Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

Archive for June, 2016

On the Armenian Question

Posted by Fredsvenn on June 27, 2016

The distribution of Armenians in the early 17th century, a few decades after its conquest by the Ottomans, within the current borders of Turkey: Red: Armenian majority; Light red: Significant Armenian presence.

Western Armenia

Turkey, Republic of, and the Armenian Genocide

The Treaty of Lausanne and the Armenian Question

Armenian Genocide reparations

Turkish people

Turkification

Battle of Manzikert

Crusades

On Saturday Turkish deputy prime minister Nurettin Canikli called Francis’ comments “greatly unfortunate” and said they bore the hallmarks of the “mentality of the Crusades.”

The thing is that the western migrating Turks in 1071 defeated the Byzantine army at the Battle of Manzikert and the rapidly-expanding Great Seljuk Empire gained nearly all of Anatolia while the empire descended into frequent civil wars.

The Armenian Highlands (also known as the Armenian Upland, Armenian plateau, Armenian tableland, or simply Armenia) is the central-most and highest of three land-locked plateaus that together form the northern sector of the Middle East.

During Antiquity, it was known as Armenia Major, a central region to the history of Armenians, and one of the four geo-political regions associated with Armenians, the other three being Armenia Minor, Cilicia and Commagene.

The region was historically mainly inhabited by Armenians, and minorities of Georgians and Assyrians. During the Middle Ages, Turkmens settled in large numbers in the Armenian Highlands.

The Christian population of the Western half of the region was exterminated during the Armenian Genocide of 1915 and to a smaller scale the Assyrian Genocide.

The decisive defeat of the Byzantine army and the capture of the Emperor Romanos IV Diogenes played an important role in undermining Byzantine authority in Anatolia and Armenia, and allowed for the gradual Turkification, the assimilation of individuals, entities, or cultures into the various historical Turkic states and cultures, such as the Ottoman Empire.

An early form of Turkification occurred in the time of the Seljuk Empire among the indigenous peoples of Anatolia, involving religious conversion, cultural and linguistic assimilation, and interethnic relationships, reflected in the indigenous Anatolian background of most modern Turkish people.

One year later the Turks wrested control of Palestine from the Fatimids. The disruption of pilgrimages by the Seljuk Turks prompted support for the Crusades in Western Europe.

In 1095 at the Council of Piacenza, Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos requested military aid from Urban II to fight the Turks, probably in the form of mercenary reinforcements.

By the 19th century the Ottoman empire began to decline when ethno-nationalist uprisings occurred across the empire. By 1913, the government of the Committee of Union and Progress started a program of forcible Turkification of non-Turkish minorities.

During World War I, the government of the Committee of Union and Progress continued with its Turkification policies, which effected non-Turkish minorities, such as the Armenians during the Armenian Genocide and the Greeks during various campaigns of ethnic cleansing and expulsion. In 1918, the Ottoman Government agreed to the Mudros Armistice with the Allies.

The Treaty of Sèvres —signed in 1920 by the government of Mehmet VI— dismantled the Ottoman Empire. The Turks, under Mustafa Kemal, rejected the treaty and fought the Turkish War of Independence, resulting in the abortion of that text, never ratified, and the abolition of the Sultanate. Thus, the 623-year-old Ottoman Empire ended.

Once Mustafa Kemal Atatürk led the Turkish War of Independence against the Allied forces that occupied the former Ottoman Empire, he united the Turkish Muslim majority and led them from 1919 to 1922 in overthrowing the occupying forces out.

The Turkish identity became the unifying force when, in 1923, the Treaty of Lausanne was signed and the newly founded Republic of Turkey was formally established.

After gaining military mastery over Turkey, the Nationalists, led by Mustafa Kemal, obtained a series of concessions from France and England which absolved Turkey of any further political or material responsibilities vis-à-vis the surviving Armenians. These concessions were formalized in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne which extended international recognition to the Turkish Republic.

The Treaty of Lausanne marked a watershed because it legitimized the Turkish Nationalist program of ethnic consolidation by expelling or repressing minorities. It provided for the transfer of populations between Greece and Turkey thus completing the exodus of the Greeks from Anatolia.

The Treaty of Lausanne reversed all terms agreed upon by the Ottoman Empire in the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres which had legally obligated the Turkish government to bring accused war criminals to justice.

The official policy of Turkey on the Armenian Genocide is the denial of its occurrence. Whereas the convening of courts-martial to try the Young Turks for war crimes by the post-World War I Ottoman government amounted to an admission of guilt on the part of the state, the Nationalist government based in Ankara rejected Turkish responsibility for the acts committed against the Armenian population.

Despite the three-thousand-year existence of the Armenians and their continuous construction of civilization in their historic homeland, no archeological site in Turkey is permitted designation as historically Armenian.

While Ottoman Turkey persecuted and sought to destroy the living Armenian population, Republican Turkey has been methodically erasing the physical record of an extinguished civilization with the goal of blotting out even the memory of its existence.

Western Armenia, also referred to as Byzantine Armenia, emerged following the division of Greater Armenia between the Byzantine Empire (Western Armenia) and Sassanid Persia (Eastern Armenia) in 387 AD.

It is used as a term used to refer to eastern parts of Turkey (formerly the Ottoman Empire) that were part of the historical homeland of Armenians.

The area was conquered by the Ottomans in the 16th century during the Ottoman–Safavid War (1532–1555) against their Iranian Safavid arch-rivals. Being passed on from the former to the latter, Ottoman rule over the region became only decisive after the Ottoman–Safavid War of 1623–1639. The area then became known as Turkish Armenia or Ottoman Armenia.

During the 19th century, the Russian Empire conquered all of Eastern Armenia from Iran, and also some parts of Turkish Armenia, such as Kars. The region’s Armenian population was affected during the widespread massacres of Armenians in the 1890s.

The Armenians living in their ancestral lands were exterminated or deported during the Armenian Genocide in 1915 and the following years. The over two thousand year Armenian presence in the area largely ended and the cultural heritage was mainly destroyed by the then Ottoman government.

Only assimilated and crypto-Armenians live in the area today, and some irredentist Armenians claim it as part of United Armenia. The most notable political party with these views is the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.

Western (Ottoman) Armenia consisted of six vilayets (vilâyat-ı sitte) — the vilayets of Erzurum, Van, Bitlis, Diyarbekir, Kharput, and Sivas. The fate of Western Armenia — commonly referred to as “The Armenian Question” — is considered a key issue in the modern history of the Armenian people.

Mentality of the Crusades’: Turkey and Pope Francis in row over Armenian genocide

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Self realization and training

Posted by Fredsvenn on June 22, 2016

Awareness is a dynamic factor and appears in two guises: a realisation that arrives as a gift, often unbidden; then it evolves into a practice that the person intentionally follows. This spiritual awareness works as an engine that moves these themes from being mere ideas to be motivating forces in one’s life: awareness ignites responsibility towards life and stirs to respond to events rather than resigning. By nourishing and cultivating (our) human nature, (we are) able to reach the final goal of unification of heaven and human spirit

Friedrich Nietzsche famously suggested that an ancient, metaphysical belief in the divinity of Truth lies at the heart of and has served as the foundation for the entire subsequent Western intellectual tradition: “But you will have gathered what I am getting at, namely, that it is still a metaphysical faith on which our faith in science rests–that even we knowers of today, we godless anti-metaphysicians still take our fire too, from the flame lit by the thousand-year old faith, the Christian faith which was also Plato’s faith, that God is Truth; that Truth is ‘Divine’…”

Closure

Closure or need for closure (NFC), used interchangeably with need for cognitive closure (NFCC), are psychological terms that describe an individual’s desire for a firm answer to a question and an aversion toward ambiguity. The term “need” denotes a motivated tendency to seek out information.

The need for closure is the motivation to find an answer to an ambiguous situation. This motivation is enhanced by the perceived benefits of obtaining closure, such as the increased ability to predict the world and a stronger basis for action.

Catharsis

Catharsis (meaning “purification” or “cleansing”) is the purification and purgation of emotions—especially pity and fear—through art or any extreme change in emotion that results in renewal and restoration. It is a metaphor originally used by Aristotle in the Poetics, comparing the effects of tragedy on the mind of spectator to the effect of a cathartic on the body.

Quest 

In mythology and fiction, a quest, a journey towards a goal, serves as a plot device and (frequently) as a symbol. In literature, the objects of quests require great exertion on the part of the hero and the overcoming of many obstacles, typically including much travel.

Humanism

Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism, empiricism) over acceptance of dogma or superstition.

Self realization

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory in psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” in Psychological Review. His theories parallel many other theories of human developmental psychology, some of which focus on describing the stages of growth in humans.

Maslow subsequently extended the idea to include his observations of humans’ innate curiosity. He used the terms “physiological”, “safety”, “belongingness” and “love”, “esteem”, “self-actualization”, and “self-transcendence” to describe the pattern that human motivations generally move through.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is often portrayed in the shape of a pyramid with the largest, most fundamental levels of needs at the bottom and the need for self-actualization at the top. While the pyramid has become the de facto way to represent the hierarchy, Maslow himself never used a pyramid to describe these levels in any of his writings on the subject.

Self-actualization is a term that has been used in various psychology theories, often in slightly different ways. The term was originally introduced by the organismic theorist Kurt Goldstein for the motive to realize one’s full potential. Expressing one’s creativity, quest for spiritual enlightenment, pursuit of knowledge, and the desire to give to society are examples of self-actualization.

In Goldstein’s view, it is the organism’s master motive, the only real motive: “the tendency to actualize itself as fully as possible is the basic drive… the drive of self-actualization.” Carl Rogers similarly wrote of “the curative force in psychotherapy – man’s tendency to actualize himself, to become his potentialities… to express and activate all the capacities of the organism.”

The concept was brought most fully to prominence in Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory as the final level of psychological development that can be achieved when all basic and mental needs are essentially fulfilled and the “actualization” of the full personal potential takes place, although he adapted this viewpoint later on in life, and saw it more flexibly.

As Abraham Maslow noted, the basic needs of humans must be met (e.g. food, shelter, warmth, security, sense of belonging) before a person can achieve self-actualization – the need to be good, to be fully alive and to find meaning in life.

Research shows that when people live lives that are different from their true nature and capabilities, they are less likely to be happy than those whose goals and lives match. For example, someone who has inherent potential to be a great artist or teacher may never realize his/her talents if their energy is focused on attaining the basic needs of humans.

In biology, an adaptation, also called an adaptive trait, is a trait with a current functional role in the life of an organism that is maintained and evolved by means of natural selection. Adaptation refers to both the current state of being adapted and to the dynamic evolutionary process that leads to the adaptation. Adaptations enhance the fitness and survival of individuals.

Organisms face a succession of environmental challenges as they grow and develop and are equipped with an adaptive plasticity as the phenotype of traits develop in response to the imposed conditions. The developmental norm of reaction for any given trait is essential to the correction of adaptation as it affords a kind of biological insurance or resilience to varying environments.

 Transcend

In philosophy, the adjective transcendental and the noun transcendence convey the basic ground concept from the word’s literal meaning (from Latin), of climbing or going beyond, albeit with varying connotations in its different historical and cultural stages.

The term transcendental philosophy includes philosophies, systems, and approaches that describe the fundamental structures of being, not as an ontology (Theory of Being), but as the framework of emergence and validation of knowledge of being.

In everyday language, “transcendence” means “going beyond”, and “self-transcendence” means going beyond a prior form or state of oneself. Mystical experience is thought of as a particularly advanced state of self-transcendence, in which the sense of a separate self is abandoned.

Hermeneutics 

Hermeneutics is the theory and methodology of interpretation, especially the interpretation of biblical texts, wisdom literature, and philosophical texts. It started out as a theory of text interpretation but has been later broadened to questions of general interpretation.

Shamanism

A shaman is a person regarded as having access to, and influence in, the world of benevolent and malevolent spirits, who typically enters into a trance state during a ritual, and practices divination and healing. Shamanism is a practice that involves a practitioner reaching altered states of consciousness in order to perceive and interact with a spirit world and channel these transcendental energies into this world.

Mother and father

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

In Greek and Roman mythology, Dyeus remained the chief god; however, in Vedic mythology, the etymological continuant of Dyeus became a very abstract god, and his original attributes and dominance over other gods appear to have been transferred to gods such as Agni or Indra.

Tyr and Hel

Rooted in the related but distinct Indo-European word *deiwos is the Latin word for deity, deus. The Latin word is also continued in English divine, “deity”, and the original Germanic word remains visible in “Tuesday” (“Day of Tīwaz”) and Old Norse tívar, which may be continued in the toponym Tiveden (“Wood of the Gods”, or of Týr).

Hel is the Norse queen of the underworld, a mother goddess in her underworld guise. She rules over a fiery womb of regeneration and is especially responsible for those who die of disease or old age. She 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. Her underworld, unlike the Christian hell, which received its name from her, is simply an otherworld, a place of renewal rather than a place of punishment and misery. It represents the nine different stages of the transition the soul goes through after death.

When shamans visit her realm, they put on a helkappe, a magic mask (sometimes a helmet) that renders them invisible. Hel is an embodiment of the divine mystery, a challenge to look behind the mask of appearances to see things as they really are. she is a symbol of transformation, and may have been considered a goddess with potential Indo-European parallels in Bhavani, Kali, and Mahakali, sometimes considered as a greater form of Kali, identified with the Ultimate reality of Brahman.

Satya

Satya is the Sanskrit word for truth. It also refers to a virtue in Indian religions, referring to being truthful in one’s thought, speech and action. In Yoga, satya is one of five yamas, the virtuous restraint from falsehood and distortion of reality in one’s expressions and actions.

In the Vedas and later sutras, the meaning of the word satya evolves into an ethical concept about truthfulness and is considered an important virtue. It means being true and consistent with reality in one’s thought, speech and action.

A related concept, sattva, also derived from “sat”, means true essence, nature, spiritual essence, character. Sattva is also a guṇa, a psychology concept particularly in the Samkhya school of philosophy, where it means goodness, purity, clean, positive, one that advances good true nature of self.

Yoga and Kundalini

Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual practice or discipline which originated in ancient India. There is a broad variety of Yoga schools, practices, and goals in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Among the most well-known types of yoga are Hatha yoga and Rāja yoga.

Kundalini (“coiled one”), in yogic theory, is a primal energy, or shakti, located at the base of the spine. Different spiritual traditions teach methods of “awakening” kundalini for the purpose of reaching spiritual enlightenment. Kundalini is described as lying “coiled” at the base of the spine, represented as either a goddess or sleeping serpent waiting to be awakened. In modern commentaries, Kundalini has been called an unconscious, instinctive or libidinal force, or “mother energy or intelligence of complete maturation”.

Kundalini awakening is said to result in deep meditation, enlightenment and bliss. This awakening involves the Kundalini physically moving up the central channel to reach within the Sahasrara Chakra at the top of the head. Many systems of yoga focus on the awakening of Kundalini through meditation, pranayama breathing, the practice of asana and chanting of mantras. In physical terms, one commonly reports the Kundalini experience to be a feeling of electric current running along the spine.

Shiva and Kali 

Shiva (Sanskrit: Śiva, meaning “The Auspicious One”), regarded as the patron god of yoga, meditation and arts, is one of the three major deities of Hinduism. He is the chief deity 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 Transformer”.

At the highest level, Shiva is regarded as limitless, transcendent, unchanging and formless. Shiva also has many benevolent and fearsome forms. In fierce aspects, he is often depicted slaying demons, while 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.

Kālī, also known as Kālikā, is a Hindu goddess who is the mighty aspect of the goddess Durga. The name Kali is derived from the Sanskrit “Kālá”, or time – she therefore represents time, change, power, creation, preservation, and destruction. “Kali” also mean “the black one”, the feminine noun of the Sanskrit adjective Kālá. In union with Lord Shiva, she creates and destroys worlds.

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; devotional movements worship Kāli as a benevolent mother goddess. She is often portrayed standing or dancing on her consort, the Hindu god Shiva, who lies calm and prostrate beneath her.

Sadhaka

The figure of Kāli conveys death, destruction, and the consuming aspects of reality. As such, she is also a “forbidden thing”, or even death itself. In the Pancatattva ritual, the sadhaka boldly seeks to confront Kali, and thereby assimilates and transforms her into a vehicle of salvation.

In Jainism, Buddhism and Hinduism, a sādhaka is someone who follows a particular sādhanā, or a way of life designed to realize the goal of one’s ultimate ideal, whether it is merging with brahman or realization of one’s personal deity. The word is related to the Sanskrit sādhu, which is derived from the verb root sādh-, ‘to accomplish’. As long as one has yet to reach the goal, they are a sādhaka, while one who has reached the goal is called a siddha.

In modern usage, sadhaka is often applied as a generic term for any religious practitioner. In medieval times it was more narrowly used as a technical term for one who had gone through a specific initiation.

Tantra

Tantra, also called Tantrism and Tantric religion, is an ancient Indian tradition of beliefs and meditation and ritual practices that seeks to channel the divine energy of the macrocosm or godhead into the human microcosm, to attain siddhis and moksha. It arose no later than the 5th century CE, and it had a strong influence on both Hinduism and Buddhism.

Goddesses play an important role in the study and practice of Tantra Yoga, and are affirmed to be as central to discerning the nature of reality as are the male deities. Although Parvati is often said to be the recipient and student of Shiva’s wisdom in the form of Tantras, it is Kali who seems to dominate much of the Tantric iconography, texts, and rituals.

