Posted by Fredsvenn on April 17, 2016
Ara is a southern constellation situated between Scorpius and Triangulum Australe (“the southern triangle”), a small constellation in the far Southern Celestial Hemisphere. Its Latin name is Latin for “altar”. In ancient Greek mythology, Ara was identified as the altar where the gods first made offerings and formed an alliance before defeating the Titans. The nearby Milky Way represents the smoke rising from the offerings on the altar.
Ararat – The place of origin
Inanna (Old Babylonian or Neo-Assyrian MUŠ; Sumerian: Inanna; Akkadian: Ištar) was the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare, and goddess of the E-Anna temple at the city of Uruk, her main centre. As early as the Uruk period (ca. 4000–3100 BCE), Inanna was associated with the city of Uruk.
Aratta is a land that appears in Sumerian myths surrounding Enmerkar and Lugalbanda, two early and possibly mythical kings of Uruk also mentioned on the Sumerian king list.
Aratta is described in Sumerian literature as a fabulously wealthy place full of gold, silver, lapis lazuli and other precious materials, as well as the artisans to craft them. It is remote and difficult to reach. It is home to the goddess Inanna, who transfers her allegiance from Aratta to Uruk. It is conquered by Enmerkar of Uruk.
It has been suggested by early 20th century Armenologists that Old Persian Armina and the Greek Armenoi are continuations of an Assyrian toponym Armânum or Armanî. There are certain Bronze Age records identified with the toponym in both Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources. The earliest is from an inscription which mentions Armânum together with Ibla (Ebla) as territories conquered by Naram-Sin of Akkad in c. 2250 BC.
Another mention by pharaoh Thutmose III of Egypt in the 33rd year of his reign (1446 BC) as the people of Ermenen, and says in their land “heaven rests upon its four pillars”. Armin is a given name or surname, and is an ancient Zoroastrian given name in Persian, meaning “Guardian of Aryan land”.
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. The landscape corresponds to the mountainous plateau between Anatolia, Mesopotamia, the Iranian Plateau, and the Caucasus Mountains, later known as 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. It is argued on linguistic evidence that proto-Armenian came in contact with Urartian at an early date (3rd-2nd millennium BC), before formation of Urartian kingdom.
That a distinction should be made between the geographical and the political entity was already pointed out by König (1955). Boris Piotrovsky wrote that “the Urartians first appear in history in the 13th century BC. as a league of tribes or countries which did not yet constitute a unitary state. The kingdom rose to power in the mid-ninth century BC.
“Urartu” is cognate with the Biblical “Ararat,” Akkadian “Urashtu,” and Armenian “Ayrarat.” The name used by the local population as a toponym was Biainili (or Biaineli), which forms the root of the Armenian “Van”, hence the names “Kingdom of Van (Bianili)” or “Vannic Kingdom.”
Scholars believe that Urartu is an Akkadian variation of Ararat of the Old Testament. Indeed, Mount Ararat is located in ancient Urartian territory, approximately 120 kilometres (75 mi) north of its former capital. In addition to referring to the famous Biblical mountain, Ararat also appears as the name of a kingdom in Jeremiah 51:27, mentioned together with Minni and Ashkenaz.
Scholars such as Carl Ferdinand Friedrich Lehmann-Haupt (1910) believed that the people of Urartu called themselves Khaldini after the god Ḫaldi (also known as Khaldi or Hayk), one of the three chief deities of Urartu (Ararat). His shrine was at Ardini (Muṣaṣir). Hayk or Hayg, also known as Haik Nahapet (“Hayk the Tribal Chief”) is the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation.
The other two chief deities were Theispas of Kumenu, and Shivini or Artinis of Tushpa. Of all the gods of the Urartian pantheon, the most inscriptions are dedicated to Khaldi. His wife was the goddess Arubani, the Urartian’s goddess of fertility and art. He was portrayed as a man with or without wings, standing on a lion.
The Hittite sun goddess Arinniti was later assimilated with Hebat. A prayer of Queen Puduhepa makes this explicit: “To the Sun-goddess of Arinna, my lady, the mistress of the Hatti lands, the queen of Heaven and Earth. Sun-goddess of Arinna, thou art Queen of all countries! In the Hatti country thou bearest the name of the Sun-goddess of Arinna; but in the land which thou madest the cedar land thou bearest the name Hebat.”
Hebat, also transcribed, Kheba or Khepat, was the mother goddess of the Hurrians, known as “the mother of all living”. She is also a Queen of the deities. She is married to Teshub and is the mother of Sarruma and Alanzu, as well mother-in-law of the daughter of the dragon Illuyanka. The mother goddess is likely to have had a later counterpart in the Phrygian goddess Cybele.
The name may be transliterated in different versions – Khebat with the feminine ending -t is primarily the Syrian and Ugaritic version. 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.
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, bows and arrows, and shields hung off the walls and were sometimes known as ‘the house of weapons’.
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”, and persists in Armenian names to this day) was an ancient city of Urartu, attested in Assyrian sources of the 9th and 8th centuries BC.
