Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

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  • The Fertile Crescent

    The Fertile Crescent is a term for an old fertile area north, east and west of the Arabian Desert in Southwest Asia. The Mesopotamian valley and the Nile valley fall under this term even though the mountain zone around Mesopotamia is the natural zone for the transition in a historical sense.

    As a result of a number of unique geographical factors the Fertile Crescent have an impressive history of early human agricultural activity and culture. Besides the numerous archaeological sites with remains of skeletons and cultural relics the area is known primarily for its excavation sites linked to agricultural origins and development of the Neolithic era.

    It was here, in the forested mountain slopes of the periphery of this area, that agriculture originated in an ecologically restricted environment. The western zone and areas around the upper Euphrates gave growth to the first known Neolithic farming communities with small, round houses , also referred to as Pre Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) cultures, which dates to just after 10,000 BC and include areas such as Jericho, the world’s oldest city.

    During the subsequent PPNB from 9000 BC these communities developed into larger villages with farming and animal husbandry as the main source of livelihood, with settlement in the two-story, rectangular house. Man now entered in symbiosis with grain and livestock species, with no opportunity to return to hunter – gatherer societies.

    The area west and north of the plains of the Euphrates and Tigris also saw the emergence of early complex societies in the much later Bronze Age (about 4000 BC). There is evidence of written culture and early state formation in this northern steppe area, although the written formation of the states relatively quickly shifted its center of gravity into the Mesopotamian valley and developed there. The area is therefore in very many writers been named “The Cradle of Civilization.”

    The area has experienced a series of upheavals and new formation of states. When Turkey was formed in the aftermath of the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians perpetrated by the Young Turks during the First World War it is estimated that two-thirds to three-quarters of all Armenians and Assyrians in the region died, and the Pontic Greeks was pushed to Greece.

    Israel was created out of the Ottoman Empire and the conquering of the Palestinian terretories. The existence of large Arab nation states from the Maghreb to the Levant has since represented a potential threat to Israel which should be neutralised when opportunities arise.

    This line of thinking was at the heart of David Ben Gurion’s policies in the 1950s which sought to exacerbate tensions between Christians and Muslims in the Lebanon for the fruits of acquiring regional influence by the dismembering the country and the possible acquisition of additional territory.

    The Christians are now being systematically targeted for genocide in Syria according to Vatican and other sources with contacts on the ground among the besieged Christian community.

    According to reports by the Vatican’s Fides News Agency collected by the Centre for the Study of Interventionism, the US-backed Free Syrian Army rebels and ever more radical spin-off factions are sacking Christian churches, shooting Christians dead in the street, broadcasting ultimatums that all Christians must be cleansed from the rebel-held villages, and even shooting priests.

    It is now time that the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians is being recognized, that the Israeli occupation, settlements and violence against the Palestinians stop, and that the various minorities in the area start to live their lifes in peace – without violence and threats from majority populations, or from the West, and then specificially from the US.

    War in the Fertile Crescent
    https://aratta.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/war-in-the-fertile-crescent

    Everyone is free to use the text on this blog as they want. There is no copyright etc. This because knowledge is more important than rules and regulations.

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Nergal – Mars / Apollo

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on April 10, 2018

Utu, later worshipped by East Semitic peoples as Shamash, was the ancient Mesopotamian god of the sun, justice, morality, and truth, and the twin brother of the goddess Inanna, the Queen of Heaven. Shamash was the solar deity in ancient Semitic religion, corresponding to the Sumerian god Utu. Shamash was also the god of justice in Babylonia and Assyria.

According to the 1911 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica the Shamash cults at Sippar and Larsa so overshadowed local Sun deities elsewhere as to lead to an absorption of the minor deities by the predominating one, in the systematized pantheon these minor Sun gods become attendants that do his service.

Sun deities such as Ninurta and Nergal, the patron deities of other important centers, retained their independent existences as certain phases of the Sun, with Ninurta becoming the Sun god of the morning and spring time and Nergal the Sun god of the noon and the summer solstice.

Nergal seems to be in part a solar deity, sometimes identified with Shamash, but only representative of a certain phase of the sun. He was worshipped throughout Mesopotamia. He is a son of Enlil and Ninlil, along with Nanna and Ninurta.