In many sources Kāli is praised as the highest reality or greatest of all deities. The Nirvana-tantra says the gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva all arise from her like bubbles in the sea, ceaselessly arising and passing away, leaving their original source unchanged.

The Niruttara-tantra and the Picchila-tantra declare all of Kāli’s mantras to be the greatest and the Yogini-tantra, Kamakhya-tantra and the Niruttara-tantra all proclaim Kāli vidyas (manifestations of Mahadevi, or “divinity itself”). They declare her to be an essence of her own form (svarupa) of the Mahadevi.

Lingam and yoni

The lingam (also linga, ling, Shiva linga, Shiv ling, meaning sign, or symbol) is an abstract or aniconic representation of the Hindu deity, Shiva, used for worship in temples, smaller shrines, or as self-manifested natural objects. In traditional Indian society, the lingam is seen as a symbol of the energy and potential of 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”.

Usha and Indra

Ushas, Sanskrit for “dawn”, is a Vedic deity, and consequently a Hindu deity as well. She is portrayed as warding off evil spirits of the night, and as a beautifully adorned young woman riding in a golden chariot on her path across the sky. Due to her color she is often identified with the reddish cows, and both are released by Indra from the Vala cave at the beginning of time. The Puranic Shiva is a continuation of the Vedic Indra.

In one recent Hindu interpretation, Sri Aurobindo in his Secret of the Veda, described Ushas as “the medium of the awakening, the activity and the growth of the other gods; she is the first condition of the Vedic realisation. By her increasing illumination the whole nature of man is clarified; through her [mankind] arrives at the Truth, through her he enjoys [Truth’s] beatitude.”

Tao

Tao or Dao is a Chinese complex word which cannot specifically be fully explained except it signifies “way”, “path”, “route”, “channel”, or sometimes known as a “principle” laid down by Heaven to assist mankind back onto the righteous path.

Tao in the Tao Te Ching, Laozi explains that Tao is not a name for a thing but the underlying natural order of the Universe whose ultimate essence is difficult to circumscribe due to it being non conceptual yet evident’ in one’s being of aliveness. Cosmologically, Tao signifies the primordial essence or fundamental nature of the Universe.

Within the context of traditional Chinese philosophy and religion, Tao is the intuitive knowing of “life” that of which cannot be grasped full-heartedly as just a concept but known nonetheless through actual living experience of one’s everyday being.

Duality is found in many belief systems but Yin and Yang are parts of a Oneness that is also equated with the Dao. The yin yang (i.e. taijitu symbol) shows a balance between two opposites with a portion of the opposite element in each section.

Qigong (literally: “Life Energy Cultivation”) is a holistic system of coordinated body posture and movement, breathing, and meditation used for health, spirituality, and martial arts training. With roots in Chinese medicine, philosophy, and martial arts, qigong is traditionally viewed as a practice to cultivate and balance qi (chi), translated as “life energy”.

According to Daoist, Buddhist, and Confucian philosophy, qigong allows access to higher realms of awareness, awakens one’s “true nature”, and helps develop human potential.

Qigong practice typically involves moving meditation, coordinating slow flowing movement, deep rhythmic breathing, and calm meditative state of mind. Qigong is now practiced throughout China and worldwide for recreation, exercise and relaxation, preventive medicine and self-healing, alternative medicine, meditation and self-cultivation, and training for martial arts.

T’ai chi ch’uan (Taijiquan) is a widely practiced Chinese internal martial style based on the theory of taiji (“grand ultimate”), closely associated with qigong, and typically involving more complex choreographed movement coordinated with breath, done slowly for health and training, or quickly for self-defense. Many scholars consider t’ai chi ch’uan to be a type of qigong, traced back to an origin in the 17th century.

In modern practice, qigong typically focuses more on health and meditation rather than martial applications, and plays an important role in training for t’ai chi ch’uan, in particular used to build strength, develop breath control, and increase vitality (“life energy”).

The concept of the taiji (“supreme ultimate”), in contrast with wuji (“without ultimate”), appears in both Taoist and Confucian Chinese philosophy, where it represents the fusion or mother of yin and yang into a single ultimate, represented by the taijitu symbol Taijitu.

T’ai chi ch’uan training involves five elements, taolu (solo hand and weapons routines/forms), neigong & qigong (breathing, movement and awareness exercises and meditation), tuishou (response drills) and sanshou (self defence techniques).

Wuji is a state of emptiness or simply a single point in space. There is no discrimination and there are no polarities (or poles). One possible example is the state of the universe before the big bang, a point of singularity. According to Yi Jing (i.e., Book of Change), originally the universe was in a Wuji state. Later, due to the pivotal action of Taiji, Two Polarities (Liang Yi) (i.e., Yin and Yang) were discriminated.

However, we should understand that Yin and Yang are not definite (or absolute) but relative according to specifically defined rules. From these rules, Four Phases (Si Xiang) are again derived. From different perspectives, the Yin-Yang two polarities can again be divided into Yin and Yang. For example, if you use your right hand to follow the Yin and Yang pattern, the clockwise cycling belongs to Yang while the counterclockwise cycling belongs to Yin.

Generally speaking, your right hand action is classified as Yang and your left hand action is classified as Yin. From this rule, the Yin-Yang cycling will be completely reversed if you use your left hand. These general rules are applied in Taijiquan and also in other internal styles such as Baguazhang.

There are some specific rules that apply when you manifest the Yin-Yang polarities into two dimensions. However, we exist in a universe of at least three dimensions. Therefore, the concept of two polarities should be adapted to three dimensions so we can comprehend the natural Dao thoroughly.

When this Yin-Yang derivation is manifested in three dimensions, then right spiral to advance forward is classified as Yang while left spiral to withdraw is classified as Yin. Similarly, the manifestation of the left hand is reversed. Once you add the third dimension to the Yin and Yang symbols, you can see that the energy patterns and derivation are spiral actions.

If we are able to comprehend the theory of great nature’s Yin-Yang spiral derivation, then we will be able to comprehend the function of the Dao and use this Dao to understand the theory of ceaseless recycling of millions of lives in nature, furthermore, to trace back the origin of our human and physical life.

The purpose of learning Taijiquan is to aim for the comprehension of Taiji and Yin-Yang so we are able to reach the Dao, therefore, allows us to protect our body, strengthen our body, and enjoy longevity.

When the nature loses its balance, the energy manifests in spirals and millions of lives are influenced, or even are created. All of these manifestations can be seen from galaxies in space, to tornados and other storms, to the formation of sea shells, and even the tiny, twisted strands of our DNA.

When Yin-Yang is manifested in two dimensions in Taijiquan, it is an action of coiling, and when it is acting in three dimensions, it is a spiraling maneuver. If you use your right hand to generate this spiral motion, then the clockwise and forward motion is classified as Yang while the counterclockwise and backward motion is classified as Yin. If you use your left hand, since the left is classified as Yin, all directions are reversed.

This is a method to practice the basic skills in Taijiquan for changing from insubstantial to substantial and back again. All action in Taijiquan originates from the Real Dan Tian (a point, center of gravity), where the Wuji is located. From this Wuji center, through Taiji (i.e., mind) the Qi is led, Yin and Yang spiraling actions are initiated, and Taijiquan movements are derived.

Rta – Asha / Arta

In the Vedic religion, Ṛta (Sanskrit ṛtaṃ “that which is properly, excellently joined; order, rule; truth”) is derived from the Sanskrit verb root ṛ- “to go, move, rise, tend upwards”, and the derivative noun ṛtam is defined as “fixed or settled order, rule, divine law or truth”.

The term can just as easily be translated literally as “that which has moved in a fitting manner”, abstractly as “universal law” or “cosmic order”, or simply as “truth”. The latter meaning dominates in the Avestan cognate to Ṛta, aša. It is the principle of natural order which regulates and coordinates the operation of the universe and everything within it.

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

Asha or Arta 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.”

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.

Maat

Maat or Ma’at was the ancient Egyptian concept of truth, balance, order, harmony, law, morality, and justice. Maat was also personified as a goddess regulating the stars, seasons, and the actions of both mortals and the deities, who set the order of the universe from chaos at the moment of creation.

Her ideological counterpart was Isfet (meaning “injustice”, “chaos”, or “violence”; as a verb, “to do evil”), an ancient Egyptian term from Egyptian mythology used in philosophy, which was built on a religious, social and political affected dualism.

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Libra – the Scales of Justice

Posted by Fredsvenn on June 22, 2016

Libra is a constellation and the seventh astrological sign in the Zodiac. It spans the 180–210th degree of the zodiac. The ruling planet of Libra is Venus. Libra is the only constellation in the sky represented by an inanimate object. The other eleven signs are represented either as an animal or mythological characters throughout history.

Under the tropical zodiac, Sun transits this area on average between (northern autumnal equinox) September 23 and October 22, and under the sidereal zodiac, the sun currently transits the constellation of Libra from approximately October 16 to November 17.

Libra’s status as the location of the equinox earned the equinox the name “First Point of Libra”, though this location ceased to coincide with the constellation in 730 because of the precession of the equinoxes.

Based on the modern constellation boundaries, the northward equinox passed from Taurus into Aries in the year −1865 (1866 BC), passed into Pisces in the year −67 (68 BC), and will pass into Aquarius in the year 2597.

The March equinox or Northward equinox is the equinox on the Earth when the Sun appears to leave the southern hemisphere and cross the celestial equator, heading northward as seen from earth. In the Northern Hemisphere the March equinox is known as the vernal equinox, and in the Southern Hemisphere as the autumnal equinox.

The point where the sun crosses the celestial equator northwards is called the First Point of Aries. However, due to the precession of the equinoxes, this point is no longer in the constellation Aries, but rather in Pisces. By the year 2600 it will be in Aquarius.

The symbol of the scales is based on the Scales of Justice held by the ancient Greek Titaness Themis, the Greek personification of divine law and custom. She is described as “of good counsel”, and is the personification of divine order, law, natural law and custom. Themis means “divine law” rather than human ordinance, literally “that which is put in place”, from the Greek verb títhēmi, meaning “to put”.

To the ancient Greeks she was originally the organizer of the “communal affairs of humans, particularly assemblies”. Moses Finley remarked of themis, as the word was used by Homer in the 8th century BCE, to evoke the social order of the 10th- and 9th-century Greek Dark Ages:

Themis is untranslatable. A gift of the gods and a mark of civilized existence, sometimes it means right custom, proper procedure, social order, and sometimes merely the will of the gods (as revealed by an omen, for example) with little of the idea of right.

Finley adds, “There was themis—custom, tradition, folk-ways, mores, whatever we may call it, the enormous power of ‘it is (or is not) done’. The world of Odysseus had a highly developed sense of what was fitting and proper.”

Themis occurred in Hesiod’s Theogony as the first recorded appearance of Justice as a divine personage. Drawing not only on the socio-religious consciousness of his time but also on many of the earlier cult-religions, Hesiod described the forces of the universe as cosmic divinities.

Hesiod portrayed temporal justice, Dike, as the daughter of Zeus and Themis. Dike executed the law of judgments and sentencing and, together with her mother Themis, carried out the final decisions of Moirai. For Hesiod, Justice is at the center of religious and moral life, who, independently of Zeus, is the embodiment of divine will. This personification of Dike will stand in contrast to justice viewed as custom or law, and as retribution or sentence.

Themis became the inspiration for modern depictions of Lady Justice (Latin: Iustitia, the Roman goddess of Justice), an allegorical personification of the moral force in judicial systems. Her attributes are a blindfold, a balance and a sword. She often appears as a pair with Prudentia (Latin: prudentia, contracted from providentia meaning “seeing ahead, sagacity”), a personification of the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason, who holds a mirror and a snake.

Libra was known in Babylonian astronomy as MUL Zibanu (the “scales” or “balance”), or alternatively as the Claws of the Scorpion. The scales were held sacred to the Assyro-Babylonian sun god Shamash (“Sun”), who was also the lord of truth, justice and law. He is depicted as wearing a horned helmet and carrying a saw-edged weapon not unlike a pruning saw. The symbol of Shamash was the solar disk, with a four-pointed star inside it.

Shamash was the god of justice, corresponding to the Sumerian god Utu (Akkadian rendition of Sumerian UD “Sun”). Just as the Sun disperses darkness, so Shamash brings wrong and injustice to light. As a powerful solar deity, Shamash, whose consort was the goddess Aya, exercised the power of light over darkness and evil. In this capacity he became known as the god of justice and equity and was the judge of both gods and men. At night, Shamash became judge of the underworld.

The personification of justice balancing the scales dates back to the Goddess Maat, the ancient Egyptian concept of truth, balance, order, harmony, law, morality, and justice. Maat was also personified as a goddess regulating the stars, seasons, and the actions of both mortals and the deities, who set the order of the universe from chaos at the moment of creation.

After her role in creation and continuously preventing the universe from returning to chaos, her primary role in Egyptian mythology dealt with the weighing of souls (also called the weighing of the heart) that took place in the underworld, Duat. Her feather was the measure that determined whether the souls (considered to reside in the heart) of the departed would reach the paradise of afterlife successfully.

Her ideological counterpart was Isfet or Asfet (meaning “injustice”, “chaos”, or “violence”; as a verb, “to do evil”), an ancient Egyptian term from Egyptian mythology used in philosophy, which was built on a religious, social and political affected dualism.

Libra was also seen as the Scorpion’s Claws in ancient Greece. Since these times, Libra has been associated with law, fairness and civility. In Arabic zubānā means “scorpion’s claws”, and likely similarly in other Semitic languages. This resemblance of words may be why the Scorpion’s claws became the Scales. However, it has also been suggested that the scales are an allusion to the fact that when the sun entered this part of the ecliptic at the autumnal equinox, the days and nights are equal.

Libra only became a constellation in ancient Rome, when it began to represent the scales held by Astraea, the goddess of justice, associated with Virgo. 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.

Shala was an ancient Sumerian goddess of grain and the emotion of compassion. The symbols of grain and compassion combine to reflect the importance of agriculture in the mythology of Sumer, and the belief that an abundant harvest was an act of compassion from the Gods.

Traditions identify Shala as wife of the fertility god Dagon, originally an East Semitic fertility god who evolved into a major Northwest Semitic god, reportedly of grain (as symbol of fertility) and fish and/or fishing (as symbol of multiplying), or consort of the storm god Hadad (Amoritic), Adad (Akkadian) or Iškur (Sumerian), the storm god in ancient Mesopotamian religion. In ancient depictions, she carries a double-headed mace-scimitar embellished with lion heads.

One star in this constellation, Spica (α Vir, α Virginis, Alpha Virginis), the brightest star in the constellation Virgo, retains this tradition as it is Latin for “ear of grain”, one of the major products of the Mesopotamian furrow.

The name Spica derives from Latin spīca virginis “the virgin’s ear of [wheat] grain”. It was also anglicized as Virgin’s Spike. Spica, along with Denebola or Regulus depending on the source and Arcturus, is part of the Spring Triangle asterism, and by extension, also of the Great Diamond together with Cor Caroli.

The constellation was also known as “AB.SIN” and “absinnu”. For this reasons 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.

Due to the effects of precession, the First Point of Libra, (also known asthe 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.

Týr (Old Norse: Týr) is a Germanic god associated with law and heroic glory in Norse mythology, portrayed as one-handed. He is the Norse god of law and justice, who governs proceedings at the thing (the Germanic general assembly).

The word tiwaz, tyr in Old Norse, is the exact cognate to Sanskrit dayus, Greek Zeus and Latin Jupiter. 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.

The aspect of the world column expressed by the T-rune is that of the separator of heaven. This separation creates a phenomenological quality and is therefore necessary to multiversal manifestation as we know it. The column maintains world order, and protects humanity and the gods from the destruction that would come should the heavens (energy) and earth (matter) collapse into one another.

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Sargon the great

Posted by Fredsvenn on June 21, 2016

The Legend of Sargon of Akkad

Ur-Zababa and Sargon

According to the King list, Ur-Zababa was a son of King Puzur-Suen. His mother is unknown. His grandmother was the famous Queen Kugbau. Her son Puzur-Suen and grandson Ur-Zababa followed her on the throne in Sumer as the fourth Kish dynasty on the king list. In some copies as her direct successors, in others with the Akshak dynasty, a city of ancient Sumer, situated on the northern boundary of Akkad, sometimes identified with Babylonian Upi (Greek Opis), intervening.

Ur-Zababa is also known as the king said to be reigning in Sumer during the youth of Sargon of Akkad, also known as Sargon the Great “the Great King” (2334–2279 BC), who became the founder of the Akkadian Empire, the first ancient Semitic-speaking empire of Mesopotamia, centered in the city of Akkad and its surrounding region, also called Akkad in ancient Mesopotamia.

While Sargon, known for his conquests of the Sumerian city-states in the 24th and 23rd centuries BC, is often credited with the first true empire, Lugal-Zage-Si preceded him; after coming to power in Umma he had conquered or otherwise come into possession of Ur, Uruk, Nippur, and Lagash. Lugal-Zage-Si claimed rulership over lands as far away as the Mediterranean.

The Akkadian Empire united all the indigenous Akkadian and Sumerian speakers for the first time under one rule. It controlled Mesopotamia (modern Iraq, Kuwait, Northeast Syria and Southeast Turkey), the Levant (modern Syria and Lebanon), and eastern and southern parts of Anatolia (modern Turkey) and Iran, sending military expeditions as far south as Dilmun and Meluhha (modern Bahrain and Oman) in the Arabian Peninsula.