Asha is the Avestan language term (corresponding to Vedic language ṛta) for a concept of cardinal importance to Zoroastrian theology and doctrine. Its Old Persian equivalent is arta-. 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’. In the moral sphere, aša/arta represents what has been called “the decisive confessional concept of Zoroastrianism.” The word is also the proper name of the divinity Asha, the Amesha Spenta that is the hypostasis or “genius” of “Truth” or “Righteousness”.
In the Younger Avesta, this figure is more commonly referred to as Asha Vahishta (Aša Vahišta, Arta Vahišta), “Best Truth”. The Middle Persian descendant is Ashawahist or Ardwahisht; New Persian Ardibehesht or Ordibehesht. The opposite of Avestan aša is druj, “lie.”
In the Assyrian annals the term Uruatri (Urartu) as a name for this league was superseded during a considerable period of years by the term “land of Nairi””. Assyrian inscriptions of Shalmaneser I (c. 1274 BC) first mention Uruartri as one of the states of Nairi, a loose confederation of small kingdoms and tribal states in the Armenian Highland in the 13th to 11th centuries BC which he conquered. Uruartri itself was in the region around Lake Van.
The Nairi states were repeatedly subjected to further attacks and invasions by the Assyrians. Urartu re-emerged in Assyrian inscriptions in the 9th century BC as a powerful northern rival of Assyria. The Nairi states and tribes became a unified kingdom under king Aramu (c. 860 – 843 BC), whose capital at Arzashkun was captured by the Assyrians under Shalmaneser III.
The heirs of Urartu are the Armenians and their successive kingdoms. In the early sixth century BC, Urartu was replaced by the Armenian Orontid Dynasty. In the trilingual Behistun Inscription, carved in 521 or 520 BC by the order of Darius I, the country referred to as Urartu in Assyrian is called Arminiya in Old Persian and Harminuia in the Elamite language.
Shupria (Akkadian: Armani-Subartu from the 3rd millennium BC) was part of the Urartu confederation. Later, there is reference to a district in the area called Arme or Urme, which some scholars have linked to the name of Armenia.
The Golden Age of Man
The title Arya literally means in both the Indian Sanskrit, the old classic language of India, and in the Ancient Persian language “the exalted or noble one”. Ar, Arch-, also archi-, is also the word-forming element meaning “chief, principal; extreme, ultra; early, primitive.”
It is derived from the Sumerian Ar, Ara “praised, glorified, exalted, lofty, shining, blazed, bright, clear, polished”; which is also disclosed as the remote Sumerian root of our modern word “Aristocrat” or “noblest or most excellent governor”, derived through the Greek, a word which well defines the older ethnic meaning of the word “Aryan”.
“Gold” is cognate with similar words in many Germanic languages, deriving via Proto-Germanic *gulþą from Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰelh₃- (“to shine, to gleam; to be yellow or green”). The symbol Au is from the Latin: aurum, the Latin word for “gold”. It is from Proto-Italic *auzom, which is cognate with Lithuanian áuksas, Old Lithuanian ausas, Old Prussian ausis, Tocharian Awäs, Tocharian B yasā.
The Proto-Indo-European ancestor of aurum was *h₂é-h₂us-o-, meaning “glow”. This word is derived from the same root (Proto-Indo-European *h₂u̯es- “to dawn”) as *h₂éu̯sōs, 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 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, people 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 spirits 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, cognate with Kumarbi, the chief god of the Hurrians, who 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.
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 tradition often depicted nymphs and shepherds as living a life of rustic innocence and peace, set in Arcadia, a region of Greece that was the abode and center of worship of their tutelary deity, goat-footed Pan, who dwelt among them.
Song of the hoe (al/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 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 song was meant to be sung aloud with the repetition of the word hoe or “al” a total of forty five times in the text with common use of the two syllables together “al”/”ar”. The verb-forms and nouns also frequently start with, or contain the syllable “al” (or “ar”), suggesting the writer intendedit for humour as a satirical school text or as atongue-twister.
The song starts with a creation myth where Enlil separates heaven and earth in Duranki, the cosmic Nippur or ‘Garden of the Gods’: “Not only did the lord make the world appear in its correct form, the lord who never changes the destinies which he determines – Enlil – who will make the human seed of the Land come forth from the earth – and not only did he hasten to separate heaven from earth, and hasten to separate earth from heaven, but, in order to make it possible for humans to grow in “where flesh came forth” [the name of a cosmic location], he first raised the axis of the world at Dur-an-ki.
The myth continues with a description of Enlil creating daylight with his hoe; he goes on to praise its construction and creation. Enlil’s mighty hoe is said to be made of gold, with the blade made of lapis lazuli and fastened by cord. It is inlaid with lapis lazuli and adorned with silver and gold. Enlil makes civilized man, from a brick mould with his hoe – and the Annanuki start to praise him.
Nisaba, Ninmena, and Nunamnir start organizing things. Enki praises the hoe; they start reproducing and Enlil makes numerous shining hoes, for everyone to begin work. Enlil then founds the Ekur with his hoe whilst a “god-man” called Lord Nudimmud builds the Abzu in Eridug.
