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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The letter S, X and T

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on June 8, 2019

Samekh

Samekh or simketh is the fifteenth letter of many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician samek, representing /s/. Samekh in gematria has the value 60. The Arabic alphabet, however, uses a letter based on Phoenician shin to represent /s/;  however, that glyph takes samekh’s place in the traditional Abjadi order of the Arabic alphabet.

The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek xi (Ξ, ξ). However, its name gave rise to sigma, the eighteenth letter of the Greek alphabet. The shape and alphabetic position of sigma is derived from Phoenician shin.

The origin of samekh is unclear. The Phoenician letter may continue a glyph from the Middle Bronze Age alphabets, either based on a hieroglyph for a tent peg / some kind of prop (s’mikhah or t’mikhah, in modern Hebrew means to support), and thus may be derived from the Egyptian hieroglyph djed.

Shin

Shin (also spelled Šin (šīn) or Sheen) is the twenty-first letter of the Semitic abjads, including Phoenician Shin. Its sound value is a voiceless sibilant, [ʃ] or [s]. In the Arabic alphabet, shin is at the original (21st) position in Abjadi order. A letter variant shin takes the place of Samekh at 15th position.

To express an etymological /ś/, a number of dialects chose either sin or samek exclusively, where other dialects switch freely between them (often ‘leaning’ more often towards one or the other). In gematria, shin represents the number 300.

Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek Sigma (Σ) (which in turn gave Latin S and Cyrillic С), and the letter Sha (Ш ш; italics: Ш ш) in the Glagolitic and Cyrillic scripts. Sha has its earliest origins in Phoenician Shin and is linked closely to Shin’s Greek equivalent: Sigma (Σ, σ, ς). (Note the similar form of the modern Hebrew Shin (ש), which is probably the origin of this letter, deriving from the same Proto-Canaanite source).

The corresponding letter for the /ʃ/ sound in Russian is nearly identical in shape to the Hebrew shin. Given that the Cyrillic script includes borrowed letters from a variety of different alphabets such as Greek and Latin, it is often suggested that the letter sha is directly borrowed from the Hebrew letter shin.

The Proto-Sinaitic glyph, according to William Albright, was based on a “tooth” and with the phonemic value š “corresponds etymologically (in part, at least) to original Semitic ṯ (th), which was pronounced s in South Canaanite”.

The Phoenician shin letter expressed the continuants of two Proto-Semitic phonemes, and may have been based on a pictogram of a tooth (in modern Hebrew shen). The Encyclopaedia Judaica, 1972, records that it originally represented a composite bow.

The Arabic letter shin was an acronym for “something” (šayʾ(un) meaning the unknown in algebraic equations. In the transcription into Spanish, the Greek letter chi (χ) was used which was later transcribed into Latin x.

According to some sources, this is the origin of x used for the unknown in the equations. However, according to other sources, there is no historical evidence for this. In Modern Arabic mathematical notation, sīn, i.e. šīn without its dots, often corresponds to Latin x.

Shin, as a prefix, bears the same meaning as the relative pronouns “that”, “which” and “who” in English. In colloquial Hebrew, Kaph and Shin together have the meaning of “when”. This is a contraction of ka’asher (as, when).

Shin also stands for the word Shaddai, a name for God. Because of this, a kohen (priest) forms the letter Shin with his hands as he recites the Priestly Blessing. The letter Shin is often inscribed on the case containing a mezuzah, a scroll of parchment with Biblical text written on it.

The text contained in the mezuzah is the Shema Yisrael prayer, which calls the Israelites to love their God with all their heart, soul and strength. The mezuzah is situated upon all the doorframes in a home or establishment. Sometimes the whole word Shaddai will be written.

The Shema Yisrael prayer also commands the Israelites to write God’s commandments on their hearts (Deut. 6:6); the shape of the letter Shin mimics the structure of the human heart. In the Sefer Yetzirah the letter Shin is King over Fire, Formed Heaven in the Universe, Hot in the Year, and the Head in the Soul.

A religious significance has been applied to the fact that there are three valleys that comprise the city of Jerusalem’s geography: the Valley of Ben Hinnom, Tyropoeon Valley, and Kidron Valley, and that these valleys converge to also form the shape of the letter shin, and that the Temple in Jerusalem is located where the dagesh (horizontal line) is.

This is seen as a fulfillment of passages such as Deuteronomy 16:2 that instructs Jews to celebrate the Pasach at “the place the LORD will choose as a dwelling for his Name” (NIV).

