Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

On the origin of the Aryans

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 14, 2015


Arch-, also archi-, is the word-forming element meaning “chief, principal; extreme, ultra; early, primitive,” from Latinized form of Greek arkh-, arkhi- “first, chief, primeval,” comb. form of arkhos “chief” . One of the nine chief magistrates of ancient Athens, 1650s, from Greek arkhon “ruler,” noun use of present participle of arkhein “to rule,” from PIE *arkhein- “to begin, rule, command,” a “Gk. verb of unknown origin, but showing archaic Indo-European features … with derivatives arkhe, ‘rule, beginning,’ and arkhos, ‘ruler’ “.

Ar is from Old Portuguese aar, aire, aere, from Latin āēr, from Ancient Greek ἀήρ ‎(aḗr, “air”), from Proto-Indo-European *hweh- ‎(“to blow”). According to another etymology -ar comes from Old Norse ár ‎(“year”), from Proto-Germanic *jērą, from Proto-Germanic *yōr- < *yehr-. Cognates include: Dutch and Afrikaans jaar, English year, German Jahr, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish år. It can also be from Old Irish ár ‎(“slaughter”), from Proto-Celtic *agros, from Proto-Indo-European *h₂eǵro- ‎(“hunt”, slaughter, carnage, defeat, destruction); compare Ancient Greek ágra (“hunt”).

Erne is from Middle English ern, erne, earn, from Old English earn ‎(“eagle”), from Proto-Germanic *arô ‎(“eagle”), from Proto-Indo-European *or- ‎(“large bird, eagle”). Cognate with Dutch and Low German arend ‎(“eagle”), Danish ørn ‎(“eagle”), Swedish örn ‎(“eagle”), German Aar ‎(“eagle”), Ancient Greek órneon, órnis (“bird”). Eagle is from Middle English egle, from Anglo-Norman egle, from Old French aigle, from Latin aquila. Displaced native Middle English ern, earn, arn, from Old English earn. Er-, eri- means goat, sheep in Proto-Indo-European (PIE).

Ara is from āsa, ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *h₂eHs- (to be/become dry, to burn, to glow, hearth, ashes). Terms derived from the PIE root *h₂eHs- is: Italic: *āzēō/ Latin: āreō ‎(“to be dry”), ‎(“star”), ‎(“hearth, fireplace”); Anatolian: ‎(ḫāššā-, “fireplace, hearth”); Italic: *āzā ‎(“altar”). The hearth is a symbol for home or family life. Aralu is a Babylonian word describing an underworld where the souls of the dead go. In Old Turkic āra comes from Proto-Turkic *hār- ‎(“split, divide, cleave in twain”).

Altar is from Middle English alter, from Old English alter, altar ‎(“altar”), from Latin altare ‎(“altar”), probably related to adolere ‎(“burn”); thus “burning place”, influenced by altus ‎(“high”). Ara is a southern constellation situated between Scorpius and Triangulum Australe. Its name is Latin for “altar”.

In ancient Greek mythology, Ara was identified as the altar where the gods first made offerings and formed an alliance before defeating the Titans. The nearby Milky Way represents the smoke rising from the offerings on the altar.

Altar is from Latin altārium or altār. Found in post-Classical and later Latin, as a singular of the Classical altaria, the plural of altāre. Ultimately from adolere (“burn, sacrifice”), probably influenced by altus from altum, supine of alō ‎(“grow”) or alō ‎(“nourish”).

It corresponds to Proto-Indo-European *h₂eltós, a suffixed form of the root *h₂el- ‎(“grow, nourish”) (compare Proto-Germanic *aldaz, whence English old). It stems form from Proto-Germanic *aldrą, whence also Old English ealdor, Old Norse aldr. Altus means high, deep, profound, and deep-rooted.

Alu is from Proto-Indo-European *h₂elut-. According to some the original meaning was “a bitter drink” and is related to Latin alūmen ‎(“alum”) and Ancient Greek alúdoimos (“bitter, pungent”). Cognate with Common Slavic *olъ ‎(“beer”) and Lithuanian alùs ‎(“beer”).

Beer is from Old Dutch *bero, from Proto-Germanic *berô. Compare West Frisian bear, English bear, German Bär, Danish bjørn. Be is from Middle English been ‎(“to be”), from Old English bēon ‎(“to be, become”), from Proto-Germanic *beuną ‎(“to be, exist, come to be, become”), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰew- ‎(“to grow, become, come into being, appear”).

Er is From Middle English -er, -ere, from Old English -ware ‎(suffix denoting residency or meaning “inhabitant of”), from Proto-Germanic *warjaz ‎(“defender, inhabitant”), from Proto-Indo-European *wer- ‎(“to close, cover, protect, save, defend”). Wurrukatte – god of war (Hattic Wurunkatte).

The other theory is that it is connected to Proto-Norse alu (“something magical”), and related to Latvian aluot ‎(“be distraught”), Ancient Greek alúō (“to be distraught”) and Hittite alwanzaḫḫ- (“to bewitch, hex”). EIEC explains the semantic connection as: The notion would be that beer induced a “high” wherein the drinker was infused with a sort of magical power.

Aratrum is from Proto-Indo-European *hérhtrom. Equivalent to ar(ā) ‎(“to plough”) +‎ -trum ‎(“instrumental suffix”). Cognate with Ancient Greek ἄροτρον ‎(árotron, “plow”) and Old Armenian արաւր ‎(arawr, “plow”). Ard is a simple plough consisting of a spike dragged through the soil.

From Old Irish ard, from Proto-Celtic *ardwos (compare Welsh ardd) from Proto-Indo-European *h₁rh₃dh-wo- ‎(“high, steep”) (compare Latin arduus, Ancient Greek ὀρθός ‎(orthós, “straight”)). Derived terms airde f ‎(“height; elevation; altitude; level; volume, pitch”) and ard- ‎(“high; arch-, chief; excellent, noble; advanced”).

Arător is from Latin arātor, with adjectival senses derived from arātōrius. Meaning arable (from Latin arābilis, formed from arō ‎“plow” + -ābilis “able to be” cognate with earable ‎“arable”) or ploughman. Arable ‎(agriculture, of land) Able to be plowed or tilled, capable of growing crops (traditionally contrasted with pasturable lands such as heaths).


Herman is masculine given name, from a Germanic name consisting of the elements harja- “army” and mann- “man”. It is first recorded in the 8th century, in the forms Hariman, Heriman, Hairman, Herman. Hermine is a feminine form of Herman.

The given name was taken to England by the Normans, but it became obsolescent as an English given name in the later Middle Ages (while remaining common in Germanic languages). It regained popularity in the Anglosphere in the 19th century, particularly in the United States.

Herman remains widely used in Dutch. Variant forms include German Hermann, French Armand, Italian and Iberian Armando. Herman has also been in use as a German surname since the 16th century.

The name of Arminius, the 1st-century leader of the Cherusci, became identified with the name Hermann in German historiography in the early modern period; thus, Arminius is traditionally known as Hermann der Cheruskerfürst in German.

The name of Arminius is in fact from a stem ermen-, meaning “strong”, “entire, and “whole”. Conflation of this element with the name Herman may indeed date to the medieval period, via variant forms such as Ermin, Ermen, Erman, feminine Ermina, Ermana, Hirmina, Hermena.

*harjaz means army or army leader; commander; warrior: Old English: here, Middle English: here, here, Scots: here, heir, heyr, English: here. Proto-Norse: ᚺᚨᚱᛃᚨ ‎(harja); Old Norse: herr; Norwegian: Bokmål: hær; Nynorsk: her, hær.

Attested as runic harja (2nd century, Vimose). From Proto-Indo-European *kóryos ‎(“war, troops”), from *ker-. Cognate with Old Irish cuire ‎(“troop, host, company; muster”), Lithuanian kãras, kãrias ‎(“war”), Ancient Greek koíranos (“ruler, commander, military leader”), Old Persian kāra (“people of war, army”).

Herre (archaic) or Her (archaic; sometimes used in fraktur) is derived from Old High German hēriro, hērro, the comparative form of hēr ‎(“noble, venerable, master, lord, god”) (German hehr), by analogy with Latin senior ‎(“elder”).

Cognate with Dutch heer, Swedish herre, compare also herrschen ‎(“to rule”). The Old High German word originally meant “grey, grey-haired”, and descends from Proto-Germanic *hairaz ‎(“grey”), making it cognate with Old English hār (English hoar), Old Norse hárr.


On the origin of the Aryans

Boötes is a constellation in the northern sky, located between 0° and +60° declination, and 13 and 16 hours of right ascension on the celestial sphere. Exactly whom Boötes is supposed to represent in Greek mythology is not clear. The name comes from the Greek Boōtēs, meaning herdsman or plowman (literally, ox-driver; from bous “cow”).

In ancient Babylon the stars of Boötes were known as SHU.PA. They were apparently depicted as the god Enlil, who was the leader of the Babylonian pantheon and special patron of farmers. The name Boötes was first used by Homer in his Odyssey as a celestial reference point for navigation, described as “late-setting” or “slow to set”, translated as the “Plowman”.

Exactly whom Boötes is supposed to represent in Greek mythology is not clear. According to one version, he was a son of Demeter, Philomenus, twin brother of Plutus, a ploughman who drove the oxen in the constellation Ursa Major. This is corroborated by the constellation’s name, which itself means “ox-driver” or “herdsman.”

The ancient Greeks saw the asterism now called the “Big Dipper” or “Plough” as a cart with oxen. This influenced the name’s etymology, derived from the Greek for “noisy” or “ox-driver”. Another myth associated with Boötes tells that he invented the plow and was memorialized for his ingenuity as a constellation.

Another myth associated with Boötes by Hyginus is that of Icarius, who was schooled as a grape farmer and winemaker by Dionysus. Icarius made wine so strong that those who drank it appeared poisoned, which caused shepherds to avenge their supposedly poisoned friends by killing Icarius.

Maera, Icarius’s dog, brought his daughter Erigone to her father’s body, whereupon both she and the dog committed suicide. Zeus then chose to honor all three by placing them in the sky as constellations: Icarius as Boötes, Erigone as Virgo, and Maera as Canis Major or Canis Minor.

Following another reading, the constellation is identified with Arcas and also referred to as Arcas and Arcturus, son of Zeus and Callisto. Arcas was brought up by his maternal grandfather Lycaon, to whom one day Zeus went and had a meal.

To verify that the guest was really the king of the gods, Lycaon killed his grandson and prepared a meal made from his flesh. Zeus noticed and became very angry, transforming Lycaon into a wolf and gave back life to his son. In the meantime Callisto had been transformed into a she-bear, by Zeus’s wife, Hera, who was angry at Zeus’s infidelity. This is corroborated by the Greek name for Boötes, Arctophylax, which means “Bear Watcher”.

Callisto in form of a bear was almost killed by her son who was out hunting. Zeus rescued her, taking her into the sky where she became Ursa Major, “the Great Bear”. The name Arcturus (the constellation’s brightest star) comes from the Greek word meaning “guardian of the bear”. Sometimes Arcturus is depicted as leading the hunting dogs of nearby Canes Venatici and driving the bears of Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.

The stars of Boötes were incorporated into many different Chinese constellations. Arcturus was part of the most prominent of these, variously designated as the celestial king’s throne (Tian Wang) or the Blue Dragon’s horn (Daijiao); the name Daijiao, meaning “great horn”, is more common.

Arcturus was given such importance in Chinese celestial mythology because of its status marking the beginning of the lunar calendar, as well as its status as the brightest star in the northern night sky.

Two constellations flanked Daijiao, Yousheti to the right and Zuosheti to the left; they represented companions that orchestrated the seasons. Zuosheti was formed from modern Zeta, Omicron, and Pi Boötis, while Yousheti was formed from modern Eta, Tau, and Upsilon Boötis.

Dixi, the Emperor’s ceremonial banquet mat, was north of Arcturus, consisting of the stars 12, 11, and 9 Boötis. Another northern constellation was Qigong, the Seven Dukes, which was mostly across the Boötes-Hercules border. It included either Delta Boötis or Beta Boötis as its terminus.

The other Chinese constellations made up of the stars of Boötes existed in the modern constellation’s north; they are all representations of weapons. Tianqiang, the spear, was formed from Iota, Kappa, and Theta Boötis; Genghe, variously representing a lance or shield, was formed from Epsilon, Rho, and Sigma Boötis.

There were also two weapons made up of a singular star. Xuange, the halberd, was represented by Lambda Boötis, and Zhaoyao, either the sword or the spear, was represented by Gamma Boötis.

Two Chinese constellations have an uncertain placement in Boötes. Kangchi, the lake, was placed south of Arcturus, though its specific location is disputed. It may have been placed entirely in Boötes, on either side of the Boötes-Virgo border, or on either side of the Virgo-Libra border.

The constellation Zhouding, a bronze tripod-mounted container used for food, was sometimes cited as the stars 1, 2, and 6 Boötis. However, it has also been associated with three stars in Coma Berenices.

Virgo (constellation, the virgin)

The ecliptic and the celestial equator intersect within Pisces and in Virgo, the sixth astrological sign in the Zodiac. Virgo is the second-largest constellation. It spans the 150-180th degree of the zodiac, between 152.75 and 180 degree of celestial longitude.

Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this area on average between August 23 and September 22, and under the sidereal zodiac, the sun currently transits the constellation of Virgo from September 17 to October 17. Individuals born during these dates, depending on which system of astrology they subscribe to, may be called Virgos or Virgoans.

Virgo is the Latin name for virgin. In the Middle Ages, Virgo was sometimes associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary. The symbol of the maiden is based on Astraea. She was the last immortal to abandon Earth at the end of the Silver Age, when the gods fled to Olympus – hence the sign’s association with Earth.

The Greeks and Romans associated Virgo with their goddess of wheat/agriculture, Demeter-Ceres, the mother of Persephone-Proserpina. Alternatively, she was sometimes identified as the virgin goddess Iustitia or Astraea, holding the scales of justice in her hand as the constellation Libra.

According to the Babylonian Mul.Apin, which dates from 1000–686 BCE, the constellation of Virgo was known as “The Furrow”, representing the goddess Shala’s ear of grain, and is often portrayed carrying two sheaves of wheat, one of which is marked by another star in this constellation, the bright star Spica, as it is Latin for “ear of grain”, one of the major products of the Mesopotamian furrow.

The constellation Virgo was also known as “AB.SIN” and “absinnu”. For this reason the constellation became associated with fertility. According to Gavin White the figure of Virgo corresponds to two Babylonian constellations: the “Furrow” in the eastern sector of Virgo and the “Frond of Erua” in the western sector. The Frond of Erua was depicted as a goddess holding a palm-frond – a motif that still occasionally appears in much later depictions of Virgo.

Big Dipper

The Plough is the common name for the brightest seven stars of the constellation Ursa Major, a large circumpolar constellation of the northern sky, said to resemble a bear, includes the familiar asterism the Big Dipper and the stars Mizar, Dubhe, and Alkaid. In both Ireland and the United Kingdom the Big Dipper is known as the Plough. The Big Dipper is known as (especially US), Charles’ Wain (old, UK), the Wain (old, UK).


Ara or ara may refer to the Latin for altar, Ara (constellation), “The Altar” constellation, Ara Pacis, the Augustan Altar of Peace, Great Altar of Hercules, also known as the Ara Maxima, Arag, or Ara (drink) (Arabic ′araq), an Armenian given name, and Ara the Beautiful (also Ara the Handsome or Ara the Fair; Armenian: Ara Geghetsik), an Armenian legendary figure.

Ara the Beautiful is a legendary Armenian hero. He is notable in Armenian literature for the popular legend in which he was so handsome that the Assyrian queen Semiramis waged war against Armenia just to get him. He is sometimes associated with the historical king of Ararat known as Arame who ruled in the 9th century BC.

The title “Aryan” is the Anglicized form of the Sanskrit Arya, the “noble or exalted”, a term which is employed in Indian literature, ancient and modern, solely in a racial sense to designate the fair ruling and civilizing race as opposed to the dark aboriginal subject people, and India itself was called the “Land or Region of the Aryas or Aryans.” It means noble etc from the root “ar”, hence the European words Arl (Earl) meaning “Nobleman” and also the German word Ahre meaning “Honour”.

Aryan basically means someone of Aryan descent: that is, a “white” person.” Aryan is character, Aryan nature, and Aryan culture. That is, the term Aryan describes what it means to be Aryan: to have the character, the personality, the culture, of an Aryan.

The original term Aryan applied to the peoples who entered India from the north between 6000 BC and 4000 BC. They were part of the enormous Caucasian, Semitic and Indo-European language group. They were, like Europeans, of lighter skin than the original inhabitants of India, but how much they thought of themselves as superior to the original inhabitants is a point of much debate.

Aryan (like Iran) meant “noble/separate/special”, but it is clear from DNA, that some mixing between the groups took place. Only the upper levels of Indian society were required to refrain from intermarriage with the Dravidians, which probably explains why upper class Hindus (especially the Brahmin priestly caste) is considerably fairer than the lower castes. It probably also explains the origin of the caste system itself, as “varna” (the word for caste) actually means “colour”.

In India, the Persians were known as Parsees, from who descend, in part, the Brahmins who were also the highest caste in India. They are traditionally priests, educators, scholars and preachers in Hinduism. Brahma is the Hindu god (deva) of creation whose consort is Saraswati, leading many to the conclusion that Brahma and Saraswati are actually Abraham and Sarah deified. Therefore, it has been suggested that “Brahmin” may have the meaning of “son of Abraham.”

The Brahmins, although now substantially mixed, are fairer than the average Indian, tall, slim, and some with red hair. They ruled India for centuries despite invading armies, religions, and dynasties. They collected their laws and customs in the Code of Manu, setting the law into three branches; domestic and civil rights and duties; administration and justice; and religious purifications and penance. They kept the castes apart, forbidding intermarriage. They did not adhere strictly to this policy and no pure Brahmin may be found today.

Descended, in part, from Abraham through Medan, they, via their amazing work, spread the Code of Manu or Manusmṛti and became the civilizers of ancient India. A caste in India was known as the Khatri and we also find the Katirs of India who migrated to Kotur in Persia. There are also the Kataria, Kathori, and Katrasgarh of India.

The caste system in India seems to have a racial origin according to some scholars and was originally defined by color: Brahmins were said to be white, Kshatriyas red, Vaishyas yellow, and Shudras black. However, others point out that these colors refer more to qualities of each class rather than race. This may be the case now, but race classification by the Aryan invaders seems to have been the order of the day.