Various gods are then described establishing construction projects in other cities, such as Ninhursag in Kesh, and Inanna and Utu in Zabalam; Nisaba and E-ana also set about building. The useful construction and agricultural uses of the hoe are summarized, along with its capabilities for use as a weapon and for burying the dead.
Allusions are made to the scenes of Enkidu’s ghost, and Urshanabi’s ferry over the Hubur, in the Epic of Gilgamesh: “dead people are also brought up from the ground by the hoe. With the hoe, the hero honoured by An, the younger brother of Nergal, the warrior Gilgamesh – is as powerful as a hunting net. The sage son of Ninsumun is pre-eminent with oars. With the hoe, he is the great “kindajal” of the watercourses.”
Ninmena is suggested to create both the priestess and king. The hymn ends with extensive praisings of the hoe, Enlil, and Nisaba, the Sumerian goddess of writing, learning, and the harvest:
“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!”
Ishara/ Ishtar/ Hausos/ Usha/ Urash/ Ereshkigal
Ara/ Ra/ Artinis (Shivini)/ Rudra (Shiva)/ Arsu/ Ruda/ Resheph
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. EN is the Sumerian cuneiform for “lord” or “priest”. Originally, it seems to have been used to designate a high priest or priestess of a Sumerian city-state’s patron-deity – a position that entailed political power as well. It may also have been the original title of the ruler of Uruk.
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).
Nergal was also the deity who presides over the netherworld, and who stands at the head of the special pantheon assigned to the government of the dead (supposed to be gathered in a large subterranean cave known as Aralu or Irkalla). In this capacity he has associated with him a goddess Allatu or Ereshkigal, though at one time Allatu may have functioned as the sole mistress of Aralu, ruling in her own person. In some texts the god Ninazu is the son of Nergal and Allatu/Ereshkigal.
Ereshkigal (EREŠ.KI.GAL, lit. “Queen of the Great Earth”) was the goddess of Irkalla, the land of the dead or underworld. Sometimes her name is given as Irkalla, similar to the way the name Hades was used in Greek mythology for both the underworld and its ruler, and sometimes it is given as Ninkigal (lit. “Great Lady of the Earth” or “Lady of the Great Earth”). Ereshkigal was the only one who could pass judgment and give laws in her kingdom.
Allatu (Allatum) is an underworld goddess modeled after the mesopotamic goddess Ereshkigal and worshipped by western Semitic peoples, including the Carthaginians. She also may be equate with the Canaanite goddess Arsay, a goddess of the underworld worshipped by the Canaanites.
Allāt or al-Lāt was a pre-Islamic Arabian goddess who was one of the three chief goddesses of Mecca along with Manāt and al-‘Uzzá. Whether al-Lat means “the Goddess” is highly disputed. Goddess in Arabic is ilāhah (meaning “goddess”), and with the article the goddess in Arabic would be al-ʾilāhah.
The Nabataeans of Petra and the people of Hatra also worshipped her, equating her with the Greek Athena and Tyche and the Roman Minerva. She is frequently called “the Great Goddess” in Greek in multi-lingual inscriptions. According to Wellhausen, the Nabataeans believed al-Lāt was the mother of Hubal (and hence the mother-in-law of Manāt). Hubal may have been the combination of Hu, meaning “spirit” or “god”, and the Moab god Baal meaning “master” or “lord”.
The pre-Islamic Arabs believed Manāt to be the goddess of fate. The followers prayed to her for rains and victory over enemies. She was possibly connected to the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar, who also had the title Menītu/Menūtu. She was known by the cognate name Manawat to the Nabataeans of Petra (in Jordan), who equated her with the Graeco-Roman goddess Nemesis, and she was considered the wife of Hubal.
There are also connections with Chronos (“time”) of Mithraism and Zurvan mythology. Chronos is a god with a serpentine shape and three heads: those of a man, a bull, and a lion. Chronos and his daughter and consort Ananke (Inevitability) circled the primal world egg in their coils and split it apart to form the ordered universe of earth, sea, and sky.
Chronos already was confused with, or perhaps consciously identified with, the Titan Cronus in antiquity due to the similarity in names. The identification became more widespread during the Renaissance, giving rise to the allegory of “Father Time” wielding the harvesting scythe.
He was depicted in Greco-Roman mosaics as a man turning the Zodiac Wheel. Chronos might also be contrasted with the deity Aion as Eternal Time. He is usually portrayed as an old, wise man with a long, grey beard, similar to Father Time. Some of the current English words whose etymological root as khronos/chronos include chronology, chronometer, chronic, anachronism, and chronicle.
The Greek historian Herodotus, writing in the 5th century BC, considered her the equivalent of Aphrodite: “The Assyrians call Aphrodite Mylitta, the Arabians Alilat, and the Persians Mithra. In addition that deity is associated with the Indian deity Mitra”. This passage is linguistically significant as the first clear attestation of an Arabic word, with the diagnostically Arabic article al-.
According to Herodotus, the ancient Arabians believed in only two gods: They believe in no other gods except Dionysus and the Heavenly Aphrodite; and they say that they wear their hair as Dionysus does his, cutting it round the head and shaving the temples. They call Dionysus, Orotalt; and Aphrodite, Alilat.
Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of World Religions states that Orotalt is a phonetic transcription of the name of the sun god Ruḍā, a deity that was of paramount importance in the Arab pantheon of gods worshipped by the North Arabian tribes of pre-Islamic Arabia.
Known as Arsu, the Palmyran god of the evening star, among the Palmyrans, in a later Aramaic inscription, Arsu/Ruda is paired with the Syrian god Resheph, a protective deity against plague and war for his worshippers from the 3rd millennium BC. According to myth, Resheph exerted a benign influence against disease. In Ugarit, Resheph was identified with Nergal, in Idalion, Cyprus, with Apollo.
In ancient Levantine mythology, Azizos or Aziz is the Palmyran god of the morning star. He is usually portrayed as riding a camel with his twin brother Arsu. He was venerated separately in Syria as god of the morning star, in company with the astral god Monimos. Azizos was identified as Ares by Julian in his work ‘Hymn to King Helios’. He says “Now I am aware that Ares, who is called Azizos by the Syrians who inhabit Emesa…”
The god Shiva is not mentioned in the vedas and Shiva’s rise to a major position in the Hindu pantheon was facilitated by his identification with a host of Vedic deities, including Purusha, Rudra, Agni, Indra, Prajāpati, Vāyu, and others.
Rudra is a Rigvedic deity, associated with wind or storm, and the hunt. The name has been translated as “the roarer”. In the Rigveda, Rudra has been praised as the “mightiest of the mighty”. The Shri Rudram hymn from the Yajurveda is dedicated to Rudra, and is important in the Saivism sect.
The Hindu god Shiva shares several features with the Rudra: the theonym Shiva originated as an epithet of Rudra, the adjective shiva (“kind”) being used euphemistically of Rudra, who also carries the epithet Aghora, Abhayankar(“extremely calm [sic] non terrifying”).
Usage of the epithet came to exceed the original theonym by the post-Vedic period (in the Sanskrit Epics), and the name Rudra has been taken as a synonym for the god Shiva and the two names are used interchangeably.
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.
The oldest surviving text of Hinduism is the Rig Veda, which is dated to between 1700 and 1100 BC based on linguistic and philological evidence. A god named Rudra is mentioned in the Rig Veda. The name Rudra is still used as a name for Shiva. In RV 2.33, he is described as the “Father of the Rudras”, a group of storm gods.
Furthermore, the Rudram, one of the most sacred hymns of Hinduism found both in the Rig and the Yajur Vedas and addressed to Rudra, invokes him as Shiva in several instances, but the adjective shiva is used with many substantives or nouns in the sense of auspicious. The epithet is possibly used to describe a quality of these gods rather than to identify any of them with the God Shiva.
The identification of Shiva with the older god Rudhra is not universally accepted, as Axel Michaels explains: Rudra is called “The Archer” (Sanskrit: Śarva), and the arrow is an essential attribute of Rudra. This name appears in the Shiva Sahasranama, and R. K. Sharma notes that it is used as a name of Shiva often in later languages.
The word is derived from the Sanskrit root śarv-, which means “to injure” or “to kill”, and Sharma uses that general sense in his interpretive translation of the name Śarva as “One who can kill the forces of darkness”. The names Dhanvin (“Bowman”) and Bāṇahasta (“Archer”, literally “Armed with arrows in his hands”) also refer to archery.
Ishara (išḫara) is an ancient deity of unknown origin from northern modern Syria. Her cult was of considerable importance in Ebla from the mid 3rd millennium. She was incorporated to the Hurrian pantheon from which she found her way to the Hittite pantheon. Ishara is the Hittite word for “treaty, binding promise”, also personified as a goddess of the oath. In Hurrian and Semitic traditions, Išḫara is a love goddess, often identified with Ishtar.
Variants of the name appear as Ašḫara (in a treaty of Naram-Sin of Akkad with Hita of Elam) and Ušḫara (in Ugarite texts). In Ebla, there were various logographic spellings involving the sign AMA “mother”. In Alalah, her name was written with the Akkadogram IŠTAR plus a phonetic complement -ra, as IŠTAR-ra.
Ushas, Sanskrit for “dawn”, is a Vedic deity, and consequently a Hindu deity as well. Sanskrit uṣas is an s-stem, i.e. the genitive case is uṣásas. It is from PIE *hausos, cognate to Greek Eos and Latin Aurora, one of the most important goddesses of reconstructed Proto-Indo-European religion, the personification of dawn as a beautiful young woman.
As a goddess, Ishara could inflict severe bodily penalties to oathbreakers, in particular ascites. In this context, she came to be seen as a “goddess of medicine” whose pity was invoked in case of illness. There was even a verb, isharis- “to be afflicted by the illness of Ishara”.
Also known as Dushara (“Lord of the Mountain”), also transliterated as Dusares, Orotalt was worshipped by the Nabataeans, Arabs who inhabited southern Jordan, Canaan and the northern part of Arabia. In Greek times, he was associated with Zeus because he was the chief of the Nabataean pantheon as well as with Dionysus.
