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

    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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The sun god and the thunder god

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on October 21, 2018


In Germanic mythology, Týr (Old Norse), Tíw (Old English), and Ziu (Old High German) is a god. Stemming from the Proto-Germanic deity *Tīwaz and ultimately from the Proto-Indo-European deity *Dyeus, little information about the god survives beyond Old Norse sources.

Due to the etymology of the god’s name and the shadowy presence of the god in the extant Germanic corpus, some scholars propose that Týr may have once held a more central place among the deities of early Germanic mythology.

Outside of its application as a theonym, the Old Norse common noun týr means ‘(a) god’ (plural tívar). In turn, the theonym Týr may be understood to mean “the god”. The god is the namesake of the Tiwaz rune, a letter of the runic alphabete, the indigenous alphabets of the ancient Germanic peoples prior to their adaptation of the Latin alphabet, corresponding to the Latin letter T.

By way of the process of interpretatio germanica, the deity is the namesake of Tuesday (‘Týr’s day’) in Germanic languages, including English. Germanic weekday names for ‘Tuesday’ that do not transparently extend from the above lineage may also ultimately refer to the deity, including modern German Dienstag, Middle Dutch dinxendach and dingsdag.

These forms may refer to the god’s associate with the thing, a traditional legal assembly common among the ancient Germanic peoples with which the god is associated. This may be either due to another form of the god’s name (Proto-Germanic *Þingsaz, meaning ‘god of the thing’) or may simply be due to the god’s strong association with the assembly.

Interpretatio romana, in which Romans interpret other gods as forms of their own, generally renders the god as Mars, the ancient Roman war god, and it is through that lens that most Latin references to the god occur.

For example, the god may be referenced as Mars Thingsus (Latin ‘Mars of the Thing’) on 3rd century Latin inscription, reflecting a strong association with the Germanic thing, a legislative body among the ancient Germanic peoples still in use among some of its modern descendants.

Tinia (also Tin, Tinh, Tins or Tina) was the god of the sky and the highest god in Etruscan mythology, equivalent to the Roman Jupiter and the Greek Zeus. He was the husband of Thalna or Uni, a divine figure usually regarded as a goddess of childbirth, friendship and prophecy, and the father of Hercle.

Uni was identified by the Etruscans as their equivalent of Juno in Roman mythology and Hera in Greek mythology. She  appears in the Etruscan text on the Pyrgi Tablets as the translation of the Phoenician goddess Astarte, who is recorded in Akkadian as As-dar-tu, the masculine form of Ishtar.

Tiwaz (Stem: Tiwad-) was the Luwian Sun-god. He was among the most important gods of the Luwians. The name of the Proto-Anatolian Sun god can be reconstructed as *Diuod-, which derives from the Proto-Indo-European word *dei- (“shine”, “glow”). This name is cognate with the Greek Zeus, Latin Jupiter, and Norse Tyr.

In Bronze Age texts, Tiwaz is often referred to as “Father” and once as “Great Tiwaz”, and invoked along with the “Father gods”. His Bronze Age epithet, “Tiwaz of the Oath” indicates that he was an oath-god. The Luwian verb tiwadani- (“to curse”) is derived from Tiwaz’s name.

While Tiwaz (and the related Palaic god Tiyaz) retained a promenant role in the pantheon, the Hittite cognate deity, Šiwat was largely eclipsed by the Sun goddess of Arinna, becoming a god of the day, especially the day of death.

Šivat (“day”) was a Hittite god who embodied the day. He was also written with the Sumerogram dUD “Deity day” or more frequently “Deity auspicious day”, the latter was obviously a euphemism for the day of death. Šivat or the “auspicious day” was invoked during burial rites together with the “soul of the deceased”, the ancestors (Hittite ḫuḫḫeš ḫanneš, ie “grandfathers grandmothers”).

The Luwians worshipped the old Proto-Indo-European Sun god Tiwaz while the Hittites worshipped the Sun goddess of Arinna, who became the chief goddess and wife of the weather god Tarḫunna in Hittite mythology.

The Sun goddess of Arinna and the weather god Tarḫunna formed a pair and together they occupied the highest position in the Hittite state’s pantheon. She protected the Hittite kingdom and was called the “Queen of all lands.” Her cult centre was the sacred city of Arinna.