In an article from the Arizona Republic which details recent research on this issue it is written that “The [Aryan] invaders apparently … set up the rigid caste system that exists today. Their [mixed] descendants are still the elite within Hindu society. Thus today’s genetic patterns, the researchers explained, vividly reflect a historic event, or events, that occurred 3,000 or 4,000 years ago. The gene patterns “are consistent with a historical scenario in which invading Caucasoids … established the caste system and occupied the highest positions.

The ancient story holds that invaders known as Indo-Europeans, or true Aryans, came from Eastern Europe or western Asia and conquered the Indian subcontinent. The people they subdued descended from the original inhabitants who had arrived far earlier from Africa and from other parts of Asia. But, he [Jorde of the University of Utah], added when we look at the Y chromosome DNA, we see a very different pattern. The lower castes are most similar to Asians, and the [mixed] upper castes are more European than Asian.”

Others in the vicinity are the fairer-skinned Kalash peoples residing in north-west Pakistan. According to one theory they were part of the migration of the Indo-Aryans during pre-Vedic times which would date them to about 1400 BC. Another theory claims that they are descendants of Alexander the Great’s army, given that some of their features appear to be Syrian-Greek and their language seems to be a later form of Sanskrit.

It is similarly used in a ruling sense by the Sumerians, Akkads, Amorites, and Hittites in its earlier form of Ar, Ara, Ari, Har or Harri, also meaning “exalted or noble”, and similarly with a like meaning in Ancient Egypt; and ancient Greek name of Aeria or Harie for Egypt, probably designated that country as the “Land of the Ari or the Aryans”.

The Medes, as Herodotus records, were formerly called Arii and Ariana or Land of the Ari was a title of Persia and the source of the modern name Iran for that land. The title Harri is used by the Mitanni or the Early Medes, on their records about 1400 BC.

Darius-the-Great calls himself on his tomb “an Ariyo of Ariyo descent”. It is the Her title of the Ancient Goths, in their great epics, the Eddas, and the source of the modern Herr or “master” of the Teutons and Scandinavians, of the Irish Celtic Aira, a “chief” or “nobleman”, and of the Ar in aristocratic.

This title Ar, Ari, Arya, or Aryan appears to have originally designated the Early Aryans as “The Ploghmen” from the Sumerian Ar, Ara, “plough”, which is now disclosed as the source of the Old English ear, “to plough, to ear the ground” and of “ar-able”, etc.

The Aryans are now seen to have been the traditional inventors of the plough and of the Agricultural Era of the World; and the sense of Ara or “the exalted ones” appears to have been used for this title when this gifted race became the rulers of the various aboriginal tribes-the Sumerian also gives the plough sign the meaning of “raise up, exalt” as the secondary meaning of ploughing as “the uplifting” of the earth.

“The title Arya, Englished into “Aryan”, is the usual term employed for the white race, from the very earliest Vedic period by the eastern or Indian branch of that race who have uniquely preserved its early traditional history and records; and the same race is similarly so termed by the Ancient Persians who also belonged to its eastern branch.

And the title was and is solely used by them in a racial and in no other sense; and especially it is never used by them in a linguistic sense as is popularly supposed-a useage which was only introduced by European philologists a few generations ago.

That title Arya literally means in both the Indian Sanskrit, the old classic language of India, and in the Ancient Persian language “the exalted or noble one”; and it is derived from the Sumerian Ar, Ara “praised, glorified, exalted, lofty, shining, blazed, bright, clear, polished”; which is also disclosed as the remote Sumerian root of our modern word “Aristocrat” or “noblest or most excellent governor”, derived through the Greek, a word which well defines the older ethnic meaning of the word “Aryan”. Erim or érin means man, servant, soldier; troops, army; gang of workers; people, folk, but can also mean enemy; destruction, hostile or evil.

For the civilizers of the old world are now disclosed to have been more or less exclusively of this Aryan stock, which was essentially an aristocracy of master-men, the ruling race who established Civilization and who civilized the aborigines by their enlightened rule and science.

Just as in the Greek classic period of Europe, Greek Civilization reached its zenith under a military aristocracy of this same Aryan race, and weakened and became practically extinct with the weakening and practical extinction of this Aryan racial element from the population there.

Indeed the later Sumerians do appear also to have used this title in a racial sense in the aspirated form of Ha-ra, which is defined in the bilingual Assyrian glossaries as “The host of the nation or people.”

The title Ara, Arya or “Aryan” is found as a designation of rulers or masters to run throughout the whole family of the Aryan languages, including the Egyptian, presumably because the early rulers and masters were of this race. Thus it is in aspirated form the Her, Hera, Hearra or Herr, “lord or master” of the Goths, Scandinavians, Germans and Anglo-Saxons, the Aire “chieftain” of the Irish Scots and Gaels and so on.

It is the Arios, Harios or Harri of the Medes, and Arya and Airya of the Ancient Persians in a similar exalted and racial sense; and it is thus proudly used by Darius the Great on his tomb where he calls himself “An Arya of Arya[n] descent”, and Xerxes called himself a “Harri”.

The early sea-going branch of the Sumerians, the Morites or Amorites who have left many “prehistoric” inscriptions in the British Isles, whilst calling themselves Mur, Gut or “Goth” and Kad[forms of Khatti, Catti or “Hittite”], also called themselves Ari, which now appears to be a dialectic form of this title “Aryan”.


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

Surya (“the Supreme Light”), also known as Aditya, Bhanu or Ravi Vivasvana in Sanskrit, and in Avestan Vivanhant, is the chief solar deity in Hinduism and generally refers to the Sun.

Surya is the chief of the Navagraha, the nine Indian Classical planets and important elements of Hindu astrology. He is often depicted riding a chariot harnessed by seven horses which might represent the seven colors of the rainbow or the seven chakras in the body.

He is also the presiding deity of Sunday. Surya is regarded as the Supreme Deity by Saura sect and Smartas worship him as one of the five primary forms of God. The Sun god, Zun, worshipped by the Afghan Zunbil dynasty, is thought to be synonymous with Surya.

Asuras are mythological lord-beings in Indian texts who compete for power with the more benevolent devas, also known as suras. Asuras are described in Indian texts as powerful superhuman demigods with good or bad qualities, the good ones are called Adityas and led by Varuna, while the bad malevolent ones are called Danavas and led by Vrtra.

In the earliest layer of Vedic texts, Agni, Indra and other gods are also called Asura, in the sense of they being “lords” of their domain, knowledge and abilities. In later Vedic and post-Vedic texts, the benevolent gods are called Devas, while malevolent Asuras compete against these Devas and are considered “enemy of the gods” or demons.

Asuras are part of Indian mythology along with Devas, Yaksha (nature spirits) and Rakshasas (ghosts, ogres), and Asuras feature in one of many cosmological theories in Hinduism.

Monier-Williams traces the etymological roots of Asura to Asu, which means life of the spiritual world or departed spirits. In the oldest verses of the Samhita layer of Vedic texts, the Asuras are any spiritual, divine beings including those with good or bad intentions, and constructive or destructive inclinations or nature.

In later verses of the Samhita layer of Vedic texts, Monier Williams states the Asuras are “evil spirits, demon and opponent of the gods”. Asuras connote the chaos-creating evil, in Hindu mythology about the battle between good and evil.


Ensi means dream interpreter (en, enigmatic background+sig, to dwell; to complete), and city ruler (Old Sumerian), city governor (post-Sargonic) (en, lord, manager,+si, plowland,+ genitive; cf., nísañ, governor). They held most political power in Sumerian city states during the Uruk period (c.4100-2900 BCE).

Ensí (spelled PA.TE.SI, in Sumerian cuneiform, hence occasionally transliterated as patesi; possibly derived from <en si-k>, “lord of the plowland”; borrowed into Akkadian as iššakkum) is a Sumerian title designating the ruler or prince of a city state. Originally it may have designated an independent ruler, but in later periods the title presupposed subordinance to a lugal (King/Emperor).

For the Early Dynastic Period of Sumer (about 2800–2350 BC), the meaning of the Sumerian titles EN, ENSI and LUGAL cannot be differentiated clearly: see Lugal, ensi and en for details. Énsi may have originally been a designation of the ruler restricted to Lagash and Umma.

The énsi was considered a representative of the city state’s patron deity. In later periods, an énsi was normally seen as subordinate to a lugal (king). Nevertheless, even the powerful rulers of the Second Dynasty of Lagash (circa 2100 BC) such as Gudea were satisfied with the title énsi.

In Ur III times (about 2100–2000 BC) énsi referred to the provincial governors of the Kingdom. These exercised great powers in terms of government, tax revenue and jurisdiction, but they were supervised, installed, and dismissed by the King (lugal) of Ur. Although the office could be inherited, all énsi had to be endorsed by the King. No independent foreign policy or warfare was allowed.

In the city state of Ashur, the hereditary ruler bore the Akkadian language version of the title énsi, while the patron deity was regarded as šarrum (“King”).

In Old Norse, ǫ́ss (or áss, ás, plural æsir; feminine ásynja, plural ásynjur) is the term denoting a member of the principal pantheon in the indigenous Germanic religion known as Norse religion. This pantheon includes Odin, Frigg, Thor, Baldr and Týr. The second pantheon comprises the Vanir. In Norse mythology, the two pantheons wage the Æsir-Vanir War, which results in a unified pantheon.

The cognate term in Old English is ōs (plural ēse) denoting a deity in Anglo-Saxon paganism. The Old High German is ans, plural ensî. The Gothic language had ans- (based only on Jordanes who glossed anses with uncertain meaning, possibly demi-god and presumably a Latinized form of actual plural *anseis). The reconstructed Proto-Germanic form is *ansuz (plural *ansiwiz). The a-rune ᚫ was named after the æsir.

Unlike the Old English word god (and Old Norse goð), the term ōs (áss) was never adopted into Christian use and survived only in a secularized meaning of “pole, beam, stave, hill” or “yoke”.

Æsir is the plural of áss, óss “god” (gen. āsir) which is attested in other Germanic languages, e.g., Old English ōs (gen. pl. ēsa) and Gothic (as reported by Jordanes) anses “half-gods”.

These all stem from Proto-Germanic *ansis ~ ansuz, which itself comes from Proto-Indo-European *h₂énsus (gen. hn̥sóus) “life force” (cf. Avestan aŋhū “lord; lifetime”, ahura “godhood”, Sanskrit ásu “life force”, ásura “god” (< *hn̥suró)). It is widely accepted that this word is further related to *hens- “to engender” (cf. Hittite hass- “to procreate, give birth”, Tocharian B ās- “to produce”).

Old Norse áss has the genitive áss or ásar, the accusative æsi and ásu. In genitival compounds, it takes the form ása-, e.g. in Ása-Þórr “Thor of the Aesir”, besides ás- found in ás-brú “gods’ bridge” (the rainbow), ás-garðr, ás-kunnigr “gods’ kin”, ás-liðar “gods’ leader”, ás-mogin “gods’ might” (especially of Thor), ás-móðr “divine wrath” etc. Landâs “national god” (patrium numen) is a title of Thor, as is allmáttki ás “almighty god”, while it is Odin who is “the” ás.

The feminine’s -ynja suffix is known from a few other nouns denoting female animals, such as apynja “female monkey”, vargynja “she-wolf”. The word for “goddess” is not attested outside Old Norse.

The cognate Old English form to áss is ōs, preserved only as a prefix Ōs- in personal names (e.g. Oscar, Osborne, Oswald) and some place names, and as the genitive plural ēsa (ēsa gescot and ylfa gescot, “the shots of anses and of elves”, jaculum divorum et geniorum). In Old High German and Old Saxon the word is only attested in personal and place names, e.g. Ansebert, Anselm, Ansfrid, Vihans. Jordanes has anses for the gods of the Goths.

The interaction between the Æsir and the Vanir has provoked an amount of scholarly theory and speculation. While other cultures have had “elder” and “younger” families of gods, as with the Titans versus the Olympians of ancient Greece, the Æsir and Vanir were portrayed as contemporaries. The two clans of gods fought battles, concluded treaties, and exchanged hostages (Freyr and Freyja are mentioned as such hostages).


Proto-Germanic Jera (also Jeran, Jeraz) is the conventional name of the j-rune ᛃ of the Elder Futhark, from a reconstructed Common Germanic stem *jēra- meaning “harvest, (good) year”. The corresponding letter of the Gothic alphabet is Gothic named jēr, also expressing /j/. The Indo-European root is also the source of Greek ὥρα ‎(hṓra, “season”), Russian яра ‎(jara), Czech jaro, Lithuanian jore ‎(“springtime”).

The meaning of Jera (color:  Light Blue; element: earth; polarity: male and female; associated gods: Frey, Freyja; astrological Correspondence: sun, rune no. 12) is harvest, the agricultural year, fertility, fruition, success in endeavours, fruition of plans, good spirits, just rewards for past efforts, inventiveness, talent or skill, and great reward to those who work with their hands or on the land.

It governs fertility, creativity and harmony with the land, peace, prosperity and plenty, realization of the cyclical nature of the multiverse, invoking the power of time and cycles, bringing other concepts gently into material manifestation, and Initiating gradual and lasting change in flow of life.

It is the rune of harvest and reward for, or reaction to, right actions in a horizontal (naturally ordered) cyclical process, of peace on the land and in the heart, psychological time, patience, the measurement of time, good harvest, orbits, cycles, progress, biorhythms, right effort, waiting, gardening, farming, the seasons, harvest, reward for positive action, plenty, peace, proper timing; or repetition, bad timing, poverty, conflict, regression.

Jera represents the 12 months of the year. It implies fruitfulness, profit or achievement of a goal. It also means the cycle of seasons implying movement, change, natural development. .It is usually very positive, but as a symbol of cause-and-effect it may portend the end-result of past actions. Jera may therefore represent justice, which can be positive or negative, a reward or a punishment.

This is a time of reaping rewards from seeds sown in the past. It is a time of plenty, of joy and celebration. But it is also a time to work with no time for complacency. The harvest is followed by winter so you should make sure you have stored enough wisdom to face your next challenge. This is another turning point in life, not a goal. There are greater harvests ahead, but like the farmer, you must prepare the land, sow the seed, tend the seedlings and feed the fruit.

It stems from Proto-Indo-European *yehr-, cognate with Old Frisian jēr (West Frisian jier), Old Saxon jār (Middle Low German jâr), Dutch jaar, Old High German jār (German Jahr), Old Norse ár (Danish/Norwegian/Swedish år, Icelandic/Faroese ár), Gothic (jer).

The Elder Futhark rune gives rise to the Anglo-Frisian runes ᛄ /j/, named gēr /jeːr/, and ᛡ /io/, named ior, and to the Younger Futhark ár rune ᛅ, which stood for /a/ as the /j/ phoneme had disappeared in Old Norse.

The reconstructed Common Germanic name *jēran is the origin of English year (Old English ġēar). In contrast to the modern word, it had a meaning of “season” and specifically “harvest”, and hence “plenty, prosperity”.

The Germanic word is cognate with Greek ὧρος (horos) “year” (and ὥρα (hora) “season”, whence hour), Slavonic jarŭ “spring” and with the -or- in Latin hornus “of this year” (from *ho-jōrinus), as well as Avestan yāre “year”, all from a PIE stem *yer-o-.

The derivation of the rune is uncertain; some scholars see it as a modification of Latin G (“C (ᚲ) with stroke”) while others consider it a Germanic innovation. The letter in any case appears from the very earliest runic inscriptions, figuring on the Vimose comb, a find from Vimose, Funen, Denmark, that include some of the very oldest datable Elder Futhark runic inscriptions in early Proto-Norse from the 2nd to 3rd centuries, inscription, harja.

As the only rune of the Elder Futhark which was not connected, its evolution was the most thorough transformation of all runes, and it was to have numerous graphical variants. In the later period of the Elder Futhark, during the 5th to 6th centuries, connected variants appear, and these are the ones that give rise to the derivations in Anglo-Saxon (as ᛄ ger and ᛡ ior) and Scadinavian (as ᛅ ár) traditions.

The corresponding Gothic letter is j, named jer, which is also based on the shape of the Elder Futhark rune. This is an exception, shared with urus, due to the fact that neither the Latin nor the Greek alphabets at the time of the introduction of the Gothic one had graphemes corresponding to the distinction of j and w from i and u.

The rune in the Anglo-Saxon futhorc is continued as ᛄ Gēr and ᛡ Ior, the latter a bind rune of Gyfu and Is (compare also ᛠ Ear). Gēr is consistently written ᛡ epigraphically and on artifacts, while the ᛄ form for [j] appears only rarely in later manuscripts (as does a separate symbol for Ior).

During the 7th and 8th centuries, the initial j in *jara was lost in Old Norse, which also changed the sound value of the rune from /j/ to an /a/ phoneme. The rune was then written as a vertical staff with a horizontal stroke in the centre, and scholars transliterate this form of the rune as A, with majuscule, to distinguish it from the ansuz rune, a.

During the last phase of the Elder Futhark, the jēra-rune came to be written as a vertical staff with two slanting strokes in the form of an X in its centre (). As the form of the rune had changed considerably, an older 7th century form of the rune () was assumed by the s-rune. When the n-rune had stabilized in its form during the 6th and 7th centuries, its vertical stroke slanted towards the right (), which made it possible to simplify the jēra-rune by having only one vertical stroke that slanted towards the left, giving the ᛅ ár-rune of the Younger Futhark. Since a simpler form of the rune was available for the /a/ phoneme, the older cross form of the rune now came to be used for the /h/ phoneme.

The development of the Jēran rune from the earliest open form was not known before the discovery of the Kylver Stone, a Swedish runestone which dates from about 400 CE notable for its listing of each of the runes in the elder futhark, in 1903, which has an entire elder futhark inscription on it.

Therefore, the interpretation of the golden horns of Gallehus was slightly wrong before 1903, as it was believed this rune form could be an early form of the Ingwaz rune. The second word on the horns was thus interpreted as holtingaz rather than holtijaz.


The reconstructed Proto-Germanic name of the Elder Futhark u rune ᚢ is *Ūruz meaning “wild ox” or *Ūrą “water”. It may have been derived from the Raetic alphabet character u as it is similar in both shape and sound value. The name of the corresponding letter in the Gothic alphabet is urus.