The empire came from the area of Kish and who’s militarily brought much of the Near East under his regime shortly afterward. It is known that Lugal-zaggesi of Uruk and Umma destroyed Kish toward the end of his reign, before himself being deposed by Sargon.

It is often assumed that Sargon also played a role in Ur-Zababa’s downfall, but the relevant texts are too fragmentary to be explicit. Ur-Zababa’s successors in Kish as named on the king-list, beginning with Zimudar, seem to have been vassals of Sargon, and there is no evidence that they ever really exercised hegemony in Sumer.

The exact date of Sargon’s birth or even death are unknown. According to the short chronology, he reigned from 2270 to 2215 BC (the Middle Chronology lists his reign as 2334 to 2279 BC). These dates are based on the Sumerian king list. In creating this legend, Sargon carefully distanced himself from the kings of the past (who claimed divine right) and aligned himself with the common people of the region rather than the ruling elite.

There is discussion among Assyriologists over whether or not the name Sargon (Akkadian Šarru-kīnu, meaning “the true king” or “the king is legitimate”) was given at birth or a regnal name adopted later in life, given its directly relevant meaning.

Sargon legend

Sargon legend is a Sumerian text purporting to be Sargon’s biography. In the text Ur-Zababa is mentioned, who awakens after a dream. For unknown reasons, Ur-Zababa appoints Sargon as a cupbearer. Soon after this, Ur-Zababa invites Sargon to his chambers to discuss a dream of Sargon’s, involving the favor of the goddess Inanna.

The story of Sargon’s birth and childhood is given in the Sargon legend, a Sumerian text purporting to be Sargon’s biography. The extant versions are incomplete, but the surviving fragments name Sargon’s father as La’ibum. After alacuna, the text skips to Ur-Zababa, king of Kish, who awakens after a dream, the contents of which are not revealed on the surviving portion of the tablet.

For unknown reasons, Ur-Zababa appoints Sargon as his cup-bearer. Soon after this, Ur-Zababa invites Sargon to his chambers to discuss a dream of Sargon’s, involving the favor of the goddess Inanna and the drowning of Ur-Zababa by the goddess.

When Sargon returns to Ur-Zababa, the king becomes frightened again, and decides to send Sargon to King Lugal-zage-si of Uruk with a message on a clay tablet asking him to slay Sargon. Deeply frightened, Ur-Zababa orders Sargon murdered by the hands of Beliš-tikal, the chief smith, but Inanna prevents it, demanding that Sargon stop at the gates because of his being “polluted with blood.”

When Sargon returns to Ur-Zababa, the king becomes frightened again, and decides to send Sargon to king Lugal-zage-si of Uruk with a message on a clay tablet asking him to slay Sargon. The legend breaks off at this point; presumably, the missing sections described how Sargon becomes king.

After coming to power in Kish, Sargon killed the king of Kish. After having the army of Kish follow him, Sargon soon attacked Uruk, which was ruled by Lugal-Zage-Si of Umma. He captured Uruk and dismantled its walls. The defenders seem to have fled the city, joining an army led by fifty ensis from the provinces.

This Sumerian force fought two pitched battles against the Akkadians, as a result of which the remaining forces of Lugal-Zage-Si were routed. Lugal-Zage-Si himself was captured and brought to Nippur; Sargon inscribed on the pedestal of a statue (preserved in a later tablet) that he brought Lugal-Zage-Si “in a dog collar to the gate of Enlil.”

Sargon pursued his enemies to Ur before moving eastwards to Lagash, to the Persian Gulf, and thence to Umma. He made a symbolic gesture of washing his weapons in the “lower sea” (Persian Gulf) to show that he had conquered Sumer in its entirety.

Another victory Sargon celebrated was over Kashtubila, king of Kazalla. According to one ancient source, Sargon laid the city of Kazalla to waste so effectively “that the birds could not find a place to perch away from the ground.”

To help limit the chance of revolt in Sumer he appointed a court of 5,400 men who he knew would stay loyal to “share his table” (i.e., to administer his empire). These 5,400 men may have constituted Sargon’s army.

The governors chosen by Sargon to administer the main city-states of Sumer were Akkadians, not Sumerians. The Semitic Akkadian language became the Lingua Franca, the official language of inscriptions in all Mesopotamia, and of great influence far beyond.

During the 3rd millennium BC, there developed a very intimate cultural symbiosis between the Sumerians and the Akkadians, which included widespread bilingualism. The influence of Sumerian on Akkadian (and vice versa) is evident in all areas, from lexical borrowing on a massive scale, to syntactic, morphological, and phonological convergence. This has prompted scholars to refer to Sumerian and Akkadian in the third millennium as a sprachbund.

Akkadian gradually replaced Sumerian as a spoken language somewhere around the turn of the 3rd and the 2nd millennium BC (the exact dating being a matter of debate), but Sumerian continued to be used as a sacred, ceremonial, literary and scientific language in Mesopotamia until the 1st century AD. Under Sargon and his successors, the Akkadian language was briefly imposed on neighboring conquered states such as Elam and Gutium.

Sumerian literature continued in rich development during the Akkadian period. Enheduanna, the “wife (Sumerian dam = high priestess) of Nanna [the Sumerian moon god] and daughter of Sargon” of the temple of Sin at Ur, who lived ca. 2285–2250 BC, is the first poet in history whose name is known. As poetess, princess, and priestess, she was a personality who, according to William W Hallo, “set standards in all three of her roles for many succeeding centuries”

Her known works include hymns to the goddess Inanna, the Exaltation of Inanna and In-nin sa-gur-ra. A third work, the Temple Hymns, a collection of specific hymns, addresses the sacred temples and their occupants, the deity to whom they were consecrated.

The works of this poetess are significant, because although they start out using the third person, they shift to the first person voice of the poet herself, and they mark a significant development in the use of cuneiform.

Sargon’s empire maintained trade and diplomatic contacts with kingdoms around the Arabian Sea and elsewhere in the Near East. Sargon’s inscriptions report that ships from Magan, Meluhha, and Dilmun, among other places, rode at anchor in his capital of Agade. Sargon also knocked down every wall and destroyed all depictions of the previous kings.

The former religious institutions of Sumer, already well-known and emulated by the Semites, were respected. Sumerian remained, in large part, the language of religion and Sargon and his successors were patrons of the Sumerian cults.

Sargon, throughout his long life, showed special deference to the Sumerian deities, particularly Inanna (Ishtar), his patroness, and Zababa, the warrior god of Kish. He called himself “The anointed priest of Anu” and “the great ensi of Enlil” and his daughter, Enheduanna, was installed as priestess to Nanna at the temple in Ur.

The Akkadian government formed a “classical standard” with which all future Mesopotamian states compared themselves. Traditionally, the ensi was the highest functionary of the Sumerian city-states. In later traditions, one became an ensi by marrying the goddess Inanna, legitimising the rulership through divine consent.

Initially, the monarchical lugal (lu = man, gal = great) was subordinate to the priestly ensi, and was appointed at times of troubles, but by later dynastic times, it was the lugal who had emerged as the preeminent role, having his own “é” (= house) or “palace”, independent from the temple establishment.

By the time of Mesalim, whichever dynasty controlled the city of Kish was recognised as šar kiššati (= king of Kish), and was considered preeminent in Sumer, possibly because this was where the two rivers approached, and whoever controlled Kish ultimately controlled the irrigation systems of the other cities downstream.

While various copies of the Sumerian king list credit Sargon with a 56, 55, or 54-year reign, dated documents have been found for only four different year-names of his actual reign. The names of these four years describe his campaigns against Elam, Mari, Simurrum (a Hurrian region), and Uru’a (an Elamite city-state). His Akkadian dynasty continued another century after his reign.

The Sumerian king list relates: “In Agade [Akkad], Sargon, whose father was a gardener, the cup-bearer of Ur-Zababa, became king, the king of Agade, who built Agade; he ruled for 56 years.”

There are several problems with this entry in the king list. Thorkild Jacobsen marked the clause about Sargon claimed to be the son of La’ibum or Itti-Bel, a humble gardener, and possibly a hierodule, or priestess to Ishtar or Inanna, as a lacuna, indicating his uncertainty about its meaning.

Ur-Zababa and Lugal-zage-si are both listed as kings, but separated by several additional named rulers of Kish, who seem to have been merely governors or vassals under the Akkadian Empire.

Akkad is sometimes regarded as the first empire in history, though there are earlier Sumerian claimants. The claim that Sargon was the original founder of Akkad has come into question in recent years, with the discovery of an inscription mentioning the place and dated to the first year of Enshakushanna, who almost certainly preceded him.

The Weidner Chronicle (ABC 19) agrees with both the SKL and the Sargon Legend in making Sargon the cupbearer to Ur-Zababa, mentioning him in a single line as ruling in between Kubaba (Kugbau) and Sargon.

The Weidner Chronicle states that it was Sargon who built Babylon “in front of Akkad.” The Chronicle of Early Kings (ABC 20:18–19) likewise states that late in his reign, Sargon “dug up the soil of the pit of Babylon, and made a counterpart of Babylon next to Agade.” Van de Mieroop suggested that those two chronicles may in fact refer to the much later Assyrian king, Sargon II of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, rather than to Sargon of Akkad.

Sargon survives as a legendary figure into the Neo-Assyrian literature of the Early Iron Age. Tablets with fragments of a Sargon Birth Legend were found in the Library of Ashurbanipal from the 7th century BC.

According to this legend, Sargon was the illegitimate son of a priestess (older translations describe his mother as lowly). She brought him forth in secret and placed him in a basket of reeds on the river. He was found by Akki the irrigator who raised him as his own son.

Later claims made on behalf of Sargon were that his mother was an “entu“ priestess (high priestess). The claims might have been made to ensure a descendancy of nobility, considering only a high placed family can be made such a position.

One legend related of Sargon in Assyrian times says that: “My mother was a changeling my father I knew not. The brothers of my father loved the hills. My city is Azurpiranu (the wilderness herb fields), which is situated on the banks of the Euphrates. My changeling mother conceived me, in secret she bore me. She set me in a basket of rushes, with bitumen she sealed my lid. She cast me into the river which rose not over me. The river bore me up and carried me to Akki, the drawer of water. Akki, the drawer of water, took me as his son and reared me. Akki the drawer of water, appointed me as his gardener. While I was gardener Ishtar granted me her love, and for four and (fifty?) … years I exercised kingship”.

Originally a cupbearer (Rabshakeh) to a king of Kish with a Semitic name, Ur-Zababa, Sargon thus became a gardener, responsible for the task of clearing out irrigation canals. This gave him access to a disciplined corps of workers, who also may have served as his first soldiers.

Similarities between the Neo-Assyrian Sargon Birth Legend and other infant birth exposures in ancient literature, including Moses, Karna, and Oedipus, were noted by Otto Rank in 1909.

The legend was also studied in detail by Brian Lewis, and compared with a number of different examples of the infant birth exposure motif found in European and Asian folk tales. He discusses a possible archetype form, giving particular attention to the Sargon legend and the account of the birth of Moses. Joseph Campbell has also made such comparisons.

Nimrod

The Bible refers to the Akkadians in Genesis 10:10, which states that Nimrod is the founder of Akkad, although in terms of Historicity, Nimrod is not attested anywhere in the far older and more numerous annals of the Mesopotamians themselves.

Sargon is also one of the many suggestions for the identity or inspiration for the biblical Nimrod. Ewing William (1910) suggested Sargon based on his unification of the Babylonians and the Neo-Assyrian birth legend. Yigal Levin (2002) suggested that Nimrod was a recollection of Sargon and of his grandson Naram-Sin, with the name “Nimrod” derived from the latter.

The collapse

Later material described how the fall of Akkad was due to Naram-Sin’s attack upon the city of Nippur. When prompted by a pair of inauspicious oracles, the king sacked the E-kur temple, supposedly protected by the god Enlil, head of the pantheon. As a result of this, eight chief deities of the Anunnaki pantheon were supposed to have come together and withdrawn their support from Akkad.

“For the first time since cities were built and founded, The great agricultural tracts produced no grain, The inundated tracts produced no ostriches, The irrigated orchards produced neither wine nor syrup, The gathered clouds did not rain, the masgurum did not grow. At that time, one shekel’s worth of oil was only one-half quart, One shekel’s worth of grain was only one-half quart… These sold at such prices in the markets of all the cities! He who slept on the roof, died on the roof, He who slept in the house, had no burial, People were flailing at themselves from hunger.”

For many years, the events described in “The Curse of Akkad” were thought, like the details of Sargon’s birth, to be purely fictional. But now the evidence of Tell Leilan, and recent findings of elevated dust deposits in sea-cores collected off Oman, that date to the period of Akkad’s collapse suggest that this climate changemay have played a role.

The Akkadian Empire reached its political peak between the 24th and 22nd centuries BC, following the conquests by its founder Sargon of Akkad. After the fall of the Akkadian Empire, the Akkadian people of Mesopotamia eventually coalesced into two major Akkadian-speaking nations: Assyria in the north, and, a few centuries later, Babylonia in the south.

The excavators at nearby Tell Leilan (ancient Shekhna / Shubat-Enlil) have used the results from their investigations to argue that the Akkadian Empire came to an end due to abrupt climate change, the so-called 4.2 kiloyear event, one of the most severe climatic events of the Holocene period in terms of impact on cultural upheaval. The impact of this climate event on Mesopotamia in general, and on the Akkadian Empire in particular, continues to be hotly debated.

Starting in about 2200 BC, it probably lasted the entire century. A phase of intense aridity is recorded across North Africa, the Middle East, the Red Sea, the Arabian Peninsula, the Indian subcontinent, and midcontinental North America.

Glaciers throughout the mountain ranges of western Canada advanced at about this time. Evidence has also been found in an Italian cave flowstone, the Kilimanjaro Ice sheet, and in Andean glacier ice.

The onset of the aridification in Mesopotamia also coincided with a cooling event in the North Atlantic, known as Bond event 3. Despite this, evidence for the 4.2 kyr event in northern Europe is ambiguous, suggesting the origin and impact of this event is spatially complex.

It is very likely to have caused the collapse of the Old Kingdom in Egypt as well as the Akkadian Empire in Mesopotamia. The drought may have also initiated southeastward habitat tracking within the Indus Valley Civilization.

In c. 2150 BC the Old Kingdom was hit by a series of exceptionally low Nile floods, which was instrumental in the sudden collapse of centralized government in ancient Egypt. Famines, social disorder, and fragmentation during a period of approximately 40 years were followed by a phase of rehabilitation and restoration of order in various provinces.

Egypt was eventually reunified within a new paradigm of kingship. The process of recovery depended on capable provincial administrators, the deployment of the idea of justice, irrigation projects, and an administrative reform.

In the Persian Gulf region, there is a sudden change in settlement pattern, style of pottery and tombs at this time. The 22nd century BC drought marks the end of the Umm an-Nar Culture (Arabic for “Mother of fire”), the name given to a bronze age culture that existed from 2600-2000 BC in modern-day United Arab Emirates and Northern Oman, and the change to the Wadi Suq period.

The Akkadian Empire was brought low by a wide-ranging, centuries-long drought. Archaeological evidence documents widespread abandonment of the agricultural plains of northern Mesopotamia and dramatic influxes of refugees into southern Mesopotamia around 2170 BC.

Evidence from Tell Leilan in Northern Mesopotamia shows what may have happened. The site was abandoned soon after the city’s massive walls were constructed, its temple rebuilt and its grain production reorganised. The debris, dust and sand that followed show no trace of human activity. Soil samples show fine wind-blown sand, no trace of earthworm activity, reduced rainfall and indications of a drier and windier climate.

Evidence shows that skeleton-thin sheep and cattle died of drought, and up to 28,000 people abandoned the site, seeking wetter areas elsewhere. Tell Brak shrank in size by 75%. Trade collapsed. Nomadic herders such as the Amorites moved herds closer to reliable water suppliers, bringing them into conflict with Akkadian populations.

This collapse of rain-fed agriculture in the Upper Country meant the loss to southern Mesopotamia of the agrarian subsidies which had kept the Akkadian Empire solvent. Water levels within the Tigris and Euphrates fell 1.5 metres beneath the level of 2600 BC, and although they stabilised for a time during the following Ur III period (ca. 2112 BC and 2004 BC), also known as the Sumerian renaissance, rivalries between pastoralists and farmers increased.

Attempts were undertaken to prevent the former from herding their flocks in agricultural lands, such as the building of a 180 km (112 mi) wall known as the “Repeller of the Amorites” between the Tigris and Euphrates across central Mesopotamia under the Ur III ruler Shu-Sin to stem nomadic incursions to the south Such attempts led to increased political instability; meanwhile, severe depression occurred to re-establish demographic equilibrium with the less favorable climatic conditions.

Widespread agricultural change in the Near East is visible at the end of the third millennium BC. Resettlement of the northern plains by smaller sedentary populations occurred near 1900 BC, three centuries after the collapse. The Gutian people, who originally inhabited the Zagros Mountains, defeated the demoralized Akkadian army, took Akkad, and destroyed it around 2115 BC.

Akkad

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

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

The meaning of the name is unknown. The etymology of a-ga-dè is also unclear but not of Akkadian origin. Sumerian, Hurrian and Lullubean etymologies have been proposed instead.

