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 Origin of the Pyramids

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on December 2, 2019

The most famous pyramids are the Egyptian — huge structures built of brick or stone, some of which are among the world’s largest constructions. They are shaped as a reference to the rays of the sun.

Pyramids originated from simple rectangular “mastaba” tombs that were being constructed in Egypt over 5,000 years ago, according to finds made by archaeologist Sir Flinders Petrie. A major advance occurred during the reign of the pharaoh Djoser (reign started around 2630 B.C).

Most pyramids had a polished, highly reflective white limestone surface, to give them a shining appearance when viewed from a distance. The capstone was usually made of hard stone – granite or basalt – and could be plated with gold, silver, or electrum and would also be highly reflective.

After 2700 BC, the ancient Egyptians began building pyramids, until around 1700 BC. The first pyramid was erected during the Third Dynasty by the Pharaoh Djoser and his architect Imhotep. This step pyramid consisted of six stacked mastabas, from the Arabic word maṣṭaba (stone bench”).

A mastaba or pr-djt (meaning “house of eternity” or “eternal house” in Ancient Egyptian) is a type of ancient Egyptian tomb in the form of a flat-roofed, rectangular structure with inward sloping sides, constructed out of mud-bricks.

These edifices marked the burial sites of many eminent Egyptians during Egypt’s Early Dynastic Period and Old Kingdom. In the Old Kingdom epoch, local kings began to be buried in pyramids instead of in mastabas, although non-royal use of mastabas continued for over a thousand years.

The age of the pyramids reached its zenith at Giza in 2575–2150 BC. The largest Egyptian pyramids are those at the Giza pyramid complex, also called the Giza Necropolis, the site on the Giza Plateau in Egypt that includes the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Pyramid of Khafre, and the Pyramid of Menkaure, along with their associated pyramid complexes and the Great Sphinx of Giza.

All were built during the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt. The site also includes several cemeteries and the remains of a workers’ village.

The initial temples of Pharaonic Egypt were made of “mud bricks” (as in Mesopotamia), whereas building in stone came thereafter, “mimicking” the same style of architectural building previously used for building in mud brick.

This fact led the Egyptologist Walter Emery to conclude that the Pharaonic Egyptian culture traced its origin back to an immigrant people, perhaps from south Mesopotamia.

The Mesopotamians built the earliest pyramidal structures, called ziggurats. In ancient times, these were brightly painted in gold/bronze. Since they were constructed of sun-dried mud-brick, little remains of them.

Ziggurats were built by the Sumerians, Babylonians, Elamites, Akkadians, and Assyrians for local religions. Each ziggurat was part of a temple complex which included other buildings. The earliest ziggurats began near the end of the Early Dynastic Period. The latest Mesopotamian ziggurats date from the 6th century BC.

Built in receding tiers upon a rectangular, oval, or square platform, the ziggurat was a pyramidal structure with a flat top. Sun-baked bricks made up the core of the ziggurat with facings of fired bricks on the outside.

The facings were often glazed in different colors and may have had astrological significance. Kings sometimes had their names engraved on these glazed bricks. The number of tiers ranged from two to seven.

It is assumed that they had shrines at the top, but there is no archaeological evidence for this and the only textual evidence is from Herodotus. Access to the shrine would have been by a series of ramps on one side of the ziggurat or by a spiral ramp from base to summit.

The precursors of the ziggurat were raised platforms that date from the Ubaid period, a prehistoric period of Mesopotamia. In South Mesopotamia it is the earliest period known period on the alluvial plain although it is likely earlier periods exist obscured under the alluvium. In the south it has a very long duration between about 6500 and 3800 BC when it is replaced by the Uruk period.

Located 12 km southwest of Ur, Eridu was the southernmost of a conglomeration of Sumerian cities that grew around temples, almost in sight of one another. These buildings were made of mud brick and built on top of one another. With the temples growing upward and the village growing outward, a larger city was built.

É is the Sumerian word or symbol for house or temple. The Sumerian term É.GAL (“palace”, literally “big house”) denoted a city’s main building. É.LUGAL (“king’s house”) was used synonymously. In the texts of Lagash, the É.GAL is the center of the ensi’s administration of the city, and the site of the city archives.

Sumerian É.GAL “palace” is the probable etymology of Semitic words for “palace, temple”, such as Hebrew heikhal, and Arabic haykal. It has thus been speculated that the word É originated from something akin to *hai or *ˀai, especially since the cuneiform sign È is used for /a/ in Eblaite.

