Pottery culture, known in German as Linearbandkeramik (LBK). This skeleton could not be dated by radiocarbon dating, but other skeletons there were dated to between 5,100 and 6,100 years old. The most detailed SNP mutation identified was S126 (L30), which defines G2a3. G2a was found also in 20 out of 22 samples of ancient Y-DNA from Treilles, the type-site of a Late Neolithic group of farmers in the South of France, dated to about 5000 years ago.

The fourth site also from the same period is the Ötztal of the Italian Alps where the mummified remains of Ötzi the Iceman were discovered. Preliminary word is that the Iceman belongs to haplogroup G2a2b (earlier called G2a4).

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

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

Haplogroup J1

Like haplogroup G, J1 might have been of the principal lineages to bring domesticated animals to Europe. Both G and J1 reach their maximal frequencies in the Caucasus, some ethnic groups being almost exclusively J1 (Kubachis, Kaitaks, Dargins, Avars), which is mostly Northeast Caucasian, while others have extremely high levels of G (Shapsugs, North Ossetians).

Most of the ethnic groups in the North Caucasus have between 20 and 40% of each haplogroup, which are by far their two dominant haplogroups. In the South Caucasus haplogroup J2 comes into the admixture and is in fact slightly higher than either J1 or G.

The first J1 men lived in the Late Upper Paleolithic, shortly before the end of the last Ice Age. Like many other successful lineages from the Middle East, J1 is thought to have undergone a major population expansion during the Neolithic period.

Chiaroni et al. (2010) found that the greatest genetic diversity of J1 haplotypes was found in eastern Anatolia, near Lake Van in central Kurdistan. Eastern Anatolia and the Zagros mountains are the region where goats and sheep were first domesticated, some 11,000 years ago. Chiaroni et al. estimated that J1-P58 started expanding 9,000 to 10,000 years ago as pastoralists from the Fertile Crescent.

Although they did not analyze the other branches, it is most likely that all surviving J1 lineages share the same origin as goat and sheep herders from the Taurus and Zagros mountains.

The mountainous terrain of the Caucasus, Anatolia and modern Iran, which wasn’t suitable for early cereal farming, was an ideal ground for goat and sheep herding and catalyzed the propagation of J1 pastoralists.

Having colonised most of Anatolia, J1 herders would have settled the mountainous regions of Europe, including the southern Balkans, the Carpathians, central and southern Italy (Apennines, Sicily, Sardinia), southern France (especially Auvergne), and most of the Iberian peninsula. Hotspots of J1 in northern Spain (Cantabria, Asturias) appear to be essentially lineages descended from these Southwest Asian Neolithic herders.

The P58 marker which defines subgroup J1c3 is very prevalent in many areas where J-M267 is common, especially in parts of North Africa and throughout the Arabian Peninsula. It also makes up approximately 70% of the J-M267 among the Amhara of Ethiopia. Notably, it is not common among the J-M267.

Chiaroni 2009 proposed that J-P58 (that they refer to as J1e) might have first dispersed during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B period, “from a geographical zone, including northeast Syria, northern Iraq and eastern Turkey toward Mediterranean Anatolia, Ismaili from southern Syria, Jordan, Palestine and northern Egypt.”

They further propose that the Zarzian material culture may be ancestral. They also propose that this movement of people may also be linked to the dispersal of Semitic languages by hunter-herders, who moved into arid areas during periods known to have had low rainfall. Thus, while other haplogroups including J-M267 moved out of the area with agriculturalists who followed the rainfall, populations carrying J-M267 remained with their flocks.

According to this scenario, after the initial neolithic expansion involving Semitic languages, which possibly reached as far as Yemen, a more recent dispersal occurred during the Chalcolithic or Early Bronze Age (approximately 3000–5000 BCE), and this involved the branch of Semitic which leads to the Arabic language. The authors propose that this involved a spread of some J-P58 from the direction of Syria towards Arab populations of the Arabian Peninsula and Negev.

On the other hand, the authors agree that later waves of dispersion in and around this area have also had complex effects upon the distributions of some types of J-P58 in some regions.

Haplogroup R1b

R1b is the most common haplogroup in Western Europe, reaching over 80% of the population in Ireland, the Scottish Highlands, West Wales, the Atlantic fringe of France, the Basque country and Catalonia. It is also common in Anatolia and around the Caucasus, in parts of Russia and in Central and South Asia. R1b-V88, a subclade specific to sub-Saharan Africa, is found in 60 to 95% of men in northern Cameroon.

Haplogroup R* originated in North Asia just before the Last Glacial Maximum (26,500-19,000 years ago). This haplogroup has been identified in the remains of a 24,000 year-old boy from the Altai region, in south-central Siberia. This individual belonged to a tribe of mammoth hunters that may have roamed across Siberia and parts of Europe during the Paleolithic. Autosomally this Paleolithic population appears to have contributed mostly to the ancestry of modern Europeans and South Asians, the two regions where haplogroup R also happens to be the most common nowadays (R1b in Western Europe, R1a in Eastern Europe, Central and South Asia, and R2 in South Asia).

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

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

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

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

It has been hypothetised that R1b people (perhaps alongside neighbouring J2 tribes) were the first to domesticate cattle in northern Mesopotamia some 10,500 years ago. R1b tribes descended from mammoth hunters, and when mammoths went extinct, they started hunting other large game such as bisons and aurochs. With the increase of the human population in the Fertile Crescent from the beginning of the Neolithic (starting 12,000 years ago), selective hunting and culling of herds started replacing indiscriminate killing of wild animals.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

R1b-M269 (the most common form in Europe) is closely associated with the diffusion of Indo-European languages, as attested by its presence in all regions of the world where Indo-European languages were spoken in ancient times. The history of R1b and R1a are intricately connected to each others.

Indo-Europeans

Modern linguists have placed the Proto-Indo-European homeland in the Pontic-Caspian Steppe, a distinct geographic and archeological region extending from the Danube estuary to the Ural mountains to the east and North Caucasus to the south.

The Neolithic, Eneolithic and early Bronze Age cultures in Pontic-Caspian steppe has been called the Kurgan culture (4200-2200 BCE) by Marija Gimbutas, due to the lasting practice of burying the deads under mounds (“kurgan”) among the succession of cultures in that region.

It is now known that kurgan-type burials only date from the 4th millenium BCE and almost certainly originated south of the Caucasus. The genetic diversity of R1b being greater around eastern Anatolia, it is hard to deny that R1b evolved there before entering the steppe world.

Horses were first domesticated around 4600 BCE in the Caspian Steppe, perhaps somewhere around the Don or the lower Volga, and soon became a defining element of steppe culture. Nevertheless it is unlikely that R1b was already present in the eastern steppes at the time, so the domestication of the horse should be attributed to the indigenous R1a people.

It is not yet entirely clear when R1b crossed over from eastern Anatolia to the Pontic-Caspian steppe. This might have happened with the appearance of the Dnieper-Donets culture (c. 5100-4300 BCE).

This was the first truly Neolithic society in the Pontic-Caspian Steppe. Domesticated animals (cattle, sheep and goats) were herded throughout the steppes and funeral rituals were elaborate. Sheep wool would play an important role in Indo-European society, notably in the Celtic and Germanic (R1b branches of the Indo-Europeans) clothing traditions up to this day.

However, many elements indicate a continuity in the Dnieper-Donets culture with the previous Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, and at the same time an influence from the Balkans and Carpathians, with regular imports of pottery and copper objects.

It is therefore more likely that Dnieper-Donets marked the transition of indigenous R1a and/or I2a1b people to early agriculture, perhaps with an influx of Near Eastern farmers from ‘Old Europe’. Mitochondrial DNA sequences from Dnieper-Donets culture showed clear similarities with those of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture in the Carpathians (haplogroups H, T and U3).

The first clearly Proto-Indo-European culture was Sredny Stog (4600-3900 BCE), when small kurgan burials begin to appear, with the distinctive posturing of the dead on the back with knees raised and oriented toward the northeast, which would be found in later steppe cultures as well.

There is evidence of population blending from the variety of skull shapes. Towards the end of the 5th millennium, an elite starts to develop with cattle, horses and copper used as status symbols.

Another migration across the Caucasus happened shortly before 3700 BCE, when the Maykop culture, the world’s first Bronze Age society, suddenly materialized in the north-west Caucasus, apparently out of nowhere.

The origins of Maykop are still uncertain, but archeologists have linked it to contemporary Chalcolithic cultures in Assyria and western Iran. Archeology also shows a clear diffusion of bronze working and kurgan-type burials from the Maykop culture to the Pontic Steppe, where the Yamna culture developed soon afterwards (from 3500 BCE).

Kurgan (a.k.a. tumulus) burials would become a dominant feature of ancient Indo-European societies and were widely used by the Celts, Romans, Germanic tribes, and Scythians, among others.

The Yamna period (3500-2500 BCE) is the most important one in the creation of Indo-European culture and society. Middle Eastern R1b people had been living and blending to some extent with the local R1a foragers and herders for over a millennium, perhaps even two or three.

The close cultural contact and interactions between R1a and R1b people all over the Pontic-Caspian Steppe resulted in the creation of a common vernacular, a new lingua franca, which linguists have called Proto-Indo-European (PIE).

Linguistic similarities exist between PIE and Caucasian and Hurrian languages in the Middle East on the one hand, and Uralic languages in the Volga-Ural region on the other hand, which makes the Pontic Steppe the perfect intermediary region.

During the Yamna period cattle and sheep herders adopted wagons to transport their food and tents, which allowed them to move deeper into the steppe, giving rise to a new mobile lifestyle that would eventually lead to the great Indo-European migrations. This type of mass migration in which whole tribes moved with the help of wagons was still common in Gaul at the time of Julius Caesar, and among Germanic peoples in the late Antiquity.

The Yamna horizon was not a single, unified culture. In the south, along the northern shores of the Black Sea coast until the the north-west Caucasus, was a region of open steppe, expanding eastward until the Caspian Sea, Siberia and Mongolia (the Eurasian Steppe).

The western section, between the Don and Dniester Rivers (and later the Danube), was the one most densely settled by R1b people, with only a minority of R1a people (5-10%).

The eastern section, in the Volga basin until the Ural mountains, was inhabited by R1a people with a substantial minority of R1b people (whose descendants can be found among the Bashkirs, Turkmans, Uyghurs and Hazaras, among others).

The northern part of the Yamna horizon was forest-steppe occupied by R1a people, also joined by a small minority of R1b (judging from modern Russians and Belarussians, the frequency of R1b was from seven to nine times less lower than R1a).

The western branch would migrate to the Balkans and Greece, then to central and Western Europe, and back to their ancestral Anatolia in successive waves (Hittites, Phrygians, Armenians, etc.).

The eastern branch would migrate to Central Asia, Xinjiang, Siberia, and South Asia (Iran, Pakistan, India). The northern branch would evolve into the Corded Ware culture and disperse around the Baltic, Poland, Germany and Scandinavia.

Armenian

Linguists classify Armenian as an independent branch of the Indo-European language family. It is of interest to linguists for its distinctive phonological developments within the Indo-European languages. Some linguists group Armenian with Greek and the Indo-Iranian family into a higher-level subgroup of Indo-European, which is defined by such shared innovations as the augment. More recently, others have proposed a Balkan grouping including Greek, Phrygian, Armenian, and Albanian.

The loans from Iranian languages initially led linguists to erroneously classify Armenian as an Iranian language. The distinctness of Armenian was only recognized when Hübschmann (1875) used the comparative method to distinguish two layers of Iranian loans from the older Armenian vocabulary.

I. M. Austin (1942) concluded that there was an early contact between Armenian and Anatolian languages, based on what he considered common archaisms, such as the lack of a feminine and the absence of inherited long vowels. However, unlike shared innovations (or synapomorphies), the common retention of archaisms (or symplesiomorphy) is not necessarily considered evidence of a period of common isolated development.

Soviet linguist Igor Diakonov (1985) noted the presence in Old Armenian of what he calls a Caucasian substratum, identified by earlier scholars, consisting of loans from the Kartvelian and Northeast Caucasian languages.

Noting that the Hurro-Urartian peoples inhabited the Armenian homeland in the second millennium bc., Diakonov identifies in Armenian a Hurro-Urartian substratum of social, cultural, and animal and plant terms. Armenian haplogroup frequence is R1b 30 %, J2 22 %, G 11.5 %, J1 10.5 %, E 6 % and I 4.5 %, T 4 % and L 3 %. The mayor groups are R1b (Indo-European connection) and J2 (Hurro-Urartian connection). It seems likely that these two populations mixed.

Some of the terms he gives admittedly have an Akkadian or Sumerian provenance, but he suggests they were borrowed through Hurrian or Urartian. Given that these borrowings do not undergo sound changes characteristic of the development of Armenian from Proto-Indo-European, he dates their borrowing to a time before the written record but after the Proto-Armenian language stage.

Graeco-Aryan (or Graeco-Armeno-Aryan) is a hypothetical clade within the Indo-European family, ancestral to the Greek language, the Armenian language, and the Indo-Iranian languages. Graeco-Aryan unity would have become divided into Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian by the mid 3rd millennium BC. Conceivably, Proto-Armenian would have been located between Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian, consistent with the fact that Armenian shares certain features only with Indo-Iranian (the satem change) but others only with Greek (s > h).

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

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

In the context of the Kurgan hypothesis, Greco-Aryan is also known as “Late PIE” or “Late Indo-European” (LIE), suggesting that Greco-Aryan forms a dialect group which corresponds to the latest stage of linguistic unity in the Indo-European homeland in the early part of the 3rd millennium BC. By 2500 BC, Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian had separated, moving westward and eastward from the Pontic Steppe, respectively.

If Graeco-Aryan is a valid group, Grassmann’s law may have a common origin in Greek and Sanskrit. Note, however, that Grassmann’s law in Greek postdates certain sound changes that happened only in Greek and not Sanskrit, which suggests that it cannot strictly be an inheritance from a common Graeco-Aryan stage.

Rather, it is more likely an areal feature that spread across a then-contiguous Graeco-Aryan-speaking area after early Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian had developed into separate dialects but before they ceased being in geographic contact.

It has sometimes been claimed that Armenia is the urheimat of the Proto-Indo-European speakers. This could be regarded as partially correct if R1b-M269 originate there before migrating to the North Caucasus and the Pontic Steppe. IMHO, the PIE language only truly came into existence in the steppes, as a hybrid of the languages of R1b and R1a people.

However, Armenia has very old subclades like R1b1* (P25) and R1b1a2* (M269), which would confirm it as a possible source of the steppe M269. However the bulk of R1b lineages (about 90% of them) belong to the Balkanic and Greco-Anatolian L23, including a few L584+ and L11+. From a linguistic point of view the IE language closest to Proto-Armenian appears to be Greek, although wit clear Indo-Iranian influences.

Armenian belongs to the satem branch associated with R1a people, but the language could have been satemised due to the long influence of Indo-Iranian languages, for example during the Mitanni period (1500-1200 BCE) and during the Achaemenid Empire (550–330 BCE) when the region was part of the Satrapy of Armenia (the first historical state to be called ‘Armenia’), when R1a-Z93 was introduced to Armenia.

The only problem is that Armenia has about 30% of R1b and only 5% of R1a. Furthermore, Armenian R1a is split in half between East European Z282 and Indo-Iranian Z93. That presupposes that two separate migrations brought R1a to Armenia, one probably from Russia across the Caucasus, and the other via Iran (perhaps the Mitanni branch), or it could have been in the opposite direction.

It is possible that the ancient Armenians originated in the southern Balkans in the Bronze Age, as a L32 offshoot of R1b, then migrated across Anatolia. The East European R1a-Z282 was probably brought by the Cimmerians, who are recorded to have settled around Lake Van in the Armenian Highland in the 8th century BCE.

In human genetics, Haplotype 35, also called ht35 or the Armenian Modal Haplotype, is a Y chromosome haplotype of Y-STR microsatellite variations, associated with the Haplogroup R1b. It is characterized by DYS393=12 (as opposed to the Atlantic Modal Haplotype, another R1b haplotype, which is characterized by DYS393=13).

The members of this haplotype are found in high numbers in Anatolia and Armenia, with smaller numbers throughout Central Asia, the Middle East, the Balkans, the Caucus Mountains, and in Jewish populations. They are also present in Britain in areas that were found to have a high concentration of Haplogroup J, suggesting they arrived together, perhaps through Roman soldiers.

The geographical distribution of this haplotype is such that it is shared by Armenians and two other populations from the Caucasus. Moreover, it is lacking in most other populations from the Caucasus, as well as in the other populations from further east. On the other hand, it is more frequently found in Europe, where as we know, haplogroup R1b tends to have higher frequencies as well.

The Armenian modal haplotype is also the modal R1b3 haplotype observed by Cinnioglu in Anatolia. According to him, apparently it entered Anatolia from Europe in Paleolithic times, and diffused again from Anatolia in the Late Upper Paleolithic.

An alternative explanation may be that the particular haplotype may have been associated with the movement of the Phrygians into Asia Minor. The Phrygians were an Indo-European people of the Balkans who settled in Asia Minor, and the Armenians were reputed to be descended from them.

R1b1a2a represents the largest haplogroup for Armenians in general. It has been estimated to be 8,000 years old. According to Vince Vizachero who runs the haplogroup R-ht35 Project: “From prior analysis, it appears that R1b1a2a moved north and west into Europe quite rapidly. And the data we are seeing in our project are consistent with that: the oldest forms of R1b1a2a are found at high frequency in the “homeland” of SW Asia and places with the most contact with that region.

The closer we get to NW Europe, the more we observe the youngest, derived forms of R1b1a2a.” The current distribution of this haplogroup shows a heavy concentration in Western Europe (from the Northern part of the Iberian peninsula to Ireland and England via France and Belgium).

It shows a 15% concentration of R1b1a2a in a Northern swath of Anatolia the region was formerly called the Armenian Highlands or, simply, Armenia) – with a peak of 25% in the middle of the swath. If you sample only Armenians, you get a concentration of 30% of R1b1a2. If you sample only Armenians from Karabakh and Syunik you get concentrations of more than 40%.

It was initially believed that R1b originated in western Europe where (considered as a whole, including subclades) it reaches its highest frequencies. However R1b’s variance increases as one moves east, leading to the view that R1b originated further east, and (M269) expanded into Europe in the Neolithic not Paleolithic. Many geneticists now believe that R1b arose in Central Asia or Western Asia.

A recent study published in january 2010 seems to corroborate all of the above. According to its authors (Balaresque et al): “Haplogroup R1b1a2 is the commonest European Y-chromosomal lineage, increasing in frequency from east to west, and carried by 110 million European men. Previous studies suggested a Paleolithic origin, but here we show that the geographical distribution of its microsatellite diversity is best explained by spread from a single source in the Near East via Anatolia during the Neolithic…

R1b1a2 was carried as a rapidly expanding lineage from the Near East via Anatolia to the western fringe of Europe during the Neolithic. Our interpretation of the history of hg R1b1a2 now makes Europe a prime example of how expansion of a Y-chromosomal lineage tends to accompany technological and cultural change.”

The Armenian plateau hypothesis gains in plausibility by the fact that we have discovered evidence of admixture in the ancestry of Yamnaya steppe pastoralists, including gene flow from a population of Near Eastern ancestry for which Armenians today appear to be a reasonable surrogate (SI4, SI7, SI9). However, the question of what languages were spoken by the “Eastern European hunter-gatherers” and the southern, Armenian-like, ancestral population remains open. Examining ancient DNA from the Caucasus and Near East may be able to provide further insight about the dynamics of the interaction between these regions and the steppe.

Haplogroup J2

The world’s highest frequency of J2 is found among the Ingush (88% of the male lineages) and Chechen (56%) people in the Northeast Caucasus. Both belong to the Nakh ethnic group, who has inhabited that territory since at least 3000 BCE.

Their language is distantly related to Dagestanian languages, but not to any other linguistic group. However, Dagestani peoples (Dargins, Lezgins, Avars) belong predominantly to haplogroup J1 (84% among the Dargins) and almost completely lack J2 lineages.

Other high incidence of haplogroup J2 are found in many other Caucasian populations, including the Azeri (30%), the Georgians (27%), the Kumyks (25%), and the Armenians (22%).

Nevertheless, it is very unlikely that haplogroups J2 originated in the Caucasus because of the low genetic diversity in the region. Most Caucasian people belong to the same J2a4b (M67) subclade.

The high local frequencies observed would rather be the result of founder effects, for instance the proliferation of chieftains and kings’s lineages through a long tradition of polygamy, a practice that the Russians have tried to suppress since their conquest of the Caucasus in the 19th century.

Outside the Caucasus, the highest frequencies of J2 are observed in Cyprus (37%), Crete (34%), northern Iraq (28%), Lebanon (26%), Turkey (24%, with peaks of 30% in the Marmara region and in central Anatolia), Greece (23%), Central Italy (23%), Sicily (23%), South Italy (21.5%), and Albania (19.5%), as well as among Jewish people (19 to 25%).

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

It is likely that J2 men had settled over most of Anatolia, the South Caucasus and Iran by the end of the Last Glaciation 12,000 years ago. It is possible that J2 hunter-gatherers then goat/sheep herders also lived in the Fertile Crescent during the Neolithic period.

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

Within India, J2a is more common among the upper castes and decreases in frequency with the caste level. This can be explained by the assimilation of local J2a (and R2) people from Bactria and Pakistan by the R1a Indo-European warriors who descended from the Volga-Ural region of Russia (Sintashta culture) and established themselves for a few centuries in southern Central Asia, immediately north of the Hindu Kush (including the Oxus civilization) before moving on to conquer the Indian subcontinent. J2a would have reached Bactria with the expansion of Neolithic herders from the Middle East who then blended with the indigenous hunter-gatherers belonging chiefly to R2.

The Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex (or BMAC, also known as the Oxus civilization) is the modern archaeological designation for a Bronze Age civilisation of Central Asia, dated to ca. 2300–1700 BCE, located in present day northern Afghanistan, eastern Turkmenistan, southern Uzbekistan and western Tajikistan, centered on the upper Amu Darya (Oxus River).

There is archaeological evidence of settlement in the well-watered northern foothills of the Kopet Dag during the Neolithic period. This region is dotted with the multi-period hallmarks characteristic of the ancient Near East, similar to those southwest of the Kopet Dag in the Gorgan Plain in Iran.

At Jeitun (or Djeitun), mud brick houses were first occupied c. 6000 BCE. The inhabitants were farmers who kept herds of goats and sheep and grew wheat and barley, with origins in southwest Asia. Jeitun has given its name to the whole Neolithic period in the northern foothills of the Kopet Dag.

At the late Neolithic site of Chagylly Depe, farmers increasingly grew the kinds of crops that are typically associated with irrigation in an arid environment, such as hexaploid bread wheat, which became predominant during the Chalcolithic period.

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

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

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

There is a distinct association of ancient J2 civilisations with bull worship. The oldest evidence of a cult of the bull can be traced back to Neolithic central Anatolia, notably at the sites of Çatalhöyük and Alaca Höyük.

Bull depictions are omnipresent in Minoan frescos and ceramics in Crete. Bull-masked terracotta figurines and bull-horned stone altars have been found in Cyprus (dating back as far as the Neolithic, the first presumed expansion of J2 from West Asia).

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

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

Indo-Aryan

The Catacomb culture (ca. 2800–2200 BC) refers to a group of related cultures in the early Bronze Age occupying essentially what is present-day Ukraine. The name Catacomb culture comes from its burial practices. These are similar to those of the Yamna culture, but with a hollowed-out space off the main shaft, creating the “catacomb”. Animal remains were incorporated into a small minority of graves.

The culture was the first to introduce corded pottery decorations into the steppes and shows a profuse use of the polished battle axe, providing a link to the West. Parallels with the Afanasevo culture, including provoked cranial deformations, provide a link to the East. It was preceded by the Yamna culture. The Catacomb culture in the Pontic steppe was succeeded by the Srubna culture from ca. the 17th century BC.

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

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

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

The Sintashta culture, also known as the Sintashta-Petrovka culture or Sintashta-Arkaim culture, is a Bronze Age archaeological culture of the northern Eurasian steppe on the borders of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, dated to the period 2100–1800 BCE.

The Sintashta culture emerged from the interaction of two antecedent cultures. Its immediate predecessor in the Ural-Tobol steppe was the Poltavka culture, an offshoot of the cattle-herding Yamnaya horizon that moved east into the region between 2800 and 2600 BCE.

The earliest known chariots have been found in Sintashta burials, and the culture is considered a strong candidate for the origin of the technology, which spread throughout the Old World and played an important role in ancient warfare. Sintashta settlements are also remarkable for the intensity of copper mining and bronze metallurgy carried out there, which is unusual for a steppe culture.

Because of the difficulty of identifying the remains of Sintashta sites beneath those of later settlements, the culture was only recently distinguished from the Andronovo culture. It is now recognised as a separate entity forming part of the ‘Andronovo horizon’.

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

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

BMAC materials have been found in the Indus civilisation, on the Iranian plateau, and in the Persian Gulf. Finds within BMAC sites provide further evidence of trade and cultural contacts. They include an Elamite-type cylinder seal and a Harappan seal stamped with an elephant and Indus script found at Gonur-depe.

The relationship between Altyn-Depe and the Indus Valley seems to have been particularly strong. Among the finds there were two Harappan seals and ivory objects. The Harappan settlement of Shortugai in Northern Afghanistan on the banks of the Amu Darya probably served as a trading station.

There is evidence of sustained contact between the BMAC and the Eurasian steppes to the north, intensifying c. 2000 BCE. In the delta of the Amu Darya where it reaches the Aral Sea, its waters were channeled for irrigation agriculture by people whose remains resemble those of the nomads of the Andronovo Culture.

This is interpreted as nomads settling down to agriculture, after contact with the BMAC. The culture they created is known as Tazabag’yab. About 1800 BCE, the walled BMAC centres decreased sharply in size. Each oasis developed its own types of pottery and other objects.

