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Archive for July, 2016

The story of Mary

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 26, 2016

Mary has been widely used due to its associations with the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ, and with Saint Mary Magdalene, who was called an apostle to the Apostles.

Mary Magdalene, or Mary of Magdala and sometimes the Magdalene, is a figure in Christianity who, according to the Bible, traveled with Jesus as one of his followers. She is said to have witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Within the four Gospels she is named at least 12 times, more than most of the apostles.

In apocryphal texts, she is portrayed as a visionary and leader of the early movement whom Jesus loved more than he loved the other disciples. The Gnostic Gospel of Philip names Mary Magdalene as Jesus’ companion.

Several Gnostic gospels, such as the Gospel of Mary, written in the early 2nd century, see Mary as the special disciple of Jesus who has a deeper understanding of his teachings and is asked to impart this to the other disciples.

Queen of Heaven is a title given to the Virgin Mary by Christians mainly of the Roman Catholic Church, and also, to some extent, in Eastern Orthodoxy and Anglicanism. The title is a consequence of the First Council of Ephesus in the fifth century, in which the Virgin Mary was proclaimed “theotokos”, a title rendered in Latin as Mater Dei, in English “Mother of God”.

The Catholic teaching on this subject is expressed in the papal encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam, issued by Pope Pius XII. It states that Mary is called Queen of Heaven because her son, Jesus Christ, is the king of Israel and heavenly king of the universe; indeed, the Davidic tradition of Israel recognized the mother of the king as the Queen Mother of Israel. The Eastern Orthodox Churches do not share the Catholic dogma, but themselves have a rich liturgical history in honor of Mary.

The title Queen of Heaven has long been a Catholic tradition, included in prayers and devotional literature, and seen in Western art in the subject of the Coronation of the Virgin, from the High Middle Ages, long before it was given a formal definition status by the Church.

Queen of Heaven was a title given to a number of ancient sky goddesses in the ancient Mediterranean and Near East, in particular Anat, Isis, Innana, Astarte, Hera and possibly Asherah (by the prophet Jeremiah). Elsewhere, Nordic Frigg also bore this title. In Greco-Roman times Hera, and her Roman aspect Juno bore this title. Forms and content of worship varied.

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

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

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

Ninti, the title of Ninhursag, also means “the mother of all living”, and was a title given to the later Hurrian goddess Kheba. This is also the title given in the Bible to Eve, the Hebrew and Aramaic Ḥawwah (חוה), who was made from the rib of Adam, in a strange reflection of the Sumerian myth, in which Adam — not Enki — walks in the Garden of Paradise.

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

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

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

The Babylonian epic Enuma Elish is named for its incipit: “When above” the heavens did not yet exist nor the earth below, Apsu the freshwater ocean was there, “the first, the begetter”, and Tiamat, the saltwater sea, “she who bore them all”; they were “mixing their waters”. Tiamat also has been claimed to be cognate with Northwest Semitic tehom (תהום) (the deeps, abyss), in the Book of Genesis 1:2.

Nammu, the goddess of the primeval creative matter and the mother-goddess portrayed as having “given birth to the great gods,” was the mother of Enki, and as the watery creative force, was said to preexist Ea-Enki. Benito states “With Enki it is an interesting change of gender symbolism, the fertilising agent is also water, Sumerian “a” or “Ab” which also means “semen”.

In one evocative passage in a Sumerian hymn, Enki stands at the empty riverbeds and fills them with his ‘water'”. This may be a reference to Enki’s hieros gamos or sacred marriage with Ki/Ninhursag (the Earth).

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 readily identifiable by his possessing two faces looking in opposite directions. He was also associated with the planet Mercury in the Sumerian astrological system.

Mut, which meant mother in the ancient Egyptian language, was an ancient Egyptian mother goddess with multiple aspects that changed over the thousands of years of the culture. Some of Mut’s many titles included World-Mother, Eye of Ra, Queen of the Goddesses, Lady of Heaven, Mother of the Gods, and She Who Gives Birth, But Was Herself Not Born of Any. Alternative spellings are Maut and Mout.

She was considered a primal deity, associated with the waters from which everything was born through parthenogenesis. Mut was a title of the primordial waters of the cosmos, Naunet, in the Ogdoad cosmogony during what is called the Old Kingdom, the third through sixth dynasties, dated between 2,686 to 2,134 BCE.

However, the distinction between motherhood and cosmic water later diversified and lead to the separation of these identities, and Mut gained aspects of a creator goddess, since she was the mother from which the cosmos emerged.

Much later new myths held that since Mut had no parents, but was created from nothing; consequently, she could not have children and so adopted one instead.

The authority of Thebes waned later and Amun was assimilated into Ra. Mut, the doting mother, was assimilated into Hathor, the cow-goddess and mother of Horus who had become identified as Ra’s wife.

Subsequently, when Ra assimilated Atum, the Ennead was absorbed as well, and so Mut-Hathor became identified as Isis (either as Isis-Hathor or Mut-Isis-Nekhbet), the most important of the females in the Ennead (the nine), and the patron of the queen.

The Ennead proved to be a much more successful identity and the compound triad of Mut, Hathor, and Isis, became known as Isis alone—a cult that endured into the 7th century A.D. and spread to Greece, Rome, and Britain.

Magdalene is a fem. proper name, from Latin (Maria) Magdalena, from Greek Magdalene, literally “woman of Magdala,” from Aramaic Maghdela, place on the Sea of Galilee, literally “tower.” The vernacular form of the name, via French, has come to English as maudlin (“tearful”), from Middle English fem. proper name Maudelen (early 14c.), from Magdalene (Old French Madelaine), woman’s name, originally surname of Mary.

Various plants in Scandinavia once bore the name of Freyja (Old Norse for “(the) Lady”), but it was replaced with the name of the Virgin Mary during the process of Christianization. Rural Scandinavians continued to acknowledge Freyja as a supernatural figure into the 19th century, and Freyja has inspired various works of art.

