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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Kish: Kubaba (Cybele) and Zababa (Sabazios)

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on December 21, 2018

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Enki / Paradise / Kish

Enki and Ninhursag and the Creation of Life and Sickness

…. Ninhursag relents and takes Enki’s Ab (water, or semen) into her body, and gives birth to gods of healing of each part of the body: Abu for the jaw, Nintul for the hip, Ninsutu for the tooth, Ninkasi for the mouth, Dazimua for the side, Enshagag for the limbs.

The last one, Ninti (Lady Rib), is also a pun on Lady Life, a title of Ninhursag herself. The story thus symbolically reflects the way in which life is brought forth through the addition of water to the land, and once it grows, water is required to bring plants to fruit. It also counsels balance and responsibility, nothing to excess.

Ninti, the title of Ninhursag, also means “the mother of all living”, and was a title later given to the Hurrian goddess Kheba. This is also the title given in the Bible to Eve, the Hebrew and Aramaic Ḥawwah, 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.

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Assyrian flag

Kish (Sumerian: Kiš; Akkadian: kiššatu) was an ancient tell (hill city) of Sumer in Mesopotamia, considered to have been located near the modern Tell al-Uhaymir in the Babil Governorate of Iraq, east of Babylon and 80 km south of Baghdad.

Kish was occupied from the Jemdet Nasr period (c. 3100 BC), gaining prominence as one of the pre-eminent powers in the region during the early dynastic period.

The Sumerian king list states that Kish was the first city to have kings following the deluge, beginning with Jushur. Jushur’s successor is called Kullassina-bel, but this is actually a sentence in Akkadian meaning “All of them were lord”. Thus, some scholars have suggested that this may have been intended to signify the absence of a central authority in Kish for a time.

The names of the next nine kings of Kish preceding Etana are all Akkadian words for animals, e.g. Zuqaqip “scorpion”. The East Semitic nature of these and other early names associated with Kish reveals that its population had a strong Semitic (Akkadian speaking) component from the dawn of recorded history. Ignace Gelb identified Kish as the center of the earliest East Semitic culture which he calls the Kish civilization.

The twelfth king of Kish appearing on the Sumerian king list, Etana, is noted as “the shepherd, who ascended to heaven and consolidated all the foreign countries”. Although his reign has yet to be archaeologically attested, his name is found in later legendary tablets, and Etana is sometimes regarded as the first king and founder of Kish.

The twenty-first king of Kish on the list, Enmebaragesi, who is said to have captured the weapons of Elam, is the first name confirmed by archaeological finds from his reign. He is also known through other literary references, in which he and his son Aga of Kish are portrayed as contemporary rivals of Dumuzid, the Fisherman, and Gilgamesh, early rulers of Uruk.

The Third Dynasty of Kish is unique in that it begins with a woman, previously a tavern keeper, Kubau, as “king”. She was later deified as the goddess Kheba. Shrines in honour of Kubaba spread throughout Mesopotamia. In the Hurrian area she may be identified with Kebat, or Hepat, one title of the Hurrian Mother goddess Hannahannah (from Hurrian hannah, “mother”). Abdi-Heba was the palace mayor, ruling Jerusalem at the time of the Amarna letters (1350 BC).

Ḫepat, also transcribed, Khepat, was the mother goddess of the Hurrians, known as “the mother of all living”. She is also a Queen of the deities. It is thought that Hebat may have had a Southern Mesopotamian origin, being the deification of Kubaba, the founder and first ruler of the Third Dynasty of Kish.

The Hittite sun goddess Arinniti was later assimilated with Hebat. The mother goddess is likely to have had a later counterpart in the Phrygian goddess Cybele (Phrygian: Matar Kubeleya, perhaps “Mountain Mother”).

Cybele is an Anatolian mother goddess; she may have a possible precursor in the earliest neolithic at Çatalhöyük in Anatolia, where statues of plump women, sometimes sitting, have been found in excavations dated to the 6th millennium BC and identified by some as a mother goddess. She is Phrygia’s only known goddess, and was probably its state deity.

Her Phrygian cult was adopted and adapted by Greek colonists of Asia Minor and spread to mainland Greece and its more distant western colonies around the 6th century BC. In Greece, Cybele is associated with mountains, town and city walls, fertile nature, and wild animals, especially lions.

Some city-states, notably Athens, evoked her as a protector, but her most celebrated Greek rites and processions show her as an essentially foreign, exotic mystery-goddess who arrives in a lion-drawn chariot to the accompaniment of wild music, wine, and a disorderly, ecstatic following. In Rome, Cybele was known as Magna Mater (“Great Mother”). Roman mythographers reinvented her as a Trojan goddess, and thus an ancestral goddess of the Roman people by way of the Trojan prince Aeneas.

In Greece, Cybele met with a mixed reception. She was partially assimilated to aspects of the Earth-goddess Gaia, her possibly Minoan equivalent Rhea, and the harvest–mother goddess Demeter. In ancient Greek religion and mythology, Demeter is the goddess of the grain, agriculture, harvest, growth, and nourishment, who presided over grains and the fertility of the earth.

Her cult titles include Sito, “she of the Grain”, as the giver of food or grain, and Thesmophoros (thesmos: “divine order” or “unwritten law”; phoros: “bringer” or “bearer”), “Law-Bringer”, as a mark of the civilized existence of agricultural society. Though Demeter is often described simply as the goddess of the harvest, she presided also over the sacred law, and the cycle of life and death.