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

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

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Capricorn and Aquarius – January and February

Posted by Fredsvenn on June 21, 2016

Aquarius is a constellation of the zodiac, situated between Capricornus and Pisces. Its name is Latin for “water-carrier” or “cup-carrier”, and its symbol is a representation of water. It is found in a region often called the Sea due to its profusion of constellations with watery associations such as Cetus the whale, Pisces the fish, and Eridanus the river.

Across the desert in ancient Sumer the origins of Aquarius lie with the Goddess Gula, the Great One. She is described as a Goddess of Healing, but on closer inspection it becomes obvious that the healing that Gula gifts upon the Earth is that of the nourishing rain and fresh water floods that turn the dry land green again.

Gula is also said to have a violent side which She exhibits in the form of rain and thunderstorms: “Queen Whose Temper, Like a Raging Storm, Makes Heaven Tremble and the Earth Quake”. Gula was linked to the Great Flood and is often depicted with dogs by Her side.

Later accounts describe Gula in the form of Mul Gula as being a male Water Pourer who is immortalised in the constellation of  Aquarius. However, essentially the male Mul Gula is the same image as Enki, the Sumerian Lord of Fresh Water, who is often depicted pouring water from two jugs.

Aquarius is identified as GU.LA “The Great One” in the Babylonian star catalogues and represents the god Ea himself, who is commonly depicted holding an overflowing vase. The Babylonian star-figure appears on entitlement stones and cylinder seals from the second millennium. It contained the winter solstice in the Early Bronze Age. In Old Babylonian astronomy, Ea was the ruler of the southernmost quarter of the Sun’s path, the “Way of Ea”, corresponding to the period of 45 days on either side of winter solstice.

Considered the master shaper of the world, god of wisdom and of all magic, Enki was characterized as the lord of the Abzu, the freshwater sea or groundwater located within the earth. He is often shown with the horned crown of divinity dressed in the skin of a carp. He was the keeper of the divine powers called Me, the gifts of civilization.

His symbols included a goat and a fish, which later combined into a single beast, the goat Capricorn, recognised as the zodiacal constellation Capricornus. He was accompanied by an attendant Isimud, a minor god, the messenger of the god Enki in Sumerian mythology, readily identifiable by his possessing two faces looking in opposite directions. He was also associated with the planet Mercury in the Sumerian astrological system.

Later known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology, Enki was the god of intelligence (gestú, literally “ear”), creation, crafts; magic; water, seawater and lakewater (a, aba, ab). Mercury is the ruling planet of Gemini and Virgo and is exalted in Virgo or Aquarius.

Aquarius was also associated with the destructive floods that the Babylonians regularly experienced, and thus was negatively connoted. In Ancient Egypt, Aquarius was associated with the annual flood of the Nile; the banks were said to flood when Aquarius put his jar into the river, beginning spring.

In the Greek tradition, the constellation became represented as simply a single vase from which a stream poured down to Piscis Austrinus. The name in the Hindu zodiac is likewise kumbha “water-pitcher”, showing that the zodiac reached India via Greek intermediaries.

In Greek mythology, Aquarius is sometimes associated with Deucalion, the son of Prometheus who built a ship with his wife Pyrrha to survive an imminent flood. They sailed for nine days before washing ashore on Mount Parnassus. Aquarius is also sometimes identified with beautiful Ganymede, a youth in Greek mythology and the son of Trojan king Tros, who was taken to Mount Olympus by Zeus to act as cup-carrier to the gods.

Uranus is the ruling planet of Aquarius and is exalted in Scorpio. In Greek mythology, Uranus is the personification of the heavens and the night sky. The planet Uranus is very unusual among the planets in that it rotates on its side, so that it presents each of its poles to the Sun in turn during its orbit; causing both hemispheres to alternate between being bathed in light and lying in total darkness over the course of the orbit.

Before the discovery of Uranus, Saturn was regarded as the ruling planet of Aquarius alongside Capricorn of course, which is the preceding sign. Many traditional types of astrologers prefer Saturn as the planetary ruler for both Capricorn and Aquarius. In modern astrology, it is the primary native ruler of the tenth house. Traditionally however, Saturn ruled both the first and eighth houses.

Under the tropical zodiac, the sun is in Aquarius typically between January 20 and February 18, while under the Sidereal Zodiac, the sun is in Aquarius from approximately February 15 to March 14, depending on leap year.

The Roman month Februarius was named after the Latin term februum, which means purification, via the purification ritual Februa held on February 15 (full moon) in the old lunar Roman calendar. Its zodiac signs are Aquarius (until February 19) and Pisces (February 20 onwards).

January and February were the last two months to be added to the Roman calendar, since the Romans originally considered winter a monthless period. They were added by Numa Pompilius about 713 BC.

February remained the last month of the calendar year until the time of the decemvirs (c. 450 BC), when it became the second month. At certain intervals February was truncated to 23 or 24 days, and a 27-day intercalary month, Intercalaris, was inserted immediately after February to realign the year with the seasons.

January (in Latin, Ianuarius) is named after the Latin word for door (ianua) since January is the door to the year. The month is conventionally thought of as being named after Janus, the god of beginnings and transitions in Roman mythology, but according to ancient Roman farmers’ almanacs Juno was the tutelary deity of the month. The zodiac signs for the month of January are Capricorn (until January 20) and Aquarius (January 21 onwards).

In Roman mythology, Saturn is the god of agriculture, leader of the titans, founder of civilizations, social order, and conformity. The day Saturday is, like the planet Saturn, named after the Roman god of agriculture, Saturn (linked to the Greek god Cronus).

The glyph is shaped like a scythe, but it is known as the “crescent below the cross”, whereas Jupiter’s glyph is the “crescent above the cross”. The famous rings of the planet Saturn that enclose and surround it, reflect the idea of human limitations. Saturn takes 29.5 years to orbit the Sun, spending about 2.46 years in each sign of the zodiac.

Saturn in astrology is the ruling planet of Capricorn, the tenth astrological sign in the zodiac, originating from the constellation of Capricornus, and, traditionally, Aquarius.

Capricorn spans the 270–300th degree of the zodiac. Under the tropical zodiac, the sun transits this area from December 21 to January 20 each year, and under the sidereal zodiac, the sun transits the constellation of Capricorn from approximately January 16 to February 16.

In astrology, Capricorn is considered an earth sign, introvert sign, a power sign and one of the four cardinal signs. Capricorn is said to be ruled by the planet Saturn. Its symbol is based on the Sumerians primordial god of wisdom and waters, Enki, with the head and upper body of a mountain goat, and the lower body and tail of a fish.

In Chinese astrology, Saturn is ruled by the element earth, which is warm, generous, and co-operative. In Indian astrology, Saturn is called Shani or “Sani”, representing a noteworthy career and longevity. He is also the bringer of obstacles and hardship.

In Scandinavian countries, Saturday is called lördag, “lørdag,” or laurdag, the name being derived from the old word laugr/laug, meaning bath, thus Lördag equates to bath-day. This is due to the Viking practice of bathing on Saturdays. The roots lör, laugar and so forth are cognate to the English word lye, in the sense of detergent.

*Laguz or *Laukaz is the reconstructed Proto-Germanic name of the l-rune, *laguz meaning “water” or “lake” and *laukaz meaning “leek”. The “leek” hypothesis is based not on the rune poems, but rather on early inscriptions where the rune has been hypothesized to abbreviate *laukaz, a symbol of fertility.

In the Anglo-Saxon rune poem, it is called lagu “ocean”. In the Younger Futhark, the rune is called lögr “waterfall” in Icelandic and logr “water” in Norse. The corresponding Gothic letter is l, named lagus. The rune is identical in shape to the letter lin the Raetic alphabet.

In India, Saturday is Shanivar, based on Shani, the Vedic god manifested in the planet Saturn. Shani dev is one of the Navagraha (the nine primary celestial beings in Hindu astrology) of Jyotiṣa. Shani dev is embodied in the planet Saturn and is the Lord of Saturday. Shani dev is also known as Śanaiścara. The word shani comes from Śanayē Kramati Saḥ, the one who moves slowly, because Saturn takes about 30 years to revolve around the Sun.

In Hindu astrology, the kumbha stands for the zodiac sign Aquarius and is also associated with the Kumbh Mela, a mass Hindu pilgrimage of faith in which Hindus gather to bathe in a sacred river, which happens when the planet Brihaspati moves into Aquarius. The Kumbh Mela of Haridwar appears to be the original Kumbh Mela, since it is held according to the astrological sign “Kumbha” (Aquarius), and because there are several references to a 12-year cycle for it.

In Hindu epic Ramayana, Ravana’s brother Kumbhakarna had a son named Kumbha. In Hindu mythology and scriptures, several references are found of human beings born from kumbha. A legend states that rishi Agastya was born out of a womb.

A kumbha is a type of pottery in India. Traditionally, it is made by Kumbhars, also known as Prajapatis. In the context of Hindu, Jain and Buddhist mythology, the kumbha symbolises the womb. It represents fertility, life, generative power of human beings and sustenance and is generally associated with devis, particularly Ganga.

According to Hindu mythology, the first kumbha was created by Prajapati (“lord of people”), a group of Hindu deities presiding over procreation and protection of life, and thereby a King of Kings (Rajanya or Rajan), on the occasion of the marriage of Shiva, so he was first kumbhara “potter”.

Prajapati is a Vedic deity presiding over procreation, and the protection of life. He was mentioned as Daksha in Hiranyagharbhasuktham as the creator deity emerging from supreme god vishvakarman above the other Vedic deities in RV 10 and in Brahmana literature. Vedic commentators also identify him with the creator referred to in the Nasadiya Sukta. In later times, he is identified with the personifications of Time, Fire, the Sun, etc.

A possible connection between Prajapati (and related figures in Indian tradition) and the Prōtogonos (“First-born”) or Phanes, the mystic primeval deity of procreation and the generation of new life, who was introduced into Greek mythology by the Orphic tradition, has been made by several scholars. Other names for this Classical Greek Orphic concept included Ericapaeus (“power”) and Metis (“thought”).

Another myth says that the first pot was created by Vishvakarman (Sanskrit for “all-accomplishing, maker of all, all-doer”) is personification of creation and the abstract form of the creator God according to the Rigveda, on the occasion of the churning of the ocean for the first Amrit Sanchar.

Viśwákarma is personification of creation and the abstract form of the creator God according to the Rigveda. He is the presiding deity of all Vishwakarma (caste), engineers, artisans and architects. He is believed to be the “Principal Architect of the Universe “, and the root concept of the later Upanishadic figures of Brahman and Purusha.

In several religious ceremonies and rituals, kumbhas or kalashas filled with water and leaves and decorated with intricate motifs, sometimes with ornaments, play an important role in ancient India. These rituals still survive in India.

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The sister-wife of Njörðr

Posted by Fredsvenn on June 21, 2016

Njörðr

In Norse mythology, Njörðr is a god among the Vanir. Njörðr, the father of the deities Freyr and Freyja by his unnamed 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. Veneration of Njörðr survived into 18th or 19th century Norwegian folk practice, where the god is recorded as Njor and thanked for a bountiful catch of fish.

Njörðr has been the subject of an amount of scholarly discourse and theory, often connecting him with the figure of the much earlier attested Germanic goddess Nerthus, the hero Hadingus, and theorizing on his formerly more prominent place in Norse paganism due to the appearance of his name in numerous place names. Additionally, in Old Icelandic translations of Classical mythology the Roman god Saturn’s name is glossed as “Njörðr.”

Nerthus

Njörðr is often identified with the older Germanic fertility goddess Nerthus, whose reverence by various Germanic tribes is described by Roman historian Tacitus in his 1st CE century work Germania goddess Nerthus. The original meaning of the name is contested, but it may be related to the Irish word nert which means “force” and “power”.

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

A number of theories have been proposed regarding the figure of Nerthus and her potential later traces amongst the Germanic peoples, including the location of the events described, relations to other known deities and her role amongst the Germanic tribes. Various scholarly theories exist regarding that the figure may be identical to the unnamed sister-wife of Njörðr with whom he had 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”.

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.

The connection between the two is due to the linguistic relationship between Njörðr and the reconstructed *Nerþuz, “Nerthus” being the feminine, Latinized form of what Njörðr would have looked like around 1 CE, and both derive from the Proto-Germanic *Nerþuz.

It has been suggested that the change of sex from the female Nerthus to the male Njörðr is due to the fact that feminine nouns with u-stems disappeared early in Germanic language while the masculine nouns with u-stems prevailed.

However, other scholars hold the change to be based not on grammatical gender but on the evolution of religious beliefs; that *Nerþuz and Njörðr appear as different genders because they are to be considered separate beings.

This has led to theories about the relation of the two, including that Njörðr may have once been a hermaphroditic god or, generally considered more likely, that the name may indicate an otherwise unattested divine brother and sister pair such as Freyr and Freyja.

Njörun

The name Njörðr may be related to the name of the Norse goddess Njörun (Old Norse Njǫrun, sometimes modernly anglicized as Niorun). Scholarly theories concerning her name and function in the pantheon include etymological connections to the Norse god Njörðr and the Roman goddess Nerio, and suggestions that she may represent the earth and/or be the unnamed sister-wife of Njörðr.

Njörun is a “mysterious … figure” of whom nothing else is known; Andy Orchard suggests that she may be fictitious. Several scholars have suggested that the stem syllable in her name, Njǫr-, may represent the element *ner- as in Tacitus’ earth-goddess Nerthus (*Ner-þuz), whose name is etymologically identical with that of the Norse god Njǫrðr, and that Njörun may therefore be a name for the earth. Ásgeir Blöndal Magnússon additionally suggests a connection with the Roman goddess Nerio.

In ancient Roman religion and myth, Nerio was an ancient war goddess and the personification of valor. She was the partner of Mars in ancient cult practices, and was sometimes identified with the goddess Bellona, and occasionally with the goddess Minerva. Spoils taken from enemies were sometimes dedicated to Nerio by the Romans. Nerio was later supplanted by mythologized deities appropriated and adapted from other religions.

The possible etymological connection with Njǫrðr and Nerthus suggests that Njörun may be a preserved name for the sister-wife of Njörðr, who is highly unusual in the Old Norse context in being unnamed.

As was noted by Albert Morey Sturtevant, Njǫrun and Gefjon are the only female names recorded in Old Norse texts that have the suffix -un. Two other god-goddess pairs distinguished by suffix are preserved in the Old Norse corpus, Ullr and Ullin and Fjörgyn and Fjörgynn, and there is a possible third example in Old High German Phol and Volla.

Gefjon

Gefjon or Gefjun (with the alternate spelling Gefion) is a goddess associated with ploughing, the Danish island of Zealand, the legendary Swedish king Gylfi, the legendary Danish king Skjöldr, foreknowledge, and virginity. Gefjon is attested in different sources, and appears as a gloss for various Greco-Roman goddesses in some Old Norse translations of Latin works.

Regarding the plough and Gefjon, Davidson concludes that “the idea behind the taking of the plough round the countryside seems to be that it brought good fortune and prosperity, gifts of a benevolent goddess. Gefjon and her plough thus fit into a large framework of the cult of a goddess associated with fertility of both land and water.”

Scholars have proposed theories about the etymology the name of the goddess, connections to fertility and ploughing practices, the implications of the references made to her as a virgin, five potential mentions of the goddess in the Old English poem Beowulf, and potential connections between Gefjon and Grendel’s Mother and/or the goddesses Freyja and Frigg. Due to perceived similarities it has been proposed a connection between Gefjun and the goddesses Frigg and Freyja.

The etymology of the name Gefjon has been a matter of dispute. In modern scholarship, the element Gef- in Gef-jon is generally theorized as related to the element Gef- in the name Gef-n. The name Gefn is one of the numerous names for the goddess Freyja, and likely means “she who gives (prosperity or happiness).” The connection between the two names has resulted in etymological results of Gefjun meaning “the giving one.”

Albert Murey Sturtevant notes that “the only other feminine personal name which contains the suffix -un is Njǫr-un. Whatever the stem syllable Njǫr- represents (perhaps *ner- as in *Ner-þuz>Njǫrðr), the addition of the n- and un-suffixes seems to furnish an exact parallel to Gef-n : Gefj-un (cf. Njǫr-n : Njǫr-un).” A Finnish word for “bride’s outfit, trousseau” may derive from Gefjon’s name.

Skadi

Skaði (sometimes anglicized as Skadi, Skade, or Skathi) is a jötunn and goddess associated with bowhunting, skiing, winter, and mountains. In all sources she is the daughter of the deceased Þjazi, and Skaði married the god Njörðr as part of the compensation provided by the gods for killing her father Þjazi.

In Heimskringla, Skaði is described as having split up with Njörðr and as later having married the god Odin, and that the two produced many children together. In both the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda, Skaði is responsible for placing the serpent that drips venom onto the bound Loki. Skaði is alternately referred to as Öndurguð (Old Norse “ski god”) and Öndurdís (Old Norse “ski dís”, often translated as “lady”).

Sister-wife of Njörðr

In Norse mythology, the sister-wife of Njörðr is the unnamed wife and sister of the god Njörðr, with whom he is described as having had the (likewise incestuous) twin children Freyr and Freyja.

The situation is complicated in that narratives describing the birth of Freyr and Freyja contradictorily cite the birth of the siblings occurring either after or before Njörðr left Vanaheimr to live among the Æsir. In addition, Freyr is referred to as the “son” of Njörðr and the goddess Skaði in the Poetic Edda poem Skírnismál.