According to the early Christian bishop Epiphanius of Salamis (c. 315–403), Chaabou or Kaabu was a goddess in the Nabataean pantheon – a virgin who gave birth to the god Dusares. However, Epiphanus likely mistook the word ka’abu (“cube”, etymologically related to the name of the Kaaba), referring to the stone blocks used by the Nabateans to represent Dusares and possibly other deities, for the proper name of a goddess.
His report that Chaabou was a virgin was likely influenced by his desire to find a parallel to the Christian belief in the virgin birth of Jesus, and by the similarity of the words ka’bah and ka’ibah (“virgin”) in Arabic, a language closely related to that spoken by the Nabateans.
In the Qur’an, she is mentioned along with al-‘Uzzá and Manāt in Sura 53:19–23. The tribe of ʿād of Iram of the Pillars is also mentioned in Sura 89:5–8, and archaeological evidence from Iram shows copious inscriptions devoted to her for the protection of a tribe by that name.
Al-lāt is also explicitly attested from early Islamic records discussing the pre-Islamic period. According to the Book of Idols (Kitāb al-ʾAṣnām) by Hishām ibn al-Kalbi, the pre-Islamic Arabs believed Al-lāt resided in the Kaʿbah and also had an idol inside the sanctuary: Her custody was in the hands of the Banū Attāb ibn Mālik of the Thaqīf, who had built an edifice over her. The Quraysh, as well as all the Arabs, venerated al-Lāt. They also used to name their children after her, calling them Zayd al-Lāt and Taym al-Lāt. […] Al-Lāt continued to be venerated until the Thaqīf embraced Islam, when Muhammad dispatched al-Mughīrah ibn-Shu‘bah, who destroyed her and burnt her temple to the ground.
It has been hypothetised that R1b people (perhaps alongside neighbouring J2 tribes) were the first to domesticate cattle in northern Mesopotamia some 10,500 years ago.
The analysis of bovine DNA has revealed that all the taurine cattle (Bos taurus) alive today descend from a population of only 80 aurochs. The earliest evidence of cattle domestication dates from circa 8,500 BCE in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic cultures in the Taurus Mountains.
The two oldest archaeological sites showing signs of cattle domestication are the villages of Çayönü Tepesi in southeastern Turkey and Dja’de el-Mughara in northern Iraq, two sites only 250 km away from each others. This is presumably the area from which R1b lineages started expanding – or in other words the “original homeland” of R1b.
The early R1b cattle herders would have split in at least three groups. One branch (M335) remained in Anatolia, but judging from its extreme rarity today wasn’t very successful, perhaps due to the heavy competition with other Neolithic populations in Anatolia, or to the scarcity of pastures in this mountainous environment.
A second branch migrated south to the Levant, where it became the V88 branch. Some of them searched for new lands south in Africa, first in Egypt, then colonising most of northern Africa, from the Mediterranean coast to the Sahel.
The third branch (P297), crossed the Caucasus into the vast Pontic-Caspian Steppe, which provided ideal grazing grounds for cattle. They split into two factions: R1b1a1 (M73), which went east along the Caspian Sea to Central Asia, and R1b1a2 (M269), which at first remained in the North Caucasus and the Pontic Steppe between the Dnieper and the Volga.
R1b-M269 (the most common form in Europe) is closely associated with the diffusion of Indo-European languages, as attested by its presence in all regions of the world where Indo-European languages were spoken in ancient times, from the Atlantic coast of Europe to the Indian subcontinent. The history of R1b and R1a are intricately connected to each others.
It is not yet clear whether M73 actually migrated across the Caucasus and reached Central Asia via Kazakhstan, or if it went south through Iran and Turkmenistan. In the latter case, M73 might not be an Indo-European branch of R1b, just like V88 and M335.
The Neolithic, Eneolithic and early Bronze Age cultures in Pontic-Caspian steppe has been called the Kurgan culture (4200-2200 BCE) by Marija Gimbutas, due to the lasting practice of burying the deads under mounds (“kurgan”) among the succession of cultures in that region.
It is now known that kurgan-type burials only date from the 4th millenium BCE and almost certainly originated south of the Caucasus. The genetic diversity of R1b being greater around eastern Anatolia, it is hard to deny that R1b evolved there before entering the steppe world.
It is not yet entirely clear when R1b crossed over from eastern Anatolia to the Pontic-Caspian steppe. This might have happened with the appearance of the Dnieper-Donets culture (c. 5100-4300 BCE). This was the first truly Neolithic society in the Pontic-Caspian Steppe.
The introduction of cattle at the steppes around 5,200 BCE marked the change from foragist to pastoralist cultures, and the development of a hierarchical social system with chieftains, patron-client systems, and the exchange of goods and gifts.
A wider “horizon” developed, called the Kurgan culture by Marija Gimbutas in the 1950s. She included several cultures in this “Kurgan Culture”, including the Samara culture and the Yamna culture, although the Yamna culture (36th–23rd centuries BCE), also called “Pit Grave Culture”, may more aptly be called the “nucleus” of the proto-Indo-European language.