In addition to the Sun goddess of Arinna, the Hittites also worshipped the Sun goddess of the Earth and the Sun god of Heaven. The Sun god of Heaven was a Hittite solar deity. He was the second-most worshipped solar deity of the Hittites, after the Sun goddess of Arinna. The Sun god of Heaven was identified with the Hurrian solar deity, Šimige.

From the time of Tudḫaliya III, the Sun god of Heaven was the protector of the Hittite king, indicated by a winged solar disc on the royal seals, and was the god of the kingdom par excellence.

From the time of Suppiluliuma I (and probably earlier), the Sun god of Heaven played an important role as the foremost oath god in interstate treaties. As a result of the influence of the Mesopotamian Sun god Šamaš, the Sun god of Heaven also gained an important role as the god of law, legality, and truth.

The Sun goddess of the Earth was the Hittite goddess of the underworld. Her Hurrian equivalent was Allani and her Sumerian/Akkadian equivalent was Ereshkigal, both of which had a marked influence on the Hittite goddess from an early date. In the Neo-Hittite period, the Hattian underworld god, Lelwani was also syncretised with her.

In Hittite texts she is referred to as the “Queen of the Underworld” and possesses a palace with a vizier and servants. The Sun goddess of the Earth, as a personification of the chthonic aspects of the Sun, had the task of opening the doors to the Underworld. She was also the source of all evil, impurity, and sickness on Earth. She is mostly attested in curses, oaths, and purification rituals.

In the Hittite and Hurrian religions the Sun goddess of the Earth played an important role in the death cult and was understood to be the ruler of the world of the dead. For the Luwians there is a Bronze Age source which refers to the “Sun god of the Earth: “If he is alive, may Tiwaz release him, if he is dead, may the Sun god of the Earth release him”.

Ḫannaḫanna (from Hittite ḫanna- “grandmother”) is a Hurrian Mother Goddess related to or influenced by the Sumerian goddess Inanna. She was identified with the Hurrian mother goddess Hebat, known as “Mother of all living” and “Queen of the deities”.

The Hittite sun goddess Arinniti, the Sun-goddess of Arinna, was assimilated with Hebat. She is likely to have had a later counterpart in the Phrygian goddess Cybele. Inara, in Hittite–Hurrian mythology, was the goddess of the wild animals of the steppe.

Inara corresponds to the “potnia theron” of Greek mythology, better known as Artemis, while her brother Sarruma is similar to Apollo. Inara’s mother is probably Hebat and her father is the Storm-god Teshub/Tarhunt.

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

In the cult of the goddess Ḫuwaššanna he is called together with the fate goddesses Gulšeš and Ḫarištašši. The latter belongs to the family and family deities, so that there is a cultic connection between birth, fate and death.

In the city of Tauriša, the “auspicious day” is called together with the “little place”, probably an expression for the grave, and the “time of separation”, the hour of death. In hattic environment it corresponds to Izzištanu, a word formation from hattisch izzu (“auspicious, kind”) and eštan (“sun, day”).

Utu later worshipped by East Semitic peoples as Shamash, is the ancient Mesopotamian god of the sun, justice, morality, and truth, and the twin brother of the goddess Inanna, the Queen of Heaven.

He was believed to ride through the heavens in his sun chariot and see all things that happened in the day. He was the enforcer of divine justice and was thought to aid those in distress. In the Hurro-Akkadian bilingual Weidner god list, Utu is equated with the Hurrian sun-god Šimigi.

The Sumerians believed that, as he rode through heaven, Utu saw everything that happened in the world. Alongside his sister Inanna, Utu was the enforcer of divine justice. At night, Utu was believed to travel through the Underworld as he journeyed to the east in preparation for the sunrise.

One Sumerian literary work refers to Utu illuminating the Underworld and dispensing judgement there and Shamash Hymn 31 states that Utu serves as a judge of the dead in the Underworld alongside the malku, kusu, and the Anunnaki. On his way through the Underworld, Utu was believed to pass through the garden of the sun-god, which contained trees that bore precious gems as fruit.

Utu’s main symbol was the solar disc, a circle with four points in each of the cardinal directions and four wavy, diagonal lines emanating from the circle between each point. This symbol represented the light, warmth, and power of the sun.

In the Sumerian King List, one of the early kings of Uruk is described as “the son of Utu” and Utu seems to have served as a special protector to several of that city’s later kings. According to Sumerian mythology, he helped protect Dumuzid when the galla demons tried to drag him to the Underworld and he appeared to the hero Ziusudra after the Great Flood. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, he helps Gilgamesh defeat the ogre Humbaba.