In a euhemerized account of the gods in Ynglinga saga chapter 4, Snorri Sturluson characterizes Freyr and Freyja as the offspring of Njörðr by his unnamed sister, to whom he was married by Vanic custom. However, in the Eddic poem Lokasenna, Loki also states that Njörðr had Freyr by his sister.

In contrast, in the Gylfaginning section of his Prose Edda, after telling the story of Njörðr’s unhappy marriage to Skaði that occurred after he came to live among the Æsir, Snorri states that Freyr and Freyja were born after that; Freyr is also presented as the son of Njörðr and Skaði in the Eddic poem Skírnismál.

However, in Ynglinga saga Freyr, and presumably Freyja, accompanies Njörðr when he comes to live with the Æsir as a hostage after the Æsir–Vanir War; and Lokasennaalludes to Freyja having been “surprised” in Vanic incest with her brother.

Scholars since Jacob Grimm have regarded the chronology in Ynglinga saga as more likely to be original and taken Freyr and Freyja as having been therefore born to Njörðr by an unmentioned Vanic wife.

Jan de Vries suggested a remnant of ancient Indo-European custom. Since Nerthus in Tacitus’ late-1st century Germania is an earth goddess, terra mater (mother earth), but her name is etymologically identical to his, the suggestion is that there was originally a hermaphroditic deity, or more likely that they were a married twin pair, parallel to Freyr and Freyja.

Georges Dumézil pointed out that in Saxo Grammaticus ‘Gesta Danorum, the hero Hadingus’ life closely parallels Njörðr’s, including a relationship with his foster-sister Harthgrepa followed by marriage to a princess who chooses him by his feet, as Skaði does in Gylfaginning.

Grimm suggested that Freyja was thought of as the daughter of the female Nerthus and Freyr as the son of the male Njörðr. It is possible that the goddess’ name survives in the uncharacterized Njörun; other divine pairs with similarly differentiated names in the Old Norse corpus are Ullr and Ullin and Fjörgyn and Fjörgynn, and the Old High German Phol and Volla may also be a pair.

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Kubau and Zababa

Posted by Fredsvenn on June 21, 2016

Kubaba / Ku-Bau

The Third Dynasty of Kish is unique in that it begins with a woman, previously a tavern keeper, Kubaba (in the Weidner or Esagila Chronicle; Sumerian: Kug-Bau), as “king”. She is the only queen on the Sumerian King List, which states she reigned for 100 years – roughly in the Early Dynastic III period (ca. 2500-2330 BC) of Sumerian history. Before becoming monarch, the king list says she was an alewife.

Shrines in honour of Kubaba spread throughout Mesopotamia. In the Hurrian area she may be identified with Kebat, or Hepat, one title of the Hurrian Mother goddess Hannahannah (from Hurrian hannah, “mother”).

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

Kubaba became the tutelary goddess who protected the ancient city of Carchemish on the upper Euphrates, in the late Hurrian – Early Hittite period. She plays a role in Luwian texts and a minor role in Hittite texts, mainly in Hurrian rituals.

Relief carvings, now at the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara, show her seated, wearing a cylindrical headdress like the polos and holding probably a tympanum (hand drum) or possibly a mirror in one hand and a poppy capsule (or perhaps pomegranate) in the other.

Her cult later spread and her name was adapted for the main goddess of the Hittite successor-kingdoms in Anatolia, which later developed into the Phrygian matar (mother) or matar kubileya Cybele whose image with inscriptions appear in rock-cut sculptures.

Her Lydian name was Kuvav or Kufav which Ionian Greeks initially transcribed Kybêbê, not Kybele. The seventh-century Semonides of Amorgos calls one of her Hellene followers a kybêbos, and observes that in the following century she has been further Hellenized by Hipponax as “Kybêbê, daughter of Zeus”. The Phrygian goddess otherwise bears little resemblance to Kubaba, who was a sovereign deity at Sardis, known to Greeks as Kybebe.

Ur Zababa

According to the King list, Ur-Zababa was a son of King Puzur-Suen. His mother is unknown. His grandmother was the famous Queen Kugbau. Her son Puzur-Suen and grandson Ur-Zababa followed her on the throne in Sumer as the fourth Kish dynasty on the king list. In some copies as her direct successors, in others with the Akshak dynasty, a city of ancient Sumer, situated on the northern boundary of Akkad, sometimes identified with Babylonian Upi (Greek Opis), intervening.

Ur-Zababa is also known as the king said to be reigning in Sumer during the youth of Sargon of Akkad, also known as Sargon the Great “the Great King” (2334–2279 BC), who became the founder of the Akkadian Empire, the first ancient Semitic-speaking empire of Mesopotamia, centered in the city of Akkad and its surrounding region, also called Akkad in ancient Mesopotamia.

Meliae

In Greek mythology, the Meliae were nymphs of the ash tree, whose name they shared. They appeared from the drops of blood spilled when Cronus castrated Uranus, according to Hesiod, Theogony. From the same blood sprang the Erinyes and the Giants. From the Meliae sprang the race of mankind of the Age of Bronze.

The Meliae belong to a class of sisterhoods whose nature is to appear collectively and who are invoked in the plural, though genealogical myths, especially in Hesiod, give them individual names, such as Melia, “but these are quite clearly secondary and carry no great weight”.

The Melia thus singled out is one of these daughters of Oceanus. By her brother the river-god Inachus, she became the mother of Io, Phoroneus, Aegialeus or Phegeus, and Philodice. In other stories, she was the mother of Amycus by Poseidon, as the Olympian representative of Oceanus.

Many species of Fraxinus, the ash trees, exude a sugary substance, which the ancient Greeks called méli, “honey”. The species of ash in the mountains of Greece is the Manna-ash (Fraxinus ornus). The Meliae were nurses of the infant Zeus in the Cretan cave of Dikte, according to Callimachus, Hymn to Zeus. They fed him honey.

Of “manna”, the ash-tree sugar, the standard 19th-century US pharmacopeia, The Dispensatory of the United States of America (14th edition, Philadelphia, 1878) said: It is owing to the presence of true sugar and dextrin that manna is capable of fermenting… Manna, when long kept, acquires a deeper color, softens, and ultimately deliquesces into a liquid which on the addition of yeast, undergoes the vinous fermentation. Fermented honey preceded wine as an entheogen in the Aegean world.

The Meliae were perhaps the same as the honey-nymph (meliai) nurses of the god Zeus, Ida and Adrasteia. The manna meli of the ash and the honey of bees were thought to be related and being regarded as an ambrosial food fallen from heaven.

In Hesiod’s Theogony they were born aside the Erinyes, avengers of the castration of Uranus, and the Gigantes. In Hesiod they appear to be the Kouretes-protectors of the baby Zeus. As children born of the castration, it would be proper that such brothers should play a role in the downfall of Cronus, performer of the crime. They were an overly aggressive race who incurred the wrath of Zeus and were ruined in the flood of the Great Deluge.

Semele

Semele, in Greek mythology, daughter of the Boeotian hero Cadmus and Harmonia, was the mortal mother of Dionysus by Zeus in one of his many origin myths. Certain elements of the cult of Dionysus and Semele came from the Phrygians. These were modified, expanded and elaborated by the Ionian Greek invaders and colonists. Herodotus, who gives the account of Cadmus, estimates that Semele lived sixteen hundred years before his time, or around 2000 BCE. In Rome, the goddess Stimula was identified as Semele.

According to some linguists the name “Semele” is Thraco-Phrygian, derived from a PIE root meaning “earth”. Julius Pokorny reconstructs her name from the PIE root *dgem- meaning “earth” and relates it with Thracian Zemele, “mother earth”. However, Burkert says that while Semele is “manifestly non-Greek”, he also says that “it is no more possible to confirm that Semele is a Thraco-Phrygian word for earth than it is to prove the priority of the Lydian baki- over Bacchus as a name for Dionysos”.

In one version of the myth, Semele was a priestess of Zeus, and on one occasion was observed by Zeus as she slaughtered a bull at his altar and afterwards swam in the river Asopus to cleanse herself of the blood. Flying over the scene in the guise of an eagle, Zeus fell in love with Semele and repeatedly visited her secretly.

Zeus’ wife, Hera, a goddess jealous of usurpers, discovered his affair with Semele when she later became pregnant. Appearing as an old crone, Hera befriended Semele, who confided in her that her lover was actually Zeus. Hera pretended not to believe her, and planted seeds of doubt in Semele’s mind. Curious, Semele asked Zeus to grant her a boon.

Zeus, eager to please his beloved, promised on the River Styx to grant her anything she wanted. She then demanded that Zeus reveal himself in all his glory as proof of his divinity. Though Zeus begged her not to ask this, she persisted and he was forced by his oath to comply.

Zeus tried to spare her by showing her the smallest of his bolts and the sparsest thunderstorm clouds he could find. Mortals, however, cannot look upon the gods without incinerating, and she perished, consumed in lightning-ignited flame.

Zeus rescued the fetal Dionysus, however, by sewing him into his thigh (whence the epithet Eiraphiotes, “insewn”, of the Homeric Hymn). A few months later, Dionysus was born. This leads to his being called “the twice-born”.

When he grew up, Dionysus rescued his mother from Hades, and she became a goddess on Mount Olympus, with the new name Thyone, presiding over the frenzy inspired by her son Dionysus.

There is a story in the Fabulae 167 of Gaius Julius Hyginus, or a later author whose work has been attributed to Hyginus. In this, Dionysus (called Liber) is the son of Jupiter and Proserpina, and was killed by the Titans. Jupiter gave his torn up heart in a drink to Semele, who became pregnant this way.

In another account, Zeus swallows the heart himself, in order to beget his seed on Semele. Hera then convinces Semele to ask Zeus to come to her as a god, and on doing so she dies, and Zeus seals the unborn baby up in his thigh.

There is no suggestion in the text that Semele is a virgin, however. As a result of this Dionysus “was also called Dimetor [of two mothers]… because the two Dionysoi were born of one father, but of two mothers”.

Still another variant of the narrative is found in Callimachus and the 5th century CE Greek writer Nonnus. In this version, the first Dionysus is called Zagreus. Nonnus does not present the conception as virginal; rather, the editor’s notes say that Zeus swallowed Zagreus’ heart, and visited the mortal woman Semele, whom he seduced and made pregnant.

In Dionysiaca he classifies Zeus’s affair with Semele as one in a set of twelve, the other eleven women on whom he begot children being Io, Europa, the nymph Pluto, Danaë, Aigina, Antiope, Leda, Dia, Alcmene, Laodameia, mother of Sarpedon, and Olympias.

The most usual setting for the story of Semele is the palace that occupied the acropolis of Thebes, called the Cadmeia. When Pausanias visited Thebes in the 2nd century CE, he was shown the very bridal chamber where Zeus visited her and begat Dionysus.

Since an Oriental inscribed cylindrical seal found at the palace can be dated 1400-1300 centuries BCE, the myth of Semele must be Mycenaean or earlier in origin. At the Alcyonian Lake near the prehistoric site of Lerna, Dionysus, guided by Prosymnus or Polymnus, descended to Tartarus to free his once-mortal mother. Annual rites took place there in classical times; Pausanias refuses to describe them.

Though the Greek myth of Semele was localized in Thebes, the fragmentary Homeric Hymn to Dionysus makes the place where Zeus gave a second birth to the god a distant one, and mythically vague: “For some say, at Dracanum; and some, on windy Icarus; and some, in Naxos, O Heaven-born, Insewn; and others by the deep-eddying river Alpheus that pregnant Semele bare you to Zeus the thunder-lover. And others yet, lord, say you were born in Thebes; but all these lie. The Father of men and gods gave you birth remote from men and secretly from white-armed Hera. There is a certain Nysa, a mountain most high and richly grown with woods, far off in Phoenice, near the streams of Aegyptus…”

Semele was worshipped at Athens at the Lenaia, when a yearling bull, emblematic of Dionysus, was sacrificed to her. One-ninth was burnt on the altar in the Hellenic way; the rest was torn and eaten raw by the votaries.

Semla is the Etruscan equivalent for the Greek goddess Semele, daughter of the Boeotian hero Cadmus and mother of the Greek god of wine Dionysus by Zeus. Her name also is sometimes spelled Semia. The Greek cult of Dionysus had flourished among the Etruscans in the archaic period, and had been made compatible with Etruscan religious beliefs.

In ancient Rome, a grove (lucus) near Ostia, situated between the Aventine Hill and the mouth of the Tiber River, was dedicated to a goddess named Stimula. Augustine notes that the goddess is named after stimulae, “goads, whips,” by means of which a person is driven to excessive actions.

Religious beliefs and myths associated with Dionysus were successfully adapted and remained pervasive in Roman culture, as evidenced for instance by the Dionysian scenes of Roman wall painting and on sarcophagi from the 1st to the 4th centuries CE.

One of the main principles of the Dionysian mysteries that spread to Latium and Rome was the concept of rebirth, to which the complex myths surrounding the god’s own birth were central. Birth and childhood deities were important to Roman religion; Ovid identifies Semele’s sister Ino as the nurturing goddess Mater Matuta. This goddess had a major cult center at Satricum that was built 500–490 BCE.

The female consort who appears with Bacchus in the acroterial statues there may be either Semele or Ariadne. The pair were part of the Aventine Triad in Rome as Liber and Libera, along with Ceres. The temple of the triad is located near the Grove of Stimula, and the grove and its shrine (sacrarium) were located outside Rome’s sacred boundary (pomerium), perhaps as the “dark side” of the Aventine Triad.

Zemlya

Mat Zemlya, also Matka Ziemia, and Mati Syra Zemlya (literally Damp Mother Earth), is the oldest deity in Slavic mythology, her identity later blended into that of Mokosh. She shares characteristics with Indo-Iranian Ardvi Sura Anahita, the Avestan language name of an Indo-Iranian cosmological figure venerated as the divinity of ‘the Waters’ (Aban) and hence associated with fertility, healing and wisdom, “Humid Mother of the Earth”.

Anahit was the goddess of fertility and healing, wisdom and water in Armenian mythology. In early periods she was the goddess of war. By the 5th century BC she was the main deity in Armenia along with Aramazd. The Armenian goddess Anahit is related to the similar Old Persian goddess Anahita.

At some point prior to the 4th century BCE, this yazata was conflated with (an analogue of) Semitic Ištar, likewise a divinity of “maiden” fertility and from whom Aredvi Sura Anahita then inherited additional features of a divinity of war and of the planet Venus or “Zohreh” in Arabic. It was moreover the association with the planet Venus, “it seems, which led Herodotus to record that the [Persis] learnt ‘to sacrifice to “the heavenly goddess”‘ from the Assyrians and Arabians.”

In the early Middle Ages, Mati Syra Zemlya was one of the most important deities in the Slavic world. Oaths were made binding by touching the Earth and sins were confessed into a hole in the Earth before death. She was worshipped in her natural form and was not given a human personage or likeness. Since the adoption of Christianity in all Slavic lands, she has been identified with Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Mokosh

Mokoš is a Slavic goddess mentioned in the Primary Chronicle, protector of women’s work and women’s destiny. She watches over spinning and weaving, shearing of sheep, and protects women in child birth. She is a wanderer and a spinner. She is the Great Mother, Mat Zemlya.

Mokosh probably means moisture. According to Max Vasmer, her name is derived from the same root as Slavic wordsmokry ‘wet’ and moknut(i) ‘get wet’. She was one of the most popular Slavic deities and the great Mother Goddess of East Slavs and Eastern Polans.

Archeological evidence of Mokosh dates back to the 7th century BC. As late as the 19th century, she was worshipped as a force of fertility and the ruler of death. Worshipers prayed to Mokosh-stones or breast-shaped boulders that held power over the land and its people.

In Eastern Europe Mokosh is still popular as a powerful life giving force and protector of women. Villages are named after her. She shows up in embroidery, represented as a woman with uplifted hands and flanked by two plow horses. Sometimes she is shown with male sexual organs, as the deity in charge of male potency.

Her consorts are probably both, the god of thunder Perun and his opponent Veles. Mokosh is also the mother of the twin siblings Jarilo and Morana. A key myth in Slavic mythology, is the divine battle between the thunder god Perun and his opponent the god Veles. Some authors and the original researchers Ivanov and Toporov believe, the abduction of Mokosh causes the struggle.

During Christianization of Kievan Rus’ there were warnings issued against worshipping Mokoš. She was replaced by the cult of the Virgin Mary and St. Paraskevia.

Ninsun

In Sumerian mythology, Ninsun or Ninsuna (“lady wild cow”) is a goddess, best known as the mother of the legendary hero Gilgamesh, and as the tutelary goddess of Gudea of Lagash. Ninsun was called Gula in Sumerian Mythology until the name was later changed to Ninisina. Gula in the latter became a Babylonian goddess. Her parents are the deities Anu and Uras.

Ninsun is called “Rimat-Ninsun”, the “August cow”, the “Wild Cow of the Enclosure”, and “The Great Queen”. In the Tello relief (the ancient Lagash, 2150 BC) her name is written with the cuneiform glyphs as: DINGIR.NIN.GUL where the glyph for GUL is the same for SUN. The meaning of SUN is attested as “cow”.

In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Ninsun is depicted as a human queen who lives in Uruk with her son as king. Since the father of Gilgamesh was former king Lugalbanda, it stands to reason that Ninsun procreated with Lugalbanda to give birth.

