Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

  • Sjur C Papazian

  • FB: Sjur Papazian

  • Recent Posts

  • Categories

  • Armenian Eternal Symbol

  • Forget-me-not

  • 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.

  • Archives

Life (A) and death (T) – Resurrection

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on December 30, 2018

Bilderesultat for letter t cross christ

Relatert bilde

Chi Rho

Ingen automatisk alternativ tekst tilgjengelig.

Alpha (Α or α) and omega (Ω or ω)

A

A (plural As, A’s, as, a’s or aes) is the first letter and the first vowel of the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. It is similar to the Ancient Greek letter alpha, from which it derives.

The earliest certain ancestor of “A” is aleph (also written ‘aleph), the first letter of the Phoenician alphabet, which consisted entirely of consonants (for that reason, it is also called an abjad to distinguish it from a true alphabet). In turn, the ancestor of aleph may have been a pictogram of an ox head in proto-Sinaitic script influenced by Egyptian hieroglyphs, styled as a triangular head with two horns extended.

By 1600 BC, the Phoenician alphabet letter had a linear form that served as the base for some later forms. Its name is thought to have corresponded closely to the Hebrew or Arabic aleph. Alalu is god in Hurrian mythology. He is considered to have housed the divine family, because he was a progenitor of the gods, and possibly the father of Earth.

Alalu was a primeval deity of the Hurrian mythology. After nine years of reign, Alalu was defeated by Anu. Alaluʻs son Kumarbi also defeated Anu, biting and swallowing his genitals, hence becoming pregnant of three gods, among which Teshub who eventually defeated him. Scholars have pointed out the similarities between the Hurrian myth and the story from Greek mythology of Uranus, Cronus, Zeus – and Mars.

O

Omega (capital: Ω, lowercase: ω; Greek ὦ, later ὦ) is the 24th and last letter of the Greek alphabet. The word literally means “great O” (ō mega, mega meaning “great”), as opposed to omicron, which means “little O” (o mikron, micron meaning “little”). As the last letter of the Greek alphabet, Omega is often used to denote the last, the end, or the ultimate limit of a set, in contrast to alpha, the first letter of the Greek alphabet.

Ninḫursaĝ was the ancient Sumerian 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”.

Sometimes her hair is depicted in an omega shape and at times she wears a horned head-dress and tiered skirt, often with bow cases at her shoulders. Frequently she carries a mace or baton surmounted by an omega motif or a derivation, sometimes accompanied by a lion cub on a leash. She is the tutelary deity to several Sumerian leaders.

Her symbol, resembling the Greek letter omega Ω, has been depicted in art from approximately 3000 BC, although more generally from the early second millennium BC. It appears on some boundary stones—on the upper tier, indicating her importance.

The omega symbol is associated with the Egyptian cow goddess Hathor, and may represent a stylized womb. The symbol appears on very early imagery from Ancient Egypt. Hathor is at times depicted on a mountain, so it may be that the two goddesses are connected.

Alpha (Α or α) and omega (Ω or ω)

Alpha (Α or α) and omega (Ω or ω) are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, and a title of Christ and God in the Book of Revelation. This pair of letters are used as Christian symbols, and are often combined with the Cross, Chi-rho, or other Christian symbols.

The term Alpha and Omega comes from the phrase “I am Alpha and Omega”, an appellation of Jesus in the Book of Revelation (verses 1:8, 21:6, and 22:13). The first part of this phrase (“I am the Alpha and Omega”) is first found in Chapter 1 verse 8 (“1v8”), and is found in every manuscript of Revelation that has 1v8.

“From aleph to taf” describes something from beginning to end, the Hebrew equivalent of the English “From A to Z.” Taw, tav, or taf is the twenty-second and last letter of the Western Semitic and Hebrew alphabets. It is believed to be derived from the Egyptian hieroglyph X, meaning “mark”. In Arabic, it is also gives rise to the derived letter Ṯāʼ. Its original sound value is /t/.

Chi Rho

A Christogram (Latin Monogramma Christi) is a monogram or combination of letters that forms an abbreviation for the name of Jesus Christ, traditionally used as a religious symbol within the Christian Church. One of the oldest Christograms is the Chi-Rho, which are the first two letters of Greek “Christ”.

The meaning “Christogram” is of uncertain origin; Millin (1817) suggests derivation from “khrēsmós” (“oracle”) specifically in the instance of the “Chrismon Sancti Ambrosii” (i.e. the “oracle of St. Ambrose), an ancient Chi-Rho symbol on a marble slab in Milan cathedral, from which the term chrismon would have been transferred to the Chi-Rho symbol in general.

