Cradle of Civilization

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Archive for November, 2015

Our civilization is like an enormous phallos – a symbol of the energy and potential of God

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 18, 2015

Our civilization is like an enormous phallos – a symbol of the energy and potential of God. Portasar (“Mountain Navel”) or Göbekli Tepe (“Potbelly Hill”) is an archaeological site at the top of a mountain ridge in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey, approximately 12 km (7 mi) northeast of the city of Şanlıurfa.

The tell includes two phases of ritual use dating back to the 10th-8th millennium BCE. It is the first megalithic temple in this world. It is in the heartland of Western Armenia. From there our civilization spread. It is said to be the place of the first religion.

In the ancient world of the Mediterranean the omphalo was a powerful religious symbol. The omphalos was considered an object of power. Its symbolic references included the uterus, the phallus, and a cup of red wine representing royal blood lines.

The purpose of the structures is not yet clear. Excavator Klaus Schmidt believed that they are early neolithic sanctuaries. 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 Annuna 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.

It is also apparent that the animal and other images give no indication of organized violence, i.e. there are no depictions of hunting raids or wounded animals, and the pillar carvings mainly ignore game on which the society mainly subsisted, like deer, in favor of formidable creatures like lions, snakes, spiders, and scorpions.

Ekur 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. It 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.”

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. 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”).

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”.

The Ekur was seen as a place of judgement and the place from which Enlil’s divine laws are issued. The ethics and moral values of the site are extolled in myths, which Samuel Noah Kramer suggested would have made it the most ethically-oriented in the entire ancient Near East.

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

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

In the 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.

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.

In another even older tradition, Nammu, the goddess of the primeval creative matter and the mother-goddess portrayed as having “given birth to the great gods,” was the mother of Enki, and as the watery creative force, was said to preexist Ea-Enki.

Benito states “With Enki it is an interesting change of gender symbolism, the fertilising agent is also water, Sumerian “a” or “Ab” which also means “semen”. In one evocative passage in a Sumerian hymn, Enki stands at the empty riverbeds and fills them with his ‘water'”. This may be a reference to Enki’s hieros gamos or sacred marriage with Ki/Ninhursag (the Earth).

The lingam (also linga, ling, Shiva linga, Shiv ling, Sanskrit: लिङ्गं, liṅgaṃ, meaning “mark”, “sign”, or “inference”) is a representation of the Hindu deity Shiva used for worship in temples. In traditional Indian society, the linga is rather seen as a symbol of the energy and potential of God, Shiva himself.

The lingam is often represented alongside the yoni (Sanskrit word, literally “origin” or “source” or “womb”), a symbol of the goddess or of Shakti, female creative energy. The union of lingam and yoni represents the “indivisible two-in-oneness of male and female, the passive space and active time from which all life originates”.

The Sanskrit term, liṅgaṃ, has a number of definitions ranging from symbol to phallus, and more specifically, the “genital organ of Śiva worshipped in the form of a Phallus”.

In Shaivite Hindu temples, the lingam is a smooth cylindrical mass symbolising Shiva and is worshipped as a symbol of generative power. It is found at the centre of the temple often resting in the middle of a rimmed, disc-shaped yoni, a representation of Shakti.

An egg shaped oval Lingam is also the closest representation of the formless aspect of the Divine. The shape of a Lingam maximizes the length of time for which it can hold energy in harmony and balance.

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Beer in the Ancient World

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 15, 2015

Beer

Beer in the Ancient World

Ancient Grain Goddesses of the Eastern Mediterranean

Ninkasi is the ancient Sumerian tutelary goddess of beer. Her father was the King of Uruk, and her mother was the high priestess of the temple of Ishtar, or the goddess of procreation. She is also one of the eight children created in order to heal one of the eight wounds that Enki receives.

Furthermore, she is the goddess of alcohol. She was also borne of “sparkling fresh water.” She is the goddess made to “satisfy the desire” and “sate the heart.” She would prepare the beverage daily.

The Sumerian written language and the associated clay tablets are among the earliest human writings. Scholarly works from the early 1800s onward have developed some facility translating the various Sumerian documents. Among these is a poem with the English title, “A hymn to Ninkasi”.

The poem is, in effect, a recipe for brewing beer, which was also known as kash. It can be argued that the art of brewing is broken down and explained in order to be passed down from generation to generation.The repetitive nature suggests that it was used as a tool in order to pass down information as a way of learning.

Furthermore, the Hymn to Ninkasi is the oldest record of a direct correlation between the importance of brewing, and the responsibility that women had with regards to supplying both bread and beer to the household.

Ninkasi is female, and the fact that a female deity was invoked in prayer with regards to the production of brewed beverages illustrated the relationship between brewing and women as a domestic right and responsibility.

The poem from Circa 1800 BC explains that grain was converted into bappir bread before fermentation, and grapes as well as honey were added to the mix. The resulting gruel was drunk unfiltered, hence the need for straws.

A translation from the University of Oxford describes combining bread, a source for yeast, with malted and soaked grains and keeping the liquid in a fermentation vessel until finally filtering it into a collecting vessel.

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The Golden Age – about battling the forces of darknes and the forces that keeps you from developing

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 15, 2015

There are plenty of similarities between Sumerian (Mesopotamian) mythology/religion comming out of the PIE-culture existing in the Armenian Highland and the Jewish/Christian mythology/religion. There should be no doubt that Judaism and Christianity have the same root as the other mythologies/religions, as f ex the Greek mythology, Buddhism or Hinduism. In this way Mesopotamian mythology/religion have kept it going until today.

All religions/mythology started with one and then separated by people making up their own stories and made different local varieties. Just like our civilization, which started at Portasar (“Moutain Navel”) in the Armenian Highland 12000 years ago, it started in the Armenian Higland, but spread from there.

Portasar is the first megalithic temple in this world. It is in the heartland of Western Armenia. From there our civilization spread. It is said to be the place of the first religion. In the ancient world of the Mediterranean the omphalo was a powerful religious symbol. The omphalos was considered an object of power. Its symbolic references included the uterus, the phallus, and a cup of red wine representing royal blood lines.

The purpose of the structures is not yet clear. Excavator Klaus Schmidt believed that they are early neolithic sanctuaries. 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 Annuna 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.

It is also apparent that the animal and other images give no indication of organized violence, i.e. there are no depictions of hunting raids or wounded animals, and the pillar carvings mainly ignore game on which the society mainly subsisted, like deer, in favor of formidable creatures like lions, snakes, spiders, and scorpions.

Ekur 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. It 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.”

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. 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”).

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”.

The Ekur was seen as a place of judgement and the place from which Enlil’s divine laws are issued. The ethics and moral values of the site are extolled in myths, which Samuel Noah Kramer suggested would have made it the most ethically-oriented in the entire ancient Near East.

Enlil (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.

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. In later Akkadian, Enlil is the son of Anshar and Kishar. By his wife Ninlil or Sud, Enlil was father of the moon god Nanna/Suen (in Akkadian, Sin) and of Ninurta (also called Ningirsu) and Nergal.

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

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.

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 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.

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

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”.

In Nippur, Ninurta, a Sumerian and the Akkadian god of hunting and war, 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. Hursag (HUR.SAG) is a Sumerian term variously translated as meaning “mountain”, “hill”, “foothills” or “piedmont”. Thorkild Jacobsen extrapolated the translation in his later career to mean literally, “head of the valleys”.

Ninurta’s mother Ninlil visits the location after this great victory. In return for her love and loyalty, Ninurta gives Ninlil the hursag as a gift. Her name is consequentially changed from Ninlil to Ninhursag or the “mistress of the Hursag”. 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.

After her death, Ninlil 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 name is perhaps pronounced and sometimes rendered in translations as “Ellil” in later Akkadian, Hittite, and Canaanite literature. 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.

The myth of Enlil and Ninlil discusses when Enlil was a young god, he was banished from Ekur in Nippur, home of the gods, to Kur, the underworld for seducing a goddess named Ninlil. Ninlil followed him to the underworld where she bore his first child, the moon god Sin (Sumerian Nanna/Suen). After fathering three more underworld-deities (substitutes for Sin), Enlil was allowed to return to the Ekur.  The fall of Ekur is described in the Lament for Ur.

The Anunnaki are a group of deities in ancient Mesopotamian cultures. The name is variously written “da-nuna”, “da-nuna-ke4-ne”, or “da-nun-na”, meaning “princely offspring” or “offspring of Anu”. They take their name from the old sky god An (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.

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.

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). 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”.

The a-rune ᚫ was named after the æsir. 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. The name aleph 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 which depicts an ox’s head.

In Greek mythology, Cronus or Kronos was the leader and youngest of the first generation of Titans, the divine descendants of Uranus, the sky, and Gaia, the earth. He overthrew his father and ruled during the mythological Golden Age, until he was overthrown by his own son Zeus and imprisoned in Tartarus.

Cronus was usually depicted with a harpe, scythe or a sickle, which was the instrument he used to castrate and depose Uranus, his father. 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.

In Norse mythology, Njörðr is a god among the Vanir. Njörðr, father of the deities Freyr and Freyja by his unnamed Vanir sister, was in an ill-fated marriage with the goddess Skaði, lives in Nóatún and is associated with sea, seafaring, wind, fishing, wealth, and crop fertility.

All sources describe the deities Njörðr, Freyr and Freyja as members of the Vanir. Numerous theories have been proposed for the etymology of Vanir. Scholar R. I. Page says that, while there are no shortages of etymologies for the word, it is tempting to link the word with “Old Norse vinr, “friend”, and Latin Venus, “goddess of physical love.”

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 *hewsṓs 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 *hews-tro-. The name *hewsṓs 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, *hewsṓs, 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 *abhor- “very” and *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.

Golden Age refers to a mythological period of primeval human existence perceived as an ideal state when human beings were pure and free from suffering. According to legend, Astraea will one day come back to Earth, bringing with her the return of the utopian Golden Age of which she was the ambassador. She is Virgo, then we need Boötes (Enlil) and Leo (the sickle) to make the Spring Triangle.

Indra and the goddess of dawn

Indra, also known as Śakra in the Vedas, is the leader of the Devas and the lord of Svargaloka or heaven in Hinduism. He is the deva of rain and thunderstorms. He wields a lightning thunderbolt known as vajra and rides on a white elephant known as Airavata. Indra is the most important deity worshiped by the Rigvedic tribes and is the son of Dyaus and the goddess Savasi. His home is situated on Mount Meru in the heaven.

Indra is, with Varuna and Mitra, one of the Ādityas, the chief gods of the Rigveda (besides Agni and others such as the Ashvins). He is the god of war, smashing the stone fortresses of the Dasyu, but he is also is invoked by combatants on both sides in the Battle of the Ten Kings.

He delights in drinking soma and his central feat is his heroic defeat of Vṛtrá, a serpent or dragon, the personification of drought and adversary of Indra, liberating the rivers, or alternatively, his smashing of the Vala cave, a stone enclosure where the Panis had imprisoned the cows that are habitually identified with Ushas, the dawn(s).

Vala (valá-), meaning “enclosure” in Vedic Sanskrit, is a demon of the Rigveda and the Atharvaveda, the brother of Vrtra. Historically, it has the same origin as the Vrtra myth, being derived from the same root, and from the same root also as Varuna, *val-/var- (PIE *wel-) “to cover, to enclose” (perhaps cognate to veil).

The Panis are a class of demons in the Rigveda, from paṇi-, a term for “bargainer, miser,” especially applied to one who is sparing of sacrificial oblations. The Panis appear in RV 10.108 as watchers over stolen cows. They are located behind the stream Rasā, and sought out by Sarama. They boast to Sarama that they are well-armed and will not yield the cows without battle, and that the cows are furthermore well hidden in a rocky chamber. Sarama threatens them with the might of Indra and the Angirasas who will recover the cows.

The “rocky treasure-chest” of the Panis is identical to Vala, the stone split by Indra to liberate Dawn. The myth is a variant of that of Indra slaying Vrtra, imagined as a stone serpent, liberating the blocked rivers. The word pani is also applied in the Rig Veda to human beings, even respected members of the community, who are unwilling to share their wealth. In one hymn Indra himself is addressed as “pani”.

Shiva as we know him today shares many features with the Vedic god Rudra, and both Shiva and Rudra are viewed as the same personality in Hindu scriptures. The two names are used synonymously. Rudra, the god of the roaring storm, is usually portrayed in accordance with the element he represents as a fierce, destructive deity. Shiva’s rise to a major position in the pantheon was facilitated by his identification with a host of Vedic deities, including Purusha, Rudra, Agni, Indra, Prajāpati, Vāyu, and others.

The etymology of the theonym Rudra is somewhat uncertain. It is usually derived from the root rud- which means “to cry, howl.” According to this etymology, the name Rudra has been translated as “the roarer”. An alternative etymology suggested by Prof. Pischel derives Rudra as “the red one, the brilliant one” from a lost root rud-, “to be red” or “to be ruddy” or respectively, according to Grassman, “to shine”.

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. 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”.

Nergal has epithets such as the “raging king,” the “furious one,” and the like. 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.

The Golden Age

It is all about the new golden age, the age, According to legend, Astraea or Astrea (Ancient Greek: Ἀστραῖα; “star-maiden”) will bring with her back to Earth. The term Golden Age comes from Greek mythology and legend and refers to the first in a sequence of four or five (or more) Ages of Man, in which the Golden Age is first, followed in sequence, by the Silver, Bronze, Heroic, and then the present (Iron), which is a period of decline, sometimes followed by the Leaden Age.

By extension “Golden Age” denotes a period of primordial peace, harmony, stability, and prosperity. During this age peace and harmony prevailed, did not have to work to feed themselves, for the earth provided food in abundance. They lived to a very old age with a youthful appearance, eventually dying peacefully, with spirit living on as “guardians”.

Plato in Cratylus (397 e) recounts the golden race of humans who came first. He clarifies that Hesiod did not mean literally made of gold, but good and noble.

There are analogous concepts in the religious and philosophical traditions of the South Asian subcontinent. For example, the Vedic or ancient Hindu culture saw history as cyclical, composed of yugas with alternating Dark and Golden Ages.

The Kali yuga (Iron Age), Dwapara yuga (Bronze Age), Treta yuga (Silver Age) and Satya yuga (Golden Age) correspond to the four Greek ages. Similar beliefs occur in the ancient Middle East and throughout the ancient world, as well.

In classical Greek mythology the Golden Age was presided over by the leading Titan Cronus, the leader and youngest of the first generation of Titans, the divine descendants of Uranus, the sky, and Gaia, the earth. He overthrew his father and ruled during the mythological Golden Age, until he was overthrown by his own son Zeus and imprisoned in Tartarus.

In some version of the myth Astraea also ruled. She lived with men until the end of the Silver Age, but in the Bronze Age, when men became violent and greedy, fled to the stars, where she appears as the constellation Virgo, holding the scales of Justice, or Libra.

Cronus/ Saturn

Cronus was usually depicted with a harpe, scythe or a sickle, which was the instrument he used to castrate and depose Uranus, his father.

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, the first god of the Capitol, known since the most ancient times as Saturnius Mons, and was seen as a god of generation, dissolution, plenty, wealth, agriculture, periodic renewal and liberation. In later developments he came to be also a god of time. His reign was depicted as a Golden Age of plenty and peace.

The Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum housed the state treasury. In December, he was celebrated at what is perhaps the most famous of the Roman festivals, the Saturnalia, a time of feasting, role reversals, free speech, gift-giving and revelry. Saturn the planet and Saturday are both named after the god.

Enlil

Enlil (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 (Skypivot and Earthpivot, the Celestial poles). 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.

Enlil was also known as the god of weather. 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, Ea, and he was made immortal by Enlil after Enlil’s initial fury had subsided.

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.

At a very early period prior to 3000 BC, Nippur had become the centre of a political district of considerable extent. Inscriptions found at Nippur, where extensive excavations were carried on during 1888–1900 by John P. Peters and John Henry Haynes, under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania, show that Enlil was the head of an extensive pantheon. Among the titles accorded to him are “king of lands”, “king of heaven and earth”, and “father of the gods”.

By his wife Ninlil (“lady of the open field” or “Lady of the Wind”) or Sud, Enlil was father of the moon god Nanna/Suen (in Akkadian, Sin), Ninurta (also called Ningirsu), and Nergal. Enlil is the father of Nisaba the goddess of grain, of Pabilsag who is sometimes equated with Ninurta, and sometimes of Enbilulu.

The myth of Enlil and Ninlil discusses when Enlil was a young god, he was banished from Ekur in Nippur, home of the gods, to Kur, the underworld for seducing a goddess named Ninlil.

Ninlil followed him to the underworld where she bore his first child, the moon god Sin (Sumerian Nanna/Suen). After fathering three more underworld-deities (substitutes for Sin), Enlil was allowed to return to the Ekur.

Ninlil

Ninlil is variously described as 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.

Haya is also characterised, beyond being the spouse of Nidaba/Nissaba, as an “agrig”-official of the god Enlil. He is designated as “the Nissaba of wealth”, as opposed to his wife, who is the “Nissaba of Wisdom”.

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.

Ekur (omphalo)

Ekur 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. 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.

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 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”).

Hursag

Hursag (transcribed cuneiform: ḫur.saḡ(HUR.SAG)) is a Sumerian term variously translated as meaning “mountain”, “hill”, “foothills” or “piedmont”. Thorkild Jacobsen extrapolated the translation in his later career to mean literally, “head of the valleys”.

Mountains play a certain role in Mesopotamian mythology and Assyro-Babylonian religion, associated with deities such as Anu, Enlil, Enki and Ninhursag. Some scholars also identify hursag with an undefined mountain range or strip of raised land outside the plain of Mesopotamia.

In a myth variously entitled by Samuel Noah Kramer as “The Deeds and Exploits of Ninurta” and later Ninurta Myth Lugal-e by Thorkild Jacobsen, Hursag is described as a mound of stones constructed by Ninurta after his defeat of a demon called Asag. Ninurta’s mother Ninlil visits the location after this great victory. In return for her love and loyalty, Ninurta gives Ninlil the hursag as a gift. Her name is consequentially changed from Ninlil to Ninhursag or the “mistress of the Hursag”.

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

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.

The hursag is described here in a clear cultural myth as a high wall, levee, dam or floodbank, used to restrain the excess mountain waters and floods caused by the melting snow and spring rain. The hursag is constructed with Ninurta’s skills in irrigation engineering and employed to improve the agriculture of the surrounding lands, farms and gardens where the water had previously been wasted.

The Anunnaki

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”, “da-nuna-ke-ne”, or “-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, who in turn were the children of Lahamu and Lahmu (“the muddy ones”).

Lahamu and Lahmu

Lahamu and Lahmu, 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, were the children of Tiamat (Goddess of the Ocean) and Abzu (God of Fresh Water).

A lamassu (Cuneiform: AN.KAL; Sumerian: lamma; Akkadian: lamassu; sometimes called a lamassus) is an Assyrian protective deity, often depicted as having a human’s head, a body of an ox or a lion, and bird’s wings. In some writings, it is portrayed to represent a female deity.

A less frequently used name is shedu (Cuneiform: AN.KAL×BAD; Sumerian: alad; Akkadian, šēdu) which refers to the male counterpart of a lamassu. The Lammasu or Lumasi represent the zodiacs, parent-stars or constellations.

In art, lamassu were depicted as hybrids, either winged bulls or lions with the head of a human male. The motif of a winged animal with a human head is common to the Near East, first recorded in Ebla around 3000 BCE. The first distinct lamassu motif appeared in Assyria during the reign of Tiglath-Pileser as a symbol of power.

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, a Sumerian and the Akkadian god of hunting and war. 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.

Ninurta/ Nergal

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.

Ninurta often appears holding a bow and arrow, a sickle sword, or a mace named Sharur: Sharur is capable of speech in the Sumerian legend “Deeds and Exploits of Ninurta” and can take the form of a winged lion and may represent an archetype for the later Shedu.

In another legend, Ninurta battles a birdlike monster called Imdugud (Akkadian: Anzû); a Babylonian version relates how the monster Anzû steals the Tablets of Destiny from Enlil. The Tablets of Destiny were believed to contain the details of fate and the future.

Ninurta slays each of the monsters later known as the “Slain Heroes” 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, also spelled Qingu, meaning “unskilled laborer,” to his father, Enki.

Kingu

Kingu was a god in Babylonian mythology, and — after the murder of his father Abzu — the consort of the goddess Tiamat, his mother, who wanted to establish him as ruler and leader of all gods before she was killed by Marduk.

Tiamat gave Kingu the 3 Tablets of Destiny, which he wore as a breastplate and which gave him great power. She placed him as the general of her army. However, like Tiamat, Kingu was eventually killed by Marduk.

Marduk mixed Kingu’s blood with earth and used the clay to mold the first human beings, while Tiamat’s body created the earth and the skies. Kingu then went to live in the underworld kingdom of Ereshkigal, along with the other deities who had sided with Tiamat.

Aries

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 MULLÚ.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.

Aries (meaning “ram”) 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).

Njörðr

In Norse mythology, Njörðr is a god among the Vanir. Njörðr, father of the deities Freyr and Freyja by his unnamed Vanir sister, was in an ill-fated marriage with the goddess Skaði, lives in Nóatún and is associated with sea, seafaring, wind, fishing, wealth, and crop fertility.

