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 Cow of Heaven

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on December 6, 2019

Ninḫursaĝ

Ninḫursaĝ, also known as Damgalnuna or Ninmah, 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”.

Possibly included among the original mother goddesses was Damgalnuna (great wife of the prince) or Damkina (true wife), the consort of the god Enki. The mother goddess had many epithets including shassuru or ‘womb goddess’, tabsut ili ‘midwife of the gods’, ‘mother of all children’ and ‘mother of the gods’.

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.

Hathor

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 she is connected with Ninhursag.

Hathor, a major goddess in ancient Egyptian religion who played a wide variety of roles, was often depicted as a cow, symbolizing her maternal and celestial aspect, although her most common form was a woman wearing a headdress of cow horns and a sun disk. She could also be represented as a lioness, cobra, or sycamore tree.

Images of the Hathor-cow with a child in a papyrus thicket represented her mythological upbringing in a secluded marsh. Goddesses’ milk was a sign of divinity and royal status. Thus, images in which Hathor nurses the pharaoh represent his right to rule.

As a sky deity, Hathor was the mother or consort of the sky god Horus and the sun god Ra, both of whom were connected with kingship, and thus she was the symbolic mother of their earthly representatives, the pharaohs.

Mentuhotep II, who became the first pharaoh of the Middle Kingdom despite having no relation to the Old Kingdom rulers, sought to legitimize his rule by portraying himself as Hathor’s son. The first images of the Hathor-cow suckling the king date to his reign, and several priestesses of Hathor were depicted as though they were his wives, although he may not have actually married them.

Cows are venerated in many cultures, including ancient Egypt, as symbols of motherhood and nourishment, because they care for their calves and supply humans with milk. Cattle goddesses similar to Hathor were portrayed in Egyptian art in the fourth millennium BC, but she may not have appeared until the Old Kingdom (c. 2686–2181 BC).

Images of cattle appear frequently in the artwork of Predynastic Egypt (before c. 3100 BC), as do images of women with upraised, curved arms reminiscent of the shape of bovine horns. Both types of imagery may represent goddesses connected with cattle.

The Gerzeh Palette, a stone palette from the Naqada II period of prehistory, shows the silhouette of a cow’s head with inward-curving horns surrounded by stars. The palette suggests that this cow was also linked with the sky, as were several goddesses from later times who were represented in this form: Hathor, Mehet-Weret, and Nut.

A bovine deity with inward-curving horns appears on the Narmer Palette, both atop the palette and on the belt or apron of the king, Narmer. It is suggested this deity may be Bat, a goddess who was later depicted with a woman’s face and inward-curling antennae, seemingly reflecting the curve of the cow horns.

Hathor was one of several goddesses who acted as the Eye of Ra, Ra’s feminine counterpart, and in this form she had a vengeful aspect that protected him from his enemies. Her beneficent side represented music, dance, joy, love, sexuality and maternal care, and she acted as the consort of several male deities and the mother of their sons. These two aspects of the goddess exemplified the Egyptian conception of femininity.

Hathor was given the epithets “mistress of the sky” and “mistress of the stars”, and was said to dwell in the sky with Ra and other sun deities. Egyptians thought of the sky as a body of water through which the sun god sailed, and they connected it with the waters from which, according to their creation myths, the sun emerged at the beginning of time.

This cosmic mother goddess was often represented as a cow. Hathor and Mehet-Weret were both thought of as the cow who birthed the sun god and placed him between her horns. Like Nut, Hathor was said to give birth to the sun god each dawn.

Hathor’s Egyptian name was ḥwt-ḥrw or ḥwt-ḥr. It is typically translated “house of Horus” but can also be rendered as “my house is the sky”. The falcon god Horus represented, among other things, the sun and sky. The “house” referred to may be the sky in which Horus lives, or the goddess’s womb from which he, as a sun god, is born each day.

Hathor was often depicted as a cow bearing the sun disk between her horns, especially when shown nursing the king. She could also appear as a woman with the head of a cow. Her most common form, however, was a woman wearing a headdress of the horns and sun disk, often with a red or turquoise sheath dress, or a dress combining both colors.

Sometimes the horns stood atop a low modius or the vulture headdress that Egyptian queens often wore in the New Kingdom. Because Isis adopted the same headdress during the New Kingdom, the two goddesses can be distinguished only if labeled in writing.

When in the role of Imentet, Hathor wore the emblem of the west upon her head instead of the horned headdress. The Seven Hathors were sometimes portrayed as a set of seven cows, accompanied by a minor sky and afterlife deity called the Bull of the West.

Kamadhenu

Kamadhenu, also known as Surabhi, is a divine bovine-goddess described in Hinduism as Gou Mata (the mother of all cows). Kamadhenu is also known as Gayatri and is worshipped as a heavenly cow. She is a miraculous “cow of plenty” who provides her owner whatever he desires and is often portrayed as the mother of other cattle and gives health, wealth, happiness and growth in the life.

In iconography, she is generally depicted as a white cow with a female head and breasts, the wings of a bird, and the tail of a peafowl or as a white cow containing various deities within her body. All cows are venerated in Hinduism as the earthly embodiment of the Kamadhenu. As such, Kamadhenu is not worshipped independently as a goddess, and temples are not dedicated to her honor alone; rather, she is honored by the veneration of cows in general throughout the observant Hindu population.

Hindu scriptures provide diverse accounts of the birth of Kamadhenu. While some narrate that she emerged from the churning of the cosmic ocean, others describe her as the daughter of the creator god Daksha, and as the wife of the sage Kashyapa. Still other scriptures narrate that Kamadhenu was in the possession of either Jamadagni or Vashista (both ancient sages), and that kings who tried to steal her from the sage ultimately faced dire consequences for their actions.

Kamadhenu plays the important role of providing milk and milk products to be used in her sage-master’s oblations; she is also capable of producing fierce warriors to protect him. In addition to dwelling in the sage’s hermitage, she is also described as dwelling in Goloka – the realm of the cows – and Patala, the netherworld.

Gavaevodata

Gavaevodata is the Avestan language name of the primordial bovine of Zoroastrian cosmogony and cosmology, one of Ahura Mazda’s six primordial material creations and the mythological progenitor of all beneficent animal life.

The primordial beast is killed in the creation myth, but from its marrow, organs and cithra the world is repopulated with animal life. The soul of the primordial bovine – geush urvan – returned to the world as the soul of livestock. Although geush urvan is an aspect of the primordial bovine in Zoroastrian tradition, and may also be that in the Younger Avesta, the relationship between the two is unclear in the oldest texts.

Although Avestan gav- “cow” is grammatically feminine, the word is also used as a singular for the collective “cattle”. In English language translations Gavaevodata is often referred to in gender-neutral terms as “primordial ox”. Other translations refer to Gavaevodata as a bull. The -aevo.data of the name literally means “created as one” or “solely created” or “uniquely created”.

Gawi ewdad’s role in the creation myth runs as follows: During the first three-thousand year period, Ahura Mazda’s (Ormuzd) fashioned the bovine as His fourth or fifth of six primordial material creations.

At the beginning of the second three-thousand year period, Angra Mainyu (Ahriman) attacked the world, and the Creator responded by placing the primordial plant, bovine, and human in the respective heavenly spheres of the stars, moon, and sun. But Ahriman assaulted the sky and Ormuzd fed the bovine “medicinal mang” (mang bēšaz) to lessen its suffering. The bovine immediately became feeble, and then died.

But as it lay dying its chihr was rescued and carried to “the moon station”. In the care of the moon, the chihr of the beast was purified and became the male and female pairs of the animals “of many species.”

After the bovine’s death, fifty-five kinds of grain and twelve kinds of medicinal plants grew from its marrow. In another passage, the Bundahishn speaks of sesame, lentils, leeks, grapes, mustard, and marjoram issuing from various other parts of its body. For example, lentils from the liver, and mustard from the lungs.

Goshorun (from Avestan geush urvan), the soul of the primordial bovine, escaped to the star, moon, and sun stations where she lamented the destruction of the world. She was not placated until Ormuzd shows her the fravashi of the yet-unborn Zoroaster (whose protection she would receive). Contented with the promise of protection, Goshorun then agreed to be “created back to the world as livestock.”

Damona

In Gallo-Roman religion, Damona was a goddess worshipped in Gaul as the consort of Apollo Borvo and of Apollo Moritasgus. Mary Jones interprets Damona’s name as “Divine Cow” based on its resemblance to damos or “cow”.

She has sometimes been linked with the Irish goddess Boand on the basis of this bovine association. Van Andringa describes Damona and Bormana as the patron deities of the hot springs at Bourbonne-les-Bains and Saint-Vulbas, respectively.

Some seventeen inscriptions dedicated to Damona have been recovered, including nine from Bourbonne-les-Bains and four from Bourbon-Lancy, both spa towns in eastern France. In one inscription from Saintes, she has the epithet Matubergini.

Boann

Boann or Boand (modern spelling: Bóinn) is the Irish goddess of the River Boyne, a river in Leinster, Ireland. According to the Lebor Gabála Érenn and Tain Bo Fraech she was the sister of Befind and daughter of Delbáeth, son of Elada, of the Tuatha Dé Danann.

Her husband is variously Nechtan, Elcmar or Nuada Airgetlám. With her lover the Dagda, she is the mother of Aengus. In order to hide their affair, the Dagda made the sun stand still for nine months; therefore, Aengus was conceived, gestated and born in one day.

Her name is interpreted as “white cow” (Irish: bó fhionn; Old Irish: bó find) in the dinsenchas, where she is also called “White Boand”. Ptolemy’s 2nd century Geography shows that in antiquity the river’s name was Bouvinda, which may derive from Proto-Celtic *Bou-vindā, “white cow”. An alternate version of her name is given as Segais, hence Well of Segais. We are also told that Eithne was the wife of Elcmar and that another name for Eithne was Boand.

Auðumbla

In Norse mythology, Auðumbla is a primeval cow. The primordial frost jötunn Ymir fed from her milk, and over the course of three days she licked away the salty rime rocks and revealed Búri, grandfather of the gods and brothers Odin, Vili and Vé.

The creature is solely attested in the Prose Edda, composed in the 13th century by Icelander Snorri Sturluson. Scholars identify her as stemming from a very early stratum of Germanic mythology, and ultimately belonging to larger complex of primordial bovines or cow-associated goddesses.

Rudolf Simek highlights that Roman senator Tacitus’s first century CE work ethnography of the Germanic peoples Germania mentions that they maintained hornless cattle (see name section above), and notes that the Germania describes that an image of the Germanic goddess Nerthus was led through the countryside by way of a cattle-driven wagon.

Simek compares the deity to a variety of cow-associated deities among non-Germanic peoples, such as the Egyptian goddesses Hathor (depicted as cow-headed) and Isis (whose iconography contains references to cows), and the Ancient Greek Hera (described as ‘the cow-eyed’).

Amaltheia

In Greek mythology, Amaltheia is the most-frequently mentioned foster-mother of Zeus. The name Amaltheia, in Greek “tender goddess”, is clearly an epithet, signifying the presence of an earlier nurturing goddess, whom the Hellenes, whose myths we know, knew to be located in Crete, where Minoans may have called her a version of “Dikte”.

There were different traditions regarding Amaltheia. Amaltheia is sometimes represented as the goat who nurtured the infant-god in a cave in Cretan Mount Aigaion (“Goat Mountain”), sometimes as a goat-tending nymph of uncertain parentage (the daughter of Oceanus, Helios, Haemonius, or—according to Lactantius—Melisseus).

The possession of multiple and uncertain mythological parents indicates wide worship of a deity in many cultures having varying local traditions. Other names, like Adrasteia, Ide, the nymph of Mount Ida, or Adamanthea, which appear in mythology handbooks, are simply duplicates of Amaltheia.

In the tradition represented by Hesiod’s Theogony, Cronus swallowed all of his children immediately after birth. The mother goddess Rhea, Zeus’ mother, deceived her brother consort Cronus by giving him a stone wrapped to look like a baby instead of Zeus. Since she instead gave the infant Zeus to Adamanthea to nurse in a cave on a mountain in Crete, it is clear that Adamanthea is a doublet of Amalthea.

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