Chrismon (chrismum; also chrismos, chrismus) since the 17th century has been used as a New Latin term for the Chi Rho monogram. Because the chrismon was used as a kind of “invocation” at the beginning of documents of the Merovingian period, the term also came to be used of the “cross-signatures” in early medieval charters.

Chrismon in this context may refer to the Merovingian period abbreviation I. C. N. for in Christi nomine, later (in the Carolingian period) also I. C. for in Christo, and still later (in the high medieval period) just C. for Christus.

St Cuthbert’s coffin (late 7th century) has an exceptional realisation of the Christogram written in Anglo-Saxon runes, as ᛁᚻᛋ ᛉᛈᛋ, as it were “IHS XPS”, with the chi rendered as the eolh rune (the old z or algiz rune) and the rho rendered as the p-rune.

The meaning “chrism” is attested in the 12th century, apparently by corruption of Ancient Greek “khrísma”. In antiquity, the cross, i.e. the instrument of Christ’s crucifixion (crux, stauros) was taken to be T-shaped, while the X-shape (“chiasmus”) or, less commonly, chiasm (Latin term from Greek “crossing”, from the Greek “chiázō”), had different connotations.

The most commonly encountered Christogram in English-speaking countries in modern times is the Χ (or more accurately, the Greek letter chi), representing the first letter of the word Christ, in such abbreviations as Xmas (for “Christmas”) and Xian or Xtian (for “Christian”).

The Alpha and Omega symbols may at times accompany the Chi-Rho monogram. The usurper Magnentius appears to have been the first to use the Chi-Rho monogram flanked by Alpha and Omega, on the reverse of some coins minted in 353.

X (named ex /ɛks/, plural exes) is the 24th and antepenultimate letter in the modern English alphabet and the ISO basic Latin alphabet. In Ancient Greek, ‘Χ’ and ‘Ψ’ were among several variants of the same letter, used originally for /kʰ/ and later, in western areas such as Arcadia, as a simplification of the digraph ‘ΧΣ’ for /ks/.

In the end, more conservative eastern forms became the standard of Classical Greek, and thus ‘Χ’ (Chi) stood for /kʰ/ (later /x/; palatalized to [ç] in Modern Greek before front vowels). However, the Etruscans had taken over ‘Χ’ from western Greek, and it therefore stands for /ks/ in Etruscan and Latin. The letter ‘Χ’ ~ ‘Ψ’ for /kʰ/ was a Greek addition to the alphabet, placed after the Semitic letters along with phi ‘Φ’ for /pʰ/.

Ancestors and siblings in other alphabets: Greek letter Chi, from which the following derive, Cyrillic letter Kha, Coptic letter Khe, which derives from Greek Chi, Gothic letter enguz, which derives from Greek Chi, Old Italic X, which derives from Greek Chi, and is the ancestor of modern Latin X, Runic letter Gyfu (‘gift’ or ‘generosity’), which may derive from old Italic X, Greek letter Xi, which was used in place of Chi in the Eastern (and the modern) Greek alphabets.

The IX monogram or XI monogram is a type of early Christian monogram looking like the spokes of a wheel, sometimes within a circle. The IX monogram is formed by the combination of the letter “I” or Iota for IHSOYS (Jesus in Greek) and “X” or Chi for XPISTOS (Christ in Greek). The spokes can also be stand-alone, without the circle. These monograms can often be found as ancient burial inscriptions.

Chi or X is often used to abbreviate the name Christ, as in the holiday Christmas (Xmas). When fused within a single typespace with the Greek letter Rho or P, it is called the labarum and used to represent the person of Jesus Christ.

There has been a lot of scholarly speculation on the development of the Christian cross, the letter Chi used to abbreviate the name of Christ, and the various pre-Christian symbolism associated with the chiasmus interpreted in terms of “the mystery of the pre-existent Christ”.

In Plato’s Timaeus, it is explained that the two bands which form the “world soul” (anima mundi) cross each other like the letter chi, possibly referring to the ecliptic crossing the celestial equator. Justin Martyr in the 2nd century makes explicit reference to Plato’s image in Timaeus in terms of a prefiguration of the Holy Cross.

An alternate explanation of the intersecting celestial symbol has been advanced by George Latura, claiming that Plato’s visible god in Timaeus is in fact the intersection of the Milky Way and the Zodiacal Light, a rare apparition important to pagan beliefs that Christian bishops reinvented as a Christian symbol.

The Chi Rho, also known as chrismon or sigla, is formed by superimposing the first two (capital) letters—chi and rho (ΧΡ)—of the Greek word ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ (Christos) in such a way that the vertical stroke of the rho intersects the center of the chi.