The Icelandic word for “rain” and the Old English for “aurochs” go back to two different Proto-Germanic words, *ūruz and *ūrą (although possibly from the same root). The Norwegian meaning “dross, slag” is more obscure, but may be an Iron Age technical term derived from the word for water (cf. the Kalevala, where iron is compared to milk).

Because of this, it is difficult to reconstruct a Proto-Germanic name for the Elder Futhark rune. It may have been *ūruz “aurochs”, or *ūrą “water”. The aurochs is preferred by authors of modern runic divination systems, but both seem possible, compared to the names of the other runes: “water” would be comparable to “hail” and “lake”, and “aurochs” to “horse” or “elk” (although the latter name is itself uncertain). The Gothic alphabet seems to support “aurochs”, though: as the name of the letter u is urus.


The aurochs, also urus, ure (Bos primigenius), is a grand extinct wild ox that inhabited Europe, Asia and North Africa. It is the ancestor of domestic cattle. The species survived in Europe until the last recorded aurochs died in the Jaktorów Forest, Poland in 1627.

During the Neolithic Revolution, which occurred during the early Holocene, there were at least two aurochs domestication events: one related to the Indian subspecies, leading to zebu cattle; the other one related to the Eurasian subspecies, leading to taurine cattle. Other species of wild bovines were also domesticated, namely the wild water buffalo, gaur, and banteng.

In modern cattle, numerous breeds share characteristics of the aurochs, such as a dark colour in the bulls with a light eel stripe along the back (the cows being lighter), or a typical aurochs-like horn shape.

The words aurochs, urus, and wisent have all been used synonymously in English. However, the extinct aurochs/urus is a completely separate species from the still-extant wisent, also known as European bison. The two were often confused, and some 16th-century illustrations of aurochs and wisents have hybrid features.

The word urus (plural uri) is a Latin word, but was borrowed into Latin from Germanic (cf. Old English/Old High German ūr, Old Norse úr). In German, OHG ūr was compounded with ohso “ox”, giving ūrohso, which became early modern Aurochs. The modern form is Auerochse.

The word aurochs was borrowed from early modern German, replacing archaic urochs, also from an earlier form of German. The word is invariable in number in English, though sometimes back-formed singular auroch and innovated plural aurochses occur.

The use in English of the plural form aurochsen is nonstandard, but mentioned in The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language. It is directly parallel to the German plural Ochsen (singular Ochse) and recreates by analogy the same distinction as English ox (singular) and oxen (plural).

Domestication of the aurochs began in the southern Caucasus and northern Mesopotamia from about the 6th millennium BC. Genetic evidence suggests that aurochs were independently domesticated in India and possibly also in northern Africa.

A Mitochondrial DNA study suggests that all domesticated taurine cattle originated from about 80 wild female aurochs in the Near East. Further genetic tests have shown that domestic cattle in Europe are of Near Eastern origin. This indicates that the European aurochs was not domesticated, nor did it interbreed with the imported Near Eastern cattle.

Domesticated cattle and aurochs are so different in size that they have been regarded as separate species; however, large ancient cattle and aurochs “are difficult to classify because morphological traits have overlapping distributions in cattle and aurochs and diagnostic features are identified only in horn and some cranial element.”

Sacred Bull

The worship of the Sacred Bull throughout the ancient world is most familiar to the Western world in the biblical episode of the idol of the Golden Calf. The Golden Calf after being made by the Hebrew people in the wilderness of Sinai, were rejected and destroyed by Moses and the Hebrew people after Moses’ time upon Mount Sinai (Book of Exodus).

The Canaanite (and later Carthaginian) deity Moloch (representing Semitic מלך m-l-k, a Semitic root meaning “king”), the name of an ancient god, possibly first worshiped in Ammon, but was practiced by the Canaanites, Phoenicians, and related cultures in North Africa and the Levant, was often depicted as a bull.

Calf-idols are referred to later in the Tanakh, such as in the Book of Hosea, which would seem accurate as they were a fixture of near-eastern cultures. King Solomon’s “bronze sea” basin stood on 12 brazen bulls. Young bulls were set as frontier markers at Tel Dan and at Bethel the frontiers of the Kingdom of Israel.

Much later, in Abrahamic traditions, the bull motif became a bull demon or the “horned devil” in contrast and conflict to earlier traditions. The bull is familiar in Judeo-Christian cultures from the Biblical episode wherein an idol of the Golden Calf is made by Aaron and worshipped by the Hebrews in the wilderness of Sinai (Exodus).

The text of the Hebrew Bible can be understood to refer to the idol as representing a separate god, or as representing the God of Israel himself, perhaps through an association or syncretization with Egyptian or Levantine bull gods, rather than a new deity in itself.

Marduk is the “bull of Utu”. Shiva’s steed is Nandi, the Bull. The sacred bull survives in the constellation Taurus. The bull, whether lunar as in Mesopotamia or solar as in India, is the subject of various other cultural and religious incarnations, as well as modern mentions in new age cultures.

The Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh depicts the killing by Gilgamesh and Enkidu of the Bull of Heaven, Gugalana, first husband of Ereshkigal, as an act of defiance of the gods. From the earliest times, the bull was lunar in Mesopotamia (its horns representing the crescent moon).

In Egypt, the bull was worshiped as Apis, the embodiment of Ptah and later of Osiris. A long series of ritually perfect bulls were identified by the god’s priests, housed in the temple for their lifetime, then embalmed and encased in a giant sarcophagus.

A long sequence of a monolithic stone sarcophagi were housed in the Serapeum, and were rediscovered by Auguste Mariette at Saqqara in 1851. The bull was also worshipped as Mnewer, the embodiment of Atum-Ra, in Heliopolis. Ka in Egyptian is both a religious concept of life-force/power and the word for bull.

Bulls were a central theme in the Minoan civilization, being a major religious object,with bull heads and bull horns used as symbols in the Knossos palace. Minoan frescos and ceramics depict the bull-leaping ritual in which participants of both sexes vaulted over bulls by grasping their horns.

In Cyprus, bull masks made from real skulls were worn in rites. Bull-masked terracotta figurines and Neolithic bull-horned stone altars have been found in Cyprus.

Nandi appears in the Hindu mythology as the primary vehicle and the principal gana (follower) of Shiva. Bulls also appear on the Indus Valley seals from Pakistan as well.

Aurochs are depicted in many Paleolithic European cave paintings such as those found at Lascaux and Livernon in France. Their life force may have been thought to have magical qualities, for early carvings of the aurochs have also been found.

The impressive and dangerous aurochs survived into the Iron Age in Anatolia and the Near East and was worshipped throughout that area as a sacred animal; the earliest survivals of a bull worship are at neolithic Çatalhöyük.

We cannot recreate a specific context for the bull skulls with horns (bucrania) preserved in an 8th millennium BCE sanctuary at Çatalhöyük in eastern Anatolia. The sacred bull of the Hattians, whose elaborate standards were found at Alaca Höyük alongside those of the sacred stag, survived in the Hurrian and Hittite mythologies as Seri and Hurri (Day and Night)—the bulls who carried the weather god Teshub on their backs or in his chariot, and grazed on the ruins of cities.


The bull was seen in the constellation Taurus by the Chalcolithic and had marked the new year at springtide by the Bronze Age, for 4000–1700 BCE. Taurus (Latin for “the Bull”; ♉) is the second astrological sign in the present Zodiac. It spans the 30-60th degree of the zodiac, between 27.25 and 54.75 degree of celestial longitude.

Under the tropic zodiac, the Sun transits this area on average between April 10 and May 9 each year. Under the sidereal zodiac, the sun currently transits the constellation of Taurus from April 10 to May 9. People born between these dates, depending on which system of astrology they subscribe to, may be called Taureans. The symbol of the bull is based on the Cretan Bull, the white bull that fathered the Minotaur and was killed by Theseus.

Taurus is a large and prominent constellation in the northern hemisphere’s winter sky. It is one of the oldest constellations, dating back to at least the Early Bronze Age when it marked the location of the Sun during the spring equinox. Its importance to the agricultural calendar influenced various bull figures in the mythologies of Ancient Sumer, Akkad, Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, Greece, and Rome.

Taurus was the second sign of the zodiac established among the ancient Mesopotamians—who knew it as the Bull of Heaven—because it was the sign through which the sun rose on the vernal equinox.

Due to the procession of the equinox, it now follows Aries. The Bull represents a strong-willed character with great perseverance and determination. In Egypt, Taurus was seen as the cow goddess Hathor.

Hathor was the goddess of beauty, love, and happiness, and she represented all of the riches seen in cattle as the providers of nourishment. Roman astrologers considered Taurus ruled by Venus, the goddess of beauty.

The identification of the constellation of Taurus with a bull is very old, certainly dating to the Chalcolithic, and perhaps even to the Upper Paleolithic. Michael Rappenglück of the University of Munich believes that Taurus is represented in a cave painting at the Hall of the Bulls in the caves at Lascaux (dated to roughly 15,000 BC), which he believes is accompanied by a depiction of the Pleiades.

The name “seven sisters” has been used for the Pleiades in the languages of many cultures, including indigenous groups of Australia, North America and Siberia. This suggests that the name may have a common ancient origin. The Sebitti are a group of seven minor war gods in Babylonian and Akkadian tradition. They are the children of the god Anu and follow the god Erra into battle. They are, in differing traditions, of good and evil influence.

Taurus marked the point of vernal (spring) equinox in the Chalcolithic and the Early Bronze Age, from about 4000 BC to 1700 BC, after which it moved into the neighboring constellation Aries. The Pleiades were closest to the Sun at vernal equinox around the 23rd century BC. In Babylonian astronomy, the constellation was listed in the MUL.APIN as GU.AN.NA, “The Bull of Heaven”. As this constellation marked the vernal equinox, it was also the first constellation in the Babylonian zodiac and they described it as “The Bull in Front”. The Akkadian name was Alu.

In the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the earliest works of literature, the goddess Ishtar sends Taurus, the Bull of Heaven, to kill Gilgamesh for spurning her advances. Some locate Gilgamesh as the neighboring constellation of Orion, facing Taurus as if in combat, while others identify him with the sun whose rising on the equinox vanquishes the constellation.

In early Mesopotamian art, the Bull of Heaven was closely associated with Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare. One of the oldest depictions shows the bull standing before the goddess’ standard; since it has 3 stars depicted on its back (the cuneiform sign for “star-constellation”), there is good reason to regard this as the constellation later known as Taurus.

The same iconic representation of the Heavenly Bull was depicted in the Dendera zodiac, an Egyptian bas-relief carving in a ceiling that depicted the celestial hemisphere using a planisphere. In these ancient cultures, the orientation of the horns was portrayed as upward or backward. This differed from the later Greek depiction where the horns pointed forward.

To the Egyptians, the constellation Taurus was a sacred bull that was associated with the renewal of life in spring. When the spring equinox entered Taurus, the constellation would become covered by the Sun in the western sky as spring began. This “sacrifice” led to the renewal of the land. To the early Hebrews, Taurus was the first constellation in their zodiac and consequently it was represented by the first letter in their alphabet, Aleph.

In Greek mythology, Taurus was identified with Zeus, who assumed the form of a magnificent white bull to abduct Europa, a legendary Phoenician princess. In illustrations of Greek mythology, only the front portion of this constellation are depicted; this was sometimes explained as Taurus being partly submerged as he carried Europa out to sea.

A second Greek myth portrays Taurus as Io, a mistress of Zeus. To hide his lover from his wife Hera, Zeus changed Io into the form of a heifer. Greek mythographer Acusilaus marks the bull Taurus as the same that formed the myth of the Cretan Bull, one of The Twelve Labors of Heracles.

Taurus became an important object of worship among the Druids. Their Tauric religious festival was held while the Sun passed through the constellation. In Buddhism, legends hold that Gautama Buddha was born when the Full Moon was in Vaisakha, or Taurus. Buddha’s birthday is celebrated with the Wesak Festival, or Vesākha, which occurs on the first or second Full Moon when the Sun is in Taurus.


Taurus is late Old English from Latin taurus “bull, bullock, steer,” also the name of the constellation, from PIE *tau-ro- “bull” (cognates: Greek tauros, Old Church Slavonic turu “bull, steer;” Lithuanian tauras “aurochs;” Old Prussian tauris “bison”); from PIE *tauro- “bull,” from root *(s)taeu- “stout, standing, strong” (cognates: Sanskrit sthura- “thick, compact,” Avestan staora- “big cattle,” Middle Persian stor “horse, draft animal,” Gothic stiur “young bull,” Old English steor; extended form of root *sta- “to stand”.

Klein proposes a Semitic origin (compare Aramaic tora “ox, bull, steer,” Hebrew shor, Arabic thor, Ethiopian sor). Meaning “person born under the sign of the bull” is recorded from 1901.


The Ear ᛠ rune of the Anglo-Saxon futhorc is a late addition to the alphabet. It is, however, still attested from epigraphical evidence, notably the Thames scramasax, and its introduction thus cannot postdate the 9th century. It is transliterated as ea.

Jacob Grimm in his 1835 Teutonic Mythology attached a deeper significance to the name. He interprets the Old English poem as describing “death personified”, connected to the death-bringing god of war, Ares. He notes that the ear rune is simply a Tyr rune with two barbs attached to it and suggests that Tir and Ear, Old High German Zio and Eor, were two names of the same god. He finds the name in the toponym of Eresburg (*Eresberc) in Westphalia, in Latin Mons martis. Grimm thus suggests that the Germans had adopted the name of Greek Ares as an epithet of their god of war, and Eresberc was literally an Areopagus.

Grimm further notes that in the Bavarian (Marcomannic) area, Tuesday (dies Martis) was known as Ertag, Iertag, Irtag, Eritag, Erchtag, Erichtag as opposed to the Swabian and Swiss (Alemannic) region where the same day is Ziestag as in Anglo-Saxon. Grimm concludes that Ziu was known by the alternative name Eor, derived from Greek Ares, and also as Saxnot among the Saxons, identified as a god of the sword.


The sequence alu (ᚨᛚᚢ) is found in numerous Elder Futhark runic inscriptions of Germanic Iron Age Scandinavia (and more rarely in early Anglo-Saxon England) between the 3rd and the 8th century. The word usually appears either alone (such as on the Elgesem runestone) or as part of an apparent formula (such as on the Lindholm “amulet” (DR 261) from Scania, Sweden).

The symbols represent the runes Ansuz, Laguz, and Uruz. *Laguz or *Laukaz is the reconstructed Proto-Germanic name of the l-rune ᛚ, *laguz meaning “water” or “lake” and *laukaz meaning “leek”. In the Anglo-Saxon rune poem, it is called lagu “ocean”. In the Younger Futhark, the rune is called lögr “waterfall” in Icelandic and logr “water” in Norse.

The corresponding Gothic letter is l, named lagus. The rune is identical in shape to the letter l in the Raetic alphabet. The “leek” hypothesis is based not on the rune poems, but rather on early inscriptions where the rune has been hypothesized to abbreviate *laukaz, a symbol of fertilit

The origin and meaning of the word alu are matters of dispute, though a general agreement exists among scholars that the word represents an instance of historical runic magic or is a metaphor (or metonym) for it. It is the most common of the early runic charm words.

The word disappears from runic inscriptions shortly after Migration Period, even before the Christianization of Scandinavia. It may have lived on beyond this period with an increasing association with ale, appearing in stanzas 7 and 19 of the Old Norse poem Sigrdrífumál, compiled in the 13th century Poetic Edda, where knowledge of invocative “ale runes” (Old Norse ölrúnar) is imparted by the Valkyrie Sigrdrífa.

Theories have been suggested that the unique term ealuscerwen (possibly “pouring away of alu”), used to describe grief or terror in the epic poem Beowulf, recorded around the 9th to 11th century, may be directly related.

Although the literal meaning of the word alu is generally accepted to be “ale,” i.e. “intoxicating beverage,” researchers have found it necessary to look deeper into the significance of the term.

Earlier proposed etymologies for the word sought a connection with Proto-Germanic *aluh “amulet, taboo” from *alh “protect.” Cognates in Germanic dialects would include Old English ealh “temple,” Gothic alhs “temple,” and Old Norse alh “amulet.”

From Proto-Germanic *alhs ‎(“protection, building, house, temple, settlement”), cognate to Gothic ‎(alhs) and perhaps to Proto-Norse ᚨᛚᚢ ‎(alu). According to Pokorny (1959:32) from a Proto-Indo-European root *alek- (*hlek- ‎(“to close, ward off, protect”)), i.e. the root of Ancient Greek ἀλέξω ‎(aléxō).

From Proto-Indo-European *alk- ‎(“sacred place, sanctuary; idol”), from Proto-Indo-European *hlek- ‎(“to defend”). Cognate with Lithuanian alkas, elkas ‎(“santuary, grove”), Latvian elks ‎(“idol”), Latin ulciscor ‎(“avenge”), Ancient Greek αλκί ‎(alkí, “defence, help, strength”).

Edgar Polomé initially proposed an etymological connection between Germanic alu and Hittite alwanza “affected by witchcraft,” which is in turn connected to Greek alúõ “to be beside oneself” and Latvian aluôt “to be distraught.”

This etymology was later proven faulty and subsequently dropped by Polomé, though he continues to suggest that a common semantic denominator connects these words with alu.

Linguistic connections have been proposed between the term and the Proto-Germanic term *aluþ, meaning “ale,” and subsequently the word is sometimes translated as meaning “ale,” though this linguistic approach has been criticized as having “crucial difficulties.”

Polomé takes the word to belong to the “technical operative vocabulary” of the Germanic peoples, originally referring to “an ecstatic mental state as transferred to a potent drink” used in religious rituals in Germanic paganism.

Raetian North Etruscan dedicatory votive objects have been discovered featuring alu where the term means “dedication”. Connections have been proposed between these objects and the term alu found on runic inscriptions. Theories have been proposed that the term was loaned into Runic usage from this source.


Dingir is a cuneiform sign, most commonly the determinative for “deity” although it has related meanings as well. As a determinative, it is not pronounced, and is conventionally transliterated as a superscript “D” as in e.g. DInanna. Generically, dingir can be translated as “god” or “goddess”.

The sign in Sumerian cuneiform (DIĜIR) by itself represents the Sumerian word an (“sky” or “heaven”), the ideogram for An or the word diĝir (“god”), the supreme deity of the Sumerian pantheon. In Assyrian cuneiform, it (AN, DIĜIR) could be either an ideogram for “deity” (ilum) or a syllabogram for an, or ìl-. In Hittite orthography, the syllabic value of the sign was again an.