In Germanic paganism, Nerthus is a goddess associated with fertility. Nerthus is attested by Tacitus, the first century AD Roman historian, in his ethnographic work Germania.

In Germania, Tacitus records that the remote Suebi tribes were united by their veneration of the goddess at his time of writing and maintained a sacred grove on an (unspecified) island and that a holy cart rests there draped with cloth, which only a priest may touch. The priests feel her presence by the cart, and, with deep reverence, attend her cart, which is drawn by heifers.

Everywhere the goddess then deigns to visit, she is met with celebration, hospitality, and peace. All iron objects are locked away, and no one will leave for war. When the goddess has had her fill she is returned to her temple by the priests. Tacitus adds that the goddess, the cart, and the cloth are then washed by slaves in a secluded lake. The slaves are then drowned.

The name Nerthus is generally held to be a Latinized form of Proto-Germanic *Nerþuz, a direct precursor to the Old Norse deity name Njörðr. While scholars have noted numerous parallels between the descriptions of the two figures, Njörðr is attested as a male deity.

Various scholarly theories exist regarding the goddess and her potential later traces amongst the Germanic peoples, including that the figure may be identical to the unnamed sister-wife of Njörðr mentioned in two Old Norse sources.

While developments in historical linguistics ultimately allowed for the identification of Nerthus with Njörðr, various other readings of the name were in currency prior to the acceptance of this identification, most commonly the form Hertha. This form was proposed as an attempt to mirror the Old Norse goddess name Jörð ‘earth’.

Vanir

Numerous theories have been proposed for the etymology of Vanir. Scholar R. I. Page says that, while there are no shortages of etymologies for the word, it is tempting to link the word with “Old Norse vinr, ‘friend’, and Latin Venus, ‘goddess of physical love.'”

Hausos

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

The name *hewsṓs 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, *hewsṓs, 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.

Slayer of the blocker

Aspects of Indra as a deity are cognate to other Indo-European gods; they are either thunder gods such as Thor, Perun, and Zeus, or gods of intoxicating drinks such as Dionysus. The name of Indra (Indara) is also mentioned among the gods of the Mitanni, a Hurrian-speaking people who ruled northern Syria from ca.1500BC-1300BC.

Indra is the leader of the Devas and the lord of Svargaloka or heaven in Hinduism. He is the deva of rain and thunderstorms. He wields a lightning thunderbolt known as vajra and rides on a white elephant known as Airavata.

Vajra is a Sanskrit word meaning both thunderbolt and diamond. Additionally, it is a weapon which is used as a ritual object to symbolize both the properties of a diamond (indestructibility) and a thunderbolt (irresistible force).

Indra is the most important deity worshiped by the Rigvedic tribes and is the son of Dyaus and the goddess Savasi. His home is situated on Mount Meru in the heaven. He is celebrated as a demiurge who pushes up the sky, releases Ushas (dawn) from the Vala cave, and slays Vṛtra; both latter actions are central to the Soma sacrifice.

Vala (valá-), meaning “enclosure” in Vedic Sanskrit, is a demon of the Rigveda and the Atharvaveda, the brother of Vrtra. In the early Vedic religion, Vritra (“the enveloper”) is a serpent or dragon, the personification of drought and adversary of Indra.

In Hinduism, Vritra is identified as an Asura. Vritra was also known in the Vedas as Ahi (“snake”). He appears as a dragon blocking the course of the rivers and is heroically slain by Indra.

Historically, it has the same origin as the Vrtra myth, being derived from the same root, and from the same root also as Varuna, *val-/var- (PIE *wel-) “to cover, to enclose” (perhaps cognate to veil).

Parallel to Vrtra “the blocker”, a stone serpent slain by Indra to liberate the rivers, Vala is a stone cave, split by Indra (intoxicated and strengthened by Soma, identified with Brhaspati in 4.50 and 10.68 or Trita in 1.52, aided by the Angirasas in 2.11), to liberate the cows and Ushas, hidden there by the Panis.

Indra descends from an Indo-Iranian god known as *vrtra-g’han- (virtually PIE *wltro-gwhen-) “slayer of the blocker”. The word vrtra-/verethra- means “obstacle”. Thus, vrtrahan-/verethragna- is the “smiter of resistance”.

Janda (1998:221) suggests that the Proto-Indo-European (or Graeco-Aryan) predecessor of Indra had the epithet *trigw-welumos or rather *trigw-t-welumos (“smasher of the enclosure”) of Vritra, Vala) and diye-snūtyos “impeller of streams” (the liberated rivers, corresponding to Vedic apam ajas “agitator of the waters”), which resulted in the Greek gods Triptolemus and Dionysus.

Triptolemos is analysed by Janda (1998) as a Greek continuation of a variant of the epithet, *trigw-t-welumos, a “terpsimbrotos” compound “cracker of the enclosure”, Greek (w)elumos referring to the casings of grain in Greek being descended from the same root *wel-.

On such grounds, a rock or mountain *welos or *welumos split by a heroic deity, liberating Dawn or the Sun is reconstructed for Proto-Indo-European mythology (the “Sun in the rock” myth, sometime also speculated to be connected with the making of fire from flintstone).

Already in 2.24, the myth is given a mystical interpretation, with warlike Indra replaced by Brahmanaspati, the lord of prayer, who split Vala with prayer (brahman) rather than with the thunderbolt.

Aurvandil

The names Aurvandil or Earendel (Old Norse: Aurvandil; Old English: Ēarendel; Lombardic: Auriwandalo; Old High German: Orentil, Erentil; Medieval Latin: Horuuendillus) are cognate Germanic personal names, continuing a Proto-Germanic reconstructed compound *auzi-wandilaz “luminous wanderer”, in origin probably the name of a star or planet, potentially the morning star (Eosphoros).

The name is a compound whose first part goes back to *auzi- ‘dawn’, a combining form related to *austaz ‘east’, cognate with Ancient Greek ēṓs ‘dawn’, Sanskrit uṣā́s, Latin aurōra, ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *h₂éuso-s ‘dawn’. The second part comes from *wanđilaz, a derivative of *wanđaz (cf. Old Norse vandr ‘difficult’, Old Saxon wand ‘fluctuating, variable’, English wander), from *wenđanan which gave in English wend.

In the Old English poem Crist I, the title given to a triad of Old English religious poems in the Exeter Book comprising a total of 1664 lines and dealing with Christ’s Advent, Ascension and Last Judgment, the name is taken to refer to John the Baptist, addressed as the morning star heralding the coming of Christ, the “sun of righteousness”.

Compare the Blickling Homilies (p. 163, I. 3) which state “And now the birth of Christ (was) at his appearing, and the new eorendel (morning-star) was John the Baptist. And now the gleam of the true Sun, God himself, shall come.”

Lucifer

The Latin word lucifer, corresponding to Greek was used as a name for the morning star and thus appeared in the Vulgate translation of the Hebrew word helel, meaning Venus as the brilliant, bright or shining one.

As a translation of the same Hebrew word the King James Version gave “Lucifer”, a name often understood as a reference to Satan. Modern translations of the same passage render the Hebrew word instead as “morning star”, “daystar”, “shining one” or “shining star”.

Astraea

Astraea, the celestial virgin, was the virgin goddess of Innocence and purity and is always associated with the Greek goddess of justice, Dike (daughter of Zeus and Themis and the personification of just judgement).

Astraea was the last of the immortals to live with humans during the Golden Age, one of the old Greek religion’s five deteriorating Ages of Man. According to Ovid, Astraea abandoned the earth during the Iron Age. Fleeing from the new wickedness of humanity, she ascended to heaven to become the constellation Virgo.

The nearby constellation Libra reflected her symbolic association with Dike, who in Latin culture as Justitia is said to preside over the constellation. In the Tarot, the 8th card, Justice, with a figure of Justitia, can thus be considered related to the figure of Astraea on historical iconographic grounds.

According to legend, Astraea will one day come back to Earth, bringing with her the return of the utopian Golden Age of which she was the ambassador.

Astraeus/ Eos

Astraea, in ancient Greek religion, was a daughter of Astraeus, an astrological deity and the Titan-god of the dusk, and Eos (Ancient Greek: Eos, “dawn”), a Titaness and the goddess of the dawn, who rose each morning from her home at the edge of the Oceanus.

Eos had a brother and a sister, Helios, god of the sun, and Selene, goddess of the moon. In classical times, Selene was often identified with Artemis, much as her brother, Helios, was identified with Apollo.

Both Selene and Artemis were also associated with Hecate, and all three were regarded as lunar goddesses, although only Selene was regarded as the personification of the moon itself. Her Roman equivalent is Luna.

In Hesiod’s Theogony and in the Bibliotheca, Astraeus is a second-generation Titan, descended from Crius, a son of Uranus and Gaia, and Eurybia, daughter of Earth (Gaia) and Sea (Pontus). He is also sometimes associated with Aeolus, the Keeper of the Winds, since winds often swell up around dusk.

Although “krios” was also the ancient Greek word for “ram”, the Titan’s chthonic position in the Underworld means no classical association with Aries, the “Ram” of the zodiac, is ordinarily made.

Aries is the first visible constellation in the sky at the spring season, marking the start of the new year in the ancient Greek calendar. This fact may have implied that Crius was the Titan god of constellations, measuring the duration of the year while his brother Hyperion measures the days and months.

Appropriately, as god of the dusk, Astraeus married Eos, goddess of the dawn. Together as nightfall and daybreak they produced many children who are associated with what occurs in the sky during twilight.

They had many sons, the four Anemoi (“Winds”): Boreas, Notus, Eurus, and Zephyrus, and the five Astra Planeta (“Wandering Stars”, i.e. planets): Phainon (Saturn), Phaethon (Jupiter), Pyroeis (Mars), Eosphoros/ Hesperos (Venus), and Stilbon (Mercury).

The joining of Astraios with Eos, the Dawn, brought forth Eosphoros, a name meaning “Light-Bringer”, the Morning Star, the planet Venus in its morning appearance, the other Stars and the Winds.

The Spring Triangle

The Spring Triangle is an astronomical asterism involving an imaginary triangle drawn upon the celestial sphere, with its defining vertices at Arcturus, Spica, and Regulus. This triangle connects the constellations of Boötes, Virgo, and Leo. It is visible rising in the south eastern sky of the northern hemisphere between March and May.

George Lovi of Sky & Telescope magazine had a slightly different Spring triangle, including the tail of Leo, Denebola, instead of Regulus. Denebola is dimmer, but the triangle is more nearly equilateral.

These stars forms part of a larger Spring asterism called the Great Diamond together with Cor Caroli. The Great Diamond is an asterism. Astronomy popularizer Hans A. Rey called it the Virgin’s Diamond. It is composed of the stars Cor Caroli (in Canes Venatici), Denebola (the tail of Leo), Spica (the wheat of Virgo), and Arcturus (in Boötes). It is somewhat larger than the Big Dipper.

Boötes-Arcturus

Arcturus (α Boo, α Boötis, Alpha Boötis) of the constellation Boötes is the brightest star in the northern celestial hemisphere. The name of the star derives from Ancient Greek Arktouros and means “Guardian of the Bear”, ultimately from ἄρκτος (arktos), “bear” + ouros, “watcher, guardian”.

It has been known by this name since at least the time of Hesiod. This is a reference to its being the brightest star in the constellation Boötes (of which it forms the left foot), which is next to the Greater and Lesser Bears, Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.

As one of the brightest stars in the sky, Arcturus has been significant to observers since antiquity. In Mesopotamia, it was linked to the god Enlil, and also known as Shudun, “yoke”, or SHU-PA of unknown derivation in the Three Stars Each Babylonian star catalogues and later MUL.APIN around 1100 BC.

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. The name comes from the Greek Βοώτης, Boōtēs, meaning herdsman or plowman (literally, ox-driver; from βοῦς 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.

Canes Venatici, bordered by Ursa Major to the north and west, Coma Berenices to the south, and Boötes to the east, is a small northern constellation that was created by Johannes Hevelius in the 17th century. Its name is Latin for “hunting dogs”, and the constellation is often depicted in illustrations as representing the dogs of Boötes the Herdsman, a neighboring constellation.

In medieval times, the identification of these stars with the dogs of Boötes arose through a mistranslation. Some of Boötes’s stars were traditionally described as representing the club of Boötes.

When the Greek astronomer Ptolemy’s Almagest was translated from Greek to Arabic, the translator Johannitius (following Alberuni) did not know the Greek word and rendered it as the nearest-looking Arabic word, writing in ordinary unvowelled Arabic text “al-`aşā dhāt al-kullāb”, which means “the spearshaft having a hook”.

When the Arabic text was translated into Latin, the translator Gerard of Cremona (probably in Spain) mistook the Arabic word for kilāb (the plural of kalb), meaning “dogs”, writing hastile habens canes (“spearshaft having dogs”). In 1533, the German astronomer Peter Apian depicted Boötes as having two dogs with him.

These spurious dogs floated about the astronomical literature until Hevelius decided to specify their presence in the sky by making them a separate constellation in 1687. Hevelius chose the name Asterion (“little star”) for the northern dog and Chara (“joy”) for the southern dog, as Canes Venatici, the Hunting Dogs, in his star atlas. In his star catalogue, the Czech astronomer Bečvář assigned Asterion to β CVn and Chara to α CVn.

Virgo-Spica

Virgo is one of the constellations of the zodiac. Its name is Latin for virgin. Lying between Leo to the west and Libra to the east, it is the second largest constellation in the sky (after Hydra). It can be easily found through its brightest star, Spica.

The bright Spica makes it easy to locate Virgo, as it can be found by following the curve of the Big Dipper/Plough to Arcturus in Boötes and continuing from there in the same curve (“follow the arc to Arcturus and speed on to Spica”).

Due to the effects of precession, the First Point of Libra, (also known as the autumn equinox point) lies within the boundaries of Virgo very close to β Virginis. This is one of the two points in the sky where the celestial equator crosses the ecliptic (the other being the First Point of Aries, now in the constellation of Pisces.) This point will pass into the neighbouring constellation of Leo around the year 2440.

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

The Greeks and Romans associated Virgo with their goddess of wheat/agriculture, Demeter-Ceres who is 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.

Another myth identifies Virgo as Erigone, the daughter of Icarius of Athens. Icarius, who had been favoured by Dionysus, was killed by his shepherds while they were intoxicated and Erigone hanged herself in grief; Dionysus placed the father and daughter in the stars as Boötes and Virgo respectively. In the Middle Ages, Virgo was sometimes associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary.

As of 2002, the Sun appears in the constellation Virgo from September 17 to October 30. In tropical astrology, the Sun is considered to be in the sign Virgo from August 23 to September 22, and in sidereal astrology, from September 16 to October 15.

Leo-Regulus

Regulus (α Leo, α Leonis, Alpha Leonis) is the brightest star in the constellation Leo. Regulus is Latin for “prince” or “little king”. The Greek variant Basiliscus is also used. It is known as Qalb al-Asad, from the Arabic, meaning ”the heart of the lion”. This phrase is sometimes approximated as Kabelaced and translates into Latin as Cor Leōnis. In MUL.APIN, Regulus is listed as LUGAL, meaning “the star that stands in the breast of the Lion: “the King”.

Lugal is the Sumerian cuneiform sign for leader from the two signs, LÚ.GAL (“man, big”), and was one of several Sumerian titles that a ruler of a city-state could bear (alongside en and ensi, the exact difference being a subject of debate). The sign eventually became the predominant Sumerian term for a King in general. In the Sumerian language, lugal is used to mean an owner (e.g. of a boat or a field) or a head (of a unit such as a family).

There are different theories regarding the meaning of the title lugal in 3rd millennium Sumer. Some scholars believe that a ruler of an individual city-state was usually called ensi, and a ruler that headed a confederacy or larger dominion composed of several cities, perhaps even the whole of Sumer, was a lugal.

Other scholars consider ensi, en and lugal to have been merely three local designations for the sovereign, accepted respectively in the city-states of Lagash, Uruk and Ur (as well as most of the rest of Sumer), although the various terms may have expressed different aspects of the Mesopotamian concept of kingship.

The cuneiform sign LUGAL serves as a determinative in cuneiform texts (Sumerian, Akkadian and Hittite), indicating that the following word is the name of a king. In Akkadian orthography, it may also be a syllabogram šàr, acrophonically based on the Akkadian for “king”, šarrum.

Lugal is used extensively in the Amarna letters, for addressing the kings or pharaohs, and elsewhere in speaking about the various kings. One common address, in the introduction of many letters, from the vassals writing to the pharaoh was to use: Šàr-ri, (for šarrum); they used Lugal + ri = Šàr-ri, (i.e. Pharaoh, or King of, Ancient Egypt). (Ri (cuneiform) is one of the more commonly used hieroglyphs, in many cases for the use of the “r”).

The cuneiform Ri sign, or Re is found in both the 14th century BC Amarna letters and the Epic of Gilgamesh; it is in the top 25 most used cuneiform signs (Buccellati, 1979) for ri, or re, but has other syllabic or alphabetic uses, as well as the sumerogram usage for RI (Epic of Gilgamesh).

In the Amarna letters, ri also has a special usage when coupled with the naming of the Pharaoh, as “LUGAL-Ri”. Lugal is the Sumerogram translated in the Akkadian language to ‘King’, Sarru. Thus in the Amarna letters, Lugal is used as a stand-alone, but sometimes supplemented with Ri, and specifically used as sumerogram SÀR (an equivalent sumerogram to mean LUGAL) to be combined with RI to make sarru for king. (‘The King’, as an appellation is sometimes created by adding ma (cuneiform), suffix to the end of a name (Lugal-ma.)

The cuneiform ma sign is found in both the 14th century BC Amarna letters and the Epic of Gilgamesh. In the Epic it is also used as the sumerogram MA, (for Akkadian language “mina”, manû, a weight measure, as MA.NA, or MA.NA.ÀM). The ma sign is often used at the end of words, besides its alphabetic usage inside words as syllabic ma, elsewhere for m, or a.

The usage of cuneiform ma in the Epic of Gilgamesh, is only exceeded by the usage of a (cuneiform) (1369 times, and 58, A (sumerogram), versus 1047 times for ma, 6 for MA (sumerogram)). The high usage for a is partially a result of the prepositional use for a-na-(Akkadian “ana”, to, for, etc.); “i”, also has an increased prepositional use of i (cuneiform), for Akkadian ina, (i-na), for in, into, etc.

Babylonians called it Sharru (“the King”), and it marked the 15th ecliptic constellation. It is known in Chinese as, the Fourteenth Star of Xuanyuan, the Yellow Emperor. In Hindu astronomy, Regulus corresponds to the Nakshatra Magha (“the bountiful” or “the Mighty”), in Sogdiana Magh (“the Great”), in Persia Miyan (“the Centre”) and also as Venant, one of the four “royal stars” of the Persian monarchy.

Leo is one of the constellations of the zodiac, lying between Cancer to the west and Virgo to the east. Its name is Latin for lion, and to the ancient Greeks represented the Nemean Lion killed by the mythical Greek hero Heracles (known to the ancient Romans as Hercules) as one of his twelve labors. The lion’s mane and shoulders also form an asterism known as “the Sickle,” which to modern observers may resemble a backwards “question mark.”

Leo was one of the earliest recognized constellations, with archaeological evidence that the Mesopotamians had a similar constellation as early as 4000 BCE. The Persians called Leo Ser or Shir; the Turks, Artan; the Syrians, Aryo; the Jews, Arye; the Indians, Simha, all meaning “lion”.

In Babylonian astronomy, the constellation was called UR.GU.LA, the “Great Lion”; the bright star Regulus was known as “the star that stands at the Lion’s breast.” Regulus also had distinctly regal associations, as it was known as the King Star.

In Greek mythology, Leo was identified as the Nemean Lion which was killed by Heracles (Hercules to the Romans) during the first of his twelve labours. The Nemean Lion would take women as hostages to its lair in a cave, luring warriors from nearby towns to save the damsel in distress, to their misfortune.

The Lion was impervious to any weaponry; thus, the warriors’ clubs, swords, and spears were rendered useless against it. Realizing that he must defeat the Lion with his bare hands, Hercules slipped into the Lion’s cave and engaged it at close quarters.

When the Lion pounced, Hercules caught it in midair, one hand grasping the Lion’s forelegs and the other its hind legs, and bent it backwards, breaking its back and freeing the trapped maidens. Zeus commemorated this labor by placing the Lion in the sky.

The Roman poet Ovid called it Herculeus Leo and Violentus Leo. Bacchi Sidus (star of Bacchus) was another of its titles, the god Bacchus always being identified with this animal. However, Manilius called it Jovis et Junonis Sidus (Star of Jupiter and Juno).

As of 2002, the Sun appears in the constellation Leo from August 10 to Sept 10. In tropical astrology, the Sun is considered to be in the sign Leo from July 23 to August 27, and in sidereal astrology, from August 16 to September 17.

The Vanir

In Norse mythology, Njörðr is a god among the Vanir. Njörðr, father of the deities Freyr and Freyja by his unnamed Vanir sister, was in an ill-fated marriage with the goddess Skaði, lives in Nóatún and is associated with sea, seafaring, wind, fishing, wealth, and crop fertility.