Also pottery of the Andronovo-Tazabag’yab culture to the north appeared widely in the Bactrian and Margian countryside. Many BMAC strongholds continued to be occupied and Andronovo-Tazabagyab coarse incised pottery occurs within them (along with the previous BMAC pottery) as well as in pastoral camps outside the mudbrick walls.

In the highlands above the Bactrian oases in Tajikistan, kurgan cemeteries of the Vaksh and Bishkent type appeared with pottery that mixed elements of the late BMAC and Andronovo-Tazabagyab traditions.

As argued by Michael Witzel and Alexander Lubotsky, there is a proposed substratum in Proto-Indo-Iranian which can be plausibly identified with the original language of the BMAC. Moreover, Lubotsky points out a larger number of words apparently borrowed from the same language, which are only attested in Indo-Aryan and therefore evidence of a substratum in Vedic Sanskrit.

Some BMAC words have now also been found in Tocharian. Michael Witzel points out that the borrowed vocabulary includes words from agriculture, village and town life, flora and fauna, ritual and religion, so providing evidence for the acculturation of Indo-Iranian speakers into the world of urban civilization.

The Bactria-Margiana complex has attracted attention as a candidate for those looking for the material counterparts to the Indo-Iranians (Aryans), a major linguistic branch that split off from the Proto-Indo-Europeans. Sarianidi himself advocates identifying the complex as Indo-Iranian, describing it as the result of a migration from southwestern Iran.

Bactria–Margiana material has been found at Susa, Shahdad, and Tepe Yahya in Iran, but Lamberg-Karlovsky does not see this as evidence that the complex originated in southeastern Iran. “The limited materials of this complex are intrusive in each of the sites on the Iranian Plateau as they are in sites of the Arabian peninsula.”

A significant section of the archaeologists are more inclined to see the culture as begun by farmers in the Near Eastern Neolithic tradition, but infiltrated by Indo-Iranian speakers from the Andronovo culture in its late phase, creating a hybrid. In this perspective, Proto-Indo-Aryan developed within the composite culture before moving south into the Indian subcontinent. As James P. Mallory phrased it

It has become increasingly clear that if one wishes to argue for Indo-Iranian migrations from the steppe lands south into the historical seats of the Iranians and Indo-Aryans that these steppe cultures were transformed as they passed through a membrane of Central Asian urbanism.

The fact that typical steppe wares are found on BMAC sites and that intrusive BMAC material is subsequently found further to the south in Iran, Afghanistan, Nepal, India and Pakistan, may suggest then the subsequent movement of Indo-Iranian-speakers after they had adopted the culture of the BMAC.

The Indian archaeologist B. B. Lal has seriously questioned the BMAC and Indo-Iranian connection, and disputed the proclaimed relations. Others maintain there is insufficient evidence for any ethnic or linguistic identification of the BMAC solely based on material remains, in the absence of written records.

The oldest inscriptions in Old Indic, the language of the Rig Veda, is found not in India, but in northern Syria in Hittite records regarding one of their neighbors, the Hurrian-speaking Mitanni.

Mitanni, also called Hanigalbat (Hanigalbat, Khanigalbat cuneiform Ḫa-ni-gal-bat) in Assyrian or Naharin in Egyptian texts was a Hurrian-speaking state in northern Syria and southeast Anatolia from ca. 1500 BC–1300 BC.

Founded by an Indo-Aryan ruling class governing a predominantly Hurrian population, Mitanni came to be a regional power after the Hittite destruction of Amorite Babylon and a series of ineffectual Assyrian kings created a power vacuum in Mesopotamia.

The ethnicity of the people of Mitanni is difficult to ascertain. A treatise on the training of chariot horses by Kikkuli contains a number of Indo-Aryan glosses. Kammenhuber (1968) suggested that this vocabulary was derived from the still undivided Indo-Iranian language, but Mayrhofer (1974) has shown that specifically Indo-Aryan features are present.

Hurrian is related to Urartian, the language of Urartu, both belonging to the Hurro-Urartian language family. It had been held that nothing more can be deduced from current evidence. A Hurrian passage in the Amarna letters – usually composed in Akkadian, the lingua franca of the day – indicates that the royal family of Mitanni was by then speaking Hurrian as well.

The names of the Mitanni aristocracy frequently are of Indo-Aryan origin, but it is specifically their deities which show Indo-Aryan roots (Mitra, Varuna, Indra, Nasatya), though some think that they are more immediately related to the Kassites.

In a treaty with the Hittites, the king of Mitanni, after swearing by a series of Hurrian gods, swears by the gods Mitrašil, Uruvanaššil, Indara, and Našatianna, who correspond to the Vedic gods Mitra, Varuṇa, Indra, and Nāsatya (Aśvin).

Contemporary equestrian terminology, as recorded in a horse-training manual whose author is identified as “Kikkuli the Mitannian,” contains Indo-Aryan loanwords. The personal names and gods of the Mitanni aristocracy also bear significant traces of Indo-Aryan.

Because of the association of Indo-Aryan with horsemanship and the Mitanni aristocracy, it is presumed that, after superimposing themselves as rulers on a native Hurrian-speaking population about the 15th-16th centuries BC, Indo-Aryan charioteers were absorbed into the local population and adopted the Hurrian language.

Brentjes argues that there is not a single cultural element of central Asian, eastern European, or Caucasian origin in the Mitannian area; he also associates with an Indo-Aryan presence the peacock motif found in the Middle East from before 1600 BC and quite likely from before 2100 BC.

Most scholars reject the possibility that the Indo-Aryans of Mitanni came from the Indian subcontinent as well as the possibility that the Indo-Aryans of the Indian subcontinent came from the territory of Mitanni, leaving migration from the north the only likely scenario. The presence of some Bactria-Margiana loan words in Mitanni, Old Iranian and Vedic further strengthens this scenario.

The Rigveda is by far the most archaic testimony of Vedic Sanskrit. Bryant suggests that the Rigveda represents a pastoral or nomadic, mobile culture, centered on the Indo-Iranian Soma cult and fire worship.

The purpose of hymns of the Rigveda is ritualistic, not historiographical or ethnographical, and any information about the way of life or the habitat of their authors is incidental and philologically extrapolated from the context. Nevertheless, Rigvedic data must be used, cautiously, as they are the earliest available textual evidence from India.

Gonur Tepe is an archaeological site of about 55 hectares in Turkmenistan that was inhabited by Indo-Iranian peoples until sometime in the 2nd millennium BCE dating back to 2500 BCE. It’s located about 60 km north of Mary, Turkmenistan (the capital city of Mary Province).

The site was discovered by Greek-Russian archaeologist Viktor Sarianidi. Sarianidi discovered a palace, a fortified mud-brick enclosure, and temples with fire altars which he believes were dedicated to the Zoroastrian religion.

He also found what appears to be the boiler for the ritual drink soma, which is mentioned in the Rigveda and also in the Avesta as haoma. Sarianidi says he also found dishes with traces of cannabis, poppy and ephedrine. According to Sarianidi, this discovery strengthens the theory that these were the ingredients of soma.

The northern part of the complex had a central citadel-like structure about 100m by 180m (350 by 600 feet) in size. A southern complex is about 1.5 hectares in size. The site was most likely abandoned after the Murghab River’s course moved to the west. Gonur is among the largest ruins in the Morghab’s delta region; over 150 ancient settlements dating to the early Bronze Age (2500-1700 BCE) have been found there.

Maryannu is an ancient word for the caste of chariot-mounted hereditary warrior nobility which existed in many of the societies of the Middle East during the Bronze Age.

The term is attested in the Amarna letters written by Haapi. Robert Drews writes that the name ‘maryannu’ although plural takes the singular ‘marya’, which in Sanskrit means young warrior, and attaches a Hurrian suffix. He suggests that at the beginning of the Late Bronze Age most would have spoken either Hurrian or Aryan but by the end of the 14th century most of the Levant maryannu had Semitic names.

The Kassites were an ancient Near Eastern people who controlled Babylonia after the fall of the Old Babylonian Empire ca. 1531 BC and until ca. 1155 BC (short chronology). They gained control of Babylonia after the Hittite sack of the city in 1595 BC (i.e. 1531 BC per the short chronology), and established a dynasty based in Dur-Kurigalzu.

The Kassites were members of a small military aristocracy but were efficient rulers and not locally unpopular, and their 500-year reign laid an essential groundwork for the development of subsequent Babylonian culture. The horse, which the Kassites worshipped, first came into use in Babylonia at this time.

The Kassite language has not been classified. What is known is that their language was not related to either the Indo-European language group, nor to Semitic or other Afro-Asiatic languages, and is most likely to have been a language isolate (a stand-alone language unrelated to any other), although some linguists have proposed a link to the Hurro-Urartian languages of Asia Minor.

However, several Kassite leaders bore Indo-European names, and they might have had an Indo-European elite similar to the Mitanni, who ruled over the Hurro-Urartian-speaking Hurrians of Asia Minor.

The original homeland of the Kassites is not well known, but appears to have been located in the Zagros Mountains in what is now the Lorestan Province of Iran. However the Kassites were – like the Elamites, Gutians and Manneans who preceded them – linguistically unrelated to the Iranian-speaking peoples who came to dominate the region a millenium later.

The Kassite language has not been classified. However, several Kassite leaders bore Indo-European names, and they might have had an Indo-European elite similar to the Mitanni.

Over the centuries, however, the Kassites were absorbed into the Babylonian population. Eight among the last kings of the Kassite dynasty have Akkadian names, Kudur-Enlil’s name is part Elamite and part Sumerian and Kassite princesses married into the royal family of Assyria.

Herodotus was almost certainly referring to Kassites when he described “Asiatic Ethiopians” in the Persian army that invaded Greece in 492 BC. Herodotus was presumably repeating an account that had used the name “Cush”, or something similar, to describe the Kassites; the similar name “Kush” was also, purely by coincidence, a name for Ethiopia.

A similar confusion of Kassites with Ethiopians is evident in various ancient Greek accounts of the Trojan war hero Memnon, who was sometimes described as a “Cissian” and founder of Susa, and other times as Ethiopian.

According to Herodotus, the “Asiatic Ethiopians” lived not in Cissia, but to the north, bordering on the “Paricanians” who in turn bordered on the Medes.

The Kassites were not geographically linked to Kushites and Ethiopians, nor is there any documentation describing them as similar in appearance, and the Kassite language is regarded as a language isolate, utterly unrelated to any language of Ethiopia or Kush/Nubia, although more recently a possible relationship to the Hurro-Urartian family of Asia Minor has been proposed. However, the evidence for its genetic affiliation is meager due to the scarcity of extant texts.

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

The similarity of the name Hayasa to the endonym of the Armenians, Hayk or Hay and the Armenian name for Armenia, Hayastan has prompted the suggestion that the Hayasa-Azzi confereration was involved in the Armenian ethnogenesis. The term Hayastan bears resemblance to the ancient Mesopotamian god Haya (ha-ià) and another western deity called Ebla Hayya, related to the god Ea (Enki or Enkil in Sumerian, Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian).

Thus, the Great Soviet Encyclopedia of 1962 posited that the Armenians derive from a migration of Hayasa into Shupria in the 12th century BC. This is open to objection due to the possibility of a mere coincidental similarity between the two names and the lack of geographic overlap, although Hayasa (the region) became known as Lesser Armenia (Pokr Hayastan in modern Armenian) in coming centuries.

A minority of historians theorize that after the Phrygian invasion of Hittites, the hypothetically named Armeno-Phrygians would have settled in Hayasa-Azzi, and merged with the local people, who were possibly already spread within the western regions of Urartu.

Elamo-Dravidian

The Elamo-Dravidian language family is a hypothesised language family that links the Dravidian languages of India to the extinct Elamite language of ancient Elam (present-day southwestern Iran).

Linguist David McAlpin has been a chief proponent of the Elamo-Dravidian hypothesis. Recent collaborative work with American Indologist Franklin C Southworth further establishes this family in academic circles.

The extinct Harappan language (the language or languages of the Indus Valley Civilization) may also be part of this family. Proponents of the larger Nostratic language family hypothesis accepted Elamo-Dravidian at an early stage.

McAlpin (1975) in his study identified some similarities between Elamite and Dravidian. He proposed that 20% of Dravidian and Elamite vocabulary are cognates while 12% are probable cognates. He further proposed that Elamite and Dravidian possess similar second-person pronouns and parallel case endings.

For example the term for mother in the Elamite language and in different Dravidian languages like Tamil is “amma”. They have identical derivatives, abstract nouns, and the same verb stem+tense marker+personal ending structure. Both have two positive tenses, a “past” and a “non-past”.

Georgiy Starostin criticized McAlpin’s proposed morphological correspondences between Elamite and Dravidian as no closer than correspondences with other nearby language families.

Apart from the linguistic similarities, the Elamo-Dravidian Hypothesis rests on the claim that agriculture spread from the Near East to the Indus Valley region via Elam. This would suggest that agriculturalists brought a new language as well as farming from Elam.

Supporting ethno-botanical data include the Near Eastern origin and name of wheat (D. Fuller). Later evidence of extensive trade between Elam and the Indus Valley Civilization suggests ongoing links between the two regions.

The distribution of living Dravidian languages, concentrated mostly in southern India but with isolated pockets in Southern Afghanistan and Pakistan (Brahui) and in Central and East India (Kurukh, Malto), suggests to some a wider past distribution of the Dravidian languages. However, there are varied opinions about the origin of northern Dravidian languages like Brahui, Kurukh and Malto.

The Kurukh have traditionally claimed to be from the Deccan Peninsula, more specifically Karnataka. The same tradition has existed of the Brahui. They call themselves immigrants. Many scholars hold this same view of the Brahui such as L. H. Horace Perera and M. Ratnasabapathy.

Moreover, it has now been demonstrated that the Brahui only migrated to Balochistan from central India after 1000 CE. The absence of any older Iranian loanwords in Brahui supports this hypothesis. The main Iranian contributor to Brahui vocabulary, Balochi, is a western Iranian language like Kurdish.

Kura Araxes

Uruk migrants settled in the South, and later in the North Caucasus, at the end of the 5th and in the 4th millennia BC. Assimilation of cultures of the newcomers and residents, as a result, caused their development paving the way to the formation of the Maikop culture in the North Caucasus and the Kura-Araxes culture in the South Caucasus.

The Kura Araxes (Shengavitian) cultures and societies are a unique mountain phenomenon, evolved parallel to but not the same as Mesopotamian cultures. There is evidence of trade with Mesopotamia, as well as Asia Minor. 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.

Great cataclysmic events took place in the Caucasus in the period between the 4th and 3rd millennia BC; its cultural advances were influenced by changes within its boundaries as well as interactions with the outside world.

The most significant occurrence of this epoch was the appearance of a large number of peoples of Mesopotamian cultural identity who contributed to speeding up the rhythm of its cultural development, adding “explosive” character to its progress.

During this period the South Caucasus experienced two powerful waves of Middle Eastern expansion: the first at the time of Late Neolithic culture of Sioni in the 4th-5th millennia BC., and the second at the period of Tsopi culture in the Late Neolithic Age, at the end of the 5th and the first half of the 4th millennium BC., which is known as the Uruk expansion era.

Later, in the second half of the 4th and throughout the 3 rd millennium BC., during the Early Bronze Age the Kura-Araxes culture of the Caucasus spread throughout the greater part of the Caucasus, Eastern Anatolia, northern parts of Iran, Middle East and even Europe.

In this context, recent archaeological finds in the Southern and Northeastern Caucasus gave yet another, entirely new nuance to scientific researches into the ancient past of the Caucasus. They made it clear that incursion of these peoples into the Caucasus was not a onetime event, but continued for a significantly long period.

Reasoning by the topography of the archaeological finds in Mesopotamia, it becomes clear that large masses of migrant settlers from that area did not move straight along the route to Transcaucasia in order to reach the destination faster. Actually, they settled down in every region of the Caucasus, in the mountains and flatlands, in areas where they could maintain a lifestyle familiar to them.

It seems obvious that from that period on, two cultures of the Caucasus that had been at different stages of development could coexist peacefully on the basis of their mutual participation in metallurgical manufacturing; it was this type of communal economy that gave impetus to a speedy development of the local culture. This is well illustrated by the metallurgical items of the Kura-Araxes culture, which is significantly more advanced in comparison with the pre-Aeneolithic culture.

At present the situation has changed drastically. On the basis of a whole series of radiocarbon analyses, it has been proved [15; 82] that burial mounds of the ancient pit-grave culture are of a significantly later period in comparison with Maikop archaeological sites.

This allows scholars to assume that the tradition of building this type of burial mounds emerged precisely in the Maikop culture. Its ties with Levant and Mesopotamian antiquities point to its earlier origin. At the same time, a whole range of chronological data obtained with radiocarbon analysis has established that the settlements and burial mounds of the South Caucasus containing Uruk artefact are coexistent with the Maikop culture and, accordingly, the ancient pit-grave culture and its burial mounds belong to a later period.

Therefore, today we cannot possibly ascribe the emergence of this kind of burial mounds in the Maikop culture as well as similar contemporaneous sites in the South Caucasus to the influence of the steppe zone cultures. Moreover, there were no adverse conditions that would have prevented emergence of this type of burial mounds in the Caucasus itself.

Akhundov (2007) recently uncovered pre-Kura-Araxes/Late Chalcolithic materials  from the settlement of Boyuk Kesik and the kurgan necropolis of Soyuq Bulaq in northwestern Azerbaijan, and Makharadze (2007) has also excavated a pre-Kura-Araxes kurgan, Kavtiskhevi, in central Georgia.

Materials recovered from both these recent excavations can be related to remains from the metal-working Late Chalcolithic site of Leilatepe on the Karabakh steppe near Agdam (Narimanov et al. 2007) and from the earliest level at the multi-period site of Berikldeebi in Kvemo Kartli (Glonti and Dzavakhishvili 1987).

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

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

More than  forty calibrated radiocarbon dates on Maikop and related materials now support this high chronology; and the revised dating for the Maikop culture means that the earliest kurgans  occur in the northwestern and southern Caucasus and precede by several centuries those of the Pit-Grave (Yamnaya) cultures of the western Eurasian steppes (cf. Chernykh and Orlovskaya 2004a and b).

The calibrated radiocarbon dates suggest that the Maikop ‘culture’ seems to have had a formative influence on steppe kurgan burial rituals and what now appears to be the later development of the Pit-Grave (Yamnaya) culture on the Eurasian steppes (Chernykh and Orlovskaya 2004a: 97).

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

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

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

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

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

Dolmens

Concentrations of megaliths, dolmens and stone labyrinths have been found (but little studied) throughout the Caucasus Mountains, including the Abkhazia. Most of them are represented by rectangular structures made of stone slabs or cut in rocks with holes in their facade. These dolmens cover the Western Caucasus on both sides of the mountain ridge, in an area of approximately 12.000 square kilometres of Russia and Abkhazia.

The Caucasian dolmens represent a unique type of prehistoric architecture, built with precisely dressed large stone blocks. The stones were, for example, shaped into 90-degree angles, to be used as corners or were curved to make a circle. The monuments date between the end of the 4th millennium and the beginning of the 2nd millennium B.C.

While generally unknown in the rest of Europe, these Russian megaliths are equal to the great megaliths of Europe in terms of age and quality of architecture, but are still of an unknown origin. In spite of the variety of Caucasian monuments, they show strong similarities with megaliths from different parts of Europe and Asia, like the Iberian Peninsula, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Israel and India.

A range of hypotheses has been put forward to explain these similarities and the building of megaliths on the whole, but still it remains unclear. Approximately 3,000 of these megalithic monuments are known in the Western Caucasus, but more are constantly being found, while more and more are also being destroyed.

Hayasa-Azzi

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

The similarity of the name Hayasa to the endonym of the Armenians, Hayk or Hay and the Armenian name for Armenia, Hayastan has prompted the suggestion that the Hayasa-Azzi confereration was involved in the Armenian ethnogenesis. The term Hayastan bears resemblance to the ancient Mesopotamian god Haya (ha-ià) and another western deity called Ebla Hayya, related to the god Ea (Enki or Enkil in Sumerian, Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian).

There have been further speculations as to the existence of a Bronze Age tribe of the Armens (Armans, Armani), either identical to or forming a subset of the Hayasa-Azzi. In this case, Armenia would be an ethnonym rather than a toponym.

Kassites

The Kassites were an ancient Near Eastern people who controlled Babylonia after the fall of the Old Babylonian Empire in 1595 BC and until ca. 1155 BC. They gained control of Babylonia after the Hittite sack of the city and established a dynasty based in Dur-Kurigalzu.

The Kassites were members of a small military aristocracy but were efficient rulers and not locally unpopular, and their 500-year reign laid an essential groundwork for the development of subsequent Babylonian culture. The horse, which the Kassites worshipped, first came into use in Babylonia at this time.

The original homeland of the Kassites is not well known, but appears to have been located in the Zagros Mountains in what is now the Lorestan Province of Iran. They first appeared in the annals of history in the 18th century BC when they attacked Babylonia in the 9th year of the reign of Samsu-iluna (reigned ca. 1749–1712 BC), the son of Hammurabi.

Samsu-iluna repelled them, as did Abi-Eshuh, but they subsequently gained control of Babylonia circa 1570 BC some 25 years after the fall of Babylon to the Hittites in ca. 1595 BC, and went on to conquer the southern part of Mesopotamia, roughly corresponding to ancient Sumer and known as the Dynasty of the Sealand by ca. 1460 BC. From the 16th to 12th centuries BC, kings of Kassite origin ruled in Babylon until they were overthrown by Elamites.

The Hittites had carried off the idol of the god Marduk, but the Kassite rulers regained possession, returned Marduk to Babylon, and made him the equal of the Kassite Shuqamuna. The circumstances of their rise to power are unknown, due to a lack of documentation from this so-called “Dark Age” period of widespread dislocation.

Their success was built upon the relative political stability that the Kassite monarchs achieved. They ruled Babylonia practically without interruption for almost four hundred years— the longest rule by any dynasty in Babylonian history.

The Kassite language has not been classified, although more recently a possible relationship to the Hurro-Urartian family of Asia Minor has been proposed. However, the evidence for its genetic affiliation is meager due to the scarcity of extant texts.

The language itself has been compared to several, such as Hittite and Elamite but genetically found wanting, possibly with the exception of the Hurrian language. Relationship with or membership in the Hurro-Urartian family has been suggested based on a number of words.

What is known is that their language was not related to either the Indo-European language group, nor to Semitic or other Afro-Asiatic languages, and is most likely to have been a language isolate (a stand-alone language unrelated to any other), although some linguists have proposed a link to the Hurro-Urartian languages of Asia Minor.

However, several Kassite leaders bore Indo-European names, and they might have had an Indo-European elite similar to the Mitanni, who ruled over the Hurro-Urartian-speaking Hurrians of Asia Minor. Of the three hundred or so known Kassite words, around thirty of them are thought to be the names of deities, some strikingly similar to Indo-European god-names and this has been conjectured to be through contact transmission rather than linguistic affiliation.

Over the centuries, however, the Kassites were absorbed into the Babylonian population. Eight among the last kings of the Kassite dynasty have Akkadian names, Kudur-Enlil’s name is part Elamite and part Sumerian and Kassite princesses married into the royal family of Assyria.

Herodotus was almost certainly referring to Kassites when he described “Asiatic Ethiopians” in the Persian army that invaded Greece in 492 BC. Herodotus was presumably repeating an account that had used the name “Cush”, or something similar, to describe the Kassites; the similar name “Kush” was also, purely by coincidence, a name for Ethiopia.

A similar confusion of Kassites with Ethiopians is evident in various ancient Greek accounts of the Trojan war hero Memnon, who was sometimes described as a “Cissian” and founder of Susa, and other times as Ethiopian. According to Herodotus, the “Asiatic Ethiopians” lived not in Cissia, but to the north, bordering on the “Paricanians” who in turn bordered on the Medes.

Mitanni

Another mention by pharaoh Thutmose III of Egypt in the 33rd year of his reign (1446 BC) as the people of Ermenen, and says in their land “heaven rests upon its four pillars”. The Mitanni kingdom was referred to as the Maryannu, Nahrin or Mitanni by the Egyptians, the Hurri by the Hittites, and the Hanigalbat by the Assyrians. The different names seem to have referred to the same kingdom and were used interchangeably, according to Michael C. Astour.

The ethnicity of the people of Mitanni is difficult to ascertain. A treatise on the training of chariot horses by Kikkuli contains a number of Indo-Aryan glosses. Kammenhuber (1968) suggested that this vocabulary was derived from the still undivided Indo-Iranian language, but Mayrhofer (1974) has shown that specifically Indo-Aryan features are present.

The names of the Mitanni aristocracy frequently are of Indo-Aryan origin, but it is specifically their deities which show Indo-Aryan roots (Mitra, Varuna, Indra, Nasatya), though some think that they are more immediately related to the Kassites.

The common people’s language, the Hurrian language, is neither Indo-European nor Semitic. Hurrian is related to Urartian, the language of Urartu, both belonging to the Hurro-Urartian language family. It had been held that nothing more can be deduced from current evidence. A Hurrian passage in the Amarna letters – usually composed in Akkadian, the lingua franca of the day – indicates that the royal family of Mitanni was by then speaking Hurrian as well.

Maryannu is an ancient word for the caste of chariot-mounted hereditary warrior nobility which existed in many of the societies of the Middle East during the Bronze Age. The term is attested in the Amarna letters written by Haapi. Robert Drews writes that the name ‘maryannu’ although plural takes the singular ‘marya’, which in Sanskrit means young warrior, and attaches a Hurrian suffix. He suggests that at the beginning of the Late Bronze Age most would have spoken either Hurrian or Aryan but by the end of the 14th century most of the Levant maryannu had Semitic names.

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.