In pre-Christian times, the Chi-Rho symbol was also to mark a particularly valuable or relevant passage in the margin of a page, abbreviating chrēston (good). Some coins of Ptolemy III Euergetes (r. 246–222 BC) were marked with a Chi-Rho.

The Chi-Rho symbol was used by the Roman emperor Constantine I (r. 306–337) as part of a military standard (vexillum). Constantine’s standard was known as the Labarum. Early symbols similar to the Chi Rho were the Staurogram and the IX monogram.

An early visual representation of the connection between the Crucifixion of Jesus and his resurrection, seen in the 4th century sarcophagus of Domitilla in Rome, the use of a wreath around the Chi-Rho symbolizes the victory of the Resurrection over death.

After Constantine, the Chi-Rho became part of the official imperial insignia. Archaeologists have uncovered evidence demonstrating that the Chi-Rho was emblazoned on the helmets of some Late Roman soldiers. Coins and medallions minted during Emperor Constantine’s reign also bore the Chi-Rho. By the year 350, the Chi-Rho began to be used on Christian sarcophagi and frescoes.

In Roman Britannia, a tesselated mosaic pavement was uncovered at Hinton St. Mary, Dorset, in 1963. On stylistic grounds, it is dated to the 4th century; its central roundel represents a beardless male head and bust draped in a pallium in front of the Chi-Rho symbol, flanked by pomegranates, symbols of eternal life.

In Insular Gospel books, the beginning of Matthew 1:18, at the end of his account of the genealogy of Christ and introducing his account of the life, so representing the moment of the Incarnation of Christ, was usually marked with a heavily decorated page, where the letters of the first word “Christi” are abbreviated and written in Greek as “XPI”, and often almost submerged by decoration.

Though the letters are written one after the other and the “X” and “P” not combined in a monogram, these are known as Chi-Rho pages. The “X” was regarded as the crux decussata, a symbol of the cross; this idea is found in the works of Isidore of Seville and other patristic and Early Medieval writers.

Rho is the 17th letter of the Greek alphabet. It is derived from Phoenician letter Rēsh, the twentieth letter of the Semitic abjads. Its uppercase form uses the same glyph, Ρ, as the distinct Latin letter P; the two letters have different Unicode encodings.

The sound value of Rēsh is one of a number of rhotic consonants: usually [r] or [ɾ], but also [ʁ] or [ʀ] in Hebrew and North Mesopotamian Arabic. The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek Rho (Ρ), Etruscan, Latin R, and Cyrillic Р.

The word resh is usually assumed to have come from a pictogram of a head, ultimately reflecting Proto-Semitic *raʾ(i)š-. The word’s East Semitic cognate, rēš-, was one possible phonetic reading of the Sumerian cuneiform sign for “head” (SAG) in Sumerian.

Nin-hursag means “lady of the sacred mountain” (from Sumerian NIN “lady” and ḪAR.SAG “sacred mountain, foothill”, possibly a reference to the site of her temple, the E-Kur (House of mountain deeps) at Eridu. Her temple, the Esagila (from Sumerian E (temple) + SAG (head) + ILA (lofty)) was located on the KUR of Eridu, although she also had a temple at Kish.

Reshep

Reshep (Resh Ep) was a deity associated with plague (or a personification of plague) in ancient Canaanite religion. Rasap was also one of the chief gods of the city of Ebla having one of the four city gates named in his honor. He is attested as early as the third millennium BCE, and he was one of the most popular gods of the Near East, venerated from the Anatolia to Cyprus to Egypt.

In the texts of Ugarit to the north of Israel, Resheph is described as the gatekeeper of the sun goddess, the guardian of the the Netherworld. He is also the lord of battle, fire and diseases, which he spreads with his bow and arrows — hence his role as a warrior of pestilence in Habakkuk and the references to a bow and arrows later in the same chapter.

Resheph appears numerous times throughout the Old Testament, although it is hard to determine sometimes whether the authors had the personified deity in mind or simply the idea of “plague”. In Biblical Hebrew, resheph is a noun interpreted as “flame, lightning” but also “burning fever, plague, pestilence”. However, he is also described as the husband of Itum in connection with his power to control disease.

Resheph’s connection with Israel may have been even closer to home. According to a text from Ebla, Resheph was the patron god of Shechem, an important Canaanite city that eventually became the capital of Samaria (Israel).

Resheph was sometimes associated or combined with the dusk god Shulman as the deity Resheph-Shulman. Shulman was the patron deity of Jerusalem and formed the theophoric component of the city’s name itself — Jerusalem (“foundation of Shulman”), or just Salem as it is sometimes called in the Old Testament.