Freyr or Frey is one of the most important deities of Norse religion. The name is conjectured to derive from the Proto-Norse *frawjaz, “lord”. The deities gave him Álfheimr, the realm of the Elves, as a teething present.

Freyr was associated with sacral kingship, virility and prosperity, with sunshine and fair weather, as well as was pictured as a phallic fertility god, Freyr “bestows peace and pleasure on mortals”. Freyr, sometimes referred to as Yngvi-Freyr, was especially associated with Sweden and seen as an ancestor of the Swedish royal house.

In Norse mythology, Freyja (Old Norse for “(the) Lady”) is a goddess associated with love, sexuality, beauty, fertility, gold, seiðr, war, and death. Freyja is the owner of the necklace Brísingamen, rides a chariot pulled by two cats, keeps the boar Hildisvíni by her side, possesses a cloak of falcon feathers, and, by her husband Óðr, is the mother of two daughters, Hnoss and Gersemi.

Scholars have theorized about whether Freyja and the goddess Frigg ultimately stem from a single goddess common among the Germanic peoples; about her connection to the valkyries, female battlefield choosers of the slain; and her relation to other goddesses and figures in Germanic mythology, including the thrice-burnt and thrice-reborn Gullveig/Heiðr, the goddesses Gefjon, Skaði, Þorgerðr Hölgabrúðr and Irpa, Menglöð, and the 1st century CE “Isis” of the Suebi.

Freyja’s name appears in numerous place names in Scandinavia, with a high concentration in southern Sweden. Various plants in Scandinavia once bore her name, but it was replaced with the name of the Virgin Mary during the process of Christianization. Rural Scandinavians continued to acknowledge Freyja as a supernatural figure into the 19th century, and Freyja has inspired various works of art.

Friday is the day after Thursday which precedes Saturday. Friday is associated with the planet Venus and symbolized by that planet’s symbol. In astrology, Friday is connected with the planet Venus. It is also connected with the Astrological signs Libra and Taurus.

The name is derived from Old English Þūnresdæg and Middle English Thuresday (with loss of -n-, first in northern dialects, from influence of Old Norse Þorsdagr) meaning “Thor’s Day”. Thunor, Donar (German, Donnerstag) and Thor are derived from the name of the Germanic god of thunder, Thunraz, equivalent to Jupiter in the interpretatio romana. The astrological and astronomical sign of the planet Jupiter is sometimes used to represent Thursday.

Njörðr’s name appears in various place names in Scandinavia, such as Nærdhæwi (now Nalavi), Njærdhavi (now Mjärdevi), Nærdhælunda (now Närlunda), Nierdhatunum (now Närtuna) in Sweden, Njarðvík in southwest Iceland, Njarðarlög and Njarðey (now Nærøy) in Norway. Njörðr’s name appears in a word for sponge; Njarðarvöttr (Old Norse “Njörðr’s glove”). Additionally, in Old Icelandic translations of Classical mythology the Roman god Saturn’s name is glossed as “Njörðr.”

Saturday is the seventh and therefore last day of the week according to many commonly used calendars, and it is the second-to-last (sixth) day of the week according to ISO 8601. The Romans named Saturday Sāturni diēs (“Saturn’s Day”) no later than the 2nd century for the planet Saturn, which controlled the first hour of that day, according to Vettius Valens. In astrology, Saturday is associated with the planet Saturn and symbolized by that planet’s symbol.

The day’s name was introduced into West Germanic languages and is recorded in the Low German languages such as Middle Low German sater(s)dach, Middle Dutch saterdag (Modern Dutch zaterdag) and Old English Sætern(es)dæġ and Sæterdæġ.

However, the name was selected as a calque of the god Saturn, after whom the planet was named. The day was also referred to as “Sæternes dæġe” in an Old English translation of Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People. In Old English, Saturday was also known as sunnanæfen (“sun” + “eve” cf. dialectal German Sonnabend).

The name Friday comes from the Old English Frīġedæġ, meaning the “day of Frige”, a result of an old convention associating the Old English goddess Frigg with the Roman goddess Venus, with whom the day is associated in many different cultures. The same holds for Frīatag in Old High German, Freitag in Modern German and vrijdag in Dutch.

The expected cognate name in Old Norse would be *friggjar-dagr. However, the name of Friday in Old Norse is frjá-dagr instead, indicating a loan of the week-day names from Low German. The modern Scandinavian form is Fredag in Swedish, Norwegian and Danish, meaning Freyja’s day. The distinction between Freyja and Frigg in some Germanic mythologies is problematic.

The word for Friday in most Romance languages is derived from Latin dies Veneris or “day of Venus” (a translation of Greek Aphrodites hemera) such as vendredi in French, venerdì in Italian, viernes in Spanish, divendres in Catalan, vennari in Corsican, and vineri in Romanian. This is also reflected in the p-Celtic Welsh language as dydd Gwener.

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Dear Humanity, It’s Time

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 14, 2015

Look: Dear Humanity, It’s Time

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The king and the queen of gods

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 10, 2015

The mother goddess

The Mesopotamian mother goddess is known under many names, the most prominent of which is the Sumerian name Nintud/Nintur (“Queen of the (birthing) hut”). Other frequent names are Aruru, Dingirmah or Ninmah (“Magnificent Queen”), Belet-ili (“Queen of the gods”), and Ninhursag. However, her most frequently attested name is Nintur.

She was in charge of pregnancy and birth and, especially in earlier periods, appears as the creator of humankind. One of her main functions was associated with pregnancy and childbirth. She guides children when they are still in the womb and feeds them after they have been born.

Because the mother goddess appears under so many different names, she is attested from the Early Dynastic period until well into the first millennium BCE, though she loses importance throughout the second half of the second millennium.

In the third and second millennium BCE, the mother goddess was in high standing within the divine hierarchy of gods. She is mentioned together with the highest gods of the Mesopotamian pantheon, An, Enlil, and Enki. In the course of the second millennium BCE this situation changes and the goddess loses some of her high standing in favour of the healing goddess Gula and the goddess of love and war, Ištar.

In Mesopotamian iconography, the mother goddess is represented by the Ω sign, which is thought to represent a uterus. Sometimes the Ω sign is accompanied by a knife, which is interpreted as the tool that is used to cut the umbilical cord after birth. Specific anthropomorphic representations of the mother goddess are difficult to distinguish from depictions of other goddesses.

The mother goddess also appears as the creator of humankind. In the Akkadian myth of Atrahasis, the Mesopotamian flood story, Nintur created humankind by mixing clay with blood of a slain god, and in the Sumerian tale of Enki and Ninmah the two deities compete by creating various creatures out of clay, resulting ultimately in the creation of humans. The clay is said to come from the top of the abzu, the cosmic underground waters.

In her role as the creator of humankind she is eventually replaced by the god Enki/Ea, as visible in Enūma eliš. Frymer-Kensky referred to the diminishing importance of goddesses even in primarily female functions, such as creation, as the “marginalization of goddesses”.

Nothing is known about the mother goddess’s divine parentage. The gods An, Enlil, Enki, and Šulpae are at times considered to be her husband. She had a lot of offsprings. The beginning of the second tablet of the god list An-Anum lists several names of the mother goddess.

Ningikuga and Ningal

Ningikuga (“Lady of the Pure Reed”) in Sumerian mythology was a goddess of reeds and marshes. She was the daughter of An and Nammu and one of the consorts of Enki, by whom she became the mother of Ningal (“Great Lady/Queen”), a goddess of reeds in the Sumerian mythology and the consort of the moon god Nanna by whom she bore Utu the sun god, Inanna, and in some texts, Ishkur. She is chiefly recognized at Ur, and was probably first worshipped by cow-herders in the marsh lands of southern Mesopotamia.

Ningal is equivalent to Nikkal, Ugaritic nkl, full name Nikkal-wa-Ib, a goddess of Ugarit/Canaan and later of Phoenicia. Nikkal is a goddess of orchards, whose name means “Great Lady and Fruitful” and derives from Akkadian / West Semitic “´Ilat ´Inbi” meaning “Goddess of Fruit”. De Moor translates Ugaritic “ib” as “blossom” which survives in biblical Hebrew as אֵ and cites Canticles 6:11 as a survival of this usage.

Nikkal

Nikkal is daughter of Khirkhibi, the King of the summer, and is married to the moon god Yarikh, who gave her necklaces of lapis-lazuli. Their marriage is lyrically described in the Ugaritic text “Nikkal and the Kathirat”. She may have been feted in late summer when tree fruits had been finally harvested.

The oldest incomplete annotated piece of ancient music is a Hurrian song, a hymn in Ugaritic cuneiform syllabic writing which was dedicated to Nikkal. This was published upon its discovery in Ugarit by Emmanuel Laroche, first in 1955 and then more fully in 1968, and has been the focus of many subsequent studies in palaeomusicology by, amongst others, Anne Draffkorn Kilmer, who gave it the title of “The Hymn to Nikkal” l.

NIn/ Eresh

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.

Ninhursag

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

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 (probably connected with Homeric arura; arable land,land generally), Belet-Ili (lady of the gods). As the wife and consort of Enki she was also referred to as Damgulanna (great wife of heaven) or Damkina (faithful wife).

Mami is a goddess in the Babylonian epic Atra-Hasis and in other creation legends. She was probably synonymous with Ninhursag. She was involved in the creation of humankind from clay and blood. As Nintu legends states she pinched off fourteen pieces of primordial clay which she formed into womb deities, seven on the left and seven on the right with a brick between them, who produced the first seven pairs of human embryos.

She may have become Belet Ili (“Mistress of the Gods”), also known as Belet-ili, or Nintu, when, at Enki’s suggestion, the gods slew one amongst themselves and used that god’s blood and flesh, mixed with clay, to create humankind. Alternative forms of her name include Mama and Mammitum.

According to Enuma Elish Tiamat, who may have begun as part of the cult of Nammu, a female principle of a watery creative force, with equally strong connections to the underworld, which predates the appearance of Ea-Enki, was sliced in half, he made from her ribs the vault of heaven and earth.

Her weeping eyes became the source of the Tigris and the Euphrates, her tail became the Milky Way. With the approval of the elder deities, he took from Kingu the Tablets of Destiny, installing himself as the head of the Babylonian pantheon. Kingu was captured and later was slain: his red blood mixed with the red clay of the Earth would make the body of humankind, created to act as the servant of the younger Igigi deities. In the Babylonian tale, Enlil’s role is taken by Marduk, Enki’s son, and in the Assyrian version it is Asshur.

Some of the names above were once associated with independent goddesses (such as Ninmah and Ninmenna), who later became identified and merged with Ninhursag, and myths exist in which the name Ninhursag is not mentioned. As Ninmenna, according to a Babylonian investiture ritual, she placed the golden crown on the king in the Eanna temple.

She had many epithets including shassuru or “womb goddess”, tabsut ili “midwife of the gods”, “mother of all children” and “mother of the gods”. In this role she is identified with Ki in the Enuma Elish. Some take the view that Ki (“Earth”) the primordial goddess of the earth and consort of An (sky), was identical to or an earlier form of Ninhursag.

This may very well be the case, since some authorities argue that Ki was never regarded as a deity in her own right in the historical period. There is no evidence of a cult for the goddess and the name appears in a limited number of Sumerian creation texts. As Ki, Ninhursag would be the mother of Enlil, whereas in other sources she is his sister.

According to legend her name was changed from Ninmah to Ninhursag by her son Ninurta in order to commemorate his creation of the mountains. 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.

In the text “Creator of the Hoe”, she completed the birth of mankind after the heads had been uncovered by Enki’s hoe. In creation texts, Ninmah (another name for Ninhursag) acts as a midwife whilst the mother goddess Nammu makes different kinds of human individuals from lumps of clay at a feast given by Enki to celebrate the creation of humankind.

Omega

In Mesopotamian iconography, the mother goddess is represented by the Ω sign, which is thought to represent a uterus. Sometimes the Ω sign is accompanied by a knife, which is interpreted as the tool that is used to cut the umbilical cord after birth. Specific anthropomorphic representations of the mother goddess are difficult to distinguish from depictions of other goddesses.

The hair of Ninhursag is sometimes depicted in an omega shape, and she at times wears a horned head-dress and tiered skirt, often with bow cases at her shoulders, and not infrequently carries a mace or baton surmounted by an omega motif or a derivation, sometimes accompanied by a lion cub on a leash.

Her symbol, resembling the Greek letter omega Ω, has been depicted in art from around 3000 BC, though more generally from the early second millennium. It appears on some boundary stones — on the upper tier, indicating her importance. The omega symbol is associated with the Egyptian cow goddess Hathor, and may represent a stylized womb. Hathor is at times depicted on a mountain, so it may be that the two goddesses are connected.

Omega (capital: Ω, lowercase: ω; Greek Ωμέγα) is the 24th and last letter of the Greek alphabet. In the Greek numeric system, it has a value of 800. The word literally means “great O” (ō mega, mega meaning ‘great’), as opposed to omicron, which means “little O” (o mikron, micron meaning “little”).

Alpha (Α or α) and omega (Ω or ω) are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, and a title of Christ or of God in the Book of Revelation. This couple of letters are used as Christian symbols, and are often combined with the Cross, Chi-rho, or other Christian symbols.

Aruru

Aruru is a surname of the Sumerian earth and fertility goddess Ninhursag. 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.

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 oldest attested form of the word is the Mycenaean Greek a-ro-u-ra, written in Linear B syllabic script, originally meant “plough”.

Urash

Uraš or Urash (Akkadian: Uras, meaning “One of the Plough”), in Sumerian mythology is a goddess of earth, and one of the consorts of the sky god Anu. From Sumerian texts, the language used to describe Urash is very similar to the language used to describe Ninhursag. Therefore, the two goddesses may be one and the same. Urash is the mother of the goddess Ninsun (“lady wild cow”) and a grandmother of the hero Gilgamesh. However, Uras may only have been another name for Antum, Anu’s wife. The name Uras even became applied to Anu himself, and acquired the meaning “heaven”. Ninurta also was apparently called Uras in later times.

Antu

Ki later developed into the Babylonian and Akkadian goddess Antu, consort of the god Anu (from Sumerian An). In Akkadian mythology, Antu or Antum is a Babylonian goddess. She was the first consort of Anu, and the pair was the parents of the Anunnaki and the Utukki. Antu was replaced as consort by Ishtar or Inanna, who may also be a daughter of Anu and Antu.

Antu was a dominant feature of the Babylonian akit festival until as recently as 200 BC, her later pre-eminence possibly attributable to identification with the Greek goddess Hera, the wife and one of three sisters of Zeus in the Olympian pantheon of Greek mythology and religion.

Ki

Ninhursag was a great mother goddess, the goddess of childbirth, queen of the mountains, an aspect of the Earth Goddess Ki, which means “Earth” in ancient Sumerian. Cuneiform KI is the sign for “earth”. It is also read as GI, GUNNI (=KI.NE) “hearth”, KARAŠ (=KI.KAL.BAD) “encampment, army”, KISLAḪ (=KI.UD) “threshing floor” or steath, and SUR (=KI.GAG). In Akkadian orthography, it functions as a determiner for toponyms and has the syllabic values gi, ge, qi, and qe.

As an earth goddess in Sumerian mythology, Ki was the chief consort of An, the sky god. In some legends[citation needed] Ki and An were brother and sister, being the offspring of Anshar (“Sky Pivot”) and Kishar (“Earth Pivot”), earlier personifications of heaven and earth.

By her consort Anu, Ki gave birth to the Anunnaki, the most prominent of these deities being Enlil, god of the air. According to legends, heaven and earth were once inseparable until Enlil was born; Enlil cleaved heaven and earth in two. An carried away heaven. Ki, in company with Enlil, took the earth.

Some authorities question whether Ki was regarded as a deity since there is no evidence of a cult and the name appears only in a limited number of Sumerian creation texts. Samuel Noah Kramer identifies Ki with the Sumerian mother goddess Ninhursag and claims that they were originally the same figure.

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.

Nergal

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. 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”.

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 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 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.

Manungal

Manungal (or simply Nungal) is a goddess of the underworld, worshipped by the Sumerians, Babylonians, and Akkadians. She is the consort of the god Birdu, a god of the underworld who was syncretised with Nergal. Her title was the “Queen of the Ekur” where she held the “tablet of life” and carried out judgement on the wicked.

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. The underworld Kur is the void space between the primeval sea (Abzu) and the earth (Ma), which seems a likely pairing for parentage, in a fuzzy set of records. Ma was a local goddess at Ma and a Phrygian alternative name for Cybele.

Ninurta

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. In older transliteration the name is rendered Ninib and Ninip, and in early commentary he was sometimes portrayed as a solar deity.

A number of scholars have suggested that either the god Ninurta or the Assyrian king bearing his name (Tukulti-Ninurta I) was the inspiration for the Biblical character Nimrod. 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 sickle sword, or a mace named Sharur: Sharur is capable of speech in the Sumerian legend “Deeds and Exploits of Ninurta” and can take the form of a winged lion and may represent an archetype for the later Shedu.

In another legend, Ninurta battles a birdlike monster called Imdugud (Akkadian: Anzû); a Babylonian version relates how the monster Anzû steals the Tablets of Destiny from Enlil. The Tablets of Destiny were believed to contain the details of fate and the future.

Ninurta, however, was not just a warrior. In the aftermath of the Deluge it was he who dammed the mountain passes to prevent more flooding in the plain between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers and who had arranged extensive drainage works there to make the plain habitable again. Thereafter, he oversaw the introduction of organized agriculture to the region and was fondly nicknamed by the Sumerians Urash – “He of the Plough.”

After drainage of the Mesopotamian river valleys was complete, the cereal grains were brought down from the highlands. The Farmer’s Almanac was attributed to Ninurta, the one who taught agriculture to humanity. Due to Enlil’s change in attitude towards humanity after the Deluge, agricultural became easier for the descendants of Ziusudra, who were taught, than for the descendents of Adapa, who had to suffer and figure it out after being banished.

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

Heracles/ Heraclit

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. Heracles (Ancient Greek: Hēraklēs, from Hēra, “Hera”, and kleos, “glory”), born Alcaeus (Alkaios) or Alcides (Alkeidēs), was a divine hero in Greek mythology, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, foster son of Amphitryon and great-grandson (and half-brother) of Perseus.

He was the greatest of the Greek heroes, a paragon of masculinity, the ancestor of royal clans who claimed to be Heracleidae and a champion of the Olympian order against chthonic monsters. In Rome and the modern West, he is known as Hercules, with whom the later Roman Emperors, in particular Commodus and Maximian, often identified themselves.

The Romans adopted the Greek version of his life and works essentially unchanged, but added anecdotal detail of their own, some of it linking the hero with the geography of the Central Mediterranean. Details of his cult were adapted to Rome as well.

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.

Many popular stories were told of his life, the most famous being The Twelve Labours of Heracles; Alexandrian poets of the Hellenistic age drew his mythology into a high poetic and tragic atmosphere. His figure, which initially drew on Near Eastern motifs such as the lion-fight, was known everywhere: his Etruscan equivalent was Hercle, a son of Tinia and Uni.

Apollo

Amongst the Hurrians and later Hittites Nergal was known as Aplu, a name derived from the Akkadian Apal Enlil, (Apal being the construct state of Aplu) meaning “the son of Enlil”. 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.

Aplu was a Hurrian deity of the plague — bringing it, or, if propitiated, protecting from it — and resembles Apollo Smintheus, “mouse-Apollo”. Aplu, it is suggested, comes from the Akkadian Aplu Enlil, meaning “the son of Enlil”, a title that was given to the god Nergal, who was linked to Shamash, Babylonian god of the sun. Aplu may be related with Apaliunas who is considered to be the Hittite reflex of *Apeljōn, an early form of the name Apollo.

Rudra

The Vedic Rudra has some similar functions with Apollo. The terrible god is called “The Archer”, and the bow is also an attribute of Shiva. Rudra could bring diseases with his arrows, but he was able to free people of them, and his alternative Shiba, is a healer physician god. However the Indo-European component of Apollo, does not explain his strong relation with omens, exorcisms, and with the oracular cult.

Shiva

Shiva (Sanskrit: Śiva, meaning “The Auspicious One”; Tamil: Śivan, meaning “The Red One”), also known as Mahadeva (“Great God”), is one of the Trinity deities of Hinduism. He is the supreme god within Shaivism, one of the three most influential denominations in contemporary Hinduism. He is one of the five primary forms of God in the Smarta Tradition, and “the Destroyer” or “the Transformer”At the highest level, Shiva is regarded as limitless, transcendent, unchanging and formless.

Shiva also has many benevolent and fearsome forms. In benevolent aspects, he is depicted as an omniscient Yogi who lives an ascetic life on Mount Kailash, as well as a householder with wife Parvati and his two children, Ganesha and Kartikeya, and in fierce aspects, he is often depicted slaying demons. Shiva is also regarded as the patron god of yoga and arts.

The main iconographical attributes of Shiva are the third eye on his forehead, the snake Vasuki around his neck, the adorning crescent moon, the holy river Ganga flowing from his matted hair, the trishula as his weapon and the damaru as his musical instrument. Shiva is usually worshiped in the aniconic form of Lingam.