Within a few centuries of the fall of Washshukanni to Assyria, Mitanni became fully Assyrianized and linguistically Aramaized, and use of the Hurrian language began to be discouraged throughout the Neo-Assyrian Empire. However, Urartean, a dialect closely related to Hurrian seems to have survived in the new state of Urartu, in the mountainous areas to the north. In the 10th to 9th century BC inscriptions of Adad-nirari II and Shalmaneser III, Hanigalbat is still used as a geographical term.

Aram

Aram is a region mentioned in the Bible located in present-day central Syria, including where the city of Aleppo (a.k.a. Halab) now stands. Aram stretched from the Lebanon mountains eastward across the Euphrates, including the Khabur River valley in northwestern Mesopotamia on the border of Assyria. The etymology is uncertain. One standard explanation is an original meaning of “highlands”. This has been interpreted to be in contrast with Canaan, or “lowlands”.

Judeo-Christian tradition claims the name is derived from the biblical Aram, son of Shem, a grandson of Noah in the Bible. No ancient records of the time have been found mentioning such a person, however there are records of various Semitic peoples to the west of Mesopotamia such as Ahlamu and Amurru.

The toponym A-ra-mu appears in an inscription at Ebla listing geographical names, and the term Armi, which is the Eblaite term for nearby Aleppo, occurs frequently in the Ebla tablets (c. 2300 BC). One of the annals of Naram-Sin of Akkad (c. 2250 BC) mentions that he captured “Dubul, the ensi of A-ra-me” (Arame is seemingly a genitive form), in the course of a campaign against Simurrum in the northern mountains. Other early references to a place or people of “Aram” have appeared at the archives of Mari (c. 1900 BC) and at Ugarit (c. 1300 BC).

There is little agreement concerning what, if any, relationship there was between these places, or if the Aramu were actually Aramaeans; the earliest undisputed mention of Aramaeans as a people is in the inscriptions of the Assyrian king, Tiglath Pileser I (1114–1076 BC). Several of the Aramaean territories located within Aram are also referenced in the Hebrew Bible. These include Aram-Naharaim, Paddan-Aram, Aram-Damascus, Aram-Rehob, and Aram-Zobah.

The Arameans appear to have displaced the earlier Semitic Amorite populations of ancient Syria during the period from 1200 BC to 900 BC, which was a dark age for the entire Near East, North Africa, Caucasus, Mediterranean regions, with great upheavals and mass movements of people.

The Arameans were attacked and conquered by Tiglath-Pileser I (1115- 1077 BC) of Assyria, and were incorporated into the Middle Assyrian Empire which encompassed much of the Near East. Two medium-sized Aramaean kingdoms, Aram-Damascus and Hamath, along with several smaller kingdoms and independent city-states, developed in the region during the early first millennium BCE. There was some synthesis with neo Hittite populations in northern Syria and south central Anatolia, and a number of small Syro-Hittite states arose in the region, such as Tabal.

During the period 1200 – 900 BC Arameans came to dominate most of what is now Syria. With the advent of the Neo Assyrian Empire (911 – 605 BC), the region fell fully under the control of Assyria in 732 BC. Large numbers of people living there were deported into Assyria and Babylonia. A few steles that name kings of this period have been found, such as the 8th-century Zakkur stele.

Nahrain

Egyptian sources call Mitanni “nhrn”, which is usually pronounced as Naharin/Naharina from the Assyro-Akkadian word for “river”, cf. Aram-Naharaim, a region that is mentioned five times in the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament. It is commonly identified with Nahrima mentioned in three tablets of the Amarna correspondence as a geographical description of the kingdom of Mitanni.

In Genesis, it is used somewhat interchangeably with the names Paddan Aram and Haran to denote the place where Abraham stayed briefly with his father Terah’s family after leaving Ur of the Chaldees, while en route to Canaan (Gen. 11:31), and the place to which later patriarchs obtained wives, rather than marry daughters of Canaan.

Paddan Aram refers to the part of Aram-Naharaim along the upper Euphrates, while Haran is mainly identified with the ancient city of Harran on the Balikh River. According to one rabbinical Jewish tradition, the birthplace of Abraham (Ur) was also situated in Aram-Naharaim.

One translation of the name “Aram-Naharaim” is “Aram of Two Rivers”. The actual rivers referred to are not explicitly named in the Bible, although it is generally agreed that the first was the Upper Euphrates (called N-h-r-n by the Egyptians). The name Nahrima in the Amarna letters denoted the region of the Upper Euphrates and its tributaries – the Balikh and the Khabur Rivers.

Beth Nahrain or Bit Nahrain or (“house (of the) rivers”) is the Syriac name for the region known as Mesopotamia (Greek “land between the rivers”) as well as its surrounding periphery. Geographically, it refers to the areas around the Euphrates and Tigris rivers (as well as their tributaries). The Aramaic name loosely describes the area of the rivers, not between the rivers like the literal Greek term; however both names refer to the same region.

Both Josephus and the Septuagint translate the name as Mesopotamia. Ancient writers later used the name “Mesopotamia” for all of the land between the Tigris and Euphrates. However the usage of the Hebrew name “Aram-Naharaim” does not match this later usage of “Mesopotamia”, the Hebrew term referring to a northern region within Mesopotamia.

The translation of the name as “Mesopotamia” was not consistent – the Septuagint also uses a more precise translation “Mesopotamia of Syria” as well as “Rivers of Syria”. Josephus refers to the subjects of Chushan, king of Aram Naharaim, as “Assyrians”.

While it may be erroneously thought that the name is derived from the Greek “Mesopotamia”, the opposite is more probable as the Aramaic name has been attested since the adoption of Old Aramaic as the lingua franca of the Neo Assyrian Empire in the 10th century BCE, while the Greek name Mesopotamia was first coined in the 2nd century BCE by the historian Polybius during the Seleucid period. The name Bayn al-Nahrayn is also found in Arabic (“between the two rivers”).

This area roughly encompasses Iraq, northeastern Syria and parts of southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran. The Assyrians are considered to be indigenous inhabitants of Beth Nahrain. “Nahrainean” or “Nahrainian” is the Anglicized name for “Nahraya”, which is the Aramaic equivalent of “Mesopotamian”.

In Hebrew, Ashur denotes the region of Assyria proper on the Tigris, and is listed as distinct from Aram Naharaim in Jubilees. Aram Naharaim lay west of Ashur, as it contained Haran. Haran lies on the west bank of the Balikh, east of the Upper Euphrates. The traditional Jewish location of Ur Kasdim (at Edessa) and the Balikh itself lie west of the Khabur, and the latter may have been considered one of the “two rivers” delineating this Aramaean homeland, the other being the Euphrates.

Jubilees, however, clearly associates the city of Ur Kesed (Ur Kasdim, “Ur of the Chaldees”) not with the descendants of Aram who received Aram Naharaim as an inheritance, but rather with those of Arpachshad, his brother, who was Abram’s ancestor.

Both Jonathan ben Uzziel and Onkelos translate Aram Naharaim “Aram which is on the Euphrates” as Joshua explicitly stated: ‘Long ago your ancestors lived on the other side of the Euphrates.’ (Joshua 24, 2-3).

Nuzi texts

Nuzi (or Nuzu; Akkadian Gasur; modern Yorghan Tepe, Iraq) was an ancient Mesopotamian city southwest of Kirkuk in modern Al Ta’amim Governorate of Iraq, located near the Tigris river. The site consists of one medium-sized multiperiod tell and two small single period mounds.

The town of Gasur was apparently founded during the Akkadian Empire in the late third millennium BC. In the middle second millennium Hurrians absorbed the town and renamed it Nuzi. The history of the site during the intervening period is unclear, though the presence of a few cuneiform tables from Old Assyria indicates that trade with nearby Assur was taking place.

After the fall of the Hurrian kingdom of Mitanni to the Hittites, Nuzi fell to the Assyrians and went into decline. Note that while Hurrian period is well known because those levels of the site were fully excavated, the earlier history is less firm because of only scanty digging. The history of Nuzi is closely interrelated with that of the nearby towns of Eshnunna and Khafajah.

The best-known period in the history of Yorghan Tepe is by far one of the city of Nuzi in the 15th-14th centuries BC. The tablets of this period indicate that Nuzi was a small provincial town of northern Mesopotamia at this time in an area populated mostly by Hurrians, a people well known though poorly documented, and that would be even less if not for the information uncovered at this site.

The Nuzi Texts are documents of the ancient time, which is from Nuzi of Mesopotamia. Nuzi texts vividly describe the history and daily life of a 15th-century BC community in Mesopotamia, which contains economic, social, legal structures etc. The Nuzi Texts are also an important document for the biblical studies on the Old Testament, especially at the Patriarchal age, the era of the three biblical Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, according to the narratives of Genesis 12–50.

Nairi 

Nairi was the Assyrian name (KUR.KUR Na-i-ri, also Na-‘i-ru) for a Proto-Armenian (Hurrian-speaking) tribe in the Armenian Highlands, roughly corresponding to the modern Van and Hakkâri provinces of modern Turkey. The word is also used to describe the tribes who lived there, whose ethnic identity is uncertain.

During the Bronze Age collapse (13th to 12th centuries BC), the Nairi tribes were considered a force strong enough to contend with both Assyria and Hatti. The Battle of Nihriya, the culminating point of the hostilities between Hittites and Assyrians for control over the remnants of the former empire of Mitanni, took place there, circa 1230. Nairi was incorporated into Urartu during the 10th century BC.

UrArTu- ArArAt

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 Armenians.

Scholars believe that Urartu is an Akkadian variation of Ararat of the Old Testament. Indeed, Mount Ararat is located in ancient Urartian territory, approximately 120 km north of its former capital. In addition to referring to the famous Biblical mountain, Ararat also appears as the name of a kingdom in Jeremiah 51:27, mentioned together with Minni and Ashkenaz.

Khaldi and Arubani

Scholars such as Carl Ferdinand Friedrich Lehmann-Haupt (1910) believed that the people of Urartu called themselves Khaldini after their god Khaldi (Ḫaldi, also known as Khaldi or Hayk), one of the three chief deities of Ararat (Urartu).

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 shrine was at the ancient city of Urartu called Ardini (likely from Armenian Artin), meaning “sun rising” or to “awake”, persisting in Armenian names to this day). Ardini was known as Muṣaṣir, Akkadian for Exit of the Serpent/Snake, by the Assyrians.

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. Arinna, located near Hattusa, the Hittite capital, was the major cult center of the Hittite sun goddess known as UTU URUArinna “sun goddess of Arinna”. The name was also used as a substitute name for Arinniti.The sun goddess of Arinna is the most important one of three important solar deities of the Hittite pantheon, besides UTU nepisas – “the sun of the sky” and UTU taknas – “the sun of the earth”.

She was considered to be the chief deity in some source, in place of her husband. Her consort was the Hurrian weather god Teshub.The goddess was also perceived to be a paramount chthonic or earth goddess. She becomes largely syncretised with the Hurrian goddess Hebat.

Chaldea

Chaldea (from Ancient Greek: Chaldaia; Akkadian: māt Kaldu/Kašdu; Hebrew: Kaśdim; Aramaic: Kaldo), also spelled Chaldaea, was a small Semitic nation which emerged between the late 10th and early 9th century BC, surviving until the mid 6th century BC, after which it disappeared, and the Chaldean tribes were absorbed into the native population of Babylonia. 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 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 Hebrew Bible uses the term Kaśdim and this is translated as Chaldaeans in the Septuagint, although there is some dispute as to whether Kasdim in fact means Chaldean. These migrations did not affect Assyria to the north, which repelled these incursions.

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

The region in which these migrant Chaldeans settled was in the far south eastern portion of Babylonia, lying chiefly on the right bank of the Euphrates. Though the name later came to be commonly used to refer to the whole of southern Mesopotamia for a short time, this was a misnomer, and Chaldea proper was in fact only the plain in the far south east formed by the deposits of the Euphrates and the Tigris, extending to about four hundred miles along the course of these rivers, and about a hundred miles in average width.

The region that the Chaldeans settled in, and eventually made their homeland, was in the relatively poor country in the far south east of Mesopotamia, at the head of the Persian Gulf. They appear to have migrated into southern Babylonia from The Levant at some unknown point between the end of the reign of Ninurta-kudurri-usur II (a contemporary of Tiglath-Pileser II) circa 940 BC, and the start of the reign of Marduk-zakir-shumi I in 855 BC, although there is no historical proof of their existence prior to the late 850’s BC.

For perhaps a century or so after settling in the area, these semi nomadic migrant Chaldean tribes had no impact upon the pages of history, seemingly remaining subjugated by the native Akkadian speaking kings of Babylon, or perhaps regionally influential Aramean tribes. The main players in southern Mesopotamia during this period were the indigenous Babylonians and Assyrians, together with the Elamites to the east, and Aramean tribes which had already settled in the region a century or so prior to the arrival of the Chaldeans.

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 Assyro-Babylonian 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.

By the time of Cicero in the 2nd century BC, Chaldean appears to have completely disappeared even as a societal term for Babylonian astronomers and astrologers; Cicero refers to “Babylonian astrologers” rather than Chaldean astrologers.

Horace does the same, referring to “Babylonian horoscopes” rather than Chaldean in his famous Carpe Diem ode; Cicero views the Babylonian astrologers as holding obscure knowledge, while Horace thinks that they are wasting their time and would be happier “going with the flow”.

The terms Chaldee and Chaldean were henceforth only found only in Hebraic and Biblical sources dating from the 6th and 5th centuries BC, and referring specifically to the period of the Chaldean Dynasty of Babylon.

After an absence from history of two thousand two hundred and thirty six years, the name was revived by the Roman Catholic Church, in the form of the Chaldean Catholic Church in the 1683 AD, as the new name for the Church of Assyria and Mosul (so named in 1553 AD).

However, this was a church founded and populated not by the long extinct Chaldean tribe of south eastern extremes Mesopotamia who had disappeared from the pages of history over twenty two centuries previously, but founded in northern Mesopotamia by a breakaway group of ethnic Assyrians long indigenous to Upper Mesopotamia (Assyria) who had hitherto been members of the Assyrian Church of the East before entering communion with Rome.

ArMenia

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.

The name has also been claimed as a variant of Urmani (or Urmenu), attested epigraphically in an inscription of Menuas of Urartu. Minni (מנּי) is also a Biblical name of the region, appearing in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 51:27) alongside Ararat and Ashchenaz, probably the same as the Minnai of Assyrian inscriptions, corresponding to the Mannai. Armenia is interpreted by some as ḪARMinni, that is, “the mountainous region of the Minni”.

Proto-Indo-European/átta

Name of Armenia

Early Armenian History: Origins and Myths

R1b and J2 are the basic haplogroups of the Armenians

Armenian DNA Project

Kurgan stelae

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The Place of Eridu (NUN.KI) in Mythology and Reality

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 14, 2015

Sumer1.jpg

Sumer – Eridu (NUN.KI)

Eridu (Cuneiform: NUN.KI; Sumerian: eridu; Akkadian: irîtu modern Arabic: Tell Abu Shahrain) is an archaeological site in southern Mesopotamia (modern Dhi Qar Governorate, Iraq). It was long considered the earliest city in southern Mesopotamia, and is still today argued to be the oldest city in the world.

Located 12 km southwest of Ur, Eridu was the southernmost of a conglomeration of Sumerian cities that grew about temples, almost in sight of one another. Eridu, also transliterated as Eridug, could mean “mighty place” or “guidance place”.

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.

The ziggurat ruins of Eridu are far larger and older than any others, and seem to best match the Biblical description of the unfinished Tower of Babel.

One name of Eridu in cuneiform logograms was pronounced “NUN.KI” (“the Mighty Place”) in Sumerian, but much later the same “NUN.KI” was understood to mean the city of Babylon.

The much later Greek version of the King-list by Berossus (c. 200 BC) reads “Babylon” in place of “Eridu” in the earlier versions, as the name of the oldest city where “the kingship was lowered from Heaven”.

Rohl further equate Biblical Nimrod, said to have built Erech (Uruk) and Babel, with the name Enmerkar (-KAR meaning “hunter”) of the king-list and other legends, who is said to have built temples both in his capital of Uruk and in Eridu.

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.

Eridu appears to be the earliest settlement in the region, founded ca. 5400 BC, close to the Persian Gulf near the mouth of the Euphrates River. Because of accumulation of silt at the shoreline over the millennia, the remains of Eridu are now some distance from the gulf at Abu Shahrain in Iraq. Excavation has shown that the city was originally founded on a virgin sand-dune site with no previous occupation.

Kate Fielden reports “The earliest village settlement (c.5000 BC) had grown into a substantial city of mudbrick and reed houses by c.2900 BC, covering 8-10 ha (20-25 acres). Mallowan writes that by the Ubaid period, it was as an “unusually large city” of an area of approx. 20¬25 acres, with a population of “not less than 4000 souls”.

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

The Ubaid period (ca. 6500 to 3800 BC) is a prehistoric period of Mesopotamia. The name derives from Tell al-Ubaid where the earliest large excavation of Ubaid period material was conducted initially by Henry Hall and later by Leonard Woolley.

In South Mesopotamia the period is the earliest known period on the alluvium although it is likely earlier periods exist obscured under the alluvium. In the south it has a very long duration between about 6500 and 3800 BC when it is replaced by the Uruk period.

In North Mesopotamia the period runs only between about 5300 and 4300 BC. It is preceded by the Halaf period (6100-5400 BC) and the Halaf-Ubaid Transitional period and succeeded by the Late Chalcolithic period.

The Leyla-Tepe culture is a culture of archaeological interest from the Chalcolithic era. Its population was distributed on the southern slopes of the Central Caucasus (modern Azerbaijan, Agdam District), from 4350 until 4000 BC.

The Leyla-Tepe culture includes a settlement in the lower layer of the settlements Poilu I, Poilu II, Boyuk-Kesik I and Boyuk-Kesik II. They apparently buried their dead in ceramic vessels. Similar amphora burials in the South Caucasus are found in the Western Georgian Jar-Burial Culture. The culture has also been linked to the north Ubaid period monuments, in particular, with the settlements in the Eastern Anatolia Region (Arslan-tepe, Coruchu-tepe, Tepechik, etc.).

The settlement is of a typical Western-Asian variety, with the dwellings packed closely together and made of mud bricks with smoke outlets. It has been suggested that the Leyla-Tepe were the founders of the Maykop culture (ca. 3700 BC-3000 BC), a major Bronze Age archaeological culture in the Western Caucasus region of Southern Russia.

The Maykop culture extends along the area from the Taman Peninsula at the Kerch Strait to near the modern border of Dagestan and southwards to the Kura River. The culture takes its name from a royal burial found in Maykop kurgan in the Kuban River valley.

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

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

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

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

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

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

New data revealed the similarity of artifacts from the Maykop culture with those found recently in the course of excavations of the ancient city of Tell Khazneh in northern Syria, the construction of which dates back to 4000 BC. Radiocarbon dates for various monuments of the Maykop culture are from 3950 – 3650 – 3610 – 2980 calBC.

After the discovery of the Leyla-Tepe culture in the 1980s it was suggested that elements of the Maykop culture migrated to the south-eastern slopes of the Caucasus in modern Azerbaijan.

The Leyla-Tepe culture is a culture of archaeological interest from the Chalcolithic era. Its population was distributed on the southern slopes of the Central Caucasus (modern Azerbaijan, Agdam District), from 4350 until 4000 B.C. Similar amphora burials in the South Caucasus are found in the Western Georgian Jar-Burial Culture.

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

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

In 2010, nearly 200 Bronze Age sites were reported stretching over 60 miles between the Kuban and Nalchik rivers, at an altitude of between 4,620 feet and 7,920 feet. They were all “visibly constructed according to the same architectural plan, with an oval courtyard in the center, and connected by roads.”

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

The Maykop people lived sedentary lives, and horses formed a very low percentage of their livestock, which mostly consisted of pigs and cattle. Archaeologists have discovered a unique form of bronze cheek-pieces, which consists of a bronze rod with a twisted loop in the middle and a thread through her nodes that connects with bridle, halter strap and headband. Notches and bumps on the edges of the cheek-pieces were, apparently, to fix nose and under-lip belts.

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

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

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

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

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

According to Gwendolyn Leick, Eridu was formed at the confluence of three separate ecosystems, supporting three distinct lifestyles that came to an agreement about access to fresh water in a desert environment.

The appearance of the Ubaid folk has sometimes been linked to the so-called Sumerian problem, related to the origins of Sumerian civilisation.

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

Ubaid culture originated in the south, but still has clear connections to earlier cultures in the region of middle Iraq. The oldest agrarian settlement seems to have been based upon intensive subsistence irrigation agriculture derived from the Samarra culture (5500–4800 BC) to the north, characterised by the building of canals, and mud-brick buildings.

The Samarra culture is a Chalcolithic archaeological culture in northern Mesopotamia. It partially overlaps with Hassuna (5600-5350 BC) and early Ubaid. Samarran material culture was first recognized during excavations by German Archaeologist Ernst Herzfeld at the site of Samarra. Other sites where Samarran material has been found include Tell Shemshara, Tell es-Sawwan and Yarim Tepe.

Hassuna was one of the earliest cultures in Northern Mesopotamia. Before this time, Southern Mesopotamia was considered the cradle of civilization. When settlements began forming in the north, such as Hassuna, Jarmo, dating back to 7090 BC, Samarra, and Tell Halaf, the north became the important region. Jarmo is broadly contemporary with such other important Neolithic sites such as Jericho in the southern Levant and Çatal Hüyük, which existed from approximately 7500 BC to 5700 BC, and flourished around 7000 BC, in Anatolia.

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

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

The fisher-hunter cultures of the Arabian littoral were responsible for the extensive middens along the Arabian shoreline, and may have been the original Sumerians. They seem to have dwelt in reed huts.

The third culture that contributed to the building of Eridu was the nomadic Semitic pastoralists of herds of sheep and goats living in tents in semi-desert areas.

All three cultures seem implicated in the earliest levels of the city. The urban settlement was centered on an impressive temple complex built of mudbrick, within a small depression that allowed water to accumulate.

According to the Sumerian kinglist it was the first city in the World. The opening line reads: “When kingship from heaven was lowered, the kingship was in Eridu.” In Sumerian mythology, it was said to be one of the five cities built before the Deluge occurred.

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.”

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

Kumarbi is known from a number of mythological Hittite texts, sometimes summarized under the term “Kumarbi Cycle”. These texts notably include the myth of The Kingship in Heaven (also known as the Song of Kumarbi, or the “Hittite Theogony”.

The Song of Kumarbi or Kingship in Heaven is the title given to a Hittite version of the Hurrian Kumarbi myth, dating to the 14th or 13th century BC. The song relates that Alalu, considered to have housed “the Hosts of Sky”, the divine family, because he was a progenitor of the gods, and possibly the father of Earth, was overthrown by Anu who was in turn overthrown by Kumarbi. Alalu fled to the underworld.

The name “Alalu” was borrowed from Semitic mythology and is a compound word made up of the Semitic definite article al and the Semitic supreme deity Alu. The -u at the end of the word is an inflectional ending; thus, Alalu may also occur as Alali or Alala depending on the position of the word in the sentence. He was identified by the Greeks as Hypsistos (the “Most High” God). He was also called Alalus.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. The urban nucleus of Eridu was Enki’s temple, called House of the Aquifer or E-Abzu (Cuneiform: E.ZU.AB; Sumerian: e-abzu; Akkadian: bītu apsû, literally, ab=”ocean” zu=”deep”), also called engur, (Cuneiform: LAGAB×HAL; Sumerian: engur; Akkadian: engurru), an aquifer from which all life was believed to stem, which in later history was called House of the Waters, as Enki was believed to live in Abzu.

His consort Ninhursag (“lady of the sacred mountain”, from Sumerian NIN “lady” and ḪAR.SAG “sacred mountain, foothill”, possibly a reference to the site of her temple, the E-Kur, “House of mountain deeps”), a mother goddess of the mountains, and one of the seven great deities of Sumer, had a nearby temple at Ubaid. She is principally a fertility goddess. Her temple, the Esagila (from Sumerian E (temple) + SAG (head) + ILA (lofty)) was located on the KUR of Eridu, although she also had a temple at Kish.

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

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

Temple hymn sources identify her as the ‘true and great lady of heaven’ (possibly in relation to her standing on the mountain) and kings of Sumer were ‘nourished by Ninhursag’s milk’. Her hair is sometimes depicted in an omega shape, and she at times wears a horned head-dress and tiered skirt, often with bow cases at her shoulders, and not infrequently carries a mace or baton surmounted by an omega motif or a derivation, sometimes accompanied by a lion cub on a leash.

In the legend of Enki and Ninhursag, Ninhursag bore a daughter to Enki called Ninsar (“Lady Greenery”). Through Enki, Ninsar bore a daughter Ninkurra. Ninkurra, in turn, bore Enki a daughter named Uttu.

Enki then pursued Uttu, who was upset because he didn’t care for her. Uttu, on her ancestress Ninhursag’s advice buried Enki’s seed in the earth, whereupon eight plants (the very first) sprung up. Enki, seeing the plants, ate them, and became ill in eight organs of his body. Ninhursag cured him, taking the plants into her body and giving birth to eight deities: Abu, Nintulla (Nintul), Ninsutu, Ninkasi, Nanshe (Nazi), Azimua, Ninti, and Enshag (Enshagag).

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

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

Abzu was the name for the primeval sea below the void space of the underworld known as Kur, and Ma, a Sumerian word meaning “land” that in Sumerian mythology was also used to regard Primordial Land.

The underworld Kur is the void space between Abzu and Ma, which seems a likely pairing for parentage, in a fuzzy set of records. Ma was being referred to as “Mother of the mountain” – in this case of Kur (“Mountain” or “foreign land”), usually referred to the Zagros Mountains to the east of Sumer.

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

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

Kur is almost identical with “Ki-gal”, “Great Land” which is the Underworld (thus the ruler of the Underworld is Ereshkigal “Goddess of The Great Land”. In later Babylonian myth Kur is possibly an Anunnaki, brother of Ereshkigal, Inanna, Enki, and Enlil.

