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The Hyksos in Egypt, Creta, Alalakh and Ugarit

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 26, 2013

Crete: the Egyptian island of the dead?

Kura Araxes

The Shengavit Settlement is an archaeological site in present day Yerevan, Armenia located on a hill south-east of Lake Yerevan. It was inhabited during a series of settlement phases from approximately 3200 BC cal to 2500 BC cal in the Kura Araxes (Shengavitian) Period of the Early Bronze Age and irregularly re-used in the Middle Bronze Age until 2200 BC cal.

The town occupied an area of six hectares. It appears that Shengavit was a societal center for the areas surrounding the town due to its unusual size, evidence of surplus production of grains, and metallurgy, as well as its monumental 4 meter wide stone wall. Four smaller village sites of Moukhannat, Tepe, Khorumbulagh, and Tairov have been identified and were located outside the walls of Shengavit. Its pottery makes it a type site of the Kura-Araxes or Early Transcaucasian Period and the Shengavitian culture area.

Hurrian and Urartian elements are quite probable, as are Northeast Caucasian ones. Some authors subsume Hurrians and Urartians under Northeast Caucasian as well as part of the Alarodian theory. The presence of Kartvelian languages was also highly probable. Influences of Semitic languages and Indo-European languages are also highly possible, though the presence of the languages on the lands of the Kura–Araxes culture is more controversial.

Kura-Araxes culture of the Armenian Highlands

Prehistoric Nagorno-Karabakh, The Kura-Araxes

Situating the Kura-Araxes Early Transcaucasian

Origin of Early Transcaucasian Culture (aka Kura-Araxes culture)

A role for Kura-Araxes in the spread of V88?

Kura–Araxes culture

Shengavit Settlement

Urartu

The Armenians, fathers of the Etruscans

The Hyksos

The Hyksos or Hycsos were a people from West Asia who took over the eastern Nile Delta, ending the Thirteenth dynasty of Egypt and initiating the Second Intermediate Period. The Mitannians, who were probably allies of the Kassites, had horses and chariots, and the horse appeared in Egypt during the Hyksos era. Perhaps the successful invasion of the Hyksos was due to the use of cavalry.

The origin of the term “Hyksos” derives from the Egyptian expression hekau en khaswet (“rulers of foreign lands”), used in Egyptian texts such as the Turin King List to describe the rulers of neighbouring lands. This expression begins to appear as early as the late Old Kingdom in Egypt, referring to various Nubian chieftains, and in the Middle Kingdom, referring to the Semitic chieftains of Syria and Canaan.

The Hyksos first appeared in Egypt c.1800 BC, during the Eleventh Dynasty, and began their climb to power in the Thirteenth Dynasty, coming out of the second intermediate period in control of Avaris and the Delta. By the Fifteenth Dynasty, they ruled Lower Egypt, and at the end of the Seventeenth Dynasty, they were expelled (c. 1560 BC).

The Hyksos practiced horse burials, and their chief deity, their native storm god, became associated with the Egyptian storm and desert god, Seth. Although most Hyksos names seem Semitic, the Hyksos also included Hurrians, who, while speaking an isolated language, were under the rule and influence of Indo-Europeans.

Modern scholarship usually assumes that the Hyksos were likely Semites who came from the Levant. Kamose, the last king of the Theban 17th Dynasty, refers to Apophis as a “Chieftain of Retjenu (i.e., Canaan)” in a stela that implies a Semitic Canaanite background for this Hyksos king: this is the strongest evidence for a Canaanite background for the Hyksos.

Khyan’s name “has generally been interpreted as Amorite “Hayanu” (reading h-ya-a-n) which the Egyptian form represents perfectly, and this is in all likelihood the correct interpretation.” Kim Ryholt furthermore observes the name Hayanu is recorded in the Assyrian king-lists for a “remote ancestor” of Shamshi-Adad I (c. 1813 BC) of Assyria, which suggests that it had been used for centuries prior to Khyan’s own reign.

The Hyksos brought several technical improvements to Egypt, as well as cultural impulses such as new musical instruments and foreign loan words. The changes introduced include new techniques of bronze working and pottery, new breeds of animals, and new crops. In warfare, they introduced the horse and chariot, the composite bow, improved battle axes, and advanced fortification techniques.

As to a Hyksos “conquest”, some archaeologists depict the Hyksos as “northern hordes . . . sweeping through Canaan and Egypt in swift chariots”. Yet, others refer to a ‘creeping conquest’, that is, a gradual infiltration of migrating nomads or seminomads who either slowly took over control of the country piecemeal or by a swift coup d’etat put themselves at the head of the existing government. In The World of the Past (1963, p. 444), archeologist Jacquetta Hawkes states: “It is no longer thought that the Hyksos rulers… represent the invasion of a conquering horde of Asiatics… they were wandering groups of Semites who had long come to Egypt for trade and other peaceful purposes.”

In his Against Apion, the 1st-century AD historian Josephus Flavius debates the synchronism between the Biblical account of the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, and two Exodus-like events that the Egyptian historian Manetho apparently mentions.

It is difficult to distinguish between what Manetho himself recounted, and how Josephus or Apion interpret him. Josephus identifies the Israelite Exodus with the first exodus mentioned by Manetho, when some 480,000 Hyksos left Egypt for Jerusalem. The mention of “Hyksos” identifies this first exodus with the Hyksos period (16th century BC).

Creta

A palace complex in Tel ed-Daba (Avaris), an area on the western edge of the site, known as Ezbet Helmi, reveal a large palace-like structure dating to the Hyksos period (18th century BC). The ancient gardens reveal many fragments of Minoan wall-paintings, similar in style to those found in the palace at Knossos in Crete. Knossos-like paintings has also been found in the tombs of the necropolis of Thebes West.

It has been suggested that the Avaris paintings with a distinctive red-painted background may even pre-date those of Crete and Thera and possibly have influenced some of the 18th Dynasty tomb paintings that appear to include Minoan themes such as the “flying gallop” motif of horses and bulls.

In the 18th Dynasty strata of Ezbet Helmi, Dr Bietak also discovered many lumps of pumice-stone, which could have come from the volcanic explosion on the island of Thera, occurring in the 15th century BC and identified as the cataclysmic event that ended the Minoan civilisation.

The Hyksos, who ruled from Avaris, ruled shortly before the 18th Dynasty, which saw the exchange of Egyptian and Cretan “goods”. The Hyksos were connected with Crete, at a time when the Avaris frescos had not yet been discovered.

In Knossos, an alabaster lid with the name of the Hyksos king Khyan has been found. The enigmatic Phaistos Disc, found in the palace of Phaistos on Crete, might also be linked with the Egyptian game of Senet and Snake Game. H. Peter Aleff argues that the depictions are not a script, but are related to the signs of the board game. Senet was a popular pastime in ancient Egypt from late pre-dynastic times on and is well documented because it became an important part of the funerary magic and then evolved into today’s Backgammon.

Its pieces simulated the passage of the player through life and, even more importantly, through death and its perils. The oldest surviving copy of any known board game is the Snake Game. It helped at least one king in the Old Kingdom Pyramid Texts to ascend to heaven and so seems to have represented the same journey, except that its path was not folded, as in Senet, but coiled into the spiral of a snake’s rolled-up body. On one of its sculpted stone boards, the tail of the snake ended in the head of a goose.

During the Middle Kingdom (1500 BC), the dead in Egypt were buried in valleys – the same practice was adhered to in Crete, with one of the more famous Valley of the Dead behind the Palace of Kato Zakros. Namewise, Zakros is similar to Saqqara and Sokar, an important necropolis and god of the dead in ancient Egypt.

Interestingly, the ancient Egyptians argued that the dead went to live on an island in the West. Crete is an island in the west. Furthermore, the concentration of Minoan civilisation is in Eastern Crete – the part closest to Egypt.

The Hyksos period coincides exactly with the time between the Old and New Palace Period on Crete. When the Hyksos invaded Egypt, the old palaces were destroyed, probably by an earthquake. Did the Hyksos (partly) come from Crete? Or did the Hyksos, once out of grace and power in Egypt, travel to Crete, to continue their culture there?

The right answer will have a lot to do with correct dating and many have argued that the chronological alignment of the various cultures in the Eastern Mediterranean has not been a complete success. Only the future will shed more light on the interrelationship between Egypt and Crete, but it can no longer be denied that the two civilisations had intimate contacts with one another.

Linear A and B are two scripts found on the island of Crete. The newer Linear B turned out to be Greek. Linear A shows a connection between Minoan Crete and the Hyksos. There is different theories what languages Linear A is related to, but it can be related to the languages of Ugarit and Alalach, the name of an ancient city-state near modern Antakya in the Amuq River valley of Turkey’s Hatay Province.

Alalakh

Alalakh (Hittite: Alalaḫ) is the name of an ancient city-state near modern Antakya in the Amuq River valley of Turkey’s Hatay Province founded by the Amorites during the Middle Bronze Age in the 2nd millennium BC. The first palace was built c. 2000 BC, contemporary with the Third Dynasty of Ur. The site is now represented by an extensive mound, the name of the modern archaeological site is Tell Atchana.

The written history of the site may begin under the name Alakhtum, with tablets from Mari in the 18th century BC, when the city was part of the kingdom of Yamhad (modern Aleppo), which appears in historical records as an important city much earlier than Damascus, has scarcely been touched by archaeologists, since the modern city occupies its ancient site. The site has been occupied from around 5000 BC, as excavations in Tallet Alsauda show.

The first record of Aleppo comes from the third millennium BC, when Aleppo was the capital of an independent kingdom closely related to Ebla, known as Armi to Ebla and Armani to the Akkadians. Giovanni Pettinato describes Armi as Ebla’s alter ego. Naram-Sin of Akkad destroyed both Ebla and Armani in the 23rd century BC.

Aleppo was the capital of the important Amorite dynasty of Yamḥad, alternatively known as the ‘land of Ḥalab. A substantial Hurrian population lived in the kingdom, and the Hurrian culture influenced the area. The kingdom was the most powerful in the Near East during the Middle Bronze Age, ca. 1800-1600 BC. Its biggest rival was Qatna further south. Yamhad was finally destroyed by the Hittites under Mursilis I in the sixteenth century BC.

However, Aleppo soon resumed its leading role in Syria when the Hittite power in the region waned due to internal strife. Taking advantage of the power vacuum in the region, Parshatatar, king of the Hurrian kingdom of Mitanni, conquered Aleppo in the 15th century BC. Subsequently, Aleppo found itself on the frontline in the struggle between the Mitanni and the Hittites and Egypt.

The Hittite Suppiluliumas I permanently defeated Mitanni and conquered Aleppo in the 14th century BC. Aleppo had cultic importance to the Hittites for being the center of worship of the Storm-God.

Alalakh was destroyed in the 16th century BC, most likely by Hittite king Hattusili I, in the second year of his campaigns. After a hiatus of less than a century, written records for Alalakh resume. At this time, it was again the seat of a local dynasty. Most of the information about the founding of this dynasty comes from a statue inscribed with what seems to be an autobiography of the dynasty’s founding king.