Kali

Kālī, also known as Kālikā, is the Hindu goddess associated with empowerment, or shakti. She is the fierce aspect of the goddess Durga. The name of Kali means black one and force of time, she is therefore called the Goddess of Time, Change, Power, Creation, Preservation, and Destruction.

Her earliest appearance is that of a destroyer principally of evil forces. Various Shakta Hindu cosmologies, as well as Shākta Tantric beliefs, worship her as the ultimate reality or Brahman; and recent devotional movements re-imagine Kāli as a benevolent mother goddess. She is often portrayed standing or dancing on her husband, the god Shiva, who lies calm and prostrate beneath her.

Khaldi

Ḫaldi, also known as Khaldi or Hayk, was one of the three chief deities of Ararat (Urartu). The other two chief deities were Theispas of Kumenu, and Shivini of Tushpa. His shrine was at Ardini (the present form of the name is Artin, meaning “sun rising” or to “awake”), in Assyrian known as Muṣaṣir (Akkadian for Exit of the Serpent/Snake), an ancient city of Urartu, attested in Assyrian sources of the 9th and 8th centuries BC.

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.

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’.

Hayk or Hayg, also known as Haik Nahapet (Hayk the Tribal Chief) is the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation. His story is told in the History of Armenia attributed to the Armenian historian Moses of Chorene (410 to 490).

Tyr

Týr (Old Norse: Týr) is a god associated with law and heroic glory in Norse mythology, portrayed as one-handed. Corresponding names in other Germanic languages are Gothic Teiws, Old English Tīw and Old High German Ziu and Cyo, all from Proto-Germanic *Tīwaz. The Latinised name is Tius or Tio. Tiw was equated with Mars in the interpretatio germanica. Tuesday is in fact “Tīw’s Day” (also in Alemannic Zischtig from zîes tag), translating dies Martis.

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

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

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

The t-rune ᛏ is named after Tyr, and was identified with this god; the reconstructed Proto-Germanic name is *Tîwaz. The rune is sometimes also referred to as *Teiwaz, or spelling variants. Multiple Tiwaz runes either stacked atop one another to resemble a tree-like shape, or repeated after one another appear several times in Germanic paganism.

There is sketchy evidence of a consort, in German named Zisa: Tacitus mentions one Germanic tribe who worshipped “Isis”, and Jacob Grimm pointed to Cisa/Zisa, the patroness of Augsburg, in this connection. The name Zisa could be derived from Ziu etymologically.

The Excerptum ex Gallica Historia of Ursberg (ca. 1135) records a dea Ciza as the patron goddess of Augsburg. According to this account, Cisaria was founded by Swabian tribes as a defence against Roman incursions. This Zisa would be the female consort of Ziu, as Dione was of Zeus, the sky and thunder god in ancient Greek religion, who ruled as king of the gods of Mount Olympus.

Istanu

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.

Osiris

Osiris (alternatively Ausir, Asiri or Ausar, among other spellings), was an Egyptian god, usually identified as the god of the afterlife, the underworld, and the dead, but more appropriately as the god of transition, resurrection, and regeneration.

He was classically depicted as a green-skinned man with a pharaoh’s beard, partially mummy-wrapped at the legs, wearing a distinctive crown with two large ostrich feathers at either side, and holding a symbolic crook and flail.

Osiris was at times considered the oldest son of the earth god Geb, though other sources state his father is the sun-god Ra and the sky goddess Nut, as well as being brother and husband of Isis, with Horus being considered his posthumously begotten son.

He was also associated with the epithet Khenti-Amentiu, meaning “Foremost of the Westerners”, a reference to his kingship in the land of the dead. As ruler of the dead, Osiris was also sometimes called “king of the living”: ancient Egyptians considered the blessed dead “the living ones”.

Through the hope of new life after death, Osiris began to be associated with the cycles observed in nature, in particular vegetation and the annual flooding of the Nile, through his links with the heliacal rising of Orion and Sirius at the start of the New Year.

Ashur

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.

Isis

Isis (original Egyptian pronunciation more likely “Aset” or “Iset”) is a goddess from the polytheistic pantheon of Egypt. She was first worshiped in Ancient Egyptian religion, and later her worship spread throughout the Roman empire and the greater Greco-Roman world.

She married her brother, Osiris, and she conceived Horus with him. Isis was instrumental in the resurrection of Osiris when he was murdered by Set. Using her magical skills, she restored his body to life after having gathered the body parts that had been strewn about the earth by Set.

This myth became very important during the Greco-Roman period. For example, it was believed that the Nile River flooded every year because of the tears of sorrow which Isis wept for Osiris. Osiris’s death and rebirth was relived each year through rituals. The worship of Isis eventually spread throughout the Greco-Roman world, continuing until the suppression of paganism in the Christian era.

The popular motif of Isis suckling her son Horus, however, lived on in a Christianized context as the popular image of Mary suckling her infant son Jesus from the fifth century onward.

The first secure references to Isis date back to the 5th dynasty, when her name appears in the sun temple of king Niuserre and on the statue of a priest named Pepi-Ankh, who worshipped at the very beginning of 6th dynasty and bore the title “high priest of Isis and Hathor”.

By the New Kingdom period, in many places, Isis was more prominent than her spouse. She was seen as the mother of the pharaoh, and was often depicted breastfeeding the pharaoh. It is theorized that this displacement happened through the merging of cults from the various cult centers as Egyptian religion became more standardized.

When the cult of Ra rose to prominence, with its cult center at Heliopolis, Ra was identified with the similar deity, Horus. But Hathor had been paired with Ra in some regions, as the mother of the god.

Since Isis was paired with Horus, and Horus was identified with Ra, Isis began to be merged with Hathor as Isis-Hathor. By merging with Hathor, Isis became the mother of Horus, as well as his wife. Eventually the mother role displaced the role of spouse.

Thus, the role of spouse to Isis was open and in the Heliopolis pantheon, Isis became the wife of Osiris and the mother of Horus/Ra. This reconciliation of themes led to the evolution of the myth of Isis and Osiris.

Inanna

Inanna (Cuneiform: (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. Her 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.

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

Ishtar

Ishtar is the East Semitic Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, war, and sex. She is the counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna, and the cognate for the Northwest Semitic Aramean goddess Astarte.

Astarte

Astarte or Ashtoreth is the Hellenized form of the Middle Eastern goddess Ishtar, worshipped from the Bronze Age through classical antiquity. The name is particularly associated with her worship in the ancient Levant among the Canaanites and Phoenicians.

She was also celebrated in Egypt following the importation of Levantine cults there. The name Astarte is sometimes also applied to her cults in Mesopotamian cultures like Assyria and Babylonia.

Zeus/ Jupiter

His name is cognate with the first element of his Roman equivalent Jupiter, the god of sky and thunder and king of the gods in Ancient Roman religion and mythology. The Romans regarded Jupiter as the equivalent of the Greek Zeus, and in Latin literature and Roman art, the myths and iconography of Zeus are adapted under the name Iuppiter.

In the Greek-influenced tradition, Jupiter was the brother of Neptune and Pluto. Each presided over one of the three realms of the universe: sky, the waters, and the underworld. The Italic Diespiter was also a sky god who manifested himself in the daylight, usually but not always identified with Jupiter. Tinia is usually regarded as his Etruscan counterpart.

Zeus is the child of Cronus and Rhea, the youngest of his siblings to be born, though sometimes reckoned the eldest as the others required disgorging from Cronos’s stomach.

At the oracle of Dodona, his consort was said to be Dione, by whom the Iliad states that he fathered Aphrodite. Zeus was also infamous for his erotic escapades. These resulted in many godly and heroic offspring, including Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Hermes, Persephone, Dionysus, Perseus, Heracles, Helen of Troy, Minos, and the Muses.

He was respected as an allfather who was chief of the gods and assigned the others to their roles: “Even the gods who are not his natural children address him as Father, and all the gods rise in his presence.” He was equated with many foreign weather gods, permitting Pausanias to observe “That Zeus is king in heaven is a saying common to all men”. His symbols are the thunderbolt, eagle, bull, and oak.

In addition to his Indo-European inheritance, the classical “cloud-gatherer” (Greek: Nephelēgereta) also derives certain iconographic traits from the cultures of the Ancient Near East, such as the scepter. Zeus is frequently depicted by Greek artists in one of two poses: standing, striding forward with a thunderbolt leveled in his raised right hand, or seated in majesty.

Mars

Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second smallest planet in the Solar System, after Mercury. Named after the Roman god of war, it is often referred to as the “Red Planet” because the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance.

In ancient Roman religion and myth, Mars was the god of war and also an agricultural guardian, a combination characteristic of early Rome. He was second in importance only to Jupiter and he was the most prominent of the military gods in the religion of the Roman army. Most of his festivals were held in March, the month named for him (Latin Martius), and in October, which began the season for military campaigning and ended the season for farming.

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. 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 importance of Mars in establishing religious and cultural identity within the Roman Empire is indicated by the vast number of inscriptions identifying him with a local deity, particularly in the Western provinces.

Hel

In Norse mythology, Hel is a being who presides over a realm of the same name, where she receives a portion of the dead. She is referred to as a daughter of Loki, and to “go to Hel” is to die. Hel is described as having been appointed by the god Odin as ruler of a realm of the same name, located in Niflheim.

In the same source, her appearance is described as half blue and half flesh-coloured and further as having a gloomy, downcast appearance. The Prose Edda details that Hel rules over vast mansions with many servants in her underworld realm and plays a key role in the attempted resurrection of the god Baldr.

Scholarly theories have been proposed about Hel’s potential connections to figures appearing in the 11th century Old English Gospel of Nicodemus and Old Norse Bartholomeus saga postola, that she may have been considered a goddess with potential Indo-European parallels in Bhavani, Kali, and Mahakali or that Hel may have become a being only as a late personification of the location of the same name.

Hera/ Juni

Hera was as the goddess of women and marriage. Her counterpart in the religion of ancient Rome was Juno. The cow, lion and the peacock were considered sacred to her. Hera’s mother is Rhea and her father Cronus.

Juno is an ancient Roman goddess, the protector and special counselor of the state. She is a daughter of Saturn and sister (but also the wife) of the chief god Jupiter and the mother of Mars and Vulcan. Juno also looked after the women of Rome. Her Etruscan counterpart was Uni, the supreme goddess of the Etruscan pantheon and the patron goddess of Perugia.

Juno’s own warlike aspect among the Romans is apparent in her attire. She often appeared sitting pictured with a peacock armed and wearing a goatskin cloak. The traditional depiction of this warlike aspect was assimilated from the Greek goddess Hera, whose goatskin was called the ‘aegis’.

Uni

Uni appears in the Etruscan text on the Pyrgi Tablets as the translation of the Phoenician goddess Astarte or Ashtoreth, the Hellenized form of the Middle Eastern goddess Ishtar, worshipped from the Bronze Age through classical antiquity.

Among the pre-roman Latin tribes, the goddess was worshipped as Uni: a single triad made up of the maiden Juventas, the mother Juno, and the wise Minerva. Later, the Etruscans and early Romans, as we have seen, substituted the chief god Jupiter for Juventas, creating another kind of triad altogether. With her husband Tinia and Menrva, she was part of a powerful triad.

Alu – Anu – Kumarbi – Teshub

Kumarbi is the chief god of the Hurrians. He is the son of Anu (the sky) and father of the storm-god Teshub Teshub (also written Teshup or Tešup; cuneiform IM; hieroglyphic Luwian (DEUS)TONITRUS, read as Tarhunzas), the Hurrian god of sky and storm. He was identified by the Hurrians with Sumerian Enlil, and by the Ugaritians with El.

Alalu was a primeval deity of the Hurrian mythology. He is considered to have housed “the Hosts of Sky”, the divine family, because he was a progenitor of the gods, and possibly the father of Earth.

The name “Alalu” was borrowed from Semitic mythology and is a compound word made up of the Semitic definite article al and the Semitic supreme deity Alu. The -u at the end of the word is an inflectional ending; thus, Alalu may also occur as Alali or Alala depending on the position of the word in the sentence. He was identified by the Greeks as Hypsistos. He was also called Alalus.

After nine years of reign, Alalu was defeated by his son Anu. Anuʻs son Kumarbi also defeated his father, and his son Teshub defeated him, too. Alalu fled to the underworld.

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. It is preserved in three tablets, but only a small fraction of the text is legible.

The song relates that Alalu was overthrown by Anu who was in turn overthrown by Kumarbi. When Anu tried to escape, Kumarbi bit off his genitals and spat out three new gods. In the text Anu tells his son that he is now pregnant with the Teshub, Tigris, and Tašmišu.

Upon hearing this Kumarbi spit the semen upon the ground and it became impregnated with two children. Kumarbi is cut open to deliver Tešub. Together, Anu and Teshub depose Kumarbi.

Taru is the Hattian form derived from Teshub. His Hittite and Luwian name was Tarhun (with variant stem forms Tarhunt, Tarhuwant, Tarhunta), although this name is from the Hittite root *tarh- “to defeat, conquer”.

Teshub is depicted holding a triple thunderbolt and a weapon, usually an axe (often double-headed) or mace. The sacred bull common throughout Anatolia was his signature animal, represented by his horned crown or by his steeds Seri and Hurri, who drew his chariot or carried him on their backs.

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 which is recounted in Hesiod’s Theogony.

Hebat

Teshub was paired with Hebat, the mother goddess of the Hurrians, known as “the mother of all living” and “Queen of the deities”; in the Hittite, with the sun goddess Arinniti of Arinna – a cultus of great antiquity which has similarities with the venerated bulls and mothers at Çatalhöyük in the Neolithic era. His son was called Sarruma, the mountain god.

In the Hurrian language Hepa is the most likely pronunciation of the name of the goddess. In modern literature the sound /h/ in cuneiform sometimes is transliterated as kh. During Aramaean times Hebat also appears to have become identified with the goddess Hawwah, or Eve.

Hannahannah

Hannahannah (from Hittite hanna- “grandmother”) is a Hurrian Mother Goddess related to or influenced by the pre-Sumerian goddess Inanna. Hannahannah was also identified with the Hurrian goddess Hebat.

Hannahannah is associated with the Gulses in Hittite mythology, in Hurrian mythology known as the Hutena, goddesses of fate. They are similar to the Norns of Norse mythology or the Moirai of ancient Greece.

Cybele

Hebat/ Hannahanna is likely to have had a later counterpart in the Phrygian goddess Cybele, an originally Anatolian mother goddess; she has a possible precursor in the earliest neolithic at Çatalhöyük, where the statue of a pregnant, seated goddess was found in a granary dated to the 6th millennium BCE.

She is Phrygia’s only known goddess, and was probably its state deity. Her Phrygian cult was adopted and adapted by Greek colonists of Asia Minor and spread from there to mainland Greece and its more distant western colonies from around the 6th century BCE.

Cybele’s major mythographic narratives attach to her relationship with Attis, who is described by ancient Greek and Roman sources and cults as her youthful consort, and as a Phrygian deity.

Enlil and Ninlil

Enlil (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 Mesopotamian religion. 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 (“whole heaven”) and Kishar (“Whole Earth”), who were the children of Lahamu and Lahmu and the grandchildren of Tiamat and Apsû. They, in turn, are the parents of Anu, the god of heaven, lord of constellations, king of gods, spirits and demons.

Enlil is one of the most important gods of the Mesopotamian pantheon. Sometimes he is said to be the offspring of An and brother of the birth-goddess Aruru, which is another name of Ninhursag. He is also, however, sometimes described as the descendant of Enki and Ninki (“Lord” and “Lady Earth,” not to be confused with the deity Enki). Yet a third tradition attributes his birth to the primeval water-goddess Nammu. Among his prominent offspring are Inanna, Adad, Nanna, Nergal, Ninurta, and Utu.

The personality of Enlil is very complex. It is not certain what the Sumerian element “lil” originally stood for. It has had meanings as diverse as “air”, and “spirit”. It was Enlil who was said to have separated the primordial heaven/earth, thus bringing forth the created universe. On a cosmic level, while Enki’s realm was below (the abzu), and An ruled above (the heavens), Enlil’s realm was the earth and the spheres of the winds and weather above it.

Enlil was responsible for all aspects of life: fertility and prosperity, as well as famine and catastrophe. His great cult center was the temple E-kur at Nippur. He is sometimes also referred to as Nunamnir. He is the lord who “determines the fates”, a function he shares with the god Enki.

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. He created order in the cosmos. He filled the rivers with fish. He invented the plough and the yoke so that farmers could till the earth with oxen. He is known as “Lord of the plough”.

It is said that Enlil made the grain grow. He is the father of all plants and god of the waters. He is in charge of the bolt which bars the sea. He is the “Lord of Wisdom”, “Lord of Incantations”, and the one that knows everything. When he speaks of a thing it will be made.

His wife is Ninlil (“lady of the open field” or “Lady of the Wind”), also called Sud, in Assyrian called Mulliltu. Her parentage is variously described. Most commonly she is called the daughter of Haia (god of stores) and Nunbarsegunu (or Ninshebargunnu, a goddess of barley, or Nisaba). Another Akkadian source says she is the daughter of Anu (aka An) and Antu (Sumerian Ki). Other sources call her a daughter of Anu and Nammu.

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.

Mountain houses

There is a clear association of Ziggurats with Mountain houses. These 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.

Ekur 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. 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”).

Some scholars also identify hursag with an undefined mountain range or strip of raised land outside the plain of Mesopotamia. Hursag (cuneiform: HUR.SAG) is a Sumerian term variously translated as meaning “mountain”, “hill”, “foothills” or “piedmont”. Thorkild Jacobsen extrapolated the translation in his later career to mean literally, “head of the valleys”.

In a myth variously entitled by Samuel Noah Kramer as “The Deeds and Exploits of Ninurta” and later Ninurta Myth Lugal-e by Thorkild Jacobsen, Hursag is described as a mound of stones constructed by Ninurta after his defeat of a demon called Asag. Ninurta’s mother Ninlil visits the location after this great victory. In return for her love and loyalty, Ninurta gives Ninlil the hursag as a gift. Her name is consequentially changed from Ninlil to Ninhursag or the “mistress of the Hursag”.

The hursag is described here in a clear cultural myth as a high wall, levee, dam or floodbank, used to restrain the excess mountain waters and floods caused by the melting snow and spring rain. The hursag is constructed with Ninurta’s skills in irrigation engineering and employed to improve the agriculture of the surrounding lands, farms and gardens where the water had previously been wasted.

The creation of life

In Sumerian mythology, Nammu (also Namma, spelled ideographically NAMMA = ENGUR, “house of the subterranean waters”) 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. 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. 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.

In another even older tradition, Nammu, the goddess of the primeval creative matter and the mother-goddess portrayed as having “given birth to the great gods,” was the mother of Enki, and as the watery creative force, was said to preexist Ea-Enki.

Benito states “With Enki it is an interesting change of gender symbolism, the fertilising agent is also water, Sumerian “a” or “Ab” which also means “semen”. In one evocative passage in a Sumerian hymn, Enki stands at the empty riverbeds and fills them with his ‘water'”. This may be a reference to Enki’s hieros gamos or sacred marriage with Ki/Ninhursag (the Earth) (see below).

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.

Enki and Ninhursag

The cosmogenic myth common in Sumer was that of the hieros gamos, a sacred marriage where divine principles in the form of dualistic opposites came together as male and female to give birth to the cosmos.

In the epic Enki and Ninhursag, Enki, as lord of Ab or fresh water (also the Sumerian word for semen), is living with his wife in the paradise of Dilmun. Despite being a place where “the raven uttered no cries” and “the lion killed not, the wolf snatched not the lamb, unknown was the kid-killing dog, unknown was the grain devouring boar”, Dilmun had no water and Enki heard the cries of its Goddess, Ninsikil, and orders the sun-God Utu to bring fresh water from the Earth for Dilmun.

The subsequent tale, with similarities to the Biblical story of the forbidden fruit, repeats the story of how fresh water brings life to a barren land. Enki, the Water-Lord then “caused to flow the ‘water of the heart” and having fertilised his consort Ninhursag, also known as Ki or Earth, after “Nine days being her nine months, the months of ‘womanhood’… like good butter, Nintu, the mother of the land, …like good butter, gave birth to Ninsar, (Lady Greenery)”.

In the legend of Enki and Ninhursag, Ninhursag bore a daughter to Enki called Ninsar (“Lady Greenery”). Through Enki, Ninsar bore a daughter Ninkurra (“Lady Pasture”), who in turn bore Enki a daughter named Uttu, the weaver or spider, the weaver of the web of life, the goddess of weaving and clothing. Uttu in Sumerian means “the woven” and she was illustrated as a spider in a web. She is a goddess in the pantheon.

Enki succumbs to temptation, and attempts seduction of Uttu. Upset about Enki’s reputation, Uttu consults Ninhursag, who, upset at the promiscuous wayward nature of her spouse, advises Uttu to avoid the riverbanks, the places likely to be affected by flooding, the home of Enki.

In another version of this myth Ninhursag takes Enki’s semen from Uttu’s womb and plants it in the earth where eight plants rapidly germinate. Enki then eats it. And so, despite warnings, Enki consumes the other seven fruits. Consuming his own semen, he falls pregnant (ill with swellings) in his jaw, his teeth, his mouth, his hip, his throat, his limbs, his side and his rib. The gods are at a loss to know what to do, chagrinned they “sit in the dust”.