Nintinugga was a Babylonian goddess of healing, the consort of Ninurta. She is identical with the goddess of Akkadian mythology, known as Bau or Baba, though it would seem that the two were originally independent. She was the daughter of An and Ninurta’s wife. She had seven daughters, including Hegir-Nuna (Gangir). She was known as a patron deity of Lagash, where Gudea built her a temple.

The name Bau is more common in the oldest period and gives way to Gula after the First Babylonian Dynasty. Since it is probable that Ninib has absorbed the cults of minor sun-deities, the two names may represent consorts of different gods. However, this may be, the qualities of both are alike, and the two occur as synonymous designations of Ninib’s female consort.

Other names borne by this goddess are Nin-Karrak, Nin Ezen, Ga-tum-dug and Nm-din-dug, the latter signifying “the lady who restores to life”, or the Goddess of Healing. After the Great Flood, she helped “breathe life” back into mankind.

The designation well emphasizes the chief trait of Bau-Gula which is that of healer. She is often spoken of as “the great physician,” and accordingly plays a prominent role in incantations and incantation rituals intended to relieve those suffering from disease.

She is, however, also invoked to curse those who trample upon the rights of rulers or those who do wrong with poisonous potions. As in the case of Ninib, the cult of Bau-Gula is prominent in Lagash and in Nippur. While generally in close association with her consort, she is also invoked alone, giving her more dominance than most of the goddesses of Babylonia and Assyria.

Chaabou and Dushara

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.

Dushara (“Lord of the Mountain”), also transliterated as Dusares, a deity in the ancient Middle East worshipped by the Nabataeans at Petra and Madain Saleh (of which city he was the patron). He may have been named after deity of Tushar, a famous god of Tushar kingdom in Vedic India situated in Himalayan ranges and known for its horses in ancient world.

In Greek times, he was associated with Zeus because he was the chief of the Nabataean pantheon as well as with Dionysus. His sanctuary at Petra contained a great temple in which a large cubical stone was the centrepiece.

Zababa

In ancient Mesopotamia, Zababa was the tutelary god of the city of Kish, whose sanctuary was the E-meteursag. In Akkadian times the city’s patron deity was Zababa (or Zamama), along with his wife, the goddess Inanna.

Several ancient Mesopotamian kings were named in honor of Zababa, including Ur-Zababa of Kish (early patron of Sargon of Akkad) and Zababa-shuma-iddin (a 12th-century BC Kassite king of Babylon).

Zababa (also Zamama) was the Hittite way of writing the name of a war god, using Akkadian writing conventions. Most likely, this spelling represents the native Anatolian Hattian god [Wurunkatte], their god of war. His Hurrian name was Astabis. He is connected with the Akkadian god Ninurta. The symbol of Zababa – the eagle-headed staff was often depicted next to Ninurta’s symbol.

Sabazios

Sabazios is the nomadic horseman and sky father god of the Phrygians and Thracians. In Indo-European languages, such as Phrygian, the -zios element in his name derives from dyeus, the common precursor of Latin deus (‘god’) and Greek Zeus.

Though the Greeks interpreted Phrygian Sabazios as both Zeus and Dionysus, representations of him, even into Roman times, show him always on horseback, as a nomadic horseman god, wielding his characteristic staff of power.

It seems likely that the migrating Phrygians brought Sabazios with them when they settled in Anatolia in the early first millennium BCE, and that the god’s origins are to be looked for in Macedonia and Thrace.

The recently discovered ancient sanctuary of Perperikon in modern-day Bulgaria is believed to be that of Sabazios. The Macedonians were also noted horsemen, horse-breeders and horse-worshippers up to the time of Philip II, whose name signifies “lover of horses”.

Possible early conflict between Sabazios and his followers and the indigenous mother goddess of Phrygia (Cybele) may be reflected in Homer’s brief reference to the youthful feats of Priam, who aided the Phrygians in their battles with Amazons.

An aspect of the compromise religious settlement, similar to the other such mythic adjustments throughout Aegean culture, can be read in the later Phrygian King Gordias’ adoption “with Cybele” of Midas.

One of the native religion’s creatures was the Lunar Bull. Sabazios’ relations with the goddess may be surmised in the way that his horse places a hoof on the head of the bull, in a Roman marble relief at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Though Roman in date, the iconic image appears to be much earlier.

Gugalanna (Sumerian gu.gal.an.na, “the Great Bull of Heaven”), better known as the Bull of Heaven (Sumerian: gu.an.na), was a deity in ancient Mesopotamian religion originating in Sumer as well as the constellation known today as Taurus, one of the twelve signs of the Zodiac.

Gugalanna was sent by the gods to take retribution upon Gilgamesh for rejecting the sexual advances of the goddess Inanna. Gugalanna, whose feet made the earth shake, was slain and dismembered by Gilgamesh and his companion Enkidu.

Sabazios, the Thracian reflex of Indo-European Dyeus, was identified with Heros Karabazmos, the “Thracian horseman”. He gained a widespread importance especially after the Roman conquest. This could be akin to Sleipnir, the horse ridden by Odin, in Norse mythology.

Transference of Sabazios to the Roman world appears to have been mediated in large part through Pergamum. The naturally syncretic approach of Greek religion blurred distinctions. Later Greek writers, like Strabo in the first century CE, linked Sabazios with Zagreus, a god, usually but not always identified with Dionysus, among Phrygian ministers and attendants of the sacred rites of Rhea and Dionysos.

Strabo’s Sicilian contemporary, Diodorus Siculus, conflated Sabazios with the secret ‘second’ Dionysus, born of Zeus and Persephone, a connection that is not borne out by surviving inscriptions, which are entirely to Zeus Sabazios.

The Christian Clement of Alexandria had been informed that the secret mysteries of Sabazius, as practiced among the Romans, involved a serpent, a chthonic creature unconnected with the mounted sky god of Phrygia: “‘God in the bosom’ is a countersign of the mysteries of Sabazius to the adepts”. Clement reports: “This is a snake, passed through the bosom of the initiates”.

Much later, the Byzantine Greek encyclopedia, Suda (10th century?), flatly states: “Sabazios … is the same as Dionysos. He acquired this form of address from the rite pertaining to him; for the barbarians call the bacchic cry ‘sabazein’. Hence some of the Greeks too follow suit and call the cry ‘sabasmos’; thereby Dionysos [becomes] Sabazios.

They also used to call ‘saboi’ those places that had been dedicated to him and his Bacchantes … Demosthenes [in the speech] ‘On Behalf of Ktesiphon’ [mentions them]. Some say that Saboi is the term for those who are dedicated to Sabazios, that is to Dionysos, just as those [dedicated] to Bakkhos [are] Bakkhoi. They say that Sabazios and Dionysos are the same. Thus some also say that the Greeks call the Bakkhoi Saboi.”

In Roman sites, though an inscription built into the wall of the abbey church of San Venanzio at Ceperana suggested to a Renaissance humanist it had been built upon the foundations of a temple to Jupiter Sabazius, according to modern scholars not a single temple consecrated to Sabazius, the rider god of the open air, has been located.

Small votive hands, typically made of copper or bronze, are often associated with the cult of Sabazios. Many of these hands have a small perforation at the base which suggests they may have been attached to wooden poles and carried in processions. The symbolism of these objects is not well known.

The first Jews who settled in Rome were expelled in 139 BCE, along with Chaldaean astrologers by Cornelius Hispalus under a law which proscribed the propagation of the “corrupting” cult of “Jupiter Sabazius,” according to the epitome of a lost book of Valerius Maximus. It is conjectured that the Romans identified the Jewish YHVH Tzevaot (“sa-ba-oth,” “of the Hosts”) as Jove Sabazius.

This mistaken connection of Sabazios and Sabaos has often been repeated. In a similar vein, Plutarch maintained that the Jews worshipped Dionysus, and that the day of Sabbath was a festival of Sabazius. Plutarch also discusses the identification of the Jewish God with the “Egyptian” Typhon, an identification which he later rejects, however. The monotheistic Hypsistarians worshipped the Most High under this name, which may have been a form of the Jewish God.

Chaoskampf

The Thracian horseman is the name given to a recurring motif of a deity in the form of a horseman, in Paleo-Balkan mythology, that includes the religious practices of the Dacians, Thracians, and Illyrians. The motif typically features a caped horseman astride a steed, with a spear poised in his right hand.

He is often depicted as slaying a beast with a spear, though this features is sometimes absent. The tradition is best illustrated in surviving artifacts from Thrace, Macedonia, Moesia, and Scythia Minor dating to the Roman era, and is often found depicted on funerary statues.

After Christianity was adopted, the motif of the Thracian horseman is believed to have continued in representations of Saint George slaying the dragon. In the 4th century, the reliefs were considered to be representations of St. George.

Sabazios gained widespread importance after the Roman conquest. The rider is a syncretism of a Romanized people; the rider is a representation of the Cult of Apollo. After Christianity was adopted, the symbolism of Heros continued as representations of Saint George slaying the dragon (compare Uastyrdzhi/Tetri Giorgi in the Caucasus).

The iconic image of the god or hero on horseback battling the chthonic serpent, on which his horse tramples, appears on Celtic votive columns, and with the coming of Christianity it was easily transformed into the image of Saint George and the Dragon, whose earliest known depictions are from tenth- and eleventh-century Cappadocia and eleventh-century Georgia and Armenia.

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Thor and Sif – Chaoskampf and Divine marriage

Posted by Fredsvenn on June 21, 2016

Ninurta / Hercules – Thor

Thor

Thor (from Old Norse Þórr) is a hammer-wielding god associated with thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength, the protection of mankind, and also hallowing, healing and fertility. The cognate deity in wider Germanic mythology and paganism was known in Old English as Þunor and in Old High German as Donar (runic þonar), stemming from a Common Germanic *Þunraz (meaning “thunder”).

Ultimately stemming from Proto-Indo-European religion, Thor is a prominently mentioned god throughout the recorded history of the Germanic peoples, from the Roman occupation of regions of Germania, to the tribal expansions of the Migration Period, to his high popularity during the Viking Age, when, in the face of the process of the Christianization of Scandinavia, emblems of his hammer, Mjölnir, were worn in defiance and Norse pagan personal names containing the name of the god bear witness to his popularity. The swastika symbol has been identified as representing the hammer or lightning of Thor.

Into the modern period, Thor continued to be acknowledged in rural folklore throughout Germanic regions. Thor is frequently referred to in place names, the day of the week Thursday (“Thor’s day”; Old English Thunresdæg, Thunor’s day; German “Donnerstag” Donar’s day; Dutch “donderdag”) bears his name, and names stemming from the pagan period containing his own continue to be used today.

By employing a practice known as interpretatio germanica during the Roman Empire period, the Germanic peoples adopted the Roman weekly calendar, and replaced the names of Roman gods with their own. Latin dies Iovis (‘day of Jupiter’) was converted into Proto-Germanic *Þonares dagaz (“Thor’s day”), from which stems modern English “Thursday” and all other Germanic weekday cognates.

The earliest records of the Germanic peoples were recorded by the Romans, and in these works Thor is frequently referred to—via a process known as interpretatio romana (where characteristics perceived to be similar by Romans result in identification of a non-Roman god as a Roman deity)—as either the Roman god Jupiter (also known as Jove) or the Greco-Roman god Hercules. Tacitus refers to the god Odin as “Mercury”, Thor as “Hercules”, and the god Týr as “Mars”.

Numerous tales and information about Thor are provided. In these sources, Thor bears at least fourteen names, is the husband of the golden-haired goddess Sif, is the lover of the jötunn Járnsaxa, and is generally described as fierce-eyed, red-haired and red-bearded. With Sif, Thor fathered the goddess (and possible valkyrie) Þrúðr; with Járnsaxa, he fathered Magni; with a mother whose name is not recorded, he fathered Móði, and he is the stepfather of the god Ullr.

The same sources list Thor as the son of the god Odin and the personified earth, Fjörgyn, and by way of Odin, Thor has numerous brothers. Thor has two servants, Þjálfi and Röskva, rides in a cart or chariot pulled by two goats, Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr (that he eats and resurrects), and is ascribed three dwellings (Bilskirnir, Þrúðheimr, and Þrúðvangr). Thor wields the mountain-crushing hammer, Mjölnir, wears the belt Megingjörð and the iron gloves Járngreipr, and owns the staff Gríðarvölr.

Thor’s exploits, including his relentless slaughter of his foes and fierce battles with the monstrous serpent Jörmungandr—and their foretold mutual deaths during the events of Ragnarök—are recorded throughout sources for Norse mythology.

Dumézil’s trifunctional hypothesis

In Georges Dumézil’s trifunctional hypothesis of Indo-European religion, Thor represents the second function, that of strength. Dumézil notes that as a result of displacements, he does not lead armies; most of the functions of Indra have been in effect taken over by Odin.

The trifunctional hypothesis of prehistoric Proto-Indo-European society postulates a tripartite ideology (“idéologie tripartite”) reflected in the existence of three classes or castes – priests, warriors, and commoners (farmers or tradesmen) – corresponding to the three functions of the sacral, the martial and the economic, respectively.

The trifunctional thesis is primarily associated with the French mythographer Georges Dumézil who proposed it in 1929 in the book Flamen-Brahman, and later in Mitra-Varuna. According to Dumézil, Proto-Indo-European society comprised three main groups corresponding to three distinct functions: the function of sovereignty, the military function, and the function of productivity.

Sovereignty fell into two distinct and complementary sub-parts, one formal, juridical and priestly but worldly, the other powerful, unpredictable, and also priestly but rooted in the supernatural world. The second main social division was connected with force, the military and war while the role of the third, ruled by the other two, was productivity, herding, farming and crafts. Proto-Indo-European mythology was divided in the same way: each social group had its own god or family of gods to represent it and the function of the god or gods matched the function of the group. Many such divisions occur in history.

Terje Leiren discerns a grouping of three Norse gods that corresponds to the trifunctional division; Odin as the patron of priests and magicians, Thor of warriors, and Freyr of fertility and farming.

However, many scholars have noted the association of Thor with fertility. For Dumézil, this is the preservation by peasants of only the side-effect of the god’s atmospheric battles: the fertilizing rain. Others have emphasized Thor’s close connection to humanity, in all its concerns.

Theshub

Thor closely resembles other Indo-European deities associated with the thunder: the Celtic Taranis, the Baltic Perkūnas, the Slavic Perun, and particularly the Hindu Indra, whose red hair and thunderbolt weapon the vajra are obvious parallels. Although in the past it was suggested that Thor was an indigenous sky god or a Viking Age import into Scandinavia, these Indo-European parallels make him generally accepted today as ultimately derived from a Proto-Indo-European deity.

Teshub (cuneiform IM; hieroglyphic Luwian (DEUS)TONITRUS, read as Tarhunzas) was the Hurrian god of sky and storm. Taru (Luwian Tarhun / Tarhunt- / Tarhuwant- / Tarhunta) — a word derived from the Hattic root *tarh “to defeat, conquer”) — was the name of a similar (Indo-European, pre-Hittite) Hattic Storm God, whose mythology and worship as a primary deity continued and evolved through descendant Luwian and Hittite cultures.

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

The Hurrian myth of Teshub’s origin—he was conceived when the god Kumarbi bit off and swallowed his father Anu’s genitals, similarly to the Greek story of Uranus, Cronus, and Zeus, which is recounted in Hesiod’s Theogony. Teshub’s brothers are Aranzah (personification of the river Tigris), Ullikummi (stone giant) and Tashmishu.

In the Hurrian schema, Teshub was paired with Hebat the mother goddess; in the Hittite, with the sun goddess Arinniti of Arinna—a cultus of great antiquity which has similarities with the venerated bulls and mothers at Çatalhöyük in the Neolithic era. His son was called Sarruma, the mountain god.

According to Hittite myths, one of Teshub’s greatest acts was the slaying of the dragon Illuyanka. The context is a ritual of the Hattian spring festival of Puruli, a Hattian spring festival, held at Nerik, dedicated to the earth goddess Hannahanna, who is married to a new king. The central ritual of the Puruli festival is dedicated to the destruction of the dragon Illuyanka by the storm god Teshub. The corresponding Assyrian festival is the Akitu of the Enuma Elish.

Chaoskampf

Thor’s exploits, including his relentless slaughter of his foes and fierce battles with the monstrous serpent Jörmungandr—and their foretold mutual deaths during the events of Ragnarök—are recorded throughout sources for Norse mythology.

Scholars have compared Indra’s slaying of Vritra with Thor’s battle with Jörmungandr (Old Norse: Jǫrmungandr, meaning “huge monster”), often written as Jormungand, or Jörmungand and also known as the Midgard Serpent (Old Norse: Miðgarðsormr), or World Serpent, a sea serpent, the middle child of the giantess Angrboða and Loki.

 

The motif of Chaoskampf (German for “struggle against chaos”) is ubiquitous in myth and legend, depicting a battle of a culture hero deity with a chaos monster, often in the shape of a serpent or dragon. The same term has also been extended to parallel concepts in the religions of the Ancient Near East, such as the abstract conflict of ideas in the Egyptian duality of Maat and Isfet.

The origins of the Chaoskampf myth most likely lie in the Proto-Indo-European religion whose descendants almost all feature some variation of the story of a storm god fighting a sea serpent representing the clash between the forces of order and chaos.

Early work by German academics such as Gunkel and Bousset in comparative mythology popularized translating the mythological sea serpent as a “dragon.” Indo-European examples of this mythic trope include Thor vs. Jörmungandr (Norse), Tarhunt vs. Illuyanka (Hittite), Indra vs. Vritra (Vedic), Fereydun vs. Aži Dahāka (Avestan), and Zeus vs. Typhon (Greek) among others.