According to his inscription, in the 15th century, Idrimi, a Hurrianised Semitic son of the king of Yamhad, Aleppo, who had been deposed by the new regional master, Barattarna, the name of a Hurrian king of Mitanni in the fifteenth century BC., and may have fled his city for Emar.

Nevertheless he succeeded in regaining his seat and was recognized as a vassal by Barattarna, who ruled over the Hurrians. Idrimi traveled to Alalakh, gained control of the city, founded the kingdom of Mukish, and ruled from Alalakh as a vassal to the Mitanni. He also invaded the Hittite territories to the north, resulting in a treaty with the country Kizzuwatna. Mitanni in his time probably extended as far as Arrapha in the east.

Barattarna may have been the Mitannian king the Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III encountered by the river Euphrates in his campaign of year 1447 BC. In the 33rd year of his reign (1446 BC) he mention the people of Ermenen, and says in their land “heaven rests upon its four pillars”.

An inscription on a statue base found at Alalakh records Idrimi’s vicissitudes. After his family had been forced to flee to Emar, with his mother’s people, he left them and joined the “Hapiru people”, in “Ammija in the land of Canaan”, where other refugees from Aleppo recognized him as the “son of their overlord” and “gathered around him;” after living among them for seven years, he led his new friends and Habiru allies in a successful attack by sea on Alalakh, where he became king.

However, according to the site report, this statue was discovered in a level of occupation dating several centuries after the time that Idrimi lived, and there has been much scholarly debate as to its historicity. Nonetheless, archeologically dated tablets tell us that Idrimi’s son Niqmepuh was contemporaneous with the Mitanni king Saushtatar, which would seem to support the statue’s claim that Idrimi was contemporaneous with Barattarna, Saushtatar’s predecessor.

Habiru or Apiru or pr.w (Egyptian) was the name given by various Sumerian, Egyptian, Akkadian, Hittite, Mitanni, and Ugaritic sources (dated, roughly, between 1800 BC and 1100 BC) to a group of people of various origin, both Semitic and Hurrian, living as nomadic invaders in areas of the Fertile Crescent from Northeastern Mesopotamia and Iran to the borders of Egypt in Canaan. Depending on the source and epoch, these Habiru are variously described as nomadic or semi-nomadic, rebels, outlaws, raiders, mercenaries, and bowmen, servants, slaves, migrant laborers, etc.

The socio-economic history of Alalakh during the reign of Idrimi’s son and grandson, Niqmepuh and Ilim-ilimma is well documented by tablets excavated from the site. Idrimi himself appears only rarely in these tablets.

In the mid-14th century, the Hittite Suppiluliuma I defeated king Tushratta of Mitanni and assumed control of northern Syria, including Alalakh, which he incorporated into the Hittite Empire. A tablet records his grant of much of Mukish’s land (that is, Alalakh’s) to Ugarit after the king of Ugarit alerted the Hittite king to a revolt by the kingdoms of Mukish, Nuhassa, and Niye.

Alalakh was probably destroyed by the Sea People in the 12th century, as were many other cities of coastal Anatolia and the Levant. The site was never reoccupied, the port of Al Mina taking its place during the Iron Age.

Ugarit

Ugarit (Ugaritic: Ugrt‎) was an ancient port city on the eastern Mediterranean at the Ras Shamra headland some 11 kilometres (7 mi) north of Latakia in northern Syria near modern Burj al-Qasab.

Ugarit sent tribute to Egypt and maintained trade and diplomatic connections with Cyprus (then called Alashiya), documented in the archives recovered from the site and corroborated by Mycenaean and Cypriot pottery found there. The polity was at its height from ca. 1450 BC until 1200 BC.

Though the site is thought to have been inhabited earlier, Neolithic Ugarit was already important enough to be fortified with a wall early on, perhaps by 6000 BC. Ugarit was important perhaps because it was both a port and at the entrance of the inland trade route to the Euphrates and Tigris lands.

The first written evidence mentioning the city comes from the nearby city of Ebla, ca. 1800 BC. Ugarit passed into the sphere of influence of Egypt, which deeply influenced its art.

The earliest Ugaritic contact with Egypt (and the first exact dating of Ugaritic civilization) comes from a carnelian bead identified with the Middle Kingdom pharaoh Senusret I, 1971 BC – 1926 BC. A stela and a statuette from the Egyptian pharaohs Senusret III and Amenemhet III have also been found. However, it is unclear at what time these monuments got to Ugarit. Amarna letters from Ugarit ca. 1350 BC record one letter each from Ammittamru I, Niqmaddu II, and his queen.

From the 16th to the 13th century BC Ugarit remained in constant touch with Egypt and Alashiya (Cyprus). In the second millennium BC Ugarit’s population was Amorite, and the Ugaritic language probably has a direct Amoritic origin. During some of its history it would have been in close proximity to, if not directly within the Hittite Empire.

The foundations of Ras Shamra, the Bronze Age city, were divided into “quarters.” In the north-east quarter of the walled enclosure the remains of three significant buildings were unearthed; the temples of Baal and Dagon and the library (sometimes referred to as the high priest’s house).

Within these structures atop the acropolis numerous invaluable mythological texts were found, that have opened some initial understanding of the Canaanite mythological world and religion. The Baal cycle represents Baal’s destruction of Yam (the chaos sea monster), demonstrating the relationship of Canaanite chaoskampf with those of Mesopotamia and the Aegean: a warrior god rises up as the hero of the new pantheon to defeat chaos and bring order.

After its destruction in the early 12th century BC, Ugarit’s location was forgotten until 1928 when a peasant accidentally opened an old tomb while ploughing a field. The discovered area was the necropolis of Ugarit located in the nearby seaport of Minet el-Beida. Excavations have since revealed a city with a prehistory reaching back to ca. 6000 BC.

The excavations uncovered a royal palace of ninety rooms laid out around eight enclosed courtyards, and many ambitious private dwellings. Crowning the hill where the city was built were two main temples: one to Baal the “king”, son of El, and one to Dagon, the chthonic god of fertility and wheat. 23 stelae were unearthed during excavations at Ugarit. Nine of the stelae, including the famous Baal with Thunderbolt, were unearthed near the Temple of Baal, four in the Temple of Dagon and further ten around the city.

On excavation of the site, several deposits of cuneiform clay tablets were found; all dating from the last phase of Ugarit, around 1200 BC. These represented a palace library, a temple library and—apparently unique in the world at the time – two private libraries, one belonging to a diplomat named Rapanu.

Scribes in Ugarit appear to have originated the “Ugaritic alphabet” around 1400 BC: 30 letters, corresponding to sounds, were inscribed on clay tablets; although they are cuneiform in appearance, that is, impressed in clay with the end of a stylus, they bear no relation to Mesopotamian cuneiform signs. A debate exists as to whether the Phoenician or Ugaritic “alphabet” was first.

While the letters show little or no formal similarity, the standard letter order (preserved in the Latin alphabet as A, B, C, D, etc.) shows strong similarities between the two, suggesting that the Phoenician and Ugaritic systems were not wholly independent inventions.

The Ugaritic language is attested in texts from the 14th through the 12th century BC. Ugaritic is usually classified as a Northwest Semitic language and therefore related to Hebrew, Aramaic, and Phoenician, among others. Its grammatical features are highly similar to those found in Classical Arabic and Akkadian.

Ugaritic is an inflected language, and as a Semitic language its grammatical features are highly similar to those found in Classical Arabic and Akkadian. Ugaritic is considered a conservative Semitic language, since it retains most of the Proto-Semitic phonemes, the case system, and the word order of the Proto-Semitic ancestor.

The Ugaritic alphabet is a cuneiform abjad (alphabet without vowels), used from around 15th century BC. Although it appears similar to Mesopotamian cuneiform, it was unrelated (see Ugaritic alphabet). It is the oldest example of the family of West Semitic scripts that were used for Phoenician, Hebrew, and Aramaic. The so-called long alphabet has 30 letters, while the short alphabet has 22. Other languages (particularly Hurrian) were occasionally written in it in the Ugarit area, although not elsewhere.

Clay tablets written in Ugaritic provide the earliest evidence of both the Levantine and South Semitic orders of the alphabet, which gave rise to the alphabetic orders of the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin alphabets. The script was written from left to right.

It has been used by scholars of the Old Testament to clarify Biblical Hebrew texts and has revealed ways in which ancient Israelite culture finds parallels in the neighboring cultures. According to one hypothesis, Ugaritic texts might solve the biblical puzzle of the anachronism of Ezekiel mentioning Daniel at Ezekiel 14:13-16; it is because in both Ugaritic and the Ancient Hebrew texts, it is correctly Danel.

The libraries at Ugarit contained diplomatic, legal, economic, administrative, scholastic, literary and religious texts. The tablets are written in Sumerian, Hurrian, Akkadian (the language of diplomacy at this time in the ancient Near East), and Ugaritic (a previously unknown language). No less than seven different scripts were in use at Ugarit: Egyptian and Luwian hieroglyphs, and Cypro-Minoan, Sumerian, Akkadian, Hurrian, and Ugaritic cuneiform.

Apart from royal correspondence with neighboring Bronze Age monarchs, Ugaritic literature from tablets found in the city’s libraries include mythological texts written in a poetic narrative, letters, legal documents such as land transfers, a few international treaties, and a number of administrative lists.

The discovery of the Ugaritic archives in 1929 has been of great significance to biblical scholarship, as these archives for the first time provided a detailed description of Canaanite religious beliefs, during the period directly preceding the Israelite settlement.

Fragments of several poetic works have been identified, and include the Legend of Keret, the Aqhat Epic (or Legend of Danel), the Myth of Baal-Aliyan, and the Death of Baal – the latter two are also collectively known as the Baal cycle, that detail Baal-Hadad’s conflicts with Yam and Mot, and other fragments.

The most important piece of literature recovered from Ugarit is arguably the Baal cycle, describing the basis for the religion and cult of the Canaanite Baal.

These texts show significant parallels to Biblical Hebrew literature, particularly in the areas of divine imagery and poetic form. Ugaritic poetry has many elements later found in Hebrew poetry: parallelisms, metres, and rhythms. The discoveries at Ugarit have led to a new appraisal of the Hebrew Bible as literature.

Also found on tablets were the Hurrian songs, including the famous hymn to the moon goddess Nikkal, the oldest surviving substantial musical notation in the world. It offers both words and music, which were a series of 2-toned intervals played up a 9-string lyre.

Documents unearthed have revealed many parallels between ancient Canaanite and Israelite practices. Levirate marriage, giving the eldest son a larger share of the inheritance or redeeming the first-born son were practices common to the people of Ugarit.

The last Bronze Age king of Ugarit, Ammurapi, (circa 1215 to 1180 BC) was a contemporary of the Hittite king Suppiluliuma II. The exact dates of his reign are unknown. However, a letter[4] by the king is preserved, in which Ammurapi stresses the seriousness of the crisis faced by many Near Eastern states from invasion by the advancing Sea Peoples.

Ammurapi pleads for assistance from the king of Alasiya (Cyprus), highlighting the desperate situation Ugarit faced: «My father, behold, the enemy’s ships came (here); my cities(?) were burned, and they did evil things in my country. Does not my father know that all my troops and chariots(?) are in the Land of Hatti, and all my ships are in the Land of Lukka?…Thus, the country is abandoned to itself. May my father know it: the seven ships of the enemy that came here inflicted much damage upon us.”