As Enki lacks a womb with which to give birth, he seems to be dying with swellings. The fox then asks Enlil King of the Gods, “If i bring Ninhursag before thee, what shall be my reward?” Ninhursag’s sacred fox then fetches the goddess.

Ninhursag relents and takes Enki’s Ab (water, or semen) into her body, and gives birth to gods of healing of each part of the body. Abu for the Jaw, Nintul for the Hip, Ninsutu for the tooth, Ninkasi for the mouth, Dazimua for the side, Enshagag for the Limbs. The last one, Ninti (Lady Rib), is also a pun on Lady Life, a title of Ninhursag herself.

The story thus symbolically reflects the way in which life is brought forth through the addition of water to the land, and once it grows, water is required to bring plants to fruit. It also counsels balance and responsibility, nothing to excess.

Ninti (“Lady Rib”) is the Sumerian goddess of life. Ninti is also the last 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). Ninti is also a pun on “Lady Life”. Ninti means “the mother of all living”, and was a title given to Ninhursag, and also the later Hurrian goddess Kheba.

This is also the title given in the Bible to Eve, the Hebrew and Aramaic Ḥawwah, who was made from the rib of Adam, in a strange reflection of the Sumerian myth, in which Adam — not Enki — walks in the Garden of Paradise. During Aramaean times Hebat also appears to have become identified with the goddess Hawwah, or Eve. It is suggested that this served as the basis for the story of Eve created from Adam’s rib in the Book of Genesis.

Lilith

The semitic root L-Y-L served as derivative for the Hebrew layil and Arabic layl, meaning “night”. The Talmudic and Yiddish use of Lilith cognates with the Hebrew. In the Akkadian language of Assyria and Babylonia the terms lili and līlītu mean spirits. Archibald Sayce (1882) considered that Hebrew lilit (or lilith) Hebrew and the earlier Akkadian līlītu are from proto-Semitic. Charles Fossey (1902) has this literally translating to “female night being/demon,” although cuneiform inscriptions from Mesopotamia exist where Līlīt and Līlītu refers to disease-bearing wind spirits.

Another possibility is association not with “night,” but with “wind,” thus identifying the Akkadian Lil-itu as a loan from the Sumerian lil, “air” — specifically from Ninlil, “lady air,” goddess of the south wind (and wife of Enlil) — and itud, “moon”.

However, in Jewish folklore, from Alphabet of Ben Sira onwards, Lilith becomes Adam’s first wife, who was created at the same time (Rosh Hashanah) and from the same earth as Adam. This contrasts with Eve, who was created from one of Adam’s ribs. The legend was greatly developed during the Middle Ages, in the tradition of Aggadic midrashim, the Zohar, and Jewish mysticism.

For example, in the 13th century writings of Rabbi Isaac ben Jacob ha-Cohen, Lilith left Adam after she refused to become subservient to him and then would not return to the Garden of Eden after she coupled with the archangel Samael. This story reminds about the story of Uttu who refused to obey Enki.

From the great Mother Goddess to Ereshkigal/Inanna – Maria/Lilith – Venus

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The etymology of the name Caesar and Gaius

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 10, 2015

The etymology of the name Caesar is still unknown and was subject to many interpretations even in antiquity. The suffix –ar was highly unusual for the Latin language, which might imply a non-Latin origin of the name.

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”).

The cuneiform sign LUGAL serves as a determinative in cuneiform texts (Sumerian, Akkadian and Hittite), indicating that the following word is the name of a king. In Akkadian orthography, it may also be a syllabogram šàr, acrophonically based on the Akkadian for “king”, šarrum.

Lugal is used extensively in the Amarna letters, for addressing the kings or pharaohs, and elsewhere in speaking about the various kings.

One common address, in the introduction of many letters, from the vassals writing to the pharaoh was to use: Šàr-ri, (for šarrum); they used Lugal + ri = Šàr-ri, (i.e. Pharaoh, or King of, Ancient Egypt). (Ri (cuneiform) is one of the more commonly used hieroglyphs, in many cases for the use of the “r” ). In Sumerian the names Anšar and Kišar literally mean “the entirety of heavens” and “the entirety of earth.”

In Sumerian the SAR word also means to enclose. Similarly SA means inner, while SAG means inside. Sar also meant 3600 in Sumerian, which was the closing of the circle and is related to the somewhat idealized period of 360 days in a year. It was the Sumerians who first divided the circle into 360 degrees.

Sargon of Akkad, also known as Sargon the Great “the Great King” (Akkadian Šarru-kīnu, meaning “the true king” or “the king is legitimate”), was a Semitic Akkadian emperor famous for his conquest of the Sumerian city-states in the 24th and 23rd centuries BC.The name ‘Sargon’ means ‘the king is legitimate’ in Akkadian.

Gaius, sometimes spelled Caius, was a common Latin praenomen; see Gaius (praenomen). It is abbreviated C.; the abbreviation goes back to before the Roman alphabet distinguished between C and G, probably from Etruscan Cae or Cai, meaning unknown. In classical times, the name was pronounced in three syllables, Gā-ǐ-us [ˈɡaː.ɪ.ʊs].

It is also possible that the use of C reflects the Greek letter Gamma.

Gaius is an archaic Latin name and one of the earliest Roman praenomina. Before the introduction of the letter ‘G’ into the Latin alphabet, i.e. before the censorship of Appius Claudius Caecus in 312 BC, the name was only written as Caius. The old spelling remained valid in later times and existed alongside Gaius, especially in the form of the abbreviation C.

The only known original Roman etymology of Gaius is expressed as a gaudio parentum, meaning that the name Gaius stems from the Latin verb gaudere (“to rejoice”, “to be glad”).

This etymology is commonly seen as incorrect, and the origin of Gaius is often stated as still unknown.

Some have linked the name to an unknown Etruscan phrase, others to the gentilician name Gavius, which possibly might have lost the medial v in the course of time. But no supporting evidence has been found to this day.

The most promising explanation can however be found in the folk-etymological derivation from the Greek word γαῖα (gaîa, “earth”), specifically γῆ (“gê”) or γᾶ (“gâ”), which is supported by the Roman vow of marriage that the fiancée had to give: Ubi tu Caius et ego Caia. (“Where you [will be], Gaius, likewise I [will be], Gaia).

By the inclusion of Gaius and Gaia in the vow, the two names could of course be identified simply as “man” and “woman”. But since the vow was originally an archaic rural ceremony, the vernacular explanation by the Romans, who had always been farmers, will have been “woman of the Earth” and “man of the Earth”, referring also to the agricultural property of the family.

Ki means “Earth” in ancient Sumerian. Cuneiform KI is the sign for “earth”. It is also read as GI, GUNNI (=KI.NE) “hearth”, KARAŠ (=KI.KAL.BAD) “encampment, army”, KISLAḪ (=KI.UD) “threshing floor” or steath, and SUR (=KI.GAG). In Akkadian orthography, it functions as a determiner for toponyms and has the syllabic values gi, ge, qi, and qe.

As an earth goddess in Sumerian mythology, Ki was the chief consort of An, the sky god. In some legends[citation needed] Ki and An were brother and sister, being the offspring of Anshar (“Sky Pivot”) and Kishar (“Earth Pivot”), earlier personifications of heaven and earth.

By her consort Anu, Ki gave birth to the Anunnaki, the most prominent of these deities being Enlil, god of the air. According to legends, heaven and earth were once inseparable until Enlil was born; Enlil cleaved heaven and earth in two. An carried away heaven. Ki, in company with Enlil, took the earth.

Some authorities question whether Ki was regarded as a deity since there is no evidence of a cult and the name appears only in a limited number of Sumerian creation texts. Samuel Noah Kramer identifies Ki with the Sumerian mother goddess Ninhursag and claims that they were originally the same figure.

She later developed into the Babylonian and Akkadian goddess Antu, consort of the god Anu (from Sumerian An). Uraš or Urash, in Sumerian mythology is a goddess of earth, and one of the consorts of the sky god Anu. She is the mother of the goddess Ninsun and a grandmother of the hero Gilgamesh.

However, Uras may only have been another name for Antum, Anu’s wife. The name Uras even became applied to Anu himself, and acquired the meaning “heaven”. Ninurta also was apparently called Uras in later times.

In Akkadian mythology, Antu or Antum is a Babylonian goddess. She was the first consort of Anu, and the pair was the parents of the Anunnaki and the Utukki. Antu was replaced as consort by Ishtar or Inanna, who may also be a daughter of Anu and Antu.

Antu was a dominant feature of the Babylonian akit festival until as recently as 200 BC, her later pre-eminence possibly attributable to identification with the Greek goddess Hera, the wife and one of three sisters of Zeus in the Olympian pantheon of Greek mythology and religion.

Hera was as the goddess of women and marriage. Her counterpart in the religion of ancient Rome was Juno. The cow, lion and the peacock were considered sacred to her. Hera’s mother is Rhea and her father Cronus.

Juno is an ancient Roman goddess, the protector and special counselor of the state. She is a daughter of Saturn and sister (but also the wife) of the chief god Jupiter and the mother of Mars and Vulcan. Juno also looked after the women of Rome. Her Etruscan counterpart was Uni, the supreme goddess of the Etruscan pantheon and the patron goddess of Perugia.

Juno’s own warlike aspect among the Romans is apparent in her attire. She often appeared sitting pictured with a peacock armed and wearing a goatskin cloak. The traditional depiction of this warlike aspect was assimilated from the Greek goddess Hera, whose goatskin was called the ‘aegis’.

Uni appears in the Etruscan text on the Pyrgi Tablets as the translation of the Phoenician goddess Astarte or Ashtoreth, the Hellenized form of the Middle Eastern goddess Ishtar, worshipped from the Bronze Age through classical antiquity.

Among the pre-roman Latin tribes, the goddess was worshipped as Uni: a single triad made up of the maiden Juventas, the mother Juno, and the wise Minerva. Later, the Etruscans and early Romans, as we have seen, substituted the chief god Jupiter for Juventas, creating another kind of triad altogether. With her husband Tinia and Menrva, she was part of a powerful triad.

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The Sumerian flood story

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 10, 2015

The mother goddess

The Mesopotamian mother goddess is known under many names, the most prominent of which is the Sumerian name Nintud/Nintur (“Queen of the (birthing) hut”). Other frequent names are Aruru, Dingirmah or Ninmah (“Magnificent Queen”), Belet-ili (“Queen of the gods”), and Ninhursag. However, her most frequently attested name is Nintur.

Sumerian Myth

The Chaldean Account of Genesis

The Sumerian flood story

The Sumerian flood story comes down to us in a single fragmentary tablet, which was not published until 1914. The poem begins with the mother goddess Nintur (“Lady birth-house” or “Lady womb”) recalling that her creatures, mankind, have no place in the world and are apparently wandering around: “let me bring them back, let me lead my people back from their trails”.

She decides that her people should “come and build cities and cult places, / that I may cool myself in their shade”. She shows them how to purify the land, to perform divine services, and to utter “cries for clemency.” There is also some indication that this civilizing and city-building will establish peace in the surrounding regions.

After a long gap in the tablet, which perhaps told of a failure to build a city because of anarchy among the people, Nintur installs a priest-king (ensi) to lead the people: “let me have him oversee their labor, / and let him teach the nation to follow along / unerringly like cattle!”

The first five cities are built and given to their respective deities: Eridu to Enki, the clever fresh water-god, Badtibira (“Wall of the Copper Worker(s)” or “Fortress of the Smiths”) to Dumuzi and Inanna, Sippar to Utu the sun god, and so on. The people dredged the canals, “which were blocked with purplish clay,” and carried water, which “established abundant growth”.

The next section of the story is lost, but it probably contained a list of pre-flood rulers of the first five cities. These priest-kings were credited with extraordinarily long reigns; other sources say that one king, for example, reigned 36,000 years. This is comparable to the genealogies in Genesis and the long childhoods of people in Hesiod’s silver age.

As in the later Story of Atrahasis the flood probably comes about because mankind makes too much noise, angering the chief god Enlil (“Lord of wind”), who can’t sleep because of the noise. When the gap in the text ends the goddesses Nintur and Inanna are weeping for their doomed people, but the clever Enki “took counsel in his own heart”.

Enki contacts the pious priest-king of Nippur, Ziusudra, also Zi-ud-sura and Zin-Suddu (Hellenized Xisuthros: “found long life” or “life of long days”), who already has had a vision of the gods meeting and swearing an oath.

Enki speaks to the flood-hero Ziusudra through a wall, perhaps to avoid breaking an oath not to tell the people what the gods planned. He tells Ziusudra that the gods have commanded that “a flood will sweep over the cult centers; / To destroy the seed of mankind”.

No doubt the text continues with Enki’s advice on how to build a boat and fill it with living creatures, but here another gap ensues. After the gap comes a description of the flood itself: “All the windstorms, exceedingly powerful, attacked as one. At the same time, the flood sweeps over the cult centers.”

After seven days and nights, the sun god Utu comes out and shines his light on the heaven and earth. Ziusudra either drills a hole in the boat or opens a window to let the sun’s rays in. Then he kisses the ground before Utu (prostrating himself) and sacrifices sheep and oxen in thanksgiving for his deliverance.

After another gap in the text we find Enki (?) noting that the gods have sworn “by the life’s breath of heaven / the life’s breath of earth” that Ziusudra is “allied with all of you”. Ziusudra kisses the ground again, this time before An and Enlil, who reward him with “life like a god’s… lasting breath of life, like a god’s”. Then the gods transport Ziusudra, now called preserver of “the seed of mankind,” to the land of Dilmun, in the east.

Dilmun may refer to the island of Bahrain, but at this early time, it was seen as an Eden-like land of peace and purity. Another text about Dilmun describes it as “a pure place… a clean place” where “the raven uttered no cries … the lion killed not / The wolf snatched not the lamb”.

There is also some archeological record of a great flood in this area. When excavating the site of Ur in 1926-29, Sir Leonard Woolley found an eight-foot band of “perfectly clean clay” probably laid down by a massive flood around 3500 BC.

Woolley estimated that the flood may have affected an area of the lower Tigris and Euphrates river valleys “perhaps 400 miles long and 100 miles across”. The flood was by no means universal, but such a deluge could have given rise to a tradition of a flood which happened in the dim beginnings of time.

The flood

The end of the Uruk period coincided with the Piora oscillation, a dry period from c. 3200 – 2900 BC that marked the end of a long wetter, warmer climate period from about 7000-3000 BC, called the Holocene climatic optimum.

The Jemdet Nasr period is an archaeological culture in southern Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) that is generally dated to 3100–2900 BCE. It is named after the type-site Jemdet Nasr, where the assemblage typical for this period was first recognized. Its geographical distribution is limited to south–central Iraq. The culture of the proto-historical Jemdet Nasr period is a local development out of the preceding Uruk period and continues into the Early Dynastic I period.

Although in older literature 3200–3000 BC can be found as the beginning and end dates of the Jemdet Nasr period it is nowadays dated to 3100–2900 BCE based on radiocarbon dating. The Jemdet Nasr period in south–central Iraq is contemporary with the early Ninevite V period in Upper Mesopotamia and the Proto-Elamite stage in western Iran and shares with these periods characteristics such as an emerging bureaucracy and inequality.

Ziusudra of Shuruppak is listed in the WB-62 Sumerian king list recension as the last king of Sumer prior to the deluge. He is subsequently recorded as the hero of the Sumerian flood epic. He is also mentioned in other ancient literature, including The Death of Gilgamesh and The Poem of Early Rulers, and a late version of The Instructions of Shuruppak refers to Ziusudra.

Akkadian Atrahasis (“extremely wise”) and Utnapishtim (“he found life”), as well as biblical Noah (“rest”), are similar heroes of flood legends of the ancient Near East. Although each version of the flood myth has distinctive story elements there are numerous story elements that are common to two, three, or four versions.

The earliest version of the flood myth is preserved fragmentarily in the Eridu Genesis written in Sumerian cuneiform and dating to the 17th century BC during the 1st Dynasty of Babylon when the language of writing and administration was still Sumerian. Strong parallels are notable with other Near Eastern flood legends, such as the biblical account of Noah.

In the WB-62 Sumerian king list recension, Ziusudra, or Zin-Suddu of Shuruppak, is recorded as having reigned as both king and gudug priest for 10 sars (or periods of 3,600), although this was probably a copy error for 10 years.

One saros (shar in Akkadian) stands for 3600 and hence 18 sari was translated as 64,800 years. R. M. Best argued this was a mistranslation; the archaic U sign meaning year was confused with the sar sign which both have a 4-sided diamond shape and that Xisuthros actually reigned 18 years.

In this version, Ziusudra inherited rulership from his father Šuruppak (written SU.KUR.LAM) who ruled for 10 sars. The line following Ziusudra in WB-62 reads: ”Then the flood swept over”. The next line reads: ”After the flood swept over, kingship descended from heaven; the kingship was in Kish.”

The city of Kish flourished in the Early Dynastic period soon after an archaeologically attested river flood in Shuruppak (modern Tell Fara, Iraq) and various other Sumerian cities. This flood has been radiocarbon dated to ca. 2900 BC.

Polychrome pottery from the Jemdet Nasr period (ca. 3000–2900 BC) was discovered immediately below the Shuruppak flood stratum, and the Jemdet Nasr period immediately preceded the Early Dynastic I period.

The significance of Ziusudra’s name appearing on the WB-62 king list is that it links the flood mentioned in the three surviving Babylonian deluge epics of Ziusudra (Eridu Genesis), Utnapishtim (Epic of Gilgamesh), and Atrahasis (Epic of Atrahasis) to river flood sediments in Shuruppak, Uruk, Kish et al. that have been radiocarbon dated to ca. 2900 BC.

This has led some scholars to conclude that the flood hero was king of Shuruppak at the end of the Jemdet Nasr period (ca. 3000–2900) which ended with the river flood of 2900 BC.

Ziusudra being a king from Shuruppak is supported by the Gilgamesh XI tablet making reference to Utnapishtim (Akkadian translation of the Sumerian name Ziusudra) with the epithet “man of Shuruppak” at line 23.

The tale of Ziusudra is known from a single fragmentary tablet written in Sumerian, datable by its script to the 17th century BC (Old Babylonian Empire), and published in 1914 by Arno Poebel. The first part deals with the creation of man and the animals and the founding of the first cities Eridu, Bad-tibira, Larsa, Sippar, and Shuruppak.

After a missing section in the tablet, we learn that the gods have decided to send a flood to destroy mankind. The god Enki (lord of the underworld sea of fresh water and Sumerian equivalent of Babylonian god Ea) warns Ziusudra, the ruler of Shuruppak, to build a large boat; the passage describing the directions for the boat is also lost. When the tablet resumes, it is describing the flood.

A terrible storm raged for seven days, “the huge boat had been tossed about on the great waters,” then Utu (Sun) appears and Ziusudra opens a window, prostrates himself, and sacrifices an ox and a sheep.

After another break the text resumes. The flood is apparently over and Ziusudra is prostrating himself before An (Sky) and Enlil (Lordbreath), who give him “eternal breath” and take him to dwell in Dilmun. The remainder of the poem is lost. (text of Ziusudra epic).

The Epic of Ziusudra adds an element at lines 258–261 not found in other versions that after the river flood “king Ziusudra… they caused to dwell in the land of the country of Dilmun, the place where the sun rises”.

Dilmun is usually identified as Bahrain, an island in the Persian Gulf on the east side of the Arabian Peninsula. In this version of the story, Ziusudra’s boat floats down the Euphrates river into the Persian Gulf (rather than up onto a mountain, or up-stream to Kish).

The Sumerian word KUR in line 140 of the Gilgamesh flood myth was interpreted to mean “mountain” in Akkadian, although in Sumerian KUR did not mean “mountain” but rather “land”, especially a foreign country.

A Sumerian document known as The Instructions of Shuruppak dated by Kramer to about 2500 BC, refers in a later version to Ziusudra. Kramer concluded that “Ziusudra had become a venerable figure in literary tradition by the middle of the third millennium BC.”

Xisuthros is a Hellenization of Sumerian Ziusudra, known from the writings of Berossus, a priest of Marduk in Babylon, on whom Alexander relied heavily for information on Mesopotamia.

Among the interesting features of this version of the flood myth, are the identification, through interpretatio graeca, of the Sumerian god Enki with the Greek god Cronus, the father of Zeus; and the assertion that the reed boat constructed by Xisuthros survived, at least until Berossus’ day, in the “Corcyrean Mountains” of Armenia. Xisuthros was listed as a king, the son of one Ardates, and to have reigned 18 sari.

The Sumerian king list

The ancient Sumerian king list includes the early dynasties of several prominent cities from this period. The first set of names on the list is of kings said to have been reigning before a major flood occurred.

These early names may be fictional and include some legendary and mythological figures, such as Alulim, the first king of Eridu (Cuneiform: NUN.KI; Sumerian: eridu; Akkadian: irîtu modern Arabic: Tell Abu Shahrain), and the first king of Sumer, according to the mythological antediluvian section of the Sumerian King List, and Dumizid.

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

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

Eridu

Eridu, also transliterated as Eridug (“mighty place” or “guidance place”), is an archaeological site in southern Mesopotamia (modern Dhi Qar Governorate, Iraq) considered the earliest city in southern Mesopotamia. Excavation has shown that the city was originally founded on a virgin sand-dune site with no previous occupation.