Scholars have theorized about whether Freyja and the goddess Frigg ultimately stem from a single goddess common among the Germanic peoples.

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

The expected cognate name in Old Norse would be *friggjar-dagr. However, the name of Friday in Old Norse is frjá-dagr instead, indicating a loan of the week-day names from Low German.[3] The modern Scandinavian form is Fredag in Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish, meaning Freyja’s day.

Freyja is a goddess associated with love, sex, beauty, fertility, gold, seiðr, war, and death. Along with her brother Freyr (Old Norse the “Lord”), her father Njörðr, and her mother (Njörðr’s sister, unnamed in sources), she is a member of the Vanir.

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

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

The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is built over a cave that was originally a shrine to Adonis-Tammuz. The church was originally commissioned in 327 by Constantine the Great and his mother Helena over the site that is still traditionally considered to be located over the cave that marks the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth.

In Babylonia, the month Tammuz was established in honor of the eponymous god Tammuz, who originated as a Sumerian shepherd-god, Dumuzid or Dumuzi, the consort of Inanna and, in his Akkadian form, the parallel consort of Ishtar.

Inanna, who was associated with the planet Venus, was the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare, and goddess of the E-Anna temple at the city of Uruk, her main centre. Inanna was associated with the eastern fish of the last of the zodiacal constellations, Pisces. Her consort Dumuzi was associated with the contiguous first constellation, Aries.

Pisces () (Ancient Greek: Ἰχθύες Ikhthyes), also known as “Venus et Cupido,” “Venus Syria cum Cupidine,” Venus cum Adone,” “Dione,” and “Veneris Mater,” the latter being the formal Latin term for mother, is the twelfth astrological sign in the Zodiac, originating from the Pisces constellation.

The Pisces spans the 330° to 360° of the zodiac, between 332.75° and 360° of celestial longitude. Under the tropical zodiac the sun transits this area on average between February 19 and March 20, and under the sidereal zodiac, the sun transits this area between approximately March 13 and April 13. The symbol of the fish is derived from the ichthyocentaurs, who aided Aphrodite when she was born from the sea.

Purim, a Jewish holiday, falls at the full moon preceding the Passover, which was set by the full moon in Aries, which follows Pisces. The story of the birth of Christ is said to be a result of the spring equinox entering into the Pisces, as the “Savior of the World” appeared as the Fisher of Men. This parallels the entering into the Age of Pisces.

Aries () (meaning “ram”) is the first astrological sign in the Zodiac, spanning the first 30 degrees of celestial longitude (0°≤ λ <30°). Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this sign mostly between March 21 and April 19 each year. Under the sidereal zodiac, the sun currently transits Aries from April 15 to May 14. The symbol of the ram is based on the Chrysomallus, the flying ram that provided the Golden Fleece. The fleece is a symbol of authority and kingship.

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. On the Gregorian calendar the Northward equinox can occur as early as March 19 or as late as March 21.

The Jewish Passover usually falls on the first full moon after the northern hemisphere vernal equinox, although occasionally (currently three times every 19 years) it will occur on the second full moon. The Christian Churches calculate Easter as the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the March equinox. The official church definition for the equinox is March 21.

The vernal equinox is currently located in Pisces, due south of ω Psc, and, due to precession, slowly drifting below the western fish towards Aquarius. While the astrological sign Pisces per definition runs from ecliptical longitude 330° to 0, this position is now mostly covered by the constellation of Aquarius, due to the precession from when the constellation and the sign coincided.

Pisces is associated with Aphrodite and Eros, who escaped from the monster Typhon by leaping into the sea and transforming themselves into fish. In order not to lose each other, they tied themselves together with rope. The Romans adopted the Greek legend, with Venus and Cupid acting as the counterparts for Aphrodite and Eros.

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.

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), will pass into Aquarius in the year 2597, and will pass into Capricornus in the year 4312.

The Babylonian calendar began with the first full moon after the vernal equinox, the day after the Sumerian goddess Inanna’s return from the underworld (later known as Ishtar), in the Akitu ceremony, with parades through the Ishtar Gate to the Eanna temple, and the ritual re-enactment of the marriage to Tammuz, or Sumerian Dummuzi.

The ecliptic and the celestial equator intersect within this constellation and in Virgo, another of the constellations of the zodiac. Its name is Latin for virgin, and its symbol is . Lying between Leo to the west and Libra to the east, it is the second largest constellation in the sky (after Hydra). It can be easily found through its brightest star, Spica. 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 as the autumn equinox point) lies within the boundaries of Virgo very close to β Virginis. This is one of the two points in the sky where the celestial equator crosses the ecliptic (the other being the First Point of Aries, now in the constellation of Pisces.)

In cult practice, the dead Tammuz was widely mourned in the Ancient Near East. 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.

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.

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.

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 (Hebrew: אֲדֹנָי), 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.

Baldr (“lord, prince, king”) is a god in Norse mythology, who is given a central role in the mythology. He is often interpreted as the god of love, peace, forgiveness, justice, light or purity, but was not directly attested as a god of such. He is the second son of Odin and the goddess Frigg. His twin brother is the blind god, Höðr.

According to Gylfaginning, a book of Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda, Baldr’s wife is Nanna and their son is Forseti (Old Norse “the presiding one,” actually “president” in Modern Icelandic and Faroese), an Æsir god of justice and reconciliation.

After Baldr’s death, Nanna dies of grief. Nanna is placed on Baldr’s ship with his corpse and the two are set aflame and pushed out to sea. In Hel, Baldr and Nanna are united again.

The etymology of the name of the goddess Nanna is debated. Scholar John McKinnell notes that the “mother” and *nanþ- derivations may not be distinct, commenting that nanna may have once meant “she who empowers”.