The authors of the Hebrew Bible generally attempt to portray the sun in a non-anthropomorphic manner, sometimes using it as a symbol of Yahweh’s power. The Hebrew word for “sun”, šapaš or šemeš, is often substituted for euphemisms, such as the word or, meaning “light”.

These authors appear to have made a conscious effort to avoid implications of sun worship, even of a Yahwistic variety, at all costs. However, the Woman of the Apocalypse in the Book of Revelation, may directly allude to ancient Near Eastern sun goddesses.

His wife was the goddess Sherida, later known in Akkadian as Aya, a mother goddess, consort of the sun god Shamash. Sherida was a goddess of beauty, fertility, and sexual love, possibly because light was seen as inherently beautiful, or because of the sun’s role in promoting agricultural fertility.

As the Sumerian pantheon formalized, Utu became the primary sun god, and Sherida was syncretized into a subordinate role as an aspect of the sun alongside other less powerful solar deities and took on the role of Utu’s consort.

They were believed to have two offspring: the goddess Kittu, whose name means “Truth”, and the god Misharu, whose name means “Justice”. By the time of the Old Babylonian Period (1830–1531 BC), Sherida, and consequently Utu, was associated with nadītu, an order of cloistered women who devoted their lives to the gods.

When the Semitic Akkadians moved into Mesopotamia, their pantheon became syncretized to the Sumerian. Inanna to Ishtar, Nanna to Sin, Utu to Shamash, etc. The minor Mesopotamian sun goddess Aya became syncretized into Sherida during this process.

Aya is Akkadian for “dawn”, and by the Akkadian period she was firmly associated with the rising sun and with sexual love and youth. The Babylonians sometimes referred to her as kallatu (the bride), and as such she was known as the wife of Shamash.

By the Neo-Babylonian period at the latest (and possibly much earlier), Shamash and Aya were associated with a practice known as Hasadu, which is loosely translated as a “sacred marriage.” This ceremony was also practiced by the cults of Marduk with Sarpanitum, Nabu with Tashmetum, and Anu with Antu.

Nergal, Nirgal, or Nirgali (Sumerian: dGÌR-UNUG-GAL) was a deity worshipped throughout Mesopotamia (Akkad, Assyria, and Babylonia) with the main seat of his worship at Cuthah represented by the mound of Tell-Ibrahim. Other names for him are Erra and Irra. He is a son of Enlil and Ninlil, along with Nanna and Ninurta.

Nergal seems to be in part a solar deity, sometimes identified with Shamash, but only representative of a certain phase of the sun. Portrayed in hymns and myths as a god of war and pestilence, Nergal seems to represent the sun of noontime and of the summer solstice that brings destruction, high summer being the dead season in the Mesopotamian annual cycle.

He has also been called “the king of sunset”. 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. In this capacity he has associated with him a goddess Allatu or Ereshkigal, though at one time Allatu may have functioned as the sole mistress of Aralu, ruling in her own person.

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

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

Dīs Pater was a Roman god of the underworld, later subsumed by Pluto or Hades (Hades was Greek). Originally a chthonic god of riches, fertile agricultural land, and underground mineral wealth, he was later commonly equated with the Roman deities Pluto and Orcus, becoming an underworld deity.

His name is most often taken to mean “Rich Father” and is perhaps a direct translation of Plouton (“wealthy”). Alternatively, he may be a secondary reflex of the same god as Jupiter, the Proto-Indo-European Dyeus Ph₂ter or “Zeus-Pater”.

In being conflated with Pluto, Dīs Pater took on some of the Greek mythological attributes of Pluto/Hades, being one of the three sons of Saturn (Greek: Cronus) and Ops (Greek: Rhea), along with Jupiter and Neptune. He ruled the underworld and the dead beside his wife, Proserpina (Greek: Persephone). In literature, Dīs Pater was commonly used as a symbolic and poetic way of referring to death itself.

The thunder god

Although some of the more iconic reflexes of Dyeus are storm deities, such as Zeus and Jupiter, this is thought to be a late development exclusive to Mediterranean traditions, probably derived from the god of thunder or the oak. The deity’s original domain was over the daylight sky, and indeed reflexes emphasise this connection to light.