Theophoric personal names that incorporate Shulman include Solomon⁶, Absolom (“Shulmon is my lord”), and Shalmaneser (“Shulman is foremost”), a name used by five Assyrian kings. The takeover of Yahweh as Jerusalem’s patron god can perhaps be seen in Ezekiel’s vivid description of Jerusalem as Yahweh’s adopted daughter (Ezek. 16:3-14).

Resheph may have been demoted, but he lived on in biblical memory as a powerful warrior who would accompany Yahweh and inflict plague upon Judah’s enemies. Deuteronomy 32:23-24 also refers to Resheph and the demon Qeteb as the means by which God punishes those who are unfaithful.

However, he also had specific epithets in different locations. The Phoenicians referred to him as “Reshep gen” (Resheph of the Garden) and “bal chtz”(‘lord of the arrow’) while the Hittites described him as a “deer god” or “gazelle god”.

In Egypt he was known as “Lord of the Sky” or “Lord of Eternity” and an area of the Nile valley was renamed the “Valley of Reshep”. He was depicted as a man with a Syrian style beard brandishing a mace or axe above his head. He generally wears the crown of Upper Egypt with the addition of a gazelle skull at the front and a ribbon at the back.

The originally Eblaite and Canaanite deity was adopted into ancient Egyptian religion in the late Bronze Age during the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt (late 15th century BC) of the New Kingdom (1570-1069 BCE) as a god of horses and chariots. The chariot and horse were introduced to Egypt by the Hyksos invaders in the 16th century BCE and undoubtedly contributed to the military success of the Egyptians.

In the remains of Egyptian and Assyrian art, there are numerous representations of chariots, which display rich ornamentation. The chariots of the Egyptians and Assyrians, with whom the bow was the principal arm of attack, were richly mounted with quivers full of arrows. Reshep is uniformly depicted as a strong warrior holding a raised war club and wearing a skirt and long Mesopotamian-styled beard.

Reshep was the consort of the goddess of sexual pleasure and sacred ecstasy Qudshu (Qadesh), another goddess imported from Syria, and was worshipped with her in a triad which included the fertility god Min shown with an erect penis which he holds in his left hand and an upheld right arm holding a flail. As Khem or Min, he was the god of reproduction; as Khnum, he was the creator of all things, “the maker of gods and men”.

The sacred marriage of Qudshu and Reshep was reenacted by their followers linking the cult to that of Inanna/Ishtar of Mesopotamia which had long practiced the same ritual.

Reshep is further linked to Mesopotamia through his identification in iconography and as a god of pestilence with the Mesopotamian war god Nergal and ocassionally with Mars (again because of the military connection). Based on an epithet ḥṣ in Kition (interpreted as “arrow”) identifies Ršp as a plague god who strikes his victims with arrows as Homeric Apollo, and argues for an interpretatio graeca of Ršp with Apollo in Idalium and to the Vedic Rudra.

He was linked to Set, god of chaos and the arid wastes, because they were both associated with the antelope, but he was also associated with the Theban war god Montu.

Shed

Shed was a deity from ancient Egyptian religion. Popularly called “the Savior”, he is first recorded after the Amarna Period. Representing the concept of salvation, Shed is identified with Horus, particularly Horus the Child.

The rise of “Savior” names in personal piety during the Amarna period has been interpreted as the popular response of ordinary people to the attempts by Akhenaten to proscribe the ancient religion of Egypt. Shed has also been viewed as a form of the Canaanite god Resheph.

Rather than have formal worship in a temple or as an official cult, he appears to have been a god that ordinary Egyptians looked to save them from illness, misfortune or danger. Shed can be depicted as a young prince overcoming snakes, lions and crocodiles. He is shown on the Metternich Stela as vanquishing danger in the form of a serpent, a scorpion and a crocodile.

Shed has been viewed as a form of savior, a helper for those in need when state authority or the king’s help is wanting. The increased reliance on divine assistance could even extend to saving a person from the Underworld, even to providing a substitute, and lengthening a person’s time in this world. In the New Kingdom Shed “the savior” is addressed on countless stelae by people searching or praising him for help.

Ntr – The flag pole

Ancient Egyptian deities are the gods and goddesses worshipped in ancient Egypt. Egyptian texts list the names of many deities whose nature is unknown and make vague, indirect references to other gods who are not even named.

The Egyptian language’s terms for these beings were nṯr, “god”, and its feminine form nṯrt, “goddess”. Scholars have tried to discern the original nature of the gods by proposing etymologies for these words, but none of these suggestions has gained acceptance, and the terms’ origin remains obscure.