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

Over time Nergal developed from a war god to a god of the underworld. In the mythology, this occurred when Enlil and Ninlil gave him the underworld. Nergal presided over the netherworld. In this capacity he has associated with him a goddess Allatu or Ereshkigal (“Queen of the Great Earth”), though at one time Allatu may have functioned as the sole mistress of Aralu, ruling in her own person.

Ereshkigal was the goddess of Kur, the land of the dead or underworld in Sumerian mythology. Sometimes her name is given as Irkalla, similar to the way the name Hades was used in Greek mythology for both the underworld and its ruler, and sometimes it is given as Ninkigal, lit. “Great Lady of the Earth” or “Lady of the Great Earth”.

In Sumerian myths, Ereshkigal was the only one who could pass judgment and give laws in her kingdom. She is described as Inanna’s older sister. Inanna and Ereshkigal represent polar opposites. Inanna is the Queen of Heaven, but Ereshkigal is the queen of Irkalla.

In later East Semitic myths she was said to rule Irkalla alongside her husband Nergal. The two main myths involving Ereshkigal are the story of Inanna’s descent into the Underworld and the story of Ereshkigal’s marriage to the god Nergal.

In the late Babylonian astral-theological system Nergal is related to the planet Mars. As a fiery god of destruction and war, Nergal doubtless seemed an appropriate choice for the red planet, and he was equated by the Greeks to the war-god Ares (Latin Mars)—hence the current name of the planet.

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

Apaliunas is attested in a Hittite language treaty as a protective deity of Wilusa, a major city of the late Bronze Age in western Anatolia described in 13th century BC Hittite sources as being part of a confederation named Assuwa. The city is often identified with the Troy of the Ancient Greek Epic Cycle.

Many modern archaeologists have suggested that Wilusa corresponds to an archaeological site in Turkey known as Troy VIIa, which was destroyed circa 1190 BC. Ilios and Ilion, which are alternate names for Troy in the Ancient Greek languages, are linked etymologically to Wilusa.

This identification by modern scholars has been influenced by the Chronicon (a chronology of mythical and Ancient Greece) written circa 380 AD by Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus (also known as Saint Jerome). In addition, the modern Biga Peninsula, on which Troy VIIa is located, is now generally believed to correspond to both the Hittite placename Taruiša and the Troas or Troad of late antiquity.

Apaliunas is among the gods who guarantee a treaty drawn up about 1280 BCE between Alaksandu of Wilusa, interpreted as “Alexander of Ilios” and the great Hittite king, Muwatalli II. He is one of the three deities named on the side of the city. In Homer, Apollo is the builder of the walls of Ilium, a god on the Trojan side.

A Luwian etymology suggested for Apaliunas makes Apollo “The One of Entrapment”, perhaps in the sense of “Hunter”. Further east of the Luwian language area, a Hurrian god Aplu was a deity of the plague – bringing it, or, if propitiated, protecting from it – and resembles Apollo Smintheus, “mouse-Apollo” worshiped at Troy and Tenedos, who brought plague upon the Achaeans in answer to a Trojan prayer at the opening of Iliad.

As the patron of Delphi (Pythian Apollo), Apollo was an oracular god—the prophetic deity of the Delphic Oracle. Medicine and healing are associated with Apollo, whether through the god himself or mediated through his son Asclepius, yet Apollo was also seen as a god who could bring ill-health and deadly plague.

Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in classical Greek and Roman religion and Greek and Roman mythology. Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto. Apollo is known in Greek-influenced Etruscan mythology as Apulu.

His twin sister, the chaste huntress Artemis, is one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Homer refers to her as Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron: “Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals”. The Arcadians believed she was the daughter of Demeter.

Some scholars believe that the name, and indeed the goddess herself, was originally pre-Greek. Her Roman equivalent is Diana. the goddess of the hunt, the moon, and nature in Roman mythology, associated with wild animals and woodland, and having the power to talk to and control animals.

In the classical period of Greek mythology, Artemis was often described as the daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. She was the Hellenic goddess of the hunt, wild animals, wilderness, childbirth, virginity and protector of young girls, bringing and relieving disease in women; she often was depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows.

The ideal of the kouros (a beardless, athletic youth), Apollo has been variously recognized as a god of music, truth and prophecy, healing, the sun and light, plague, poetry, and more. Amongst the god’s custodial charges, Apollo became associated with dominion over colonists, and as the patron defender of herds and flocks.