The concept of “divinity” in Sumerian is closely associated with the heavens, as is evident from the fact that the cuneiform sign doubles as the ideogram for “sky”, and that its original shape is the picture of a star. The original association of “divinity” is thus with “bright” or “shining” hierophanies in the sky. A possible loan relation of Sumerian dingir with Turkic Tengri “sky, sky god” has been suggested.

The Sumerian sign DIĜIR originated as a star-shaped ideogram indicating a god in general, or the Sumerian god An, the supreme father of the gods. Dingir also meant sky or heaven in contrast with ki which meant earth. Its emesal (possibly “fine tongue” or “high-pitched voice”) pronunciation was dimer.

Ninti is the Sumerian goddess of life. Ninti is also one of the eight goddesses of healing who was created by Ninhursag to heal Enki’s body. Her specific healing area was the rib (sumerian Ti means rib and to live).

Enki had eaten forbidden flowers and was then cursed by Ninhursaga, who was later persuaded by the other gods to heal him. Some scholars suggest that this served as the basis for the story of Eve created from Adam’s rib in the Book of Genesis.

Dyēus (also *Dyēus phter, alternatively spelled dyēws) is believed to have been chief deity in the religious traditions of the prehistoric Proto-Indo-European societies. Part of a larger pantheon, he was the god of the daylight sky, and his position may have mirrored the position of the patriarch or monarch in society. In his aspect as a father god, his consort would have been Pltwih2 Mh2ter, “Earth Mother”.

This deity is not directly attested; rather scholars have reconstructed this deity from the languages and cultures of later Indo-European peoples such as Greeks, Latins and Indo-Aryans. According to this scholarly reconstruction, Dyeus was addressed as Dyeu Ph2ter, literally “Sky father” or “shining father”, as reflected in Latin Iūpiter, Diēspiter, possibly Dis Pater and deus pater, Greek Zeu pater, Sanskrit Dyàuṣpítaḥ.

Dīs Pater was a Roman god of the underworld, later subsumed by Pluto or Hades (Hades was Greek). Originally a chthonic god of riches, fertile agricultural land, and underground mineral wealth, he was later commonly equated with the Roman deities Pluto and Orcus, becoming an underworld deity.

Dīs Pater was commonly shortened to simply Dīs. This name has since become an alternative name for the underworld or a part of the underworld, such as the City of Dis of The Divine Comedy.

Like Pluto, Dīs Pater eventually became associated with death and the underworld because the wealth of the earth—gems and precious metals—was considered in the domain of the Greco-Roman underworld. As a result, Dīs Pater was over time conflated with the Greek god Hades.

In being conflated with Pluto, Dīs Pater took on some of the Greek mythological attributes of Pluto/Hades, being one of the three sons of Saturn (Greek: Cronus) and Ops (Greek: Rhea), along with Jupiter and Neptune. He ruled the underworld and the dead beside his wife, Proserpina (Greek: Persephone). In literature, Dīs Pater was commonly used as a symbolic and poetic way of referring to death itself.

As the pantheons of the individual mythologies related to the Proto-Indo-European religion evolved, attributes of Dyeus seem to have been redistributed to other deities. In Greek and Roman mythology, Dyeus remained the chief god, but in Vedic mythology, the etymological continuant of Dyeus became a very abstract god, and his original attributes, and his dominance over other gods, seem to have been transferred to gods such as Agni or Indra.

Týr (Old Norse), Tīw, Tīg (both Old English), Ziu (Old High German) “God”, derived from Proto-Germanic *Tīwaz. Rooted in the related but distinct Indo-European word *deiwos is the Latin word for deity, deus.

The Latin word is also continued in English divine, “deity”, and the original Germanic word remains visible in “Tuesday” (“Day of Tīwaz”) and Old Norse tívar, which may be continued in the toponym Tiveden (“Wood of the Gods”, or of Týr).

Although some of the more iconic reflexes of Dyeus are storm deities, such as Zeus and Jupiter, this is thought to be a late development exclusive to mediterranean traditions, probably derived from syncretism with canaanite deities and Perkwunos.

The deity’s original domain was over the daylit sky, and indeed reflexes emphasise this connection to light: Istanu (Tiyaz) is a solar deity, Helios is often referred to as the “eye of Zeus”, in Romanian paganism the Sun is similarly called “God’s eye” and in Indo-Iranian tradition Surya/Hvare-khshaeta is similarly associated with Ahura Mazda. Even in roman tradition, Jupiter often is only associated with diurnal lightning at most, while Summanus is a deity responsible for nocturnal lightning or storms as a whole.

Istanu (Ištanu; from Hattic Estan, “Sun-god”) was the Hittite and Hattic god of the sun. In Luwian he was known as Tiwaz or Tijaz. He was a god of judgement, and was depicted bearing a winged sun on his crown or head-dress, and a crooked staff.

Dyēus’s name also likely means “the daytime sky”: In Sanskrit as div- (nominative singular dyāus with vrddhi), its singular means “the sky” and its plural means “days”. Its accusative form *dyēm became Latin diem “day”, which later gave rise to a new nominative diēs. The original nominative survives as diūs in a few fixed expressions.

Finnish taivas Estonian taevas, Livonian tōvaz etc. (from Proto-Finnic *taivas), meaning “heaven” or “sky,” are likely rooted in the Indo-European word. The neighboring Baltic Dievas or Germanic Tiwaz are possible sources, but the Indo-Iranian *daivas accords better in both form and meaning. Similar origin has been proposed for the word family represented by Finnish toivoa “to hope” (originally “to pray from gods”).

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.

The t-rune ᛏ is named after Týr, and was identified with this god. The reconstructed Proto-Germanic name is *Tîwaz or *Teiwaz. Tiwaz is mentioned in all three rune poems. In the Icelandic and Norwegian poems, the rune is associated with the god Týr. 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. Tuesday is associated with the planet Mars and shares that planet’s symbol, ♂. As Mars rules over Aries and Scorpio, these signs are also associated with Tuesday.

The spear is the instrument of Mars in the same way that Jupiter wields the lightning bolt, Neptune the trident, and Saturn the scythe or sickle. A relic or fetish called the spear of Mars was kept in a sacrarium at the Regia, the former residence of the Kings of Rome.

The spear was said to move, tremble or vibrate at impending war or other danger to the state, as was reported to occur before the assassination of Julius Caesar. When Mars is pictured as a peace-bringer, his spear is wreathed with laurel or other vegetation, as on the Ara Pacis or a coin of Aemilianus.

Under the influence of Greek culture, Mars was identified with the Greek god Ares, whose myths were reinterpreted in Roman literature and art under the name of Mars. But the character and dignity of Mars differed in fundamental ways from that of his Greek counterpart, who is often treated with contempt and revulsion in Greek literature. Mars was a part of the Archaic Triad along with Jupiter and Quirinus, the latter of whom as a guardian of the Roman people had no Greek equivalent.

Although Ares was viewed primarily as a destructive and destabilizing force, Mars represented military power as a way to secure peace, and was a father (pater) of the Roman people. In the mythic genealogy and founding myths of Rome, Mars was the father of Romulus and Remus with Rhea Silvia.

His love affair with Venus symbolically reconciled the two different traditions of Rome’s founding; Venus was the divine mother of the hero Aeneas, celebrated as the Trojan refugee who “founded” Rome several generations before Romulus laid out the city walls.

The two standard gender symbols denoting male ♂ and female ♀ are derived from astrological symbols, denoting the classical planets Mars and Venus, respectively. Writing about these metals, the Greeks would refer to them by their respective gods’ names, and then as now, these were spelled with a combination of letters; after awhile, a type of shorthand arose; for example, relevant to Mars (Thouros) and Venus (Phosphorus).


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

The god Njord and his children, Freyr and Freyja, are the most prominent Vanir gods who join the Æsir as hostages after a war between Æsir and Vanir. The Vanir appear to have mainly been connected with cultivation and fertility and the Æsir were connected with power and war.

One of the most important goddesses of reconstructed Proto-Indo-European religion is the personification of dawn as a beautiful young woman. Her name is reconstructed as Hausōs (PIE *hewsṓs- or *hausōs-, an s-stem), besides numerous epithets.

Derivatives of *h₂ewsṓs in the historical mythologies of Indo-European peoples include Indian Uṣas, Greek Ēōs, Latin Aurōra, and Baltic Aušra (“dawn”, c.f. Lithuanian Aušrinė). Germanic *Austrōn- is from an extended stem *h₂ews-tro-.

The name *h₂ewsṓs is derived from a root *hwes / *au̯es “to shine”, thus translating to “the shining one”. Both the English word east and the Latin auster “south” are from a root cognate adjective *aws-t(e)ro-.

Also cognate is aurum “gold”, from *awso-. The name for “spring season”, *wes-r- is also from the same root. The dawn goddess was also the goddess of spring, involved in the mythology of the Indo-European New Year, where the dawn goddess is liberated from imprisonment by a god (reflected in the Rigveda as Indra, in Greek mythology as Dionysus and Cronus).

Besides the name most amenable to reconstruction, *h₂ewsṓs, a number of epithets of the dawn goddess may be reconstructed with some certainty. Among these is *wenos- (also an s-stem), whence Sanskrit vanas “loveliness; desire”, used of Uṣas in the Rigveda, and the Latin name Venus and the Norse Vanir.

The name indicates that the goddess was imagined as a beautiful nubile woman, who also had aspects of a love goddess. As a consequence, the love goddess aspect was separated from the personification of dawn in a number of traditions, including Roman Venus vs. Aurora, and Greek Aphrodite vs. Eos. The name of Aphrodite Άφροδίτη may still preserve her role as a dawn goddess, etymologized as “she who shines from the foam [ocean]” (from aphros “foam” and deato “to shine”).

J.P. Mallory and Douglas Q. Adams (1997) have also proposed an etymology based on the connection with the Indo-European dawn goddess, from*dhei “to shine”. Other epithets include Ἠριγόνη Erigone “early-born” in Greek.

The Italic goddess Mater Matuta “Mother Morning” has been connected to Aurora by Roman authors (Lucretius, Priscianus). Her festival, the Matralia, fell on 11 June, beginning at dawn.

The abduction and imprisonment of the dawn goddess, and her liberation by a heroic god slaying the dragon who imprisons her, is a central myth of Indo-European religion, reflected in numerous traditions. Most notably, it is the central myth of the Rigveda, a collection of hymns surrounding the Soma rituals dedicated to Indra in the New Year celebrations of the early Indo-Aryans.

In the Eddas, however, the word Æsir is used for gods in general, while Asynjur is used for the goddesses in general. For example, in the poem Skírnismál, Freyr was called “Prince of the Æsir”. In the Prose Edda, Njord was introduced as “the third among the Æsir”, and among the Asynjur, Freyja is always listed second only to Frigg.

In surviving tales, the origins of many of the Æsir are unexplained. Originally, there are just three: Odin and his brothers Vili and Vé. Odin’s sons by giantesses are naturally counted as Æsir. Heimdall and Ullr’s connection with the Æsir is not clearly mentioned. Loki is a jötunn, and Njord is a Vanir hostage, but they are often ranked among the Æsir.

Given the difference between their roles and emphases, some scholars have speculated that the interactions between the Æsir and the Vanir reflect the types of interaction that were occurring between social classes (or clans) within Norse society at the time.

According to another theory, the Vanir (and the fertility cult associated with them) may be more archaic than that of the more warlike Æsir, such that the mythical war may mirror a half-remembered religious conflict.

Another historical theory is that the inter-pantheon interaction may be an apotheosization of the conflict between the Romans and the Sabines. Finally, the noted comparative religion scholar Mircea Eliade speculated that this conflict is actually a later version of an Indo-European myth concerning the conflict between and eventual integration of a pantheon of sky/warrior/ruler gods and a pantheon of earth/economics/fertility gods, with no strict historical antecedents.

An áss like Ullr is almost unknown in the myths, but his name is seen in a lot of geographical names, especially in Sweden, and may also appear on the 3rd century Thorsberg chape, suggesting that his cult was widespread in prehistoric times.

The names of the first three Æsir in Norse mythology, Vili, Vé and Odin all refer to spiritual or mental state, vili to conscious will or desire, vé to the sacred or numinous and óðr to the manic or ecstatic.


The a-rune ᚫ, Younger Futhark ᚬ was probably named after the Æsir. The name in this sense survives only in the Icelandic rune poem as Óss, referring to Odin in particular, identified with Jupiter: ᚬ Óss er algingautr / ok ásgarðs jöfurr, / ok valhallar vísi. / Jupiter oddviti – “Óss is Aged Gautr / and prince of Asgard / and lord of Valhalla / chieftain Jupiter.”

The name Gautr appears as one of the names of Odin in Norse mythology, but also as an alternative form of the name Gauti, who was one of Odin’s sons, and the founder of the kingdom of the Geats, Götaland (Gautland/Geatland), in Bósa saga ok Herrauðs (c. 1300). This Gautr/Gauti also appears as the father of the recurrent and undatable Geatish king Gautrekr in that saga, and several other sagas produced between 1225 and 1310.

Gaut (Old Norse nominative Gautr; variants Gauti, Gaute, Guti, Gapt; latinized Gothus; Old English Geat) is an early Germanic name, from a Proto-Germanic gautaz, which represents an eponymous founder or tribal god of a number of related Germanic tribes of the migration period, i.e. the Gautar (*Gautoz, Geats), Gutans (*Gutaniz, Goths) and Gutes (Gotlanders). Gautr is also one of the Eddaic names of Odin.

According to Andersson (1996), *Gautoz and *Gutaniz are two ablaut grades of the Proto-Germanic root geut- with the meaning “to pour” designating the tribes as “pourers of metal” or “forgers of men”. The “pouring” etymology associates the name with the word god (*gudan “deity, idol”), which may be derived from the zero grade of the same root.

The English word God continues the Old English God (guþ, gudis in Gothic, gud in modern Scandinavian, God in Dutch, and Gott in modern German), which is thought to derive from Proto-Germanic *ǥuđán.

The Gutians (also Guteans, Guti, Quti, Qurtie, Qurti, and Kurdu) were a tribe from northern and central ranges of the Zagros Mountains that overran southern Mesopotamia when the Akkadian empire collapsed in approximately 2154 BC.

Sumerian sources portray the Gutians as a barbarous, ravenous people from Gutium or Qutium (Sumerian: Gu-tu-umki or Gu-ti-umki) in the mountains, presumably the central Zagros east of Babylon and north of Elam.

Gutium is also mentioned based in modern-day Iraq. The Sumerian king list represents them as ruling over Sumer for a short time after the fall of the Akkadian Empire and paints a picture of chaos within the Gutian administration.

Next to nothing is known about their origins, as no “Gutian” artifacts have surfaced from that time; little information is gleaned from the contemporary sources. Nothing is known of their language either, apart from names in the Sumerian king list, and that it was distinct from other known languages of the region (such as Sumerian, Akkadian, Hurrian, Hittite and Elamite).

The Gutian language (also Qutian) was spoken by the Gutian people, who briefly ruled over Sumer during the Gutian dynasty of Sumer around 2100 BCE. The Gutians lived in the territory between the Zagros and the Tigris in present-day Iranian and Iraqi Kurdistan.

Nothing is known about the language except its existence and a list of Gutian rulers names in the Sumerian king list. Based on names, some scholars claim that the Gutian language was neither Semitic nor Indo-European, and was unrelated to the languages spoken around it. However, according to Tamaz V. Gamkrelidze and Vyacheslav V. Ivanov, Gutian language was close to Tocharian languages of the Indo-European family.


The name of a in the Gothic alphabet is ahsa. The common Germanic name of the rune may thus have either been ansuz “God, one of the Æsir”, or ahsam “ear (of corn)”

Ansuz is the conventional name given to the a-rune of the Elder Futhark, ᚨ. The name is based on Common Germanic *ansuz “a god, one of the main deities in Germanic paganism”. The shape of the rune is likely from Neo-Etruscan a (), like Latin A ultimately from Phoenician aleph.

Aleph is the first letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician ‘Ālep , Hebrew ‘Ālef א, Aramaic Ālap , Syriac ʾĀlap̄ ܐ, and Arabic Alif.

The Phoenician letter is derived from the West Semitic word for “ox”, and the shape of the letter derives from a Proto-Sinaitic glyph that may have been based on a Egyptian hieroglyph depicting an ox’s head and gave rise to the Greek Alpha (Α), being re-interpreted to express not the glottal consonant but the accompanying vowel, and hence the Latin A and Cyrillic А.

Written as ا, spelled as ألف and transliterated as alif it is the first letter in Arabic. Together with Hebrew Aleph, Greek Alpha and Latin A, it is descended from Phoenician ʾāleph, from a reconstructed Proto-Canaanite ʾalp “ox”. In Modern Standard Arabic, the word aliːf literally means tamed or familiar, derived from the root ʔ-l-f, from which the verb alifa means “to be acquainted with; to be on intimate terms with”.

In modern Hebrew, the same root ʔ-l-f (alef-lamed-peh) gives me’ulaf, the passive participle of the verb le’alef, meaning trained (when referring to pets) or tamed (when referring to wild animals); the IDF rank of Aluf, taken from an Edomite title of nobility, is also cognate.

In the Syriac alphabet, the first letter is ܐ — Classical Syriac: ܐܵܠܲܦ — Alap (in eastern dialects) or Olaph (in western dialects). It is used in word-initial position to mark a word beginning with a vowel — although some words beginning with i or u do not need its help, and sometimes an initial Alap/Olaph is elided.

For example, when the Syriac first-person singular pronoun ܐܵܢܵܐ is in enclitic positions, it is pronounced no/na (again west/east) rather than the full form eno/ana. The letter occurs very regularly at the end of words, where it represents the long final vowels o/a or e.

In the middle of the word, the letter represents either a glottal stop between vowels (but West Syriac pronunciation often makes this a palatal approximant), a long i/e (less commonly o/a) or is silent.

The Aramaic reflex of the letter is conventionally represented with the Hebrew א in typography for convenience, but the actual graphic form varied significantly over the long history and wide geographic extent of Aramaic usage.