In the Enuma Elish in Akkadian tablets from the first millennium BC, Kur is part of the retinue of Tiamat, and seems to be a snakelike dragon, the first dragon god. In one story the slaying of the great serpent Kur results in the flooding of the earth.

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

She was a local goddess at Ma and a Phrygian alternative name for Cybele (Phrygian: Matar Kubileya/Kubeleya “Kubeleyan Mother”, perhaps “Mountain Mother”; Lydian Kuvava; Greek: Kybele, Kybebe, Kybelis) was an originally Anatolian mother goddess. She is Phrygia’s only known goddess, and was probably its state deity.

Cybele has a possible precursor in the earliest neolithic at Çatalhöyük (in the Konya region) where the statue of a pregnant goddess seated on a lion throne was found in a granary dated to the 6th millennium BC. This corpulent, fertile Mother Goddess appears to be giving birth on her throne, which has two feline-headed hand rests.

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

In Mesopotamian Religion (Sumerian, Assyrian, Akkadian and Babylonian), Tiamat is the symbol of the chaos of primordial creation, depicted as a woman, she represents the beauty of the feminine, depicted as the glistening one. She is a primordial goddess of the ocean, mating with Abzû (the god of fresh water) to produce younger gods.

Tiamat was the “shining” personification of salt water who roared and smote in the chaos of original creation. She and Apsu (the god of fresh water) filled the cosmic abyss with the primeval waters. She is “Ummu-Hubur who formed all things”.

According to some analyses there are two parts to the Tiamat myth, the first in which Tiamat is creator goddess, through a “sacred marriage” between salt and fresh water, peacefully creating the cosmos through successive generations. In the second “Chaoskampf” Tiamat is considered the monstrous embodiment of primordial chaos.

It is suggested that there are two parts to the Tiamat mythos, the first in which Tiamat is a creator goddess, through a “Sacred marriage” between salt and fresh water, peacefully creating the cosmos through successive generations.

In the second “Chaoskampf” Tiamat is considered the monstrous embodiment of primordial chaos. Some sources identify her with images of a sea serpent or dragon. In the Enûma Elish, the Babylonian epic of creation, she gives birth to the first generation of deities; her husband, Apsu,(correctly) assuming they are planning to kill him and usurp his throne, later makes war upon them and is killed.

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

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

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.

Abzu fathered upon Tiamat the elder deities Lahmu and Lahamu (masc. the “hairy”), a title given to the gatekeepers at Enki’s Abzu/E’engurra-temple in Eridu. Lahmu and Lahamu in turn were the parents of the ends of the heavens (Anshar, from an = heaven, shár = horizon, end, “whole heaven”) and the earth, Kishar (“Whole Earth”); Anshar and Kishar were considered to meet at the horizon, becoming, thereby, the parents of Anu (“Heaven”), the god of heaven, lord of constellations, king of gods, spirits and demons, and Ki (“Earth”).

Kishar appears only once in Enuma Elish, in the opening lines of the epic, and then disappears from the remainder of the story. She appears only occasionally in other first millennium BCE texts, where she can be equated with the Babylonian goddess Antu or Antum, the first consort of Anu. The pair were the parents of the Anunnaki and the Utukki.

Antu was a dominant feature of the Babylonian akit festival until as recently as 200 BC, her later pre-eminence possibly attributable to identification with the Greek goddess Hera. Antu was replaced as consort by Ishtar or Inanna, who may also be a daughter of Anu and Antu.

But Anu spent so much time on the ground protecting the Sumerians he left her in Heaven and then met Innin, whom he renamed Innan, or, “Queen of Heaven”. She was later known as Ishtar. Anu resided in her temple the most, and rarely went back up to Heaven. He is also included in the Epic of Gilgamesh, and is a major character in the clay tablets.

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

Tiamat possessed the Tablets of Destiny and in the primordial battle she gave them to Kingu, the deity she had chosen as her lover and the leader of her host, and who was also one of her children. The deities gathered in terror, but Anu, (replaced later, first by Enlil and, in the late version that has survived after the First Dynasty of Babylon, by Marduk, the son of Ea), first extracting a promise that he would be revered as “king of the gods”, overcame her, armed with the arrows of the winds, a net, a club, and an invincible spear.

Slicing Tiamat in half, he made from her ribs the vault of heaven and earth. Her weeping eyes became the source of the Tigris and the Euphrates, her tail became the Milky Way. With the approval of the elder deities, he took from Kingu the Tablets of Destiny, installing himself as the head of the Babylonian pantheon. Kingu was captured and later was slain: his red blood mixed with the red clay of the Earth would make the body of humankind, created to act as the servant of the younger Igigi deities.

The principal theme of the epic is the justified elevation of Marduk to command over all the deities. “It has long been realized that the Marduk epic, for all its local coloring and probable elaboration by the Babylonian theologians, reflects in substance older Sumerian material,” American Assyriologist E. A. Speiser remarked in 1942 adding “The exact Sumerian prototype, however, has not turned up so far.”

Without corroboration in surviving texts, this surmise that the Babylonian version of the story is based upon a modified version of an older epic, in which Enlil, not Marduk, was the god who slew Tiamat, is more recently dismissed as “distinctly improbable”, in fact, Marduk has no precise Sumerian prototype.

It is generally accepted amongst modern Assyriologists that the Enûma Elish – the Babylonian creation epic to which this mythological strand is attributed – has been written as political and religious propaganda rather than reflecting a Sumerian tradition; the dating of the epic is not completely clear, but judging from the mythological topics covered and the cuneiform versions discovered thus far, it is likely to date it to the 15th century BCE.

Tiamat was later known as Thalattē (as a variant of thalassa, the Greek word for “sea”) in the Hellenistic Babylonian writer Berossus’ first volume of universal history. It is thought that the name of Tiamat was dropped in secondary translations of the original religious texts (written in the East Semitic Akkadian language) because some Akkadian copyists of Enûma Elish substituted the ordinary word for “sea” for Tiamat, since the two names had become essentially the same due to association.

Thorkild Jacobsen and Walter Burkert both argue for a connection with the Akkadian word for sea, tâmtu, following an early form, ti’amtum. Burkert continues by making a linguistic connection to Tethys. He finds the later form, thalatth, to be related clearly to Greek thalatta or thalassa, “sea”.

The Babylonian epic Enuma Elish is named for its incipit: “When above” the heavens did not yet exist nor the earth below, Apsu the freshwater ocean was there, “the first, the begetter”, and Tiamat, the saltwater sea, “she who bore them all”; they were “mixing their waters”.

It is thought that female deities are older than male ones in Mesopotamia and Tiamat may have begun as part of the cult of Nammu, a female principle of a watery creative force, with equally strong connections to the underworld, which predates the appearance of Ea-Enki. Tiamat also has been claimed to be cognate with Northwest Semitic tehom (the deeps, abyss), in the Book of Genesis 1:2.

The cosmogenic myth common in Sumer was that of the hieros gamos, a sacred marriage where divine principles in the form of dualistic opposites came together as male and female to give birth to the cosmos. In the epic Enki and Ninhursag, Enki, as lord of Ab or fresh water (also the Sumerian word for semen), is living with his wife in the paradise of Dilmun.

Despite being a place where “the raven uttered no cries” and “the lion killed not, the wolf snatched not the lamb, unknown was the kid-killing dog, unknown was the grain devouring boar”, Dilmun had no water and Enki heard the cries of its Goddess, Ninsikil, and orders the sun-God Utu to bring fresh water from the Earth for Dilmun.

Dilmun was identified with Bahrein, whose name in Arabic means “two seas”, where the fresh waters of the Arabian aquifer mingle with the salt waters of the Persian Gulf. This mingling of waters was known in Sumerian as Nammu, and was identified as the mother of Enki.

In the city of 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.

In Sumerian mythology, Nammu (also Namma, spelled ideographically NAMMA = ENGUR) was a primeval goddess, corresponding to Tiamat in Babylonian mythology.

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

Nammu is not well attested in Sumerian mythology. She may have been of greater importance prehistorically, before Enki took over most of her functions. An indication of her continued relevance may be found in the theophoric name of Ur-Nammu, the founder of the Third Dynasty of Ur.

According to the Neo-Sumerian mythological text Enki and Ninmah, Enki is the son of An and Nammu. Nammu is the goddess who “has given birth to the great gods”. It is she who has the idea of creating mankind, and she goes to wake up Enki, who is asleep in the Apsu, so that he may set the process going.

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

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

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

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

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

Sanskrit and Avestan napāt (“grandson”) are cognate to Latin nepōs and English nephew, but the name Apām Napāt has also been compared to Etruscan Nethuns and Celtic Nechtan and Roman Neptune.

In Yasht 19 of the Avesta Apąm Napāt appears as the Creator of mankind. Here, there is an evident link between the glory of sovereignty (Khvarenah) and Apąm Napāt who protects Khvarenah as the royal glory of Iranian kings.

Apām Napāt is sometimes, for example in Rigveda book 2 hymn 35 verse 2, described as the supreme creator deity who originates in the cosmic waters. Apam Napat has a golden splendour and is said to be kindled by the cosmic waters.

The reference to fire may have originally referred to flames from natural gas or oil seepages surfacing through water, as in a fire temple. There is a conjecture that the word “naphtha” came (via Greek, where it meant any sort of petroleum) from the name “Apam Napat”.

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

Apas (āpas) is the Avestan language term for “the waters”, which—in its innumerable aggregate states—is represented by the Apas, the hypostases of the waters. Avestan apas (from singular āpō) is grammatically feminine, and the Apas are female. The Middle Persian equivalents are ābān/Ābān (alt: āvān/Āvān), from which Parsi Gujarati āvā/Āvā (in religious usage only) derive. The Avestan common noun āpas corresponds exactly to Vedic Sanskrit āpas, and both derive from the same proto-Indo-Iranian word, stem *ap- “water”.

In the myth and folklore of the Near East and Europe, Abyzou is the name of a female demon. Abyzou was blamed for miscarriages and infant mortality and was said to be motivated by envy (Greek: phthonos), as she herself was infertile.

In the Jewish tradition she is identified with Lilith, in Coptic Egypt with Alabasandria, and in Byzantine culture with Gylou, but in various texts surviving from the syncretic magical practice of antiquity and the early medieval era she is said to have many or virtually innumerable names.

In Sumerian religion, Ninlil (NIN.LÍL”lady of the open field” or “Lady of the Wind”), also called Sud, in Assyrian called Mulliltu, is the consort goddess of Enlil. As “Lady Wind” she may be associated with the figure of the Akkadian demon “Lil-itu”, thought to have been the origin of the Hebrew Lilith legend.

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

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

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

The entity Sea was originally bi- or asexual, later dividing into male Abzu (fresh water) and female Tiamat (salt water). The female demons among whom Lilith is the best-known are often said to have come from the primeval sea.

In classical Greece, female sea monsters that combine allure and deadliness may also derive from this tradition, including the Gorgons (who were daughters of the old sea god Phorcys), Sirens, Harpies, and even water nymphs and Nereids.

In the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew scriptures, the word Abyssos is treated as a noun of feminine grammatical gender, even though Greek nouns ending in -os are typically masculine. Abyssos is equivalent in meaning to Mesopotamian Abzu as the dark chaotic sea before Creation.

The word also appears in the Christian scriptures, occurring six times in the Book of Revelation, where it is conventionally translated not as “the deep” but as “the bottomless pit” of Hell. Barb argues that in essence the Sumerian Abzu is the “grandmother” of the Christian Devil.

During the Ur III period a ziggurat was built over the remains of previous temples by Ur-Nammu. Aside from Enmerkar of Uruk (as mentioned in the Aratta epics), several later historical Sumerian kings are said in inscriptions found here to have worked on or renewed the e-abzu temple, including Elili of Ur; Ur-Nammu, Shulgi and Amar-Sin of Ur-III, and Nur-Adad of Larsa.

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

The 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.

Babylonian texts talk of the creation of Eridu by the god Marduk (“bull calf of the sun god Utu”) as the first city, “the holy city, the dwelling of their [the other gods] delight”. In the perfected system of astrology, the planet Jupiter was associated with Marduk by the Hammurabi period.

Marduk’s original character is obscure but he was later associated with water, vegetation, judgment, and magic. His consort was the goddess Sarpanit. He was also regarded as the son of Ea (Sumerian Enki) and Damkina and the heir of Anu.

Jacobsen describes that “Eridu was for all practical purposes abandoned after the Ubaid period”, although it had recovered by Early Dynastic II as there was a Massive Early Dynastic II palace (100 m in each direction) partially excavated there.

Ruth Whitehouse called it “a Major Early Dynastic City”. By c.2050 BC the city had declined; there is little evidence of occupation after that date. Eighteen superimposed mudbrick temples at the site underlie the unfinished Ziggurat of Amar-Sin (c. 2047 – 2039 BC).

The finding of extensive deposits of fishbones associated with the earliest levels also shows a continuity of the Abzu cult associated later with Enki and Ea. This apparent continuity of occupation and religious observance at Eridu provide convincing evidence for the indigenous origin of Sumerian civilization.

Eridu was abandoned for long periods, before it was finally deserted and allowed to fall into ruin in the 6th century BC. The encroachment of neighbouring sand dunes, and the rise of a saline water table, set early limits to its agricultural base so in its later Neo-Babylonian development, Eridu was rebuilt as a purely temple site, in honour of its earliest history.

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.

Egypt – NU/NUN

Nu (“watery one”), also called Nun (“inert one”) is the deification of the primordial watery abyss in ancient Egyptian religion. In the Ogdoad (the “eightfold”), eight deities worshipped in Hermopolis during what is called the Old Kingdom, the third through sixth dynasties, dated between 2686 to 2134 BC, cosmogony, the word nu means “abyss”.

The Ogdoad includes eight deities which are arranged in four male-female pairs: Naunet and Nun (the primordial waters), Amaunet and Amun (air or invisibility), Hauhet and Heh (eternity or infinity), and Kauket with Kuk (darkness). The males were associated with frogs and females were associated with snakes.

Apart from their gender, there was little to distinguish the male gods and female goddesses; indeed, the names of the females are merely derivative female forms of the male name. Essentially, each pair represents the male and female aspect of one of four concepts.

Together the four concepts represent the primal, fundamental state of the beginning. They are what always have been. In the myth, however, their interaction ultimately proved to be unbalanced resulting in the arising of a new entity depicted either as an egg or as a lotus bud. When the entity opened, it revealed Ra, the fiery sun, inside. After a long interval of rest, Ra, together with the other deities, created all other things.

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 (meaning a collection of nine things) Nun is perceived as transcendent at the point of creation alongside Atum the creator god.

Among Egyptian pesedjets, the most important was the Great Pesedjet, also called the Ennead of Heliopolis (Egyptian: Aunu, “place of pillars”), after its centre of worship. The Ennead were worshipped at Heliopolis and consisted of the god Atum, his children Shu and Tefnut, their children Geb and Nut and their children Osiris, Isis, Set, and Nephthys.

The Greek term Ennead, denoting a group of nine, was coined by Greeks exploring Egypt, its culture and religion, especially after the conquest by Alexander the Great and during the subsequent rule of the Ptolemaic Dynasty.

The creation account of Heliopolis relates that from the primeval waters represented by Nun, a mound appeared on which the self-begotten deity Atum sat. Bored and alone, Atum spat or, according to other stories, masturbated, producing Shu, representing the air and Tefnut, representing moisture.

Some versions however have Atum – identified with Ra – father of Shu and Tefnut with Iusaaset (“the great one who comes forth”), who is accordingly sometimes described as a “shadow” in this pesedjet. Iusaset is also described as “the grandmother of all of the deities”.

In turn, Shu and Tefnut mated and brought forth Geb, representing the earth, and Nut, representing the nighttime sky. Because of their initial closeness, Geb and Nut engaged in continuous copulation until Shu separated them, lifting Nut into her place in the sky. The children of Geb and Nut were the sons Osiris and Set and the daughters Isis and Nephthys, which in turn formed couples.

In Ancient Egyptian art, Iusaaset appears as a woman wearing the horned vulture crown with the uraeus and the solar disk in it, and she carries an ankh in one hand and a scepter in the other. The horns, the uraeus, and the solar disk make a religious connection to Bat and Hathor.

Although her origins are unclear, Iusaaset seems to be attested quite early in the Egyptian pantheon, being associated with creation and the creation of the deities. Many myths relate that she was seen as the mother of the first deities and the grandmother of the following deities, having watched over the birth of the ones that were her grandchildren.

She remains as a primary deity in the pantheon throughout all eras of the culture, even through the Persian, Hyksos, Greek, and Roman occupations, and regardless of changes in the specific myths.

One belief held that Iusaaset and Atum (Ra) were the parents of Shu and Tefnut, the first deities. In this myth she often was described as his shadow, sister, or wife. Later other goddesses also became associated with Atum and one variant even relates that he gave birth to the deities, although that variant seems to have been rejected by many cultural and religious centers.

During the Old Kingdom the Egyptians believed that Atum lifted the dead pharaoh’s soul from the tomb to the starry heavens. By the time of the New Kingdom, the Atum myth had merged in the Egyptian pantheon with that of Ra, who later was described as a creator and a solar deity as his cult arose. Their two identities were joined into Atum-Ra. After they were combined, Ra was seen as the whole sun and Atum came to be seen as the sun when it sets in the west (depicted as an old man leaning on his staff), while Khepri was seen as the sun when it was rising. At these later times Iusaaset sometimes is described as the eye of Ra.

Iusaaset was associated with the Acacia tree (considered the tree of life, alluding to the interconnection of all life on our planet and used as a metaphor for common descent) and thus with the oldest one known being situated just north of Heliopolis and, thereby, which became identified as the birthplace of the deities.

Iusaaset was said to own this tree, which was renowned for its strength, hardiness, medical properties, and edibility. Many useful applications gave it a central importance in the culture.

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.

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, connected with the scarab beetle (kheprer), because the scarab rolls balls of dung across the ground, an act that the Egyptians saw as a symbol of the forces that move the sun across the sky, 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.

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

The Egyptians connected his name with the Egyptian language verb kheper, meaning “develop” or “come into being”. Kheper (or Xeper) is a transcription of an ancient Egyptian word meaning to come into being, to change, to occur, to happen, to exist, to bring about, to create, etc.

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.

There was no cult devoted to Khepri, and he was largely subordinate to the greater sun god Ra. Often, Khepri and another solar deity, Atum (sometimes rendered as Atem or Tem), considered to be the first god, having created himself, sitting on a mound (benben) (or identified with the mound itself), from the primordial waters (Nu), were seen as aspects of Ra: Khepri was the morning sun, Ra was the midday sun, and Atum was the sun in the evening.

Early myths state that Atum created the god Shu and the goddess Tefnut by spitting them out of his mouth. To explain how Atum did this, the myth uses the metaphor of masturbation, with the hand he used in this act representing the female principle inherent within him. Other interpretations state that he has made union with his shadow.

In the Old Kingdom the Egyptians believed that Atum lifted the dead king’s soul from his pyramid to the starry heavens. He was also a solar deity, associated with the primary sun god Ra. Atum was linked specifically with the evening sun, while Ra or the closely linked god Khepri were connected with the sun at morning and midday.

In the Book of the Dead, which was still current in the Graeco-Roman period, the sun god Atum is said to have ascended from chaos-waters with the appearance of a snake, the animal renewing itself every morning.

Atum is the god of pre-existence and post-existence. In the binary solar cycle, the serpentine Atum is contrasted with the ram-headed scarab Khepri—the young sun god, whose name is derived from the Egyptian hpr “to come into existence”. Khepri-Atum encompassed sunrise and sunset, thus reflecting the entire solar cycle.

Atum is one of the most important and frequently mentioned deities from earliest times, as evidenced by his prominence in the Pyramid Texts, where he is portrayed as both a creator and father to the king.

He is usually depicted as a man wearing either the royal head-cloth or the dual white and red crown of Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt, reinforcing his connection with kingship. Sometimes he also is shown as a serpent, the form he returns to at the end of the creative cycle, and also occasionally as a mongoose, lion, bull, lizard, or ape.

Atum was a self-created deity, the first being to emerge from the darkness and endless watery abyss that existed before creation. A product of the energy and matter contained in this chaos, he created his children—the first deities, out of loneliness.

He produced from his own sneeze, or in some accounts, semen, Shu, the god of air, and Tefnut, the goddess of moisture. The brother and sister, curious about the primeval waters that surrounded them, went to explore the waters and disappeared into the darkness. Unable to bear his loss, Atum sent a fiery messenger, the Eye of Ra, to find his children. The tears of joy he shed on their return were the first human beings.

Atum’s name is thought to be derived from the word tem which means to complete or finish. Thus he has been interpreted as being the ‘complete one’ and also the finisher of the world, which he returns to watery chaos at the end of the creative cycle. As creator he was seen as the underlying substance of the world, the deities and all things being made of his flesh or alternatively being his ka.

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The Discovery of the Long-Lost Temple of Musasir

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 13, 2015

Depiction of the Araratian god Haldi

The Musasir temple was an important Araratian temple dedicated to Haldi, the supreme god of the kingdom of Urartu, an Iron Age kingdom centered on Lake Van in the Armenian Highlands, which extended out across what is now Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Armenia. The temple was built in the holy city of Ararat in 825 BC, but after Musasir fell to the Assyrians in the 8th century BC, the ancient temple became lost to the pages of history, until very recently.

In July, 2014, an exciting announcement was made – the long-lost temple of Musasir had been found. Located in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq, the findings included life-sized human sculptures and column bases from a temple dedicated to the god Haldi, all dating back to the period in which the temple of Musasir was built.

After the initial discovery, which was made by local villagers who stumbled upon the ruins accidentally, Dlshad Marf Zamua, from Leiden University in the Netherlands, viewed the uncovered archaeological finds. He analyzed the pieces to get a better sense of what they represented, and to try to unlock some of the mysteries to which they may be the key.

The column base that was discovered is considered to be a significant find. Marf Zamua has said “[o]ne of the best results of my fieldwork is the uncovered column bases of the long-lost temple of the city of Musasir, which was dedicated to the god Haldi.”

The Discovery of the Long-Lost Temple of Musasir

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The Theogony

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 13, 2015

The Theogony

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The ancient Greeks and Romans knew of only five ‘wandering stars’ (Greek: planētai): Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Following the discovery of a sixth planet in the 18th century, there was some early disagreement regarding what to name it. Its discoverer, William Herschel, named it “The Georgian Star”, the name preferred by English astronomers. Others preferred to name it “Herschel”.

Finally, the name Uranus was chosen as the logical addition to the series: for Mars (Ares in Greek) was the son of Jupiter, Jupiter (Zeus in Greek) the son of Saturn, and Saturn (Cronus in Greek) the son of Uranus. What is anomalous is that, while the others take Roman names, Uranus is a name derived from Greek in contrast to the Roman Caelus.

Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second largest planet in the Solar System, after Jupiter. Saturn is named after the Roman god Saturn, equated to the Greek Cronus (the Titan father of Zeus), the Babylonian Ninurta and the Hindu Shani. Saturn’s symbol represents the Roman god’s sickle.

Theogony

The Theogony

Mars/Ares

Jupiter/Zeus

Saturn/Cronus

Caelus/Uranus

The Theogony (Greek: Theogonía, i.e. “the genealogy or birth of the gods”) is a poem by Hesiod (8th – 7th century BC) describing the origins and genealogies of the Greek gods, composed circa 700 BC. It is written in the Epic dialect of Homeric Greek. The written form of the Theogony was established in the sixth century. Even some conservative editors have concluded that the Typhon episode (820–68) is an interpolation.

Hesiod’s Theogony is a large-scale synthesis of a vast variety of local Greek traditions concerning the gods, organized as a narrative that tells how they came to be and how they established permanent control over the Cosmos. It is the first Greek mythical cosmogony.

The initial state of the universe is chaos, a dark indefinite void considered a divine primordial condition from which everything else appeared. Theogonies are a part of Greek mythology which embodies the desire to articulate reality as a whole; this universalizing impulse was fundamental for the first later projects of speculative theorizing.

In many cultures, narratives about the origin of the Cosmos and about the gods that shaped it are a way for society to reaffirm its native cultural traditions. Specifically, theogonies tend to affirm kingship as the natural embodiment of society.

What makes the Theogony of Hesiod unique is that it affirms no historical royal line. Such a gesture would have sited the Theogony in one time and one place. Rather, the Theogony affirms the kingship of the god Zeus himself over all the other gods and over the whole Cosmos.

Further, in the “Kings and Singers” passage (80–103) Hesiod appropriates to himself the authority usually reserved to sacred kingship. The poet declares that it is he, where we might have expected some king instead, upon whom the Muses have bestowed the two gifts of a scepter and an authoritative voice (Hesiod, Theogony 30–3), which are the visible signs of kingship. It is not that this gesture is meant to make Hesiod a king. Rather, the point is that the authority of kingship now belongs to the poetic voice, the voice that is declaiming the Theogony.

After the speaker declares that he has received the blessings of the Muses and thanks them for giving him inspiration, he explains that Chaos arose spontaneously. In the Theogony the initial state of the universe or the origin (arche) is Chaos, a gaping void (abyss) considered as a divine primordial condition, from which appeared everything that exists.

Then came Gaia (Earth), the more orderly and safe foundation that would serve as a home for the gods and mortals, and Tartarus (the cave-like space under the earth; the later-born Erebus is the darkness in this space), and Eros, the fairest among the deathless gods representing sexual desire – the urge to reproduce – instead of the emotion of love as is the common misconception. Hesiod made an abstraction because his original chaos is something completely indefinite. Eros serves an important role in sexual reproduction, before which children had to be produced asexually.

From Chaos came Erebus (place of darkness between the earth and the underworld) and Nyx (Night). Erebus and Nyx reproduced to make Aether (Light) and Hemera (Day). Aether and Hemera gave birth to Gaia, and from Gaia came Uranus (Sky), the Ourea (Mountains), and Pontus (Sea).