Demeter and her daughter Persephone were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries that predated the Olympian pantheon. In the Linear B Mycenean Greek tablets of c. 1400–1200 BC found at Pylos, the “two queens and the king” may be related with Demeter, Persephone and Poseidon. Her Roman equivalent is Ceres.

Poseidon was one of the Twelve Olympians in ancient Greek religion and myth. He was god of the Sea and other waters; of earthquakes; and of horses. In pre-Olympian Bronze Age Greece, he was venerated as a chief deity at Pylos and Thebes. His Roman equivalent is Neptune, the god of freshwater and the sea in Roman religion. Neptune was likely associated with fresh water springs before the sea.

Like Poseidon, Neptune was worshipped by the Romans also as a god of horses, under the name Neptunus Equester, a patron of horse-racing. In the Greek-influenced tradition, Neptune was the brother of Jupiter and Pluto; the brothers presided over the realms of Heaven, the earthly world, and the Underworld.

The etymology of Latin Neptunus is unclear and disputed. The ancient grammarian Varro derived the name from nuptus i.e. “covering” (opertio), with a more or less explicit allusion to the nuptiae, “marriage of Heaven and Earth”.

Many of the cults of Cybele included rites to a divine Phrygian castrate shepherd-consort Attis. Attis was also a Phrygian god of vegetation. In his self-mutilation, death and resurrection he represents the fruits of the earth which die in winter only to rise again in the spring.

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

The cult of Inanna and Dumuzid may have been introduced to the Kingdom of Judah during the reign of King Manasseh. Ezekiel 8:14 mentions Adonis under his earlier East Semitic name Tammuz and describes a group of women mourning Tammuz’s death while sitting near the north gate of the Temple in Jerusalem.

The Church Father Jerome records in a letter dated to the year 395 AD that “Bethlehem… belonging now to us… was overshadowed by a grove of Tammuz, that is to say, Adonis, and in the cave where once the infant Christ cried, the lover of Venus was lamented.” This same cave later became the site of the Church of the Nativity.

During the sixth century AD, some early Christians in the Middle East borrowed elements from poems of Ishtar mourning over the death of Tammuz into their own retellings of the Virgin Mary mourning over the death of her son Jesus.

Afterwards, although its military and economic power was diminished, Kish retained a strong political and symbolic significance. Just as with Nippur to the south, control of Kish was a prime element in legitimizing dominance over the north of Mesopotamia (Assyria, Subartu).

Because of the city’s symbolic value, strong rulers later claimed the traditional title “King of Kish”, even if they were from Akkad, Ur, Assyria, Isin, Larsa or Babylon. One of the earliest to adopt this title upon subjecting Kish to his empire was King Mesannepada of Ur.

Sargon of Akkad, the founder of the Akkadian Empire, came from the area nearby Kish, called Azupiranu. He would later declare himself the king of Kish, as an attempt to signify his connection to the religiously important area.

In Akkadian times the city’s patron deity was Zababa (or Zamama), along with his wife, the goddess Inanna. Sabazios is the horseman and sky father god of the Phrygians and Thracians. In Indo-European languages, such as Phrygian, the -zios element in his name derives from dyeus, the common precursor of Latin deus (‘god’) and Greek Zeus.

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

His conflicts with the indigenous Mother Goddess, whose creature was the Lunar Bull, may be surmised in the way that Sabazios’ horse places a hoof on the head of a bull, in a Roman relief at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

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

The Thracian horseman (also “Thracian Rider” or “Thracian Heros”) is the name given to a recurring motif of a horseman depicted in reliefs of the Hellenistic and Roman periods in the Balkans (Thrace, Macedonia, Moesia, roughly from the 3rd century BC to the 3rd century AD).

In the Roman era, the “Thracian horseman” iconography is further syncretised. The rider is now sometimes shown as approaching a tree entwined by a serpent, or as approaching a goddess. These motifs are partly of Greco-Roman and partly of possible Scythian origin. The motif of a horseman with his right arm raised advancing towards a seated female figure is related to Scythian iconographic tradition. It is frequently found in Bulgaria, associated with Asclepius and Hygeia.

The motif of a standing goddess flanked by two horsemen, identified as Artemis flanked by the Dioscuri, and a tree entwined by a serpent flanked by the Dioscuri on horseback is transformed into a motif of a single horseman approaching the goddess or the tree. Related to the Dioscuri motif is the so-called “Danubian Horsemen” motif of two horsemen flanking standing goddess.

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. 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. In the second Chaoskampf Tiamat is considered the monstrous embodiment of primordial chaos.

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

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

Akitu or Akitum (Sumerian: ezen á.ki.tum, akiti-šekinku, á.ki.ti.še.gur₁₀.ku₅, lit. “the barley-cutting”, akiti-šununum, lit. “barley-sowing”; Akkadian: akitu or rêš-šattim, “head of the year”) was a spring festival in ancient Mesopotamia.

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.

Puruli (EZEN Puruliyas) was a Hattian spring festival, held at Nerik, dedicated to the earth goddess Hannahanna, who is married to a new king. The central ritual of the Puruli festival is dedicated to the destruction of the dragon Illuyanka by the storm god Teshub. The corresponding Assyrian festival is the Akitu of the Enuma Elish. Also compared are the Canaanite Poem of Baal and Psalms 93 and 29.

Kish continued to be occupied through the pre-Babylonian, old Babylonian, Kassite, and Neo-Assyrian Empire and Neo-Babylonian periods, and into classical Seleucid times, before being abandoned.

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