From this area, which already included various subcultures, Indo-European languages spread west, south and east starting around 4,000 BCE. These languages may have been carried by small groups of males, with patron-client systems which allowed for the inclusion of other groups into their cultural system.
Eastward emerged the Sintashta culture (2100–1800 BCE), from which developed the Andronovo culture (1800–1400 BCE). This culture interacted with the Bactria-Margiana Culture (2300–1700 BCE); out of this interaction developed the Indo-Iranians, which split around 1800 BCE into the Indo-Aryans and the Iranians. The Indo-Aryans migrated to the Levant, northern India, and possibly south Asia.
The Indo-Aryan migrations
The Indo-Aryan migrations form part of a complex genetical puzzle on the origin and spread of the various components of the Indian population, including various waves of admixture and language shift. There is “general agreement” that north and south Indians share a common maternal ancenstry.
A series of studies show that South Asia harbours two major ancestral components, namely the Ancestral North Indians (ANI) which is “genetically close to Middle Easterners, Central Asians, and Europeans,” and the Ancestral South Indians (ASI) which is clearly distinct from ANI.
These two groups mixed in India between 4,200 to 1,900 years ago (2200 BCE-100 CE), whereafter a shift to endogamy took place, possibly by the enforcement of “social values and norms” by the “Hindu Gupta rulers.”
Moorjani et al. (2013) describe three scenarios regarding the bringing together of the two groups: migrations before the development of agriculture (before 8,000–9,000 years before present (BP); migration of western Asian people together with the spread of agriculture, maybe up to 4,600 years BP; migrations of western Eurasians from 3,000 to 4,000 years BP.
The migration into northern India was not a large-scale immigration, but may have consisted of small groups which were genetically diverse. Their culture and language spread by the same mechanisms of acculturalisation, and the absorption of other groups into their patron-client system.
Indo-European languages probably spread through language shifts. Small groups can change a larger cultural area, and elite male dominance by small groups may have led to a language shift in northern India.
David Anthony, in his “revised Steppe hypothesis” notes that the spread of the Indo-European languages probably did not happen through “chain-type folk migrations,” but by the introduction of these languages by ritual and political elites, which were emulated by large groups of people, a process which he calls “elite recruitment”.
According to Parpola, local elites joined “small but powerfull groups” of Indo-European speaking migrants. These migrants had an attractive social system and good weapons, and luxury goods which marked their status and power. Joining these groups was attractive for local leaders, since it strengthened their position, and gave them additional advantages. These new members were further incorporated by matrimonial alliances.
According to Joseph Salmons, language shift is facilitated by “dislocation” of language communities, in which the elite is taken over. According to Salmons, this change is facilitated by “systematic changes in community structure,” in which a local community becomes incorporated in a larger social structure.
The Indo-Aryan migration theory explains the introduction of the Indo-Aryan languages in the Indian subcontinent by proposing migrations from the Sintashta culture through Bactria-Margiana Culture and into the northern Indian subcontinent (modern day India, Pakistan and Nepal).
The Indo-Aryan migrations started in approximately 1,800 BCE, after the invention of the war chariot, and also brought Indo-Aryan languages into the Levant and possibly Inner Asia. It was part of the diffusion of Indo-European languages from the proto-Indo-European homeland at the Pontic steppe, a large area of grasslands in far Eastern Europe, which started in the 5th to 4th millennia BCE, and the Indo-European migrations out of the Eurasian steppes, which started approximately in 2,000 BCE.
The theory posits that these Indo-Aryan speaking people may have been a genetically diverse group of people who were united by shared cultural norms and language, referred to as aryā, “noble.” Diffusion of this culture and language took place by patron-client systems, which allowed for the absorption and acculturalisation of other groups into this culture, and explains the strong influence on other cultures with which it interacted.
The Proto-Indo-Iranians, from which the Indo-Aryans developed, are identified with the Sintashta culture (2100–1800 BCE), and the Andronovo culture, which flourished ca. 1800–1400 BCE in the steppes around the Aral sea, present-day Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
The proto-Indo-Iranians were influenced by the Bactria-Margiana Culture, south of the Andronovo culture, from which they borrowed their distinctive religious beliefs and practices. The Indo-Aryans split off around 1800-1600 BCE from the Iranians, whereafter the Indo-Aryans migrated into the Levant and north-western India.
The Armenian hypothesis of the Proto-Indo-European Urheimat, based on the Glottalic theory, suggests that the Proto-Indo-European language was spoken during the 4th millennium BC in the Armenian Highland.
The phonological peculiarities proposed in the Glottalic theory would be best preserved in the Armenian language and the Germanic languages, the former assuming the role of the dialect which remained in situ, implied to be particularly archaic in spite of its late attestation.
The Proto-Greek language would be practically equivalent to Mycenaean Greek and date to the 17th century BC, closely associating Greek migration to Greece with the Indo-Aryan migration to India at about the same time (viz., Indo-European expansion at the transition to the Late Bronze Age, including the possibility of Indo-European Kassites).
The Armenian hypothesis argue that IE spread out from Armenia into the Pontic steppe, from which it expanded – as per the Kurgan hypothesis – into Western Europe. The Hittite, Indo-Iranian, Greek and Armenian branches split from the Armenian homeland.