Maraqten identifies three different aleph traditions in East Arabian coins, a lapidary Aramaic form which realizes it as a combination of a V-shape and a straight stroke attached to the apex, much like a Latin K; a cursive Aramaic form he calls the “elaborated X-form,” essentially the same tradition as the Hebrew reflex; and an extremely cursive form that consists of two crossed oblique lines, much like a simple Latin X.

The Egyptian “vulture” hieroglyph (Gardiner G1), by convention pronounced [a]) is also referred to as aleph, on grounds that it has traditionally been taken to represent a glottal stop, although some recent suggestions tend towards an [ɹ] sound instead.

The phoneme is commonly transliterated by a symbol composed of two half-rings. A fallback representation is the numeral 3, or the Middle English character ȝ Yogh; neither are to be preferred to the genuine Egyptological characters.

As a numeral, Alaph/Olaf stands for the number one. With a dot below, it is the number 1,000; with a line above it, Alaph/Olaf will represent 1,000,000. With a line below it is 10,000 and with two dots below it is 10,000,000.

In phonetics, aleph originally represented the glottal stop, often transliterated as U+02BE, based on the Greek spiritus lenis, for example, in the transliteration of the letter name itself, ʾāleph.

In the Norwegian rune poem, óss is given a meaning of “estuary” while in the Anglo-Saxon one, ōs ᚩ takes the Latin meaning of “mouth”. The Younger Futhark rune is transliterated as ą to distinguish it from the new ár rune (ᛅ), which continues the jēran rune after loss of prevocalic *j- in Proto-Norse *jár (Old Saxon jār).

Since the name of a is attested in the Gothic alphabet as ahsa or aza, the common Germanic name of the rune may thus either have been *ansuz “god”, or *ahsam “ear (of wheat)”.

The Anglo-Saxon futhorc split the Elder Futhark a rune into three independent runes due to the development of the vowel system in Anglo-Frisian. These three runes are ōs ᚩ (transliterated o), æsc ᚫ “ash” (transliterated æ) and ac “oak” ᚪ (transliterated a).

The Younger Futhark corresponding to the Elder Futhark Ansuz rune is ᚬ, called óss. It is transliterated as ą. This represented the phoneme /ɑ̃/, and sometimes /æ/ (also written ) and /o/ (also written ᚢ). The variant grapheme ᚯ becomes independent as representing the phoneme /ø/ during the 11th to 14th centuries.

Oak tree

The oak is a common symbol of strength and endurance and has been chosen as the national tree of many countries. Already an ancient Germanic symbol (in the form of the Donar Oak, for instance), certainly since the early nineteenth century, it stands for the nation of Germany and oak branches are thus displayed on some German coins, both of the former Deutsche Mark and the current Euro currency.

In Greek mythology, the oak is the tree sacred to Zeus, king of the gods. In Zeus’s oracle in Dodona, Epirus, the sacred oak was the centerpiece of the precinct, and the priests would divine the pronouncements of the god by interpreting the rustling of the oak’s leaves.

In Baltic mythology, the oak is the sacred tree of Latvian Pērkons, Lithuanian Perkūnas and Prussian Perkūns. Pērkons is the god of thunder and one of the most important deities in the Baltic pantheon.

In Celtic polytheism, the name of the oak tree was part of the Proto-Celtic word for ‘druid’: *derwo-weyd- > *druwid- ; however, Proto-Celtic *derwo- (and *dru-) can also be adjectives for ‘strong’ and ‘firm’, so Ranko Matasovic interprets that *druwid- may mean ‘strong knowledge’. As in other Indo-European faiths, Taranus, being a Thunder God, was associated with the oak tree.

The Indo-Europeans worshiped the oak and connected it with a thunder or lightning god; “tree” and drus may also be cognate with “Druid,” the Celtic priest to whom the oak was sacred. There has even been a study that shows that oaks are more likely to be struck by lightning than any other tree of the same height.

In Norse mythology, the oak was sacred to the thunder god, Thor. Thor’s Oak was a sacred tree of the Germanic Chatti tribe. According to legend, the Christianisation of the heathen tribes by Saint Boniface was marked by the oak’s being replaced by the fir (whose triangular shape symbolizes the Trinity) as a “sacred” tree.

In the Bible, the oak tree at Shechem is the site where Jacob buries the foreign gods of his people (Gen. 35:4) . In addition, Joshua erects a stone under an oak tree as the first covenant of the Lord (Josh. 24.25–7). In Isaiah 61, the prophet refers to the Israelites as “Oaks of Righteousness”.


The Sumerian word NIN (from the Akkadian pronunciation of the sign EREŠ) was used to denote a queen or a priestess, and is often translated as “lady”. Other translations include “queen”, “mistress”, “proprietress”, and “lord”.

Many goddesses are called NIN, such as NIN.GAL (“great lady”), É.NIN.GAL (“lady of the great temple”), EREŠ.KI.GAL, and NIN.TI. The compound form NIN.DINGIR (“divine lady” or “lady of [a] god”), from the Akkadian entu, denotes a priestess. Ereshkigal (EREŠ.KI.GAL, lit. “Queen of the Great Earth”) was the goddess of Irkalla, the land of the dead or underworld.

Gobekli Tepe

Seven “debate” topics are known from the Sumerian literature, falling in the category of ‘disputations’; some examples are: the Debate between Winter and Summer; the Debate between bird and fish; the Tree and the Reed; and The Dispute between Silver and Copper.

These topics came some centuries after writing was established in Sumerian Mesopotamia. The debates are philosophical and address humanity’s place in the world. The Debate between sheep and grain or Myth of cattle and grain is a Sumerian creation myth, written on clay tablets in the mid to late 3rd millennium BCE.

The story opens with a location “the hill of heaven and earth” which is discussed by Chiera as “not a poetical name for the earth, but the dwelling place of the gods, situated at the point where the heavens rest upon the earth. It is there that mankind had their first habitat, and there the Babylonian Garden of Eden is to be placed.”

The Sumerian word Edin, means “steppe” or “plain”, so modern scholarship has abandoned the use of the phrase “Babylonian Garden of Eden” as it has become clear the “Garden of Eden” was a later concept. Jeremy Black suggests this area was restricted for gods, noting that field plans from the Third dynasty of Ur use the term hursag (“hill”) to describe the hilly parts of fields that are hard to cultivate due to the presence of prehistoric tell mounds (ruined habitations).

Kramer discusses the story of the god An creating the cattle-goddess, Lahar, and the grain goddess, Ashnan, to feed and clothe the Annunaki, who in turn made man. Lahar and Ashnan are created in the “duku” or “pure place” and the story further describes how the Annunaki create a sheepfold with plants and herbs for Lahar and a house, plough and yoke for Ashnan, describing the introduction of animal husbandry and agriculture.

The story continues with a quarrel between the two goddesses over their gifts which eventually resolves with Enki and Enlil intervening to declare Ashnan the victor.

Samuel Noah Kramer has noted the parallels and variations between the story and the later one of Cain and Abel in the Bible Book of Genesis (Genesis 4:1-16).

Ewa Wasilewska mentions, “this text is not very clear, allowing for the interpretation that humankind was already present before Lahar and Ashnan were created and it was them, not the Anunnakû, who were not able to provide for themselves and for the deities until they were given divine ‘breath’.

However, it seems that Kramer’s translation is more appropriate concerning the Sumerian realm in which each and every creation must have had its clearly described purpose”.

Karen Rhea Nemet-Nejat noted the use of measuring rods in the tale as being linked to the history of writing, which developed in order to keep count of animals and produce.

Jeremy Black suggests that the victory of grain perhaps implies that man can live without domestic animals, but cannot survive without bread. He goes on to point out that the debates on both sides are roughly equal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Tummal Inscription records the first king to build a temple to Enlil as Enmebaragesi, the predecessor of Gilgamesh, around 2500 BC. Ekur is generally associated with the temple at Nippur restored by Naram-Sin of Akkad and Shar-Kali-Sharri during the Akkadian Empire. It is also the later name of the temple of Assur rebuilt by Shalmaneser I. The word can also refer to the chapel of Enlil in the temple of Ninimma at Nippur.

The Ekur was seen as a place of judgement and the place from which Enlil’s divine laws are issued. The priests of the Ekur festivities are described with en being the high priest, lagar as his associate, mues the leader of incantations and prayers, and guda the priest responsible for decoration. Sacrifices and food offerings were brought by the king, described as “faithful shepherd” or “noble farmer”.

A hymn to Urninurta mentions the prominence of a tree in the courtyard of the Ekur, reminiscent of the tree of life in the Garden of Eden: “O, chosen cedar, adornment of the yard of Ekur, Urinurta, for thy shadow the country may feel awe!”. This is suggested by G. Windgren to reflect the concept of the tree as a mythical and ritual symbol of both king and god.

Peter Jensen also associated the Ekur with the underworld in “Die Kosmologie der Babylonier”, where he translated it as a settlement of demons. The location also appears in Ludlul bēl nēmeqi and other myths as a home of demons who go out into the land.

It is noted by Wayne Horowitz that in none of the bilingual texts do the demons appear not to be “going upwards” but “outwards”, contrary to what would be expected if Ekur referred to later concepts such as Sheol, Hades and Hell, which were believed to be located under the surface of the earth.

Morris Jastrow discussed the place of the Ekur in Sumerian cosmology, “Another name which specifies the relationship of Aralu to the world is Ekur or ‘mountain house’ of the dead.

Ekur is one of the names for the earth, but is applied more particularly to that part of the mountain, also known as E-khar-sag-kurkura (É.ḪAR.SAG.KUR.KUR-‘a’ “house of the mountain of all lands”) where the gods were born.

Before the later speculative view was developed, according to which the gods, or most of them, have their seats in heaven, it was on this mountain also that the gods were supposed to dwell. Hence Ekur became also one of the names for temple, as the seat of a god.”

The underworld Kur is the void space between the primeval sea (Abzu) and the earth (Ma). It is considered the first ever dragon, and usually referred to the Zagros Mountains to the east of Sumer. The cuneiform for “kur” was written ideographically with the cuneiform sign 𒆳, a pictograph of a mountain. It can also mean “foreign land”.

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

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

Kur is almost identical with “Ki-gal”, “Great Land” which is the Underworld (thus the ruler of the Underworld is Ereshkigal “Goddess of The Great Land”. In later Babylonian myth Kur is possibly an Anunnaki, brother of Ereshkigal, Inanna, Enki, and Enlil.

In the Enuma Elish in Akkadian tablets from the first millennium BC, Kur is part of the retinue of Tiamat, and seems to be a snakelike dragon. In one story the slaying of the great serpent Kur results in the flooding of the earth.

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

Though drawing on Mesopotamian mythology, the religion of the Hittites and Luwians retains noticeable Indo-European elements, for example Tarhunt the god of thunder; his conflict with the serpent Illuyanka resembles the conflict between Indra and the cosmic serpent Vritra in Vedic mythology, or Thor and the serpent Jörmungandr in Norse mythology.

His consort is the Hattic sun-goddess. This divine couple was presumably worshipped in the twin cellas of the largest temple at Hattusa. The city of Arinna, a day’s march from Hattusa, was perhaps the major cult center of the Hittites, and certainly of their major sun goddess, known as UTU Arinna “sun goddess of Arinna”

The Hittite sun goddess Arinniti was later assimilated with Hebat. A prayer of Queen Puduhepa makes this explicit: “To the Sun-goddess of Arinna, my lady, the mistress of the Hatti lands, the queen of Heaven and Earth. Sun-goddess of Arinna, thou art Queen of all countries! In the Hatti country thou bearest the name of the Sun-goddess of Arinna; but in the land which thou madest the cedar land thou bearest the name Hebat.”

Hebat, also transcribed, Kheba or Khepat, was the mother goddess of the Hurrians, known as “the mother of all living”. She is also a Queen of the deities. Hebat is married to Teshub and is the mother of Sarruma and Alanzu, as well mother-in-law of the daughter of the dragon Illuyanka.

The Anunnaki (also transcribed as: Anunaki, Anunna, Anunnaku, Ananaki and other variations) are a group of deities in ancient Mesopotamian cultures. The name is variously written “a-nuna”, “a-nuna-ke-ne”, or “a-nun-na”, meaning “princely offspring” or “offspring of Anu”.

According to The Oxford Companion to World Mythology, the Anunnaki: “… are the Sumerian deities of the old primordial line; they are chthonic deities of fertility, associated eventually with the underworld, where they became judges. They take their name from the old sky god An (Anu).”

According to later Assyrian and Babylonian myth, the Anunnaki were the children of Anu and Ki, brother and sister gods, themselves the children of Anshar and Kishar (Skypivot and Earthpivot, the Celestial poles), who in turn were the children of Lahamu and Lahmu (“the muddy ones”), names given to the gatekeepers of the Abzu (House of Far Waters) temple at Eridu, the site at which the creation was thought to have occurred. Finally, Lahamu and Lahmu were the children of Tiamat (Goddess of the Ocean) and Abzu (God of Fresh Water).

The Anunnaki are mentioned in The Epic of Gilgamesh when Utnapishtim, a character in the epic of Gilgamesh who is tasked by Enki (Ea) to abandon his worldly possessions and create a giant ship to be called The Preserver of Life, tells the story of the flood. The seven judges of hell are called the Anunnaki, and they set the land aflame as the storm is approaching.

Utnapishtim was also tasked with bringing his wife, family, and relatives along with the craftsmen of his village, baby animals and grains. The oncoming flood would wipe out all animals and humans that were not on the ship, a concept similar to the biblical story of Noah’s Ark.

After twelve days on the water, Utnapishtim opened the hatch of his ship to look around and saw the slopes of Mount Nisir, where he rested his ship for seven days. On the seventh day, he sent a dove out to see if the water had receded, and the dove could find nothing but water, so it returned. Then he sent out a swallow, and just as before, it returned, having found nothing.

Finally, Utnapishtim sent out a raven, and the raven saw that the waters had receded, so it circled around, but did not return. Utnapishtim then set all the animals free, and made a sacrifice to the gods. The gods came, and because he had preserved the seed of man while remaining loyal and trusting of his gods, Utnapishtim and his wife were given immortality, as well as a place among the heavenly gods.

In the epic, overcome with the death of his friend Enkidu, the hero Gilgamesh sets out on a series of journeys to search for his ancestor Utnapishtim (Xisouthros) who lives at the mouth of the rivers and has been given eternal life. Utnapishtim counsels Gilgamesh to abandon his search for immortality but tells him about a plant that can make him young again.

Gilgamesh obtains the plant from the bottom of the sea in Delmun (current day Bahrain) but a serpent steals it, and Gilgamesh returns home to the city of Uruk having abandoned hope of either immortality or renewed youth.

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

This language appears in inscriptions. Though there is no written evidence of any other language being spoken in this kingdom, it is argued on linguistic evidence that Proto-Armenian came in contact with Urartian at an early date (3rd-2nd millennium BC).

That a distinction should be made between the geographical and the political entity was already pointed out by König (1955). The landscape corresponds to the mountainous plateau between Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, the Iranian Plateau, and the Caucasus mountains, later known as the Armenian Highlands. The kingdom rose to power in the mid-9th century BC, but was conquered by Media in the early 6th century BC. The heirs of Urartu are the Armenians and their successive kingdoms.

“Urartu” is cognate with the Biblical “Ararat,” Akkadian “Urashtu,” and Armenian “Ayrarat.” 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.

The name used by the local population as a toponym was Biainili (or Biaineli), which forms the root of the Armenian Վան (“Van”), hence the names “Kingdom of Van (Bianili)” or “Vannic Kingdom.”

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.

One theory regarding the origin of Yerevan’s name is the city was named after the Armenian king, Yervand IV (the Last), the last leader of the Orontid Dynasty, and founder of the city of Yervandashat. However, it is likely that the city’s name is derived from the Urartian military fortress of Erebuni (Էրեբունի), which was founded on the territory of modern-day Yerevan in 782 BC by Argishti I.

As elements of the Urartian language blended with that of the Armenian one, the name eventually evolved into Yerevan (Erebuni = Erevani = Erevan = Yerevan). Scholar Margarit Israelyan notes these changes when comparing inscriptions found on two cuneiform tablets at Erebuni:

The transcription of the second cuneiform bu [original emphasis] of the word was very essential in our interpretation as it is the Urartaean b that has been shifted to the Armenian v (b > v).

The original writing of the inscription read «er-bu-ni»; therefore the prominent Armenianologist-orientalist Prof. G. A. Ghapantsian justly objected, remarking that the Urartu b changed to v at the beginning of the word (Biani > Van) or between two vowels (ebani > avan, Zabaha > Javakhk)….In other words b was placed between two vowels. The true pronunciation of the fortress-city was apparently Erebuny.

Early Christian Armenian chroniclers attributed the origin of the name, “Yerevan,” to a derivation from an expression exclaimed by Noah, in Armenian. While looking in the direction of Yerevan, after the ark had landed on Mount Ararat and the flood waters had receded, Noah is believed to have exclaimed, “Yerevats!” (“it appeared!”).

The principal symbol of Yerevan is Mount Ararat, which is visible from any area in the capital. The seal of the city is a crowned lion on a pedestal with the inscription “Yerevan.” The lion’s head is turned backwards while it holds a scepter using the right front leg, the attribute of power and royalty. The symbol of eternity is on the breast of the lion with a picture of Ararat in the upper part. The emblem is a rectangular shield with a blue border.


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. The name is connected to the Indo-European root Ar- meaning “assemble/create” which is vastly used in names of or regarding the Sun, light, or fire, found in Ararat, Aryan, Arta etc.

The 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.

In 1981, Hopper proposed to divide all Indo-European languages into Decem and Taihun groups, according to the pronunciation of the numeral 10, by analogy with the Centum-Satem isogloss, which is based on the pronunciation of the numeral 100.

The Armenian, Germanic, Anatolian, and Tocharian subfamilies belong to the Taihun group because the numeral 10 begins with a voiceless t there. All other Indo-European languages belong to the Decem group because the numeral 10 begins with a voiced d in them. The question then can be framed as which, if either, of these groups reflects the original state of things, and which is an innovation.

The Anatolian languages are a family of extinct Indo-European languages that were spoken in Asia Minor (ancient Anatolia), the best attested of them being the Hittite language. The Anatolian branch is generally considered the earliest to split from the Proto-Indo-European language, from a stage referred to either as Indo-Hittite or “Middle PIE”; typically a date in the mid-4th millennium BC is assumed.

Statistical research by Quentin Atkinson and others using Bayesian inference and glottochronological markers favors an Indo-European origin in Anatolia though the method’s validity and accuracy are subject to debate.