Eridu appear to be the earliest settlement in the region, founded ca. 5400 BC, close to the Persian Gulf near the mouth of the Euphrates River. Because of accumulation of silt at the shoreline over the millennia, the remains of Eridu are now some distance from the gulf at Abu Shahrain in Iraq.

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

Enki is said to have brought civilization to Sumer at this point, or just shortly before. The Sumerian King List has the following entry for Alulim: “After the kingship descended from heaven, the kingship was in Eridug (Eridu). In Eridug, Alulim became king; he ruled for 28,800 years.”

In a chart of antediluvian generations in Babylonian and Biblical traditions, Professor William Wolfgang Hallo associates Alulim with the composite half-man, half-fish counselor or culture hero (Apkallu) Uanna-Adapa (Oannes), and suggests an equivalence between Alulim and Enosh in the Sethite genealogy given in Genesis chapter 5.

Hallo notes that Alulim’s name means “Stag”. William H. Shea suggests that Alulim was a contemporary of the biblical figure Adam, who may have been derived from Adapa of ancient Mesopotamian religion.

Adapa, a man of Eridu, is depicted as an early culture hero. Identified with U-an, a half-human creature from the sea (Abgallu, from ab=water, gal=big, lu=man), he was considered to have brought civilization to the city during the time of King Alulim.

Bad-tibira

Dumuzid (sometimes transcribed as Dumuzi; Sumerian: Dumu, “child, son” + Zi(d), “faithful, true”), called “the Shepherd”, from Bad-tibira in Sumer, was, according to the Sumerian King List, the fifth predynastic king in the legendary period before the Deluge. The list further states that Dumuzid ruled for 36,000 years.

“Dumuzid the Shepherd” is also the subject of a series of epic poems in Sumerian literature. However, in these tablets he is associated not with Bad-tibira but with Uruk, where a namesake, Dumuzid the Fisherman, was king sometime after the Flood, in between Lugalbanda “the Shepherd” and Gilgamesh.

Dumuzid “the Fisherman”, originally from Kuara in Sumer, was the 3rd king in the 1st Dynasty of Uruk, and Gilgamesh’s predecessor, according to the Sumerian king list. The king list also states that he singlehandedly captured Enmebaragesi, ruler of Kish, and it claims he ruled in Uruk for 100 years — far fewer than the 1200 years it ascribes his predecessor, Lugalbanda “the Shepherd”.

Later poems and hymns of praise to Dumuzid the Shepherd indicate that he was later considered a deity, a precursor of the Babylonian god Tammuz. In Tablet 6 of the Standard Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh rebuffs Ishtar (Inanna), reminding her that she had struck Tammuz (Dumuzid), “the lover of [her] youth”, decreeing that he should “keep weeping year after year”.

Pictured as a bird with a broken wing (an allallu-bird, possibly a European or Indian roller), Dumuzid now “stays in the woods crying ‘My wing!'” (Tablet 6,ii,11-15). Another possible identification for this bird is the northern or red-wattled lapwing, both of which species are well known for their distraction displays where a wing is dragged on the ground as if broken in order to divert a potential predator from the lapwing’s nest. The mournful two-note call of these birds also evokes the Akkadian kappi, “My wing!”.

In a chart of antediluvian generations in Babylonian and Biblical traditions, William Wolfgang Hallo associates Dumuzid with the composite half-man, half-fish counselor or culture hero (Apkallu) An-Enlilda, and suggests an equivalence between Dumuzid and Enoch in the Sethite Genealogy given in Genesis chapter 5.

Tammuz (Akkadian: Duʾzu, Dūzu; Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D), “faithful or true son”) was the name of a Sumerian god of food and vegetation, also worshiped in the later Mesopotamian states of Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia.

Bad-tibira (“Wall of the Copper Worker(s)” or “Fortress of the Smiths”, identified as modern Tell al-Madineh, between Ash Shatrah and Tell as-Senkereh (ancient Larsa) in southern Iraq, was an ancient Sumerian city, which appears among antediluvian cities in the Sumerian King List.

Its Akkadian name was Dûr-gurgurri. It was also called Pantibiblos by Greek authors such as Abydenus, Apollodorus of Athens and Berossus. This may reflect another version of the city’s name Patibira (“Canal of the Smiths”).

According to the Sumerian King List, Bad-tibira was the second city to “exercise kingship” in Sumer before the flood, following Eridu. These kings were said to be En-men-lu-ana, En-men-gal-ana and Dumuzid the Shepherd.

The early Sumerian text Inanna’s descent to the netherworld mentions the city’s temple, E-mush-kalamma. In this tale, Inanna dissuades demons from the netherworld from taking Lulal, patron of Bad-tibira, who was living in squalor.

They eventually take Dumuzid, who lived in palatial opulence at Uruk. This Dumuzid is called “the Shepherd”, who on the King List resides at Bad-Tibira in contrast to the post-diluvian Dumuzid, the Fisherman, who reigns in Uruk.

The “brotherhood text” in cuneiform inscriptions on cones plundered from the site in the 1930s records the friendship pact of Entemena, governor of Lagash, and Lugal-kinishedudu, governor of Uruk. It identifies Entemena as the builder of the temple E-mush to Inanna and Dumuzid, under his local epithet Lugal-E-mush.

Some badly effaced half-bricks on the surface of the mound bore the inscription of Amar-Sin, of the Third Dynasty of Ur. Pieces of vitrified brick scattered over the surface of the large mound bore witness to the city’s destruction by fire.

Possession of the city passed between Larsa, whose king Sin-Iddinam claims to have built the great wall of Bad-tibira, and Isin, whose king Lipit-Ishtar, “the shepherd of Nippur”, claimed to have built the “House of Righteousness” there.

Origin of the Sumerians

Three separate cultures may have fused in Eridu – that of peasant Ubaidian farmers, living in mud-brick huts and practicing irrigation; that of mobile nomadic Semitic pastoralists living in black tents and following herds of sheep and goats; and that of fisher folk, living in reed huts in the marshlands, who may have been the ancestors of the Sumerians.

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

However, the archaeological record shows clear uninterrupted cultural continuity from the time of the Early Ubaid period (5300-4700 BC) settlements in southern Mesopotamia. The Sumerian people who settled here farmed the lands in this region that were made fertile by silt deposited by the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers.

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

Farmers moved down from the north, after perfecting irrigation agriculture there. They spread down into southern Mesopotamia because they had developed a temple-centered social organization for mobilizing labor and technology for water control, enabling them to survive and prosper in a difficult environment.

The Hurrians (cuneiform: 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. 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.

Noting that the Hurro-Urartian peoples inhabited the Armenian homeland in the second millennium BC, Diakonov identifies in Armenian a Hurro-Urartian substratum of social, cultural, and animal and plant terms. 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.

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 heirs of Urartu are the Armenians and their successive kingdoms.

The Mannaeans (country name usually Mannea; Akkadian: Mannai, possibly Biblical Minni) were an ancient people who lived in the territory of present-day northwestern Iran south of lake Urmia, around the 10th to 7th centuries BC.

At that time they were neighbors of the empires of Assyria and Urartu, as well as other small buffer states between the two, such as Musasir (Muṣ-aṣ-ir, Akkadian for Exit of the Serpent/Snake), known as Ardini (the present form of the name is Artin, meaning “sun rising” or to “awake”) in Urartian, and Zikirta.

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

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

Muṣaṣir was an ancient city of Urartu, attested in Assyrian sources of the 9th and 8th centuries BC. It was acquired by the Urartian King Ishpuini ca. 800 BC. The city’s tutelary deity was Ḫaldi, also known as Khaldi or Hayk, one of the three chief deities of Urartu.

Hayk or Hayg, also known as Haik Nahapet (Hayk the Tribal Chief) is the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation. His story is told in the History of Armenia attributed to the Armenian historian Moses of Chorene (410 to 490).

In the Bible (Jeremiah 51:27) the Mannaeans are called Minni. In the Jewish Encyclopedia (1906), Minni is identified with Armenia, but it could refer to one of the provinces in ancient Armenia; Minni, Ararat and Ashkenaz.

According to examinations of the place and personal names found in Assyrian and Urartian texts, the Mannaeans, or at least their rulers, spoke Hurrian, a non-Semitic and non-Indo-European language related to Urartian.

Their kingdom was situated east and south of the Lake Urmia, roughly centered round the Urmia plain in this part of what is today named “Azerbaijan region of Iran”. Excavations that began in 1956 succeeded in uncovering the fortified city of Hasanlu, once thought to be a potential Mannaean site.

More recently, the site of Qalaichi (possibly ancient Izirtu/Zirta) has been linked to the Mannaeans based on a stela with this toponym found at the site. The people of Zikirti are usually identified with ancient Iranian Sagartians (Asagartiya, Old Persian Aš-ša-kar-ti-ia, Babylonian Sa-ga-ar-ta-a-a), mentioned by Herodotus. Ptolemy (6.2.6) locates them in Media, while Stephanus of Byzantium claims that there was a peninsula in the Caspian Sea called Sagartía.

After suffering several defeats at the hands of both Scythians and Assyrians, the remnants of the Mannaean populace were absorbed by an Iranian people known as the Matieni, the name of a kingdom in northwestern Iran on the lands of the earlier kingdom of the Mannae, and the area became known as Matiene. It was then annexed by the Medes in about 609 BC.

Ancient historians including Strabo, Ptolemy, Herodotus, Polybius, and Pliny, mention names such as Mantiane, Martiane, Matiane and Matiene to designate a region located to the northwest of Media.” The name Matiene is believed to be related to Mitanni which was founded by an Indo-Aryan ruling class governing the Hurrian population.

The Mannaeans, who probably spoke a Hurro-Urartian language, were subdued by the Scytho-Kimmerians during the seventh and eighth centuries BC. Matiene was ultimately conquered by the Medes in about 609 BCE.

The Hurrians had a reputation in metallurgy. The Sumerians borrowed their copper terminology from the Hurrian vocabulary. Copper was traded south to Mesopotamia from the highlands of Anatolia. The Khabur Valley had a central position in the metal trade, and copper, silver and even tin were accessible from the Hurrian-dominated countries Kizzuwatna and Ishuwa situated in the Anatolian highland.

The oldest agrarian settlement in southern Mesopotamia seem to have been based upon intensive subsistence irrigation agriculture derived from the Samarra culture (5700-4900 BC), a Chalcolithic archaeological culture in northern Mesopotamia, characterised by the building of canals, and mud-brick buildings.

The Ubaid pottery of southern Mesopotamia has been connected via Choga Mami Transitional ware to the pottery of the Samarra period culture in the north, who was the first to practice a primitive form of irrigation agriculture along the middle Tigris River and its tributaries.

The connection is most clearly seen at Tell Awayli (Oueilli, Oueili) near Larsa, excavated by the French in the 1980s, where eight levels yielded pre-Ubaid pottery resembling Samarran ware.

The Samarra culture partially overlaps with Hassuna and early Ubaid. At Tell es-Sawwan, evidence of irrigation—including flax—establishes the presence of a prosperous settled culture with a highly organized social structure.

The culture is primarily known for its finely made pottery decorated with stylized animals, including birds, and geometric designs on dark backgrounds. This widely exported type of pottery, one of the first widespread, relatively uniform pottery styles in the Ancient Near East, was first recognized at Samarra.

Others have suggested a continuity of Sumerians from the indigenous hunter-fisherfolk traditions associated with the Arabian bifacial assemblages found on the Arabian littoral.

Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) is a division of the Neolithic developed by Kathleen Kenyon during her archaeological excavations at Jericho in the West Bank. Cultural tendencies of this period differ from that of the earlier Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) period in that people living during this period began to depend more heavily upon domesticated animals to supplement their earlier mixed agrarian and hunter-gatherer diet.

Like the earlier PPNA people, the PPNB culture developed from the Earlier Natufian but shows evidence of a northerly origin, possibly indicating an influx from the region of north eastern Anatolia.

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

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

Work at the site of ‘Ain Ghazal in Jordan has indicated a later Pre-Pottery Neolithic C period which existed between 6,200 and 5,900 BP. Juris Zarins has proposed that a Circum Arabian Nomadic Pastoral Complex developed in the period from the climatic crisis of 6200 BCE, partly as a result of an increasing emphasis in PPNB cultures upon animal domesticates, and a fusion with Harifian hunter gatherers in Southern Palestine, with affiliate connections with the cultures of Fayyum and the Eastern Desert of Egypt. Cultures practicing this lifestyle spread down the Red Sea shoreline and moved east from Syria into southern Iraq.

The Sumerians themselves claimed kinship with the people of Dilmun, associated with Bahrein in the Persian Gulf. Professor Juris Zarins believes the Sumerians may have been the people living in the Persian Gulf region before it flooded at the end of the last Ice Age.

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

The third culture that contributed to the building of Eridu was the nomadic Semitic pastoralists of herds of sheep and goats living in tents in semi-desert areas. All three cultures seem implicated in the earliest levels of the city. The urban settlement was centered on an impressive temple complex built of mudbrick, within a small depression that allowed water to accumulate.

The archaeological record shows that Arabian Bifacial/Ubaid period came to an abrupt end in eastern Arabia and the Oman peninsula at 3800 BCE, just after the phase of lake lowering and onset of dune reactivation.

At this time, increased aridity led to an end in semi-desert nomadism, and there is no evidence of human presence in the area for approximately 1000 years, the so-called “Dark Millennium”. This might be due to the 5.9 kiloyear event at the end of the Older Peron.

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

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

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

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

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

Agriculture

Sumerian agriculture depended heavily on irrigation. The irrigation was accomplished by the use of shaduf, canals, channels, dykes, weirs, and reservoirs. The frequent violent floods of the Tigris, and less so, of the Euphrates, meant that canals required frequent repair and continual removal of silt, and survey markers and boundary stones needed to be continually replaced.

As is known from the “Sumerian Farmer’s Almanac”, after the flood season and after the Spring Equinox and the Akitu or New Year Festival, using the canals, farmers would flood their fields and then drain the water. Next they made oxen stomp the ground and kill weeds. They then dragged the fields with pickaxes.

After drying, they plowed, harrowed, and raked the ground three times, and pulverized it with a mattock, before planting seed. Unfortunately the high evaporation rate resulted in a gradual increase in the salinity of the fields. By the Ur III period, farmers had switched from wheat to the more salt-tolerant barley as their principal crop.

Sumerians harvested during the spring in three-person teams consisting of a reaper, a binder, and a sheaf handler. The farmers would use threshing wagons, driven by oxen, to separate the cereal heads from the stalks and then use threshing sleds to disengage the grain. They then winnowed the grain/chaff mixture.

Enlil

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.

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. The myth of Enlil and Ninlil discusses when Enlil was a young god, he was banished from Ekur in Nippur, home of the gods, to Kur, the underworld for seducing a goddess named Ninlil. Ninlil followed him to the underworld where she bore his first child, the moon god Sin (Sumerian Nanna/Suen). After fathering three more underworld-deities (substitutes for Sin), Enlil was allowed to return to the Ekur.

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. Enlil, along with Anu/An, Enki and Ninhursag were gods of the Sumerians. 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.

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.

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.

Enlil was also known as the god of weather. 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, Ea, and he was made immortal by Enlil after Enlil’s initial fury had subsided.

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.

At a very early period prior to 3000 BC, Nippur had become the centre of a political district of considerable extent. Inscriptions found at Nippur, where extensive excavations were carried on during 1888–1900 by John P. Peters and John Henry Haynes, under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania, show that Enlil was the head of an extensive pantheon. Among the titles accorded to him are “king of lands”, “king of heaven and earth”, and “father of the gods”.

The Song of the hoe

The Song of the hoe or the Creation of the pickax is a Sumerian creation myth, written on clay tablets from the last century of the 3rd millennium BC. The poem 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’. The concept of a Garden of the gods or a divine paradise might be of Sumerian origin. The concept of this home of the immortals was later handed down to the Babylonians who conquered Sumer.

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. Ekur 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.

Ekur was the centre of the earth and location where heaven and earth were united. This was carried-on into later tradition in the Bible by the prophet Micah who envisions “the mountain of the temple of Yahweh”.

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.

“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 is suggested to create both the priestess and 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!”

Ensi – the priest-kings

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”).

Æsir

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).

Meaning of Ar

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.

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 name Armenia 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. 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”. Armin is a given name or surname, and is an ancient Zoroastrian given name, meaning Guardian of Aryan Land.

The ard, ard plough, or scratch plough is a simple light plough without a mouldboard. It is symmetrical on either side of its line of draft and is fitted with a symmetrical share that traces a shallow furrow but does not invert the soil. It began to be replaced in most of Europe by the carruca turnplough from the 7th century.

In its simplest form it resembles a hoe consisting of a draft-pole (either composite or a single piece) pierced with a nearly vertical, wooden, spiked head (or stock) which is dragged through the soil by draft animals and very rarely by people.

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”.

The Indo-Europeans

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

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

In North Mesopotamia the period runs only between about 5300 and 4300 BCE. It is preceded by the Halaf period, a prehistoric period which lasted between about 6100 and 5100 BCE, and gives rise to the Halaf-Ubaid Transitional period, the Hassuna culture and the Samarra culture, and succeeded by the Late Chalcolithic period.

Previously, the Syrian plains were not considered as the homeland of Halaf culture, and the Halafians were seen either as hill people who descended from the nearby mountains of southeastern Anatolia, or herdsmen from northern Iraq.

However, those views changed with the recent archaeology conducted since 1986 by Peter Akkermans, which have produced new insights and perspectives about the rise of Halaf culture. A formerly unknown transitional culture between the pre-Half Neolithic’s era and Halaf’s era was uncovered in the Balikh valley, at Tell Sabi Abyad (the Mound of the White Boy).

The new archaeology demonstrated that Halaf culture was not sudden and was not the result of foreign people, but rather a continuous process of indigenous cultural changes in northern Syria, that spread to the other regions.

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

Monuments of the Leyla-Tepe were first located in the 1980s by I.G. Narimanov, a Soviet archaeologist. Recent attention to the monuments has been inspired by the risk of their damage due to the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline and the South Caucasus pipeline.

The Leyla-Tepe culture includes a settlement in the lower layer of the settlements Poilu I, Poilu II, Boyuk-Kesik I and Boyuk-Kesik II. They apparently buried their dead in ceramic vessels. Similar amphora burials in the South Caucasus are found in the Western Georgian Jar-Burial Culture.

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

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

The Maykop culture (also spelled Maikop), ca. 3700 BC—3000 BC, was a major Bronze Age archaeological culture in the Western Caucasus region of Southern Russia.

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

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

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

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

Radiocarbon dates for various monuments of the Maykop culture are from 3950 – 3650 – 3610 – 2980 BC. After the discovery of the Leyla-Tepe culture in the 1980s it was suggested that elements of the Maykop culture migrated to the south-eastern slopes of the Caucasus in modern Azerbaijan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The construction of artificial terrace complexes in the mountains is evidence of their sedentary living, high population density, and high levels of agricultural and technical skills. The terraces were built around the fourth millennium BC., and all subsequent cultures used them for agricultural purposes.

The vast majority of pottery found on the terraces are from the Maykop period, the rest from the Scythian and Alan period. The Maykop terraces are among the most ancient in the world, but they are little studied. The longevity of the terraces (more than 5000 years) allows us to consider their builders unsurpassed engineers and craftsmen.

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

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

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On the origin of the Greeks

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 9, 2015

Xisuthros is a Hellenization of Sumerian Ziusudra, known from the writings of Berossus, a priest of Marduk in Babylon, on whom Alexander relied heavily for information on Mesopotamia.

Hellen was the mythological progenitor of the Hellenes, the son of Deucalion (or sometimes Zeus) and Pyrrha, brother of Amphictyon and father of Aeolus, Xuthus, and Dorus. His name is also another name for Greek, meaning a person of Greek descent or pertaining to Greek culture, and the source of the adjective “Hellenic”.

Deucalion was the son of Prometheus; ancient sources name his mother as Clymene, Hesione, or Pronoia. The anger of Zeus was ignited by the hubris of the Pelasgians, so he decided to put an end to the Bronze Age.

Lycaon, the king of Arcadia, had sacrificed a boy to Zeus, who was appalled by this savage offering. Zeus unleashed a deluge, so that the rivers ran in torrents and the sea flooded the coastal plain, engulfed the foothills with spray, and washed everything clean.

Deucalion, with the aid of his father Prometheus, was saved from this deluge by building a chest. Like the Biblical Noah and the Mesopotamian counterpart Utnapishtim, he uses his device to survive the deluge with his wife, Pyrrha.

According to the Hesiodic Catalogue of Women, his sons were themselves progenitors of primary tribes of Greece: Aeolus the Aeolians, Dorus the Dorians, and Xuthus the Achaeans and Ionians through his sons Achaeus and Ion.

According to Thucydides, they conquered the Greek area of Phthia and subsequently spread their rule to other Greek cities. The people of those areas came to be called Hellenes, after the name of their ancestor. The ethnonym Hellenes dates back to the time of Homer. In the Iliad, “Hellas” and “Hellenes” were names of the tribe (also called “Myrmidones”) settled in Phthia, led by Achilles.