Mother’s Day is a celebration honoring the mother of the family, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. It is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, most commonly in the months of March or May. In some countries, the date adopted is one significant to the majority religion, such as Virgin Mary Day in Catholic countries.

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The architects behind the wonders of Cappadocia

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 4, 2016

Cappadocia is a historical region in Central Anatolia, largely in the Nevşehir, Kayseri, Kırşehir, Aksaray, and Niğde Provinces in Turkey. According to Herodotus, in the time of the Ionian Revolt (499 BCE) the Cappadocians were reported as occupying a region from Mount Taurus to the vicinity of the Euxine (Black Sea).

Cappadocia, in this sense, was bounded in the south by the chain of the Taurus Mountains that separate it from Cilicia, to the east by the upper Euphrates, to the north by Pontus, and to the west by Lycaonia and eastern Galatia.

The name, traditionally used in Christian sources throughout history, continues in use as an international tourism concept to define a region of exceptional natural wonders, in particular characterized by fairy chimneys and a unique historical and cultural heritage.

To this day, no one is certain how it was created and what its original purpose was. Ancient Alien theorists speculate that it is thousands of years older than believed, and created by alien visitors then later abandoned the city.

The earliest record of the name of Cappadocia dates from the late 6th century BC, when it appears in the trilingual inscriptions of two early Achaemenid kings, Darius I and Xerxes, as one of the countries (Old Persian dahyu-) of the Persian Empire. In these lists of countries, the Old Persian name is Katpatuka, which possibly means “the land/country of beautiful horses”.

“Cappadocia” could also come from the Luwian language, an ancient language or group of languages of the Anatolian branch of the Indo-European language family, meaning “Low Country”.

Herodotus tells us that the name of the Cappadocians was applied to them by the Persians, while they were termed by the Greeks “Syrians” or “White Syrians” Leucosyri.

One of the Cappadocian tribes he mentions is the Moschoi, associated by Flavius Josephus with the biblical figure Meshech, son of Japheth: “and the Mosocheni were founded by Mosoch; now they are Cappadocians”.

Mazaca, the city which served as the residence of the kings of Cappadocia, has been continuously inhabited since perhaps c. 3000 BC with the establishment of the ancient trading colony at Kultepe (Ash Mountain) which is associated with the Hittites.

Cappadocia was known as Hatti, in the late Bronze Age, and was the homeland of the Hittite power centred at Hattusa. The oldest name for central Anatolia, “Land of the Hatti”, was found on Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets from the period of Sargon the Great of Akkad c. 2350–2150 BC.

The Hattians were an ancient people who inhabited the land of Hatti in central Anatolia. The group was documented at least as early as the empire of Sargon of Akkad (c. 2300 BC), until it was gradually absorbed c. 2000–1700 BC by the Indo-European Hittites, an Ancient Anatolian people who established an empire centered on Hattusa in north-central Anatolia around 1600 BC, who became identified with the “land of Hatti”.

Hattic (Hattian) was a non-Indo-European, agglutinative language spoken by the Hattians in Asia Minor between the 3rd and the 2nd millennia BC. No documents have been found in which the native Hattic speakers wrote their own language.

The conservative view is that Hattic is a language isolate that is different from neighboring Indo-European and Semitic languages, though, based on toponyms and personal names, it may have been related to the otherwise unattested Kaskian language, a non-Indo-European language of the Kaskians of northeastern Bronze Age Anatolia, in the mountains along the Black Sea coast.

The name Kaskian may be cognate with an old name for Circassia (Circassian: Adygekher), and the name of one of the tribes in the Kaskian confederation, the Abešla, may be cognate with the endonym of the Abkhaz people and some Circassian people, suggesting the Kaskians proper and Abeshla might have been the ancestors of the Circassians and other Caucasian peoples. It has also been conjectured that Kaskian might belong to the Zan family of languages, and have affinities to Megrelian or Laz.

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

Genetically, the Adyghe have shared ancestry partially with neighboring peoples of the Caucasus, with some influence from the other regions.

The Circassian language, also known as the Cherkess language, including West Adyghe, Kabardian Adyghe, and Ubykh, is a member of the ancient Northwest Caucasian language family. Archaeological findings, mainly of dolmens in Northwest Caucasus region, indicate a megalithic culture in North West caucauses.

Many Northwest Caucasian (Adygean) family names have prefixes like “Hath” or “Hatti”, and one of the well known Adyghe tribes has the name “Hattiqwai” (From “Hatti” + “male or son”); meaning “HattiSon”).

It has been conjectured that the North-West Caucasian languages may be genetically related to the Indo-European family, at a time depth of perhaps 12,000 years before the present.

This hypothesised proto-language is called Proto-Pontic, but is not widely accepted. However, there does at least appear to have been extensive contact between the two proto-languages, and the resemblances may be due to this influence.

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

In the south it borders the approximately contemporaneous Kura-Araxes culture (3500—2200 BC), which extends into eastern Anatolia and apparently influenced it. New data revealed the similarity of artifacts from the Maykop culture with those found recently in the course of excavations of the ancient city of Tell Khazneh in northern Syria, the construction of which dates back to 4000 BC.

The 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.

Certain similarities between Hattic and both Northwest (e.g., Abkhaz) and South Caucasian (Kartvelian) languages have led to assumptions by some scholars about the possibility of a linguistic block stretching from central Anatolia to the Caucasus.

Hurrian is an ergative, agglutinative language that, together with Urartian, constitutes the Hurro-Urartian family. It was the language of the Mitanni kingdom in northern Mesopotamia, and was likely spoken at least initially in Hurrian settlements in Syria.

It is generally believed that the speakers of this language originally came from the Armenian Highlands and spread over southeast Anatolia and northern Mesopotamia at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC.