The Armenian hypothesis

The Armenian hypothesis of the Proto-Indo-European Urheimat, based on the Glottalic theory, suggests that the Proto-Indo-European language was spoken during the 4th millennium BC in the Armenian Highland.

It is an Indo-Hittite model and does not include the Anatolian languages in its scenario. The phonological peculiarities proposed in the Glottalic theory would be best preserved in the Armenian language and the Germanic languages, the former assuming the role of the dialect which remained in situ, implied to be particularly archaic in spite of its late attestation.

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

The Armenian hypothesis was proposed by Russian linguists T. V. Gamkrelidze and V. V. Ivanov in 1985, presenting it first in two articles in Vestnik drevnej istorii and then in a much larger work. Gamkrelidze and Ivanov argue that IE spread out from Armenia into the Pontic steppe, from which it expanded – as per the Kurgan hypothesis – into Western Europe. The Hittite, Indo-Iranian, Greek and Armenian branches split from the Armenian homeland.

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

Robert Drews, commenting on the hypothesis, says that “most of the chronological and historical arguments seem fragile at best, and of those that I am able to judge, some are evidently wrong”.

However, he argues that it is far more powerful as a linguistic model, providing insights into the relationship between Indo-European and the Semitic and Kartvelian languages.

He continues to say “It is certain that the inhabitants of the forested areas of Armenia very early became accomplished woodworkers, and it now appears that in the second millennium they produced spoked-wheel vehicles that served as models as far away as China. And we have long known that from the second millennium onward, Armenia was important for the breeding of horses.

It is thus not surprising to find that what clues we have suggest that chariot warfare was pioneered in eastern Anatolia. Finally, our picture of what the PIE speakers did, and when, owes much to the recently proposed hypothesis that the homeland of the PIE speakers was Armenia.”

I. Grepin, reviewing Gamkrelidze and Ivanov’s book, wrote that their model of linguistic relationships is “the most complex, far reaching and fully supported of this century.”


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. As early as the Uruk period (ca. 4000–3100 BC), Inanna was associated with the city of Uruk.

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 c. 2250 BC. 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”.


Inanna (Old Babylonian or Neo-Assyrian: MUŠ; Sumerian: Inanna; Akkadian: Ištar) was the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare, and goddess of the E-Anna temple at the city of Uruk, her main centre. Inanna was the most prominent female deity in ancient Mesopotamia.

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.TUG) 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.

Confuser of languages

Enmerkar is furthermore to recite the “Incantation of Nudimmud”, a hymn in the Sumerian epic entitled Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta, imploring Enki to restore (or in some translations, to disrupt) the linguistic unity of the inhabited regions, named as Shubur, Hamazi, Sumer, Uri-ki (the region around Akkad), and the Martu land:

Once upon a time there was no snake, there was no scorpion,

There was no hyena, there was no lion,
There was no wild dog, no wolf,
There was no fear, no terror,
Man had no rival.

In those days, the lands of Subur (and) Hamazi,
Harmony-tongued Sumer, the great land of the decrees of princeship,
Uri, the land having all that is appropriate,
The land Martu, resting in security,
The whole universe, the people in unison
To Enlil in one tongue [spoke].

(Then) Enki, the lord of abundance (whose) commands are trustworthy,
The lord of wisdom, who understands the land,
The leader of the gods,
Endowed with wisdom, the lord of Eridu
Changed the speech in their mouths, [brought] contention into it,
Into the speech of man that (until then) had been one.


Armani, (also given as Armanum) was an ancient kingdom mentioned by Sargon of Akkad and his grandson Naram-Sin of Akkad as stretching from Ibla to Bit-Nanib, its location is heavily debated, and it continued to be mentioned in the later Assyrian inscriptions.

Syria : Armani was mentioned alongside Ibla in the geographical treaties of Sargon, this led some historians to identify Ibla with Syrian Ebla and Armani with Syrian Armi, prof Michael C. Astour refuse to identify Armani with Armi as Naram-Sin makes it clear that the Ibla he sacked (in c.2240 BC) was a border town of the land of Armani, while the Armi in the Eblaite tablets is a vassal to Ebla.

Mesopotamia : Armani was attested in the treaties of Sargon in a section that mentions regions located in Assyria and Babylonia or territories adjacent to the East in contrast to the Syrian Ebla location in the west, the later King Adad-Nirari I of Assyria also mentions Arman as being located east of the Tigris and on the border between Assyria and Babylon, historians who disagree with the identification of Akkadian Armani with Syrian Armi, place it (along with Akkadian Ibla) north of the Hamrin Mountains in northern Iraq.

First mentioned as the land of Armani by Sargon, king Naram-Sin boasted his victory and destruction of the city, he gives a detailed account of the siege and the capturing of the king in one of his inscriptions.

Armani was later mentioned amongst the cities that rebelled against Naram-Sin, during the middle Assyrian and Kassites periods, The land of Armani was mentioned as located eastern of the Tigris and King Shalmaneser III mentions his conquest of Halman but the identification of Halman with Akkadian Armani (Arman) is dubious.


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.


Mitanni (Hittite cuneiform: Mi-ta-an-ni; Mittani Mi-it-ta-ni), 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.

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.


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.

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 Hurrians (Ḫu-ur-ri) were a people of the Bronze Age Near East. They spoke a Hurro-Urartian language called Hurrian, and lived in Anatolia and Northern Mesopotamia. The largest and most influential Hurrian nation was the multi-ethnic kingdom of Mitanni, the Mitanni perhaps being Indo-European speakers who formed a ruling class over the Hurrians.

The population of the Indo-European-speaking Hittite Empire in Anatolia included a large population of Hurrians, and there is significant Hurrian influence in Hittite mythology. By the Early Iron Age, the Hurrians had been assimilated with other peoples, except perhaps in the kingdom of Urartu.

The Hurrians spoke an ergative-agglutinative language conventionally called Hurrian, which is unrelated to neighbouring Semitic or Indo-European languages, and may have been a language isolate.

The Iron Age Urartian language is closely related to or a direct descendant of Hurrian. Several notable Russian linguists, such as S. A. Starostin and V. V. Ivanov, have claimed that Hurrian and Hattic were related to the Northeast Caucasian languages.

From the 21st century BC to the late 18th century BC, Assyria controlled colonies in Anatolia, and the Hurrians, like the Hattians, adopted the Assyrian Akkadian cuneiform script for their own language about 2000 BCE.

Texts in the Hurrian language in cuneiform have been found at Hattusa, Ugarit (Ras Shamra), as well as in one of the longest of the Amarna letters, written by King Tushratta of Mitanni to Pharaoh Amenhotep III. It was the only long Hurrian text known until a multi-tablet collection of literature in Hurrian with a Hittite translation was discovered at Hattusa in 1983.


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

This language appears in inscriptions. Though there is no written evidence of any other language being spoken in this kingdom, it is argued on linguistic evidence that Proto-Armenian came in contact with Urartian at an early date (3rd-2nd millennium BC).

That a distinction should be made between the geographical and the political entity was already pointed out by König (1955). The landscape corresponds to the mountainous plateau between Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, the Iranian Plateau, and the Caucasus mountains, later known as the Armenian Highlands. The kingdom rose to power in the mid-9th century BC, but was conquered by Media in the early 6th century BC. The heirs of Urartu are the Armenians and their successive kingdoms.

The name Urartu comes from Assyrian sources: the Assyrian King Shalmaneser I (1263–1234 BC) recorded a campaign in which he subdued the entire territory of Uruatri. The Shalmaneser text uses the name Urartu to refer to a geographical region, not a kingdom, and names eight “lands” contained within Urartu (which at the time of the campaign were still disunited).

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

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.

Khaldi and Aram

Scholars such as Carl Ferdinand Friedrich Lehmann-Haupt (1910) believed that the people of Urartu called themselves Khaldini after their god Khaldi or Hayk (Kali/Hel), also known as Haik Nahapet (Hayk the Tribal Chief), the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation. one of the three chief deities of Ararat (Urartu).

His shrine was at Ardini (the present form of the name is Artin, meaning “sun rising” or to “awake”, and it persists in Armenian names to this day). In Assyrian the city was called Muṣaṣir (Assyrian Mu-ṣa-ṣir and variants), Akkadian for Exit of the Serpent/Snake. Inanna was known as Muṣ in Neo-Assyrian.

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. The other two chief deities were Theispas (Teshub) of Kumenu, and Shivini (Shiva) of Tushpa.

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’.

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.


Boris Piotrovsky wrote that “the Urartians first appear as a league of tribes or countries which did not yet constitute a unitary state in history in the 13th century BC. In the Assyrian annals the term Uruatri (Urartu) as a name for this league was superseded during a considerable period of years by the term “land of Nairi””.

Nairi was the Assyrian name (KUR.KUR Na-i-ri, also Na-‘i-ru) for a Pre-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. Nairi has sometimes been equated with Nihriya, known from Mesopotamian, Hittite, and Urartean sources. However, its co-occurrence with Nihriya within a single text may argue against this.

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, c. 1230 BC. Nairi was incorporated into Urartu during the 10th century BC.

Ararat and Minni

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.

Minni 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 Minni, that is, “the mountainous region of the Minni”. The name has also been claimed as a variant of Urmani (or Urmenu), attested epigraphically in an inscription of Menuas of Urartu.


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

The land of Subartu is mentioned in Bronze Age literature. The name also appears as Subari in the Amarna letters, and, in the form Šbr, in Ugarit. It was apparently a polity in Northern Mesopotamia, at the upper Tigris. Most 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, and the Martu land.

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.

Three of the 14th century BC Amarna letters, Akkadian cuneiform correspondence found in Egypt, mention Subari as a toponym. All are addressed to Akhenaten; in two Rib-Hadda, king of Byblos, complains that Abdi-Ashirta, ruler of Amurru, had sold captives to Subari, while another, from the city of Irqata, also alludes to having transferred captured goods to Subari.

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.

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.

There is also a mention of “Subartu” in the 8th century BC Poem of Erra (IV, 132), along with other lands that have harassed Babylonia in Neo-Babylonian times (under Nabopolassar, Nebuchadnezzar II and Nabonidus). Shupria is mentioned in the letter of Esarhaddon to the god Assur. Esarhaddon undertook an expedition against Shupria in 674, subjugating it.


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

Ninshubur accompanied Inanna as a vassal and friend throughout Inanna’s many exploits. She helped Inanna fight Enki’s demons after Inanna’s theft of the sacred me. Later, when Inanna became trapped in the Underworld, it was Ninshubur who pleaded with Enki for her mistress’s release.

Though described as an unmarried virgin, in a few accounts Ninshubur is said to be one of Inanna’s lovers. In later Akkadian mythology, Ninshubur was male. In “A hymn to Nergal” Ninshubur appeared as the minister of the underworld. Due to similarities between the two, some believe the later Hermes to have been based in part on Ninshubur.


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


Ariana (Aryana), the Latinized form of the Ancient Greek Ar(e)ianē (inhabitants: Ariani; Ar(e)ianoi), was a general geographical term used by some Greek and Roman authors of the ancient period for a district of wide extent between Central Asia and the Indus River, comprehending the eastern provinces of the Achaemenid Empire that covered the whole country of modern day Afghanistan, and a few parts of India, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

At various times, various parts of the region were governed by the Persians (the Achaemenids from 550 to 330 BC, the Sasanians from 275 to 650 AD and the Indo-Sasanians from 345 to 450 AD), the Macedonians (the Seleucids from 330 to 250 BC, the Greco-Bactrians from 250 to 110 BC and the Indo-Greeks from 155 to 90 BC), Iranian peoples from Persia and Central Asia (the Parthians from 160 BC to 225 AD, the Indo-Scythians from 90 BC to 20 AD, the Indo-Parthians from 20 to 225 AD and the Kushans from 110 BC to 225 AD), the Xionites (the Kidarites from 360 to 465 AD and the Hephthalites from 450 to 565 AD) and Indian empires (the Mauryans from 275 to 185 BC).

The Greek term Arianē (Latin: Ariana) is based upon an Iranian word found in Avestan Airiiana- (especially in Airiianəm Vaēǰō, the name of the Iranian peoples’ mother country).

The modern name Iran represents a different form of the ancient name Ariana which derived from Airiianəm Vaēǰō and implies that Iran is “the” Ariana itself – a word of Old Iranian origin.- a view supported by the traditions of the country preserved in the Muslim writers of the ninth and tenth centuries. The Greeks also referred to Haroyum/Haraiva (Herat) as Aria, which is one of the many provinces found in Ariana.

The names Ariana and Aria, and many other ancient titles of which Aria is a component element, are connected with the Sanskrit term Arya-, the Avestan term Airya-, and the Old Persian term Ariya-, a self designation of the peoples of Ancient India and Ancient Iran, meaning “noble”, “excellent” and “honourable”.

The Median people are mentioned by that name in many ancient texts. According to the Histories of Herodotus; The Medes were called anciently by all people Aryans; but when Medea, the Colchian, came to them from Athens, they changed their name. Such is the account which they themselves give.

Medians and Persians

Historically, the Medanites dwelt alongside the Mitanni and they formed a kingdom in the 10th and 9th centuries BC. It is for this reason that historians call the Mitanni the “early Medes”. The empire of the Medanites or Medes is often referred to in textbooks as the Amadai-Mada-Medes empire (Madai, Midian, and Medan were closely associated with each other).

The Amadai were descendants of Madai who were subject to the Medes, the ruling class of the Empire. The tribes of the Median Empire were: the Busae, Paretaceni, Struchates, Arizanti, Budii, and Magi. Some were descended from Medan, others from Madai.

Regarding the physical type of the Medes all historians mention that the earliest tribes of the Medians “belonged to the Aryan stock” and as such were an Indo-European people and that they formed a ruling class over the descendants of Madai. This Mede ruling class called themselves Arioi or Arii, meaning Aryan.

The Medes were more numerous and powerful than the Persians who seem to have been a Median tribe who broke away. The Persians were first in the central-west areas of Persia then later in the south-west.

From what can be gathered by historians, these Aryan Persians originated in a far away land called Airyanem-Vaejo and came into the Iranian plateau from southern Russia. They were basically pastoral and possessed watch-dogs, sheep, oxen, and horses. They traveled in wagons which had axles and wheels.

In general, researchers trace the Indo-Aryans to the Austro-Hungarian plains or to southwest Russia. That is, indeed, where many of them migrated from, but their homeland prior to that would have been in the Middle East.

Professor Sayce, writing in his famous Races of the Old Testament, states that the original Persians belonged to the fair-skinned, Mediterranean division of the White Race: “The physical type of the country-men of Darius and Xerxes, like that of their modern descendants, was Aryan in all of its traits. Travelers still speak of the fair-complexioned, blue-eyed populations met with in the Persian highlands … The Persians were at the outset a Median tribe.”

They called themselves Airya. Darius the Great on his tomb calls himself “an Aryan, having Aryan lineage”. Xerxes called himself “harri”, meaning “noble” or Aryan. Today, Persia is known as Iran, a derivative of “Aryan.”


Ari could refer to names of various languages, or shortened versions of other names. “Ari” a variant of Ara (Arabic), and the meaning of Ari is “brings rain”. “Ari” means “gold” in Albanian. Ari is also a male first name that means “bear” (the animal). In Armenian “Ari” is a male first name that means “fearless” or “brave”. Armin (Arminia), the Land of Armens or Armins, is a given name or surname, and is an ancient Zoroastrian given name, meaning Guardian of Aryan Land. The names Armen and Arman, feminine Arminé, are common given names by Armenians. Armin is also a Persian given name.

In the Badaga language, a southern Dravidian language, “Ari” has a literal meaning of “sun-like” and is used as a male name, sometimes changed to “Harry” in the case of converts to Christianity. “Ari” means “Not of Sin” in Hindi. Ari also means “one who shows the right path”.”Ari” is a somewhat common Kurdish male first name, and means “Arian”. It also means “from the flame”.

In German, “Ari” is a masculine name and means “eagle” or “great bird”. It was also used as Word ending “-ari” for male nomina agentium (f.e. “lêrari”, means “teacher”). “Ari” in Icelandic/Old Norse is a somewhat common name meaning “eagle” or “fast flying one”, etymologically closely related to the Icelandic word “ör” (arrow).

In Greek Ari or Aris is a common shortened version of the Greek names, the majority of which are compounds of the adjectival superlative áristos, “best”. They are also modern Greek transliterations for Ares, the god of war and the name for the planet Mars. The archaic Greek prefix ari- (e.g. in Ariadne, Arimnestus etc.) or eri-, a cognate of áristos, means “very” or “verily”. Famous historical figures sometimes referred to as “Ari” include the philosopher Aristotle, Aristides the Just, and shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis.

The Hebrew name Ari-el or Ariel translates to “lion of God”. “Ari” (Lion) in Hebrew is also a synonym for bravery and courage and it is also the symbol of the tribe of Judah. The city of Ariel is named after Jerusalem. Ariel in the Hebrew Bible is one of the names for Jerusalem and the Temple of Jerusalem (Isaiah 29:1-8). The female form is Ariela, Ariella, or Arielle, which means “lioness of God”, although “Ariel” can also be used as a woman’s name.

Ari (Numbers 24:9) or Aryeh (2 Samuel 17:10) is the Hebrew for “lion”, cognate to Akkadian aria, Aramaic arya. The word is in use as a first name. Ari was also used as an honorific for an important man. Gur-aryeh (“lion cub”) is attested in Jacob’s blessing on Judah (Genesis 49:9), “Judah is a lion’s whelp; on prey, my son, have you grown”.

“Ari” in Japanese usually means “to be”, in Japanese names and is a component of numerous mostly male names from at least the Heian through the Muromachi periods. In Korean “Ari” is a Korean word for “capital” or “important” in civic matters or locations.


Irmin may be Old Saxon irmin “strong, whole”, maybe also “strong, tall, exalted” (Old High German ermen, Old Norse jǫrmun, Old English Eormen), from Proto-Germanic *erminaz, *ermenaz or *ermunaz, in personal names (Arminius/Armin, Ermanaric, Ermenbald, Ermenbert, Ermenfried, Ermenhard, Ermelinda, Erminia, Ermintrude, Emma)

Irma is a female given name. It is also used in combination with other names in the abbreviated form “Irm-,” for example, Irmine, Irmela, Irmgard, Irmgardis, Irmentraud. The name comes from the Old High German irmin, meaning world. The anglicised form is Emma.