Unfortunately for Ugarit, no help arrived, and the city was burned to the ground at the end of the Bronze Age. Recent radiocarbon work indicates a destruction between 1192 and 1190 BC. Whether Ugarit was destroyed before or after Hattusa, the Hittite capital, is debated. The destruction is followed by a settlement hiatus. Many other Mediterranean cultures were deeply disordered just at the same time, apparently by invasions of the mysterious “Sea Peoples.”

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Aten, Akhenaten and Monotheism, and the relation between Egypt and Mitanni

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 25, 2013

Aten (also Aton, Egyptian jtn) is the disk of the sun in ancient Egyptian mythology, and originally an aspect of Ra. The deified Aten is the focus of the monolatristic, henotheistic, or monotheistic religion of Atenism established by Amenhotep IV, who later took the name Akhenaten in worship and recognition of Aten. In his poem “Great Hymn to the Aten”, Akhenaten praises Aten as the creator, and giver of life. The worship of Aten was eradicated by Horemheb.

The Aten, the sun-disk, is first referred to as a deity in The Story of Sinuhe, a narrative set in the aftermath of the death of Pharaoh Amenemhat I, founder of the 12th dynasty of Egypt, in the early 20th century BC., in which the deceased king is described as rising as god to the heavens and uniting with the sun-disk, the divine body merging with its maker. By analogy, the term “silver aten” was sometimes used to refer to the moon.

The solar Aten was extensively worshipped as a god in the reign of Amenhotep III (1386 to 1349 BC.), when it was depicted as a falcon-headed man much like Ra. In the reign of Amenhotep III’s successor, Amenhotep IV, the Aten became the central god of Egyptian state religion, and Amenhotep IV changed his name to Akhenaten to reflect his close link with the new supreme deity.

The full title of Akhenaten’s god was “Ra-Horakhty who rejoices in the horizon, in his Name as the Light which is in the sun disc.” (This is the title of the god as it appears on the numerous stelae which were placed to mark the boundaries of Akhenaten’s new capital at Akhetaten, modern Amarna.)

This lengthy name was often shortened to Ra-Horus-Aten or just Aten in many texts, but the god of Akhenaten raised to supremacy is considered a synthesis of very ancient gods viewed in a new and different way.

The god is also considered to be both masculine and feminine simultaneously. All creation was thought to emanate from the god and to exist within the god. In particular, the god was not depicted in anthropomorphic (human) form, but as rays of light extending from the sun’s disk.

Furthermore, the god’s name came to be written within a cartouche, along with the titles normally given to a Pharaoh, another break with ancient tradition.

Ra-Horus, more usually referred to as Ra-Horakhty (Ra, who is Horus of the two horizons), is a synthesis of two other gods, both of which are attested from very early on.

During the Amarna period, this synthesis was seen as the invisible source of energy of the sun god, of which the visible manifestation was the Aten, the solar disk. Thus Ra-Horus-Aten was a development of old ideas which came gradually.

The real change, as some see it, was the apparent abandonment of all other gods, especially Amun, and the debatable introduction of monotheism by Akhenaten.

The syncretism is readily apparent in the Great Hymn to the Aten in which Re-Herakhty, Shu and Aten are merged into the creator god. Others see Akhenaten as a practitioner of an Aten monolatry, as he did not actively deny the existence of other gods; he simply refrained from worshipping any but the Aten.

During the Amarna Period, the Aten was given a Royal Titulary (as he was considered to be king of all), with his names drawn in a cartouche.

There were two forms of this title, the first had the names of other gods, and the second later one which was more ‘singular’ and referred only to the Aten himself. The early form has Re-Horakhti who rejoices in the Horizon, in his name Shu which is the Aten. The later form has Re, ruler of the two horizons who rejoices in the Horizon, in his name of light which is the Aten.

High relief and low relief illustrations of the Aten show it with a curved surface (see for example the photograph illustrating this article), therefore, the late scholar Hugh Nibley insisted that a more correct translation would be globe, orb or sphere, rather than disk. The three-dimensional spherical shape of the Aten is even more evident when such reliefs are viewed in person, rather than merely in photographs.

There is a possibility that Aten’s three-dimensional spherical shape depicts an eye of Horus/Ra. In the other early monotheistic religion Zoroastrianism the sun is called Ahura Mazda’s eye. These two theories are compatible with each other, since an eye is an orb.

Relations to Mitanni

Reality queen Kim Kardashian (Armenia), and a relic of Queen Nefertiti, wife of the Pharaoh Akhnaten.

Mitanni and Egypt

Urartu / Armenia

Egypt

Taking into account his unusual name and features, some Egyptologists believe that Yuya was of foreign origin, although this is far from certain. There seems to be that Yuya had some Mitannian ancestry; this argument is based on the fact that the knowledge of horses and chariotry was introduced into Egypt from Asia and Yuya was the king’s “Master of the Horse.”

It was also suggested that Yuya was the brother of queen Mutemwiya, who was the mother of Pharaoh Amenhotep III and may have had Mitannian royal origins. However, this hypothesis can not be substantiated, since nothing is known of Mutemwiya’s background.

While Yuya lived in Upper Egypt, an area that was predominantly native Egyptian, he could have been an assimilated descendant of Asiatic immigrants or slaves who rose to become a member of the local nobility at Akhmin. If he was not a foreigner, however, then Yuya would have been the native Egyptian whose daughter was married to Amenhotep III. Yuya is believed to have died around 1374BC in his mid 50s.

Tiye (c. 1398 BC – 1338 BC, also spelled Taia, Tiy and Tiyi) was the daughter of Yuya and Tjuyu (also spelled Thuyu). She became the Great Royal Wife of the Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep III. She is the mother of Akhenaten and grandmother of Tutankhamun. Her mummy was identified as The Elder Lady found in the Tomb of Amenhotep II (KV35) in 2010.

Tiye wielded a great deal of power during both her husband’s and son’s reigns. Amenhotep III became a fine sportsman, a lover of outdoor life, and a great statesman. He often had to consider claims for Egypt’s gold and requests for his royal daughters in marriage from foreign kings such as Tushratta of Mitanni and Kadashman-Enlil I of Babylon. The royal lineage was carried by the women of Ancient Egypt and marriage to one would have been a path to the throne for their progeny.

Tiye became her husband’s trusted adviser and confidant. Being wise, intelligent, strong, and fierce, she was able to gain the respect of foreign dignitaries. Foreign leaders were willing to deal directly through her. She continued to play an active role in foreign relations and was the first Egyptian queen to have her name recorded on official acts.

Tiye may have continued to advise her son, Akhenaten, when he took the throne. Her son’s correspondence with Tushratta, the king of Mitanni, speaks highly of the political influence she wielded at court. In Amarna letter EA 26, Tushratta, king to Mitanni, corresponded directly with Tiye to reminisce about the good relations he enjoyed with her then deceased husband and extended his wish to continue on friendly terms with her son, Akhenaten.

Amenhotep III died in Year 38 or Year 39 of his reign (1353 BC/1350 BC) and was buried in the Valley of the Kings in WV22; however, Tiye is known to have outlived him for as many as twelve years.

Tiye is believed to have been originally buried in Akhenaten’s royal tomb at Amarna alongside her son and granddaughter, Meketaten, the second daughter born to Akhenaten and Nefertiti, as a fragment from the tomb not long ago was identified as being from her sarcophagus. Her gilded burial shrine (showing her with Akhenaten) ended up in KV55 while shabtis belonging to her were found in Amenhotep III’s WV22 tomb.

Nefertiti, Egyptian Nfr.t-jy.tj, original pronunciation approximately Nafteta, for (“the beauty has come”). Nefertiti’s parentage is not known with certainty, but one often cited theory is that she was the daughter of Ay, later to be pharaoh. Scenes in the tombs of the nobles in Amarna mention the queen’s sister who is named Mutbenret (previously read as Mutnodjemet). Another theory that gained some support identified Nefertiti with the Mitanni princess Tadukhipa.

Tadukhipa, in the Hurrian language Tadu-Hepa, was the daughter of Tushratta, king of Mitanni (reigned ca. 1382 BC–1342 BC) and his queen, Juni and niece of Artashumara. Tadukhipa’s aunt Gilukhipa, or more probable Kilu-Hepa in Hurrian language, in the Egyptian language Kirgipa, was the daughter of Shuttarna II, king of Mitanni, had married Pharaoh Amenhotep III in his 10th regnal year. Tadukhipa was to marry Amenhotep III more than two decades later.

Gilukhipa was the sister of Tushratta (later King of Mitanni), Biria-Waza and Artashumara. For political reasons, Gilukhipa was sent to Egypt to join Amenhotep III in marriage. Gilukhipa became known as the “Secondary King’s Wife,” meaning she was secondary to Amenhotep III’s chief wife, Queen Tiye.

The Egyptian pharaoh made a special issue of commemorative scarabs on the occasion of his marriage to Gilukhipa in his 10th regnal year, where he recorded that the princess was escorted by 317 ladies-in-waiting, women from the Mitanni king’s royal palace.

Relatively little is known about Tadukhipa. Some scholars tentatively identify Tadukhipa with Kiya, a queen of Akhenaten. It has been suggested that the story of Kiya may be the source for the New Kingdom story called the Tale of Two Brothers. This fable tells the story of how the pharaoh fell in love with a beautiful foreign woman after smelling her hair. If Tadukhipa was later known as Kiya, then she would have lived at Amarna where she had her own sunshade and was depicted with the pharaoh and at least one daughter.

Others such as Petrie, Drioton and Vandier have suggested that Tadukhipa was given a new name after becoming the consort of Akhenaten and is to be identified the famous queen Nefertiti. This theory suggests that Nefertiti’s name “the beautiful one has come” refers to Nefertiti’s foreign origin as Tadukhipa. Seele, Meyer and others have pointed out that Tey, wife of Ay, held the title of nurse to Nefertiti, and that this argues against this identification. A mature princess arriving in Egypt would not need a nurse.

Kiya was one of the wives of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten. Little is known about her, and her actions and roles are poorly documented in the historical record, in contrast to those of Akhenaten’s first (and chief) royal wife, Nefertiti. Her unusual name suggests that she may originally have been a Mitanni princess.

Surviving evidence demonstrates that Kiya was an important figure at Akhenaten’s court during the middle years of his reign, when she bore him a daughter. She disappears from history a few years before her royal husband’s death.

The name Kiya itself is cause for debate. It has been suggested that it is a “pet” form, rather than a full name, and as such could be a contraction of a foreign name, such as the Mitanni name “Tadukhipa,” referring to the daughter of King Tushratta. Tadukhipa married Amenhotep III at the very end of his reign, and the Amarna Letters indicate that she was a nubile young woman at that time.

In particular, Amarna Letters 27 through 29 confirm that Tadukhipa became one of Akhenaten’s wives. Thus some Egyptologists have proposed that Tadukhipa and Kiya might be the same person.