The hieroglyphs that were used as ideograms and determinatives in writing these words show some of the traits that the Egyptians connected with divinity. The most common of these signs is a flag flying from a pole.

Letter T – Tāw X

Taw, tav, or taf is the twenty-second and last letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician Tāw X. In Arabic, it is also gives rise to the derived letter Ṯāʼ. Its original sound value is /t/. The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek tau (Τ), Latin T, and Cyrillic Т. Taw is believed to be derived from the Egyptian hieroglyph meaning “mark”.

The sound value of Semitic Taw, Greek alphabet Tαυ (Tau), Old Italic and Latin T has remained fairly constant, representing [t] in each of these; and it has also kept its original basic shape in most of these alphabets.

Tav is the last letter of the Hebrew word emet, which means ‘truth’. The midrash explains that emet is made up of the first, middle, and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet (aleph, mem, and tav). Sheqer (falsehood), on the other hand, is made up of the 19th, 20th, and 21st (and penultimate) letters.

Thus, truth is all-encompassing, while falsehood is narrow and deceiving. In Jewish mythology it was the word emet that was carved into the head of the golem which ultimately gave it life. But when the letter aleph was erased from the golem’s forehead, what was left was “met”—dead. And so the golem died.

Ezekiel 9:4 depicts a vision in which the tav plays a Passover role similar to the blood on the lintel and doorposts of a Hebrew home in Egypt. In Ezekiel’s vision, the Lord has his angels separate the demographic wheat from the chaff by going through Jerusalem, the capital city of ancient Israel, and inscribing a mark, a tav, “upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.”

In Ezekiel’s vision, then, the Lord is counting tav-marked Israelites as worthwhile to spare, but counts the people worthy of annihilation who lack the tav and the critical attitude it signifies. In other words, looking askance at a culture marked by dire moral decline is a kind of shibboleth for loyalty and zeal for God.

Tau

Tau (uppercase Τ, lowercase τ; Greek: ταυ [taf]) is the 19th letter of the Greek alphabet. In the system of Greek numerals it has a value of 300. Tau was derived from the Phoenician letter taw. Letters that arose from tau include Roman T and Cyrillic Te (Т, т).

The tau cross is a T-shaped cross all three ends of which are sometimes expanded. It is so called because shaped like the Greek letter tau, which in its upper-case form has the same appearance as Latin and English T.

Another name for the same object is Saint Anthony’s cross or Saint Anthony cross, a name given to it because of its association with Saint Anthony of Egypt. It is also called a crux commissa, one of the four basic types of iconographic representations of the cross.

In ancient times, tau was used as a symbol for life or resurrection, whereas the eighth letter of the Greek alphabet, theta, was considered the symbol of death. In Biblical times, the taw was put on men to distinguish those who lamented sin, although newer versions of the Bible have replaced the ancient term taw with mark (Ezekiel 9:4) or signature (Job 31:35).

In a very influential article published in 1925, Max Sulzberger contended that the earliest “christogram” was the chi-rho device, and that other “christograms” (devices comprised of two Greek letters and expressive of early Christian faith in Jesus) derived from it.

This further meant that all christograms were directly or indirectly simply allusions to the Greek word “christos.” But it appears that neither epigraphers nor historians of early Christian art (with a very few exceptions) have been alerted to the important historical evidence found in early Christian manuscripts.

Staurogram – Tau-Rho

The staurogram (the combination of the Greek letters tau and rho: ⳨), also monogrammatic cross or tau-rho, is a ligature composed of a superposition of the Greek letters tau (Τ) and rho (Ρ).

The staurogram was first used to abbreviate stauros, the Greek word for cross, in very early New Testament manuscripts, almost like a nomen sacrum, and may visually have represented Jesus on the cross.

The “Staurogram” did not derive from the chi-rho. We have instances of the Christian use of the tau-rho considerably earlier than any instances of the chi-rho. These earliest uses of the tau-rho are in Christian manuscripts palaeographically dated ca. 200-250 CE.

Unlike the chi-rho, which is used purely as a free-standing symbol, the earliest uses of the tau-rho are not as such free-standing symbols, but form part of a special way of writing the Greek words for “cross” (stauros) and “crucify” (stauro-o), in NT texts which refer to the crucifixion of Jesus.

The word stauros is used for an upright pole in older, predominantly Ionic literature, such as Homer (7th c. BC) and Herodotus (5th c. BC). But it is used in reference to a cross (for the purpose of crucifixion) by Plutarch (2nd c. AD), Lucian (2nd c. AD), and Diodorus Siculus (1st c. BC). Lucian even goes so far as to explicitly describe the stauros as having the form of the letter T.