Accounts vary as to the Dorians’ place of origin. One theory, widely believed in ancient times, is that they originated in the north, north-western mountainous regions of Greece, ancient Macedonia and Epirus, whence obscure circumstances brought them south into the Peloponnese, to certain Aegean islands, Magna Graecia, Lapithos and Crete. Mythology gave them a Greek origin and eponymous founder, Dorus son of Hellen, the mythological patriarch of the Hellenes.

In Greek mythology, Xuthus or was a son of Hellen and Orseis and founder (through his sons) of the Achaean and Ionian nations. He had two sons by Creusa: Ion and Achaeus and a daughter named Diomede.

According to the Hesiodic Catalogue of Women on the origin of the Greeks, Hellen’s three sons Dorus, Xuthus (with his sons Ion and Achaeus) and Aeolus, comprised the set of progenitors of the major ancient tribes that formed the Greek nation.

Aiclus and Cothus are sometimes described as being his children. Euripides’s play, Ion, provides an unusual alternate version, according to which Xuthus is son of Aeolus and Cyane and Ion has in fact been begotten on Xuthus’s wife Creusa by Apollo.

Xuthus and Creusa visited the Oracle at Delphi to ask the god if they could hope for a child. Xuthus will later father Dorus with Creusa, though Dorus is normally presented as Xuthus’s brother.

The Achaeans (Greek: Achaioi) were one of the four major tribes into which the people of Classical Greece divided themselves (along with the Aeolians, Ionians and Dorians). According to the foundation myth formalized by Hesiod, their name comes from Achaeus, the mythical founder of the Achaean tribe, who was supposedly one of the sons of Xuthus, and brother of Ion, the founder of the Ionian tribe. Xuthus was in turn the son of Hellen, the mythical patriarch of the Greek (Hellenic) nation.

The origin of the Achaeans is somewhat problematic. Homer, probably writing in the 9th century BC, uses the term Achaeans as a generic term for Greeks throughout the Iliad, which is believed to describe events in Mycenaean Greece, i.e. before 1200 BC. However, there is no firm evidence that the Greeks of the Mycenaean period used that name to describe themselves.

The term Ahhiyawa, found in 13th century BC Hittite texts may mean “Achaeans”, that is to say the Greeks of the Mycenaean culture, but again, there is no definitive evidence that this is the case.

Emil Forrer went as far to claim that there existed a “great empire” called Ahhiyawa, which stood as equal by the side of the old states of the east. However, his conclusions were disproven by later researchers, especially by Ferdinand Sommer.

Emil Forrer, a Swiss Hittitologist who worked on the Boghazköy tablets in Berlin, stated that the Achaeans of pre-Homeric Greece were directly associated with the term “Land of Ahhiyawa” mentioned in the Hittite texts.

However, his conclusions at the time were challenged by other Hittitologists (i.e. Johannes Friedrich in 1927 and Albrecht Götze in 1930), as well as by Ferdinand Sommer, who published his monumental Die Ahhijava-Urkunden (“The Ahhiyawa Documents”) in 1932.

Some Hittite texts mention a nation lying to the west called Ahhiyawa. In the earliest reference to this land, a letter outlining the treaty violations of the Hittite vassal Madduwatta, it is called Ahhiya.

Another important example is the Tawagalawa Letter written by an unnamed Hittite king (most probably Hattusili III) of the empire period (14th–13th century BC) to the king of Ahhiyawa, treating him as an equal and suggesting that Miletus (Millawanda) was under his control. It also refers to an earlier “Wilusa episode” involving hostility on the part of Ahhiyawa.

Ahhiya(wa) has been identified with the Achaeans of the Trojan War and the city of Wilusa with the legendary city of Troy (note the similarity with early Greek Wilion, later Ilion, the name of the acropolis of Troy).

The exact relationship of the term Ahhiyawa to the Achaeans beyond a similarity in pronunciation was hotly debated by scholars, even following the discovery that Mycenaean Linear B is an early form of Greek; the earlier debate was summed up in 1984 by Hans G. Güterbock of the Oriental Institute.

More recent research based on new readings and interpretations of the Hittite texts, as well as of the material evidence for Mycenaean contacts with the Anatolian mainland, came to the conclusion that Ahhiyawa referred to the Mycenaean world, or at least to a part of it.

It has been proposed that Ekwesh of the Egyptian records may relate to Achaea (compared to Hittite Ahhiyawa), whereas Denyen and Tanaju may relate to Classical Greek Danaoi. The earliest textual reference to the Mycenaean world is in the Annals of Thutmosis III (ca. 1479–1425 BC), which refers that messengers from the king of the Tanaju, in circa 1437 BC, offered greeting gifts to the Egyptian king, in order to initiate diplomatic relations, when the latter campaigned in Syria.

Tanaju is also listed in an inscription at the Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep III. The latter ruled Egypt in circa 1382–1344 BC. Moreover, a list of the cities and regions of the Tanaju is also mentioned in this inscription; among the cities listed are Mycenae, Nauplion, Kythera, Messenia and the Thebaid (region of Thebes).

During the 5th year of Pharaoh Merneptah, a confederation of Libyan and northern peoples is supposed to have attacked the western delta. Included amongst the ethnic names of the repulsed invaders is the Ekwesh or Eqwesh, whom some have seen as Achaeans, although Egyptian texts specifically mention these Ekwesh to be circumcised (which does not seem to have been a general practice in the Aegean at the time).

Homer mentions an Achaean attack upon the delta, and Menelaus speaks of the same in Book IV of the Odyssey to Telemachus when he recounts his own return home from the Trojan War. Later Greek myths also say that Helen had spent the time of the Trojan War in Egypt, and not at Troy, and that after Troy the Greeks went there to recover her.

The Mitanni was closely associated with horses. The name of the country of Ishuwa, which might have had a substantial Hurrian population, meant “horse-land”. Isuwa (transcribed Išuwa and sometimes rendered Ishuwa) was the ancient Hittite name for one of its neighboring Anatolian kingdoms to the east, in an area which later became the Luwian Neo-Hittite state of Kammanu.

The Isuwans left no written record of their own, and it is not clear which of the Anatolian peoples inhabited the land of Isuwa prior to the Luwians. They could have been Indo-Europeans like the Luwians, related to the Hittites to the west, Hattians, Hurrians from the south, or Urartians who lived east of Isuwa in the first millennium BC.

The area was one of the places where agriculture developed very early in the Neolithic period. Urban centres emerged in the upper Euphrates river valley around 3000 BC. The first states may have followed in the third millennium BC. The name Isuwa is not known until the literate Hittite period of the second millennium BC. Few literate sources from within Isuwa have been discovered and the primary source material comes from Hittite texts.

The earliest settlements in Isuwa show cultural contacts with Tell Brak to the south, though not being the same culture. Agriculture began early due to favorable climatic conditions. Isuwa was at the outer fringe of the early Mesopotamian Uruk period culture.

The people of Isuwa were also skilled in metallurgy and they reached the Bronze Age in the fourth millennium BC. Copper were first mixed with arsenic, later with tin. The Early Bronze Age culture was linked with Caucasus in the northeast. In the Hittite period the culture of Isuwa shows great parallels to the Central Anatolian and the Hurrian culture to the south. The monumental architecture was of Hittite influence.

After the fall of the Hittite empire in the early twelfth century BC a new state emerged in Isuwa. The city of Melid became the center of a Luwian state, Kammanu, one of the so-called Neo-Hittite states. With the demise of the Hittites the Phrygians settled to the west, and to the east the kingdom of Urartu was founded.

The Neo-Hittite state show influences both from the Phrygia, Assyria and the eastern kingdom of Urartu. After the Scythian people movement there appear some Scythian burials in the area.

In Greek mythology, the perceived cultural divisions among the Hellenes were represented as legendary lines of descent that identified kinship groups, with each line being derived from an eponymous ancestor.

Each of the Greek ethne were said to be named in honor of their respective ancestors: Achaeus of the Achaeans, Danaus of the Danaans, Cadmus of the Cadmeans (the Thebans), Hellen of the Hellenes (not to be confused with Helen of Troy), Aeolus of the Aeolians, Ion of the Ionians, and Dorus of the Dorians.

Cadmus from Phoenicia, Danaus from Egypt, and Pelops from Anatolia each gained a foothold in mainland Greece and were assimilated and Hellenized. Hellen, Graikos, Magnes, and Macedon were sons of Deucalion and Pyrrha, the only people who survived the Great Flood; the ethne were said to have originally been named Graikoi after the elder son but later renamed Hellenes after Hellen who was proved to be the strongest. Sons of Hellen and the nymph Orseis were Dorus, Xuthos, and Aeolus. Sons of Xuthos and Kreousa, daughter of Erechthea, were Ion and Achaeus.

The Assuwa league was a confederation of states in western Anatolia, defeated by the Hittites Tudhaliya I around 1400 BC. The league formed to oppose the Hittite empire. The list of its members contains 22 names, including […]uqqa, Warsiya, Taruisa, Wilusiya and Karkija (Caria). Assuwa has been suggested as the origin for the name of the continent Asia (Bossert, 1946).

Some of the identifications of these names are disputed. Wilusiya is commonly identified with Ilion (Troy), and Taruisa with the surrounding Troad, and Warsiya may be associated with Lukka (Lycia). However, identification of [..]uqqa with later-attested Lukka (Lycia) is problematic, because that would put the Assuwa league both north and south of Arzawa in southwestern Anatolia.

Assuwa appears to lie north of Arzawa, covering the northwestern corner of Anatolia. Homer in the Iliad seems to refer to two Lycias; in 2.876-77, 5.479 Sarpedon is a leader of “distant Lycia” while in 2.824ff. 5.105 Pandarus is another leader of Lycians from around Mount Ida near Troy, so that Lukka vs. […]uqqa may find its explanation in these terms.

However, the Assuwa League included Karkija (Caria), in southwest Anatolia, south of even the proposed Lukka (Lycia). So, since also Assuwa was only a confederate league, it could easily have included a wide-ranging array of anti-Hittite minor powers, across the region.

This confederacy is mentioned only in the fragmentary tablets making up Laroche’s CTH 142/85. Since Tudhaliya IV was known to have had frontier trouble between 1250 and 1200 BC, and since the text lists rebel nations in much the way Ramesses II does, the first consensus dated this text — and so Assuwa — to Tudhaliya IV.

This dating appears in all older literature on the fall of the Hatti, and crops up every now and then to this day. However the consensus has since then come around to dating Assuwa to an earlier Tudhaliya, which means prior to Suppiluliuma and so prior to 1350 BC.

A number of fragmentary Hittite records imply that the anti-Hittite rebellion of the Assuwa league received a certain decree of support from Mycenaean Greece (Ahhiyawa in Hittite).

Adana is a city in southern Turkey. The city is situated on the Seyhan river, 35 km (22 mi) inland from the Mediterranean Sea, in south-central Anatolia. It is the administrative seat of the Adana Province and has a population of 1.66 million, making it the fifth most populous city in Turkey.

Adana lies in the heart of Çukurova, a geo-cultural region that covers the provinces of Mersin, Adana, Osmaniye, and Hatay. Home to 5.9 million people, Çukurova is one of the largest population concentrations in Turkey, as well as the most agriculturally productive area, owing to its large stretch of flat, fertile land.

According to numerous sources, the name Adana is derived from the Hittite Adaniya of Kizzuwatna, while others assert that it is related to the legendary character Danaus, or to the Danaoi, a mythological Greek tribe who came from Egypt and established themselves in the Greek city Argos.

Kizzuwatna (or Kizzuwadna; in Ancient Egyptian Kode), is the name of an ancient Anatolian kingdom in the 2nd millennium BC. It was situated in the highlands of southeastern Anatolia, near the Gulf of İskenderun in modern-day Turkey. It encircled the Taurus Mountains and the Ceyhan River.

Several ethnic groups coexisted in the Kingdom of Kizzuwatna. The Hurrians inhabited this area at least since the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC. The Hittite expansion in the early Old Kingdom period (under Hattusili I and Mursili I) was likely to bring the Hittites and the Luwians to southeastern Anatolia.

The kings of Kizzuwatna of the 2nd millennium BC had frequent contact with the Hittites to the north. The earliest Hittite records seem to refer to Kizzuwatna and Arzawa (Western Anatolia) collectively as Luwia.

The center of the kingdom was the city of Kummanni, situated in the highlands. In a later era, the same region was known as Cilicia. Kummanni was the name of the main center the Anatolian kingdom of Kizzuwatna. Its location is uncertain, but is believed to be near the classical settlement of Comana in Cappadocia. Kummanni was the major cult center of the Hurrian chief deity, Tešup. Its Hurrian name Kummeni simply translates as “The Shrine.”

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.

The city persisted into the Early Iron Age, and appears as Kumme in Assyrian records. It was located on the edge of Assyrian influence in the far northeastern corner of Mesopotamia, separating Assyria from Urartu and the highlands of southeastern Anatolia.

Kumme was still considered a holy city in Assyrian times, both in Assyria and in Urartu. Adad-nirari II, after re-conquering the city, made sacrifices to “Adad of Kumme.” The three chief deities in the Urartian pantheon were “the god of Ardini, the god of Kumenu, and the god of Tushpa.”

The earlier Egyptian texts for a country Danaja are inscriptions from Thutmosis II (1437 BC) and Amenophis III (1390-1352 BC). After the collapse of the Mycenean civilization (1200 BC) some refugeees from the Aegean area went to the coast of Cilicia.

The inhabitants Dananayim or Danuna are identified as one group of the sea-peoples who attacked Egypt on 1191 BC during the reign of Ramesses III. Denyen are identified as inhabitants of the city Adana. It is also possible that the name is connected with the PIE da-nu (river) Da-na-vo (people living by the river), Scythian nomad people, water demons in Rigveda (Danavas).

In the Iliad Danaoi = Greeks, a name which some scholars believe to be related with Adana. In Hellenistic times, it was known as Antiochia in Cilicia or Antiochia ad Sarum (“Antiochia on the Sarus”).

The editors of The Helsinki Atlas tentatively identify Adana as Quwê (as contained in cuneiform tablets), the Neo-Assyrian capital of Quwê province. The name also appears as Coa, and may be the place referred to in the Bible, where King Solomon obtained horses. (I Kings 10:28; II Chron. 1:16). The Armenian name of the city is Atana or Adana.

According to an ancient Greco-Roman legend, the name has its origins in Adanus and Sarus, the two sons of Uranus, who came to a place near the Seyhan (Sarus) River, where they built Adana.

An older legend relates the city’s name to Adad (also known as Tesup or Ishkur), the Thunder God in the Akkadian, Sumerian, Babylonian, Assyrian and Hittite mythologies, who was believed to live in the nearby forest, and whose name was given to the region.

The Hittites’ names and writings have been found in the area, evidencing this possibility. The theory goes that since the Thunder God brought so much rain and this rain in turn brought such great abundance in this particular region, this god was loved and respected by its inhabitants and, in his honor, the region was called the “Uru Adaniyya”; in other words “the Region of Ada”.

Adana’s name has had many different versions over the centuries: Adanos, Ta Adana, Uru Adaniya, Erdene, Edene, Ezene, Batana, Atana, Azana, Addane.

According to the Hittite inscription of Kava, found in Hattusa (Boğazkale), Kizzuwatna was the first kingdom that ruled Adana, under the protection of the Hittites by 1335 BC. At that time, the name of the city was Uru Adaniyya, and the inhabitants were called Danuna. Beginning with the collapse of the Hittite Empire, c. 1191-1189 BC, invasions from the west caused a number of small kingdoms to take control of the plain.

The Denyen are one of the groups constituting the Sea Peoples. They are mentioned in the Amarna letters from the 14th century BC as possibly being related to the “Land of the Danuna” near Ugarit. The Egyptians described them as Sea Peoples.

The Denyen have been identified with the people of Adana, in Cilicia who existed in late Hittite Empire times. They are also believed to have settled in Cyprus. A Hittite report speaks of a Muksus, who also appears in an eighth-century bilingual inscription from Karatepe in Cilicia.

The kings of Adana are traced from the “house of Mopsos,” given in hieroglyphic Luwian as Moxos and in Phoenician as Mopsos, in the form mps. They were called the Dananiyim. The area also reports a Mopsukrene (Mopsus’ fountain in Greek) and a Mopsuhestia (Mopsus’ hearth in Greek), also in Cilicia.

They were raiders associated with the Eastern Mediterranean Dark Ages who attacked Egypt in 1207 BC in alliance with the Libyans and other Sea Peoples, as well as during the reign of Rameses III.

The 20th Egyptian Dynasty allowed them to settle in Canaan, which was largely controlled by the Sea Peoples into the 11th century BC. Mercenaries from the Peleset manned the Egyptian garrison at Beth-shan, and the Denyen shared the same fashion as them which some archeology suggests signifies a shared cemetery there.

These areas also show evidence of close ties with the Aegean as a result of the Late Helladic IIIC 1b pottery found in these areas. Some scholars argue for a connection with the Greek Danaoi (alternate names for the Achaeans familiar from Homer. Greek myth refers to Danaos who with his daughters came from Egypt and settled in Argos. Through Danaë’s son, Perseus, the Danaans are said to have built Mycenae.

There are suggestions that the Denyen joined with Hebrews to form one of the original 12 tribes of Israel. No strong evidence support this view, however. The most famous Danite was Samson, whom some suggest is derived from Denyen tribal legends.

A minority view first suggested by Yigael Yadin attempted to connect the Denyen with the Tribe of Dan, described as remaining on their ships in the early Song of Deborah, contrary to the mainstream view of Israelite history. It was speculated that the Denyen had been taken to Egypt, and subsequently settled between the Caphtorite Philistines and the Tjekker, along the Mediterranean coast with the Tribe of Dan subsequently deriving from them.

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The return of the Golden Age

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 8, 2015

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.

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

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

Muṣaṣir (Akkadian for Exit of the Serpent/Snake), in Urartian Ardini (the present form of the name is Artin, meaning “sun rising” or to “awake”), was an ancient city of Urartu, attested in Assyrian sources of the 9th and 8th centuries BC. Ḫaldi (Ḫaldi, also known as Khaldi or Hayk) was one of the three chief deities of Ararat (Urartu). His shrine was at Ardini. Hayk or Hayg, also known as Haik Nahapet (Hayk the Tribal Chief) is the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation.

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’.

It has been suggested by early 20th century Armenologists that Old Persian Armina and the Greek Armenoi are continuations of an Assyrian toponym Armânum or Armanî. There are certain Bronze Age records identified with the toponym in both Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources.

Pharaoh Thutmose III of Egypt mentions 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”. Armin is a given name or surname, and is:an ancient Zoroastrian given name, meaning Guardian of Aryan Land.

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, the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare, who transfers her allegiance from Aratta to Uruk. It is conquered by Enmerkar of Uruk.

The Hurrians (cuneiform: transliteration: 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.

Maryannu is an ancient word for the caste of chariot-mounted hereditary warrior nobility which existed in many of the societies of the Middle East during the Bronze Age. The term is attested in the Amarna letters written by Haapi.

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

The 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.

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.

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.

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).

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”).

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.

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”.

The ard, ard plough, or scratch plough is a simple light plough without a mouldboard. It is symmetrical on either side of its line of draft and is fitted with a symmetrical share that traces a shallow furrow but does not invert the soil.

Enlil (nlin) (EN = Lord + LÍL = Wind, “Lord (of the) Storm”) is the god of breath, wind, loft and breadth (height and distance). Enlil was known as the inventor of the mattock (a key agricultural pick, hoe, ax or digging tool of the Sumerians) and helped plants to grow.

Enlil 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.

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. Among the titles accorded to him are “king of lands”, “king of heaven and earth”, and “father of the gods”.

In Nippur, Ninurta was worshiped as part of a triad of deities including his father, Enlil and his mother, Ninlil. Ninurta often appears holding a bow and arrow, a sickle sword, or a mace named Sharur: Sharur is capable of speech in the Sumerian legend “Deeds and Exploits of Ninurta” and can take the form of a winged lion and may represent an archetype for the later Shedu.

Ekur (É.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.

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”). This was carried-on into later tradition in the Bible by the prophet Micah who envisions “the mountain of the temple of Yahweh”.

The Ekur was seen as a place of judgement and the place from which Enlil’s divine laws are issued. The ethics and moral values of the site are extolled in myths, which Samuel Noah Kramer suggested would have made it the most ethically-oriented in the entire ancient Near East. Its rituals are also described as: “banquets and feasts are celebrated from sunrise to sunset” with “festivals, overflowing with milk and cream, are alluring of plan and full of rejoicing”.

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”.

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.

Göbekli Tepe (“Potbelly Hill”) is an archaeological site at the top of a mountain ridge in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey, approximately 12 km (7 mi) northeast of the city of Şanlıurfa. It is called Portasar (“Mountain Navel”) in Armenian. The tell includes two phases of ritual use dating back to the 10th-8th millennium BCE.

The site was deliberately backfilled sometime after 8000 BCE: the buildings were buried under debris, mostly flint gravel, stone tools, and animal bones that must have been imported from elsewhere. Eeach enclosure was deliberately buried under as much as 300 to 500 cubic meters (390 to 650 cu yd) of refuse consisting mainly of small limestone fragments, stone vessels, and stone tools. Many animal, even human, bones have also been identified in the fill. Why the enclosures were buried is unknown, but it preserved them for posterity.