Kiya disappears from history during the last third of Akhenaten’s reign. Her name and images were erased from monuments and replaced by those of Akhenaten’s daughters. The exact year of her disappearance is unknown, with recent authorities suggesting dates that range from Year 11 or 12 to Year 16 of Akhenaten.

One of the last datable instances of her name is a wine docket from Amarna that mentions Akhenaten’s Year 11, indicating that Kiya’s estate produced a vintage in that year. Whether she died, was exiled, or suffered some other misfortune, Egyptologists have often interpreted the erasure of her name as a sign of disgrace.

Various scenarios have been advanced to explain Kiya’s disappearance. Having suggested that Kiya was the mother of Tutankhamun, Nicholas Reeves writes that “it is not beyond the realm of possibility that she fell from grace in a coup engineered by the jealous Nefertiti herself.”

Having argued that Kiya was Tadukhipa, daughter of the King of Mitanni, Marc Gabolde suggests that she “paid the price” for a deterioration in the alliance between Egypt and Mitanni and was sent back home.

Some have speculated that the mummy known as The Younger Lady, discovered in KV35, might be that of Kiya. According to Joann Fletcher (who controversially identified the mummy as Nefertiti) a Nubian-style wig was found near the mummy. This style was also associated with Kiya.

DNA test results published in February 2010 have shown conclusively that the Younger Lady mummy was the mother of Tutankhamun, and by extension a wife of Akhenaten. The results also show that she was a full sister to her husband, and that they were both the children of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye.

This family relationship rules out the possibility that the Younger Lady was Kiya, because no known artifact accords Kiya the title or attribute “god’s daughter.” For similar reasons Nefertiti is also ruled out.

The report concludes that either Nebetah or Beketaten, younger daughters of Amenhotep III who are not known to have married their father, are the most likely candidates for the identity of the Younger Lady mummy.

Ay is usually believed to be a native Egyptian from Akhmim. During his short reign, he built a rock cut chapel in Akhmim and dedicated it to the local deity there: Min.

Ay may have been the son of Yuya, who served as a member of the priesthood of Min at Akhmin as well as superintendent of herds in this city, and wife Tjuyu. If so, Ay could have been of partial non-Egyptian, perhaps Syrian blood since the name Yuya was uncommon in Egypt and is suggestive of a foreign background.

Yuya was an influential nobleman at the royal court of Amenhotep III who was given the rare privilege of having a tomb built for his use in the royal Valley of the Kings presumably because he was the father of Tiye, Amenhotep’s chief Queen.

There are also noted similarities in the physical likenesses of monuments attributed to Ay and those of the mummy of Yuya, and both held similar names and titles.

Hyksos

The Hyksos or Hycsos were a people from West Asia who took over the eastern Nile Delta, ending the Thirteenth dynasty of Egypt and initiating the Second Intermediate Period. The Mitannians, who were probably allies of the Kassites, had horses and chariots, and the horse appeared in Egypt during the Hyksos era. Perhaps the successful invasion of the Hyksos was due to the use of cavalry.

The origin of the term “Hyksos” derives from the Egyptian expression hekau en khaswet (“rulers of foreign lands”), used in Egyptian texts such as the Turin King List to describe the rulers of neighbouring lands. This expression begins to appear as early as the late Old Kingdom in Egypt, referring to various Nubian chieftains, and in the Middle Kingdom, referring to the Semitic chieftains of Syria and Canaan.

The Hyksos first appeared in Egypt c.1800 BC, during the Eleventh Dynasty, and began their climb to power in the Thirteenth Dynasty, coming out of the second intermediate period in control of Avaris and the Delta. By the Fifteenth Dynasty, they ruled Lower Egypt, and at the end of the Seventeenth Dynasty, they were expelled (c. 1560 BC).

The Hyksos practiced horse burials, and their chief deity, their native storm god, became associated with the Egyptian storm and desert god, Seth. Although most Hyksos names seem Semitic, the Hyksos also included Hurrians, who, while speaking an isolated language, were under the rule and influence of Indo-Europeans.

Modern scholarship usually assumes that the Hyksos were likely Semites who came from the Levant. Kamose, the last king of the Theban 17th Dynasty, refers to Apophis as a “Chieftain of Retjenu (i.e., Canaan)” in a stela that implies a Semitic Canaanite background for this Hyksos king: this is the strongest evidence for a Canaanite background for the Hyksos.

Khyan’s name “has generally been interpreted as Amorite “Hayanu” (reading h-ya-a-n) which the Egyptian form represents perfectly, and this is in all likelihood the correct interpretation.” Kim Ryholt furthermore observes the name Hayanu is recorded in the Assyrian king-lists for a “remote ancestor” of Shamshi-Adad I (c. 1813 BC) of Assyria, which suggests that it had been used for centuries prior to Khyan’s own reign.

The Hyksos brought several technical improvements to Egypt, as well as cultural impulses such as new musical instruments and foreign loan words. The changes introduced include new techniques of bronze working and pottery, new breeds of animals, and new crops. In warfare, they introduced the horse and chariot, the composite bow, improved battle axes, and advanced fortification techniques.

As to a Hyksos “conquest”, some archaeologists depict the Hyksos as “northern hordes . . . sweeping through Canaan and Egypt in swift chariots”. Yet, others refer to a ‘creeping conquest’, that is, a gradual infiltration of migrating nomads or seminomads who either slowly took over control of the country piecemeal or by a swift coup d’etat put themselves at the head of the existing government. In The World of the Past (1963, p. 444), archeologist Jacquetta Hawkes states: “It is no longer thought that the Hyksos rulers… represent the invasion of a conquering horde of Asiatics… they were wandering groups of Semites who had long come to Egypt for trade and other peaceful purposes.”

In his Against Apion, the 1st-century AD historian Josephus Flavius debates the synchronism between the Biblical account of the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, and two Exodus-like events that the Egyptian historian Manetho apparently mentions.

It is difficult to distinguish between what Manetho himself recounted, and how Josephus or Apion interpret him. Josephus identifies the Israelite Exodus with the first exodus mentioned by Manetho, when some 480,000 Hyksos left Egypt for Jerusalem. The mention of “Hyksos” identifies this first exodus with the Hyksos period (16th century BC).

Crete

Crete: the Egyptian island of the dead?

A palace complex in Tel ed-Daba (Avaris), an area on the western edge of the site, known as Ezbet Helmi, reveal a large palace-like structure dating to the Hyksos period (18th century BC). The ancient gardens reveal many fragments of Minoan wall-paintings, similar in style to those found in the palace at Knossos in Crete. Knossos-like paintings has also been found in the tombs of the necropolis of Thebes West.

It has been suggested that the Avaris paintings with a distinctive red-painted background may even pre-date those of Crete and Thera and possibly have influenced some of the 18th Dynasty tomb paintings that appear to include Minoan themes such as the “flying gallop” motif of horses and bulls.

In the 18th Dynasty strata of Ezbet Helmi, Dr Bietak also discovered many lumps of pumice-stone, which could have come from the volcanic explosion on the island of Thera, occurring in the 15th century BC and identified as the cataclysmic event that ended the Minoan civilisation.

The Hyksos, who ruled from Avaris, ruled shortly before the 18th Dynasty, which saw the exchange of Egyptian and Cretan “goods”. The Hyksos were connected with Crete, at a time when the Avaris frescos had not yet been discovered.

In Knossos, an alabaster lid with the name of the Hyksos king Khyan has been found. The enigmatic Phaistos Disc, found in the palace of Phaistos on Crete, might also be linked with the Egyptian game of Senet and Snake Game. H. Peter Aleff argues that the depictions are not a script, but are related to the signs of the board game. Senet was a popular pastime in ancient Egypt from late pre-dynastic times on and is well documented because it became an important part of the funerary magic and then evolved into today’s Backgammon.

Its pieces simulated the passage of the player through life and, even more importantly, through death and its perils. The oldest surviving copy of any known board game is the Snake Game. It helped at least one king in the Old Kingdom Pyramid Texts to ascend to heaven and so seems to have represented the same journey, except that its path was not folded, as in Senet, but coiled into the spiral of a snake’s rolled-up body. On one of its sculpted stone boards, the tail of the snake ended in the head of a goose.

During the Middle Kingdom (1500 BC), the dead in Egypt were buried in valleys – the same practice was adhered to in Crete, with one of the more famous Valley of the Dead behind the Palace of Kato Zakros. Namewise, Zakros is similar to Saqqara and Sokar, an important necropolis and god of the dead in ancient Egypt.

Interestingly, the ancient Egyptians argued that the dead went to live on an island in the West. Crete is an island in the west. Furthermore, the concentration of Minoan civilisation is in Eastern Crete – the part closest to Egypt.

The Hyksos period coincides exactly with the time between the Old and New Palace Period on Crete. When the Hyksos invaded Egypt, the old palaces were destroyed, probably by an earthquake. Did the Hyksos (partly) come from Crete? Or did the Hyksos, once out of grace and power in Egypt, travel to Crete, to continue their culture there?

The right answer will have a lot to do with correct dating and many have argued that the chronological alignment of the various cultures in the Eastern Mediterranean has not been a complete success. Only the future will shed more light on the interrelationship between Egypt and Crete, but it can no longer be denied that the two civilisations had intimate contacts with one another.

Linear A and B are two scripts found on the island of Crete. The newer Linear B turned out to be Greek. Linear A shows a connection between Minoan Crete and the Hyksos. Linear A is Semitic, related to the languages of Ugarit and Alalach in Syria.

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Gebel Ramlah and Nabta Playa

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 21, 2013

Gebel Ramlah is approximately 25 kilometers north-west of Gebel Nabta.  A small seasonal paleolake was situated at the foot of the hill and remains of Early to Late Neolithic occupations have been found along its south-western edge, including several Final Neolithic cemeteries.   Fourteen burial pits were found within a relatively small area, 4.5 x 3.3 m (with the exception of a solitary grave located slightly further to the north-east). Ten of the burials contained single inhumations, the remainder being multiple burials of two, five, six and eight individuals.  The bodies were positioned lying on one side with legs flexed and hands in front of the face.  Some may be secondary interments, suggesting that these individuals had died at some distance from the site during seasonal migrations and were then interred here.  Associated burial goods included vessels, palettes, jewelry and flint tools. Radiocarbon dates suggests this cemetery dates to between 6,550 and 6,350 years ago, contemporaneous with the Megalith builders of the Final Neolithic at Nabta.

A nearby small settlement yielded evidence of numerous episodes of short-term occupation during the Late Neolithic.  The settlement contained hearths, a grinding stone. and an in situ deposit of Egyptian flint cores, along with a variety of flint tools and cores and rare potsherds.  The faunal remains included cattle, small ruminants, two species of antelope, fox, large Nile birds and fragments of ostrich eggshell.

Nabta Playa – African Archaeology

Posted in Africa, Egypt, Megalithic | Leave a Comment »

The relation between Egypt and Southwest Asia

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 18, 2013

https://i2.wp.com/aryanism.net/wp-content/uploads/Samarra-plate.jpg

Mesopotamian pottery

Mesopotamian pottery

File:Predynastic collage.png

Predynastic artifacts – clockwise from top left:

A Bat figurine, a Naqada jar, an ivory figurine, cosmetic palette, a flint knife, and a Diorite vase.

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Predynastic jar

The bull: symbol of power fertilizing, propagation vital. Associate for their horns with the moon and its influences. Connects with the mythical figure of the Minotaur, with the Egyptian Apis bull, bullfighting dance with ancient Crete, and the cult of Mithras.

The taurine (humpless cattle, B. taurus) was most likely domesticated somewhere in the Fertile Crescent about 10,500 years ago. The earliest substantive evidence for cattle domestication anywhere in the world is the Pre-Pottery Neolithic cultures in the Taurus Mountains, circa 10,500 BP.

Archaeologists and biologists are fairly well agreed that there is strong evidence for two distinct domestication events: B. taurus in the near east, and B. indicus in the Indus valley of the Indian subcontinent.

Recent mitochondrial DNA studies also indicate that B. taurus was introduced into Europe and Africa where they interbred with local wild animals (aurochs). Whether these occurrences should be considered as separate domestication events is somewhat under debate.

Haplogroup J2 is thought to have appeared somewhere in the Middle East towards the end of the last glaciation, between 15,000 and 22,000 years ago. Its present geographic distribution argue in favour of a Neolithic expansion from the Fertile Crescent.

This expansion probably correlated with the diffusion of domesticated of cattle and goats (starting c. 8000-9000 BCE) from the Zagros mountains and northern Mesopotamia, rather than with the development of cereal agriculture in the Levant (which appears to be linked rather to haplogroups G2 and E1b1b).

The most frequent haplogroups among the current population on Crete were: R1b3-M269 (17%), G2-P15 (11%), J2a1-DYS413 (9.0%), and J2a1h-M319 (9.0%). They identified J2a parent haplogroup J2a-M410 (Crete: 25.9%) with the first ancient residents of Crete during the Neolithic (8500 BCE – 4300 BCE) suggesting Crete was founded by a Neolithic population expansion from Anatolia.

A second expansion of J2 could have occured with the advent of metallurgy, notably copper working (from the Lower Danube valley, central Anatolia and northern Mesopotamia), and the rise of some of the oldest civilisations. We have got 5 indications that Sumerians (proto-Aryans) migrated into the Indus Valley: a) J2a, b) bull-worshiping, c) Solar Religion, d) viticulture and e) Sumerian stone seals.

Quite a few ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern civilisations flourished in territories where J2 lineages were preponderant. This is the case of the Hattians, the Hurrians, the Etruscans, the Minoans, the Greeks, the Phoenicians (and their Carthaginian offshoot), the Israelites, and to a lower extent also the Romans, the Assyrians and the Persians. All the great seafaring civilisations from the middle Bronze Age to the Iron Age were dominated by J2 men.

There is a distinct association of ancient J2 civilisations with bull worship. The oldest evidence of a cult of the bull can be traced back to Neolithic central Anatolia, notably at the sites of Çatalhöyük and Alaca Höyük. Bull depictions are omnipresent in Minoan frescos and ceramics in Crete. Bull-masked terracotta figurines and bull-horned stone altars have been found in Cyprus (dating back as far as the Neolithic, the first presumed expansion of J2 from West Asia).

The Hattians, Sumerians, Babylonians, Canaaites, and Carthaginians all had bull deities (in contrast with Indo-European or East Asian religions). Marduk is the “bull of Utu”. Shiva’s steed is Nandi, the Bull. The sacred bull of Hinduism, Nandi, present in all temples dedicated to Shiva or Parvati, does not have an Indo-European origin, but can be traced back to Indus Valley civilisation.

Minoan Crete, Hittite Anatolia, the Levant, Bactria and the Indus Valley also shared a tradition of bull leaping, the ritual of dodging the charge of a bull. It survives today in the traditional bullfighting of Andalusia in Spain and Provence in France, two regions with a high percentage of J2 lineages.

In Egyptian mythology, Apis or Hapis (alternatively spelled Hapi-ankh), is a bull-deity that was worshipped in the Memphis region. “Apis served as an intermediary between humans and an all-powerful god (originally Ptah, later Osiris, then Atum).”

The cult of the Apis bull started at the very beginning of Egyptian history, probably as a fertility god connected to grain and the herds. In a funerary context, the Apis was a protector of the deceased, and linked to the pharaoh. This animal was chosen because it symbolized the king’s courageous heart, great strength, virility, and fighting spirit.

The Apis bull was considered to be a manifestation of the pharaoh, as bulls were symbols of strength and fertility, qualities which are closely linked with kingship (“strong bull of his mother Hathor” was a common title for gods and pharaohs).

The worship of the Sacred Bull throughout the ancient world is most familiar to the Western world in the Biblical episode of the idol of the Golden Calf. The Golden Calf after being made by the Hebrew people in the wilderness of Sinai, were rejected and destroyed by Moses and the Hebrew people after Moses’ time upon Mount Sinai (Book of Exodus).

The sacred bull survives in the constellation Taurus, one of the constellations of the zodiac, which means it is crossed by the plane of the ecliptic. Its name is a Latin word meaning “bull”, and its astrological symbol is a stylized bull’s head: Taurus.svg (Unicode ♉).

Taurus is a large and prominent constellation in the northern hemisphere’s winter sky. It is one of the oldest constellations, dating back to at least the Early Bronze Age when it marked the location of the Sun during the spring equinox. Taurus came to symbolize the bull in the mythologies of Ancient Babylon, Egypt and Greece.

The bull, whether lunar as in Mesopotamia or solar as in India, is the subject of various other cultural and religious incarnations, as well as modern mentions in new age cultures.

DNA traces cattle back to a small herd domesticated around 10,500 years ago

J2 Civilisations and Bull-Worship

J2 Civilisations and Bull Worship

The Sacred Bull

The relation between Egypt and Southwest Asia

In the Middle East, cultures identified as Neolithic began appearing by in the 10th millennium BC. There is no evidence for synchroneity for the onset of the Neolithic between the northern and southern Levant. Early development occurred in the Levant and from there spread eastwards and westwards.

The Khiamian (also referred to as El Khiam or El-Khiam) is a poorly understood and sometimes disputed sub-phase of the Near-Eastern Neolithic, straddling the transition from the Natufian (13000-9800 BC. ) to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA 10300-9600 BC.). Some sources date the Khiamian from about 10000 to 9500 BC., but it currently dates between 10200 and 8800 BC according to the ASPRO chronology.

The Younger Dryas stadial, also referred to as the Big Freeze, was a geologically brief (1,300 ± 70 years) period of cold climatic conditions and drought which occurred between approximately 10,800 and 9,500 years BP. The Younger Dryas stadial is thought to have been caused by the collapse of the North American ice sheets, although rival theories have been proposed.

The origins of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (8700-6000 BC.) in the southern and central Levant are somewhat obscure. Like the earlier PPNA people, which is thought from radiocarbon dates to have begun in the central Levant, the PPNB culture developed from the Earlier Natufian but shows evidence of a northerly origin, possibly indicating an influx from the Armenian Highland, specifically northern Syria, and southeast Turkey, and diffused to the south and west into Anatolia.

In the following Munhatta and Yarmukian post-pottery Neolithic cultures that succeeded it, rapid cultural development continues, although PPNB culture continued in the Amuq valley, where it influenced the later development of Ghassulian culture.

Studies of the southern Levant in isolation have lead to a view that the introduction of new forms like the naviform cores and rectilinear structures was sudden and drastic, but that in fact the new forms were innovated first in the north and spread south.

Although these chronologies, which are based on radiocarbon dates, refer strictly to the southern/central and northern Levant respectively, they correspond sufficiently closely to each other, and refer to a sufficiently large region (the western Fertile Crescent), to provide a sound temporal framework for discussion of the origins and spread of agriculture in Southwest Asia as a whole.

However, not all dates from archaeological sites and sequences are equally reliable because of sampling biases, unclear contextual associations, differences in materials sampled, and interlaboratory inconsistencies in sample-processing. We must therefore be both cautious and critical when comparing dates from different sites and constructing regional chronologies.

The separation between the PPNA and the PPNB are exaggerated and that the PPN should be seen as a homogenous unit. The new elements is simply part of the regular ‘standard’ processes operating within the Levantine PPN system.

Anatolia became increasingly important at this time, with the establishment of major sites like Cayonu and Catal Huyuk. Most of the larger sites of the PPNB are in the Levantine corridor or in south-central Anatolia, in valleys and basins. Farming communities had expanded, increasing both population numbers and the amount of land under cultivation.

It is not known how agriculture was established in Anatolia during the PPNB – whether it was colonized or whether Anatolian inhabitants adopted the Levantine economic practices for themselves. Existing hunter-gatherer communities may have adopted the new techniques from neighbours, or agricultural communities may themselves have spread into new areas as populations began to expand.

In geographical terms, all of the Late PPNA and early PPNB sites associated with early cultivation were located near water resources of some sort (springs, lakes, rivers).  Examples of sites include Jericho, Tell Aswad, Netiv Hagdud and Mureybet.

Land that was appropriate for cultivation and had water nearby was not common, and it is suggested that this may well have accounted for the degree of individual site growth which is visible in the PPNB. This type of nucleation may also have had other impacts later on.

Although marginal settlement was rare in the early PPNB, smaller sites occur on each side of the Levantine Corridor, particularly in the desert, coastal and steppe areas. Most of these smaller sites continued to be bases for hunter-gathering groups, some foraging camps, some peripheral to the main settlement sites. Semi-arid areas occupied include El-Kom basin, the Black Desert, the Azraq Basin, south Jordan, Negev, Sinai.

In the southern Sinai, for example, seasonal hunting and gathering activities were carried out in the winter and summer. Grinding stones and storage pits were found, indicating that plant foods were used and that occupations were not necessarily very short-term. Marine shells were also found. Sites in Azraq, Sinai and the Negev were apparently all seasonally occupied with small-scale and simple curved stone-walled dwellings.

Prior to the Final PPNB or PPNC, the main phase of the PPNB comes to a decided close. Many settlements were abandoned, although there are exceptions, including Ain Ghazal.

The PPNB culture disappeared during the 8.2 kiloyear event, a term that climatologists have adopted for a sudden decrease in global temperatures that occurred approximately 6200 BC., and which lasted for the next two to four centuries.

Why there was a change between this and the subsequent phases has been a matter for some debate, but one of the main current arguments is that there was a major climatic change at this time, forcing some people to abandon areas which were increasingly inhabitable.

The growth of settlement sizes during the PPNB, a very much changed human use of the landscape, will inevitably have had an inevitable impact upon the physical and environmental landscape. The southwest Asian environment is a fragile one, particularly when assaulted by human populations intent on population growth, woodland clearance, soil tillage, animal pasturing and many other activities which can, in combination, lead toward land degradation, vegetation loss, salinization, soil erosion, and general resource decline.

The disappearence can have been caused by both environmental decline, probably caused by increased aridity, as well as human intervention at the end of the PPNB. Common sense and history dictate that such episodes would always have given an impetus for a human population to seek new land.

The Harifian is a specialized regional Epipalaeolithic cultural development restricted to the Sinai and Negev desert, and dates to between approximately 8,500 and 8,000 BC. It is probably broadly contemporary with the latest stages of the Late Natufian culture or PPN. Like the Natufian, it is characterized by semi-subterranean houses. These are often more elaborate than those found at Natufian sites. For the first time arrowheads are found among the stone tool kit.

According to scholarly opinion the Harifian is thought to have lasted only about three hundred years and then to have vanished following a thousand year hiatus in which the Negev and Sinai was uninhabitable.

According to scholarly opinion the Harifian culture is derived from the Natufian culture in which the only characteristic that distinguishes it from the Natufian is the Harif point. It is viewed as an adaptation of Natufian hunter gatherers to the Negev and Sinai.

Microlithic points are a characteristic feature of the industry, with the Harif point being both new and particularly diagnostic. It is suggested that it is an indication of improved hunting techniques.

Lunates, isosceles and other triangular forms were backed with Helwan Retouch, a bifacial microlithic flint-tool fabrication technology characteristic of the Early Natufian culture in the Levant, are found. This industry contrasts with the desert Natufian which did not have the roughly triangular points in its assemblage.

Natufian lithic technology throughout the usage of the Helwan Retouch was dominated by lunate-shaped lithics, such as picks and axes and especially sickles (which were predominantly – at least 80% of the time – used for harvesting wild cereals).

There are two main groups within the Harifian. One group consists of ephemeral base camps in the north of Sinai and western Negev, where stone points comprise up to 88% of all microliths, accompanied by only a few lunates and triangles. The other group consists of base camps and smaller campsites in the Negev and features a greater number of lunates and triangles than points.

These sites probably represent functional rather than chronological differences. The presence of Khiam points in some sites indicates that there was communication with other areas in the Levant at this time.

The decline of the Helwan Retouch was largely replaced by the “backing” technique and coincided with the emergence of microburin methods, which involved snapping bladelets on an anvil.

Harifian has close connections with the late Mesolithic cultures of Fayyum and the Eastern deserts of Egypt, whose tool assemblage resembles that of the Harifian. The Harifians are viewed as migrating out of the Fayyum and the Eastern Deserts of Egypt during the late Mesolithic to merge with the PPNB culture, whose tool assemblage resembles that of the Harifian.

The PPNB is commonly subdivided into Early (ca. 7500-7200 bc), Middle (ca. 7200-6500 BC.), Late (ca. 6500-6000 bc) and Final (alternatively called PPNC or even Early Late Neolithic, 6000-5500 BC.). Following the widespread archaeological appearance of pottery by about 5500 BC., the PPNB is succeeded by the Pottery (or Ceramic) Neolithic (ca. 5500-4200 BC.).

Work at the site of ‘Ain Ghazal in Jordan has indicated a later Pre-Pottery Neolithic C (PPNC 6200 and 5900 BC). This is not a universally agreed-upon term and is not applicable to the entire of the Near Eastern PPN. Where in use, the term PPNC is usually applied to the Jordanian highlands. The term Early Late Neolithic (ELN) has been coined for the eastern Jordan tradition, which is quite different. Increasing amounts of data indicate increasing spatial, temporal and cultural distinctions.

Fusion of Harifian hunter gatherers in Southern Palestine, with affiliate connections with the cultures of Fayyum and the Eastern Desert of Egypt, with an increasing emphasis in PPNB cultures upon animal domesticates is hypothesised by Juris Zarins, to have led to the Circum Arabian Nomadic Pastoral Complex, a group of cultures that invented nomadic pastoralism, and may have been the original culture which spread Proto-Semitic languages throughout the region, in the period from the climatic crisis of 6200 BC. Cultures practicing this lifestyle spread down the Red Sea shoreline and moved east from Syria into southern Iraq.

According to the proponents of this theory, Syria and Mesopotamia was originally inhabited by a non-Semitic population as the earlier linguistic tradition of those areas can be seen from the non-Semitic toponyms preserved in Akkadian and Palaeosyrian languages.

The African origin may be firmly confirmed with the relationship between Afro-Asiatic and the Niger–Congo languages, whose urheimat probably lies in Nigeria-Cameroon. It appears that the most numerous isoglosses and lexicostatistical convergences link proto-Semitic to Libyco-Berber. Evidently, proto-Semitic speakers were still living in the Neolithic Subpluvial in the 5th millennium BC. when the Sahara was much wetter, retaining a link with Berber long after other Egyptic and Proto-Chadic separated.

The Neolithic Subpluvial, sometimes called the Holocene Wet Phase, began during the 7th millennium BC and was strong for about 2,000 years; it waned over time and ended after the 5.9 kiloyear event (3900 BC). Then the drier conditions that prevailed prior to the Neolithic Subpluvial returned; desertification advanced, and the Sahara desert formed (or re-formed). Arid conditions have continued through to the present day.

During the Paleolithic the Nile Valley was inhabited by various hunter gatherer populations. Clement and fertile conditions during the Neolithic Subpluvial supported increased human settlement of the Nile Valley in Egypt, as well as neolithic societies in Sudan and throughout the present-day Sahara. Cultures producing rock art (notably that at Tassili n’Ajjer in southeastern Algeria) flourished during this period.

The practical consequences of these changes took the form of increased abundance of fish, waterfowl, freshwater mollusks, rodents, hippopotamus and crocodiles. The riches of this increased aquatic biomass were exploited by humans with rafts, boats, weirs, traps, harpoons, nets, hooks, lines and sinkers. This “riparian” (river) way of life supported much larger communities than could that of typical hunting bands. These changes, along with the local development of pottery (whereby liquids could be both stored and heated) resulted in a “culinary revolution” consisting of soup, fish stew and porridge. The last mentioned implies the cooking of gathered cereals.

The classic account of the riparian lifestyle of this period comes from investigations in Sudan during World War II by British archeologist Anthony Arkell. Arkell’s report described a Late Stone Age settlement on a sandbank of the Blue Nile which was then about 12 feet (3.7 m) higher than its present flood stage.

The countryside was clearly savanna, not the present-day desert, as evidenced by the bones of the most common species found in the middens — antelope, which require large expanses of seed-bearing grasses. These people probably lived mainly on fish, however, and Arkell concluded, based on the totality of the evidence, that rainfall at the time was at least three times that of today.

The physical characteristics derived from skeletal remains suggested that these people were related to modern Nilotic peoples, such as the Nuer and Dinka. Subsequent radiocarbon dating firmly established Arkell’s site to between 7000 and 5000 BC.

Based on common patterns at his site and at French-excavated sites already reported from Chad, Mali and Niger (e.g., bone harpoons and a characteristic “wavy line” pottery), Arkell inferred “a common fishing and hunting culture spread by negroid people right across Africa at about the latitude of Khartoum at a time when the climate was so different that it was not desert. The originators of the wavy line pottery are as yet unidentified.

In the 1960s, the archeologist Gabriel Camps investigated the remains of a hunting and fishing community dating from about 6700 BC. in southern Algeria. These pottery-making people (the “wavy line” motif again) were black African rather than Mediterranean in origin and (according to Camps) evidenced definite signs of deliberate cultivation of grain crops as opposed to simply the gathering of wild grains. Later studies at the site have shown the culture to be hunter gatherers and not agriculturalists, as all the grains were morphologically wild, and the society was not sedentary.

Human remains were found by archaeologists in 2000 at a site known as Gobero in the Ténéré Desert of northeastern Niger. The Gobero finds represent a uniquely preserved record of human habitation and burials from what is now called the Kiffian (7700 to 6200 BC.) and the Tenerian (5200 to 2,500 BC.) cultures.

Various populations of pastoralists have left paintings of abundant wildlife, domesticated animals, chariots, and a complex culture that dates back to at least 10,000 BC. in Northern Niger and neighboring parts of Algeria and Libya. Several former northern Nigerian villages and archaeological sites date from the Green Sahara period of 7,500-7,000 to 3,500-3,000 BC.

In the Mesolithic, the Capsian culture dominated the region with Neolithic farmers becoming predominant by 6000 BC. Over this period, the Sahara region was steadily drying, creating a barrier between North Africa and the rest of the African continent.

The period from 9000 to 6000 BC has left very little in the way of archaeological evidence. Around 6000 BC, Neolithic settlements appear all over Egypt. Studies based on morphological, genetic, and archaeological data have attributed these settlements to migrants from the Fertile Crescent returning during the Egyptian and North African Neolithic, possibly bringing agriculture to the region. Weaving is evidenced for the first time during the Faiyum A Period. People of this period, unlike later Egyptians, buried their dead very close to, and sometimes inside, their settlements.

Settler colonists from the Near East would most likely have merged with the indigenous cultures resulting in a mixed economy with the agricultural aspect of the economy increasing in frequency through time, which is what the archaeological record more precisely indicates. Both pottery, lithics, and economy with Near Eastern characteristics, and lithics with African characteristics are present in the Fayum A culture.

By around 4200 BC., the monsoon retreated south to approximately where it is today, leading to the gradual desertification of the Sahara. The Sahara is now as dry as it was about 13000 years ago. These conditions are responsible for what has been called the Sahara pump theory. Saharan population retreated to the south towards the Sahel, and East towards the Nile Valley.

Continued desertification forced the early ancestors of the Egyptians to settle around the the Nile Valley on the Eastern edge of North Africa, one of the richest agricultural areas in the world, more permanently and adopt a more sedentary lifestyle.

It was these populations, in addition to Neolithic farmers from the Near East, that played a major role in the formation of the Egyptian state as they brought their food crops, sheep, goats and cattle to the Nile Valley. The desiccation of the Sahara increased the population density in the Nile Valley and large cities developed. Eventually Ancient Egypt unified in one of the world’s first civilizations.

Rock drawing attest to vibrant Neolithic culture in the Sahara that collapsed due to desertification and climate change ca. 3500 BC., forcing the Proto-Semites to emigrate en masse through the Nile Delta to Southwester Asia. They were probably responsible for the collapsing of the Ghassulian culture (3800–3350 BC.) dating to the Middle Chalcolithic Period in the Southern Levant around 3300 BC. Another indication to the arrival of the proto-Semitic culture is the appearance of tumuli in 4th and 3rd millennium Palestine, which were typical characteristic of Neolithic North Africa.

The Ghassulian stage was characterized by small hamlet settlements of mixed farming peoples, and migrated southwards from Syria into Israel. Houses were trapezoid-shaped and built mud-brick, covered with remarkable polychrome wall paintings. Their pottery was highly elaborate, including footed bowls and horn-shaped drinking goblets, indicating the cultivation of wine. Several samples display the use of sculptural decoration or of a reserved slip (a clay and water coating partially wiped away while still wet). The Ghassulians were a Chalcolithic culture as they also smelted copper.

Ghassulian culture, considered to correspond to the Halafian culture of North Syria and Mesopotamia, has been identified at numerous other places in what is today southern Israel, especially in the region of Beersheba. The Ghassulian culture correlates closely with the Amratian of Egypt and may have had trading affinities (e.g., the distinctive churns, or “bird vases”) with early Minoan culture in Crete. Funerary customs show evidence that they buried their dead in stone dolmens. Its type-site, Tulaylat al-Ghassul, is located in the Jordan Valley near the Dead Sea in modern Jordan and was excavated in the 1930s.

The Semitic family is a member of the larger Afroasiatic family, all of whose other five or more branches are based in north and north east Africa. Largely for this reason, the ancestors of Proto-Semitic speakers were originally believed by some to have first arrived in the Middle East from North Africa, possibly as part of the operation of the Saharan pump, around the late Neolithic.

Diakonoff sees Semitic originating between the Nile Delta and Canaan as the northernmost branch of Afroasiatic. A recent Bayesian analysis of alternative Semitic histories supports the latter possibility and identifies an origin of Semitic languages in the Levant around 3750 BC. with a single introduction from southern Arabia into Africa around 800 BC.

In one interpretation, Proto-Semitic itself is assumed to have reached the Arabian Peninsula by approximately the 4th millennium BC, from which Semitic daughter languages continued to spread outwards. When written records began in the late 4th millennium BC., the Semitic-speaking Akkadians (Assyrians/Babylonians) were entering Mesopotamia from the deserts to the west, and were probably already present in places such as Ebla in Syria. Akkadian personal names began appearing in written record in Mesopotamia from the late 29th Century BC.

The earliest wave of Semitic speakers were the Akkadians, who entered the fertile crescent via Palestine and Syria and eventually founded the first Semitic empire at Kish. Their relatives, the Amorites, followed them and settled Syria before 2500 BC.

The term Afroasiatic Urheimat (Urheimat meaning “original homeland” in German) refers to the hypothetical place where Proto-Afroasiatic speakers lived in a single linguistic community, or complex of communities, before this original language dispersed geographically and divided into distinct languages.

Afroasiatic languages are today primarily spoken in the Middle East, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, and parts of the Sahel. Their distribution seems to have been influenced by the Saharan pump operating over the last 10000 years.

There is no agreement on when and where this Urheimat existed, though the language is generally believed to have originated somewhere in the area between the Eastern Sahara and the Horn of Africa, including Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan.

The earliest written evidence of an Afroasiatic language is an Ancient Egyptian inscription of c. 3200 BC. Symbols on Gerzean pottery resembling Egyptian hieroglyphs, suggesting a still earlier possible date. This gives us a minimum date for the age of Afroasiatic. However, Ancient Egyptian is highly divergent from Proto-Afroasiatic, and considerable time must have elapsed in between them.

Estimates of the date at which the Proto-Afroasiatic language was spoken vary widely. They fall within a range between approximately 7500-16000 BC. According to Igor M. Diakonoff Proto-Afroasiatic was spoken 10000 BC. According to Christopher Ehret Proto-Afroasiatic was spoken 11000 BC., and at the latest and possibly as early as 16000 BC. These dates are older than dates associated with most other proto-languages.

There is also evidence that sheep and goats were introduced into Nabta from Southwest Asia about 8,000 years ago. There is some speculation that this culture is likely to be the predecessor of the Egyptians, based on cultural similarities and social complexity which is thought to be reflective of Egypt’s Old Kingdom.

Contamination from handling and intrusion from microbes create obstacles to the recovery of Ancient DNA. Consequently most DNA studies have been carried out on modern Egyptian populations with the intent of learning about the influences of historical migrations on the population of Egypt.

In general, various DNA studies have found that the gene frequencies of modern North African populations are intermediate between those of the Near East, the Horn of Africa, southern Europe and Sub Saharan Africa, though NRY frequency distributions of the modern Egyptian population appear to be much more similar to those of the Middle East than to any sub-Saharan African population, suggesting a much larger Eurasian genetic component.

Blood typing and DNA sampling on ancient Egyptian mummies is scant; however, blood typing of dynastic mummies found ABO frequencies to be most similar to modern Egyptians and some also to Northern Haratin populations. ABO blood group distribution shows that the Egyptians form a sister group to North African populations, including Berbers, Nubians and Canary Islanders. Scholars such as Frank Yurco believe that Modern Egyptians are largely representative of the ancient population, and the DNA evidence appears to support this view.

Nabta Playa at the southwest corner of the western Egyptian desert was once a large lake in the Nubian Desert, located 500 miles south of modern-day Cairo. By 5000 BC., the peoples in Nabta Playa had fashioned the world’s earliest known astronomical device, 1000 years older than, but comparable to, Stonehenge.

Archaeological findings may indicate human occupation in the region dating to at least somewhere around the 10th and 8th millennia BC. Fred Wendorf the site’s discoverer, and ethno-linguist Christopher Ehret have suggested that the people who occupied this region at that time were early pastoralists, or like the Saami practiced semi-pastoralism.

However, this is disputed by other sources because the cattle remains found at Nabta have been shown to be morphologically wild in several studies, and nearby Saharan sites such as Uan Afada in Libya were penning wild Barbary sheep, an animal that was never domesticated).

The people of that time consumed and stored wild sorghum, and used ceramics adorned by complicated painted patterns created perhaps by using combs made from fish bone and which belong to a general pottery tradition strongly associated with the southern parts of the sahara (e.g., of the Khartoum mesolithic and various contemporary sites in Chad) of that period.

Analysis of human remains by Fred Wendorf and reported in “Holocene settlement of the Egyptian and Nubian Sahara”, based on osteological data suggests a subsaharan origin for the site’s inhabitants. Several scholars also support a Nilo-Saharan linguistic affinity for the Nabta people; including Fred Wendorf Christopher Ehret and.

By the 7th millennium BC, exceedingly large and organized settlements were found in the region, relying on deep wells for sources of water. Huts were constructed in straight rows. Sustenance included fruit, legumes, millets, sorghum and tubers. Also in the late 7th millennium BC, but a little later than the time referred to above, imported goats and sheep, apparently from Southwest Asia, appear. Many large hearths also appear.

By the 6th millennium BC, evidence of a prehistoric religion or cult appears, with a number of sacrificed cattle buried in stone-roofed chambers lined with clay. It has been suggested that the associated cattle cult indicated in Nabta Playa marks an early evolution of Ancient Egypt’s Hathor cult. For example, Hathor was worshipped as a nighttime protector in desert regions.

The area was first used as what they call a ‘regional ceremonial centre’ around 6100 to 5600 BC with people coming from various locations to gather on the dunes surrounding the playa where there is archaeological evidence for gatherings which involved large numbers of cattle bones, as cattle were normally only killed on important occasions.

Around 5500 BC a new, more organised group began to use the site, burying cattle in clay-lined chambers and building other tumuli. Around 4800 BC a stone circle was constructed, with narrow slabs approximately aligned with the summer solstice, near the beginning of the rainy season.

More complex structures followed during a megalith period the researchers dated to between about 4500 BC to 3600 BC. Using their original measurements and measurements by satellite and GPS measurements by Brophy and Rosen they confirmed possible alignments with Sirius, Arcturus, Alpha Centauri and the Belt of Orion.

It is suggested that there are three pieces of evidence suggesting astronomical observations by the herdsmen using the site, which may have functioned as a necropolis. The symbolism embedded in the archaeological record of Nabta Playa is very basic, focussed on issues of major practical importance to the nomads: cattle, water, death, earth, sun and stars. This is shown by the orientation of the cromlech, repetitive orientation of megaliths, stele, human burials and cattle burials that reveals a very early symbolic connection to the north and the fifth millennium alignments of stele to bright stars.

Research shows it to be a prehistoric calendar that accurately marks the summer solstice. Findings indicate that the region was occupied only seasonally, likely only in the summer when the local lake filled with water for grazing cattle. There are other megalithic stone circles in the southwestern desert.

Archaeological findings may indicate human occupation in the region dating to at least somewhere around the 10th and 8th millennia BC. Fred Wendorf the site’s discoverer, and ethno-linguist Christopher Ehret have suggested that the people who occupied this region at that time were early pastoralists, or like the Saami practiced semi-pastoralism.

However, this is disputed by other sources because the cattle remains found at Nabta have been shown to be morphologically wild in several studies, and nearby Saharan sites such as Uan Afada in Libya were penning wild Barbary sheep, an animal that was never domesticated).

The people of that time consumed and stored wild sorghum, and used ceramics adorned by complicated painted patterns created perhaps by using combs made from fish bone and which belong to a general pottery tradition strongly associated with the southern parts of the sahara (e.g., of the Khartoum mesolithic and various contemporary sites in Chad) of that period.

Analysis of human remains by Fred Wendorf and reported in “Holocene settlement of the Egyptian and Nubian Sahara”, based on osteological data suggests a subsaharan origin for the site’s inhabitants. Several scholars also support a Nilo-Saharan linguistic affinity for the Nabta people; including Fred Wendorf Christopher Ehret and.

The Predynastic period dates to the end of the fourth millenium BC. From about 4800 to 4300 BC. the Merimde culture, so far only known from a big settlement site at the edge of the Western Delta, flourished in Lower Egypt. The culture has strong connections to the Faiyum A culture as well as the Levant.

People lived in small huts, produced a simple undecorated pottery and had stone tools. Cattle, sheep, goats and pigs were held. Wheat, sorghum and barley were planted. The Merimde people buried their dead within the settlement and produced clay figurines. The first Egyptian lifesize head made of clay comes from Merimde.

The El Omari culture is known from a small settlement near modern Cairo. People seem to have lived in huts, but only postholes and pits survive. The pottery is undecorated. Stone tools include small flakes, axes and sickles. Metal was not yet known. Their sites were occupied from 4000 BC to the Archaic Period.

The Maadi culture (also called Buto Maadi culture) is the most important Lower Egyptian prehistoric culture contemporary with Naqada I and II phases in Upper Egypt. The culture is best known from the site Maadi near Cairo, but is also attested in many other places in the Delta to the Fayum region. The pottery of the Buto Maadi culture, best known from the site at Maadi near Cairo, also shows connections to the southern Levant.

Copper was known, and some copper adzes have been found. The pottery is simple and undecorated and shows, in some forms, strong connections to Southern Israel. People lived in small huts, partly dug into the ground. The dead were buried in cemeteries, but with few burial goods. The Maadi culture was replaced by the Naqada III culture; whether this happened by conquest or infiltration is still an open question.

The Tasian culture was the next in Upper Egypt. This culture group is named for the burials found at Der Tasa, on the east bank of the Nile between Asyut and Akhmim. The Tasian culture group is notable for producing the earliest blacktop-ware, a type of red and brown pottery that is painted black on the top and interior. This pottery is vital to the dating of Predynastic Egypt. Because all dates for the Predynastic period are tenuous at best, WMF Petrie developed a system called Sequence Dating by which the relative date, if not the absolute date, of any given Predynastic site can be ascertained by examining its pottery.

As the Predynastic period progressed, the handles on pottery evolved from functional to ornamental, and the degree to which any given archaeological site has functional or ornamental pottery can be used to determine the relative date of the site. Since there is little difference between Tasian and Badarian pottery, the Tasian Culture overlaps the Badarian range significantly. From the Tasian period onward, it appears that Upper Egypt was influenced strongly by the culture of Lower Egypt.