In Ancient Greek literature, Uranus or Father Sky was the son and husband of Gaia, Mother Earth. According to Hesiod’s Theogony, Uranus was conceived by Gaia alone, but other sources cite Aether as his father.

Uranus and Gaia were the parents of the first generation of Titans, and the ancestors of most of the Greek gods, but no cult addressed directly to Uranus survived into Classical times, and Uranus does not appear among the usual themes of Greek painted pottery. Elemental Earth, Sky and Styx, a river in Greek mythology that formed the boundary between Earth and the Underworld (the domain often called Hades, which is also the name of its ruler), might be joined, however, in a solemn invocation in Homeric epic.

The rivers Styx, Phlegethon, Acheron, Lethe, and Cocytus all converge at the center of the underworld on a great marsh, which is also sometimes called the Styx. According to Herodotus the river Styx originates near Feneos. Feneos lies at the foot of Mount Cyllene, mythical birthplace of the god Hermes. It therefore served as an important cult centre for the god, notably during the annual festival of the Hermaea.

Uranus mated with Gaia to create twelve Titans: Oceanus, Coeus, Crius, Hyperion, Iapetos, Theia, Rhea, Themis, Mnemosyne, Phoebe, Tethys and Cronus; three cyclopes: Brontes, Steropes and Arges; and three Hecatonchires: Kottos, Briareos, and Gyges.

By contrast, in the Orphic cosmogony the unaging Chronos produced Aether and Chaos and made a silvery egg in divine Aether. From it appeared the androgynous god Phanes, identified by the Orphics as Eros, who becomes the creator of the world.

Some similar ideas appear in the Vedic and Hindu cosmologies. In the Vedic cosmology the universe is created from nothing by the great heat. Kāma (Desire), the primal seed of spirit, is the link which connected the existent with the non-existent.

In the Hindu cosmology, in the beginning there was nothing in the universe but only darkness and the divine essence who removed the darkness and created the primordial waters. His seed produced the universal germ (Hiranyagarbha), from which everything else appeared.

In the Babylonian creation story Enuma Elish the universe was in a formless state and is described as a watery chaos. From it emerged two primary gods, the male Apsu and female Tiamat, and a third deity who is the maker Mummu and his power for the progression of cosmogonic births to begin.

In Genesis, the world in its early state after its creation is described as “without form and void”. Elohim commanded that there be light, while the spirit of Elohim moved upon the face of the waters.

Norse mythology also describes Ginnungagap as the primordial abyss from which sprang the first living creatures, including the giant Ymir whose body eventually became the world, whose blood became the seas, and so on; another version describes the origin of the world as a result of the fiery and cold parts of Hel colliding.

The beginning and the end

The heritage of Greek mythology already embodied the desire to articulate reality as a whole, and this universalizing impulse was fundamental for the first projects of speculative theorizing. It appears that the order of being was first imaginatively visualized before it was abstractly thought.

Hesiod, impressed by necessity governing the ordering of things, discloses a definite pattern in the genesis and appearance of the gods. These ideas made something like cosmological speculation possible.

The earliest rhetoric of reflection all centers about two interrelated things: the experience of wonder as a living involvement with the divine order of things; and the absolute conviction that, beyond the totality of things, reality forms a beautiful and harmonious whole.

In the Theogony, the origin (arche) is Chaos, a divine primordial condition, and there are the roots and the ends of the earth, sky, sea, and Tartarus. Pherecydes of Syros (6th century BC), believed that there were three pre-existent divine principles and called the water also Chaos.

In the language of the archaic period (8th – 6th century BC), arche (or archai) designates the source, origin, or root of things that exist. If a thing is to be well established or founded, its arche or static point must be secure, and the most secure foundations are those provided by the gods: the indestructible, immutable, and eternal ordering of things.

In ancient Greek philosophy, arche is the element or first principle of all things, a permanent nature or substance which is conserved in the generation of the rest of it. From this, all things come to be, and into it they are resolved in a final state. It is the divine horizon of substance that encompasses and rules all things.

Thales (7th – 6th century BC), the first Greek philosopher, claimed that the first principle of all things is water. Anaximander (6th century BC) was the first philosopher who used the term arche for that which writers from Aristotle on call the “substratum”. Anaximander claimed that the beginning or first principle is an endless mass (Apeiron) subject to neither age nor decay, from which all things are being born and then they are destroyed there. A fragment from Xenophanes (6th century BC) shows the transition from Chaos to Apeiron: “The upper limit of earth borders on air, the lower limit of earth reaches down to the unlimited (i.e the Apeiron)”.

Roman

Uranus (meaning “sky” or “heaven”) was the primal Greek god personifying the sky. His equivalent in Roman mythology was Caelus or Coelus was a primal god of the sky in Roman myth and theology, iconography, and literature (compare caelum, the Latin word for “sky” or “the heavens”, hence English “celestial”). The deity’s name usually appears in masculine grammatical form when he is conceived of as a male generative force, but the neuter form Caelum is also found as a divine personification.

Varro couples him with Terra (Earth) as pater and mater (father and mother), and says that they are “great deities” (dei magni) in the theology of the mysteries at Samothrace. Although Caelus is not known to have had a cult at Rome, not all scholars consider him a Greek import given a Latin name; he has been associated with Summanus, the god of nocturnal thunder, as “purely Roman.”

Caelus begins to appear regularly in Augustan art and in connection with the cult of Mithras during the Imperial era. Vitruvius includes him among celestial gods whose temple-buildings (aedes) should be built open to the sky. As a sky god, he became identified with Jupiter, as indicated by an inscription that reads Optimus Maximus Caelus Aeternus Iup<pi>ter.

According to Cicero and Hyginus, Caelus was the son of Aether and Dies (“Day” or “Daylight”). Caelus and Dies were in this tradition the parents of Mercury. With Trivia, Caelus was the father of the distinctively Roman god Janus, as well as of Saturn and Ops.

Caelus was also the father of one of the three forms of Jupiter, the other two fathers being Aether and Saturn. In one tradition, Caelus was the father with Tellus of the Muses, though was this probably a mere translation of Ouranos from a Greek source.

The name of Caelus indicates that he was the Roman counterpart of the Greek god Uranus, who was of major importance in the theogonies of the Greeks. Caelus substituted for Uranus in Latin versions of the myth of Saturn (Cronus) castrating his heavenly father, from whose severed genitals, cast upon the sea, the goddess Venus (Aphrodite) was born.

In his work On the Nature of the Gods, Cicero presents a Stoic allegory of the myth in which the castration signifies “that the highest heavenly aether, that seed-fire which generates all things, did not require the equivalent of human genitals to proceed in its generative work.”

For Macrobius, the severing marks off Chaos from fixed and measured Time (Saturn) as determined by the revolving Heavens (Caelum). The semina rerum (“seeds” of things that exist physically) come from Caelum and are the elements which create the world.

The divine spatial abstraction Caelum is a synonym for Olympus as a metaphorical heavenly abode of the divine, both identified with and distinguished from the mountain in ancient Greece named as the home of the gods. Varro says that the Greeks call Caelum (or Caelus) “Olympus.”

As a representation of space, Caelum is one of the components of the mundus, the “world” or cosmos, along with terra (earth), mare (sea), and aer (air). In his work on the cosmological systems of antiquity, the Dutch Renaissance humanist Gerardus Vossius deals extensively with Caelus and his duality as both a god and a place that the other gods inhabit.

The ante-Nicene Christian writer Lactantius routinely uses the Latin theonyms Caelus, Saturn, and Jupiter to refer to the three divine hypostases of the Neoplatonic school of Plotinus: the First God (Caelus), Intellect (Saturn), and Soul, son of the Intelligible (Jupiter).

It is generally though not universally agreed that Caelus is depicted on the cuirass of the Augustus of Prima Porta, at the very top above the four horses of the Sun god’s quadriga. He is a mature, bearded man who holds a cloak over his head so that it billows in the form of an arch, a conventional sign of deity (velificatio) that “recalls the vault of the firmament.”

He is balanced and paired with the personification of Earth at the bottom of the cuirass. (These two figures have also been identified as Saturn and the Magna Mater, to represent the new Saturnian “Golden Age” of Augustan ideology.)

On an altar of the Lares now held by the Vatican, Caelus in his chariot appears along with Apollo-Sol above the figure of Augustus.

As Caelus Nocturnus, he was the god of the night-time, starry sky. In a passage from Plautus, Nocturnus is regarded as the opposite of Sol, the Sun god. Nocturnus appears in several inscriptions found in Dalmatia and Italy, in the company of other deities who are found also in the cosmological schema of Martianus Capella, based on the Etruscan tradition.

In the Etruscan discipline of divination, Caelus Nocturnus was placed in the sunless north opposite Sol to represent the polar extremities of the axis. This alignment was fundamental to the drawing of a templum (sacred space) for the practice of augury.

The name Caelus occurs in dedicatory inscriptions in connection to the cult of Mithras. The Mithraic deity Caelus is sometimes depicted allegorically as an eagle bending over the sphere of heaven marked with symbols of the planets or the zodiac.

In a Mithraic context he is associated with Cautes and can appear as Caelus Aeternus (“Eternal Sky”). A form of Ahura-Mazda is invoked in Latin as Caelus Aeternus Iupiter. The walls of some mithrea feature allegorical depictions of the cosmos with Oceanus and Caelus. The mithraeum of Dieburg represents the tripartite world with Caelus, Oceanus, and Tellus below Phaeton-Heliodromus.

Some Roman writers used Caelus or Caelum as a way to express the monotheistic god of Judaism. Juvenal identifies the Jewish god with Caelus as the highest heaven (summum caelum), saying that Jews worship the numen of Caelus; Petronius uses similar language.

Florus has a rather odd passage describing the Holy of Holies in the Temple of Jerusalem as housing a “sky” (caelum) under a golden vine, which has been taken as an uncomprehending attempt to grasp the presence of the Jewish god. A golden vine, perhaps the one mentioned, was sent by the Hasmonean king Aristobulus to Pompeius Magnus after his defeat of Jerusalem, and was later displayed in the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus.

Saturn is a god in ancient Roman religion, and a character in myth. Saturn is a complex figure because of his multiple associations and long history. He was the first god of the Capitol, known since the most ancient times as Saturnius Mons, and was seen as a god of generation, dissolution, plenty, wealth, agriculture, periodic renewal and liberation. Agriculture was important to Roman identity, and Saturn was a part of archaic Roman religion and ethnic identity.

In later developments he came to be also a god of time. His reign was depicted as a Golden Age of plenty and peace. Under Saturn’s rule, humans enjoyed the spontaneous bounty of the earth without labour in the “Golden Age” described by Hesiod and Ovid.

The Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum housed the state treasury. In December, he was celebrated at what is perhaps the most famous of the Roman festivals, the Saturnalia, a time of feasting, role reversals, free speech, gift-giving and revelry. Saturn the planet and Saturday are both named after the god.

The Roman soil preserved the remembrance of a very remote time during which Saturn and Janus reigned on the site of the city before its foundation: the Capitol was named mons Saturnius. The Romans identified Saturn with the Greek Cronus, whose myths were adapted for Latin literature and Roman art. In particular, Cronus’s role in the genealogy of the Greek gods was transferred to Saturn. As early as Livius Andronicus (3rd century BC), Jupiter was called the son of Saturn.

In ancient Roman religion and myth, Janus (Latin: Ianus) is the god of beginnings and transitions, and thereby of gates, doors, doorways, passages and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past.

Janus presided over the beginning and ending of conflict, and hence war and peace. The doors of his temple were open in time of war, and closed to mark the peace. As a god of transitions, he had functions pertaining to birth and to journeys and exchange, and in his association with Portunus, a similar harbor and gateway god, he was concerned with travelling, trading and shipping.

Saturn had two consorts who represented different aspects of the god. The name of his wife Ops, the Roman equivalent of Greek Rhea, means “wealth, abundance, resources.” The association with Ops though is considered a later development, as this goddess was originally paired with Consus. Earlier was Saturn’s association with Lua (“destruction, dissolution, loosening”), a goddess who received the bloodied weapons of enemies destroyed in war.

Jupiter (Latin: Iuppiter; genitive case: Iovis) or Jove is the king of the gods and the god of sky and thunder in Ancient Roman religion and mythology. The Romans regarded Jupiter as the equivalent of the Greek Zeus, and in Latin literature and Roman art, the myths and iconography of Zeus are adapted under the name Iuppiter.

Jupiter was the chief deity of Roman state religion throughout the Republican and Imperial eras, until Christianity became the dominant religion of the Empire. In Roman mythology, he negotiates with Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome, to establish principles of Roman religion such as sacrifice.

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

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

In the Greek-influenced tradition, Jupiter was the brother of Neptune and Pluto. Each presided over one of the three realms of the universe: sky, the waters, and the underworld. The Italic Diespiter was also a sky god who manifested himself in the daylight, usually but not always identified with Jupiter.

Tinia (also Tin, Tinh, Tins or Tina), the god of the sky and the highest god in Etruscan mythology, is usually regarded as his Etruscan counterpart. He was the husband of Thalna or Uni (Roman Juno) and the father of Hercle (also Heracle or Hercl), a version of the Greek Heracles, depicted as a muscular figure often carrying a club and wearing a lionskin. He is a popular subject in Etruscan art, particularly bronze mirrors, which show him engaged in adventures not known from the Greek myths of Heracles or the Roman and later classical myths of Hercules.

In the Etruscan tradition, Uni grants Hercle access to a life among the immortals by offering her breast milk to him. Hercle was the first man elevated to a godhood through his deeds and Etruscan aristocrats tried to identify with this ascension, as reflected in artwork and literature.

Gilgamesh

In Sumerian mythology, Ninsun or Ninsuna (“lady wild cow”) or Rimat-Ninsun (“August cow”, the “Wild Cow of the Enclosure”, and “The Great Queen”) is a goddess, best known as the mother of the legendary hero Gilgamesh (originally Bilgamesh), and as the tutelary goddess of Gudea of Lagash. Her parents are the deities Anu and Uras.

Gilgamesh is the main character in the Epic of Gilgamesh, an Akkadian poem that is considered the first great work of literature, and in earlier Sumerian poems. In the epic, Gilgamesh is a demigod of superhuman strength who builds the city walls of Uruk to defend his people and travels to meet the sage Utnapishtim, who survived the Great Flood.

During the early second millennium, she was syncretised with the healing goddesses Gula/Ninkarrak, Nintinugga and Baba. She also came to be connected with Inanna, probably during the Isin period (2017-1794 BCE) when Ninisinna rose in prominence as goddess of the dynastic capital.

This situation is perhaps reflected in Enki and the World Order, where Inana ascribes high status to Ninisinna: “She is to be the mistress of heaven. She is to stand beside An and speak to him whenever she desires”. During the Old Babylonian period she acquired some warlike functions, perhaps due to her association with Inanna.

Ninsun was called Gula in Sumerian Mythology until the name was later changed to Ninisina. Gula in the latter became a Babylonian goddess. Nintinugga was a Babylonian goddess of healing, the consort of Ninurta.

Typically encountered in medical incantations as bēlet balāti, “Lady of Health”, Gula/Ninkarrak was also known as the azugallatu the “great healer”, an epithet she shared with her son Damu, a god of vegetation and rebirth in Sumerian mythology.

She is identical with the goddess of Akkadian mythology, known as Bau or Baba, though it would seem that the two were originally independent. She was the daughter of An and Ninurta’s wife. She had seven daughters, including Hegir-Nuna (Gangir). She was known as a patron deity of Lagash, where Gudea built her a temple.

The name Bau is more common in the oldest period and gives way to Gula after the First Babylonian Dynasty. Since it is probable that Ninib has absorbed the cults of minor sun-deities, the two names may represent consorts of different gods. However this may be, the qualities of both are alike, and the two occur as synonymous designations of Ninib’s female consort.

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 Ninib, 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.

Ninsun was originally named Nininsina, according to Pabilsag’s journey to Nibru. According to the ancient Babylonian text, Nininsina wedded Pabilsag near a riverbank. By Pabilsag she bore Damu.

Pabilsag’s functions are hard to grasp as he often remains colourless next to his wife, the healing goddess Gula/Ninkarrak. His original functions are also difficult to assert because he was syncretised with the god Ninurta early on. However, an Early Dynastic inscription from Lagaš already refers to Pabilsag as the “warrior of Enlil”, an epithet commonly used for the god Ningirsu.

It has been suggested that Pabilsag’s functions included that of a healer god (possibly related to his wife’s functions), that of a divine judge, and that of a god of war and hunting; in addition, he may have had some connections to the netherworld, possibly due to his syncretism with the underworld god Nergal.

Pabilsag was considered a son of the god Enlil according to the most common tradition, making his wife, the healing goddess Ninisinna, Enlil’s daughter-in-law. One instance probably describes Pabilsag as the son of the god An.

Hurrian/Armenian

Hesiod was probably influenced by some Near-Eastern traditions, such as the Babylonian Dynasty of Dunnum, which were mixed with local traditions, but they are more likely to be lingering traces from the Mycenaean tradition than the result of oriental contacts in Hesiod’s own time.

The decipherment of Hittite mythical texts, notably the Kingship in Heaven text first presented in 1946, with its castration mytheme, offers in the figure of Kumarbi an Anatolian parallel to Hesiod’s Uranus-Cronus conflict.

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

Kumarbi is known from a number of mythological Hittite texts, sometimes summarized under the term “Kumarbi Cycle”. The Song of Kumarbi or Kingship in Heaven is the title given to a Hittite version of the Hurrian Kumarbi myth, dating to the 14th or 13th century BC. It is preserved in three tablets, but only a small fraction of the text is legible.

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

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

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

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

The Hurrian myth of Teshub’s origin—he was conceived when the god Kumarbi bit off and swallowed his father Anu’s genitals, similarly to the Greek story of Uranus, Cronus, and Zeus, which is recounted in Hesiod’s Theogony.

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

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

Teshub’s brothers are Aranzah (personification of the river Tigris), Ullikummi (stone giant) and Tashmishu. His son was called Sarruma, the mountain god. Sarruma’s name means “king of the mountains”. He is often depicted riding a tiger or panther and carrying an axe (cf. labrys).

Hebat, the mother goddess of the Hurrians, known as “the mother of all living”, was venerated all over the ancient Near East. The mother goddess is likely to have had a later counterpart in the Phrygian goddess Cybele. During Aramaean times Hebat also appears to have become identified with the goddess Hawwah, or Eve.

Ninti, the title of Ninhursag, also means “the mother of all living”, and was a title given to the later Hurrian goddess Kheba. This is also the title given in the Bible to Eve, the Hebrew and Aramaic Ḥawwah, who was made from the rib of Adam, in a strange reflection of the Sumerian myth, in which Adam — not Enki — walks in the Garden of Paradise.

Cybele (Phrygian: Matar Kubileya/Kubeleya “Kubeleyan Mother”, perhaps “Mountain Mother”; Lydian Kuvava; Greek: Kybele) was an originally Anatolian mother goddess; she has a possible precursor in the earliest neolithic at Çatalhöyük (in the Konya region) where the statue of a pregnant goddess seated on a lion throne was found in a granary dated to the 6th millennium BCE.

This corpulent, fertile Mother Goddess appears to be giving birth on her throne, which has two feline-headed hand rests. In Phrygian art of the 8th century BCE, the cult attributes of the Phrygian mother-goddess include attendant lions, a bird of prey, and a small vase for her libations or other offerings. She is ancient Phrygia’s only known goddess, and was probably the highest deity of the Phrygian State.

The inscription Matar Kubileya at a Phrygian rock-cut shrine, dated to the first half of the 6th century BCE, is usually read as “Mother of the mountain”, a reading supported by ancient Classical sources, and consistent with Cybele as any of several similar tutelary goddesses, each known as “mother” and associated with specific Anatolian mountains or other localities: a goddess thus “born from stone”.

Inara, in Hittite–Hurrian mythology, was the goddess of the wild animals of the steppe and daughter of the Storm-god Teshub/Tarhunt. She corresponds to the “potnia theron” of Greek mythology, better known as Artemis.

The mother goddess Hannahannah (from Hittite hanna- “grandmother”) promises Inara land and a man during a consultation by Inara. Inara then disappears. Her father looks for her, joined by Hannahannah with a bee.

The story resembles that of Demeter and her daughter Persephone, in Greek myth. Hannahannah was also identified with the Hurrian goddess Hebat. Christopher Siren reports that Hannahannah is associated with the Gulses. Inara’s mother is probably Hebat and her brother is Sarruma.

Kummanni (Hittite: Kummiya) was the name of the main center the Anatolian kingdom of Kizzuwatna. Its location is uncertain, but is believed to be near the classical settlement of Comana in Cappadocia. The city persisted into the Early Iron Age, and appears as Kumme in Assyrian records. It was located on the edge of Assyrian influence in the far northeastern corner of Mesopotamia, separating Assyria from Urartu and the highlands of southeastern Anatolia.

Kummanni was the major cult center of the Hurrian chief deity, Tešup. Its Hurrian name Kummeni simply translates as “The Shrine.” Kumme was still considered a holy city in Assyrian times, both in Assyria and in Urartu. Adad-nirari II, after re-conquering the city, made sacrifices to “Adad of Kumme.” The three chief deities in the Urartian pantheon were “the god of Ardini, the god of Kumenu, and the god of Tushpa.”

Tushpa (Armenian: Tosp, Assyrian: Turuspa) was the 9th-century BC capital of Urartu, later becoming known as Van which is derived from Biaina the native name of Urartu. The ancient ruins are located just west of Van and east of Lake Van in the Van Province of Turkey.

Theispas (also known as Teisheba or Teišeba) of Kumenu was the Urartian weather-god, notably the god of storms and thunder. He was also sometimes the god of war. He formed part of a triad along with Khaldi and Shivini or Artinis (the present form of the name is Artin, meaning “sun rising” or to “awake”, and it persists in Armenian names to this day), a solar god in the mythology of the Urartu.

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

The ancient Araratian cities of Teyseba (later Ishkanaberd meaning “Lord’s Fortress” and Odzaberd meaning “Serpent’s Fortress”) and Teishebaini (also Teshebani, modern Karmir Blur) were named after Theispas. Teyseba referring to the Urartian fortification and named after the god Teisheba is located upon a hill east of the town of Tsovinar and at the south-east corner of Lake Sevan in the Gegharkunik Province of Armenia.

During the medieval period, one of the lords of the land rebuilt the stone defences to serve as his fortress at the same site and it went by the name Ishkanaberd meaning “Lord’s Fortress”. It was taken by the lord of the nearby town of Khrber (also Karmrashen), a name is derived from the local dialect of the villages near south-east Lake Sevan and roughly translates to “ruins”, because of a dispute between the two over his wife. After destroying the fortress he said, “Now nothing shall live in this land except snakes and scorpions!” It was referred to henceforth as Odzaberd meaning “Serpent’s Fortress”.

The name Karmir Blur translates to “Red Hill” because of the hill’s reddish hue. It became this color after the city was set on fire and the upper walls which were made of tuff fell and crumbled because of the heat. After the tuff was heated by the fire, it took on a more intense red color and therefore the hill became red. The lower portions of the walls were left standing after the fire since they were built with a stronger stone.

Ishkur

Adad in Akkadian, Ishkur in Sumerian and Hadad in Aramaic and Arabic language, are the names of the storm-god in the Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian pantheon. All three are usually written by the logogram IM. Adad/Ishkur’s special animal is the bull. He is naturally identified with the Anatolian storm-god Teshub. Occasionally Adad/Ishkur is identified with the god Amurru, the god of the Amorites.

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

The Sumerian Ishkur appears in the list of gods found at Fara but was of far less importance than the Akkadian Adad later became, probably partly because storms and rain are scarce in southern Babylonia and agriculture there depends on irrigation instead. Also, the gods Enlil and the Assyrian Ninurta also had storm god features which decreased Ishkur’s distinctiveness. He sometimes appears as the assistant or companion of one or the other of the two.

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

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

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

The Babylonian center of Adad/Ishkur’s cult was Karkara in the south, his chief temple being E. Karkara; his spouse Shala his was worshipped in a temple named E. Durku. But among the Assyrians his cult was especially developed along with his warrior aspect.

During the Middle Assyrian Empire (from the reign of Tiglath-Pileser I, 1115–1077 BC), Adad had a double sanctuary in Assur which he shared with Anu. Anu is often associated with Adad in invocations. The name Adad and various alternate forms and bynames (Dadu, Bir, Dadda) are often found in the names of the Assyrian kings.

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

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

Shamash and Adad became in combination the gods of oracles and of divination in general. Whether the will of the gods is determined through the inspection of the liver of the sacrificial animal, through observing the action of oil bubbles in a basin of water or through the observation of the movements of the heavenly bodies, it is Shamash and Adad who, in the ritual connected with divination, are invariably invoked.

Similarly in the annals and votive inscriptions of the kings, when oracles are referred to, Shamash and Adad are always named as the gods addressed, and their ordinary designation in such instances is bele biri (“lords of divination”).

In the beginning

In Mesopotamian Religion (Sumerian, Assyrian, Akkadian and Babylonian), Tiamat is the symbol of the chaos of primordial creation, depicted as a woman, she represents the beauty of the feminine, depicted as the glistening one. She is a primordial goddess of the ocean, mating with Abzû (Cuneiform: ZU.AB; Sumerian: abzu; Akkadian: apsû) also called engur, (Cuneiform: LAGAB×HAL; Sumerian: engur; Akkadian: engurru, literally, ab=’ocean’ zu=’deep) to produce younger gods.

Tiamat was the “shining” personification of salt water who roared and smote in the chaos of original creation. She and Apsu (the god of fresh water) filled the cosmic abyss with the primeval waters. She is “Ummu-Hubur who formed all things”.

The cosmogenic myth common in Sumer was that of the hieros gamos, a sacred marriage where divine principles in the form of dualistic opposites came together as male and female to give birth to the cosmos. In the epic Enki and Ninhursag, Enki, as lord of Ab or fresh water (also the Sumerian word for semen), is living with his wife in the paradise of Dilmun.