The 13th-century Kabbalistic text Sefer HaTemunah, holds that a single letter of unknown pronunciation, held by some to be the four-pronged shin on one side of the teffilin box, is missing from the current alphabet. The world’s flaws, the book teaches, are related to the absence of this letter, the eventual revelation of which will repair the universe.

According to Judges 12:6, the tribe of Ephraim could not differentiate between Shin and Samekh; when the Gileadites were at war with the Ephraimites, they would ask suspected Ephraimites to say the word shibolet; an Ephraimite would say sibolet and thus be exposed. From this episode we get the English word shibboleth.

Djed

The djed (Ancient Egyptian: ḏd 𓊽, Coptic jōt “pillar”)  is one of the more ancient and commonly found symbols in ancient Egyptian religion. It is a pillar-like symbol in Egyptian hieroglyphs representing stability.

It is associated with the creator god Ptah and Osiris, the Egyptian god of the afterlife, the underworld, and the dead. It is commonly understood to represent his spine. The djed may originally have been a fertility cult related pillar made from reeds or sheaves or a totem from which sheaves of grain were suspended or grain was piled around.

Seker – Ptah – Osiris

The djed came to be associated with Seker, the falcon god of the Memphite Necropolis, then with Ptah, the Memphite patron god of craftsmen. Ptah was often referred to as “the noble djed”, and carried a scepter that was a combination of the djed symbol and the ankh, the symbol of life.

In the underworld, Seker is strongly linked with two other gods, Ptah, the Creator god and chief god of Memphis, god of craftsmen and architects, and Osiris the god of the dead. In later periods, this connection was expressed as the triple god Ptah-Seker-Osiris.

Ptah is the deity responsible for the creation of the universe by thought and by the word. He is an Egyptian creator god who existed before all other things and, by his will, thought the world into existence. It was first conceived by Thought, and realized by the Word.

Ptah conceives the world by the thought of his heart and gives life through the magic of his Word. That which Ptah commanded was created, with which the constituents of nature, fauna, and flora, are contained.  He also plays a role in the preservation of the world and the permanence of the royal function.

Ptah is generally represented in the guise of a man with green skin, contained in a shroud sticking to the skin, wearing the divine beard, and holding a sceptre combining three powerful symbols of ancient Egyptian religion: The Was sceptre (“power, dominion”), the Ankh (“life”) and the Djed pillar. These three combined symbols indicate the three creative powers of the god: power (was), life (ankh) and stability (djed).

The ankh is an ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic symbol that was most commonly used in writing and in art to represent the word for “life” and, by extension, as a symbol of life itself. Its use continued through the Coptic Egyptians who adapted it as the crux ansata, a variant form of the Christian cross.

Ptah gradually came to be assimilated into Osiris. By the time of the New Kingdom, the djed was firmly associated with Osiris. Osiris is the god of the afterlife, the underworld, and rebirth in ancient Egyptian religion.

Osiris was at times considered the eldest son of the god Geb and the sky goddess Nut, as well as being brother and husband of Isis, with Horus being considered his posthumously begotten son.

He was also associated with the epithet Khenti-Amentiu, meaning “Foremost of the Westerners”, a reference to his kingship in the land of the dead. As ruler of the dead, Osiris was also sometimes called “king of the living”: ancient Egyptians considered the blessed dead “the living ones”.

Sigma

Sigma (uppercase Σ, lowercase σ, lowercase in word-final position ς) is the eighteenth letter of the Greek alphabet. The shape and alphabetic position of sigma is derived from Phoenician shin 𐤔.

The original name of the letter “sigma” may have been san, but due to the complicated early history of the Greek epichoric alphabets, “san” came to be identified as a separate letter, Ϻ. Herodotus reports that “san” was the name given by the Dorians to the same letter called “sigma” by the Ionians.

The name of sigma, according to one hypothesis, may continue that of Phoenician Samekh, the letter continued by Greek Ξ. Alternatively, the name sigma may have been a Greek innovation that simply meant “hissing”, from the root of sízō, earlier *sig-jō, meaning “I hiss”).

Sigma was adopted in the Old Italic alphabets beginning in the 8th century BC. A simplified three-stroke version, omitting the lowermost stroke, is found already in Western Greek alphabets, and becomes current in classical Etruscan, in Oscan, and also in the earliest Latin epigraphy (early Latin S), such as the Duenos inscription.