In Mesopotamian Religion, 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.

Tiamat was the “shining” personification of salt water who roared and smote in the chaos of original creation. She and Apsu filled the cosmic abyss with the primeval waters. She is “Ummu-Hubur who formed all things”.

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 myth recorded on cuneiform tablets, the deity Enki (later Ea) believed correctly that Apsu, upset with the chaos they created, was planning to murder the younger deities; and so captured him, holding him prisoner beneath his temple the E-Abzu. This angered Kingu, their son, who reported the event to Tiamat, whereupon she fashioned eleven monsters to battle the deities in order to avenge Apsu’s death.

Tiamat possessed the Tablet of Destinies and in the primordial battle she gave them to Kingu, the deity she had chosen as her lover and the leader of her host, and who was also one of her children. The deities gathered in terror, but Anu, (replaced later, first by Enlil and, in the late version that has survived after the First Dynasty of Babylon, by Marduk, the son of Ea), first extracting a promise that he would be revered as “king of the gods”, overcame her, armed with the arrows of the winds, a net, a club, and an invincible spear.

Slicing Tiamat in half, he made from her ribs the vault of heaven and earth. Her weeping eyes became the source of the Tigris and the Euphrates, her tail became the Milky Way. With the approval of the elder deities, he took from Kingu the Tablet of Destinies, installing himself as the head of the Babylonian pantheon. Kingu was captured and later was slain: his red blood mixed with the red clay of the Earth would make the body of humankind, created to act as the servant of the younger Igigi deities.

The principal theme of the epic is the justified elevation of Marduk to command over all the deities. It is generally accepted amongst modern Assyriologists that the Enûma Elish – the Babylonian creation epic to which this mythological strand is attributed – has been written as political and religious propaganda rather than reflecting a Sumerian tradition; the dating of the epic is not completely clear, but judging from the mythological topics covered and the cuneiform versions discovered thus far, it is likely to date it to the 15th century BCE.

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.

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”. Eventually, Anzû is killed by Ninurta who delivers the Tablet of Destiny to his father, Enlil. There are many 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.

 

Ouroboros

According to the Prose Edda, Odin took Loki’s three children by Angrboða—the wolf Fenrir, Hel, and Jörmungandr—and tossed Jörmungandr into the great ocean that encircles Midgard. The serpent grew so large that it was able to surround the earth and grasp its own tail. As a result, it received the name of the Midgard Serpent or World Serpent. When it lets go, the world will end. Jörmungandr’s arch-enemy is the god Thor. It is an example of an ouroboros, (“tail-devouring snake”), an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its own tail.

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

The first known appearance of the ouroboros motif is in the tomb of Tutankhamun in the 14th century BC. The text concerns the actions of the god Ra and his union with Osiris in the underworld. In an illustration from this text, two serpents, holding their tails in their mouths, coil around the head and feet of an enormous god, who may represent the unified Ra-Osiris. Both serpents are manifestations of the deity Mehen, who in other funerary texts protects Ra in his underworld journey. The whole divine figure represents the beginning and the end of time.

The ouroboros appears elsewhere in Egyptian sources, where, like many Egyptian serpent deities, it represents the formless disorder that surrounds the orderly world and is involved in that world’s periodic renewal. The symbol persisted in Egypt into Roman times, when it frequently appeared on magical talismans, sometimes in combination with other magical emblems. The 4th-century AD Latin commentator Servius was aware of the Egyptian use of the symbol, noting that the image of a snake biting its tail represents the cyclical nature of the year.

Wolf-Dieter Storl argues that “When Shakti is united with Shiva, she is a radiant, gentle goddess; but when she is separated from him, she turns into a terrible, destructive fury. She is the endless Ouroboros, the dragon biting its own tail, symbolizing the cycle of samsara.”

Ouroboros symbolism has been used to describe Kundalini energy. According to the second century Yoga Kundalini Upanishad, “The divine power, Kundalini, shines like the stem of a young lotus; like a snake, coiled round upon herself she holds her tail in her mouth and lies resting half asleep as the base of the body”. Another interpretation is that Kundalini equates to the entwined serpents of the caduceus of the Greek god Hermes, the entwined serpents representing divine balance in the west or, esoterically, DNA.

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

Divine marriage

Scholar Hilda Ellis Davidson summarizes: The cult of Thor was linked up with men’s habitation and possessions, and with well-being of the family and community. This included the fruitfulness of the fields, and Thor, although pictured primarily as a storm god in the myths, was also concerned with the fertility and preservation of the seasonal round.

In our own times, little stone axes from the distant past have been used as fertility symbols and placed by the farmer in the holes made by the drill to receive the first seed of spring. Thor’s marriage with Sif of the golden hair, about which we hear little in the myths, seems to be a memory of the ancient symbol of divine marriage between sky god and earth goddess, when he comes to earth in the thunderstorm and the storm brings the rain which makes the fields fertile. In this way Thor, as well as Odin, may be seen to continue the cult of the sky god which was known in the Bronze Age.

Sif is a goddess associated with earth. She is the wife of the thunder god Thor and is known for her golden hair. She is named as the mother of the goddess Þrúðr by Thor and of Ullr with a father whose name is not recorded. The Prose Edda also recounts that Sif once had her hair shorn by Loki, and that Thor forced Loki to have a golden headpiece made for Sif, resulting in not only Sif’s golden tresses but also five other objects for other gods.

Scholars have proposed that Sif’s hair may represent fields of golden wheat, that she may be associated with fertility, family, and wedlock. Sif’s name means “relation by marriage”. The name is the singular form of the plural Old Norse word sifjar, which only appears in singular form when referring to the goddess as a proper noun.

Sifjar is cognate to the Old English sib (meaning “affinity, connection, by marriage”) and in other Germanic languages: Gothic language sibja, Old High German sibba, and German Sippe. Sifjar appears not only in ancient poetry and records of law, but also in compounds (byggja sifjar means “to marry”). Using this etymology, scholar John Lindow gives the meanings “in-law-relationship”, scholar Andy Orchard provides “relation”, and scholar Rudolf Simek gives “relation by marriage”.

Hieros gamos or Hierogamy (“holy marriage”) refers to a sexual ritual that plays out a marriage between a god and a goddess, especially when enacted in a symbolic ritual where human participants represent the deities.

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

Along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers there were many shrines and temples dedicated to Inanna. The temple of Eanna, meaning “house of heaven” in Uruk was the greatest of these. The temple housed Nadītu, priestesses of the goddess. The high priestess would choose for her bed a young man who represented the shepherd Dumuzid, or Tammuz (Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D), “faithful or true son”), consort of Inanna, in a hieros gamos or sacred marriage, celebrated during the annual Duku ceremony, just before Invisible Moon, with the autumn Equinox (Autumnal Zag-mu Festival).

Tammuz was the name of a Sumerian god of food and vegetation, also worshiped in the later Mesopotamian states. In Babylonia, the month Tammuz was established in honor of the eponymous god Tammuz, who originated as a Sumerian shepherd-god, the consort of Inanna and, in his Akkadian form, the parallel consort of Ishtar. The Levantine (“lord”) Adonis, who was drawn into the Greek pantheon, was considered by Joseph Campbell among others to be another counterpart of Tammuz, son and consort.

Beginning with the summer solstice came a time of mourning in the Ancient Near East, as in the Aegean: the Babylonians marked the decline in daylight hours and the onset of killing summer heat and drought with a six-day “funeral” for the god. In cult practice, the dead Tammuz was widely mourned in the Ancient Near East.

Recent discoveries reconfirm him as an annual life-death-rebirth deity: tablets discovered in 1963 show that Dumuzi was in fact consigned to the Underworld himself, in order to secure Inanna’s release, though the recovered final line reveals that he is to revive for six months of each year.

Adonis, in Greek mythology, is a central figure in various mystery religions. In 1966, Wahib Attalah wrote that the “cult of Adonis belonged to women,” and further asserted “the cult of dying Adonis was fully developed in the circle of young girls around Sappho on Lesbos, about 600 BC, as a fragment of Sappho reveals.”

There has been much scholarship over the centuries concerning the multiple roles of Adonis, if any, and his meaning and purpose in Greek religious beliefs. Modern scholarship sometimes describes him as an annually renewed, ever-youthful vegetation god, a life-death-rebirth deity whose nature is tied to the calendar. His name is often applied in modern times to handsome youths, of whom he is the archetype.

The Greek Adōnis was a borrowing from the Canaanite word ʼadōn, meaning “lord”, which is related to Adonai, one of the names used to refer to the God of the Hebrew Bible and still used in Judaism to the present day. Syrian Adonis is Gauas or Aos, akin to Egyptian Osiris, the Semitic Tammuz and Baal Hadad, the Etruscan Atunis and the Phrygian Attis, all of whom are deities of rebirth and vegetation.

Adonis is the Hellenized form of the Phoenician word “adoni”, meaning “my lord”. It is believed that the cult of Adonis was known to the Greeks from around the sixth century BC, but it is unquestionable that they came to know it through contact with Cyprus. Around this time, the cult of Adonis is noted in the Book of Ezekiel in Jerusalem, though under the Babylonian name Tammuz.

Adonis originally was a Phoenician god of fertility representing the spirit of vegetation. It is further speculated that he was an avatar of the version of Ba’al, worshipped in Ugarit. It is likely that lack of clarity concerning whether Myrrha was called Smyrna, and who her father was, originated in Cyprus before the Greeks first encountered the myth. However, it is clear that the Greeks added much to the Adonis-Myrrha story, before it was first recorded by classical scholars.

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In the beginning of our civilization

Posted by Fredsvenn on June 20, 2016

The Natufian culture was an Epipaleolithic culture that existed from 12,500 to 9,500 BC in the Levant, a region in the Eastern Mediterranean. It was unusual in that it was sedentary, or semi-sedentary, before the introduction of agriculture. Generally, though, Natufians exploited wild cereals. Animals hunted included gazelles.
 
By 10,200–8,800 BC, farming communities arose in the Levant and spread to Asia Minor, North Africa and North Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia is the site of the earliest developments of the Neolithic Revolution from around 10,000 BC.
 
It has been identified as having “inspired some of the most important developments in human history including the invention of the wheel, the planting of the first cereal crops and the development of cursive script, mathematics, astronomy and agriculture.”
 
The Natufian communities may be the ancestors of the builders of the first Neolithic settlements of the region, which may have been the earliest in the world. Some evidence suggests deliberate cultivation of cereals, specifically rye, by the Natufian culture, at Tell Abu Hureyra, the site of earliest evidence of agriculture in the world.
 
The Natufian developed in the same region as the earlier Kebaran complex, and is generally seen as a successor which developed from at least elements within that earlier culture.
 
There were also other cultures in the region, such as the Mushabian culture of the Negev and Sinai, which are sometimes distinguished from the Kebaran, and sometimes also seen as having played a role in the development of the Natufian.
 
More generally there has been discussion of the similarities of these cultures with those found in coastal North Africa. Graeme Barker notes there are: “similarities in the respective archaeological records of the Natufian culture of the Levant and of contemporary foragers in coastal North Africa across the late Pleistocene and early Holocene boundary”.
 
Ofer Bar-Yosef has argued that there are signs of influences coming from North Africa to the Levant, citing the microburin technique and “microlithic forms such as arched backed bladelets and La Mouillah points.” But recent research has shown that the presence of arched backed bladelets, La Mouillah points, and the use of the microburin technique was already apparent in the Nebekian industry of the Eastern Levant.
 
Maher et al. state that, “Many technological nuances that have often been always highlighted as significant during the Natufian were already present during the Early and Middle EP [Epipalaeolithic] and do not, in most cases, represent a radical departure in knowledge, tradition, or behavior.”
 
Authors such as Christopher Ehret have built upon the little evidence available to develop scenarios of intensive usage of plants having built up first in North Africa, as a precursor to the development of true farming in the Fertile Crescent. However, Weiss et al. have shown that the earliest known intensive usage of plants was in the Levant 23,000 years ago at the Ohalo II site.
 
According to Bar-Yosef and Belfer-Cohen, “It seems that certain preadaptive traits, developed already by the Kebaran and Geometric Kebaran populations within the Mediterranean park forest, played an important role in the emergence of the new socioeconomic system known as the Natufian culture”.
 
According to the genetic analyses done on six Natufian remains from Northern Israel, the Natufians carried the Y-DNA haplogroup E-Z380, which is ancestral to the modern-day E-M123 and were distinct, in terms of autosomal DNA, from northern, Anatolian populations, who contributed to the peopling of Europe, whilst the Natufians did not.
 
Anthropologist C. Loring Brace in a recent study on cranial metric traits however, was also able to identify a “clear link” to Sub-Saharan African populations for early Natufians based on his observation of gross anatomical similarity with extant populations found mostly in the Sahara.
 
Brace believes that these populations later became assimilated into the broader continuum of Southwest Asian populations. It is further speculated that the admixture process between Neolithic people and in situ foragers diluted any discoverable trace of Sub-Saharan ancestry that may have been present.
 
According to Christy G. Turner II, there is an archaeological and physical anthropological reason for a relationship between the modern Semitic-speaking populations of the Levant and the Natufians.
 
However, Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA), denoting the first stage in early Levantine and Anatolian Neolithic culture, dating around 9500 to 8000 BC, succeeded the Natufian culture of the Epipaleolithic (Mesolithic).
 
During this time, pottery was not yet in use. They precede the ceramic Neolithic (Yarmukian). Archaeological remains are located in the Levantine and upper Mesopotamian region of the Fertile Crescent.
 
Sites includes ‘Sultanian’ in the Jordan River valley and southern Levant with the type site of Jericho (other sites include Netiv HaGdud, El-Khiam, Hatoula and Nahal Oren), ‘Mureybetian’ in the Northern Levant, ‘Aswadian’ in the Damascus Basin, Çayönü and Göbekli Tepe (with the latter possibly being the oldest religious structural complex yet discovered), in ‘Upper Mesopotamia’, and Çatalhöyük, and the smaller but older site, rivaling even Jericho in age, Aşıklı Höyük, in central Anatolia.
 
Göbekli Tepe (“Potbelly Hill”), which is a direct translation of Armenian Portasar (“Mountain Navel”), is an archaeological site at the top of a mountain ridge in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of modern-day Turkey, approximately 12 km (7 mi) northeast of the city of Şanlıurfa.
 
Göbekli Tepe is connected with the initial stages of the Neolithic. It is one of several sites in the vicinity of Karaca Dağ, an area which geneticists suspect may have been the original source of at least some of our cultivated grains. It was here that the Neolithic revolution, i.e., the beginnings of grain cultivation, took place.
 
Recent DNA analysis of modern domesticated wheat compared with wild wheat has shown that its DNA is closest in sequence to wild wheat found on Karaca Dağ 20 miles (32 km) away from the site, suggesting that this is where modern wheat was first domesticated.
 
Mobile groups in the area were compelled to cooperate with each other to protect early concentrations of wild cereals from wild animals (herds of gazelles and wild donkeys).
 
Wild cereals may have been used for sustenance more intensively than before and were perhaps deliberately cultivated. This would have led to early social organization of various groups in the area. Thus, the Neolithic did not begin on a small scale in the form of individual instances of garden cultivation, but developed rapidly in the form of “a large-scale social organization”.
 
The cultural tendencies of Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB), dating ca. 8000-6200 BC, 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.
 
Early Neolithic farming was limited to a narrow range of plants, both wild and domesticated, which included einkorn wheat, millet and spelt, and the keeping of dogs, sheep and goats. By about 6,900–6,400 BC, it included domesticated cattle and pigs, the establishment of permanently or seasonally inhabited settlements, and the use of pottery.
 
Pyrotechnology was highly developed in this period. During this period, one of the main features of houses is evidenced by a thick layer of white clay plaster floors highly polished and made of lime produced from limestone. It is believed that the use of clay plaster for floor and wall coverings during PPNB led to the discovery of pottery.
 
The earliest proto-pottery was White Ware vessels, made from lime and gray ash, built up around baskets before firing, for several centuries around 7000 BC at sites such as Tell Neba’a Faour (Beqaa Valley).
 
The similarities of White Ware and overlapping time periods with later clay firing methods have suggested that Dark Faced Burnished Ware (DFBW), the first real pottery, came as a development from this limestone prototype.
 
DFBW is the earliest form of pottery developed in the western world. It has long been considered the forbear of the more polished examples such as Ancient Greek pottery.
 
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.
 
Milder than the Younger Dryas cold spell that preceded it, but more severe than the Little Ice Age that would follow, the 8.2 kiloyear cooling was a significant exception to general trends of the Holocene climatic optimum.
 
During the event, atmospheric methane concentration decreased by 80 ppb or an emission reduction of 15%, by cooling and drying at a hemispheric scale.
 
Drier conditions were notable in North Africa while East Africa suffered five centuries of general drought. In West Asia and especially Mesopotamia, the 8.2 kiloyear event was a 300-year aridification and cooling episode, which may have provided the natural force for Mesopotamian irrigation agriculture and surplus production that were essential for the earliest class-formation and urban life.
 
However, multicentennial changes around the same period are difficult to link specifically to the approximately 100-year abrupt event as recorded most clearly in the Greenland ice cores.
 