The tau-rho is not an allusion to the word “christos“.  Indeed, the letters have no relation to any terms in early Christian vocabulary.  Instead, the device (adapted from pre-Christian usage) seems to have served originally as a kind of pictographic representation of the crucified Jesus, the loop of the rho superimposed on the tau serving to depict the head of a figure on a cross.

The symbolism of the cross was connected not only to the letter chi but also to tau, the equivalent of the last letter in the Phoenician and Old Hebrew alphabets, and which was originally cruciform in shape.

The Tau-Rho as a Christian symbol outside its function as nomen sacrum in biblical manuscripts appears from c. the 4th century, used as a monogramma Christi alongside the Chi-Rho and other variants, spreading to Western Europe in the 5th and 6th centuries.

Ephrem the Syrian (4th century) discusses a Christian symbol, apparently combining the Tau-Rho with Alpha and Omega placed under the left and right horizontal arms of the Tau.

According to Ephrem the Tau represents the cross of Jesus (prefigured by the outstretched hands of Moses in Exodus 17:11), the Alpha and Omega signify that the crucified Christ is “the beginning and end”, and the Rho, finally, signifies “Help”, because of the numerological value of the Greek word being 100, represented by Rho as a Greek numeral.

The two letters tau and rho can be found separately (not in ligature) as symbols already on early Christian ossuaries. Tertullian (Contra Marcionem 3.22) explains the Tau as a symbol of salvation by identification with the sign which in Ezekiel 9:4 was marked on the forehead of the saved ones.

The rho by itself can refer to Christ as Messiah because Abraham, taken as symbol of the Messiah, generated Isaac according to a promise made by God when he was one hundred years old, and 100 is the value of rho.

The earliest depiction of a Roman crucifixion shows a T-shaped cross, and crossed beams of some sort were the most common form of crucifixion (as described in detail by Josephus and other ancient authors). Christian writings from the beginning of the second century describe the crucifixion of Jesus on a cross, and no early Christian author describes the crucifixion on an upright stake.

Also, the gospels explicitly state that more than one nail was used to fix the hands of Jesus to the cross, which would not be the case if he were crucified on an upright stake. And as another answer pointed out, the charges against him were mounted above his head, not above his hands.

The best available evidence strongly suggests that Jesus was crucified on a cross, and the use of the word stauros to describe an upright stake was already archaic by the time of Christ. That is why the clergy of Christendom (as well as the laity) teach that Jesus was fastened to a cross.

Stigma (ϛ) is a ligature of the Greek letters sigma (Σ) and tau (Τ), which was used in writing Greek between the Middle Ages and the 19th century. It is also used as a numeral symbol for the number 6.

In this unrelated function, it is a continuation of the old letter digamma (originally Ϝ, cursive form Greek Digamma, which had served as a numeral since antiquity and was conflated with the σ-τ ligature in the minuscule handwriting of the Middle Ages.

Theta

Theta (uppercase Θ or ϴ, lowercase θ; which resembles digit 0 with horizontal line) or ϑ) is the eighth letter of the Greek alphabet, derived from the Phoenician letter Teth Phoenician teth.svg. In the system of Greek numerals it has the value 9. In Ancient Greek, θ represented the aspirated voiceless dental plosive /t̪ʰ/, but in Modern Greek it represents the voiceless dental fricative /θ/.

In its archaic form, θ was written as a cross within a circle (as in the Etruscan A symbol of a cross within a circle or Another symbol of a cross within a circle), and later, as a line or point in circle (The symbol of a line within a circle or The symbol of a point within a circle). Archaic crossed forms of theta are seen in the wheel letters of Linear A and Linear B.

In ancient times, Tau was used as a symbol for life or resurrection, whereas the eighth letter of the Greek alphabet, theta, was considered the symbol of death. According to Porphyry of Tyros, the Egyptians used an X within a circle as a symbol of the soul; having a value of nine, it was used as a symbol for Ennead, who, in some versions of the Osiris myth, judged whether Horus or Set should inherit Egypt.

The Ennead was a group of nine deities in Egyptian mythology worshiped at Heliopolis: the sun god Atum; his children Shu and Tefnut; their children Geb and Nut; and their children Osiris, Isis, Seth, and Nephthys. The Ennead sometimes includes the son of Osiris and Isis, Horus.

Ennead is a borrowing via Latin of the Greek name Enneás, meaning “the Nine”. The term was a calque of the Egyptian name, written Psḏt and also meaning “the Nine”. Its original pronunciation is uncertain, since hieroglyphs do not record vowels. Egyptologists conventionally transcribe it as Pesedjet.