Hadad (Ugaritic: Haddu), Adad, Haddad (Akkadian) or Iškur (Sumerian) was the storm and rain god in the Northwest Semitic and ancient Mesopotamian religions. From the Levant Hadad got introduced to Mesopotamia by the Amorites, who identified him with their god Amurru or Martu, and became known as the Akkadian (Assyrian-Babylonian) god Adad.

Though originating in northern Mesopotamia, Adad was identified by the same Sumerogram IM that designated Iškur in the south – the same symbol used for the Hurrian god Teshub. His worship became widespread in Mesopotamia after the First Babylonian dynasty.

The form Iškur appears in the list of gods found at Shuruppak but was of far less importance, probably partly because storms and rain were scarce in Sumer and agriculture there depended on irrigation instead. The gods Enlil and Ninurta also had storm god features that decreased Iškur’s distinctiveness. He sometimes appears as the assistant or companion of one or the other of the two.

A text dating from the reign of Ur-Ninurta characterizes Adad/Iškur as both threatening in his stormy rage and generally life-giving and benevolent. In the region of Mari his destructive, stormy character and his role as a fearsome warrior deity was emphasized in contrast to Iškur’s more peaceful and pastoral character.

When Enki distributed the destinies, he made Iškur inspector of the cosmos. In one litany, Iškur is proclaimed again and again as “great radiant bull, your name is heaven” and also called son of Anu, lord of Karkara; twin-brother of Enki, lord of abundance, lord who rides the storm, lion of heaven.

He is sometimes described as the son of the moon god Nanna and his consort Ningal (NIN.GAL, “Great Lady/Queen”), a goddess of reeds in the Sumerian mythology, and the daughter of Enki and Ningikurga. He is the brother of the sun god Utu/Shamash and Inanna/Ishtar, who is associated with love, beauty, sex, desire, fertility, war, justice, and political power.

Iškur is also sometimes described as the son of Enlil. The myth of Enlil and Ninlil is about Enlil’s serial seduction of the goddess Ninlil in various guises, resulting in the conception of the moon-god Nanna and the Underworld deities Nergal, Ninazu, and Enbilulu. Ninurta was regarded as the son of the chief god Enlil and Ninhursag, but sometimes Enlil and Ninlil.

Adad/Iškur’s consort (both in early Sumerian and the much later Assyrian texts) was Shala, a goddess of grain and the emotion of compassion, who is also sometimes associated with the fertility god Dagān. 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 deities.

She was also called Gubarra in the earliest texts. The fire god Gibil, who later developed into the Akkadian god Gerra, is variously described as the son of An and Ki or An and Shala, and sometimes as the son of Iškur and Shala.

In some versions of the Enûma Eliš Gibil is said to maintain the sharp point of weapons, have broad wisdom, and that his mind is “so vast that all the gods, all of them, cannot fathom it”. Some versions state Gibil, as lord of the fire and the forge, also possesses wisdom of metallurgy.

In ancient depictions, she carries a double-headed mace or scimitar embellished with lion heads. Sometimes she is depicted as being borne atop one or two lionesses. She is associated with the constellation Virgo and vestiges of symbolism associated with her have persisted in representations of the constellation to current times, such as the ear of grain, even as the deity name changed from culture to culture.

Adad’s/Ishkur’s association with the sun-god, Shamash, due to the natural combination of the two deities who alternate in the control of nature, leads to imbuing him with some of the traits belonging to a solar deity. Shamash and Adad became in combination the gods of oracles and of divination in general.

Whether the will of the gods is determined through the inspection of the liver of the sacrificial animal through observing the action of oil bubbles in a basin of water or through the observation of the movements of the heavenly bodies it is Shamash and Adad who, in the ritual connected with divination, are invariably invoked.

Similarly in the annals and votive inscriptions of the kings, when oracles are referred to, Shamash and Adad are always named as the gods addressed, and their ordinary designation in such instances is bele biri (“lords of divination”).

Adad/Ishkur was often simply called Baʿal (Lord), but this title was also used for other gods. The bull was the symbolic animal of Hadad. He was equated with the Greek god Zeus, the Roman god Jupiter, and the Egyptian god Amun.

Hurrian / Armenian mythology

Teshub (also written Teshup or Tešup; cuneiform IM; hieroglyphic Luwian (DEUS) TONITRUS, read as Tarhunzas) was the Hurrian god of sky and storm. Taru was the name of a similar Hattic Storm God, whose mythology and worship as a primary deity continued and evolved through descendant Luwian and Hittite cultures.