As the leader of the Muses (Apollon Musegetes) and director of their choir, Apollo functioned as the patron god of music and poetry. Hermes created the lyre for him, and the instrument became a common attribute of Apollo. Hymns sung to Apollo were called paeans.

In Hellenistic times, especially during the 3rd century BCE, as Apollo Helios he became identified among Greeks with Helios, Titan god of the sun, and his sister Artemis similarly equated with Selene, Titan goddess of the moon.

In Latin texts, on the other hand, Joseph Fontenrose declared himself unable to find any conflation of Apollo with Sol among the Augustan poets of the 1st century, not even in the conjurations of Aeneas and Latinus in Aeneid XII (161–215). Apollo and Helios/Sol remained separate beings in literary and mythological texts until the 3rd century CE.

The Pythia was the name of the high priestess of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi who also served as the oracle, commonly known as the Oracle of Delphi. In Greek mythology, Python was the serpent, sometimes represented as a dragon, living at the centre of the earth, believed by the ancient Greeks to be at Delphi.

Python, sometimes written Phython, presided at the Delphic oracle, which existed in the cult centre for its mother, Gaia, “Earth,” Pytho being the place name that was substituted for the earlier Krisa. Greeks considered the site to be the centre of the earth, represented by a stone, the omphalos or navel, which Python guarded.

Python became the chthonic enemy of the later Olympian deity Apollo, who slew it and took over Python’s former home and oracle. These were the most famous and revered in the ancient Greek and Roman worlds.

The motif of Chaoskampf (“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), Tarḫunz vs. Illuyanka (Hittite), Indra vs. Vritra (Vedic), Θraētaona vs. Aži Dahāka (Avestan) and Zeus vs. Typhon (Greek) among others. Non-Indo-European examples of this trope are Susano’o vs. Yamata no Orochi (Japanese) and Mwindo vs. Kirimu (African).

In the religion of ancient Babylon, Tiamat is a primordial goddess of the salt sea, mating with Abzû, the god of fresh water, to produce younger gods. She is the symbol of the chaos of primordial creation. She is referred to as a woman, and described as the glistening one.

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

Puruli was a Hattian spring festival, held at Nerik, dedicated to the earth goddess Hannahanna (Hebat), 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.

Akitu or Akitum (“the barley-cutting”, “barley-sowing” or “head of the year”) was a spring festival in ancient Mesopotamia. The festival has played a pivotal role in the development of theories of religion, myth and ritual, yet the purpose of the festival remains a point of contention.

The name is from the Sumerian for “barley”, originally marking two festivals celebrating the beginning of each of the two half-years of the Sumerian calendar, marking the sowing of barley in autumn and the cutting of barley in spring. In Babylonian religion it came to be dedicated to Marduk’s victory over Tiamat.

The First Point of Aries, also known as the Cusp of Aries, is the location of the vernal equinox, and is named for the constellation of Aries. It is one of the two points on the celestial sphere at which the celestial equator meets the ecliptic plane, the other being the First Point of Libra, located exactly 180° from it.

Over its year-long journey through the constellations, the Sun crosses the celestial equator from south to north at the First Point of Aries, and from north to south at the First Point of Libra. The First Point of Aries is considered to be the celestial “prime meridian” from which right ascensions are calculated.

The March equinox was chosen as the point to consider the position of the sun in the heavens rather than the northern hemisphere’s autumnal equinox six months later as this was the day before a major festival, Hilaria, and marked the sowing or first growth/blossoming of trees and summer crops.

As opposed to the Summer and Winter Solstices, the equinoxes occur on the day on which the sun and other stars appear in the sky not at their extremes of north declination, nor at south declination.

The naming of Aries is late in the Babylonian zodiac where the equinox was in its earliest tradition marked as in the early Middle Bronze Age by actual coincidence with the Pleiades. The time also corresponds to the time of castration of male calves, mules and donkeys, Sanguia on the vernal equinox and marked the start of spring proper.

The First Point of Aries is so called because, when Hipparchus defined it in 130 BCE, it was located in the western extreme of the constellation of Aries, near its border with Pisces and the star γ Arietis. Due to the Sun’s eastward movement across the sky throughout the year, this western end of Aries was the point at which the Sun entered the constellation, hence the name First Point of Aries.

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