Johannes Lydus says that the Egyptians used a symbol for cosmos in the form of theta, with a fiery circle representing the world, and a snake spanning the middle representing Agathos Daimon (literally: good spirit). The Egyptians also used the symbol of a point within a circle (The symbol of a point within a circle, the sun disc) to represent the sun, which might be a possible origin of its use as the Sun’s astrological glyph. It is worthwhile to note that theta has the same numerical value in isopsephy as Helios: 318.

In classical Athens, it was used as an abbreviation for the Greek thanatos (“death”) and as it vaguely resembles a human skull, theta was used as a warning symbol of death, in the same way that skull and crossbones are used in modern times. It survives on potsherds used by Athenians when voting for the death penalty.

Petrus de Dacia in a document from 1291 relates the idea that theta was used to brand criminals as empty ciphers, and the branding rod was affixed to the crossbar spanning the circle. For this reason, use of the number theta was sometimes avoided where the connotation was felt to be unlucky—the mint marks of some Late Imperial Roman coins famously have the sum ΔΕ or ΕΔ (delta and epsilon, that is 4 and 5) substituted as a euphemism where a Θ (9) would otherwise be expected.

However, used 49 times in Scripture, the number 9 symbolizes divine completeness or conveys the meaning of finality. Christ died at the 9th hour of the day, or 3 p.m., to make the way of salvation open to everyone. The number 9 also represents the fruits of God’s Holy Spirit, which are Faithfulness, Gentleness, Goodness, Joy, Kindness, Long suffering, Love, Peace and Self-control (Galatians 5:22 – 23).

The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) is the only one of God’s annual Feast days of worship that requires believers to fast for one day. This special day, considered by many Jews to be the holiest of the year, begins at sunset on day 9 of the seventh Hebrew month (Leviticus 23:32).

Tammuz

Dumuzid, later known by the alternate form Tammuz, is an ancient Mesopotamian god associated with shepherds, who was also the primary consort of the goddess Inanna (later known as Ishtar). In Sumerian mythology, Dumuzid’s sister was Geshtinanna, the goddess of vegetation.

The myth of Inanna and Dumuzid later became the basis for the Greek myth of Aphrodite and Adonis. The Greek name Adōnis is derived 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.

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.

Traditional Mesopotamian religion began to gradually decline between the third and fifth centuries AD as ethnic Assyrians converted to Christianity. Nonetheless, the cult of Ishtar and Tammuz managed to survive in parts of Upper Mesopotamia.

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.

The Syrian writers Jacob of Serugh and Romanos the Melodist both wrote laments in which the Virgin Mary describes her compassion for her son at the foot of the cross in deeply personal terms closely resembling Ishtar’s laments over the death of Tammuz.

Taweret

The ancient Egyptian goddess of childbirth, Taweret (also spelled Taurt, Tuat, Taouris, Tuart, Ta-weret, Tawaret, Twert, Thoeris and Taueret, and in Greek Thouéris and Toeris), meaning ‘she who is great’ or simply “great one”, a common pacificatory address to dangerous deities, was regarded as the divine protector of women and children.

She is the protective ancient Egyptian goddess of childbirth and fertility.  a common pacificatory address to dangerous deities. The deity is typically depicted as a bipedal female hippopotamus with feline attributes, pendulous female human breasts, and the back of a Nile crocodile. She commonly bears the epithets “Lady of Heaven”, “Mistress of the Horizon”, “She Who Removes Water”, “Mistress of Pure Water”, and “Lady of the Birth House”.

In the New Kingdom Taweret’s image was frequently used to represent a northern constellation in zodiacs. This image is attested in several astronomical tomb paintings, including the Theban tombs of Tharwas (tomb 353), Hatshepsut’s famed advisor Senenmut (tomb 232), and the pharaoh Seti I (KV17) in the Valley of the Kings.

The image of this astral Taweret appears almost exclusively next to the Setian foreleg of a bull. The latter image represents the Big Dipper and is associated with the Egyptian god of chaos, Seth.

The relationship between the two images is discussed in the Book of Day and Night (a cosmically focused mythological text from the Twentieth Dynasty, c. 1186–1069 BCE) as follows: “As to this foreleg of Seth, it is in the northern sky, tied down to two mooring posts of flint by a chain of gold. It is entrusted to Isis as a hippopotamus guarding it.”

Although the hippopotamus goddess is identified in this text as Isis, not Taweret, this phenomenon is not uncommon in later periods of Egyptian history. When assuming a protective role, powerful goddesses like Isis, Hathor, and Mut assumed the form of Taweret, effectively becoming a manifestation of this goddess.