Graeco-Aryan (or Graeco-Armeno-Aryan) is a hypothetical clade within the Indo-European family, ancestral to the Greek language, the Armenian language, and the Indo-Iranian languages. Graeco-Aryan unity would have become divided into Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian by the mid 3rd millennium BC.
Conceivably, Proto-Armenian would have been located between Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian, consistent with the fact that Armenian shares certain features only with Indo-Iranian (the satem change) but others only with Greek (s > h).
Graeco-Aryan has comparatively wide support among Indo-Europeanists for the Indo-European Homeland to be located in the Armenian Highland. Early and strong evidence was given by Euler’s 1979 examination on shared features in Greek and Sanskrit nominal flection.
Used in tandem with the Graeco-Armenian hypothesis, the Armenian language would also be included under the label Aryano-Greco-Armenic, splitting into proto-Greek/Phrygian and “Armeno-Aryan” (ancestor of Armenian and Indo-Iranian).
In the context of the Kurgan hypothesis, Greco-Aryan is also known as “Late PIE” or “Late Indo-European” (LIE), suggesting that Greco-Aryan forms a dialect group which corresponds to the latest stage of linguistic unity in the Indo-European homeland in the early part of the 3rd millennium BC. By 2500 BC, Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian had separated, moving westward and eastward from the Pontic Steppe, respectively.
In 1981, Hopper proposed to divide all Indo-European languages into Decem and Taihun groups, according to the pronunciation of the numeral ’10’, by analogy with the Centum-Satem isogloss, which is based on the pronunciation of the numeral ‘100’.
The Armenian, Germanic, Anatolian, and Tocharian subfamilies belong to the Taihun group because the numeral ’10’ begins with a voiceless t there. All other Indo-European languages belong to the Decem group because the numeral 10 begins with a voiced d in them.
Dialects of Armenian also show glottalization. It has been argued to be influence from the other Caucasian languages, but Kortlandt argues glottalization cannot be considered a modern innovation and must be reconstructed with a wider dialectal distribution in older stages of Armenian.
The Bactria-Margiana complex has attracted attention as a candidate for those looking for the material counterparts to the Indo-Iranians (Aryans), a major linguistic branch that split off from the Proto-Indo-Europeans. Sarianidi himself advocates identifying the complex as Indo-Iranian, describing it as the result of a migration from southwestern Iran.
Bactria–Margiana material has been found at Susa, Shahdad, and Tepe Yahya in Iran, but Lamberg-Karlovsky does not see this as evidence that the complex originated in southeastern Iran. “The limited materials of this complex are intrusive in each of the sites on the Iranian Plateau as they are in sites of the Arabian peninsula.”
A significant section of the archaeologists are more inclined to see the culture as begun by farmers in the Near Eastern Neolithic tradition, but infiltrated by Indo-Iranian speakers from the Andronovo culture in its late phase, creating a hybrid. In this perspective, Proto-Indo-Aryan developed within the composite culture before moving south into the Indian subcontinent.
As argued by Michael Witzel and Alexander Lubotsky, there is a proposed substratum in Proto-Indo-Iranian which can be plausibly identified with the original language of the BMAC.
Moreover, Lubotsky points out a larger number of words apparently borrowed from the same language, which are only attested in Indo-Aryan and therefore evidence of a substratum in Vedic Sanskrit. Some BMAC words have now also been found in Tocharian.
Michael Witzel points out that the borrowed vocabulary includes words from agriculture, village and town life, flora and fauna, ritual and religion, so providing evidence for the acculturation of Indo-Iranian speakers into the world of urban civilization.
The Kura–Araxes culture or the early trans-Caucasian culture was a civilization that existed from 3400 BC until about 2000 BC. The earliest evidence for this culture is found on the Ararat plain.
Their pottery was distinctive; in fact, the spread of their pottery along trade routes into surrounding cultures was much more impressive than any of their achievements domestically. It was painted black and red, using geometric designs for ornamentation. Examples have been found as far south as Syria and Israel, and as far north as Dagestan and Chechnya.
The spread of this pottery, along with archaeological evidence of invasions, suggests that the Kura-Araxes people may have spread outward from their original homes, and most certainly, had extensive trade contacts. Jaimoukha believes that its southern expanse is attributable primarily to Mitanni and the Hurrians.
Viticulture and wine-making were widely practised in the area from the earliest times. Viticulture even goes back to the earlier Shulaveri-Shomu culture.
The earliest evidence of domesticated grapes in the world has been found at Gadachrili Gora, near the village of Imiri, Marneuli Municipality, in southeastern Republic of Georgia; carbon-dating points to the date of about 6000 BC.
Grape pips dating back to the V-IVth millennia B.C. were also found in Shulaveri; others dating back to the IVth millennium B.C. were found in Khizanaant Gora—all in this same Shulaveri area of the Republic of Georgia.
A theory has been suggested by Stephen Batiuk that the Kura-Araxes folk may have spread Vitis vinifera vine, and wine technology to the “Fertile Crescent”—to Mesopotamia and the Eastern Mediterranean.