In these two, Taru was known as Tarhun / Tarhunt- / Tarhuwant- / Tarhunta, names derived from the Anatolian root *tarh” to defeat, conquer”. Taru/ Tarhun/ Tarhunt was ultimately assimilated into and identified with the Hurrian Teshub around the time of the religious reforms of Muwatalli II, the ruler of the Hittite New Kingdom in the early 13th century BC.

These reforms can generally be categorized as an official incorporation of Hurrian deities into the Hittite pantheon, with a smaller number of important Hurrian gods (like Teshub) being explicitly identified with preexisting major Hittite deities (like Taru).

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.

He was often depicted as a man standing on a bull, holding a handful of thunderbolts. His wife was the goddess Huba, who was the counterpart of the Hurrian goddess Hebat. In Urartian art he is depicted standing on a bull.

In 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. Myths also exist of his conflict with the sea creature (possibly a snake or serpent) Hedammu. Puruli was a Hattian spring festival 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. Also compared are the Canaanite Poem of Baal and Psalms 93 and 29.

Teshub reappears in the post-Hurrian cultural successor kingdom of Ararat (Urartu) as the weather-god Theispas (also known as Teisheba or Teišeba) of Kumenu, one of their chief gods, notably the god of storms and thunder. He was also sometimes the god of war.

Kummanni was the name of the main center the Anatolian kingdom of Kizzuwatna. It was the major cult center of the Hurrian chief deity, Tešup. Its Hurrian name Kummeni simply translates as “The Shrine.”

Its location is uncertain, but is believed to be near the classical settlement of Comana in Cappadocia. Recent research make a location in Plain Cilicia more likely, presumably at Sirkeli Höyük. The city persisted into the Early Iron Age. It appears as Kisuatni in Assyrian records. It was located in the east of Que, the successor of Kizzuwatna.

The ancient Araratian cities of Teyseba and Teishebaini were named after Theispas. He is a counterpart to the Assyrian god Adad, the Vedic God Indra, and the Hurrian god, Teshub. He formed part of a triad along with Khaldi of Ardini (Muṣaṣir).and Shivini of Tushpa, the 9th-century BC capital of Urartu, later becoming known as Van which is derived from Biainili the native name of Urartu.

Shivini, which is Utu in Sumeria, Shamash in Assyria, Shiva in Hinduism, Mithra in Mithraism, Ra in Egypt and called Artinis by the Armenians, was a solar god in the mythology of the Armenian kingdom of Urartu. He was depicted as a man on his knees, holding up a solar disc. His wife was most likely a goddess called Tushpuea who is listed as the third goddess on the Mheri-Dur inscription.

Ḫaldi was a warrior god to whom the kings of Urartu would pray for victories in battle. Of all the gods of the Urartian pantheon, the most inscriptions are dedicated to him. His wife was the goddess Arubani, the Urartian’s goddess of fertility and art. He was portrayed as a man with or without wings, standing on a lion. Some sources claim that the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation, Hayk, is derived from Ḫaldi.

The oak

Another name of the Indo-European god of thunder or the oak may be reconstructed as *perkwunos or *perkunos. The labiovelar is reconstructed due to a Centum word for “oak”, “coniferous tree”, or “mountain”, “coniferous mountain forest”, *perkwus.

Here also, the labiovelar is non-trivial, and indeed singular in the sequence *-kwu-, its justification being in Latin quercus “oak”, the result of an assimilatory Italo-Celtic sound law changing *p…kw to *kw…kw (compare quinque, Irish cóic vs. Sanskrit pañca “five”; coquo vs. Sanskrit pacati “to cook”). Celtic *Ercunia, if cognate, did not partake in the assimilation, advising towards a cautious reconstruction of *perk(w)us.

*perk(w)unos, then, is the god of the *perk(w)us, comparable to Germanic *Wodanaz being the god of the *wōþuz, by virtue of the same suffix *-no-. The original meaning of this u-stem *perkwu- appears to be concept of an oak, a coniferous forest, a mountain forest, or a wooded mountain: “oak”: Latin quercus, Old High German fereheih “oak”, Celtic Hercynia silva.