An Irminsul (Old Saxon, probably “great/mighty pillar” or “arising pillar”) was a kind of pillar which is attested as playing an important role in the Germanic paganism of the Saxon people. The oldest chronicle describing an Irminsul refers to it as a tree trunk erected in the open air. The purpose of the Irminsuls and the implications thereof have been the subject of considerable scholarly discourse and speculation for hundreds of years.

A Germanic god Irmin, inferred from the name Irminsul and the tribal name Irminones, is sometimes presumed to have been the national god or demi-god of the Saxons. It has been suggested that Irmin was more probably an aspect or epithet of some other deity – most likely Wodan (Odin).

Irmin might also have been an epithet of the god Ziu (Tyr) in early Germanic times, only later transferred to Odin, as certain scholars subscribe to the idea that Odin replaced Tyr as the chief Germanic deity at the onset of the Migration Period. This was the favored view of early 20th century Nordicist writers, but it is not generally considered likely in modern times.

The Old Norse form of Irmin is Jörmunr, which just like Yggr was one of the names of Odin. Yggdrasil (“Yggr’s horse”) was the yew or ash tree from which Odin sacrificed himself, and which connected the nine worlds. Jakob Grimm connects the name Irmin with Old Norse terms like iörmungrund (“great ground”, i.e. the Earth) or iörmungandr (“great snake”, i.e. the Midgard serpent).


In the Vedic religion, Ṛta (Sanskrit ṛtaṃ “that which is properly/excellently joined; order, rule; truth”) is the principle of natural order which regulates and coordinates the operation of the universe and everything within it.

In the hymns of the Vedas, Ṛta is described as that which is ultimately responsible for the proper functioning of the natural, moral and sacrificial orders. Conceptually, it is closely allied to the injunctions and ordinances thought to uphold it, collectively referred to as Dharma, and the action of the individual in relation to those ordinances, referred to as Karma – two terms which eventually eclipsed Ṛta in importance as signifying natural, religious and moral order in later Hinduism.

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

Ṛta is derived from the Sanskrit verb root ṛ- “to go, move, rise, tend upwards”, and the derivative noun ṛtam is defined as “fixed or settled order, rule, divine law or truth”. As Mahony (1998) notes, however, the term can just as easily be translated literally as “that which has moved in a fitting manner”, abstractly as “universal law” or “cosmic order”, or simply as “truth”. The latter meaning dominates in the Avestan cognate to Ṛta, aša.

Asha (aša) 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-. In Middle Iranian languages the term appears as ard-.

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’. For other connotations, see meaning below. The opposite of Avestan aša is druj, “lie.”

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


Human settlement at Erbil, also known as Hewler (Syriac: Arbel), can be dated back to possibly 5000 BC, and it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited areas in the world. The earliest historical reference to the region dates to the Ur III dynasty of Sumer, when king Shulgi mentioned the city of Urbilum – the ancient name of modern-day Arbil.

The city became an integral part of Assyria from the 25th century BC to the 7th century BC. Erbil was under the rule of many regional powers in turn, including the Babylonians, the Medes, the Persians and Greeks. The city became a centre for the worship of the Assyro-Babylonian goddess Ishtar which was also borrowed from Sumer god of innanna. In classical times the city became known as Arbela (‘Άρβηλα). In Old Persian the city was called Arbairā.

The name Erbil was mentioned in Sumerian holy writings of third millennium BC as Urbilum, Urbelum or Urbillum. Later, the Akkadians and Assyrians by a folk etymology rendered the name as arba’ū ilū to mean four gods.

The theogony

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 Ullikummi, the Kingship of the God KAL, the Myth of the dragon Hedammu, and the Song of Silver.

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 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.

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 an ancient myth recorded by Hesiod’s Theogony Cronus or Kronos was the leader and youngest of the first generation of Titans, and the divine descendants of Uranus, the sky, and Gaia, the earth. He envied the power of his father, the ruler of the universe, Uranus, who drew the enmity of Cronus’ mother, Gaia, when he hid the gigantic youngest children of Gaia, the hundred-handed Hecatonchires and one-eyed Cyclopes, in the Tartarus, so that they would not see the light.

Gaia created a great stone sickle, scythe or harpē, a sword with a sickle protrusion along one edge near the tip of the blade mentioned in Greek and Roman sources, and almost always in mythological contexts, and gathered together Cronus and his brothers to persuade them to castrate Uranus.

Only Cronus was willing to do the deed, so Gaia gave him the sickle and placed him in ambush. When Uranus met with Gaia, Cronus attacked him with the sickle, castrating him and casting his testicles into the sea. From the blood that spilled out from Uranus and fell upon the earth, the Gigantes, Erinyes, and Meliae were produced. The testicles produced a white foam from which the goddess Aphrodite emerged.

Cronus was usually depicted with a harpe, scythe or a sickle. In Athens, on the twelfth day of the Attic month of Hekatombaion, a festival called Kronia was held in honour of Cronus to celebrate the harvest, suggesting that, as a result of his association with the virtuous Golden Age, Cronus continued to preside as a patron of harvest. Cronus was also identified in classical antiquity with the Roman deity Saturn.

Cronus overthrew his father and ruled during the mythological Golden Age, as the people of the time had no need for laws or rules; everyone did the right thing, and immorality was absent. This lasted until he was overthrown by his own son Zeus and imprisoned in Tartarus.

After dispatching Uranus, Cronus re-imprisoned the Hecatonchires and the Cyclopes and set the dragon Campe to guard them. He and his sister and wife Rhea took the throne of the world as king and queen. Cronus learned from Gaia and Uranus that he was destined to be overcome by his own sons, just as he had overthrown his father.

As a result, although he sired the gods Demeter, Hestia, Hera, Hades and Poseidon by Rhea, he devoured them all as soon as they were born to prevent the prophecy. When the sixth child, Zeus, was born Rhea sought Gaia to devise a plan to save them and to eventually get retribution on Cronus for his acts against his father and children. Rhea secretly gave birth to Zeus in Crete, and handed Cronus a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes, also known as the Omphalos Stone, which he promptly swallowed, thinking that it was his son.

Once he had grown up, Zeus used an emetic given to him by Gaia to force Cronus to disgorge the contents of his stomach in reverse order: first the stone, which was set down at Pytho under the glens of Mount Parnassus to be a sign to mortal men, and then his two brothers and three sisters. In other versions of the tale, Metis gave Cronus an emetic to force him to disgorge the children, or Zeus cut Cronus’ stomach open. After freeing his siblings, Zeus released the Hecatonchires, and the Cyclopes who forged for him his thunderbolts, Poseidon’s trident and Hades’ helmet of darkness.

In a vast war called the Titanomachy, Zeus and his brothers and sisters, with the help of the Hecatonchires, and Cyclopes, overthrew Cronus and the other Titans. Afterwards, many of the Titans were confined in Tartarus, however, Atlas, Epimetheus, Menoetius, Oceanus and Prometheus were not imprisoned following the Titanomachy. Gaia bore the monster Typhon to claim revenge for the imprisoned Titans.

Another child Cronus is reputed to have fathered is Chiron, held to be the superlative centaur amongst his brethren, by Philyra. Chiron was notable throughout Greek mythology for his youth-nurturing nature. His personal skills tend to match those of Apollo, his foster father (sometimes along with Artemis); medicine, music, archery, hunting, prophecy.

Enlil and Ninlil

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

As Enlil was the only god who could reach An, the god of heaven, he held sway over the other gods who were assigned tasks by his agent and would travel to Nippur to draw in his power. He is thus seen as the model for kingship. Enlil was assimilated to the north “Pole of the Ecliptic”. His sacred number name was 50.

According to the Sumerians, Enlil requested the creation of a slave race, but then got tired of their noise and tried to kill them by sending a flood. A mortal known as Utnapishtim survived the flood through the help of another god, Enki, and he was made immortal by Enlil after Enlil’s initial fury had subsided.

Enlil is associated with the ancient city of Nippur, sometimes referred to as the cult city of Enlil. His temple was named Ekur, “House of the Mountain.” Such was the sanctity acquired by this edifice that Babylonian and Assyrian rulers, down to the latest days, vied with one another to embellish and restore Enlil’s seat of worship. Eventually, the name Ekur became the designation of a temple in general.

Grouped around the main sanctuary, there arose temples and chapels to the gods and goddesses who formed his court, so that Ekur became the name for an entire sacred precinct in the city of Nippur. The name “mountain house” suggests a lofty structure and was perhaps the designation originally of the staged tower at Nippur, built in imitation of a mountain, with the sacred shrine of the god on the top.

In one myth, Enlil gives advice to his son, the god Ninurta, advising him on a strategy to slay the demon Asag. This advice is relayed to Ninurta by way of Sharur, his enchanted talking mace, which had been sent by Ninurta to the realm of the gods to seek counsel from Enlil directly.

In the myth of Enlil and Ninlil, Enlil was banished from Ekur in Nippur, home of the gods, to Kur, the underworld, for seducing Ninlil (NIN.LÍL”lady of the open field” or “Lady of the Wind”), also called Sud, while he was still a young god. Ninlil followed him to the underworld where she bore his first child, the moon god Sin (Sumerian Nanna/Suen).

After fathering three more underworld-deities (substitutes for Sin), Enlil was allowed to return to the Ekur. Enlil impregnated her disguised as the gatekeeper, where upon she gave birth to their son Nergal, god of death. In a similar manner she conceived the underworld god Ninazu when Enlil impregnated her disguised as the man of the river of the nether world, a man-devouring river. Later Enlil disguised himself as the man of the boat, impregnating her with a fourth deity Enbilulu, god of rivers and canals.

By his wife Ninlil or Sud, Enlil was father of the moon god Nanna/Suen (in Akkadian, Sin) and of Ninurta (also called Ningirsu). Enlil is the father of Nisaba the goddess of grain, of Pabilsag who is sometimes equated with Ninurta, and sometimes of Enbilulu. By Ereshkigal Enlil was father of Namtar.

The parentage of Ninlil 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.

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

The song of the hoe or the Creation of the pickax

Seven debate topics are known from the Sumerian literature, falling in the category of disputations; some examples are: The Debate between sheep and grain; The Debate between bird and fish; the Debate between Winter and Summer; and The Dispute between Silver and Copper, etc.

These topics came some centuries after writing was established in Sumerian Mesopotamia. The debates are philosophical and address humanity’s place in the world. Some of the debates may be from 2100 BC. The song of the hoe or the Creation of the pickax stands alone in its own sub-category as a one-sided debate poem.

The song of the hoe, a Sumerian creation myth written on clay tablets from the last century of the 3rd millennium BC, features Enlil creating mankind with a hoe and the Anunnaki spreading outward from the original garden of the gods. It also mentions the Abzu being built in Eridu.

Modern society may have trouble comprehending the virtue of extolling a tool such as the lowly hoe, for the Sumerians the implement had brought agriculture, irrigation, drainage and the ability to build roads, canals and eventually the first proto-cities.

One of the tablets from the Yale Babylonian Collection was published by J.J. Van Dijk which spoke of three cosmic realms; heaven, earth and kur in a time when darkness covered an arid land, when heaven and earth were joined and the Enlil’s universal laws, the me did not function.

Two of the major traditions of the Sumerian concept of the creation of man are discussed in the myth. The first is the creation of mankind from brick moulds or clay. This has notable similarities to the creation of man from the dust of the earth in the Book of Genesis in the Bible (Genesis 2:6-7). This activity has also been associated with creating clay figurines.

The second Sumerian tradition which compares men to plants, made to “break through the ground”, an allusion to imagery of the fertility or mother goddess and giving an image of man being “planted” in the ground.

Wayne Horowitz notes that five Sumerian myths recount a creation scene with the separation of heaven and earth. He further notes the figurative imagery relaying the relationship between the creation of agricultural implements making a function for mankind and thereby its creation from the “seed of the land”.

The myth was called the “Creation of the Pickax” by Samuel Noah Kramer, a name by which it is referred in older sorurces. In Sumerian literature, the hoe or pickaxe is used not only in creation of the Ekur but also described as the tool of its destruction in lament hymns such as the Lament for Ur, where it is torn apart with a storm and then pickaxes.

The cosmological position of the hoe does not fit into Charles Long’s categorization of cosmogenic myths. Creation has been suggested to have been the responsibility of different gods via different processes. Creation via a cosmological agricultural implement seems to occupy a unique place in the creation myth genre.

The song was meant to be sung aloud with the repetition of the word hoe or “al” a total of forty five times in the text with common use of the two syllables together “al”/”ar”. A cosmological link is suggested between the hoe’s being and its doing; making everything prosper and flourish within a community.

Gary Martin discusses the sociological benefits of singing songs to a hoe, to remind people that they wield the implement of Enlil and of creation, that they can participate in creativity and work well to preserve and improve society. He suggests that “perhaps by praising the simple tool of an extremely important group of laborers, and imbuing it with cosmological significance, those wielders of the hoe are themselves brought into a grand cosmological drama.”

The poem The song of the hoe is composed of the frequent use of the word “al”, which means hoe. The verb-forms and nouns also frequently start with, or contain the syllable “al” (or “ar”), suggesting the writer intended it for humour as a satirical school text or as a tongue-twister. The song starts with a creation myth where Enlil separates heaven and earth in Duranki, the cosmic Nippur or ‘Garden of the Gods’.

“Not only did the lord make the world appear in its correct form, the lord who never changes the destinies which he determines – Enlil – who will make the human seed of the Land come forth from the earth – and not only did he hasten to separate heaven from earth, and hasten to separate earth from heaven, but, in order to make it possible for humans to grow in “where flesh came forth” [the name of a cosmic location], he first raised the axis of the world at Dur-an-ki.

The myth continues with a description of Enlil creating daylight with his hoe; he goes on to praise its construction and creation. Enlil’s mighty hoe is said to be made of gold, with the blade made of lapis lazuli and fastened by cord. It is inlaid with lapis lazuli and adorned with silver and gold.

Enlil makes civilized man, from a brick mould with his hoe – and the Annanuki start to praise him. Nisaba, Ninmena, and Nunamnir start organizing things. Enki praises the hoe; they start reproducing and Enlil makes numerous shining hoes, for everyone to begin work.

Enlil then founds the Ekur with his hoe whilst a “god-man” called Lord Nudimmud builds the Abzu in Eridug. Various gods are then described establishing construction projects in other cities, such as Ninhursag in Kesh, and Inanna and Utu in Zabalam; Nisaba and E-ana also set about building.

The useful construction and agricultural uses of the hoe are summarized, along with its capabilities for use as a weapon and for burying the dead. Allusions are made to the scenes of Enkidu’s ghost, and Urshanabi’s ferry over the Hubur, in the Epic of Gilgamesh:

“dead people are also brought up from the ground by the hoe. With the hoe, the hero honoured by An, the younger brother of Nergal, the warrior Gilgamesh – is as powerful as a hunting net. The sage son of Ninsumun is pre-eminent with oars. With the hoe, he is the great “kindajal” of the watercourses.

Ninmena (Nin Me En), a Sumerian mother goddess who probably became syncretised with Ninhursag, is suggested to create both the priestess and the king. The hymn ends with extensive praisings of the hoe, Enlil, and Nisaba:

“The hoe makes everything prosper; the hoe makes everything flourish. The hoe is good barley; the hoe is an overseer. The hoe is brick moulds; the hoe has made people exist. It is the hoe that is the strength of young manhood. The hoe and the basket are the tools for building cities. It builds the right kind of house; it cultivates the right kind of fields. It is you, hoe, that extend the good agricultural land!


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

Beginning around the second millennium BCE, he was sometimes referred to in writing by the numeric ideogram for “40,” occasionally referred to as his “sacred number.” The planet Mercury, associated with Babylonian Nabu (the son of Marduk) was in Sumerian times, identified with Enki.

His symbols included a goat and a fish, which later combined into a single beast, the goat Capricorn, recognised as the Zodiacal constellation Capricornus. He was accompanied by an attendant Isimud. He was also associated with the planet Mercury in the Sumerian astrological system.

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.

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.

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.

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.


Theophilus Pinches suggested in 1908 that Eridu was the Sumerian paradise calling it “not the earthly city of that name, but a city conceived as lying also “within the Abyss”, containing a tree of life fed by the Euphrates river. Pinches noted “it was represented as a place to which access was forbidden, for ‘no man entered its midst’, as in the case of the garden of Eden after the fall.”

In a myth called the Incantation of Eridu, it is described as having a “glorious fountain of the abyss”, a “house of wisdom”, sacred grove and a kiskanu-tree with the appearance of lapis-lazuli. Fuʼād Safar also found the remains of a canal running through Eridu in archaeological excavations of 1948 to 1949.

William Foxwell Albright noted that “Eridu is employed as a name of the Abzu, just as Kutu (Kutha), the city of Nergal, is a common name of Aralu” highlighting the problems in translation where several places were called the same name.

Alfred Jeremias suggested that Aralu was the same as Ariel in the West Bank and signified both the mountain of the gods and a place of desolation. As with the word Ekur, this has suggested that ideas associated with the netherworld came from a mountainous country outside of Babylonia.

Morris Jastrow discussed the place of the Ekur in Sumerian cosmology, “Another name which specifies the relationship of Aralu to the world is Ekur or ‘mountain house’ of the dead. Ekur is one of the names for the earth, but is applied more particularly to that part of the mountain, also known as E-khar-sag-kurkura (É.ḪAR.SAG.KUR.KUR-‘a’ “house of the mountain of all lands”) where the gods were born. Before the later speculative view was developed, according to which the gods, or most of them, have their seats in heaven, it was on this mountain also that the gods were supposed to dwell. Hence Ekur became also one of the names for temple, as the seat of a god.”


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

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

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’, Ninhursag 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.


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.

The Atrahasis-Epos has it that Enlil requested from Nammu (also Namma, spelled ideographically NAMMA = ENGUR) 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.

Nammu 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.

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).

Adapa was the first man fashioned, later goes and acts as the advisor to the King of Eridu, when in the Sumerian Kinglist, the “Me” of “kingship descends on Eridu”.

Samuel Noah Kramer, believes that behind this myth of Enki’s confinement of Abzu lies an older one of the struggle between Enki and the Dragon Kur (the underworld).