It was excavated by a German archaeological team under the direction of Klaus Schmidt from 1996 until his death in 2014. 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 Annuna deities, very ancient gods without individual names.

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 “da-nuna”, “da-nuna-ke-ne”, or “da-nun-na”, meaning “princely offspring” or “offspring of Anu”.

An omphalos is a religious stone artifact, or baetylus. In Greek, the word omphalos means “navel”. In Greek lore, Zeus sent two eagles across the world to meet at its center, the “navel” of the world. Omphalos stones marking the centre were erected in several places about the Mediterranean Sea.

Omphalos is also the name of the stone given to Cronus. In the ancient world of the Mediterranean, it was a powerful religious symbol. Omphalos Syndrome refers to the misguided belief that a place of geopolitical power and currency is the most important place in the world.

The omphalos was not only an object of Hellenic religious symbolism and world centrality; it was also considered an object of power. Its symbolic references included the uterus, the phallus, and a cup of red wine representing royal blood lines.

The omphalos at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, represents, in Christian mediaeval tradition, the navel of the world (the spiritual and cosmological centre of the world).

Jewish tradition held that God revealed himself to His people through the Ark of the Covenant in the Temple in Jerusalem, which rested on the Foundation stone marking the centre of the world.

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. The name comes from the Greek, Boōtēs, meaning herdsman or plowman (literally, ox-driver; from bous “cow”). The “ö” in the name is a diaeresis, not an umlaut, meaning that each ‘o’ is to be pronounced separately.

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.

Arcturus (α Boo, α Boötis, Alpha Boötis) of the constellation Boötes is the brightest star in the northern celestial hemisphere. As one of the brightest stars in the sky, Arcturus has been significant to observers since antiquity. In Mesopotamia, it was linked to the god Enlil, and also known as Shudun, “yoke”, or SHU-PA of unknown derivation in the Three Stars Each Babylonian star catalogues and later MUL.APIN around 1100 BC.

The Spring Triangle is an astronomical asterism involving an imaginary triangle drawn upon the celestial sphere, with its defining vertices at Arcturus, Spica, and Regulus. This triangle connects the constellations of Boötes, Virgo, and Leo. It is visible rising in the south eastern sky of the northern hemisphere between March and May. The lion’s mane and shoulders also form an asterism known as “the Sickle”.

Virgo is one of the constellations of the zodiac. Its name is Latin for virgin. Lying between Leo to the west and Libra to the east, it is the second largest constellation in the sky (after Hydra). It can be easily found through its brightest star, Spica  (α Vir, α Virginis, Alpha Virginis), the brightest star in the constellation Virgo.

Regulus (α Leo, α Leonis, Alpha Leonis) is the brightest star in the constellation Leo. Rēgulus is Latin for ‘prince’ or ‘little king’. The Greek variant Basiliscus is also used. It is known as Qalb al-Asad, from the Arabic قلب الأسد, meaning ‘the heart of the lion’.

Leo was one of the earliest recognized constellations, with archaeological evidence that the Mesopotamians had a similar constellation as early as 4000 BCE. The Persians called Leo Ser or Shir; the Turks, Artan; the Syrians, Aryo; the Jews, Arye; the Indians, Simha, all meaning “lion”.

George Lovi of Sky & Telescope magazine had a slightly different Spring triangle, including the tail of Leo, Denebola, instead of Regulus. Denebola is dimmer, but the triangle is more nearly equilateral. These stars forms part of a larger Spring asterism called the Great Diamond together with Cor Caroli.

In the Babylonian star catalogues, Ursa Minor was known as MAR.GID.DA.AN.NA, the Wagon of Heaven, Damkianna. It appeared on a pair of tablets containing canonical star lists that were compiled around 1000 BC, the MUL.APIN, and was one of the “Stars of Enlil”—that is, the northern sky. The possible origin of its name was its appearing to rotate like a wheel around the north celestial pole.

Ursa Major (also known as the Great Bear and Charles’ Wain) is a constellation in the northern celestial hemisphere. Its name, Latin for “the greater (or larger) she-bear”, stands as a reference to and in direct contrast with Ursa Minor, “the smaller she-bear”, with which it is frequently associated in mythology and amateur astronomy.

The constellation’s most recognizable asterism, a group of seven relatively bright stars commonly known as the “Big Dipper”, “the Wagon” or “the Plough” (among others), both mimicks the shape of the lesser bear (the “Little Dipper”) and is commonly used as a navigational pointer towards the current northern pole star, Polaris in Ursa Minor.

The Big Dipper and the constellation as a whole have mythological significance in numerous world cultures, usually as a symbol of the north.

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, by the Ugaritians with El, by the Greeks Cronus and by the Romans Saturn.

Saturn is a god in ancient Roman religion, and a character in myth. He was the first god of the Capitol, known since the most ancient times as Saturnius Mons, and was seen as a god of generation, dissolution, plenty, wealth, agriculture, periodic renewal and liberation.

In later developments he came to be also a god of time. His reign was depicted as a Golden Age of plenty and peace. Under Saturn’s rule, humans enjoyed the spontaneous bounty of the earth without labour in the “Golden Age” described by Hesiod and Ovid.

The position of Saturn’s festival in the Roman calendar led to his association with concepts of time, especially the temporal transition of the New Year. In the Greek tradition, Cronus was often conflated with Chronus, “Time,” and his devouring of his children taken as an allegory for the passing of generations.

The sickle or scythe of Father Time is a remnant of the agricultural implement of Cronus-Saturn, and his aged appearance represents the waning of the old year with the birth of the new, in antiquity sometimes embodied by Aion. In late antiquity, Saturn is syncretized with a number of deities, and begins to be depicted as winged, as is Kairos, “Timing, Right Time”.

The Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum housed the state treasury. He was celebrated at what is perhaps the most famous of the Roman festivals, the Saturnalia, a time of feasting, role reversals, free speech, gift-giving and revelry, celebrated the harvest and sowing, and ran from December 17–23. Saturn the planet and Saturday are both named after the god.

Macrobius (5th century AD) presents an interpretation of the Saturnalia as a festival of light leading to the winter solstice. The renewal of light and the coming of the new year was celebrated in the later Roman Empire at the Dies Natalis of Sol Invictus, the “Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun,” on December 25.

The Romans identified Saturn with the Greek Cronus, whose myths were adapted for Latin literature and Roman art. In particular, Cronus’s role in the genealogy of the Greek gods was transferred to Saturn. As early as Livius Andronicus (3rd century BC), Jupiter was called the son of Saturn.

Saturn had two consorts who represented different aspects of the god. The name of his wife Ops, the Roman equivalent of Greek Rhea, means “wealth, abundance, resources.” The association with Ops though is considered a later development, as this goddess was originally paired with Consus. Earlier was Saturn’s association with Lua (“destruction, dissolution, loosening”), a goddess who received the bloodied weapons of enemies destroyed in war.

In Greek mythology, Cronus was the leader and youngest of the first generation of Titans, the divine descendants of Uranus, the sky, and Gaia, the earth. He overthrew his father and ruled during the mythological Golden Age, until he was overthrown by his own son Zeus and imprisoned in Tartarus.

Cronus was usually depicted with a harpe, scythe or a sickle, which was the instrument he used to castrate and depose Uranus, his father. 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.

As with Saturn, Cronus overthrew his father and ruled during the mythological Golden Age, until he was overthrown by his own son Zeus and imprisoned in Tartarus. The term Golden Age comes from Greek mythology and legend and refers to the first in a sequence of four or five (or more) Ages of Man, in which the Golden Age is first, followed in sequence, by the Silver, Bronze, Heroic, and then the present (Iron), which is a period of decline, sometimes followed by the Leaden Age.

By extension “Golden Age” denotes a period of primordial peace, harmony, stability, and prosperity. During this age peace and harmony prevailed, did not have to work to feed themselves, for the earth provided food in abundance. They lived to a very old age with a youthful appearance, eventually dying peacefully, with spirit living on as “guardians”. Plato in Cratylus (397 e) recounts the golden race of humans who came first. He clarifies that Hesiod did not mean literally made of gold, but good and noble.

There are analogous concepts in the religious and philosophical traditions of the South Asian subcontinent. For example, the Vedic or ancient Hindu culture saw history as cyclical, composed of yugas with alternating Dark and Golden Ages. The Kali yuga (Iron Age), Dwapara yuga (Bronze Age), Treta yuga (Silver Age) and Satya yuga (Golden Age) correspond to the four Greek ages. Similar beliefs occur in the ancient Middle East and throughout the ancient world, as well.

In classical Greek mythology the Golden Age was presided over by the leading Titan Cronus. In some version of the myth Astraea also ruled. She lived with men until the end of the Silver Age, but in the Bronze Age, when men became violent and greedy, fled to the stars, where she appears as the constellation Virgo, holding the scales of Justice, or Libra. According to legend, Astraea will one day come back to Earth, bringing with her the return of the utopian Golden Age of which she was the ambassador.

European pastoral literary and iconographic tradition often depicted nymphs and shepherds as living a life of rustic innocence and simplicity, untainted by the corruptions of civilization — a continuation of the Golden Age — set in an idealized Arcadia, a region of Greece that was the abode and center of worship of their tutelary deity, goat-footed Pan, who dwelt among them. This idealized and nostalgic vision of the simple life, however, was sometimes contested and even ridiculed, both in antiquity and later on.

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.

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. The name aleph 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.

The Phoenician letter is derived from an 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.

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).

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 *hewsṓs 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 *hews-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 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 *abhor- “very” and *dhei “to shine”. Other epithets include 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.

Numerous theories have been proposed for the etymology of Vanir. Scholar R. I. Page says that, while there are no shortages of etymologies for the word, it is tempting to link the word with “Old Norse vinr, ‘friend’, and Latin Venus, ‘goddess of physical love.’”

In Norse mythology, Njörðr is a god among the Vanir. Njörðr, father of the deities Freyr and Freyja by his unnamed Vanir sister, was in an ill-fated marriage with the goddess Skaði, lives in Nóatún (Old Norse “ship-enclosure”), described in the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning as located “in heaven”, and is associated with sea, seafaring, wind, fishing, wealth, and crop fertility.

In Germanic paganism, Nerthus is a goddess associated with fertility. Nerthus is attested by Tacitus, the first century AD Roman historian, in his ethnographic work Germania. The name Nerthus is generally held to be a Latinized form of Proto-Germanic *Nerþuz, a direct precursor to the Old Norse deity name Njörðr.

While scholars have noted numerous parallels between the descriptions of the two figures, Njörðr is attested as a male deity. Various scholarly theories exist regarding the goddess and her potential later traces amongst the Germanic peoples, including that the figure may be identical to the unnamed sister-wife of Njörðr mentioned in two Old Norse sources.

In Germania, Tacitus records that the remote Suebi tribes were united by their veneration of the goddess at his time of writing and maintained a sacred grove on an (unspecified) island and that a holy cart rests there draped with cloth, which only a priest may touch.

The priests feel her presence by the cart, and, with deep reverence, attend her cart, which is drawn by heifers. Everywhere the goddess then deigns to visit, she is met with celebration, hospitality, and peace. All iron objects are locked away, and no one will leave for war. When the goddess has had her fill she is returned to her temple by the priests. Tacitus adds that the goddess, the cart, and the cloth are then washed by slaves in a secluded lake. The slaves are then drowned.

Nerthus is often identified with the van Njörðr who is attested in various 13th century Old Norse works and in numerous Scandinavian place names. The connection between the two is due to the linguistic relationship between Njörðr and the reconstructed Proto-Germanic *Nerþuz, Nerthus being the feminine, Latinized form of what Njörðr would have looked like around the first century.

This has led to theories about the relation of the two, including that Njörðr may have once been a hermaphroditic deity or that the name may indicate the otherwise forgotten sister-wife in a divine brother-sister pair like the Vanir deities Freyja and Freyr.

While developments in historical linguistics ultimately allowed for the identification of Nerthus with Njörðr, various other readings of the name were in currency prior to the acceptance of this identification, most commonly the form Hertha. This form was proposed as an attempt to mirror the Old Norse goddess name Jörð ‘earth’.

Writing on this topic in 1912, Raymond Wilson Chambers says “strange has been the history of this goddess Nerthus in modern times. Sixteenth century scholars found irresistible the temptation to emend the name of ‘Mother Earth’ into Herthum, which nineteenth century scholars further improved into Hertham, Ertham. For many years this false goddess drove out the rightful deity from the fortieth chapter of the Germania”.

Freyr or Frey is one of the most important gods of Norse religion. The name is conjectured to derive from the Proto-Norse *frawjaz, “lord”. Freyr was associated with sacral kingship, virility and prosperity, with sunshine and fair weather, and was pictured as a phallic fertility god, Freyr “bestows peace and pleasure on mortals”.

Freyja (Old Norse for “(the) Lady”) is a goddess associated with love, sexuality, beauty, fertility, gold, seiðr, war, and death.Her name is the name for Friday in many Germanic languages. Freyja’s husband, the god Óðr, is frequently absent. She cries tears of red gold for him, and searches for him under assumed names.

Scholars have theorized about whether Freyja and the goddess Frigg ultimately stem from a single goddess common among the Germanic peoples. Various plants in Scandinavia once bore her name, but it was replaced with the name of the Virgin Mary during the process of Christianization.

“Gold” is cognate with similar words in many Germanic languages, deriving via Proto-Germanic *gulþą from Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰelh- (“to shine, to gleam; to be yellow or green”). The symbol Au is from the Latin: aurum, the Latin word for “gold”.

The Proto-Indo-European ancestor of aurum was *hé-hus-o-, meaning “glow”. This word is derived from the same root (Proto-Indo-European *hu̯es- “to dawn”) as *héu̯sōs, the ancestor of the Latin word Aurora, “dawn”. This etymological relationship is presumably behind the frequent claim in scientific publications that aurum meant “shining dawn”.

The term Golden Age (Greek: chryseon genos) comes from Greek mythology and legend and refers to the first in a sequence of four or five (or more) Ages of Man, in which the Golden Age is first, followed in sequence, by the Silver, Bronze, Heroic, and then the present (Iron), which is a period of decline, sometimes followed by the Leaden Age. By definition, one is never in the Golden Age.

By extension “Golden Age” denotes a period of primordial peace, harmony, stability, and prosperity. During this age peace and harmony prevailed, did not have to work to feed themselves, for the earth provided food in abundance. They lived to a very old age with a youthful appearance, eventually dying peacefully, with spirit living on as “guardians”.

Plato in Cratylus (397 e) recounts the golden race of humans who came first. He clarifies that Hesiod did not mean literally made of gold, but good and noble. The English word elf is from the Old English word most often attested as ælf (whose plural would have been *ælfe). Although this word took a variety of forms in different Old English dialects, these converged on the form elf during the Middle English period.

During the Old English period, separate forms were used for female elves (such as ælfen, putatively from common Germanic *ɑlβ(i)innjō), but during the Middle English period the word elf came routinely to include female beings.

The main medieval Germanic cognates of elf are Old Norse alfr, plural alfar, and Old High German alp, plural alpî, elpî (alongside the feminine elbe). These words must come from Common Germanic, the ancestor-language of English, German, and the Scandinavian languages: the Common Germanic forms must have been *ɑlβi-z and ɑlβɑ-z.

Germanic *ɑlβi-z~*ɑlβɑ-z Ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *alp- or *albʰós is generally agreed to be cognate with the Latin albus (‘(matt) white’), Old Irish ailbhín (‘flock’); Albanian elb (‘barley’); and Germanic words for ‘swan’ such as Modern Icelandic álpt.

These all come from an Indo-European base *albh-, and seem to be connected by whiteness. The Germanic word presumably originally meant ‘white person’, perhaps as a euphemism. Jakob Grimm thought that whiteness implied positive moral connotations, and, noting Snorri Sturluson’s ljósálfar, suggested that elves were divinities of light.

This is not necessarily the case, however. For example, Alaric Hall, noting that the cognates suggest matt white, has instead tentatively suggested that later evidence associating both elves and whiteness with feminine beauty may indicate that it was this beauty that gave elves their name.

A completely different etymology, making elf cognate with the Rbhus, semi-divine craftsmen in Indian mythology, was also suggested by Kuhn, in 1855. While still sometimes repeated, however, this idea is not widely accepted.

The Ribhus are three at first mortal beings who according to Sayana attained godhood by austerities. Their individual names were Ribhu (or Rhibhu), Vaja and Vibhvan, but after the name of their leader they were collectively called Rhibhus or Ribhus (ṛbhú-, pl. ṛbhava).

Their name’s meaning is “clever, skillful, inventive, prudent”, cognate to Latin labor and Gothic arb-aiþs “labour, toil”, and perhaps to English elf. In the Rigveda the adjective in its lexical meaning “skillful” is also applied to Indra, Agni and the Adityas.

There are analogous concepts in the religious and philosophical traditions of the South Asian subcontinent. For example, the Vedic or ancient Hindu culture saw history as cyclical, composed of yugas with alternating Dark and Golden Ages.

The Kali yuga (Iron Age), Dwapara yuga (Bronze Age), Treta yuga (Silver Age) and Satya yuga (Golden Age) correspond to the four Greek ages. Similar beliefs occur in the ancient Middle East and throughout the ancient world, as well.

In classical Greek mythology the Golden Age was presided over by the leading Titan Cronus. In some version of the myth Astraea also ruled. She lived with men until the end of the Silver Age, but in the Bronze Age, when men became violent and greedy, fled to the stars, where she appears as the constellation Virgo, holding the scales of Justice, or Libra.

European pastoral literary and iconographic tradition often depicted nymphs and shepherds as living a life of rustic innocence and simplicity, untainted by the corruptions of civilization — a continuation of the Golden Age — set in an idealized Arcadia, a region of Greece that was the abode and center of worship of their tutelary deity, goat-footed Pan, who dwelt among them. This idealized and nostalgic vision of the simple life, however, was sometimes contested and even ridiculed, both in antiquity and later on.

There are hints that Freyr was associated with elves, particularly that Álfheimr (Old Norse: Ālfheimr, “Land Of The Fairies”), also called Ljosalfheim (Ljósálf[a]heimr, “light-elf home”), one of the Nine Worlds and home of the Light Elves in Norse mythology, is mentioned as being given to Freyr in Grímnismál.

In medieval Germanic-speaking cultures, elves seem generally to have been thought of as a group of beings with magical powers and supernatural beauty, ambivalent towards everyday people and capable of either helping or hindering them. However, the precise character of beliefs in elves across the Germanic-speaking world has varied considerably across time, space, and different cultures.

For a long time, views about elves in Old Norse mythology were defined by Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda, which talks about svartálfar, dökkálfar and ljósálfar. However, these words are only attested in the Prose Edda and texts based on it, and it is now agreed that they reflect traditions of dwarves, demons, and angels, partly showing Snorri’s “paganisation” of a Christian cosmology learned from the Elucidarius, an encyclopedic work or summa about medieval Christian theology and folk belief, originally written in the late 11th century by Honorius Augustodunensis, influenced by Anselm of Canterbury and John Scotus.

Scholars of Old Norse mythology now focus on references to elves in Old Norse poetry, particularly the Elder Edda. The only character explicitly identified as an elf in classical Eddaic poetry, if any, is Völundr, the protagonist of Völundarkviða.

Although the relevant words are of slightly uncertain meaning, it seems fairly clear that Völundr is described as one of the elves in Völundarkviða. As his most prominent deed in the poem is to rape Böðvildr, the poem associates elves with being a sexual threat to maidens.

The same idea is present in two post-classical Eddaic poems, which are also influenced by romance or Breton lais, Kötludraumur and Gullkársljóð and in later traditions in Scandinavia and beyond, so may be an early attestation of a prominent tradition. Elves also appear in a couple of verse spells, including the Bergen rune-charm from among the Bryggen inscriptions.

However, elves are frequently mentioned in the alliterating formulaic collocation Æsir ok Álfar (‘Æsir and elves’) and its variants. This shows a strong tradition of associating elves with the Æsir, or sometimes even of not distinguishing between the two groups. A kenning for the sun, álfrǫðull, is of uncertain meaning but is to some suggestive of a close link between the elves’ and the sun.

The collocation is paralleled in the Old English poem Wið færstice; in the Germanic personal name system; and in Skaldic verse the word elf is used in the same way as words for gods. Sigvatr Þórðarson’s skaldic travelogue Austrfaravísur, composed around 1020, mentions an álfablót (‘elves’ sacrifice’) in Edskogen in what is now southern Sweden.

There does not seem to have been any clear-cut distinction between humans and gods; like the Æsir, then, elves were presumably thought of as being human(-like) and existing in opposition to the giants. Many commentators have also (or instead) argued for conceptual overlap between elves and dwarves in Old Norse mythology, which may fit with trends in the medieval German evidence.

Because Snorri Sturluson identified Freyr as one of the Vanir when that word is rare in Eddaic verse, very rare in Skaldic verse, and is not generally thought to appear in other Germanic languages, it has long been suggested that álfar and Vanir are, more or less, different words for the same group of beings, and even that Snorri invented the Vanir. However, this is not uniformly accepted.

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Rolandskvadet – Norwegian ballad of the Song of Roland

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 7, 2015

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