The spread of wine-goblet form, such as represented by the Khirbet Kerak ware, is clearly associated with these peoples. The same applies to the large ceramic vessels used for grape fermentation.
The oldest inscriptions in Old Indic, the language of the Rig Veda, is found not in India, but in northern Syria in Hittite records regarding one of their neighbors, the Hurrian-speaking Mitanni.
Mitanni (Hittite cuneiform: Mi-ta-an-ni; Mittani Mi-it-ta-ni), also called Hanigalbat (Hanigalbat, Khanigalbat cuneiform Ḫa-ni-gal-bat) in Assyrian or Naharin in Egyptian texts, was a Hurrian-speaking state in northern Syria and southeast Anatolia from ca. 1500 BC–1300 BC.
The Mitanni kingdom was referred to as the Maryannu, Nahrin or Mitanni by the Egyptians, the Hurri by the Hittites, and the Hanigalbat by the Assyrians. Egyptian sources call Mitanni “nhrn”, which is usually pronounced as Naharin/Naharina from the Assyro-Akkadian word for “river”, cf. Aram-Naharaim.
Hittite annals mention a people called Hurri (Ḫu-ur-ri), located in northeastern Syria. A Hittite fragment, probably from the time of Mursili I, mentions a “King of the Hurri”. The Assyro-Akkadian version of the text renders “Hurri” as Hanigalbat. Tushratta, who styles himself “king of Mitanni” in his Akkadian Amarna letters, refers to his kingdom as Hanigalbat.
The different names seem to have referred to the same kingdom and were used interchangeably, according to Michael C. Astour.
Founded by an Indo-Aryan ruling class governing a predominantly Hurrian population, Mitanni came to be a regional power after the Hittite destruction of Amorite Babylon and a series of ineffectual Assyrian kings created a power vacuum in Mesopotamia.
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, a commissioner of the 1350-1335 BC Amarna letters correspondence.
Robert Drews writes that the name ‘maryannu’ although plural takes the singular ‘marya’, which in Sanskrit means young warrior, and attaches a Hurrian suffix. Drews 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.
Vedic Mitra is a prominent deity of the Rigveda distinguished by a relationship to Varuna, the protector of rta. Together with Varuna, he counted among the Adityas, a group of solar deities, also in later Vedic texts. Vedic Mitra is the patron divinity of honesty, friendship, contracts and meetings.
In Zoroastrianism, Mithra is a member of the trinity of ahuras, protectors of asha/arta, “truth” or “[that which is] right”. Mithra’s standard appellation is “of wide pastures” suggesting omnipresence. Mithra is “truth-speaking, … with a thousand ears, … with ten thousand eyes, high, with full knowledge, strong, sleepless, and ever awake.”
As preserver of covenants, Mithra is also protector and keeper of all aspects of interpersonal relationships, such as friendship and love. Related to his position as protector of truth, Mithra is a judge (ratu), ensuring that individuals who break promises or are not righteous (artavan) are not admitted to paradise.
As also in Indo-Iranian tradition, Mithra is associated with (the divinity of) the sun but originally distinct from it. Mithra is closely associated with the feminine yazata Aredvi Sura Anahita, the hypostasis of knowledge.
The first extant record of Indo-Aryan Mitra, in the form mi-it-ra-, is in the inscribed peace treaty of c. 1400 BC between Hittites and the Hurrian kingdom of the Mitanni in the area southeast of Lake Van in Asia Minor. There Mitra appears together with four other Indo-Aryan divinities as witnesses and keepers of the pact. R. D. Barnett has argued that the royal seal of King Saussatar of Mitanni from c. 1450 BC. depicts a tauroctonous Mithras.
The personal names and gods of the Mitanni aristocracy also bear significant traces of Indo-Aryan. In a treaty with the Hittites, the king of Mitanni, after swearing by a series of Hurrian gods, swears by the gods Mitrašil, Uruvanaššil, Indara, and Našatianna, who correspond to the Vedic gods Mitra, Varuṇa, Indra, and Nāsatya (Aśvin).
Contemporary equestrian terminology, as recorded in a horse-training manual whose author is identified as “Kikkuli the Mitannian,” contains Indo-Aryan loanwords.
Because of the association of Indo-Aryan with horsemanship and the Mitanni aristocracy, it is presumed that, after superimposing themselves as rulers on a native Hurrian-speaking population about the 15th-16th centuries BC, Indo-Aryan charioteers were absorbed into the local population and adopted the Hurrian language.
Brentjes argues that there is not a single cultural element of central Asian, eastern European, or Caucasian origin in the Mitannian area; he also associates with an Indo-Aryan presence the peacock motif found in the Middle East from before 1600 BC and quite likely from before 2100 BC.
Most scholars reject the possibility that the Indo-Aryans of Mitanni came from the Indian subcontinent as well as the possibility that the Indo-Aryans of the Indian subcontinent came from the territory of Mitanni, leaving migration from the north the only likely scenario.
The presence of some Bactria-Margiana loan words in Mitanni, Old Iranian and Vedic further strengthens this scenario.