The term temen appearing frequently after É in names of ziggurats is translated as “foundation pegs”, apparently the first step in the construction process of a house; compare, for example, verses 551–561 of the account of the construction of E-ninnu:

«He stretched out lines in the most perfect way; he set up (?) a sanctuary in the holy uzga. In the house, Enki drove in the foundation pegs, while Nanshe, the daughter of Eridu, took care of the oracular messages.

The mother of Lagash, holy Gatumdug, gave birth to its bricks amid cries (?), and Bau, the lady, first-born daughter of An, sprinkled them with oil and cedar essence. En and lagar priests were detailed to the house to provide maintenance for it. The Anuna gods stood there full of admiration.»

Temen has been occasionally compared to Greek temenos “holy precinct”, but since the latter has a well established Indo-European etymology in the word temple the comparison is either mistaken, or at best describes a case of popular etymology or convergence.

In E-temen-an-ki, “the temple of the foundation (pegs) of heaven and earth”, temen has been taken to refer to an axis mundi connecting earth to heaven (thus re-enforcing the Tower of Babel connection).

However, the term re-appears in several other temple names, referring to their physical stability rather than, or as well as, to a mythological world axis; compare the Egyptian notion of Djed.

A temenos (Greek: temenē) is a piece of land cut off and assigned as an official domain, especially to kings and chiefs, or a piece of land marked off from common uses and dedicated to a god, a sanctuary, holy grove or holy precinct.

Göbekli Tepe (Turkish for “Potbelly Hill”) is an archaeological site in the Southeastern Anatolia Region of Turkey approximately 12 km (7 mi) northeast of the city of Şanlıurfa. The tell has a height of 15 m (49 ft) and is about 300 m (980 ft) in diameter. It is approximately 760 m (2,490 ft) above sea level.

The tell includes two phases of use, believed to be of a social or ritual nature by site discoverer and excavator Klaus Schmidt, dating back to the 10th–8th millennium BCE. During the first phase, belonging to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA), circles of massive T-shaped stone pillars were erected – the world’s oldest known megaliths.

At this early stage of the site’s history, circular compounds or temene first appear. They range from 10 to 30 metres in diameter. Their most notable feature is the presence of T-shaped limestone pillars evenly set within thick interior walls composed of unworked stone.

The Leyla-Tepe culture of ancient Caucasian Albania belongs to the Chalcolithic era. It got its name from the site in the Agdam district of modern day Azerbaijan. Its settlements were distributed on the southern slopes of Central Caucasus, from 4350 until 4000 B.C.

The culture has also been linked to the north Ubaid period monuments, in particular, with the settlements in the Eastern Anatolia Region (Arslantepe, Coruchu-tepe, Tepechik, etc.). Other sites belonging to the same culture are in the Armenian held Karabakh valley of the partially recognized state of the Republic of Artsakh.

The settlement is of a typical Western-Asian variety, closely associated with subsequent civilizations found on the Armenian Highlands. This is evident with the dwellings packed closely together and made of mud bricks with smoke outlets, which closely resemble Armenian tonirs.

It has been suggested that the Leyla-Tepe were the founders of the Maykop culture. An expedition to Syria by the Russian Academy of Sciences revealed the similarity of the Maykop and Leyla-Tepe artifacts with those found recently while excavating the ancient city of Tel Khazneh I, from the 4th millennium BC.

Leyla-Tepe pottery is very similar to the ‘Chaff-Faced Ware’ of the northern Syria and Mesopotamia. It is especially well attested at Amuq F phase. Similar pottery is also found at Kultepe, Azerbaijan.

Among the sites associated with this culture, the Soyugbulag kurgans or barrows are of special importance. They were dated to the beginning of the fourth millennium BC, which makes it the oldest kurgan cemetery in Transcaucasia.

The excavation of these kurgans, located in Kaspi Municipality, in central Georgia, demonstrated an unexpectedly early date of such structures on the territory of Azerbaijan. They were dated to the beginning of the 4th millennium BC.

Several other archaeological sites seem to belong to the same ancient cultural tradition as Soyuq Bulaq. They include Berikldeebi, Kavtiskhevi, Leilatepe, Boyuk Kesik, and Poylu, Agstafa, and are characterized by pottery assemblages “mainly or totally in the North Mesopotamian tradition”.

The Kurgans provide us with an “earlier” people who buried their dead in a manner which must be regarded as a technological precursor to the later burial mounds of Babylon and Egypt, a people of Europe.

We find a clear correlation between the megaliths of Anatolia and the ones of Western Europe. Dolmens and Menhirs found in eastern Anatolia are similar to the ones found in western France and northern England.

The Caucasian Proignitors of the Megalith, Kurgans and Pyramids

One Response to “The Origin of the Pyramids”

  1. gunst01 said

    Reblogged this on Die Goldene Landschaft.

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