Despite being a place where “the raven uttered no cries” and “the lion killed not, the wolf snatched not the lamb, unknown was the kid-killing dog, unknown was the grain devouring boar”, Dilmun had no water and Enki heard the cries of its Goddess, Ninsikil, and orders the sun-God Utu to bring fresh water from the Earth for Dilmun.

Dilmun was identified with Bahrein, whose name in Arabic means “two seas”, where the fresh waters of the Arabian aquifer mingle with the salt waters of the Persian Gulf. This mingling of waters was known in Sumerian as Nammu, and was identified as the mother of Enki.

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.

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

Kishar appears only once in Enuma Elish, in the opening lines of the epic, and then disappears from the remainder of the story. She appears only occasionally in other first millennium BCE texts, where she can be equated with the Babylonian goddess Antu or Antum, the first consort of Anu. The pair were the parents of the Anunnaki and the Utukki.

Antu was a dominant feature of the Babylonian akit festival until as recently as 200 BC, her later pre-eminence possibly attributable to identification with the Greek goddess Hera. Antu was replaced as consort by Ishtar or Inanna, who may also be a daughter of Anu and Antu.

But Anu spent so much time on the ground protecting the Sumerians he left her in Heaven and then met Innin, whom he renamed Innan, or, “Queen of Heaven”. She was later known as Ishtar. Anu resided in her temple the most, and rarely went back up to Heaven. He is also included in the Epic of Gilgamesh, and is a major character in the clay tablets.

According to some analyses there are two parts to the Tiamat myth, the first in which Tiamat is creator goddess, through a “sacred marriage” between salt and fresh water, peacefully creating the cosmos through successive generations. In the second “Chaoskampf” Tiamat is considered the monstrous embodiment of primordial chaos.

It is suggested that there are two parts to the Tiamat mythos, the first in which Tiamat is a creator goddess, through a “Sacred marriage” between salt and fresh water, peacefully creating the cosmos through successive generations.

In the second “Chaoskampf” Tiamat is considered the monstrous embodiment of primordial chaos. Some sources identify her with images of a sea serpent or dragon. In the Enûma Elish, the Babylonian epic of creation, she gives birth to the first generation of deities; her husband, Apsu,(correctly) assuming they are planning to kill him and usurp his throne, later makes war upon them and is killed.

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

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

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

Tiamat possessed the Tablets of Destiny and in the primordial battle she gave them to Kingu, the deity she had chosen as her lover and the leader of her host, and who was also one of her children. The deities gathered in terror, but Anu, (replaced later, first by Enlil and, in the late version that has survived after the First Dynasty of Babylon, by Marduk, the son of Ea), first extracting a promise that he would be revered as “king of the gods”, overcame her, armed with the arrows of the winds, a net, a club, and an invincible spear.

Slicing Tiamat in half, he made from her ribs the vault of heaven and earth. Her weeping eyes became the source of the Tigris and the Euphrates, her tail became the Milky Way. With the approval of the elder deities, he took from Kingu the Tablets of Destiny, installing himself as the head of the Babylonian pantheon. Kingu was captured and later was slain: his red blood mixed with the red clay of the Earth would make the body of humankind, created to act as the servant of the younger Igigi deities.

The principal theme of the epic is the justified elevation of Marduk to command over all the deities. “It has long been realized that the Marduk epic, for all its local coloring and probable elaboration by the Babylonian theologians, reflects in substance older Sumerian material,” American Assyriologist E. A. Speiser remarked in 1942 adding “The exact Sumerian prototype, however, has not turned up so far.”

Without corroboration in surviving texts, this surmise that the Babylonian version of the story is based upon a modified version of an older epic, in which Enlil, not Marduk, was the god who slew Tiamat, is more recently dismissed as “distinctly improbable”, in fact, Marduk has no precise Sumerian prototype.

It is generally accepted amongst modern Assyriologists that the Enûma Elish – the Babylonian creation epic to which this mythological strand is attributed – has been written as political and religious propaganda rather than reflecting a Sumerian tradition; the dating of the epic is not completely clear, but judging from the mythological topics covered and the cuneiform versions discovered thus far, it is likely to date it to the 15th century BCE.

Tiamat was later known as Thalattē (as a variant of thalassa, the Greek word for “sea”) in the Hellenistic Babylonian writer Berossus’ first volume of universal history. It is thought that the name of Tiamat was dropped in secondary translations of the original religious texts (written in the East Semitic Akkadian language) because some Akkadian copyists of Enûma Elish substituted the ordinary word for “sea” for Tiamat, since the two names had become essentially the same due to association.

Thorkild Jacobsen and Walter Burkert both argue for a connection with the Akkadian word for sea, tâmtu, following an early form, ti’amtum. Burkert continues by making a linguistic connection to Tethys. He finds the later form, thalatth, to be related clearly to Greek thalatta or thalassa, “sea”.

The Babylonian epic Enuma Elish is named for its incipit: “When above” the heavens did not yet exist nor the earth below, Apsu the freshwater ocean was there, “the first, the begetter”, and Tiamat, the saltwater sea, “she who bore them all”; they were “mixing their waters”.

It is thought that female deities are older than male ones in Mesopotamia and Tiamat may have begun as part of the cult of Nammu, a female principle of a watery creative force, with equally strong connections to the underworld, which predates the appearance of Ea-Enki. Tiamat also has been claimed to be cognate with Northwest Semitic tehom (the deeps, abyss), in the Book of Genesis 1:2.

In Sumerian mythology, Nammu (also Namma, spelled ideographically NAMMA = ENGUR) was a primeval goddess, corresponding to Tiamat in Babylonian mythology.

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

Nammu is not well attested in Sumerian mythology. She may have been of greater importance prehistorically, before Enki took over most of her functions. An indication of her continued relevance may be found in the theophoric name of Ur-Nammu, the founder of the Third Dynasty of Ur.

According to the Neo-Sumerian mythological text Enki and Ninmah, Enki is the son of An and Nammu. Nammu is the goddess who “has given birth to the great gods”. It is she who has the idea of creating mankind, and she goes to wake up Enki, who is asleep in the Apsu, so that he may set the process going.

The Atrahasis-Epos has it that Enlil requested from Nammu the creation of humans. And Nammu told him that with the help of Enki (her son) she can create humans in the image of gods.

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

The Abzu was the name for the primeval sea below the void space of the underworld (Kur) and the earth (Ma) above. It may also refer to fresh water from underground aquifers that was given a religious fertilizing quality. Lakes, springs, rivers, wells, and other sources of fresh water were thought to draw their water from the abzu.

In the city of Eridu, Enki’s temple was known as 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.

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

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

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

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

Sanskrit and Avestan napāt (“grandson”) are cognate to Latin nepōs and English nephew, but the name Apām Napāt has also been compared to Etruscan Nethuns and Celtic Nechtan and Roman Neptune.

In Yasht 19 of the Avesta Apąm Napāt appears as the Creator of mankind. Here, there is an evident link between the glory of sovereignty (Khvarenah) and Apąm Napāt who protects Khvarenah as the royal glory of Iranian kings.

Apām Napāt is sometimes, for example in Rigveda book 2 hymn 35 verse 2, described as the supreme creator deity who originates in the cosmic waters. Apam Napat has a golden splendour and is said to be kindled by the cosmic waters.

The reference to fire may have originally referred to flames from natural gas or oil seepages surfacing through water, as in a fire temple. There is a conjecture that the word “naphtha” came (via Greek, where it meant any sort of petroleum) from the name “Apam Napat”.

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

Apas (āpas) is the Avestan language term for “the waters”, which—in its innumerable aggregate states—is represented by the Apas, the hypostases of the waters. Avestan apas (from singular āpō) is grammatically feminine, and the Apas are female. The Middle Persian equivalents are ābān/Ābān (alt: āvān/Āvān), from which Parsi Gujarati āvā/Āvā (in religious usage only) derive. The Avestan common noun āpas corresponds exactly to Vedic Sanskrit āpas, and both derive from the same proto-Indo-Iranian word, stem *ap- “water”.

In the myth and folklore of the Near East and Europe, Abyzou is the name of a female demon. Abyzou was blamed for miscarriages and infant mortality and was said to be motivated by envy (Greek: phthonos), as she herself was infertile.

In the Jewish tradition she is identified with Lilith, in Coptic Egypt with Alabasandria, and in Byzantine culture with Gylou, but in various texts surviving from the syncretic magical practice of antiquity and the early medieval era she is said to have many or virtually innumerable names.

In Sumerian religion, Ninlil (NIN.LÍL”lady of the open field” or “Lady of the Wind”), also called Sud, in Assyrian called Mulliltu, is the consort goddess of Enlil. As “Lady Wind” she may be associated with the figure of the Akkadian demon “Lil-itu”, thought to have been the origin of the Hebrew Lilith legend.

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

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

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

The entity Sea was originally bi- or asexual, later dividing into male Abzu (fresh water) and female Tiamat (salt water). The female demons among whom Lilith is the best-known are often said to have come from the primeval sea.

In classical Greece, female sea monsters that combine allure and deadliness may also derive from this tradition, including the Gorgons (who were daughters of the old sea god Phorcys), Sirens, Harpies, and even water nymphs and Nereids.

In the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew scriptures, the word Abyssos is treated as a noun of feminine grammatical gender, even though Greek nouns ending in -os are typically masculine. Abyssos is equivalent in meaning to Mesopotamian Abzu as the dark chaotic sea before Creation.

The word also appears in the Christian scriptures, occurring six times in the Book of Revelation, where it is conventionally translated not as “the deep” but as “the bottomless pit” of Hell. Barb argues that in essence the Sumerian Abzu is the “grandmother” of the Christian Devil.

Sumerian

Enlil, along with Anu/An, Enki and Ninhursag (“lady of the sacred mountain”, from Sumerian NIN “lady” and ḪAR.SAG “sacred mountain, foothill”, possibly a reference to the site of her temple, the E-Kur (House of mountain deeps) at Eridu) were gods of the Sumerians. In Sumerian, the designation “An” was used interchangeably with “the heavens” so that in some cases it is doubtful whether, under the term, the god An or the heavens is being denoted.

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

Anu existed in Sumerian cosmogony as a dome that covered the flat earth; Outside of this dome was the primordial body of water known as Tiamat (not to be confused with the subterranean Abzu). In Sumerian, the designation “An” was used interchangeably with “the heavens” so that in some cases it is doubtful whether, under the term, the god An or the heavens is being denoted.

The Akkadians inherited An as the god of heavens from the Sumerian as Anu-, and in Akkadian cuneiform, the DINGIR character may refer either to Anum or to the Akkadian word for god, ilu-, and consequently had two phonetic values an and il. Hittite cuneiform as adapted from the Old Assyrian kept the an value but abandoned il.

The doctrine once established remained an inherent part of the Babylonian-Assyrian religion and led to the more or less complete disassociation of the three gods constituting the triad from their original local limitations.

An intermediate step between Anu viewed as the local deity of Uruk, Enlil as the god of Nippur, and Ea as the god of Eridu is represented by the prominence which each one of the centres associated with the three deities in question must have acquired, and which led to each one absorbing the qualities of other gods so as to give them a controlling position in an organized pantheon.

For Nippur we have the direct evidence that its chief deity, En-lil, was once regarded as the head of the Sumerian pantheon. The sanctity and, therefore, the importance of Eridu remained a fixed tradition in the minds of the people to the latest days, and analogy therefore justifies the conclusion that Anu was likewise worshipped in a centre which had acquired great prominence.

The summing-up of divine powers manifested in the universe in a threefold division represents an outcome of speculation in the schools attached to the temples of Babylonia, but the selection of Anu, Enlil (and later Marduk), and Ea for the three representatives of the three spheres recognized, is due to the importance which, for one reason or the other, the centres in which Anu, Enlil, and Ea were worshipped had acquired in the popular mind.

Each of the three must have been regarded in his centre as the most important member in a larger or smaller group, so that their union in a triad marks also the combination of the three distinctive pantheons into a harmonious whole.

In the astral theology of Babylonia and Assyria, Anu, Enlil, and Ea became the three zones of the ecliptic, the northern, middle and southern zone respectively. The purely theoretical character of Anu is thus still further emphasized, and in the annals and votive inscriptions as well as in the incantations and hymns, he is rarely introduced as an active force to whom a personal appeal can be made.

Enlil (nlin), (EN = Lord + LÍL = Wind, “Lord (of the) Storm”) is the God of breath, wind, loft and breadth (height and distance). Enlil was known as the inventor of the mattock (a key agricultural pick, hoe, ax or digging tool of the Sumerians) and helped plants to grow.

It was the name of a chief deity listed and written about in Sumerian religion, and later in Akkadian (Assyrian and Babylonian), Hittite, Canaanite and other Mesopotamian clay and stone tablets. The name is perhaps pronounced and sometimes rendered in translations as “Ellil” in later Akkadian, Hittite, and Canaanite literature. In later Akkadian, Enlil is the son of Anshar and Kishar.

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

Haya is known both as a “door-keeper” and associated with the scribal arts. Haya’s functions are two-fold: he appears to have served as a door-keeper but was also associated with the scribal arts, and may have had an association with grain.

He is mentioned together with lugal-[ki-sá-a], a divinity associated with door-keepers. Already in the Ur III period Haya had received offerings together with offerings to the “gate”. This was presumably because of the location of one of his shrines.

At least from the Old Babylonian period on he is known as the spouse of the grain-goddess Nidaba/Nissaba, who is also the patroness of the scribal art. From the same period we have a Sumerian hymn composed in his honour, which celebrates him in these capacities.

While there is plenty of evidence to connect Haya with scribes, the evidence connecting him with grain is mainly restricted to etymological considerations, which are unreliable and suspect.

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

He is the spouse of Nidaba/Nissaba, goddess of grain and scribes. Nidaba reflects fundamental developments in the creation of Mesopotamian culture, those which take us from agriculture to accounting, to a very fine literary tradition. Nidaba was originally an agricultural deity, more specifically a goddess of grain. The intricate connection between agriculture and accounting/writing implied that it was not long before Nidaba became the goddess of writing. From then on her main role was to be the patron of scribes. She was eventually replaced in that function by the god Nabu.

Traditions vary regarding the genealogy of Nidaba. She appears on separate occasions as the daughter of Enlil, of Uraš, of Ea, and of Anu. Nidaba’s spouse is Haya and together they have a daughter, Sud/Ninlil, a goddess mainly known as the wife of Enlil, the head of the early Mesopotamian pantheon, and later of Aššur, the head of the Assyrian pantheon. She was at times syncretised with various healing and mother goddesses as well as with the goddess Ištar.

Two myths describe the marriage of Sud/Ninlil with Enlil. This implies that Nidaba could be at once the daughter and the mother-in-law of Enlil. Nidaba is also the sister of Ninsumun, the mother of Gilgameš. Nidaba is frequently mentioned together with the goddess Nanibgal who also appears as an epithet of Nidaba, although most god lists treat her as a distinct goddess.

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

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

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

Ninurta was a Sumerian and the Akkadian god of hunting and war. The cult of Ninurta can be traced back to the oldest period of Sumerian history. He was worshipped in Babylonia and Assyria and in Lagash he was identified with the city god Ningirsu (“the lord of Girsu”, Girsu being the name of a city where he was considered the patron deity). In older transliteration the name is rendered Ninib and Ninip, and in early commentary he was sometimes portrayed as a solar deity.

In Nippur, Ninurta was worshiped as part of a triad of deities including his father, Enlil and his mother, Ninlil. In variant mythology, his mother is said to be the harvest goddess Ninhursag, the wife and consort of Enki, also referred to as Damgulanna (great wife of heaven) or Damkina (faithful wife). The consort of Ninurta was Ugallu in Nippur and Bau when he was called Ningirsu. In Assyria, Ninurta was worshipped alongside the gods Aššur and Mulissu, a goddess who is the wife of Ashur.

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

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

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

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

She is principally a fertility goddess. Temple hymn sources identify her as the ‘true and great lady of heaven’ (possibly in relation to her standing on the mountain) and kings of Sumer were ‘nourished by Ninhursag’s milk’. Her hair is sometimes depicted in an omega shape, and she at times wears a horned head-dress and tiered skirt, often with bow cases at her shoulders, and not infrequently carries a mace or baton surmounted by an omega motif or a derivation, sometimes accompanied by a lion cub on a leash.

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

Mullissu may be identical with the Mesopotamian goddess Ninlil, wife of the god Enlil, which would parallel the fact that Ashur himself was modeled on Enlil. Mullissu’s name was written “NIN.LÍL”. Nonetheless, Mullissu, who was identified with Ishtar of Nineveh in Neo-Assyrian Empire times, is usually identified with Ishtar. Also proposed to be Mullissu is a goddess whom Herodotus called Mylitta and identified with Aphrodite.

A number of scholars have suggested that either the god Ninurta or the Assyrian king bearing his name (Tukulti-Ninurta I) was the inspiration for the Biblical character Nimrod, king of Shinar, according to the Book of Genesis and Books of Chronicles, the son of Cush, the great-grandson of Noah. He is depicted in the Bible as mighty in the earth and a mighty hunter before the Lord.

Ninurta appears in a double capacity in the epithets bestowed on him, and in the hymns and incantations addressed to him. On the one hand he is a farmer and a healing god who releases humans from sickness and the power of demons; on the other he is the god of the South Wind as the son of Enlil, displacing his mother Ninlil who was earlier held to be the goddess of the South Wind. Enlil’s brother, Enki, was portrayed as Ninurta’s mentor from whom Ninurta was entrusted several powerful Mes, including the Deluge.

In the late neo-Babylonian and early Persian period, syncretism seems to have fused Ninurta’s character with that of Nergal. The two gods were often invoked together, and spoken of as if they were one divinity.

In the astral-theological system Ninurta was associated with the planet Saturn, or perhaps as offspring or an aspect of Saturn. In his capacity as a farmer-god, there are similarities between Ninurta and the Greek Titan Kronos, whom the Romans in turn identified with their Titan Saturn.

Ninurta often appears holding a bow and arrow, a sickle sword, or a mace named Sharur: Sharur is capable of speech in the Sumerian legend “Deeds and Exploits of Ninurta” and can take the form of a winged lion and may represent an archetype for the later Shedu.

In another legend, Ninurta battles a birdlike monster called Imdugud (Akkadian: Anzû); a Babylonian version relates how the monster Anzû steals the Tablets of Destiny from Enlil. The Tablets of Destiny were believed to contain the details of fate and the future.

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

There are a lot of parallels with both and the story of Marduk (son of Enki) who slew Abzu (or Apsu), and delivered the Tablets of Destiny from Kingu to his father, Enki.

Enki (Sumerian: EN.KI(G)) is a god in Sumerian mythology, later known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology. He was accompanied by the minor god Isimud (also Isinu; Usmû; Usumu (Akkadian)), the messenger of the god Enki, readily identifiable by his possessing two faces looking in opposite directions.

Enki was originally patron god of the city of Eridu, but later the influence of his cult spread throughout Mesopotamia and to the Canaanites, Hittites and Hurrians. He was the deity of crafts (gašam); mischief; water, seawater, lakewater (a, aba, ab), intelligence (gestú, literally “ear”) and creation (Nudimmud: nu, likeness, dim mud, make beer).

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.

The main temple to Enki is called E-abzu, meaning “abzu temple” (also E-en-gur-a, meaning “house of the subterranean waters”), a ziggurat temple surrounded by Euphratean marshlands near the ancient Persian Gulf coastline at Eridu.

He was the keeper of the divine powers called Me, the gifts of civilization. His image is a double-helix snake, or the Caduceus, sometimes confused with the Rod of Asclepius used to symbolize medicine. He is often shown with the horned crown of divinity dressed in the skin of a carp.

Considered the master shaper of the world, god of wisdom and of all magic, Enki was characterized as the lord of the Abzu (Apsu in Akkadian), the freshwater sea or groundwater located within the earth.

In the later Babylonian epic Enûma Eliš, Abzu, the “begetter of the gods”, is inert and sleepy but finds his peace disturbed by the younger gods, so sets out to destroy them. His grandson Enki, chosen to represent the younger gods, puts a spell on Abzu “casting him into a deep sleep”, thereby confining him deep underground. Enki subsequently sets up his home “in the depths of the Abzu.” Enki thus takes on all of the functions of the Abzu, including his fertilising powers as lord of the waters and lord of semen.

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

In another even older tradition, Nammu, the goddess of the primeval creative matter and the mother-goddess portrayed as having “given birth to the great gods,” was the mother of Enki, and as the watery creative force, was said to preexist Ea-Enki. Benito states “With Enki it is an interesting change of gender symbolism, the fertilising agent is also water, Sumerian “a” or “Ab” which also means “semen”. In one evocative passage in a Sumerian hymn, Enki stands at the empty riverbeds and fills them with his ‘water'”. This may be a reference to Enki’s hieros gamos or sacred marriage with Ki/Ninhursag (the Earth) (see below).

His symbols included a goat and a fish, which later combined into a single beast, the goat Capricorn, recognised as the Zodiacal constellation Capricornus. The planet Mercury in the Sumerian astrological system, associated with Babylonian Nabu (the son of Marduk), was in Sumerian times, identified with Enki.

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.”

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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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

Marduk (Sumerian spelling in Akkadian: AMAR.UTU “solar calf”) was a late-generation god from ancient Mesopotamia and patron deity of the city of Babylon. According to The Encyclopedia of Religion, the name Marduk was probably pronounced Marutuk. The etymology of the name Marduk is conjectured as derived from amar-Utu (“bull calf of the sun god Utu”).

The origin of Marduk’s name may reflect an earlier genealogy, or have had cultural ties to the ancient city of Sippar (whose god was Utu, the sun god), dating back to the third millennium BC. In the perfected system of astrology, the planet Jupiter was associated with Marduk by the Hammurabi period.

When Babylon became the political center of the Euphrates valley in the time of Hammurabi (18th century BC), he slowly started to rise to the position of the head of the Babylonian pantheon, a position he fully acquired by the second half of the second millennium BC. In the city of Babylon, he resided in the temple Esagila. “Marduk” is the Babylonian form of his name.

Marduk’s original character is obscure but he was later associated with water, vegetation, judgment, and magic. His consort was the goddess Sarpanit (alternately Sarpanitu, Zarpanit, Zarpandit, Zerpanitum, Zerbanitu, or Zirbanit), a mother goddess and the consort of the chief god, Marduk.

Her name means “the shining one”, and she is sometimes associated with the planet Venus. By a play on words her name was interpreted as zēr-bānītu, or “creatress of seed”, and is thereby associated with the goddess Aruru, who, according to Babylonian myth, created mankind.

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

Marduk was depicted as a human, often with his symbol the snake-dragon which he had taken over from the god Tishpak, an Akkadian god, the tutelary deity of the city of Esnumma (Eshnunna), likely identical with the Hurrian god “Teshup”.

Marduk was also regarded as the son of Ea (Sumerian Enki) and Damkina and the heir of Anu, but whatever special traits Marduk may have had were overshadowed by the political development through which the Euphrates valley passed and which led to people of the time imbuing him with traits belonging to gods who in an earlier period were recognized as the heads of the pantheon. There are particularly two gods—Ea and Enlil—whose powers and attributes pass over to Marduk.

In the case of Ea, the transfer proceeded pacifically and without effacing the older god. Marduk took over the identity of Asarluhi, the son of Ea and god of magic, so that Marduk was integrated in the pantheon of Eridu where both Ea and Asarluhi originally came from. Father Ea voluntarily recognized the superiority of the son and hands over to him the control of humanity.

This association of Marduk and Ea, while indicating primarily the passing of the supremacy once enjoyed by Eridu to Babylon as a religious and political centre, may also reflect an early dependence of Babylon upon Eridu, not necessarily of a political character but, in view of the spread of culture in the Euphrates valley from the south to the north, the recognition of Eridu as the older centre on the part of the younger one.

While the relationship between Ea and Marduk is marked by harmony and an amicable abdication on the part of the father in favour of his son, Marduk’s absorption of the power and prerogatives of Enlil of Nippur was at the expense of the latter’s prestige. Babylon became independent in the early 19th century BC, and was initially a small city state, overshadowed by older and more powerful Mesopotamian states such as Isin, Larsa and Assyria.

However, after Hammurabi forged an empire in the 18th century BC, turning Babylon into the dominant state in the south, the cult of Marduk eclipsed that of Enlil; although Nippur and the cult of Enlil enjoyed a period of renaissance during the over four centuries of Kassite control in Babylonia (c. 1595 BC–1157 BC), the definite and permanent triumph of Marduk over Enlil became felt within Babylonia.

The only serious rival to Marduk after ca. 1750 BC was the god Aššur (Ashur) (who had been the supreme deity in the northern Mesopotamian state of Assyria since the 25th century BC) which was the dominant power in the region between the 14th to the late 7th century BC. In the south, Marduk reigned supreme. He is normally referred to as Bel “Lord”, also bel rabim “great lord”, bêl bêlim “lord of lords”, ab-kal ilâni bêl terêti “leader of the gods”, aklu bêl terieti “the wise, lord of oracles”, muballit mîte “reviver of the dead”, etc.

When Babylon became the principal city of southern Mesopotamia during the reign of Hammurabi in the 18th century BC, the patron deity of Babylon was elevated to the level of supreme god. In order to explain how Marduk seized power, Enûma Elish was written, which tells the story of Marduk’s birth, heroic deeds and becoming the ruler of the gods. This can be viewed as a form of Mesopotamian apologetics. Also included in this document are the fifty names of Marduk.

In Enûma Elish, a civil war between the gods was growing to a climactic battle. The Anunnaki gods gathered together to find one god who could defeat the gods rising against them. Marduk, a very young god, answered the call and was promised the position of head god.