The Neolithic 3 (PN) began around 6,400 BCE in the Fertile Crescent. By then distinctive cultures emerged, with pottery like the Halafian (Turkey, Syria, Northern Mesopotamia) and Ubaid (Southern Mesopotamia). This period has been further divided into PNA (Pottery Neolithic A) and PNB (Pottery Neolithic B) at some sites.
 
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 (c. 3800–c. 3350 BC) dating to the Middle Chalcolithic Period in the Southern Levant.
 
Ghassulian refers to a culture and an archaeological stage. Its type-site is located in the Jordan Valley near the Dead Sea in modern Jordan. It was characterized by small hamlet settlements of mixed farming peoples, who migrated southwards from today’s Syria into today’s Jordan, Israel and Palestine. Their pottery was highly elaborate, including footed bowls and horn-shaped drinking goblets, indicating the cultivation of wine.
 
Ghassulian culture has been identified at numerous other places in what is today southern Israel, especially in the region of Beersheba. The Ghassulian culture correlates closely with the Amratian of Egypt and may have had trading affinities (e.g., the distinctive churns, or “bird vases”) with early Minoan culture in Crete.
 
Work at the site of ‘Ain Ghazal in Jordan has indicated a later Pre-Pottery Neolithic C period which existed between 8,200 and 7,900 BP. Cultures practicing this lifestyle spread down the Red Sea shoreline and moved east from Syria into southern Iraq.
 
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.
 
Domestication of sheep and goats reached Egypt from the Near East possibly as early as 6,000 BC. The first indisputable evidence for domestic plants and animals in the Nile valley is not until the early 5000 BC in northern Egypt and a thousand years later further south. In both cases as part of strategies that still relied heavily on fishing, hunting, and the gathering of wild plants”.
 
Graeme Barker suggests that these subsistence changes were not due to farmers migrating from the Near East but was an indigenous development, with cereals either indigenous or obtained through exchange.
 
Other scholars argue that the primary stimulus for agriculture and domesticated animals (as well as mud-brick architecture and other Neolithic cultural features) in Egypt was from the Middle East.
 
The Samarra culture is a Chalcolithic archaeological culture in northern Mesopotamia that is roughly dated to 5500–4800 BCE. It partially overlaps with Hassuna and early Ubaid.
 
It is speculated by some archaeologists that Sumerian speakers were farmers who moved down from the north, after perfecting irrigation agriculture there.
 
The Ubaid period pottery of southern Mesopotamia has been connected via Choga Mami transitional ware to the pottery of the Samarra period culture (c. 5700 – 4900 BC C-14) in the north, who were the first to practice a primitive form of irrigation agriculture along the middle Tigris River and its tributaries.
 
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.
 
According to this theory, farming peoples spread down into southern Mesopotamia because they had developed a temple-centered social organization for mobilizing labor and technology for water control, enabling them to survive and prosper in a difficult environment.
 
Others have suggested a continuity of Sumerians, from the indigenous hunter-fisherfolk traditions, associated with the Arabian bifacial assemblages found on the Arabian littoral.
 
The Sumerians themselves claimed kinship with the pre-Arab people of Dilmun, associated with modern Bahrain 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 Ubaid period is marked by a distinctive style of fine quality painted pottery which spread throughout Mesopotamia and the Persian Gulf.
 
During this time, the first settlement in southern Mesopotamia was established at Eridu (Cuneiform: nun.ki), c. 6500 BC, by farmers who brought with them the Hadji Muhammed culture, which first pioneered irrigation agriculture.
 
It appears that this culture was derived from the Samarran culture from northern Mesopotamia. It is not known whether or not these were the actual Sumerians who are identified with the later Uruk culture.
 
Eridu remained an important religious center when it was gradually surpassed in size by the nearby city of Uruk. The story of the passing of the me (gifts of civilization) to Inanna, goddess of Uruk and of love and war, by Enki, god of wisdom and chief god of Eridu, may reflect this shift in hegemony.
 
Samarran material culture was first recognized during excavations by German Archaeologist Ernst Herzfeld at the site of Samarra. Other sites where Samarran material has been found include Tell Shemshara, Tell es-Sawwan and Yarim Tepe.
 
At Tell es-Sawwan, evidence of irrigation—including flax—establishes the presence of a prosperous settled culture with a highly organized social structure. The culture is primarily known for its finely made pottery decorated with stylized animals, including birds, and geometric designs on dark backgrounds.
 
This widely exported type of pottery, one of the first widespread, relatively uniform pottery styles in the Ancient Near East, was first recognized at Samarra. The Samarran Culture was the precursor to the Mesopotamian culture of the Ubaid period (ca. 6500 to 3800 BCE).
 
Sumer was one the first ancient urban civilization in the historical region of southern Mesopotamia, modern-day southern Iraq, during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze ages, and arguably the first civilization in the world.
 
Proto-writing in the region dates back to c. 3500 BC. The earliest texts come from the cities of Uruk and Jemdet Nasr and date back to 3300 BC; early cuneiform writing emerged in 3000 BC.
 
Modern historians have suggested that Sumer was first permanently settled between c. 5500 and 4000 BC by a West Asian people who spoke the Sumerian language (pointing to the names of cities, rivers, basic occupations, etc., as evidence), a language isolate.
 
These conjectured, prehistoric people are now called “proto-Euphrateans” or “Ubaidians”, and are theorized to have evolved from the Samarra culture of northern Mesopotamia (Assyria).
 
The Ubaidians (though never mentioned by the Sumerians themselves) are assumed by modern-day scholars to have been the first civilizing force in Sumer, draining the marshes for agriculture, developing trade, and establishing industries, including weaving, leatherwork, metalwork, masonry, and pottery.
 
However, some scholars contest the idea of a Proto-Euphratean language or one substrate language. It has been suggested by them and others, that the Sumerian language was originally that of the hunter and fisher peoples, who lived in the marshland and the Eastern Arabia littoral region, and were part of the Arabian bifacial culture.
 
Reliable historical records begin much later; there are none in Sumer of any kind that have been dated before Enmebaragesi (c. 26th century BC). Professor Juris Zarins believes the Sumerians were settled along the coast of Eastern Arabia, today’s Persian Gulf region, before it flooded at the end of the Ice Age.
 
Sumerian civilization took form in the Uruk period (4th millennium BC), continuing into the Jemdat Nasr and Early Dynastic periods.
 
During the 3rd millennium BC, a close cultural symbiosis developed between the Sumerians, who spoke a language isolate, and Akkadian-speakers, which included widespread bilingualism. Sumerian culture seems to have appeared as a fully formed civilization, with no pre-history.
 
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.
 
Spreading from Eridu the Ubaid culture extended from the Middle of the Tigris and Euphrates to the shores of the Persian Gulf, and then spread down past Bahrein to the copper deposits at Oman.
 
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”. That might be due to the 5.9 kiloyear event at the end of the Older Peron.
 
Proto-Semitic is the hypothetical proto-language ancestral to historical Semitic languages of the Middle East. Locations which have been proposed for its origination include northern Mesopotamia, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Levant with a 2009 study proposing that it may have originated around 3750 BCE.
 
The Semitic language family is considered a component of the larger Afroasiatic macro-family of languages. The specific appearance of the donkey (an African animal) in Proto-Semitic but total absence of any reference to wheeled vehicles rather narrowly dates Proto-Semitic to between 3,800 BC and 3,500 BC.
 
In North Mesopotamia the period runs only between about 5300 and 4300 BCE. It is preceded by the Halaf period and the Halaf-Ubaid Transitional period 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, it has been 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.
 
Halaf culture ended by 5000 BC after entering the so-called Halaf-Ubaid Transitional period. Many Halafians settlements were abandoned, and the remaining ones showed Ubaidian characters.
 
The new period is named Northern Ubaid to distinguish it from the proper Ubaid in southern Mesopotamia, and two explanations were presented for the transformation. The first maintain an invasion and a replacement of the Halafians by the Ubaidians, however, there is no hiatus between the Halaf and northern Ubaid which exclude the invasion theory. The most plausible theory is a Halafian adoption of the Ubaid culture.
 
The Leyla-Tepe culture of ancient Azerbaijan belongs to the Chalcolithic era. It got its name from the site in the Agdam district. Its settlements were distributed on the southern slopes of Central Caucasus, mostly in Agdam District, from 4350 until 4000 BC. The culture has also been linked to the north Ubaid period monuments, in particular, with the settlements in the Eastern Anatolia Region (Arslantepe, Coruchu-tepe, Tepechik, etc.).
 
Among the sites associated with this culture, the Soyugbulag kurgans or barrows are of special importance. The excavation of these kurgans demonstrated an unexpectedly early date of such structures on the territory of Azerbaijan. They were dated to the beginning of the 4th millennium BC.
 
The appearance of Leilatepe tradition’s carriers in the Caucasus marked the appearance of the first local Caucasian metallurgy. This is attributed to migrants from Uruk, arriving around 4500 BCE.
 
Leilatepe metalwork tradition was very sophisticated right from the beginning, and featured many bronze items. Yet later, the quality of metallurgy declined with the Kura–Araxes culture.
 
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.
 
It has been suggested that the Leyla-Tepe were the founders of the Maykop culture (ca. 3700 BC – 3000 BC), a major Bronze Age archaeological culture in the Western Caucasus region of Southern Russia.
 
Discovery of Soyugbulaq in 2004 and subsequent excavations provided substantial proof that the practice of kurgan burial was well established in the South Caucasus during the late Eneolithic.
 
The Leylatepe Culture tribes migrated to the north in the mid-fourth millennium, B.C. and played an important part in the rise of the Maikop Culture of the North Caucasus.
 
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 the south the Maykop culture borders the approximately contemporaneous Kura-Araxes culture (3500—2200 BC), which extends into eastern Anatolia and apparently influenced it.
 
The Kura–Araxes culture or the early trans-Caucasian culture was a civilization that existed from 3400 BC until about 2000 BC, which has traditionally been regarded as the date of its end; in some locations it may have disappeared as early as 2600 or 2700 BC.
 
The earliest evidence for this culture is found on the Ararat plain. Its pottery was distinctive. It was painted black and red, using geometric designs. Examples have been found as far south as Syria and Israel, and as far north as Dagestan and Chechnya.
 
The spread of their pottery along trade routes into surrounding cultures was much more impressive than any of their achievements domestically. 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. It is believed 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, a Late Neolithic/Eneolithic culture that existed on the territory of present-day Georgia, Azerbaijan and the Armenian Highlands dated to mid-6th or early-5th millennia BC.
 
Hamoukar is a large archaeological site located in the Jazira region of northeastern Syria (Al Hasakah Governorate), near the Iraqi and Turkish borders. The early settlement dates back to the 5th millennium BCE, and it existed simultaneously with the Ubaid and the early Uruk cultures. It was a big centre of obsidian production. In the 3rd millennium, this was one of the largest cities of Northern Mesopotamia, and extended to 105 ha.
 
It is now believed that Hamoukar was thriving as far back as 4000 BC and independently from Sumer. The origins of urban settlements has generally been attributed to the riverine societies of southern Mesopotamia (in what is now southern Iraq). This is the area of ancient Sumer, where around 4000 BC the Mesopotamian cities such of Ur and Uruk emerged.
 
In 2007, following the discoveries at Hamoukar, some archaeologists have argued that the Cradle of Civilization could have extended further up the Tigris River and included the part of northern Syria where Hamoukar is located. The town lay on an important trade route between Anatolia and southern Mesopotamia.
 
Excavation work undertaken in 2005 and 2006 has shown that this city was destroyed around 3500 BC. This may be the evidence of the earliest urban warfare attested so far in the archaeological record of the Near East. Slings and thousands of clay bullets have been found — evidence of the siege that the city endured. Contained excavations in 2008 and 2010 tried to expand on that.
 
The city could have fallen victim to the Uruk expansion around 3500 BC. There are remains of an Uruk trading colony in the area. Yet, according to the archaeologist Clemens Reichel, the evidence of who exactly was responsible for the destruction of Hamoukar is not entirely clear, since the Uruk trading colony was probably also destroyed at the same time as the big battle was taking place.
 
Eye Idols made of alabaster or bone have been found in Tell Hamoukar. Eye Idols have also been found in Tell Brak, the biggest settlement from Syria’s Late Chalcolithic period. Tell Brak was a trade center due to its location between Anatolia, the Levant and southern Mesopotamia.
 
Tell Brak was a religious center from its earliest periods; its famous Eye Temple is unique in the Fertile Crescent, and its main deity, Belet-Nagar, was revered in the entire Khabur region, making the city a pilgrimage site.
 
The earliest period A, is dated to the proto Halaf culture c. 6500 BC, when a small settlement existed. Many objects dated to that period were discovered including the Halaf pottery. By 5000 BC, Halaf culture transformed into Northern Ubaid, and many Ubaid materials were found in Tell Brak.
 
Excavations and surface survey of the site and its surroundings, unearthed a large platform of patzen bricks that dates to late Ubaid, and revealed that Tell Brak developed as an urban center slightly earlier than better known cities of southern Mesopotamia, such as Uruk.
 
In southern Mesopotamia, the original Ubaid culture evolved into the Uruk period. The people of the southern Uruk period used military and commercial means to expand the civilization. In Northern Mesopotamia, the post Ubaid period is designated Late Chalcolithic / Northern Uruk period, during which, Tell Brak, whose original name is unknown, started to expand.
 
Interactions with the Mesopotamian south grew c. 3600 BC, and an Urukean colony was established in the city. With the end of Uruk culture c 3000 BC, Tell Brak’s Urukean colony was abandoned and deliberately leveled by its occupants. Tell Brak contracted and became limited to the mound.
 
Evidence exists for an interaction with the Mesopotamian south, represented by the existence of materials similar to the ones produced during the southern Jemdet Nasr period. The city remained a small settlement during the Ninevite 5 period, with a small temple and associated sealing activities.
 
Around c. 2600 BC, a large administrative building was built and the city expanded out of the tell again. The revival is connected with the Kish civilization, and the city was named “Nagar”, which might be of Simitic origin and mean a “cultivated place”.
 
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.
 
They are also remarkable for the production of wheeled vehicles (wagons and carts), which were sometimes included in burial kurgans. Their practice of storing relatively great wealth in burial kurgans was probably a cultural influence from the more ancient civilizations of the Fertile Crescent to the south.
 
Late in the history of this culture, its people built kurgans of greatly varying sizes, containing widely varying amounts and types of metalwork, with larger, wealthier kurgans surrounded by smaller kurgans containing less wealth. This trend suggests the eventual emergence of a marked social hierarchy.
 
Altogether, the early trans-Caucasian culture enveloped a vast area approximately 1,000 km by 500 km, and mostly encompassed, on modern-day territories, the Southern Caucasus (except western Georgia), northwestern Iran, the northeastern Caucasus, eastern Turkey, and as far as Syria.
 
It gave rise to the later Khirbet Kerak-ware culture found in Syria and Canaan. Khirbet Kerak (“the ruin of the fortress”) or Beth Yerah (“House of the Moon god”) is a tell (archaeological mound) located on the southern shore of the Sea of Galilee in modern-day Israel.
 
The tell spans an area of over 50 acres—one of the largest in the Levant—and contains remains dating from the Early Bronze Age (c. 3000 BC – 2000 BC) and from the Persian period (c. 450 BC) through to the early Islamic period (c. 1000 AD).
 
“Khirbet Kerak ware” is a type of Early Bronze Age Syro-Palestinian pottery first discovered at this site. It is also found in other parts of the Levant (including Jericho, Beth Shan, Tell Judeideh, and Ugarit). Khirbet Kerak culture appears to have been a Levantine version of the Early Transcaucasian Culture.
 
The 2009 discovery at the tell of a stone palette with Egyptian motifs, including an ankh, points to trade/political relations with the First dynasty of Egypt, at approximately 3000 BCE.
 
Trialeti culture emerged in the areas of the preceding Kura-Araxes culture. It is attributed to the late 3rd and early 2nd millennium BC. At that time, there was already strong social differentiation indicated by rich mound burials. There are parallels to the Early Kurgan culture. Cremation burial was practised.
 
In a historical context, their impressive accumulation of wealth in burial kurgans, like that of other associated and nearby cultures with similar burial practices, is particularly noteworthy. This practice was probably a result of influence from the older civilizations to the south in the Fertile Crescent. Geographical interconnectedness and links with other areas of the Near East are seen in many aspects of the culture.
 
The Trialeti culture shows close ties with the cultures of the ancient world, particularly with the Aegean. For example, a cauldron found in Trialeti is nearly identical to the one from Shaft Grave 4 of Mycenae in Greece.
 
Trialeti-Vanadzor painted monochrome and polychrome pottery is very similar to that in the other areas of the Near East. In particular, similar ceramics is known as the Urmia ware (named after Lake Urmia in Iran). Also, similar pottery was produced by the Uzarlik culture, and the Karmirberd-Sevan culture.
 
The site at Trialeti was originally excavated in 1936–1940 in advance of a hydroelectric scheme, when forty-six barrows were uncovered. A further six barrows were uncovered in 1959–1962.[8]
 
To the north of the Maykop culture 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.
 
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.
 
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.
 
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.

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The True History of Ancient Civilizations

Posted by Fredsvenn on June 20, 2016

An alternative history of the world, based on Sumerian Historical text, that puts into question what may be currently understood. Sumerian history was recorded 2500 years before Moses wrote the Pentateuch, and lacks the religious overtones that we have been taught.By reading these blogs you will be able to go back in time and read the true history first recorded by man.

The True History of Ancient Civilizations

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