The earliest Hurrian text fragments consist of lists of names and places from the end of the third millennium BC. The first full texts date to the reign of king Tish-atal of Urkesh and were found on a stone tablet accompanying the Hurrian foundation pegs known as the “Urkish lions.”

At the start of the second milliennium BC. Archeologists have discovered the texts of numerous spells, incantations, prophecies and letters at sites including Hattusha, Mari, Tuttul, Babylon, Ugarit and others. The Hurrian religion, in different forms, influenced the entire ancient Near East.

The Hurrian culture made a great impact on the religion of the Hittites. From the Hurrian cult centre at Kummanni in Kizzuwatna Hurrian religion spread to the Hittite people. Syncretism merged the Old Hittite and Hurrian religions. Hurrian religion spread to Syria, where Baal became the counterpart of Teshub.

The Hurrians had a reputation in metallurgy. The Sumerians borrowed their copper terminology from the Hurrian vocabulary. Copper was traded south to Mesopotamia from the highlands of Anatolia.

The Khabur Valley had a central position in the metal trade, and copper, silver and even tin were accessible from the Hurrian-dominated countries Kizzuwatna and Ishuwa situated in the Anatolian highland.

Urartu, corresponding to the biblical Kingdom of Ararat or Kingdom of Van, was an Iron Age kingdom centred on Lake Van in the Armenian Highlands. The heirs of Urartu are the Armenians and their successive kingdoms.

It is clear that Armenian is an Indo-European language, but its development is opaque. In any case, Armenian has many layers of loanwords and shows traces of long language contact with Hurro-Urartian, Greek and Indo-Iranian.

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

The Armenian, Germanic, Anatolian, and Tocharian subfamilies belong to the Taihun group because the numeral ’10’ begins with a voiceless t there. All other Indo-European languages belong to the Decem group because the numeral 10 begins with a voiced d in them.

The Armenian hypothesis of the Proto-Indo-European Urheimat, proposed by Georgian (T. Gamkrelidze) and Russian linguist V. V. Ivanov in 1985, suggests that the Proto-Indo-European language was spoken during the 4th millennium BC in the Armenian Highlands.

The Armenian hypothesis was proposed by Georgian (T. Gamkrelidze) and Russian linguists V. V. Ivanov in 1985, presenting it first in two articles in Vestnik drevnej istorii and then in a much larger work.

Gamkrelidze and Ivanov argue that IE spread out from Armenia into the Pontic steppe, from which it expanded, as per the Kurgan hypothesis, into Western Europe. The Hittite, Indo-Iranian, Greek and Armenian branches split from the Armenian homeland.

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

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

Strictly speaking, Urartu is the Assyrian term for a geographical region, while “kingdom of Urartu” or “Biainili lands” are terms used in modern historiography for the Urartian-speaking Iron Age state that arose in that region.

The language appears in cuneiform inscriptions. It is argued on linguistic evidence that proto-Armenian came in contact with Urartian at an early date (3rd-2nd millennium BC), before formation of Urartian kingdom.

In the early sixth century BC, Urartu was replaced by the Armenian Orontid Dynasty. In the trilingual Behistun Inscription, carved in 521 or 520 BC by the order of Darius I, the country referred to as Urartu in Assyrian is called Arminiya in Old Persian and Harminuia in the Elamite language.

The use of the word “Proto-Hittite” to refer to Hattians is inaccurate. Hittite (natively known as Nešili, “[in the language] of Neša”) is an Indo-European language, linguistically distinct from the Hattians. The Hittites continued to use the term Land of Hatti for their new kingdom. The Hattians eventually merged with people who spoke Indo-European languages like Hittite, Luwian, and Palaic.

Hittite (natively nešili “[in the language] of Neša”), also known as Nesite and Neshite, is the extinct language once spoken by the Hittites, Indo-European-speaking peoples who created an empire centred on Hattusa in north-central Anatolia (modern-day Turkey).

Hittite lacks some features of the other Indo-European languages, such as a distinction between masculine and feminine grammatical gender, subjunctive and optative moods, and aspect. Various hypotheses have been formulated to explain these contrasts.[9]

Some linguists, most notably Edgar H. Sturtevant and Warren Cowgill, have argued that it should be classified as a sister language to Proto-Indo-European, rather than a daughter language, formulating the Indo-Hittite hypothesis. The parent, Indo-Hittite, lacked the features not present in Hittite, which Proto-Indo-European innovated.

Other linguists, however, have taken the opposite point of view, the Schwund (“loss”) Hypothesis, that Hittite (or Anatolian) came from a Proto-Indo-European possessing the full range of features, but simplified.

A third hypothesis, supported by Calvert Watkins and others, viewed the major families as all coming from Proto-Indo-European directly. They were all sister languages or language groups. Differences might be explained as dialectical.

According to Craig Melchert, the current tendency is to suppose that Proto-Indo-European evolved, and that the “prehistoric speakers” of Anatolian became isolated “from the rest of the PIE speech community, so as not to share in some common innovations.”

Hittite, as well as its Anatolian cousins, split off from Proto-Indo-European at an early stage, thereby preserving archaisms that were later lost in the other Indo-European languages.

The entry of the Hittites into the sphere of scholarship and archaeological literature dates from the late nineteenth century when the Akkadian tablets at Tel-el-Amar in Egypt were deciphered, and when A.H. Sayce set about deciphering the pictographic inscriptions on stone discovered at Hama in Syria and identified them as the work of the Hittites.

This, before the existence of Hittite remains in Anatolia was even guessed at Scholars and travelers extended their searches and discovered similar pictographic inscriptions. They made a deep impression on Cappadocia to whose ancient history knowing Hittite civilization and art is the key.

Except for the Bible the Hittite people are absent from history and until their capital, Hattusa, was discovered in central Turkey, many historians did not believe they existed. But exist they did and apparently they were diggers. Architectural similarities between arches at Hattusa and in Cappadocia’s underground cities lead archaeologists to believe that they were the first people to dig out these underground areas. Most likely they did not dig down more than the first two levels.