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

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

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

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

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

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

This resulted in the birth of the younger gods, who latter murder Apsu in order to usurp his lordship of the universe. Enraged, Tiamat gives birth to the first dragons, filling their bodies with “venom instead of blood”, and made war upon her treacherous children, only to be slain by Marduk, the god of Storms, who then forms the heavens and earth from her corpse.


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. Some sources identify her with images of a sea serpent or dragon.

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

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

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 pantheon, including the first dragons, whose bodies she filled with “poison instead of blood”. Marduk then forms heavens and the earth from her divided body.

Tiamat 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.


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

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

Ereshkigal is the sister and counterpart of Inanna/Ishtar, the symbol of nature during the non-productive season of the year. Ereshkigal was also a queen that many gods and goddesses looked up to in the underworld.

She is known chiefly through two myths, believed to symbolize the changing of the seasons, but perhaps also intended to illustrate certain doctrines which date back to the Mesopotamia period. According to the doctrine of two kingdoms, the dominions of the two sisters are sharply differentiated, as one is of this world and one of the world of the dead.

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

The other myth is the story of Nergal, the plague god. Once, the gods held a banquet that Ereshkigal as queen of the Netherworld cannot come up to attend. They invite her to send a messenger and she sends Namtar, her vizier. He is treated well by all but disrespected by Nergal.

As a result of this, Nergal is banished to the kingdom controlled by the goddess. Versions vary at this point, but all of them result in him becoming her husband. In later tradition, Nergal is said to have been the victor, taking her as wife and ruling the land himself.

It is theorized that the story of Inanna’s descent is told to illustrate the possibility of an escape from the netherworld, while the Nergal myth is intended to reconcile the existence of two rulers of the netherworld: a goddess and a god.

The addition of Nergal represents the harmonizing tendency to unite Ereshkigal as the queen of the netherworld with the god who, as god of war and of pestilence, brings death to the living and thus becomes the one who presides over the dead.

In some versions of the myths, she rules the underworld by herself, sometimes with a husband subordinate to her named Gugalana. It was said that she had been stolen away by Kur and taken to the underworld, where she was made queen unwillingly. She is the mother of the goddess Nungal. Her son with Enlil was the god Namtar. With Gugalana her son was Ninazu.


Irkalla had no punishment or reward, being seen as a more dreary version of life above, with Erishkigal being seen as both warden and guardian of the dead rather than a sinister ruler like Satan or death gods of other religions.

Irkalla was originally another name for Ereshkigal, who ruled the underworld alone until Nergal was sent to the underworld and seduced Ereshkigal (in Babylonian mythology). Both the deity and the location were called Irkalla, much like how Hades in Greek mythology is both the name of the underworld and the god who ruled it.


In Mesopotamian mythology, Kur (Sumerian) or Ersetu (Akkadian) is the underworld from which there is no return. It was also called earth of no return, Kurnugia in Sumerian and Erset la tari in Akkadian. Kur is ruled by the goddess Ereshkigal and her consort, the death god Nergal.

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

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

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

The underworld Kur is the void space between the primeval sea (Abzu) and the earth (Ma). Which seem a likely pairing for parentage, in a fuzzy set of records. Ma is a Sumerian word meaning “land” that in Sumerian mythology was also used to regard Primordial Land.

There seems to be some loss in records as to the transition, but the same name Ma appears again later, also tied to the Earth, in Ma being referred to as “Mother of the mountain” – in this case, Kur (Mountain) the first dragon god. Ma was a local goddess at Ma and a Phrygian alternative name for Cybele.

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

Kur is almost identical with “Ki-gal”, “Great Land” which is the Underworld (thus the ruler of the Underworld is Ereshkigal “Goddess of The Great Land”. In later Babylonian myth Kur is possibly an Anunnaki, brother of Ereshkigal, Inanna, Enki, and Enlil.

In the Enuma Elish in Akkadian tablets from the first millennium BC, Kur is part of the retinue of Tiamat, and seems to be a snakelike dragon. In one story the slaying of the great serpent Kur results in the flooding of the earth.

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

The Sumerian netherworld was a place for the bodies of the dead to exist after death. One passed through the seven gates on their journey through the portal to the netherworld leaving articles of clothing and adornment at each gate, not necessarily by choice as there was a guardian at each gate to extract a toll for one’s passage and to keep one from going the wrong way.

The living spirits of the dead are only spoken of in connection with this netherworld when someone has been placed here before they are dead or wrongly killed and can be saved. The bodies of the dead decompose in this afterlife, as they would in the world above.


The Khabur River is the largest perennial tributary to the Euphrates in Syrian territory. Although the Khabur originates in Turkey, the karstic springs around Ra’s al-‘Ayn are the river’s main source of water. Several important wadis join the Khabur north of Al-Hasakah, together creating what is known as the Khabur Triangle, or Upper Khabur area.

Tiamat was the “shining” personification of salt water who roared and smote in the chaos of original creation. She and Apsu filled the cosmic abyss with the primeval waters. She is “Ummu-Hubur (Hu-bur) who formed all things”. Hubur is a Sumerian term meaning “river”, “watercourse” or “netherworld”, written ideographically with the cuneiform signs. It is usually the “river of the netherworld”.

A connection to Tiamat has been suggested with parallels to her description as “Ummu-Hubur”. Hubur is also referred to in the Enuma Elish as “mother sea Hubur, who fashions all things”. The river Euphrates has been identified with Hubur as the source of fertility in Sumer. This Babylonian “river of creation” has been linked to the Hebrew “river of paradise”.

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

Delitzch has suggested the similar Sumerian word Habur probably meant “mighty water source”, “source of fertility” or the like. This has suggested the meaning of Hubur to be “river of fertility in the underworld”.

Linda Foubister has suggested the river of creation was linked with the importance of rivers and rain in the Fertile Crescent and suggested it was related to the underworld as rivers resemble snakes.

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

The river plays a certain role in Mesopotamian mythology and Assyro-Babylonian religion, associated with the Sumerian paradise and heroes and deities such as Gilgamesh, Enlil, Enki and Ninlil. The Hubur was suggested to be between the twin peaks of Mount Mashu to the east in front of the gates of the netherworld.

The Sumerian myth of Enlil and Ninlil tells the tale of the leader of the gods, Enlil being banished to the netherworld followed by his wife Ninlil. It mentions the river and its ferryman, SI.LU.IGI, who crosses the river in a boat.

Themes of this story are repeated later in the Epic of Gilgamesh where the ferryman is called Urshanabi. In later Assyrian times, the ferryman became a monster called Hamar-tabal and may have influenced the later Charon of Greek Mythology.

In another story a four-handed, bird demon carries souls across to the city of the dead. Several Akkadian demons are also restrained by the river Hubur. The river is mentioned in the Inscription of Ilum-Ishar, written on bricks at Mari. Nergal, god of the netherworld is referred to as “king Hubur” in a list of Sumerian gods.

The word is also used into the Assyrian empire where it was used as the name of the tenth month in a calendar dated to around 1100 BC. There was also a goddess called Haburitim mentioned in texts from the Third dynasty of Ur.

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

Frans Wiggermann connected Hubur to the Habur, a tributary of the Euphrates far away from the Sumerian heartland, there was also a town called Haburatum east of the Tigris. He suggested that as the concept of the netherworld (as opposed to an underworld) in Sumerian cosmogeny lacked the modern concept of an accompanying divine ruler of a location underneath the earth, the geographical terminology suggested that it was located at the edges of the world and that its features derived in part from real geography before shifting to become a demonic fantasy world.


Ninurta was a Sumerian and the Akkadian god of hunting and war. 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 consort of Ninurta was Ugallu in Nippur and Bau when he was called Ningirsu.

Ninurta often appears holding a bow and arrow, a shrek 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.

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.

He remained popular under the Assyrians: two kings of Assyria bore the name Tukulti-Ninurta. Ashurnasirpal II (883—859 BCE) built him a temple in the then capital city of Kalhu (the Biblical Calah, now Nimrud). In Assyria, Ninurta was worshipped alongside the gods Aššur and Mulissu.

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.

In the late neo-Babylonian and early Persian period, syncretism seems to have fused Ninurta’s character with that of Nergal, another son of Enlil and Ninlil, along with Nanna/Suen and Ninurta. The two gods were often invoked together, and spoken of as if they were one divinity.

Nergal actually seems to be in part a solar deity, sometimes identified with Shamash, but only a representative of a certain phase of the sun. Nergal evolved from a war god to a god of the underworld. In the mythology, this occurred when Enlil and Ninlil gave him the underworld.

Nergal was also the deity who presides over the netherworld, and who stands at the head of the special pantheon assigned to the government of the dead (supposed to be gathered in a large subterranean cave known as Aralu or Irkalla).

In this capacity he has associated with him a goddess Allatu or Ereshkigal, though at one time Allatu may have functioned as the sole mistress of Aralu, ruling in her own person. In some texts the god Ninazu is the son of Nergal and Allatu/Ereshkigal. A play upon his name—separated into three elements as Ne-uru-gal (lord of the great dwelling)—expresses his position at the head of the nether-world pantheon.

A certain confusion exists in cuneiform literature between Ninurta (slayer of Asag and wielder of Sharur, an enchanted mace) and Nergal. Nergal has epithets such as the “raging king,” the “furious one,” and the like. Standard iconography pictured Nergal as a lion, and boundary-stone monuments symbolise him with a mace surmounted by the head of a lion.

Portrayed in hymns and myths as a god of war and pestilence, Nergal seems to represent the sun of noontime and of the summer solstice that brings destruction, high summer being the dead season in the Mesopotamian annual cycle. He has also been called “the king of sunset”.

Amongst the Hurrians and later Hittites Nergal was known as Aplu, a name derived from the Akkadian Apal Enlil, (Apal being the construct state of Aplu) meaning “the son of Enlil”. As God of the plague, he was invoked during the “plague years” during the reign of the Hittite king Suppiluliuma, when this disease spread from Egypt.

In the late Babylonian astral-theological system Nergal is related to the planet Mars. As a fiery god of destruction and war, Nergal doubtless seemed an appropriate choice for the red planet, and he was equated by the Greeks to the war-god Ares (Latin Mars)—hence the current name of the planet. In Assyro-Babylonian ecclesiastical art the great lion-headed colossi serving as guardians to the temples and palaces seem to symbolise Nergal, just as the bull-headed colossi probably typify Ninurta.

Being a deity of the desert, god of fire, which is one of negative aspects of the sun, god of the underworld, and also being a god of one of the religions which rivaled Christianity and Judaism, Nergal was sometimes called a demon and even identified with Satan. According to Collin de Plancy and Johann Weyer, Nergal was depicted as the chief of Hell’s “secret police”, and worked as “an honorary spy in the service of Beelzebub”.


Nergal’s fiery aspect appears in names or epithets such as Lugalgira, Lugal-banda (Nergal as the fighting-cock), Sharrapu (“the burner,” a reference to his manner of dealing with outdated teachings), Erra, Gibil (though this name more properly belongs to Nusku), and Sibitti or Seven.

Erra (sometimes called Irra) is an Akkadian plague god known from an epos of the eighth century BCE. Erra is the god of mayhem and pestilence who is responsible for periods of political confusion.

In the epic that is given the modern title Erra, the writer Kabti-ilani-Marduk, a descendant, he says, of Dabibi, presents himself in a colophon following the text as simply the transcriber of a visionary dream in which Erra himself revealed the text.

The poem opens with an invocation. The god Erra is sleeping fitfully with his consort (not thought to be the mother goddess Mami) but is roused by his advisor Išum and the Seven (Sibitti or Sebetti), who are the sons of heaven and earth—”champions without peer” is the repeated formula—and are each assigned a destructive destiny by Anu. Machinist and Sasson (1983) call them “personified weapons”.

The Sibitti call on Erra to lead the destruction of mankind. Išum tries to mollify Erra’s wakened violence, to no avail. Foreign peoples invade Babylonia, but are struck down by plague. Even Marduk, the patron of Babylon, relinquishes his throne to Erra for a time. Tablets II and III are occupied with a debate between Erra and Išum.

Erra goes to battle in Babylon, Sippar, Uruk, Dūr-Kurigalzu and Dēr. The world is turned upside down: righteous and unrighteous are killed alike. Erra orders Išum to complete the work by defeating Babylon’s enemies. Then the god withdraws to his own seat in Emeslam with the terrifying Seven, and mankind is saved. A propitiatory prayer ends the work.


In ancient Egyptian mythology, the fields of Aaru (Egyptian: iArw meaning “reeds”; altn. Yaaru, Iaru, Aalu), known also as Sekhet-Aaru or the Egyptian reed fields, are the heavenly paradise, where Osiris ruled after he became part of the Egyptian pantheon and displaced Anubis in the Ogdoad tradition. It has been described as the ka (a part of the soul) of the Nile Delta.

A region is arid when it is characterized by a severe lack of available water, to the extent of hindering or preventing the growth and development of plant and animal life. Environments subject to arid climates tend to lack vegetation and are called xeric or desertic.


Ra or Re is the ancient Egyptian sun god. By the Fifth Dynasty in the 25th & 24th centuries BC, he had become a major god in ancient Egyptian religion, identified primarily with the noon 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. He 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 favor 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 center 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.

To the Egyptians, the sun represented light, warmth, and growth. This made the sun deity very important, as the sun was seen as the ruler of all that he created. The sun disk was either seen as the body or eye of Ra. Ra was the father of Shu and Tefnut, whom he created. Shu was the god of the wind, and Tefnut was the goddess of the rain. Sekhmet was the Eye of Ra and was created by the fire in Ra’s eye. She was a violent lioness.

Ra was worshipped as the Creator god among some Ancient Egyptians, specifically followers of his cult at Heliopolis. It was believed that Ra wept, and from his tears came man. These cult-followers believed that Ra was self-created, while followers of Ptah believed that Ra was created by Ptah.

In a passage of the Book of the Dead, Ra cuts himself, and his blood transforms into two intellectual personifications: Hu, or authority, and Sia, or mind. Ra is also accredited with the creation of the seasons, months, plants, and animals.

Hu (ḥw), in ancient Egypt, was the deification of the first word, the word of creation, that Atum was said to have exclaimed upon ejaculating or, alternatively, his self-castration, in his masturbatory act of creating the Ennead.

Hu is mentioned already in the Old Kingdom Pyramid texts as companion of the deceased pharaoh. Together with Sia, he was depicted in the retinue of Thoth, with whom he was also occasionally identified.

In the Middle Kingdom, all gods participated in Hu and Sia, and were associated with Ptah who created the universe by uttering the word of creation. Hu was depicted in human shape, as a falcon, or as a man with a ram’s head.

In the New Kingdom, both Hu and Sia together with Heke, Irer and Sedjem were members of the fourteen creative powers of Amun-Ra. By the time of Ptolemaic Egypt, Hu had merged with Shu (air).


Arura or aroura is a Homeric Greek word with original meaning “arable land”, derived from the verb aroō, “plough”. The word was also used generally for earth, land and father-land and in plural to describe corn-lands and fields.

The term arura was also used to describe a measure of land in ancient Egypt (similar in manner to the acre), a square of 100 Egyptian cubits each way. This measures 2700m² or 2/3 of an acre. The oldest attested form of the word is the Mycenaean Greek a-ro-u-ra, written in Linear B syllabic script, originally meant “plough”.


Aries is one of the constellations of the zodiac. It is located in the northern celestial hemisphere between Pisces to the west and Taurus to the east. The name Aries is Latin for ram, and its symbol is ♈, representing a ram’s horns. It is the first fire sign in the zodiac, the other fire signs being Leo and Sagittarius. Individuals born during these dates, depending on which system of astrology they subscribe to, may be called Arians or Ariens.

Aries is the first astrological sign in the Zodiac, spanning the first 30 degrees of celestial longitude (0°≤ λ <30°). Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this sign between March 21 and April 19 each year. This time duration is exactly the first month of Solar Hejri calendar (Farvardin). Under the sidereal zodiac, the sun currently transits Aries from 15 April to 15 May (approximately). The symbol of the ram is based on the Chrysomallus, the flying ram that provided the Golden Fleece.

According to the Tropical system of astrology, the Sun enters the sign of Aries when it reaches the northern vernal equinox, which occurs around March 21. Because the Earth takes approximately 365.25 days to go around the Sun, the precise time of the equinox is not the same each year, and generally will occur about 6 hours later each year, with a jump of a day (backwards) on leap years. Since 1900 the vernal equinox date ranged from March 20 at 08h (2000) to March 21 at 19h (1903) (all times UTC).

In the description of the Babylonian zodiac given in the clay tablets known as the MUL.APIN, a comprehensive table of the risings and settings of stars, which likely served as an agricultural calendar, the constellation now known as Aries was the final station along the ecliptic.

Modern-day Aries was known as LÚ.ḪUN.GÁ, “The Agrarian Worker” or “The Hired Man”. Although likely compiled in the 12th or 11th century BC, the MUL.APIN reflects a tradition which marks the Pleiades as the vernal equinox, which was the case with some precision at the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age.

The earliest identifiable reference to Aries as a distinct constellation comes from the boundary stones that date from 1350 to 1000 BC. On several boundary stones, a zodiacal ram figure is distinct from the other characters present.

The shift in identification from the constellation as the Agrarian Worker to the Ram likely occurred in later Babylonian tradition because of its growing association with Dumuzi the Shepherd. By the time the MUL.APIN was created—by 1000 BC—modern Aries was identified with both Dumuzi’s ram and a hired laborer. The exact timing of this shift is difficult to determine due to the lack of images of Aries or other ram figures.

In ancient Egyptian astronomy, Aries was associated with the god Amon-Ra, who was depicted as a man with a ram’s head and represented fertility and creativity. Because it was the location of the vernal equinox, it was called the “Indicator of the Reborn Sun”.

During the times of the year when Aries was prominent, priests would process statues of Amon-Ra to temples, a practice that was modified by Persian astronomers centuries later. Aries acquired the title of “Lord of the Head” in Egypt, referring to its symbolic and mythological importance.

The First Point of Aries, the location of the vernal equinox, is named for the constellation. This is because the Sun crossed the celestial equator from south to north in Aries more than two millennia ago. Hipparchus defined it in 130 BC. as a point south of Gamma Arietis.

Because of the precession of the equinoxes, the First Point of Aries has since moved into Pisces and will move into Aquarius by around 2600 AD. The Sun now appears in Aries from late April through mid May, though the constellation is still associated with the beginning of spring.



Aryan = Ancient Racial Term

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