The alternation between three and four strokes (occasionally also more than four) is also adopted into the early runic alphabet (early form of the s-rune. Both the Anglo-Saxon runes and the Younger Futhark consistently use the simplified three-stroke version.

San

San (Ϻ) was an archaic letter of the Greek alphabet. Its shape was similar to modern M, or to a modern Greek Sigma (Σ) turned sideways, and it was used as an alternative to Sigma to denote the sound /s/.

Unlike Sigma, whose position in the alphabet is between Rho and Tau, San appeared between Pi and Qoppa in alphabetic order. In addition to denoting this separate archaic character, the name “San” was also used as an alternative name to denote the standard letter Sigma.

The existence of the two competing letters Sigma and San is traditionally believed to have been due to confusion during the adoption of the Greek alphabet from the Phoenician script, because Phoenician had more sibilant (s-like) sounds than Greek had.

According to one theory, the distribution of the sibilant letters in Greek is due to pair-wise confusion between the sounds and alphabet positions of the four Phoenician sibilant signs: Greek Sigma got its shape and alphabetic position from Phoenician Šin, but its name and sound value from Phoenician Samekh.

Conversely, Greek Xi (Ξ) got its shape and position from Samekh, but its name and sound value from Šin. The same kind of pair-wise exchange happened between Phoenician Zayin and Tsade: Greek Zeta has the shape and position of Zayin but the name and sound value of Tsade, and conversely Greek San has the approximate shape and position of Tsade but may originally have had the sound value of Zayin, i.e. voiced [z]. However, since voiced [z] and voiceless [s] were not distinct phonemes in Greek, Sigma and San came to be used in essentially the same function.

According to a different theory, “San” was indeed the original name of what is now known as Sigma, and as such presents a direct representation of the corresponding name “Shin” in that position. The name of “San” lived on as an alternative (dialectal or archaic) name for “Sigma” even at a time when the letter itself had everywhere been replaced with standard Sigma.

This name was only later also associated with the alternative local letter now known as “San”, whose original name remains unknown. The modern name “Sigma”, in turn, was a transparent Greek innovation that simply meant “hissing”, based on a nominalization of a verb σίζω (sízō, from an earlier stem *sigj-, meaning ‘to hiss’).

Moreover, a modern re-interpretation of the sound values of the sibilants in Proto-Semitic, and thus in Phoenician, can account for the values of the Greek sibilants with less recourse to “confusion”.

Most significant is the reconstruction of Šin as [s] and thus also the source of the sound value of Sigma; in turn, Samekh is reconstructed as the affricate [ts], which is a better match for the plosive-fricative cluster value [kʰs] of Xi.

Whereas in early abecedaria, Sigma and San are typically listed as two separate letters in their separate alphabetic positions, each Greek dialect tended to use either San or Sigma exclusively in practical writing.

Outside Greece, San was borrowed into the Old Italic alphabets (𐌑, transcribed as Ś). It initially retained its M-shape in the archaic Etruscan alphabet, but from the 6th century BC changing its aspect to a shape similar to that of the d-rune D.

Sampi

Sampi (modern: ϡ; ancient shapes: Ͳ, Ͳ) is an archaic letter of the Greek alphabet. The letter’s original name in antiquity is not known. It has been proposed that sampi was a continuation of the archaic letter san, which was originally shaped like an M and denoted the sound [s] in some other dialects.

It was used as an addition to the classical 24-letter alphabet in some eastern Ionic dialects of ancient Greek in the 6th and 5th centuries BC, to denote some type of a sibilant sound, probably [ss] or [ts], and was abandoned when the sound disappeared from Greek. It later remained in use as a numeral symbol for 900 in the alphabetic (“Milesian”) system of Greek numerals.

Its modern shape, which resembles a π inclining to the right with a longish curved cross-stroke, developed during its use as a numeric symbol in minuscule handwriting of the Byzantine era. Its current name, sampi, originally probably meant “san pi”, i.e. “like a pi”, and is also of medieval origin.

Xi

Xi (uppercase Ξ, lowercase ξ; Greek: ξι) is the 14th letter of the Greek alphabet. It is pronounced [ksi] in Modern Greek, and generally /zaɪ/ or /saɪ/ in English. In the system of Greek numerals, it has a value of 60. Xi was derived from the Phoenician letter samekh. Xi is not to be confused with the letter chi, which gave its form to the Latin letter X.

Both in classical Ancient Greek and in Modern Greek, the letter Ξ represents the sound [ks]. In some archaic local variants of the Greek alphabet, this letter was missing. Instead, especially in the dialects of most of the Greek mainland and Euboea, the sound [ks] was represented by Χ (which in classical Greek is chi, used for /kʰ/).

Because this variant of the Greek alphabet was used in Italy, the Latin alphabet borrowed Χ rather than Ξ as the Latin letter X. While having no Latin derivative, the Xi was adopted into the early Cyrillic alphabet, as the letter ksi (Ѯ, ѯ).

Letter X

The letter ‘Χ’ ~ ‘Ψ’ for /kʰ/ was a Greek addition to the alphabet, placed after the Semitic letters along with phi ‘Φ’ for /pʰ/, the 21st letter of the Greek 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. Old Italic X, which derives from Greek Chi, and is the ancestor of modern Latin X.

In Archaic and Classical Greek, it represented an aspirated voiceless bilabial plosive ([pʰ]), which was the origin of its usual romanization as ⟨ph⟩. During the later part of Classical Antiquity, in Koine Greek (final centuries BC), its pronunciation shifted to that of a voiceless labiodental fricative ([f]). The romanization of the Modern Greek phoneme is therefore usually ⟨f⟩.

It may be that phi originated as the letter qoppa and initially represented the sound /kʷʰ/ before shifting to Classical Greek [pʰ]. In traditional Greek numerals, phi has a value of 500 (φʹ) or 500,000 (͵φ). The Cyrillic letter Ef (Ф, ф) descends from phi. As with other Greek letters, lowercase phi is used as a mathematical or scientific symbol. Some uses, such as the golden ratio, require the old-fashioned ‘closed’ glyph.

With its long, ambiguous history and multiple phonemes, the letter X is quite a dark horse. It can mean Christ, like the X in Xmas, stand for a chromosome, and even show up in friendly and amorous correspondence (XOXO). Since its inception, the letter X has struggled to establish its own identity, so it may be no coincidence that X is commonly used to represent the unknown in both language and mathematics.

X is derived from the Phoenician letter samekh. Originally used by the Phoenicians to represent the /s/ consonant (denoting a hard S sound), the Greeks borrowed the samekh around 900 BC and named it Chi.

The ancient Greeks utilized their newly acquired phonological element to simplify the digraph (“a pair of letters representing a single speech sound”) /ks/, which is used most prominently throughout the western regions of Greece.

The Romans later adopted the X sound from the Chalcidian alphabet, a non-Ionic Greek alphabet, and borrowed the Chi symbol, consisting of two diagonally crossed strokes, from the Greek alphabet to denote the letter X as well as to identify the Roman numeral X or “10.” So to sum up: The Romans took the /x/ sound from one alphabet (Chalcidian) and combined it with the Chi symbol from another alphabet (Greek) and thus X was born.

Chi

Chi (uppercase Χ, lowercase χ; Greek: χῖ) is the 22nd letter of the Greek alphabet, pronounced /kaɪ/ or /kiː/ in English. Its value in Ancient Greek was an aspirated velar stop /kʰ/ (in the Western Greek alphabet: /ks/). In Koine Greek and later dialects it became a fricative ([x]/[ç]) along with Θ and Φ. In the system of Greek numerals, it has a value of 600.

In ancient times, some local forms of the Greek alphabet used the chi instead of xi to represent the /ks/ sound. This was borrowed into the early Latin language, which led to the use of the letter X for the same sound in Latin, and many modern languages that use the Latin alphabet. Chi was also included in the Cyrillic script as the letter Х, with the phonetic value /x/ or /h/.

In Plato’s Timaeus, it is explained that the two bands that form the soul of the world cross each other like the letter Χ. 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, it is called the labarum and used to represent the person of Jesus Christ.

Kha

Kha or Ha (Х х; italics: Х х) is a letter of the Cyrillic script. It looks the same as the Latin letter X (X x X x), in both uppercase and lowercase, both roman and italic forms, and was derived from the Greek letter Chi, which also bears a resemblance to both the Latin X and Kha.

The Cyrillic letter Kha was derived from the Greek letter Chi (Χ χ). The name of Kha in the Early Cyrillic alphabet was xěrŭ. Kha is the twenty-third (if Yo is included) letter of the Russian alphabet. It represents the consonant /x/ unless it is before a palatalizing vowel when it represents /xʲ/. In the Cyrillic numeral system, Kha had a value of 600.

Kha is also an alternative transliteration of the letter Ḫāʼ in the Arabic alphabet. This was used in Belarusian Arabic script, corresponding to the above Cyrillic letter. The letter is named ḥāʾ and is the sixth letter of the alphabet. Its shape varies depending on its position in the word.

Ka

Ka, in ancient Egyptian religion, with the ba and the akh, a principal aspect of the soul of a human being or of a god. The exact significance of the ka remains a matter of controversy, chiefly for lack of an Egyptian definition. The ka was essentially a person’s double,” it was the life force and at death it was separated from the body.  The usual translation, “double,” is incorrect.

Written by a hieroglyph of uplifted arms, it seemed originally to have designated the protecting divine spirit of a person. The ka survived the death of the body and could reside in a picture or statue of a person.

Understanding conceptual ideas related to ancient Egypt thought can be difficult, and there is little more complex than the ideas surrounding the ka. Yet the ka was a most important concept in ancient Egyptian religion.

Indeed, the name of Egypt itself is probably derived, though Greek, from the ancient name for the capital city, Memphis, which was Hut-ka-Pteh, or “House of the Ka of Ptah”.

The word, ka, was expressed by a hieroglyph depicting two upraised arms, which was usually the symbol of an embrace, the protection of a man by his ka, or a sign of praise, although other interpretations are possible.

The ka hieroglyph sometimes appears on offering tables in place of representations of actual offerings, and in its basic sense of life-power, the sign may appear in apposition with the ankh or some other sign.

Unfortunately, the concept of the ka has no exact analogues in European culture and so it is difficult to identify the ka with more familiar concepts. Hence, there are many interpretations that are frequently ambiguous and often unsatisfactory.

One will frequently see the term translated as “soul” or “spirit”, the ka was much more than that. During very ancient times, the ka may have indicated male potency, and in all periods it is used as a term for the creative and sustaining power of life.

Taw

Taw, tav, or taf is the twenty-second and last letter of the Semitic abjads.  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.

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.

Taw was originally cruciform in shape. It is believed to be derived from the Egyptian hieroglyph meaning “mark”. 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).

T is the 20th letter in the modern English alphabet. It is derived from the Semitic letter taw via the Greek letter 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.

The symbolism of the cross was connected not only to the letter chi but also to tau. 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.

Gyfu

The Runic letter Gyfu, which may derive from old Italic X. Gyfu is the name for the g-rune ᚷ in the Anglo-Saxon rune poem, meaning ‘gift’ or ‘generosity’. The corresponding letter of the Gothic alphabet is 𐌲 g, called giba. The same rune also appears in the Elder Futhark, with a suggested Proto-Germanic name *gebô ‘gift’.

The rune is directly derived from Latin Χ, the pronunciation of which may have been similar to Germanic g in the 1st century, e.g., Gothic *reihs compared to Latin rex (as opposed to the Etruscan alphabet, where X/𐌗 had a value of [s]).

The gyfu rune is sometimes used as a symbol within modern mysticism, particularly amongst those interested in Celtic mythology. It’s described, for example, in the book The Runic Tarot as a representation of the giving-receiving balance in friendships.

In addition to gyfu, the Anglo-Saxon futhorc has the gār rune ⟨ᚸ⟩, named after a species of medieval spear. It is attested epigraphically on the Ruthwell Cross, and also appears in 11th-century manuscript tradition. Phonetically, gār represents the /g/ sound. It is a modification of the plain gyfu rune ᚷ.

Old English ‘gār’ means ‘spear’, but the name of the rune likely echoes the rune names ger, ear, ior: due to palatalization in Old English, the original g rune (i.e., the Gyfu rune ⟨ᚷ⟩) could express either /j/ or /g/. The ger unambiguously expressed /j/, and the newly introduced gar rune had the purpose of unambiguously expressing /g/.

Jera 

Jera (also Jeran, Jeraz) is the conventional name of the j-rune ᛃ of the Elder Futhark, from a reconstructed Common Germanic stem *jēra- meaning “harvest, (good) year”.

The corresponding letter of the Gothic alphabet is Gothic 𐌾, named jēr, also expressing /j/. The Elder Futhark rune gives rise to the Anglo-Frisian runes ᛄ /j/, named gēr and ᛡ /io/, named ior, and to the Younger Futhark ár rune ᛅ, which stood for /a/ as the /j/ phoneme had disappeared in Old Norse.

The reconstructed Common Germanic name *jēran is the origin of English year (Old English ġēar). In contrast to the modern word, it had a meaning of “season” and specifically “harvest”, and hence “plenty, prosperity”.

The Germanic word is cognate with Greek horos (“year”) and hora (“season”), whence hour), Slavonic jarŭ “spring” and with the -or- in Latin hornus “of this year” (from *ho-jōrinus), as well as Avestan yāre “year”, all from a PIE stem *yer-o-.

Ear

The Ear ᛠ rune of the Anglo-Saxon futhorc is a late addition to the alphabet. It is, however, still attested from epigraphical evidence, notably the Thames scramasax, and its introduction thus cannot postdate the 9th century. It is transliterated as ea, and the Anglo-Saxon rune poem glosses it as

Jacob Grimm in his 1835 Teutonic Mythology (ch. 9)attached a deeper significance to the name. He interprets the Old English poem as describing “death personified”, connected to the death-bringing god of war, Ares. He notes that the ear rune is simply a Tyr rune with two barbs attached to it and suggests that Tir and Ear, Old High German Zio and Eor, were two names of the same god.

He finds the name in the toponym of Eresburg (*Eresberc) in Westphalia, in Latin Mons martis. Grimm thus suggests that the Germans had adopted the name of Greek Ares as an epithet of their god of war, and Eresberc was literally an Areopagus.

Grimm further notes that in the Bavarian (Marcomannic) area, Tuesday (dies Martis) was known as Ertag, Iertag, Irtag, Eritag, Erchtag, Erichtag as opposed to the Swabian and Swiss (Alemannic) region where the same day is Ziestag as in Anglo-Saxon.

Grimm concludes that Ziu was known by the alternative name Eor, derived from Greek Ares, and also as Saxnot among the Saxons, identified as a god of the sword.

Algiz

Algiz (also Elhaz) is the name conventionally given to the “z-rune” ᛉ of the Elder Futhark runic alphabet. Its transliteration is z, understood as a phoneme of the Proto-Germanic language, the terminal *z continuing Proto-Indo-European terminal *s.

It is a powerful rune, because it represents the divine might of the universe. The white elk was a symbol to the Norse of divine blessing and protection to those it graced with sight of itself.

It represents the worlds of Asgard (gods of the Aesir), Ljusalfheim (The Light Elves) and Vanaheim (gods of the Vanir), all connecting and sharing energies with our world, Midgard.

The Elder Futhark rune ᛉ is conventionally called Algiz or Elhaz, from the Common Germanic word for “elk”. Manuscript tradition gives its sound value as Latin x, i.e. /ks/, or alternatively as il, or yet again as “l and x”.

It is one of two runes which express a phoneme that does not occur word-initially, and thus could not be named acrophonically, the other being the ŋ-rune Ingwaz ᛜ.

As the terminal *-z phoneme marks the nominative singular suffix of masculine nouns, the rune occurs comparatively frequently in early epigraphy.

Because this specific phoneme was lost at an early time, the Elder Futhark rune underwent changes in the medieval runic alphabets. In the Anglo-Saxon futhorc it retained its shape, but it was given the sound value of Latin x.

This is a secondary development, possibly due to runic manuscript tradition, and there is no known instance of the rune being used in an Old English inscription.

In Proto-Norse and Old Norse, the Germanic *z phoneme developed into an R sound, perhaps realized as a retroflex approximant [ɻ], which is usually transcribed as ʀ.

This sound was written in the Younger Futhark using the Yr rune ᛦ, the Algiz rune turned upside down, from about the 7th century.

This phoneme eventually became indistinguishable from the regular r sound in the later stages of Old Norse, at about the 11th or 12th century.

The shape of the rune may be derived from that a letter expressing /x/ in certain Old Italic alphabets (𐌙),[citation needed] which was in turn derived from the Greek letter Ψ which had the value of /kʰ/ (rather than /ps/) in the Western Greek alphabet.

Enguz

The Gothic letter enguz derives from Greek Chi 𐌗: Old Italic X, which derives from Greek Chi. This rune represents Ing, the god of the fertility and the creative act. Due to its shape Ingwaz indicate that this potential is interiorized, concentrated and introverted as a seed which possesses in her all the elements to develop a complete and organized life.

Enguz is represented by the very ancient god image Ing, Inguz is a rune of male fertility. The English language participle “-ing” adds to any verb the idea of acton. Do-ing, Be-ing, See-ing, etc. The addition of “ing” represents action in the actual process of activity (rather than an object). Thus, even common elements within our most common language use “ing” to infer the process of creation.

Old Norse Yngvi, Old High German Inguin and Old English Ingƿine are names that relate to a theonym which appears to have been the older name for the god Freyr (Old Norse: Lord), sometimes anglicized as Frey.

Freyr is a widely attested god associated with sacral kingship, virility and prosperity, with sunshine and fair weather, and pictured as a phallic fertility god in Norse mythology. Freyr, sometimes referred to as Yngvi-Freyr, was especially associated with Sweden and seen as an ancestor of the Swedish royal house.

Proto-Germanic *Ingwaz was the legendary ancestor of the Ingaevones, or more accurately Ingvaeones, and is also the reconstructed name of the Elder Futhark rune ᛜ and Anglo-Saxon rune ᛝ, representing ŋ.

Old Norse Yngvi as well as Old High German Inguin and Old English Ingƿine are all derived from the Proto-Germanic *Ingwaz. Tacitus asserts their descent from the three sons of Mannus or *Mannaz, the Proto-Germanic ‘first man’, of whom *Ingwaz may have been one.

The Ingvaeones, who occupied a territory roughly equivalent to modern Denmark, Frisia and the Low Countries at the turn of the millennium, were mentioned by Pliny the Elder in his Natural Histories as one of “five Germanic tribes”.

Frisia (West Frisian: Fryslân, Dutch and German: Friesland) is a coastal region along the southeastern corner of the North Sea in what today is mostly a large part of the Netherlands, including modern Friesland and smaller parts of northern Germany.

Frisia is the traditional homeland of the Frisians, Germanic people who speak Frisian languages, which together with Anglic languages (English and Scots) form the Anglo-Frisian language group.

Ansuz

Ansuz is the conventional name given to the a-rune of the Elder Futhark, ᚨ. The name is based on Proto-Germanic *ansuz, denoting a deity belonging to the principal pantheon in Germanic paganism. The ansuz rune, ᚫ, was named after the Æsir.

The shape of the rune is likely from Neo-Etruscan a, like Latin A ultimately from Phoenician aleph (or alef or alif), the first letter of the Semitic abjads. The Phoenician variant gave rise to the Greek Alpha (Α), being re-interpreted to express not the glottal consonant but the accompanying vowel, and hence the Latin A and Cyrillic А.

These letters are believed to have derived from an Egyptian hieroglyph depicting an ox’s head. The name aleph is derived from the West Semitic word for “ox”, and the shape of the letter derives from a Proto-Sinaitic glyph that may have been based on an Egyptian hieroglyph, which depicts an ox’s head.

The Egyptian “vulture” hieroglyph, by convention pronounced [a]) is also referred to as aleph, on grounds that it has traditionally been taken to represent a glottal stop, although some recent suggestions tend towards an alveolar approximant ([ɹ]) sound instead.

In the Norwegian rune poem, óss is given a meaning of “estuary” while in the Anglo-Saxon one, ōs ᚩ takes the Latin meaning of “mouth”. Since the name of Gothic a is attested in the Gothic alphabet as ahsa or aza, the common Germanic name of the rune may thus either have been *ansuz “god”, or *ahsam “ear (of wheat)”.

Development in Anglo-Saxon runes The Anglo-Saxon futhorc split the Elder Futhark a rune into three independent runes due to the development of the vowel system in Anglo-Frisian. These three runes are ōs ᚩ (transliterated o), ac “oak” ᚪ (transliterated a), and æsc ᚫ “ash” (transliterated æ).

The Younger Futhark rune is transliterated as ą to distinguish it from the new ár rune (ᛅ), which continues the jēran rune after loss of prevocalic *j- in Proto-Norse *jár (Old Saxon jār). Jera (also Jeran, Jeraz) is the conventional name of the j-rune ᛃ of the Elder Futhark, from a reconstructed Common Germanic stem *jēra- meaning “harvest, (good) year”.

The Younger Futhark corresponding to the Elder Futhark ansuz rune is ᚬ, called óss. It is transliterated as ą. This represented the phoneme /ɑ̃/, and sometimes /æ/ (also written ᛅ) and /o/ (also written ᚢ). The variant grapheme ᚯ became independent as representing the phoneme /ø/ during the 11th to 14th centuries.

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