Cappadocia’s volcanic earth makes it ideal for digging, and the lack of fuel makes underground storage and dwelling a good idea (temperature does not change underground). Every people that has lived in this region since the Hittites has added to what the Hittites started.

First built in the soft volcanic rock of the Cappadocia region, possibly by the Phrygians in the 8th – 7th centuries B.C according to the Turkish Department of Culture, the underground city at Derinkuyu may have been enlarged in the Byzantine era. The city was connected with other underground cities through miles of tunnels.

Scholars believe Derinkuyu was the hiding place for the first Christians who were escaping from the persecution of the Roman empire. Some things discovered in these underground settlements belong to the Middle Byzantine Period, between the 5th and the 10th centuries A.D.

It is speculated that number of underground settlements, generally used for taking refuge and for religious purposes, increased during this era. The Christian communities in the region may have taken refuge, closing the millstone doors, when they were subjected to Arab raids which started in the 7th century.

In certain eras the need to develop these lairs was greater than others. During the Roman persecution of Christians in the 2nd and 3rd century AD the need to hide was great.

During this time the subterranean areas were expanded. Again, in the 8th-10th centuries when Arab raiders roamed at will, the desire to become invisible quickly was at a peek. Apparently, thousands of people could live in these rock rooms for months at a time.

Archaeologists have found a 9 kilometer tunnel connecting Kaymakli to Derinkuyu. This makes it clear how desperate these people were. They could descend into the underground city from each of their homeland close off the tunnels, and then if their oppressors did not leave, they could make the 5 mile trek and come up in another town. Pretty amazing.

The fascinating culture of the Hittites is at least as colorful as the rock churches of Cappadocia. In Hittite there are many loanwords, particularly religious vocabulary, from the non-Indo-European Hurrian and Hattic languages. The latter was the language of the Hattians, the local inhabitants of the land of Hatti before being absorbed or displaced by the Hittites. Sacred and magical texts from Hattusa were often written in Hattic, Hurrian, and Luwian, even after Hittite became the norm for other writings.

In multi-lingual texts found in Hittite locations, passages written in the Hittite language are preceded by the adverb nesili (or nasili, nisili), “in the [speech] of Neša (Kaneš)”, an important city before the rise of the Empire. In one case, the label is Kanisumnili, “in the [speech] of the people of Kaneš”.

The settlement mound here, known as Kultepe (Turkish: Ash Hill), is one of the largest in Central Anatolia, measuring 550 * 450 meters and 20 meters in height. The first excavation of Kultepe mound was carried out by the French scholar E. Chantre, using the methods of his time.

Kültepe is an archaeological site located in Kayseri Province in Turkey. The nearest modern city to Kültepe is Kayseri, about 20 km southwest. It consists of a tell, the actual Kültepe, and a lower town where an Assyrian settlement was found. Its name in Assyrian texts from the 20th century BC was Kaneš (spoken: Kah nesh), the later Hittites mostly called it Neša, occasionally Anisa.

Kaneš, inhabited continuously from the Chalcolithic period to Roman times, flourished as an important Hattic, Hittite and Hurrian city, which contained a colonised large merchant quarter (kârum) of the Old Assyrian Empire from ca. 21st to 18th centuries BC.

By the Late Bronze Age, Hittite had started losing ground to its close relative Luwian. It appears that in the 13th century BC, Luwian was the most widely-spoken language in the Hittite capital of Hattusa.

After the collapse of the Hittite Empire as a part of the more general Late Bronze Age collapse, Luwian emerged in the Early Iron Age as the main language of the so-called Syro-Hittite states in southwestern Anatolia and northern Syria.

After the fall of the Hittite Empire, with the decline of the Syro-Cappadocians (Mushki) after their defeat by the Lydian king Croesus in the 6th century, Cappadocia was ruled by a sort of feudal aristocracy, dwelling in strong castles and keeping the peasants in a servile condition, which later made them apt to foreign slavery.

It was included in the third Persian satrapy in the division established by Darius but continued to be governed by rulers of its own, none apparently supreme over the whole country and all more or less tributaries of the Great King.

In 93 BC, troops from the Kingdom of Armenia under Tigranes the Great, son-in-law of Mithridates VI, invaded Cappadocia at the behest of the Pontic king.

Tigranes dethroned Ariobarzanes I, the king of Cappadocia from 95 BC to ca. 63 BC–62 BC, who fled to Rome, and crowned Gordius as the new client-king of Cappadocia.

With Cappadocia as a client kingdom under Armenia, Tigranes created a buffer zone between his kingdom and the expanding Roman Republic.

From early antiquity, the Armenian people developed a rich and distinctive culture on the great Armenian highland plateau, extending from Asia Minor to the Caucasus. On that crossroad, they interacted on many levels with civilizations of the Orient and Occident.

Immediately to the west of the Armenian highland and the Euphrates River lay Lesser Armenia with Sebastia at its center and Cappadocia with Mazaca, later known as Caesarea (Kesaria/Kayseri), at its center.

Interactions between Armenia and Cappadocia date to early antiquity, when Cappadocia became a contested marchland between empires of East and West.

Caesarea also played an important role in Armenian Christian history, as it was there that Gregory the Illuminator, the evangelizer of Armenia, spent his formative years and it was there that he was ordained the first prelate of Armenia in the early fourth century.

Because of the turbulent history of the Armenian kingdoms, the Armenian element in Cappadocia increased steadily in the Middle Ages. Byzantine expansionist policies and mounting Turkish pressure constrained Armenian kings and nobles to relinquish their domains in the east in exchange for expanses in Lesser Armenia and Cappadocia.