Likewise, Taweret gradually absorbed qualities of these goddesses and is commonly seen wearing the Hathoric sun disc that is ichnographically associated with both Hathor and Isis. Various myths demonstrate her role in facilitating the afterlives of the deceased as the nurturing and purifying “Mistress of Pure Water”.

However, Taweret and her fellow hippopotamus goddesses of fertility should not be confused with Ammit (Ancient Egyptian: ꜥm-mwt, “devourer of the dead”; also rendered Ammut or Ahemait), another composite hippopotamus goddess who gained prominence in the New Kingdom.

Ammit was responsible for devouring the unjust before passing into the afterlife. Unlike Ammit, the other hippopotamus goddesses were responsible for nourishment and aid, not destruction. Ammit was not worshipped; instead she embodied all that the Egyptians feared, threatening to bind them to eternal restlessness if they did not follow the principle of Ma’at.

Ammit was a demoness and goddess in ancient Egyptian religion with a body that was part lion, hippopotamus and crocodile—the three largest “man-eating” animals known to ancient Egyptians. A funerary deity, her titles included “Devourer of the Dead”, “Eater of Hearts”, and “Great of Death”.

Ammit lived near the scales of justice in Duat, the Egyptian underworld. In the Hall of Two Truths, Anubis weighed the heart of a person against the feather of Ma’at, the goddess of truth, which was depicted as an ostrich feather (the feather was often pictured in Ma’at’s headdress).

If the heart was judged to be not pure, Ammit would devour it, and the person undergoing judgement was not allowed to continue their voyage towards Osiris and immortality. Once Ammit swallowed the heart, the soul was believed to become restless forever; this was called “to die a second time”.

Ammit was also sometimes said to stand by a lake of fire. In some traditions, the unworthy hearts were cast into the fiery lake to be destroyed. Some scholars believe Ammit and the lake represent the same concept of destruction.

Taurus

Taurus (Latin for “the Bull”) is one of the constellations of the zodiac. Taurus was the first sign of the zodiac established among the ancient Mesopotamians, who called it as the Bull of Heaven, because it was the constellation through which the sun rose on the vernal equinox at that time.

Taurus marked the point of vernal (spring) equinox in the Chalcolithic and the Early Bronze Age, from about 4000 BC to 1700 BC, after which it moved into the neighboring constellation Aries. The Pleiades were closest to the Sun at vernal equinox around the 23rd century BC. Due to the precession of the equinox, it has since passed through the constellation Aries and into the constellation Pisces.

In Babylonian astronomy, the constellation was listed in the MUL.APIN as GU4.AN.NA, “The Bull of Heaven”. As this constellation marked the vernal equinox, it was also the first constellation in the Babylonian zodiac and they described it as “The Bull in Front”. The Akkadian name was Alu. To the early Hebrews, Taurus was the first constellation in their zodiac and consequently it was represented by the first letter in their alphabet, Aleph.

In the Old Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh, the goddess Ishtar sends Taurus, the Bull of Heaven, to kill Gilgamesh for spurning her advances. Enkidu tears off the bull’s hind part and hurls the quarters into the sky where they become the stars we know as Ursa Major and Ursa Minor. Some locate Gilgamesh as the neighboring constellation of Orion, facing Taurus as if in combat, while others identify him with the sun whose rising on the equinox vanquishes the constellation.

However, Boötes is a constellation in the northern sky, located between 0° and +60° declination, and 13 and 16 hours of right ascension on the celestial sphere. The name comes from the Greek Boōtēs, meaning “herdsman” or “plowman” (literally, “ox-driver”; from bous “cow”).

In ancient Babylon, the stars of Boötes were known as SHU.PA. They were apparently depicted as the god Enlil, who was the leader of the Babylonian pantheon and special patron of farmers. Boötes may have been represented by the foreleg constellation in ancient Egypt. According to this interpretation, the constellation depicts the shape of an animal foreleg.

In early Mesopotamian art, the Bull of Heaven was closely associated with Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare. One of the oldest depictions shows the bull standing before the goddess’ standard; since it has 3 stars depicted on its back (the cuneiform sign for “star-constellation”), there is good reason to regard this as the constellation later known as Taurus.

The same iconic representation of the Heavenly Bull was depicted in the Dendera zodiac, an Egyptian bas-relief carving in a ceiling that depicted the celestial hemisphere using a planisphere. In these ancient cultures, the orientation of the horns was portrayed as upward or backward. This differed from the later Greek depiction where the horns pointed forward.

To the Egyptians, the constellation Taurus was a sacred bull that was associated with the renewal of life in spring. When the spring equinox entered Taurus, the constellation would become covered by the Sun in the western sky as spring began. This “sacrifice” led to the renewal of the land.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

 
<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: