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 Scorpio and Ophiuchus

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on October 6, 2019

Scorpio

Scorpio is the eighth astrological sign in the Zodiac, originating from the constellation of Scorpius. It spans 210°–240° ecliptic longitude. Its name is Latin for scorpion. It lies between Libra to the west and Sagittarius to the east. Scorpio is one of the three water signs, the others being Cancer and Pisces. It is a large constellation located in the southern hemisphere near the center of the Milky Way.

The Western astrological sign Scorpio differs from the astronomical constellation. Astronomically, the sun is in Scorpius for just six days, from November 23 to November 28. Much of the difference is due to the constellation Ophiuchus, a large constellation straddling the celestial equator, which is used by few astrologers.

Under the tropical zodiac (most commonly used in Western astrology), the Sun transits this sign on average from October 23 to November 22. Under the sidereal zodiac (most commonly used in Hindu astrology), the Sun is in Scorpio from approximately November 16 to December 15.

Scorpio is associated with three different animals: the scorpion, the snake, and the eagle (or phoenix). The snake and eagle are related to the nearby constellations of Ophiuchus and Aquila.

Aquila is a constellation on the celestial equator. Its name is Latin for ‘eagle’ and it represents the bird that carried Zeus/Jupiter’s thunderbolts in Greco-Roman mythology. Its brightest star, Altair, is one vertex of the Summer Triangle asterism.

In ancient times, Scorpio was associated with the planet Mars. After Pluto was discovered in 1930, it became associated with Scorpio instead. Scorpio is also associated with the Greek deity Artemis, who is said to have created the constellation Scorpius.

Ophiuchus

Ophiuchus is a large constellation straddling the celestial equator. Its name is from the Greek Ophioukhos; “serpent-bearer”, and it is commonly represented as a man grasping a snake. The serpent is represented by the constellation Serpens. It straddles the equator with the majority of its area lying in the southern hemisphere.

Rasalhague, its brightest star, lies near the northern edge of Ophiuchus at about 12½°N declination. The constellation extends southward to −30° declination. Segments of the ecliptic within Ophiuchus are south of −20° declination.

There is no evidence of the constellation preceding the classical era, and in Babylonian astronomy, a “Sitting Gods” constellation seems to have been located in the general area of Ophiuchus. However, Gavin White proposes that Ophiuchus may in fact be remotely descended from this Babylonian constellation, representing Nirah, a serpent-god who was sometimes depicted with his upper half human but with serpents for legs.

To the ancient Greeks, the constellation represented the god Apollo struggling with a huge snake that guarded the Oracle of Delphi. Later myths identified Ophiuchus with Laocoön, the Trojan priest of Poseidon, who warned his fellow Trojans about the Trojan Horse and was later slain by a pair of sea serpents sent by the gods to punish him.

According to Roman era mythography, the figure represents the healer Asclepius, who learned the secrets of keeping death at bay after observing one serpent bringing another healing herbs. To prevent the entire human race from becoming immortal under Asclepius’ care, Jupiter killed him with a bolt of lightning, but later placed his image in the heavens to honor his good works.

In medieval Islamic astronomy (Azophi’s Uranometry, 10th century), the constellation was known as Al-Ḥawwaʾ, “the snake-charmer”. Aratus describes Ophiuchus as trampling on Scorpius with his feet. This is depicted in Renaissance to Early Modern star charts, beginning with Albrecht Dürer in 1515; in some depictions (such as that of Johannes Kepler in De Stella Nova, 1606), Scorpius also seems to threaten to sting Serpentarius in the foot.

This is consistent with Azophi, who already included ψ Oph and ω Oph as the snake-charmer’s “left foot”, and θ Oph and ο Oph as his “right foot”, making Ophiuchus a zodiacal constellation at least as regards his feet. This arrangement has been taken as symbolic in later literature, and placed in relation to the words spoken by God to the serpent in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15).

The constellation lies between Aquila, Serpens, Scorpius, Sagittarius, and Hercules, northwest of the center of the Milky Way. The southern part lies between Scorpius to the west and Sagittarius to the east. It was formerly referred to as Serpentarius and Anguitenens.

The Anguillidae are a family of ray-finned fish that contains the freshwater eels. Eighteen of the 19 extant species and six subspecies in this family are in the genus Anguilla. They are elongated fish with snake-like bodies, their long dorsal, caudal and anal fins forming a continuous fringe.

In Hittite mythology, one of the sky and storm god Teshub’s greatest acts was the slaying of the serpentin dragon Illuyanka. The contest is a ritual of the Hattian spring festival of Puruli dedicated to the earth goddess Hannahanna, who is married to a new king.

Illuyanka is probably a compound, consisting of two words for “snake”, Proto-Indo-European *h₁illu- and *h₂eng(w)eh₂-. The same compound members, inverted, appear in Latin anguilla “eel”. The *h₁illu- word is cognate to English eel, the anka- word to Sanskrit ahi.

Ophichthidae is a family of fish in the order Anguilliformes, commonly known as the snake eels. The term “Ophichthidae” comes from Greek ophis (“serpent”) and ichthys (“fish”). Snake eels are also burrowing eels, they are named for their physical appearance, they have long, cylindrical snakelike bodies.

The constellation is depicted as a man grasping a serpent. It actually consists of two star patterns; the snake that the man is holding is a constellation in and of itself — Serpens. In some old star books and atlases, Ophiuchus is branded as “Serpentarius, the snake handler.”

To further confuse matters, some people consider the serpent to be two separate constellations, the interposition of his body divides the snake constellation Serpens into two parts, Serpens Caput (“Head”) and Serpens Cauda (“Tail”).

The official constellation boundaries set forth in 1930 by the International Astronomical Union keep the head and tail of Serpens as their own separate entities, and yet both body parts constitute one singular constellation.

Ophiuchus is a sort of summer counterpart of the famous constellation Orion, the Hunter, which straddles the celestial equator and is prominent high in our southern sky on late December evenings. Ophiuchus also straddles the celestial equator, and it sits high in the evening skies in late June.

In the northern hemisphere, it is best visible in summer. It is opposite Orion. Perhaps we could call Ophiuchus the “anti-Orion,” because this celestial snake man is positioned diametrically opposite to Orion in the sky; Ophiuchus appears in early summertime just about where Orion will be a half year later, at the same time of night.

Asclepius

Ophiuchus is the celestial physician, for he represents the mythological doctor Aesculapius, who supposedly had the ability to bring the dead back to life. In fact, to this day, Aesculapius is mentioned in the Hippocratic Oath taken by physicians.

Asclepius or Hepius is a hero and god of medicine in ancient Greek religion and mythology. He is the son of Apollo. He represents the healing aspect of the medical arts. The rod of Asclepius, a snake-entwined staff, remains a symbol of medicine today.

The serpent was important because it represented the ancient pharmaceutical elixir to cure all illness. Of course, in real life, that has proved to be a fallacy, and the term “snake oil” has come to mean an item that’s sold as a remedy but has no real medicinal value.

Yet, ironically, the universal medical symbol — the caduceus — depicts a serpent coiled around a rod. We see it, for example, on the U.S. Army Medical Corps branch plaque, and various health care providers have incorporated the caduceus into their logos over the years.

The 13th sign

Ophiuchus is one of thirteen constellations that cross the ecliptic. It has therefore been called the “13th sign of the zodiac”. However, this confuses sign with constellation. The ecliptic – which marks the path in the sky for the sun, moon and planets – cuts a much broader expanse through the Serpent Bearer compared with the Scorpion.

The fact that Scorpius is so much brighter than Ophiuchus probably explains why Scorpius is recognized as a member of the zodiac and Ophiuchus isn’t. And that’s a shame, because the snake man really should be.

In late fall, the sun spends only about a week in Scorpius but three full weeks in Ophiuchus. Perhaps the real reason the Serpent Bearer is being denied membership in the Zodiac is that its inclusion would boost the number of zodiacal signs to 13.

Ophiuchus has sometimes been used in sidereal astrology as a thirteenth sign in addition to the twelve signs of the tropical Zodiac, because the eponymous constellation Ophiuchus (“Serpent-bearer”), as defined by the 1930 International Astronomical Union’s constellation boundaries, is situated behind the sun from November 29 to December 18.

The signs of the zodiac are a twelve-fold division of the ecliptic, so that each sign spans 30° of celestial longitude, approximately the distance the Sun travels in a month, and (in the Western tradition) are aligned with the seasons so that the March equinox always falls on the boundary between Pisces and Aries.

Constellations, on the other hand, are unequal in size and are based on the positions of the stars. The constellations of the zodiac have only a loose association with the signs of the zodiac, and do not in general coincide with them.

In Western astrology the constellation of Aquarius, for example, largely corresponds to the sign of Pisces. Similarly, the constellation of Ophiuchus occupies most (November 29 – December 18) of the sign of Sagittarius (November 23 – December 21).

The differences are due to the fact that the time of year that the sun passes through a particular zodiac constellation’s position has slowly changed (because of the precession of the equinoxes) over the centuries from when the Greeks, Babylonians, and Dacians through Zamolxis originally developed the Zodiac.

Eagle and snake

In the Ancient world the eagle and the snake is always expressive of identical pairs of fundamental opposites. It is a universal symbol; the eagle and the snake are animals with a great potentiality, a great capacity for meaning and thus they become symbols that embody the most sublime experiences of the ‘homo religiosus’.

When dealing with this group it is common to list the contraries (if they really are so) that these two animals symbolise: height/depth, heaven/earth, light/shadow-twilight, or the account of the struggle of the good and the evil.

Mankind has been fascinated by the golden eagle as early as the beginning of recorded history. Most early-recorded cultures regarded the golden eagle with reverence. Many Eurasian cultures and faiths also feature eagles quite prominently.

In many cultures, eagles were viewed as a link between terrestrial mankind and celestial deities. When an emperor died, his body was burned in a funeral pyre and an eagle was released above his ashes to carry his soul to the heavens.

Eagles were particularly prominent in Roman culture. Many banners, coins and insignias from Rome feature eagles. In Roman religion, the eagle was both the symbol and the messenger of the Roman sky-god, Jupiter.

In Hellenistic religion, the golden eagle is the signature bird of the god Zeus, a connection most notable in the myth of Ganymede, where the god adopted the form of a golden eagle to kidnap the boy, as well as the eagle-like daimon Aetos Dios.

At least a few sources also associate it with Helios, in Ancient Greek religion and myth, is the god and personification of the Sun, often depicted in art with a radiant crown and driving a horse-drawn chariot through the sky.

The behaviour of snakes and their facial features (e.g. the unblinking, lidless eyes) seemed to imply that they were intelligent, that they lived by reason and not instinct, and yet their thought-processes were as alien to humans as their ways of movement.

In most cultures snakes were symbolic and symbols of healing and transformation, but in some cultures snakes were fertility symbols. Snakes symbolised the umbilical cord, joining all humans to Mother Earth.

The Great Goddess often had snakes as her familiars—sometimes twining around her sacred staff, as in ancient Crete—and they were worshipped as guardians of her mysteries of birth and regeneration.

The classical symbol of the Ouroboros originates in ancient Egyptian iconography epicting a snake in the act of eating its own tail. This symbol has many interpretations, one of which is the snake representing cyclical nature of life and death, life feeding on itself in the act of creation.

Puruli 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 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 (Akkadian: DTI.AMAT or DTAM.TUM, Greek: Thaláttē), a primordial goddess of the salt sea, who mated 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.

In the Enûma Elish, the Babylonian epic of creation, she gives birth to the first generation of deities; her husband, Apsu, correctly assuming they are planning to kill him and usurp his throne, later makes war upon them and is killed.

Enraged, she, too, wars upon her husband’s murderers, taking on the form of a massive sea dragon, she is then slain by Enki’s son, the storm-god Marduk, but not before she had brought forth the monsters of the Mesopotamian pantheon, including the first dragons, whose bodies she filled with “poison instead of blood”. Marduk then forms the heavens and the Earth from her divided body.

The motif of Chaoskampf (“struggle against chaos”) is ubiquitous in myth and legend, depicting a battle of a culture hero deity with a chaos monster, often in the shape of a serpent or dragon.

The same term has also been extended to parallel concepts in the Middle East and North Africa, such as the abstract conflict of ideas in the Egyptian duality of Maat and Isfet or the battle of Horus and Set.

The origins of the Chaoskampf myth most likely lie in the Proto-Indo-European religion whose descendants almost all feature some variation of the story of a storm god fighting a sea serpent representing the clash between the forces of order and chaos.

Early work by German academics such as Gunkel and Bousset in comparative mythology popularized translating the mythological sea serpent as a “dragon.” Examples includes Indra/Vritra, Ahura Mazda/Ahriman, Horus/Seth,Odin/Jörmungandr or even Zeus/Typhon.

The Vulture / Eagle

Clear carvings and depictions of vultures, as well as representations of birdmen, have been found at Göbekli Tepe and other PPN sites in SE Turkey and North Syria. The main relationship between key PPN sites such as Göbekli Tepe and Nevali Çori is the fact that their layout, design and art are the same. They were constructed by the same unique people.

They connect with Çatal Hüyük, the oldest Neolithic city anywhere in the world, situated in southern-central Turkey and dating to 6500 BC, because this was a latter development of the same high culture, and so this city – excavated first in the early 1960s by British archaeologist James Mellaart – can tell us much about the earlier cults at places such as Göbekli Tepe and Nevali Çori.

Like, for example, the Neolithic cult of the dead. At Çatal Hüyük, we find frescoes of vultures accompanying the soul of the deceased into the next world, and also of shamans taking the form of vultures for presumed shamanic practices, such as contacting or journeying into the other world.

Since statues of birdmen, as well as those of vultures, have been found at both Göbekli Tepe and Nevali Çori, we can be pretty sure that the same cult existed here as far back as 11,500-10,000 BP. There is some evidence to suggest that over time as this culture developed the bird image evolved into that of a vulture-goddess. But most importantly at least one of the murals from Çatal Hüyük apparently shows a human being dressed in a vulture skin.

It is believed that in the early Neolithic culture of Anatolia and the Near East the deceased were deliberately exposed in order to be excarnated by vultures and other carrion birds. The Neolithic period’s highly prominent cult of the dead was focused around excarnation, and the use of the vulture as a symbol of both astral flight and the transmigration of the soul in death.

The vulture image appears to represent for them a god-form, responsible for removing the head (i.e. the soul?) of the deceased. They may have practiced sky-burials (where corpses are left to the birds to eat) or the imagery may have been entirely metaphorical, or both.

The head of the deceased was sometimes removed and preserved — possibly a sign of ancestor worship. This, then, would represent an early form of sky burial, as still practiced by Tibetan Buddhists and by Zoroastrians in Iran and India.

In many cultures, eagles were viewed as a link between terrestrial mankind and celestial deities. Eagles were particularly prominent in Roman culture. Many banners, coins and insignias from Rome feature eagles.

In Roman religion, the eagle was both the symbol and the messenger of the Roman sky-god, Jupiter. When an emperor died, his body was burned in a funeral pyre and an eagle was released above his ashes to carry his soul to the heavens.

The eagle-headed staff

Zababa (also Zamama) is a war god who was the tutelary deity of the city of Kish in ancient Mesopotamia. He is connected with the god Ninurta, and the symbol of Zababa − the eagle-headed staff − was often depicted next to Ninurta’s symbol. Inanna and Baba are variously described as his wife.

The Hittites applied the name ZABABA to various war gods, using their Akkadian writing conventions. Among these gods were the Hattian Wurunkatte; the Hittite and Luwian Hašamili, Iyarri, and Zappana; and Hurrian Aštabi, Hešui, and Nubadig.

In Greek mythology, the Rod of Asclepius, also known as the Staff of Asclepius (sometimes also spelled Asklepios or Aesculapius) and as the asklepian, is a serpent-entwined rod wielded by the Greek god Asclepius, a deity associated with healing and medicine. The symbol has continued to be used in modern times, where it is associated with medicine and health care.

The original Hippocratic Oath began with the invocation “I swear by Apollo the Physician and by Asclepius and by Hygieia and Panacea and by all the gods …” The national divinity of the Greeks, Apollo has been recognized as a god of archery, music and dance, truth and prophecy, healing and diseases, the Sun and light, poetry, and more.

It is frequently confused with the staff of the god Hermes, the caduceus (“herald’s wand, or staff”), the staff carried by Hermes in Greek mythology and consequently by Hermes Trismegistus in Greco-Egyptian mythology. The same staff was also borne by heralds in general, for example by Iris, the messenger of Hera.

The caduceus is a short staff entwined by two serpents, sometimes surmounted by wings. In Roman iconography, it was often depicted being carried in the left hand of Mercury, the messenger of the gods, guide of the dead, and protector of merchants, shepherds, gamblers, liars, and thieves.

As a symbolic object, it represents Hermes (or the Roman Mercury), and by extension trades, occupations, or undertakings associated with the god. In later Antiquity, the caduceus provided the basis for the astrological symbol representing the planet Mercury.

Some accounts suggest that the oldest known imagery of the caduceus has its roots in a Mesopotamian origin with the Sumerian god Ningishzida; whose symbol, a staff with two snakes intertwined around it, dates back to 4000 BC to 3000 BC.

Ningishzida is a Mesopotamian deity of vegetation and the underworld. Thorkild Jacobsen translates Ningishzida as Sumerian for “lord of the good tree”. In Sumerian mythology, he appears in Adapa’s myth as one of the two guardians of Anu’s celestial palace, alongside Dumuzi. He was sometimes depicted as a serpent with a human head.

The caduceus is often incorrectly used as a symbol of healthcare organizations and medical practice, particularly in the United States of America, due to confusion with the traditional medical symbol, the Rod of Asclepius, which has only one snake and is never depicted with wings.

 

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