During the centuries of Ottoman rule, the Armenians of Kesaria were noted as goldsmiths and skilled craftsmen, professionals and producers of carpets, linens, textiles, leather goods, pottery, and cured beef.

Beyond the confines of the city of Kesaria with its 20,000 Armenian inhabitants were numerous villages with a combined Armenian population of some 50,000.

With their tightly-knit communities, strong religious faith, schools and churches, the Armenians of the Kesaria region managed to preserve their distinct identity down through the centuries.

Like almost all other areas of Armenian existence in the Ottoman Empire, however, they were uprooted and deported toward the Syrian deserts in 1915, with very few of the survivors ever returning.

These aspects figure among the multidisciplinary discussions in this volume—Armenian Kesaria/Kayseri and Cappadocia.

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Thracian sanctuary – the Womb Cave (aka “Cave Vulva”)

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 3, 2016

7 mysterious caves in Bulgaria

Thracian sanctuary the Womb Cave (aka “Cave Vulva”) dated XI-X century BC is located near village of Nenkovo, Kardjali region, Bulgaria. It was discovered in 2001.

The Womb Cave (Утроба, Utroba) in the Rhodope Mountains bears an uncanny resemblance to the female genitalia. This is not exactly a coincidence though. There’s evidence that the cave’s opening was shaped by the ancient Thracians around 1000 BC. The cave hosted a Thracian sanctuary to female fertility at the time.

Incredibly, the Womb Cave is designed in such a way that a ray of sunlight enters through the entrance of the cave at such an angle that it enters the rock womb and hits the middle of the altar directly, symbolically inseminating it. Feel like exploring this vulva-shaped cave? Then head for southeastern Bulgaria or specifically the isolated village of Nenkovo near Kardzhali.

Abri Castanet cave – Vulva Cave Art

Earliest wall art features female genitalia

Female genitalia features in world’s oldest cave art

A massive block of limestone in France contains what scientists believe are the earliest known engravings of wall art dating back some 37,000 years, according to a study. The 1.5 tonne ceiling piece was first discovered in 2007 at Abri Castanet, a well known archaeological site in southwestern France which holds some of the earliest forms of artwork, beads and pierced shells.

According to New York University anthropology professor Randall White, lead author of the paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the art was likely meant to adorn the interior of a shelter for reindeer hunters. “They decorated the places where they were living, where they were doing all their daily activities,” says White.

“There is a whole question about how and why, and why here in this place at this particular time you begin to see people spending so much time and energy and imagination on the graphics.”

The images range from paintings of horses to “vulvar imagery” that appears to represent female sex organs, carved into the low ceiling that rose between 1.5 to two meters from the floor, within reach of the hunters.

Over the years, archaeologist Randall White of New York University and his colleagues have discovered various artistic items of southern France’s Abri Castanet, a shallow cave in the Vexere valley, including ornamental snail shells and engraved limestones. But the researchers were unable to date the art due to a lack of organic matter.

So when, in 2007, the team discovered a large block of limestone with paintings of what look like a female’s vulva that had fallen from the cave ceiling in an area with numerous animal bones, suggesting they dated to around the same time period, they sent the samples to the University of Oxford for radiocarbon dating.

The results came back dating the bones to somewhere between 36,000 and 37,000 years ago, making them as old, or older, than the paintings of lions and other animals in southern France’s Chauvet Cave, which have been noted as the oldest known cave art since their discovery in 1994.

The researchers, who published their findings yesterday (May 14) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that this date likely also applies to the other vulva-like art previously found in the cave.

“The fact that the most recognizable image on the newly discovered surface falls broadly within the range of ovoid forms traditionally interpreted as vulva leads us to suppose that the above dates apply to other such images from Castanet, many of which were located within a few meters of the engraving described here,” they wrote.

The images also differ greatly from the drawings at Chauvet, such as the fact that they are displayed in the areas of the cave used for sleeping and eating, as opposed to deeper areas beyond the prehistoric humans’ living space, suggesting regional differences in artistic traditions.

“The vulvar tradition in the Vézère Valley seems to constitute a distinct regional variant within a mosaic of graphic and plastic expression across Europe in the Early Aurignacian,” the authors wrote.

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Did Rh negative group origin as a trait of evolution or did it come with aliens or fallen angels, or as a slave race created by extraterrestrials or gods (the Sumerian Anunnaki)?

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 1, 2016

bloodtypes

ABO and Rh blood type by nation

Rh blood group system

Rh Blood Types

The Roots of Mankind

Where does Rh negative blood truly originate from?

Distribution of Blood Types

Blood Type Frequencies by Country including the Rh Factor

rhesus negative blood among Europeans

The Mystery of Human Blood Types

Neanderthals might have made good blood donors

Knowing Neanderthals

Stay Negative! – The Rh Negative Weblog

The Rh-Negative Registry

Historians and genetic researchers recently uncovered a possibility that the current human population stemmed from Homo Sapiens and another mysterious species which may have caused some people to have a Rhesus Negative or RH- blood type.

Eighty-five percent of the world’s population is RH positive. The remaining 15 percent, which are RH negative, are concentrated in Europe. This set of people generally has higher intelligent quotients and are predominantly Caucasians. Thus, there are theories that a species related to Homo Sapiens may have risen in Europe and may have mated with Homo Sapiens later. They could be the origin of Caucasians.

Alien Theory

Alien researchers claim that creatures from outer space visited the Earth in the past. They mated with humans and produced RH negative people. According to this theory, RH is directly linked to Apes. The original group of RH negative people may have evolved from something else other than apes.

Biblical Theory

A biblical tale, set in modern-day Europe, tells a story of angels falling in love with humans and having children with them. The offsprings were called Nephilims. The Nephilim, described as pale, is compared to the Caucasians.

According to this theory, RH negative people embody strange qualities. This explains why the body of an RH positive mother rejects an RH negative child. A number of infant fatalities were attributed to this phenomenon.

Scientific Theory

Science dismisses the existence of RH negative people as a natural occurrence in the evolution process. RH is defined by Science as the presence of Antigen D. Those who are RH positive possess Antigen D in their blood. RH negative people do not have Antigen D in their blood.

Antigens are produced by the body to fight bacteria. If an antigen not produced by the body is introduced to it, it will treat the antigen as its enemy. According to Science, this is the true reason why the body of an RH positive mother rejects an RH negative child.

Rh positive/negative 

For the Human Race, there are four, primary, types of blood. They are A, B, AB, and O. The classifications are derived from the antigens of a person’s blood cells – antigens being proteins that are found on the surface of the cells and which are designed to combat bacteria and viruses.

Most of the human population have such proteins on their cells. They are the Rh positive percentage of the Earth’s people. Within the United States, current estimates suggest that around 85 percent of all Caucasians, roughly 90 percent of African Americans, and approximately 98 percent of Asian Americans are Rh positive.

The small percentage of the U.S. population (and that of the rest of the world, too, it should be noted) which does not exhibit the relevant proteins falls into a very different category, that of the Rh negatives.

Why one particular group of people should have blood that is so incredibly different to that of just about everyone else, is a matter of deep controversy. It is an issue that has led to the development of an astonishing theory: that in the distant past, visiting extraterrestrials subjected early, primitive, humans to advanced gene-splicing and cell–manipulating techniques; ostensibly to create a slave race. In doing so, they gave birth to the Rh negatives.

To demonstrate how incredibly different the Rh negatives are to the rest of the world’s population, we only have to look at the matter of pregnancy. For a pregnant woman who is Rh negative, the hazards can be considerable and dangerous. If a woman who is Rh negative is made pregnant by a man who is also Rh negative, the problems are non-existent and there is no need for concern: both individuals are wholly compatible with one another, the fetus will develop in normal fashion, and the child will be born Rh negative.

If, however, the father is Rh positive and the mother is Rh negative, that’s where the problems can begin and the results may prove to be very different – and tragically so, too – as the baby will be Rh positive. It is this latter issue that gets to the crux of the problem.

As incredible as it may sound, the blood of an Rh negative pregnant woman can be completely incompatible with the blood of an Rh positive baby she is carrying. Such a situation can very often provoke the mother’s own blood to produce potentially lethal antibodies which are designed to attack the fetus’ blood, if and when the former is exposed to the latter.

In other words, the positive baby is perceived by the mother’s negative immune-system as something hostile, something not quite as it should be. For all intents and purposes, the unborn child is considered something alien and something to be gotten rid of at the earliest opportunity possible.

More disturbing is the fact that the more times a woman becomes pregnant, the more powerful and prevalent the deadly antibodies become. In short, the mother’s body finds ways to make the process of trying to kill the fetus ever more powerful, swift, and effective with each successive pregnancy.

It’s almost as if there is something deeply ancient and non-human encoded in our DNA that sees positive and negative as being acutely different to one another, and never intended for unification. That may be exactly the case.

If we today – and particularly so the Rh negatives – are the product of extraterrestrial manipulation, then who, exactly, were the beings that decided to play god with the Human Race’s earliest forms? Why were they so intent on creating new and radically different kinds of people? Where did they come from? Are they still amongst us?

They are questions that lead us to a legendary, powerful body of entities that have become known as the Anunnaki. They are also questions that take us to the heart of ancient Sumerian cultures, which can be found in what, today, is southern Iraq, and which, historians and archaeologists believe, was first settled at some point between 5,500 and 4,000 BC.

According to Sumerian lore, more than 400,000 years before a huge deluge devastated the Earth and killed untold millions, this mighty race of legendary people came to our planet from the heavens above. During their time here, they brought some form of stability, and even society, to what were, originally, extremely primitive human tribes, some of which ultimately became the Cro-Magnons. That was not, however, the original agenda of the Anunnaki.

The primary goal of the Anunnaki was to genetically alter primitive humans to create a robust and strong entity that, effectively, amounted to nothing less than a slave race, one designed to do the bidding of their extraterrestrial masters – including mining the Earth for its supply of precious and priceless gold. When the Anunnaki finally left the Earth, they left behind them an astonishing legacy: a new form of human, one radically different to the rest: the Rh negatives. And they still live today.

The RH negative strain runs through the British Royal Family, something which has provoked controversial assertions that the Royals are not all they appear to be. An entire sub- culture exists suggesting the Royals are directly descended from an ancient order of human- like extraterrestrials that are the true, secret rulers of our planet.

Is there something in the genetic make-up of the Rh negatives that makes them born leaders, powerful figures, and perhaps not unlike the legendary “heroes of old” and the “men of renown,” as described in the pages of the Bible (and almost certainly Rh negatives, too)?

Do the Rh negatives amount to an underground army of human hybrids being carefully, and secretly, nurtured for reasons that might be nothing less than downright sinister and deadly?

If, one day, it is proved that a small percentage of the Human Race is not entirely human after all, will we see a backlash against the negatives? Will there be witch-hunts? Might there be calls to have the negatives isolated from the rest of society?

Could a form of “extraterrestrial racism” – born out of a fear that some of the negatives may be part of a sinister, alien agenda – develop both wildly and widely? Will we see the construction of countless “Extraterrestrial Guantanamo Bays?”

These are the kinds of intriguing and inflammatory questions that the many and varied mysteries of the Rh negatives provoke.

UFO researchers, astronomers, and NASA have spent countless years looking towards the heavens for the proof that aliens are amongst us. The strange saga of the Rh negatives, however, suggests strongly that it’s not to the stars that we need to look for proof that extraterrestrials really exist. It’s to us, the Human Race. In a strange, fantastic, and even ironic, fashion we – or, at least some of us, the Rh negatives – are the very aliens that we have for so long sought…

Did Rh- blood come from Neanderthals?  

If the 35,000 number were right, then this wouldn’t be a bad guess.  But that number is almost certainly incorrect.  Rh- blood probably arose millions of years ago rather than tens of thousands.

Keep in mind that when I say Rh- here, I mean the form that is common in Europe.  This is just one of lots of ways of being Rh-.  This means there wasn’t some single event of outbreeding that explains all forms of Rh- blood.  Lots of individual specific events have happened over our history.

And even if we do focus just on the form common in Europe, the 35,000 number still doesn’t work.  This form predates modern humans settling down in Europe.

One of the big clues that this form of Rh- has been around for a long time is that it is the most common form in Africa as well as Europe.  Now I don’t mean it is as common in Africa as it is in Europe.  It isn’t.  What I do mean is that even though being Rh- isn’t very common in Africa, if you have the blood type, then the most common way is the same in both Africa and Europe.

And don’t just take my word for this.  Because there isn’t a lot of information out there about the evolutionary history of Rh- blood, I decided to consult one of the big names in the field, Dr. Bill Flegel of the National Institutes of Health.  Here is what he had to say in an email when I asked about the 35,000 number:

35,000 years is very likely incorrect and too recent. The RHD deletion occurred in Africa, almost certainly before anyone migrated out of Africa. Keep in mind that the common RHD deletion worldwide is also *the* prevalent D negative RH haplotype in Africans today. How should that be, if the RHD deletion somehow occurred in connection with groups migrating out of Africa?

What this all means is that it is extremely unlikely that the common form of Rh- blood originated in Neanderthals and then spread into humans through breeding.  It simply arose too long ago for this to be true.

This also means that even if we see evidence that Neanderthals had this form of being Rh-, that doesn’t mean we got it from them.  A more likely explanation in that case is that we shared common ancestors who had the same form of Rh- blood in their blood.

I should mention that so far we don’t have any evidence either way about the Rh status of Neanderthals (although we do know that some of them had O blood type).  The part of the DNA that is involved in Rh status is tricky to read and we haven’t yet been able to figure it out in Neanderthals.  But again, even if we do see evidence of this form of Rh- blood in Neanderthals, this doesn’t mean we got it from them.

OK so Rh- blood almost certainly did not come from Neanderthals.  It also did not come from aliens or anything else like that.  Rh- blood is just another genetic variation like the ones that lead to red hair or blue eyes.

In fact, the gene involved in being Rh-, the RHD gene, is arranged so that DNA differences will spring up more often than in other DNA regions.  This is why there are so many different ways to be Rh-.

So the tricky part isn’t explaining how the common Rh- form first arose.  It is inevitable that this region of the DNA will turn Rh- every now and then.  No the tricky part is explaining how something that can cause problems in pregnancy could become more common in Europe than elsewhere.

The most likely explanation is that being Rh- had some advantage in our past or maybe even today.  Another possibility is that being a silent carrier might be useful.  In either case, the advantage of being Rh- would outweigh the disadvantage of having problems with having Rh+ babies.

Rh- Spread

It is confusing that the Rh- blood type is as common as it is because it can have such profound effects.  If an Rh- mother is pregnant with an Rh+ child, the child is at risk for something called hemolytic disease of the newborn (HDN).  And each child she has afterwards is at a higher risk.

Nowadays a woman can be given a couple of RhoGAM shots to prevent these problems from happening.  But even a hundred years ago this wasn’t an option.

From a biological point of view, if being Rh- had only this effect, then Rh- women should have fewer children.  This means that the DNA that leads to being Rh- should be passed down less often.  Over time, being Rh- should become less and less common and, perhaps, even disappear.

But this clearly has not happened in Europe.  Around 18% of people of European descent are Rh- compared with 1-3% of Africans (see the table at the end of the answer for a more statistics like this).  Something weird seems to be going on in Europe.

One possibility is that the Rh- people happened to settle together.  If everyone has Rh- blood, then there is no disadvantage to having it.  Two Rh- parents are at little risk for an Rh+ baby which means the baby is at little risk for HDN.

There do appear to be some areas of higher concentration in Europe.  For example, the Basques of the Pyrenees between Spain and France are 35% Rh-.  That is a lot but still, 65% of them Rh+ and nowhere else in Europe is the concentration so high.  This means that this is probably not the explanation.

Another possibility is that there is some advantage to having Rh- blood and/or carrying a silent version of it in your DNA.  The latter case would make it similar to sickle cell anemia.

People with sickle cell anemia used to die very young in life.  This makes it hard to understand why it is so common in certain areas of the world.

The reason it persists is that if you carried a silent version of the gene, you were resistant to malaria.  The 1 in 4 chance for the child of two carriers to end up with sickle cell anemia was not as high as the risk of the parents dying from malaria before having kids.  So, over time, this gene spread through the population.

We haven’t yet found anything so obvious for Rh- blood but a recent idea is that it may protect from a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. It doesn’t keep you from getting the parasite, but it might make the effects less severe.

Toxoplasma gondii affects people’s motor skills. For example, it seems to slow down people’s responses so they are more likely to get in car accidents.

A couple of recent studies showed that having one copy of Rh- and one copy of Rh+ protects someone from these effects. In other words, Rh+ people who carry a silent Rh negative copy of the RHD gene may do better in areas with lots of Toxoplasma gondii infections. Like in Europe, for example, where being Rh negative is much more common than other places in the world.

While we may not know the reason for the spread of the most common form of being Rh- in Europe, what we do know is that it did not suddenly appear in humans 35,000 years ago.  Most likely it arose in Africa hundreds of thousands or even millions of years ago.

And what we also know is that Rh- blood will always be around because of how the RHD gene is set up in our DNA.  Even if the most common form we have been talking about disappeared, a new Rh- form would take its place.  Someone, somewhere will always be Rh-.

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