To prepare for battle, he makes a bow, fletches arrows, grabs a mace, throws lightning before him, fills his body with flame, makes a net to encircle Tiamat within it, gathers the four winds so that no part of her could escape, creates seven nasty new winds such as the whirlwind and tornado, and raises up his mightiest weapon, the rain-flood. Then he sets out for battle, mounting his storm-chariot drawn by four horses with poison in their mouths. In his lips he holds a spell and in one hand he grasps a herb to counter poison.

First, he challenges the leader of the Anunnaki gods, the dragon of the primordial sea Tiamat, to single combat and defeats her by trapping her with his net, blowing her up with his winds, and piercing her belly with an arrow.

Then, he proceeds to defeat Kingu, who Tiamat put in charge of the army and wore the Tablets of Destiny on his breast, and “wrested from him the Tablets of Destiny, wrongfully his” and assumed his new position. Under his reign humans were created to bear the burdens of life so the gods could be at leisure.

Marduk was depicted as a human, often with his symbol the snake-dragon which he had taken over from the god Tishpak, an Akkadian god, the tutelary deity of the city of Esnumma (Eshnunna), likely, identical with the Hurrian god “Teshup”. Another symbol that stood for Marduk was the spade.

Babylonian texts 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”. Nabu, the Assyrian and Babylonian god of wisdom and writing, was worshipped by Babylonians as the son of Marduk and Sarpanitum and as the grandson of Ea. Nabu, as a god of wisdom and writing, was identified by the Greeks with Hermes, by the Romans with Mercury, and by the Egyptians with Thoth.

Nabu was originally a West Semitic deity from Ebla whose cult was introduced to Mesopotamia by the Amorites after 2000 BCE. Nabu was assimilated into Marduk’s cult, where he became Marduk’s minister and, eventually, his son with Sarpanitum and co-regent of the Mesopotamian pantheon.

Due to his role as Marduk’s minister and scribe, Nabu became the god of wisdom/knowledge and writing (including religious, scientific and magical texts) taking over the role from the Sumerian goddess Nisaba.

Nabu was also worshipped as a god of fertility, a god of water, and a god of vegetation. He was also the keeper of the Tablets of Destiny, which recorded the fate of mankind and allowed him to increase or diminish the length of human life. His symbols are the clay tablet and stylus. In Babylonian astrology, Nabu was identified with the planet Mercury.

He wears a horned cap, and stands with hands clasped, in the ancient gesture of priesthood. He rides on a winged dragon known as Sirrush which originally belonged to his father Marduk. During the Babylonian New Year Festival, the cult statue of Nabu was transported from Borsippa to Babylon in order to commune with his father Marduk.

Nabu’s consort was Tashmetum. She is called upon to listen to prayers and to grant requests. Tashmetum’s name means “the lady who listens”. She is also known as Tashmit and Tashmetu, and she was known by the epithets Lady of Hearing and Lady of Favor.

Egypt

Atum (/ɑ-tum/), sometimes rendered as Atem or Tem, is an important deity in Egyptian mythology. Atum’s name is thought to be derived from the word tem which means to complete or finish. Thus he has been interpreted as being the ‘complete one’ and also the finisher of the world, which he returns to watery chaos at the end of the creative cycle. As creator he was seen as the underlying substance of the world, the deities and all things being made of his flesh or alternatively being his ka.

Atum is one of the most important and frequently mentioned deities from earliest times, as evidenced by his prominence in the Pyramid Texts, where he is portrayed as both a creator and father to the king. He is usually depicted as a man wearing either the royal head-cloth or the dual white and red crown of Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt, reinforcing his connection with kingship. Sometimes he also is shown as a serpent, the form he returns to at the end of the creative cycle, and also occasionally as a mongoose, lion, bull, lizard, or ape.

Atum was a self-created deity, the first being to emerge from the darkness and endless watery abyss that existed before creation. A product of the energy and matter contained in this chaos, he created his children—the first deities, out of loneliness. He produced from his own sneeze, or in some accounts, semen, Shu, the god of air, and Tefnut, the goddess of moisture.

The brother and sister, curious about the primeval waters that surrounded them, went to explore the waters and disappeared into the darkness. Unable to bear his loss, Atum sent a fiery messenger, the Eye of Ra, to find his children. The tears of joy he shed on their return were the first human beings.

In the Heliopolitan creation myth, Atum was considered to be the first god, having created himself, sitting on a mound (benben) (or identified with the mound itself), from the primordial waters (Nu).

Early myths state that Atum created the god Shu and the goddess Tefnut by spitting them out of his mouth. To explain how Atum did this, the myth uses the metaphor of masturbation, with the hand he used in this act representing the female principle inherent within him. Other interpretations state that he has made union with his shadow.

In the Old Kingdom the Egyptians believed that Atum lifted the dead king’s soul from his pyramid to the starry heavens. He was also a solar deity, associated with the primary sun god Ra. Atum was linked specifically with the evening sun, while Ra or the closely linked god Khepri were connected with the sun at morning and midday.

In the Book of the Dead, which was still current in the Graeco-Roman period, the sun god Atum is said to have ascended from chaos-waters with the appearance of a snake, the animal renewing itself every morning.

Atum is the god of pre-existence and post-existence. In the binary solar cycle, the serpentine Atum is contrasted with the ram-headed scarab Khepri—the young sun god, whose name is derived from the Egyptian hpr “to come into existence”. Khepri-Atum encompassed sunrise and sunset, thus reflecting the entire solar cycle.

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

Osiris is a Latin transliteration of Ancient Greek, which in turn is the Greek adaptation of the original theonym in the Egyptian language. In Egyptian hieroglyphs the name is written Wsjr, as the hieroglyphic writing does not restitute all the vowels, and Egyptologists transliterate the name variously as Asar, Asari, Aser, Ausar, Ausir, Wesir, Usir, Usire or Ausare.

Osiris was at times considered the oldest son of the earth god Geb, though other sources state his father is the sun-god Ra and the sky goddess Nut, as well as being brother and husband of Isis, with Horus being considered his posthumously begotten son. He was also associated with the epithet Khenti-Amentiu, meaning “Foremost of the Westerners”, a reference to his kingship in the land of the dead. As ruler of the dead, Osiris was also sometimes called “king of the living”: ancient Egyptians considered the blessed dead “the living ones”.

Osiris was considered not only a merciful judge of the dead in the afterlife, but also the underworld agency that granted all life, including sprouting vegetation and the fertile flooding of the Nile River. He was described as the “Lord of love”, “He Who is Permanently Benign and Youthful” and the “Lord of Silence”.

The Kings of Egypt were associated with Osiris in death — as Osiris rose from the dead they would, in union with him, inherit eternal life through a process of imitative magic. By the New Kingdom all people, not just pharaohs, were believed to be associated with Osiris at death, if they incurred the costs of the assimilation rituals.

Through the hope of new life after death, Osiris began to be associated with the cycles observed in nature, in particular vegetation and the annual flooding of the Nile, through his links with the heliacal rising of Orion and Sirius at the start of the new year. Osiris was widely worshipped as Lord of the Dead until the suppression of the Egyptian religion during the rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire.

Osiris is the mythological father of the god Horus, whose conception is described in the Osiris myth, a central myth in ancient Egyptian belief. The myth described Osiris as having been killed by his brother Set, who wanted Osiris’ throne.

Isis joined the fragmented pieces of Osiris, but the only body part missing was the phallus. Isis fashioned a golden phallus, and briefly brought Osiris back to life by use of a spell that she learned from her father.

This spell gave her time to become pregnant by Osiris before he again died. Isis later gave birth to Horus. As such, since Horus was born after Osiris’ resurrection, Horus became thought of as a representation of new beginnings and the vanquisher of the evil Set.

Ptah-Seker (who resulted from the identification of Creator god Ptah, the demiurge of Memphis, god of craftsmen and architects, with Seker, also spelled Sokar), god of reincarnation, thus gradually became identified with Osiris, the two becoming Ptah-Seker-Osiris. As the sun was thought to spend the night in the underworld, and was subsequently reincarnated every morning, Ptah-Seker-Osiris was identified as both a creator god, king of the underworld, god of the afterlife, reincarnation, life, death, and resurrection.

Seker is a falcon god of the Memphite necropolis. Although the meaning of his name remains uncertain the Egyptians in the Pyramid Texts linked his name to the anguished cry of Osiris to Isis ‘Sy-k-ri’ (‘hurry to me’), in the underworld. Seker is strongly linked with two other gods, Ptah the Creator god and chief god of Memphis and Osiris the god of the dead. In later periods this connection was expressed as the triple god Ptah-Seker-Osiris.

Seker was usually depicted as a mummified hawk and sometimes as mound from which the head of a hawk appears. Here he is called ‘he who is on his sand’. Sometimes he is shown on his hennu barque which was an elaborate sledge for negotiating the sandy necropolis. One of his titles was ‘He of Restau’, which means the place of ‘openings’ or tomb entrances.

In the New Kingdom Book of the Underworld, the Amduat, he is shown standing on the back of a serpent between two spread wings; as an expression of freedom this suggests a connection with resurrection or perhaps a satisfactory transit of the underworld. Despite this the region of the underworld associated with Seker was seen as difficult, sandy terrain called the Imhet (meaning ‘filled up’).

Seker, possibly through his association with Ptah, also has a connection with craftsmen. In the Book of the Dead he is said to fashion silver bowls and a silver coffin of Sheshonq II has been discovered at Tanis decorated with the iconography of Seker. Seker’s cult centre was in Memphis where festivals in his honour were held in the fourth month of the akhet (spring) season. The god was depicted as assisting in various tasks such as digging ditches and canals. From the New Kingdom a similar festival was held in Thebes.

In the triad of Memphis, Ptah is the spouse of Sekhmet, originally the warrior goddess as well as goddess of healing for Upper Egypt, when the kingdom of Egypt was divided, or Bast, the goddess of warfare in Lower Egypt, the Nile River delta region, before the unification of the cultures of ancient Egypt, and the father of Nefertum (possibly “beautiful one who closes” or “one who does not close”; also spelled Nefertum or Nefer-temu). He was also regarded as the father of the sage Imhotep.

Nefertem was in Egyptian mythology originally a lotus flower at the creation of the world, who had arisen from the primal waters. Nefertem represented both the first sunlight and the delightful smell of the Egyptian blue lotus flower, having arisen from the primal waters within an Egyptian blue water-lily, Nymphaea caerulea. Some of the titles of Nefertem were “He Who is Beautiful” and “Water-Lily of the Sun”.

Nefertem the child comes from his earth father Nun’s black primordial waters, and his sky mother is Nut. When he matures, he is Ra, the ancient Egyptian solar deity. In art, Nefertum is usually depicted as a beautiful young man having blue water-lily flowers around his head. As the son of Bastet, he also sometimes has the head of a lion or is a lion or cat reclining. The ancient Egyptians often carried small statuettes of him as good-luck charms.

Imhotep (also spelled Immutef, Im-hotep, or Ii-em-Hotep; called Imuthes by the Greeks; fl. 27th century BC (c. 2650–2600 BC); Egyptian: ỉỉ-m-ḥtp *jā-im-ḥātap meaning “the one who comes in peace, is with peace”) was an Egyptian polymath who served under the Third Dynasty king Djoser as chancellor to the pharaoh and high priest of the sun god Ra (or Re) at Heliopolis. He is considered by some to be the earliest known architect and engineer and physician in early history, though two other physicians, Hesy-Ra and Merit-Ptah, lived around the same time.

He was one of only a few commoners ever to be accorded divine status after death. The center of his cult was Memphis. From the First Intermediate Period onward Imhotep was also revered as a poet and philosopher. His sayings were famously referenced in poems: “I have heard the words of Imhotep and Hordedef with whose discourses men speak so much.”

Horus is one of the most significant deities in ancient Egyptian religion, who was worshipped from at least the late Predynastic period through to Greco-Roman times. In early Egypt, Horus was the brother of Isis, Osiris, Set and Nephthys. As different cults formed, he became the son of Isis and Osiris. Isis remained the sister of Osiris, Set and Nephthys.

The most commonly encountered family relationship describes Horus as the son of Isis and Osiris but in another tradition Hathor is regarded as his mother and sometimes as his wife.

Horus was born to the goddess Isis after she retrieved all the dismembered body parts of her murdered husband Osiris, except his penis which was thrown into the Nile and eaten by a catfish, or sometimes by a crab, and according to Plutarch’s account used her magic powers to resurrect Osiris and fashion a golden phallus to conceive her son (older Egyptian accounts have the penis of Osiris surviving).

Once Isis knew she was pregnant with Horus, she fled to the Nile Delta marshlands to hide from her brother Set who jealously killed Osiris and who she knew would want to kill their son. There Isis bore a divine son, Horus.

Since Horus was said to be the sky, he was considered to also contain the sun and moon. It became said that the sun was his right eye and the moon his left, and that they traversed the sky when he, a falcon, flew across it.

Later, the reason that the moon was not as bright as the sun was explained by a tale, known as the The Contendings of Horus and Seth. In this tale, it was said that Set, the patron of Upper Egypt, and Horus, the patron of Lower Egypt, had battled for Egypt brutally, with neither side victorious, until eventually the gods sided with Horus.

Different forms of Horus are recorded in history and these are treated as distinct gods by Egypt specialists. These various forms may possibly be different perceptions of the same multi-layered deity in which certain attributes or syncretic relationships are emphasized, not necessarily in opposition but complementary to one another, consistent with how the Ancient Egyptians viewed the multiple facets of reality. He was most often depicted as a falcon, most likely a lanner or peregrine, or as a man with a falcon head.

The earliest recorded form of Horus is the patron deity of Nekhen in Upper Egypt, who is the first known national god, specifically related to the king who in time came to be regarded as a manifestation of Horus in life and Osiris in death.

The most commonly encountered family relationship describes Horus as the son of Isis and Osiris but in another tradition Hathor is regarded as his mother and sometimes as his wife. Horus served many functions in the Egyptian pantheon, most notably being a god of the sun, war and protection.

Pyramid texts ca. 2400–2300 BC describe the nature of the Pharaoh in different characters as both Horus and Osiris. The Pharaoh as Horus in life became the Pharaoh as Osiris in death, where he was united with the rest of the gods. New incarnations of Horus succeeded the deceased pharaoh on earth in the form of new Pharaohs.

The lineage of Horus, the eventual product of unions between the children of Atum, may have been a means to explain and justify Pharaonic power; The gods produced by Atum were all representative of cosmic and terrestrial forces in Egyptian life; by identifying Horus as the offspring of these forces, then identifying him with Atum himself, and finally identifying the Pharaoh with Horus, the Pharaoh theologically had dominion over all the world.

Hinduism

The Vedic beliefs and practices of the pre-classical era were closely related to the hypothesised Proto-Indo-European religion, and the Indo-Iranian religion. According to Anthony, the Old Indic religion probably emerged among Indo-European immigrants in the contact zone between the Zeravshan River (present-day Uzbekistan) and (present-day) Iran.

It was “a syncretic mixture of old Central Asian and new Indo-European elements”, which borrowed “distinctive religious beliefs and practices” from the Bactria–Margiana Culture. At least 383 non-Indo-European words were borrowed from this culture, including the god Indra and the ritual drink Soma.

According to Anthony, many of the qualities of Indo-Iranian god of might/victory, Verethraghna, were transferred to the adopted god Indra, who became the central deity of the developing Old Indic culture. Indra was the subject of 250 hymns, a quarter of the Rig Veda. He was associated more than any other deity with Soma, a stimulant drug (perhaps derived from Ephedra) probably borrowed from the BMAC religion. His rise to prominence was a peculiar trait of the Old Indic speakers.

Varuna (“God of the sea”), equated with Neptune and Poseidon, is the Hindu god of the water and of the celestial ocean, as well as a god of law of the underwater world. A Makara is his mount. The origin of Varuna is in ancient Vedic religion. Originally the chief god of the Vedic pantheon, Varuna was replaced by Indra and later faded away with the ascendancy of Shiva and Vishnu.

As chief of the Adityas, Varuna has aspects of a solar deity though, when opposed to Mitra, he is rather associated with the night and Mitra with the daylight. As the most prominent Deva, however, he is mostly concerned with moral and societal affairs than being a deification of nature. Together with Mitra–originally ‘agreement’ (between tribes) personified—being master of ṛtá, he is the supreme keeper of order and god of the law.

Varuna and Mitra are the gods of the societal affairs including the oath, and are often twinned Mitra-Varuna (a dvandva compound). Varuna is also twinned with Indra in the Rigveda, as Indra-Varuna (when both cooperate at New Year in re-establishing order).

Mitra (Sanskrit Mitrá) is a divinity of Indic culture, whose function changed with time. In the Mitanni inscription, Mitra is invoked as one of the protectors of treaties. In the Rigveda, Mitra appears primarily in the dvandva compound Mitra-Varuna, which has essentially the same attributes as Varuna alone, e.g. as the principal guardian of ṛtá “Truth, Order”, breaches of which are punished.

In the late Vedic texts and the Brahmanas, Mitra is increasingly associated with the light of dawn and the morning sun (while Varuna becomes associated with the evening, and ultimately the night). In the post-Vedic texts – in which Mitra practically disappears – Mitra evolved into the patron divinity of friendship, and because he is “friend”, abhors all violence, even when sacred.

Indic Mitra should not be confused with the Zoroastrian divinity Mithra (Miθra). Although their names both derive from the Proto-Indo-Iranian noun *mitra, “(that which) causes binding”, a shared etymology through which the two also share some properties, Indic Mitra and Iranian Mithra developed differently, and the two figures are not identical. Indic Mitra should also not be confused with Roman Mithras.

The Rigveda and Atharvaveda portrays Varuna as omniscient, catching liars in his snares. The stars are his thousand-eyed spies, watching every movement of men.

In the Rigveda, Indra, chief of the Devas, is about six times more prominent than Varuna, who is mentioned 341 times. This may misrepresent the actual importance of Varuna in early Vedic society due to the focus of the Rigveda on fire and Soma ritual, Soma being closely associated with Indra; Varuna with his omniscience and omnipotence in the affairs of men has many aspects of a supreme deity. The daily Sandhyavandanam ritual of a dvija addresses Varuna in this aspect in its evening routine, asking him to forgive all sins, while Indra receives no mention.

Both Mitra and Varuna are classified as Asuras in the Rigveda (e.g. RV 5.63.3), although they are also addressed as Devas as well (e.g. RV 7.60.12). Varuna, being the king of the Asuras, was adopted or made the change to a Deva after the structuring of the primordial cosmos, imposed by Indra after he defeats Vrtra.

Vedic Varuna is sometimes thought to be a reflex of the same Proto-Indo-European theonym as Greek Ouranos, based on similarities between both names and the respective gods’ attributes, but no successful derivation has yet been produced that is consistent with known laws of sound change.

The Greek creation myth is similar to the Hurrian creation myth. In Hurrian religion Anu is the sky god. His son Kumarbis bit off his genitals and spat out three deities, one of whom, Teshub, later deposed Kumarbis. In Sumerian mythology and later for Assyrians and Babylonians, Anu is the sky god and represented law and order.

It is possible that Uranus was originally an Indo-European god, to be identified with the Vedic Váruṇa, the supreme keeper of order who later became the god of oceans and rivers, as suggested by Georges Dumézil, following hints in Émile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1912).

Another of Dumézil’s theories is that the Iranian supreme God Ahura Mazda is a development of the Indo-Iranian *vouruna-*mitra. Therefore this divinity has also the qualities of Mitra, which is the god of the falling rain.

Uranus is connected with the night sky, and Váruṇa is the god of the sky and the celestial ocean, which is connected with the Milky Way. His daughter Lakshmi is said to have arisen from an ocean of milk, a myth similar to the myth of Aphrodite.

Georges Dumézil made a cautious case for the identity of Uranus and Vedic Váruṇa at the earliest Indo-European cultural level. Dumézil’s identification of mythic elements shared by the two figures, relying to a great extent on linguistic interpretation, but not positing a common origin, was taken up by Robert Graves and others.

The identification of the name Ouranos with the Hindu Váruṇa, based in part on a posited PIE root *-ŭer with a sense of “binding”—ancient king god Váruṇa binds the wicked, ancient king god Uranus binds the Cyclopes, whom had tormented him. The most probable etymology is from Proto-Greek *(F)orsanόj (worsanos) from a PIE root *ers “to moisten, to drip” (referring to the rain).

In post-Vedic texts Varuna became the god of oceans and rivers and keeper of the souls of the drowned. As such, Varuna is also a god of the dead, and can grant immortality. He is attended by the nagas. He is also one of the Guardians of the directions, representing the west.

Later art depicts Varuna as a lunar deity, as a yellow man wearing golden armor and holding a noose or lasso made from a snake. He rides the sea creature Makara, a sea-creature in Hindu mythology.

Makara is a sea-creature in Hindu mythology. It is generally depicted as half terrestrial animal in the frontal part, in animal forms of an elephant, crocodile, stag, or deer, and in the hind part as an aquatic animal, in the form of a fish or seal tail. Sometimes, even a peacock tail is depicted.

Makara is the vahana (vehicle) of the Ganga – the goddess of river Ganges (Ganga) and the sea god Varuna. It is also the insignia of the love god Kamadeva. Kamadeva is also known as Makaradhvaja (one whose flag a makara is depicted). Makara is the astrological sign of Capricorn, one of the twelve symbols of the Zodiac. It is often portrayed protecting entryways to Hindu and Buddhist temples.

Makara symbolized in ornaments are also in popular use as wedding gifts for bridal decoration. The Hindu Preserver-god Vishnu is also shown wearing makara-shaped earrings called Makarakundalas. The Sun god Surya and the Mother Goddess Chandi are also sometimes described as being adorned with Makarakundalas.

‘Makara’ is a Sanskrit word which means “sea dragon” or “water-monster” and in Tibetan language it is called the “chu-srin”, and also denotes a hybrid creature. It is the origin of the word for crocodile ‘mugger’ in Hindi.

The English word ‘mugger’ evolved meaning one who sneaks up and attacks another. The name is applied to the Mugger crocodile, the most common crocodile in India, and is descriptive of its aggressive feeding behavior.

During the Vedic times when Indra was the God of heaven, Varuna, the Vedic water god became the God of the seas and rode on makara, which was called “the water monster vehicle”.

Makara has been depicted typically as half mammal and half fish. In many temples, the depiction is in the form of half fish or seal with head of an elephant. It is also shown in an anthropomorphic (abstract form) with head and jaws of a crocodile, an elephant trunk with scales of fish and a peacock tail.

Lakshmi sitting on a lotus is also a depiction in which she pulls the tongue of the elephant shaped makara is meant to project Lakshmi’s image as the goddess of prosperity, wealth and well being. It represents a chaotic state, which eventually is restored to a state of regular order.

Makara is also the emblem of Kamadeva, the vedic god of love and desire. It is also known as ‘Makara-Ketu’ which means “long tailed makara.” It is the tenth sign of the Zodiac, called rāśi in Sanskrit, which is equivalent to the zodiacal sign of Capricorn (goat symbol).

In Hindu iconography, Makara is represented as the vahana (“vehicle”) of Ganga, the river goddess. A row of makara may run along the wall of a Hindu temple, or form the hand rail of a staircase.

Varuna is not attested in the texts of the Avesta. Too late to be of relevance to a reconstruction of what might have happened to Indo-Iranian *vouruna (if at all such a predecessor figure existed) in Iran are the appearance of two names like ‘Varuna’ in the medieval texts of Zoroastrian tradition.

One of these instances is as Middle Persian varun, a dim-witted, easily tricked demon of “backwards”-ness, which is the literal Middle Persian meaning of his name. The other instance appears in a reading of a medieval Zoroastrian reaction to Islam’s 99 names of Allah.

In that list, a term in the ambiguous Pahlavi script was mis-transcribed into Pazand and Gujarati script as ‘vāruná’, which then—together with a loss of halant by typesetting—in the 19th century esoterically interpreted as “deliverer from evil.” Neither of these terms have any connection to Vedic Varuna.

Also unrelated to Vedic Varuna are Avestan Vourukasha and Varena. The former is the Avesta’s mythological sea that covers the earth, while Varena is a mythological four-cornered fourteenth region of the world.

Assuming that Vedic Varuna is not a purely Indian development (i.e. assuming that he derives from an Indo-Iranian *vouruna), there are several different theories on what might have happened to Indo-Iranian *vouruna in Iran:

Nyberg (Die Religionen des alten Iran, 1938:282ff) sees Varuna represented as the Amesha Spenta Asha Vahishta “Best Righteousness”, an opinion—with extensions—that Dumezil (Tarpeia 1947:33-113) and Widengren (Die Religionen Irans, 1965:12-13) also follow. This theory is based on Vedic Varuna’s role as the principal protector of rta, which in Iran is represented by asha [vahishta].

Kuiper (IIJ I, 1957) proposes that none less than Ahura Mazda is a development from an earlier dvandva *vouruna-mitra. The basis of Kuiper’s proposal is that the equivalent of Avestan mazda “wisdom” is Vedic medhira, described in Rigveda 8.6.10 as the “(revealed) insight into the cosmic order” that Varuna grants his devotees. In Kuiper’s view, Ahura Mazda is then a compound divinity in which the propitious characteristics of *mitra negate the unfavorable qualities of *vouruna.

Zimmer (Münchner Studien 1984:187-215) observed that Varuna has the byname (cult epithet) bhaga, an adjective that also appears in the Avesta (as baga). It may then be that the Avestan adjective is likewise a cult epithet, the proper name having been forgotten—a not uncommon occurrence. This may be seen to be reflected in Artaxerxes III’s invocation of ahuramazda ura mithra baga “Ahura Mazda, Mithra, and the Baga” (Boyce, Acta Iranica 21, 1981:59-73).

Another epithet of Vedic Varuna is asura, and there may be a remnant of Varuna in those Gathic passages (generally presumed to have been composed by Zoroaster himself) refers to the ahuras (plural) without (aside from Ahura Mazda) explicitly naming them.

While Ahura Mazda is uniformly “the mightiest Ahura” (e.g. Yasna 33.11), in the only two occurrences of the term where the word does not refer to Ahura Mazda, the poet uses the expression mazdasca ahurano (Yasna 30.9, 31.4).

This phrase, generally understood to mean “the Wise [Mazda] One and the (other) Ahuras”, is in “common opinion” (so Boyce 1984:159) recognized as being archaic and in which the other Ahuras are *mitra and *varouna.

Boyce (Mithra the King and Varuna the Master, 2001) sees this supported by the younger Avestan dvandvah expression mithra ahura berezanta “Mithra and the High Lord”, the latter being unambiguously Ahura Berezainti, “High Lord” Apam Napat, the third member of the Ahuric triad (Gray, Foundations, 1929:15), and with whose Indian equivalent (also Apam Napat) Vedic Varuna is closely associated.

Vasuki, equivalent to Caelusis or Uranos, is a naga, and a nagaraja, one of the King serpents of Hindu and Buddhist mythology. He is a great king of the nagas and has a gem (Nagamani) on his head. Manasa, another naga, is his sister. Vasuki is Shiva’s (The destroyer) Snake.

Vasuki is known in Chinese and Japanese mythology as being one of the “eight Great Naga Kings” (Hachi Ryuu-ou), amongst Nanda (Nagaraja), Upananda, Sagara (Shakara), Takshaka, Balavan, Anavatapta and Utpala.

Vasuki is famous for coiling around the neck of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva blessed Vasuki and wore him as an ornament. The most famous legend in Hinduism in which Vasuki took part was the incident of Samudra manthan, the churning of the ocean of milk.

In this legend, Vasuki allowed the devas (gods) and the asuras (demons) to bind him to Mount Mandara and use him as their churning rope to extract the ambrosia of immortality from the ocean of milk. Vasuki is also mentioned and used as a tightening rope in other Hindu scriptures, such as in each of the Itihasas (Ramayana and Mahabharata).

In Buddhist mythology, Vasuki and the other Naga Kings appear in the audience for many of the Buddha’s sermons. The duties of the naga kings included leading the nagas in protecting and worshiping the Buddha, as well as in protecting other enlightened beings.

Vasuka (or Vasuki) is the name of a small Nair and pedireddla clan found near Mannarasala in Travancore and also Visakha district in Andhra Pradesh. They claim that their ancestors were Nāga serpents spared when the Khandava Forest (modern day Delhi) was burnt and cleared by Krishna and the Pandavas to make way for their capital Indraprastha.

Hindus believed in the existence of nine planets called Navagraha. Shani, also known as Śanaiścara, equivalent to Cronus and Saturn, is one of the Navagraha (the nine primary celestial beings in Hindu astrology) of Jyotiṣa. He is embodied in the planet Saturn and is the Lord of Saturday, and is equated to the Greek Cronus (the Titan father of Zeus), the Babylonian Ninurta and the Roman Saturn.

The word shani also denotes the seventh day or Saturday in most Indian languages. The word shani comes from Śanayē Kramati Saḥ (the one who moves slowly), because Saturn takes about 30 years to revolve around the Sun. Shani Jayanti the birth anniversary of Lord Shani falls on the Amavasya (New moon day) of Jyeshta month of Hindu calendar.

Shani is a deva and son of Surya and his wife Chhaya, hence also known as Chayyaputra. He is the elder brother of Yama, the Hindu god of death, who in some scriptures corresponds to the deliverance of justice. Surya’s two sons Shani and Yama judge. Shani gives the results of one’s deeds through one’s life through appropriate punishments and rewards; Yama grants the results of one’s deeds after death.

It is said that when Shani opened his eyes as a baby for the very first time, the sun went into an eclipse, which clearly denotes the impact of Shani on astrological charts. He is known as the greatest teacher and well wisher for the righteous as well the greatest punisher for those who follow the path of evil, betrayal, backstabbing and unjust revenge.

Shani is also known as the lord of masses and his blessings are thus considered very important in an individual’s horoscope for bestowing him with mass following and popularity. He is depicted dark in colour, clothed in black; holding a sword, arrows and two daggers and mounted on a crow, which is Shani’s vāhana. As protector of property, Shani is able to repress the thieving tendencies of birds.

Bṛhaspati (often written as Brihaspati or Bruhaspati) also known as Deva-guru (guru of the gods) and Chakshas, equivalent to Jupiter and Zeus, is a Hindu god and a Vedic deity. He is considered the personification of piety and religion, and the chief ‘offerer of prayers and sacrifices to the gods’ (Sanskrit: Purohita), with whom he intercedes on behalf of humankind.

He is the guru of the Devas (gods) and the nemesis of Shukracharya, the guru of the Danavas (demons). He is also known as Ganapati (leader of the group [of planets]), and Guru (teacher), the god of wisdom and eloquence.

He is described as of yellow or golden color and holding the following divine attributes: a stick, a lotus and beads. He presides over ‘Guru-var’ or Thursday.

According to Mahabharata, sage Brihaspati was son of Angiras. Some Puranas note him to be son of Agni, the fire god. He was noted to be the guru of Gods. He was married to Tara, who was later abducted by Chandra.

Tara bore a son, Budha from her abductor Chandra. After the war between Brihaspati and Chandra, Tara returned to her husband. Brihaspati’s another son Kacha was assigned to learn the Sanjivani mantra from Shukracharya, the guru of asuras. The mantra could bring back life in a dead and hence gods sent Kacha to learn it. There as a student, Shukracharya’s daughter Devayani, fell in love with Kacha. Brihaspati is also noted to have taught asuras for ten years impersonating as Shukracharya.

Dyauṣ Pitrā, literally “Sky Father” is the ancient sky god of Vedic pantheon, husband of Prithvi and father of Ushas (Dawn), Ratri (night) and the chief deities.

In the Rigveda, Dyaus Pita appears only in verses 1.89.4, 1.90.7, 1.164.33, 1.191.6 and 4.1.10, and only in RV 1.89.4 does Pitar Dyaus “Father Sky” appear alongside Mata Prithvi “Mother Earth”.

He is thus a very marginal deity in Rigvedic mythology, but his intrinsic importance is visible from his being the father of the chief deities. That Dyaus was seen as the father of Indra is known only from one verse, RV 4.17.4: “Thy Father Dyaus esteemed himself a hero: most noble was the work of Indra’s Maker / His who begat the strong bolt’s Lord who roareth, immovable like earth from her foundation.”

He is mainly considered in comparative philology as a last remnant of the chief god of Proto-Indo-European religion. The name Dyauṣ Pitā is exactly parallel to the Greek Zeus Pater etymologically, and closely related to Latin Ju Piter.

Both Dyauṣ and Zeus reflect a Proto-Indo-European *Dyeus. Based on this reconstruction, the widespread opinion in scholarship since the 19th century has been that Indra had replaced Dyaus as the chief god of the early Indo-Aryans. While Prthivi survives as a Hindu goddess after the end of the Vedic period, Dyaus Pita became almost unknown already in antiquity.

The noun dyaús (when used without the pitā “father”) means “sky, heaven” and occurs frequently in the Rigveda, as a mythological entity, but not as a male deity: the sky in Vedic mythology was imagined as rising in three tiers, avama , madhyama, and uttama or tṛtīya (RV 5.60.6).

In the Purusha Suktam (10.90.14), the sky is described to have been created from the head of the primaeval being, the Purusha, a complex concept whose meaning evolved in Vedic and Upanishadic times. Depending on source and historical timeline, it means the cosmic man or it means Self, Consciousness, and Universal principle.

In early Vedas, Purusa meant a cosmic man whose sacrifice by the gods created all life. This was one of many creation theories discussed in the Vedas. The idea parallels Norse Ymir, with the myth’s origin in Proto-Indo-European religion.

In Hindu mythology, the planet Mars is known as Mangala. In Jyotish astrology, Mangala is the name for Mars, the red planet. Mars is also called Angaraka (‘one who is red in colour’ also called Rakta varna whose color is like blood or Bhauma (‘son of Bhumi’) or Bha in Sanskrit.

He is the god of war and is celibate. He is considered the son of Prithvi or Bhumi, the Earth Goddess. He is the owner of the Aries and Scorpio signs, and a teacher of the occult sciences (Ruchaka Mahapurusha Yoga).

He is painted red or flame colour, four-armed, carrying a trident (Sanskrit: trishūla), mace (Sanskrit: gadā), lotus (Sanskrit: Padma) and a spear (Sanskrit: shūla). His mount (Sanskrit: vahana) is a ram. He presides over ‘Mangala-varam’ (Tuesday). Tuesday in the Hindu tradition connotes Mangala, the god of planet Mars and war.

Once when Lord Shiva was engrossed in deep meditation (Sansrit: samādhi) upon his abode, Mount Kailash, three drops of perspiration originated from his forehead and fell down on the earth. From those drops manifested a very beautiful infant, who was of reddish complexion and who had four arms.

The child was handed over to the earth goddess, Bhumi for upbringing by Lord Shiva. The child was named Bhauma as he was nurtured and brought up by ‘Bhumi’ (earth).

When Bhauma grew up, he went to Kashi and did a tremendous penance to please lord Shiva. Lord Shiva blessed him by granting him ‘Mangala loka’ (the Abode of Mangala), which was superior even to the ‘Shukra loka’ (the Abode of the god of Venus – Shukra). The same Bhauma is established in the solar system by the name of Mangala (planet Mars).

In Vedic astrology Mangala is considered a malefic of the first order. He rules over the signs Mesha (Aries) and Vrishchika (Scorpio), is exalted in Makara (Capricorn) and has his fall in Karka (Cancer). The Sun, Moon and Jupiter are all considered friendly to him, while he is hostile to Mercury. Venus and Saturn are neutral. Mangala represents drive and physical energy, self-confidence and ego, strength, anger, impulsiveness, heroism and adventurous nature. Mangala rules over blood, muscles and bone marrow. He is associated with battle, war and soldiers.

Mangala is the lord of three nakshatras or lunar mansions: Mrigashīrsha, Chitra and Shravishtha or Dhanista. Mangala has the following associations: the color red, the metal brass and gemstone red coral. His element is fire, direction is south, season is summer.

Each Tuesday of the Tamil month of Adi is also dedicated to the worship of Murugan. Murugan (Tamil Murukaṉ) is often referred to as Tamiḻ kaṭavuḷ’ (“god of the Tamils”) and is worshiped primarily in areas with Tamil influences, especially South India, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Réunion. His six most important shrines in India are the Six Abodes of Murugan, temples located in Tamil Nadu.

The planet of Mars is identified with the war god Karttikeya (“son of Kṛttikā”), known also as Skanda, Kumaran, Kumara Swami and Subramaniyan, the Hindu god of war. He is the Commander-in-Chief of the army of the devas and the son of Shiva and Parvati.

The star cluster Kṛttikā (“Krittika”) sometimes known as Kārtikā, corresponds to the open star cluster called Pleiades in western astronomy, it is one of the clusters which makes up the constellation Taurus. In Indian astronomy and Jyotiṣa (Hindu astrology) the name literally translates to “the cutters”.

In Hindu mythology, the god Skanda was raised by the six sisters known as the Kṛttikā and thus came to be known as Kartikeya (literally “Him of the Kṛttikā”). According to the Mahābhārata, Kartikeya was born to Agni and Svāhā, after the latter impersonated six of the seven wives of the Saptarṣi and made love to him. The Saptarshi, hearing of this incident and doubting their wives’ chastity, divorced them. These wives then became the Kṛttikā.

In Hindu astrology, Kṛttikā is the third of the 27 nakṣatras. It is ruled by Kartikeya. Under the traditional Hindu principle of naming individuals according to their nakṣatra, the following Sanskrit syllables correspond with this nakṣatra, and would belong at the beginning of the first name of an individual born under it: A.

Karttikeya was born from six sparks that fell from the eyes of the god Siva into a lake near Madras. From the sparks, six children were created who were nursed by the Krttika, the Pleiades.

But once, Parvati, who was Siva’s wife, embraced them all together with such affection that she squeezed them into one body, six heads, and twelve arms. The newborn became the war god Karttikeya who is often depicted riding a peacock called Paravani and armed with a bow and arrow.

There are numerous accounts of Karttikeya’s birth. Some hymns tell that he was the son of Siva and Parvati, whose union was brought about by the gods for the purpose of creating the god war who would defeat the rival of the gods: the demon monster Taraka. Karttikeya accomplished this task using a powerful lance, that had been forged from some of the shining rays of the Sun god Surya.

A variant of the legend tells that he was the son of the fire god Agni and the goddess Ganga, associated with the sacred River Ganges. Karttikeya is particularly popular in southern India. He is also associated with a particular month of the year called Karttika, which was believed to be the most appropriate for warfare.

Kartikeya symbols are based on the weapons – Vel, the Divine Spear or Lance that he carries and his mount the peacock. He is sometimes depicted with many weapons including: a sword, a javelin, a mace, a discus and a bow although more usually he is depicted wielding a sakti or spear.

This symbolizes his purification of human ills. His javelin is used to symbolize his far reaching protection, his discus symbolizes his knowledge of the truth, his mace represents his strength and his bow shows his ability to defeat all ills.

His peacock mount symbolizes his destruction of the ego. His six heads represent the six siddhis bestowed upon yogis over the course of their spiritual development. This corresponds to his role as the bestower of siddhis.

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

Indra is the most important deity worshiped by the Rigvedic tribes and is the son of Dyaus and the goddess Savasi. His home is situated on Mount Meru in the heaven. He has many epithets, notably vṛṣan the mighty, and vṛtrahan, slayer of Vṛtra, Meghavahana “the one who rides the clouds” and Devapati “the lord of devas”.

Indra appears as the name of a daeva in Zoroastrianism (though ‘Indra’ can be used in a general sense for a leader, either of devatas or asuras), while his epithet, Verethragna, appears as a god of victory.

Indra is also called Śakra frequently in the Vedas and in Buddhism (Pali: Sakka). He is celebrated as a demiurge who pushes up the sky, releases Ushas (dawn) from the Vala cave, and slays Vṛtra; both latter actions are central to the Soma sacrifice.

He is associated with Vajrapani – the Chief Dharmapala or Defender and Protector of the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha who embodies the power of the Five Dhyani Buddhas. On the other hand, he also commits many kinds of mischief (kilbiṣa) for which he is sometimes punished.

In the Puranas, Indra is bestowed with a heroic and almost brash and amorous character at times, even as his reputation and role diminished in later Hinduism with the rise of the Trimurti.

Aspects of Indra as a deity are cognate to other Indo-European gods; they are either thunder gods such as Thor, Perun, and Zeus, or gods of intoxicating drinks such as Dionysus. The name of Indra (Indara) is also mentioned among the gods of the Mitanni, a Hurrian-speaking people who ruled northern Syria from ca.1500BC-1300BC.

Janda (1998:221) suggests that the Proto-Indo-European (or Graeco-Aryan) predecessor of Indra had the epithet *trigw-welumos [or rather *trigw-t-welumos “smasher of the enclosure” (of Vritra, Vala) and diye-snūtyos “impeller of streams” (the liberated rivers, corresponding to Vedic apam ajas “agitator of the waters”), which resulted in the Greek gods Triptolemus and Dionysus.

Vedic Indra corresponds to Verethragna of the Zoroastrian Avesta as the noun verethragna- corresponds to Vedic vrtrahan-, which is predominantly an epithet of Indra.

According to Anthony, the Old Indic religion probably emerged among Indo-European immigrants in the contact zone between the Zeravshan River (present-day Uzbekistan) and (present-day) Iran.

It was “a syncretic mixture of old Central Asian and new Indo-European elements”, which borrowed “distinctive religious beliefs and practices” from the Bactria–Margiana Culture. At least 383 non-Indo-European words were borrowed from this culture, including the god Indra and the ritual drink Soma.

Many of the qualities of Indo-Iranian god of might/victory, Verethraghna, were transferred to the adopted god Indra, who became the central deity of the developing Old Indic culture. Indra was the subject of 250 hymns, a quarter of the Rig Veda.

He was associated more than any other deity with Soma, a stimulant drug (perhaps derived from Ephedra) probably borrowed from the BMAC religion. His rise to prominence was a peculiar trait of the Old Indic speakers.

The word vrtra-/verethra- means “obstacle”. Thus, vrtrahan-/verethragna- is the “smiter of resistance”. Vritra as such does not appear in either the Avesta or books of Zoroastrian tradition. Since the name ‘Indra’ appears in Zoroastrian texts as that of a demon opposing Truth (Vd. 10.9; Dk. 9.3; Gbd. 27.6, 34.27) Zoroastrian tradition has separated both aspects of Indra.

Verethragna (vərəθraγna) is an Avestan language neuter noun literally meaning “smiting of resistance” (Gnoli, 1989:510; Boyce 1975:63). Representing this concept is the divinity Verethragna, who is the hypostasis of “victory”, and “as a giver of victory Verethragna plainly enjoyed the greatest popularity of old” (Boyce, 1975:63).

The neuter noun verethragna is related to Avestan verethra, ‘obstacle’ and verethragnan, ‘victorious’. (Gnoli, 1989:510) In Zoroastrian Middle Persian, Verethragna became Warahran, from which Vahram, Vehram, Bahram, Behram and other variants derive. The once-followed theory that Verethragna had Indo-Iranian origins is no longer followed today.

The name and, to some extent, the deity has correspondences in Armenian Vahagn and Vram, Buddhist Sogdian Wshn, Manichaen Parthian Wryhrm, Kushan Bactrian Orlagno. While the figure of Verethragna is highly complex, parallels have also been drawn between it and (variously) Vedic Indra, Puranic Vishnu, Manichaean Adamas, Chaldean/Babylonian Nergal, Egyptian Horus, Hellenic Ares and Heracles.

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Is it too late for us to save us from ourselves?

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 13, 2015

We may not deserve it either – We got an opportunity, and we have used it

– Our civilization started in Portasar (navel in Armenian) – Portunes/Janus

In ancient Roman religion and myth, Janus (Latin: Ianus) is the god of beginnings and transitions, and thereby of gates, doors, doorways, passages and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past.

Janus presided over the beginning and ending of conflict, and hence war and peace. The doors of his temple were open in time of war, and closed to mark the peace. As a god of transitions, he had functions pertaining to birth and to journeys and exchange, and in his association with Portunus, a similar harbor and gateway god, he was concerned with travelling, trading and shipping.

Haya (god) is known both as a “door-keeper” and associated with the scribal arts. Haya’s functions are two-fold: he appears to have served as a door-keeper but was also associated with the scribal arts, and may have had an association with grain. Haya is also characterised, beyond being the spouse of Nidaba/Nissaba, goddess of grain and scribes, as an “agrig”-official of the god Enlil. He is designated as “the Nissaba of wealth”, as opposed to his wife, who is the “Nissaba of Wisdom”.

Nidaba reflects fundamental developments in the creation of Mesopotamian culture, those which take us from agriculture to accounting, to a very fine literary tradition. Nidaba was originally an agricultural deity, more specifically a goddess of grain. The intricate connection between agriculture and accounting/writing implied that it was not long before Nidaba became the goddess of writing. From then on her main role was to be the patron of scribes. She was eventually replaced in that function by the god Nabu.

Traditions vary regarding the genealogy of Nidaba. She appears on separate occasions as the daughter of Enlil, of Uraš, of Ea, and of Anu. Nidaba’s spouse is Haya and together they have a daughter, Sud/Ninlil, a goddess mainly known as the wife of Enlil, the head of the early Mesopotamian pantheon, and later of Aššur, the head of the Assyrian pantheon. She was at times syncretised with various healing and mother goddesses as well as with the goddess Ištar.

Two myths describe the marriage of Sud/Ninlil with Enlil. This implies that Nidaba could be at once the daughter and the mother-in-law of Enlil. Nidaba is also the sister of Ninsumun, the mother of Gilgameš. Nidaba is frequently mentioned together with the goddess Nanibgal who also appears as an epithet of Nidaba, although most god lists treat her as a distinct goddess.

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

Ḫaldi (also known as Khaldi or Hayk) was one of the three chief deities of Ararat (Urartu). His shrine was at Ardini. The other two chief deities were Theispas of Kumenu, and Shivini of Tushpa. Of all the gods of Ararat (Urartu) pantheon, the most inscriptions are dedicated to him. His wife was the goddess Arubani. He is portrayed as a man with or without a beard, standing on a lion.

Hayk or Hayg, also known as Haik Nahapet (Hayk the Tribal Chief) is the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation. His story is told in the History of Armenia attributed to the Armenian historian Moses of Chorene (410 to 490). The Armenian word haykakan or haigagan (Armenian: հայկական, meaning “that which pertains to Armenians”) finds its stem in this progenitor.

Armenian tradition has an eponymous ancestor, Aram, a lineal descendent of Hayk, son of Harma and father of Ara the Beautiful (according to classical Armenian historian Moses of Chorene). Aram is sometimes equated with Arame of Urartu, the earliest known king of Urartu. The endonym Hayk’ (from Classical Armenian) in the same tradition is traced to Hayk himself.

The similarity of the name Hayasa to the endonym of the Armenians, Hayk or Hay and the Armenian name for Armenia, Hayastan has prompted the suggestion that the Hayasa-Azzi confereration was involved in the Armenian ethnogenesis.

The term Hayastan bears resemblance to the ancient Mesopotamian god Haya (ha-ià) and another western deity called Ebla Hayya, related to the god Ea (Enki or Enkil in Sumerian, Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian). PIE * pǝter> Proto-Armenian *hayer > Armenian hayr (հայր).

There have been further speculations as to the existence of a Bronze Age tribe of the Armens (Armans, Armani), either identical to or forming a subset of the Hayasa-Azzi. In this case, Armenia would be an ethnonym rather than a toponym.

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The Kurdish Question

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 9, 2015

Under the Spainish revolution Franco was a Fascist supported by the Nazis and Mussolinis, not to mention the US and England, while the revolutionaries was divived by two: one part supported by Soviet, another part supported by different intellectuals around the world. When it comes to the Kurds, or at least to PKK, PYD, YPG, YPJ etc it is the last group, the one supported by leftwing intellectuals, who is in comparison.

None of the states want to support an Anarchist movement, which is the best movement because it has all the best intentions and values. Turkey, the Saudis, Israel, the US and the rest of the West have caused the rise of ISIL and see it as a way to gain power in the region. They have no real interests of helping the Kurds fighting ISIL. It will be up to the NATO country Turkey to finish the Kurds of later, and in that way prevent their freedom.

The wise thing in this situation is to stay independent, and that is what Abdullah Öcalan, who understand all this, want us to do. Yes, to help, but not for whatever prize. The Anarchists in Spain are the ones who gain our trust and support today, even if they lost. The Kurds fighting for liberation and justice today represents our hope in the future.

XXX

The Kurdish Question

When it comes to the Kurds we have to look at the bigger geopolitical picture. The Kurds are plenty, but have no land for their own. We have to think about who wants to support whom in the global picture. Some of the nations are stronger than others and some are of more interest than others when it comes to forming international alliances.

The Kurds are suppressed, no doubt, but the same you can say about the Palestinians and Assyrians, if there still are any left. The Armenians were victims of a genocide, but have carved out a piece of land for themself.

The Kurds are split between different fractions and territories; some are in Iran, some in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. You basicially get the Kurds in Iraq, which cooperate with the West and Israel, on one side and the Kurds in Syria and Turkey, which by the West have been declared as terrorists, on the other. This not at least because Turkey is a NATO country, but also because the Kurds in Iraq is put in power by the West.

Israel and Turkey have a close relationship, but they also compete, since Turkey is a Muslim nation and want to support the Muslims. Israel, occupying Palestine, have a different persepective, and see the Muslims as a threat.

The Kurds can cooperate with Israel, but Israel like any other state, will only cooperate with the Kurds if it gain on it. Israel can do this because the Kurds is an enemy of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey, which suppress them.

Israel suppress the Palestinians, and then of course, especially the people of Gaza, as they occupy Palestinian terretories. The Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) led by Selahattin Demirtas have denounced Israel attacks on Gaza and blamed world community for remaining silent in face of the assaults.

When it comes to Iran, the country is independent and have it’s own issues or interests. Iran cooperate with the Palestinians, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. Iran want to develop independent from the West. But Iran also suppress the Kurds.

Armenia cooperate with all the different nations, but struggles with Turkey on the one hand and Azarbaijan on the other. Armenia is both cooperating with the Kurds in Turkey and Syria and with the Palestinians. It would maybe be naturally for Israel and Armenia to cooperate, but it seems like Israel are more fond of cooperating with Turkey than with Armenia.

The Palestinans, suppressed as they are by Israel, are cooperating, if with any, with Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran, an area also known as the Shia Crescent. Other Arab countries like most of the countries of the Arabic Peninsula, including Saudi Arabia, cooperate closely with the West and Israel and have never cared very much about the Palestinian issue at all.

When it comes to Syria, the proxy war has been orchestred from the US since the beginning and the plan has been to remove the Assad regime. It has been created a Shia Crescent that is mostly led by an independent Iran and Sunni countries led by Saudi Arabia that is part of the Western influnce in the region.

ISIL, who have been supported by countries like Turkey, which see ISIL as better than the Kurds, and Saudi Arabia have also go support from Israel and the US in their attempt to gain the controll over the region.

The Kurds and other people who is in fight against ISIL today is in the reality confronting much worse and stronger forces. If they win against ISIL they will be confronted with Turkey, who does not, in any way, want to see a strong independent Kurdish state as their neighbour.

Turkey will most truely get the support of the West since the country, together with Saudi Arabia and Israel, is a very important alley. Israel doesn’t want to see any other strong states in the region, but use the Kurdish issue when it finds it fruitful for it self.

The real Kurdish issue would be to continue to be independent as in Syria and Turkey, cooperate with other countries if they have mutual interests and find out how to solve the national state issue.

Kurds might be better of cooperating with its neighbours instead of being in conflict with them, but at the same time stop any suppression of them. The question arises if the national state is such a good idea or if the time have come to move beyond that kind of old types of structures and create something new.

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