The oak is quite a common motif in myths about Perkūnas. Cognates include Sanskrit parkaṭī “fig tree”, the Venetic and Celtiberian ethnonyms Quarquēni and Querquerni, the Ligurian Nymphis Percernibus, Old Norse fjörr “tree”, Anglo-Saxon furh (Modern English fir), Old Norse fura, Old High German forha (Modern German Föhre) “pine tree”, Old Norse fyri, Old High German forh-ist (Modern German Forst) “pine forest”, Old High German Fergunna (the Erzgebirge), Langobardic Fairkuna, Anglo-Saxon firgen “wooded height” and Gothic fairguni “mountain”.

A possibly related word *peru-r/n- for “rock” or “mountain” is reconstructed from Hittite peruna, “rock”, Sanskrit parvata, “mountain” (Parvati, daughter of Himavant), Thracian per(u), “rock”.

The association with oaks can be explained by the frequency with which tall trees are struck by lightning. This is reflected in two beliefs, one being that the Norse god Thor could strike enemies hiding under an oak tree, but not under the smaller beech; the other that oak trees contained a fire within them that lightning could release (or vice versa, that the lightning transferred fire into the tree that explained why wood was effective fuel).

Fittingly, there was a sanctuary to Perun (now a monastery) located on a height called Perynь near Novgorod, on the northern shore of Lake Ilmen, the source of the Volkhov River. There is a Pirin mountain range is in south-western Bulgaria.

In Slavic mythology, Perun is the highest god of the pantheon and the god of thunder and lightning. His other attributes were fire, mountains, wind, the oak, iris, eagle, firmament (in Indo-European languages, this was joined with the notion of the sky of stone), horses and carts, weapons (hammer, axe (Axe of Perun), and arrow), and war. He was first associated with weapons made of stone and later with those of metal.

As seen from the cognates above, the name of the thunder god is only attested in Baltic, Slavic, and Germanic languages, but mythological connections of the thunderer with oaks or wooded mountains may link to the Proto-Indo-European word.

Further etymological connections were hypothesized with a verbal root *per- “to strike”, in reference to the thunderbolt and the violent nature of a thunder god. The name Parjanya itself could also be derived from *per-, though it cannot be strictly cognate with *perk(w)unos, since Old Indic j does not reflect PIE *kʷ.

A closer relationship of the verbal root to the theonym is not demonstrable, because the *-kwu- extension is not otherwise attested as an Indo-European suffix, and because of the semantic distance between “slaying” and “tree” or “mountain”.

According to Julius Pokorny, Russian Perunъ “thunder god” and perun “thunderbolt” which likewise lack the velar element are indeed influenced by the root discussed, the activity of “striking down” being associated with the Balto-Slavic theonym by popular etymology.

In Greek mythology, the oak is the tree sacred to Zeus, king of the gods. In Zeus’s oracle in Dodona, Epirus, the sacred oak was the centerpiece of the precinct, and the priests would divine the pronouncements of the god by interpreting the rustling of the oak’s leaves.

In Baltic and Slavic mythology, the oak is the sacred tree of Latvian Pērkons, Lithuanian Perkūnas, Prussian Perkūns and Slavic Perun, the god of thunder and one of the most important deities in the Baltic and Slavic pantheons.

In Celtic polytheism, the name of the oak tree was part of the Proto-Celtic word for ‘druid’: *derwo-weyd- > *druwid- ; however, Proto-Celtic *derwo- (and *dru-) can also be adjectives for ‘strong’ and ‘firm’, so Ranko Matasovic interprets that *druwid- may mean ‘strong knowledge’.

As in other Indo-European faiths, Taranis, being a thunder god, was associated with the oak tree. The Indo-Europeans worshiped the oak and connected it with a thunder or lightning god; “tree” and drus may also be cognate with “Druid,” the Celtic priest to whom the oak was sacred.

There has even been a study that shows that oaks are more likely to be struck by lightning than any other tree of the same height. In Norse mythology, the oak was sacred to the thunder god, Thor. Thor’s Oak was a sacred tree of the Germanic Chatti tribe.

In the Bible, the oak tree at Shechem is the site where Jacob buries the foreign gods of his people (Gen. 35:4) . In addition, Joshua erects a stone under an oak tree as the first covenant of the Lord (Josh. 24.25–7). In Isaiah 61, the prophet refers to the Israelites as “Oaks of Righteousness.” Absalom’s long hair (2 Samuel 18:9) gets caught in an oak tree, and allows Joab to kill him.

The badnjak is central tradition in Serbian Orthodox Church Christmas celebration where young and straight oak is ceremonially felled early on the morning of Christmas Eve.

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