The Badarian culture, from about 4400 to 4000 BC, is named for the Badari site near Der Tasa. It followed the Tasian culture, but was so similar that many consider them one continuous period. The Badarian Culture continued to produce the kind of pottery called Blacktop-ware (albeit much improved in quality) and was assigned Sequence Dating numbers 21 – 29.

The primary difference that prevents scholars from merging the two periods is that Badarian sites use copper in addition to stone and are thus chalcolithic settlements, while the Neolithic Tasian sites are still considered Stone Age.

Distinctly Badarian sites have been located from Nekhen to a little north of Abydos. It appears that the Fayum A culture and the Badarian and Tasian Periods overlapped significantly; however, the Fayum A culture was considerably less agricultural and was still Neolithic in nature.

Badarian flint tools continued to develop into sharper and more shapely blades, and the first faience was developed. Thousands of similar faience beads have been found at Tell Brak, in Syria, and at Tell Arpachiya, in northern Mesopotamia, in fourth-millennium contexts, probably earlier than the Badarian culture.

Either the Badarian beads were imports from the Near East that were being eloborated in situ, or we should look for a common ancestor for both Badarian and Asiatic glazed steatite in the fifth millennium BC.

Considering the enormous quantities of glazed steatite objects deriving from north Mesopotamian and Syrian sites, it is suggested that this is the most likely area we might look or origins of the glazing technology. However, we still need to clarify the geographical route by which the two regions were making contact.

Hammamat became the major route from Thebes to the Red Sea port of Elim, and then to the Silk Road that led to Asia, or to Arabia and the horn of Africa. This 200 km journey was the most direct route from the Nile to the Red Sea, as the Nile bends toward the coast at the western end of the wadi.

The Hammamat route ran from Qift (or Coptos), located just north of Luxor, to Al-Qusayr on the coast of the Red Sea. Qift was an important center for administration, religion, and commerce. The cities at both ends of the route were established by the First Dynasty, although evidence of predynastic occupation also has been found along the route.

In Ancient Egypt Hammamat was a major quarrying area for the Nile Valley. Quarrying expeditions to the Eastern Desert are recorded from the second millennia BCE, where the wadi has exposed Precambrian rocks of the Arabian-Nubian Shield. These include Basalts, schists, bekhen-stone (an especially prized green metagraywacke sandstone used for bowls, palettes, statues, and sarcophagi) and gold-containing quartz.

Pharaoh Seti is recorded as having the first well dug to provide water in the wadi, and Senusret I sent mining expeditions there. The site is described in the earliest-known ancient geological map, the Turin Papyrus Map, describing a quarrying expedition prepared for Ramesses IV.

Today Hammamat is famous mostly for its ancient Egyptian graffiti, as well as that in ancient times it was a quarry that lay on the Silk Road to Asia, and is a common destination for modern tourists. The wadi contains many carvings and inscriptions dating from before the earliest Egyptian Dynasties to the modern era, including the only painted petroglyph known from the Eastern Desert and drawings of Egyptian reed boats dated to 4000 BC.

Occupying groups from the Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire used both the route and the mines, the Romans establishing toll stations, the Byzantines reopening New Kingdom and Ptolemaic mines at Bir Umm Fawakhir, and both building watch towers along the route that survive today. The Romans built a series of eight watering stages (hydreuma), one of which, the Qasr el Banat, the Castle of the Maidens, survives.

In Upper Egypt the predynastic Badarian culture was followed by the Naqada culture. The origins of these people is still not fully understood although they seem to be more closely related to the Nubians and North East Africans than with northern Egyptians.

One author has stated that the Naqada phase of Predynastic Egyptians in Upper Egypt shared an almost identical culture with the Nubian A-Group peoples of the Lower Sudan. Based in part on the similarities at the royal tombs at Qustul, some scholars have even proposed an Egyptian origin in Nubia among the A-group.

In 1996 Lovell and Prowse reported the presence of individual rulers buried at Naqada in what they interpreted to be elite, high status tombs, showing them to be more closely related morphologically to populations in Northern Nubia than those in Southern Egypt. Most scholars however, have rejected this hypothesis and cite the presence of royal tombs that are contemporaneous with that of Qustul and just as elaborate, together with problems with the dating techniques.

Toby Wilkinson, in his book Genesis of the Pharaohs, proposes an origin for the Egyptians somewhere in the Eastern Desert. He presents evidence that much of predynastic Egypt duplicated the traditional African cattle-culture typical of Southern Sudanese and East African pastoralists of today.

Kendall agrees with Wilkinson’s interpretation that ancient rock art in the region may depict the first examples of the royal crowns, while also pointing to Qustul in Nubia as a likely candidate for the origins of the white crown, being that the earliest known example of it was discovered in this area.

Modern studies on ancient Egyptian dentition clusters the Ancient Egyptians with Caucasoids (Europeans, Western Asians) who have small teeth, as opposed to Negroids (Western Sub-Saharan Africans) who have megadont/large teeth.

A 2006 bioarchaeological study on the dental morphology of ancient Egyptians by Prof. Joel Irish shows dental traits characteristic of current indigenous North Africans and to a lesser extent Middle Eastern and southern European populations, but not at all to Sub-Saharan populations.

Among the samples included in the study is skeletal material from the Hawara tombs of Fayum, (from the Roman period) which clustered very closely with the Badarian series of the predynastic period. All the samples, particularly those of the Dynastic period, were significantly divergent from a neolithic West Saharan sample from Lower Nubia. Biological continuity was also found intact from the dynastic to the post-pharaonic periods.

The Amratian Culture was a cultural period in the history of predynastic Upper Egypt, which lasted approximately from 4000 to 3500 BC. It is named after the site of El-Amra, about 120 km (75 mi) south of Badari, Upper Egypt. El-Amra was the first site where this culture group was found without being mingled with the later Gerzean culture group. However, this period is better attested at the Naqada site, thus it also is referred to as the Naqada I culture.

Black-topped ware continued to be produced, but white cross-line ware, a type of pottery which has been decorated with close parallel white lines being crossed by another set of close parallel white lines, begins to be produced during this time. The Amratian period falls between S.D. 30 and 39 in Petrie’s Sequence Dating system.

Trade between Upper and Lower Egypt is attested at this time, as new excavated objects attest. A stone vase from the north has been found at el-Amra, and copper, which is not present in Egypt, apparently was imported from the Sinai, or perhaps from Nubia. Obsidian and an extremely small amount of gold were both definitively imported from Nubia during this time. Trade with the oases also was likely.

New innovations such as mud-brick buildings for which the Gerzean period is well known also to begin during this time, attesting to cultural continuity. However, they did not reach nearly the widespread use that they were known for in later times. Additionally, oval and theriomorphic cosmetic palettes appear to be used in this period. However, the workmanship was still very rudimentary and the relief artwork for which they were later known is not yet present.

The 5.9 kiloyear event was one of the most intense aridification events during the Holocene Epoch. It occurred around 3900 BC (5,900 years BP), ending the Neolithic Subpluvial and probably initiated the most recent desiccation of the Sahara desert. Thus, it also triggered worldwide migration to river valleys, such as from central North Africa to the Nile valley, which eventually led to the emergence of the first complex, highly organised, state-level societies in the 4th millennium BC. It is associated with the last round of the Sahara pump theory.

A model by Claussen et al. (1999) suggested rapid desertification associated with vegetation-atmosphere interactions following a cooling event, Bond event 4. Bond et al. (1997) identified a North Atlantic cooling episode 5,900 years ago from ice-rafted debris, as well as other such now called Bond events that indicate the existence of a quasiperiodic cycle of Atlantic cooling events, which occur approximately every 1,470 years ± 500 years.

For some reason, all of the earlier of these arid events (including the 8.2 kiloyear event) were followed by recovery, as attested by the wealth of evidence of humid conditions in the Sahara between 10,000 and 6,000 BP.

However, it appears that the 5.9 kiloyear event was followed by a partial recovery at best, with accelerated desiccation in the millennium that followed. For example, Cremaschi (1998) describes evidence of rapid aridification in Tadrart Acacus of southwestern Libya, in the form of increased aeolian erosion, sand incursions and the collapse of the roofs of rock shelters.

The Acacus Mountains or Tadrart Acacus, one of the most arid of the Sahara, form a mountain range in the desert of the of the Ghat District in western Libya, part of the Sahara. They are situated east of the Libyan city of Ghat and stretch north from the Algerian border about 100 km. Tadrart is the feminine form of ‘mountain’ in the Berber languages (masculine: Adrar). The area has a particularly rich array of prehistoric rock art.

The area is known for its rock-art and was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 because of the importance of these paintings and carvings. The paintings date from 12,000 BC to 100 AD and reflect cultural and natural changes in the area. There are paintings and carvings of animals such as giraffes, elephants, ostriches and camels, but also of men and horses. Men are depicted in various daily life situations, for example while making music and dancing.

About 5,000 years ago the wet phase of the Sahara came to end. Saharan population retreated to the south towards the Sahel, and East towards the Nile Valley. It was these populations, in addition to Neolithic farmers from the Near East, that played a major role in the formation of the Egyptian state as they brought their food crops, sheep, goats and cattle to the Nile Valley.

Settler colonists from the Near East would most likely have merged with the indigenous cultures resulting in a mixed economy with the agricultural aspect of the economy increasing in frequency through time, which is what the archaeological record more precisely indicates. Both pottery, lithics, and economy with Near Eastern characteristics, and lithics with African characteristics are present in the Fayum A culture.

Located in the extreme north-east corner of Africa, Ancient Egyptian society was at a crossroads between the African and Near Eastern regions. There seems to be a correlation between increased novelty and seemingly rapid change in Predynastic pottery, and trade contacts between ancient Egypt and the Middle East. The evidence suggests influence from these regions.

The Gerzean culture (3500-3200 BC.), is named after the site of Gerzeh. It was the next stage in Egyptian cultural development, and it was during this time that the foundation of Dynastic Egypt was laid. The end of the Gerzean period is generally regarded as coinciding with the unification of Egypt.

Gerzean culture coincided with a significant decline in rainfall, and farming along the Nile now produced the vast majority of food, though contemporary paintings indicate that hunting was not entirely forgone. With increased food supplies, Egyptians adopted a much more sedentary lifestyle and cities grew as large as 5,000. It was in this time that Egyptian city dwellers stopped building with reeds and began mass-producing mud bricks, first found in the Amratian Period, to build their cities.

Gerzean culture is largely an unbroken development out of Amratian Culture, starting in the delta and moving south through upper Egypt, but failing to dislodge Amratian culture in Nubia. Gerzean pottery is distinctly different from Amratian white cross-lined wares or black-topped ware. It was painted mostly in dark red with pictures of animals, people, and ships, as well as geometric symbols that appear derived from animals. Also, “wavy” handles, rare before this period became more common and more elaborate until they were almost completely ornamental.

Egyptian stone tools, while still in use, moved from bifacial construction to ripple-flaked construction. Copper was used for all kinds of tools, and the first copper weaponry appears here. Silver, gold, lapis, and faience were used ornamentally, and the grinding palettes used for eye-paint since the Badarian period began to be adorned with relief carvings.

The first tombs in classic Egyptian style were also built, modeled after ordinary houses and sometimes composed of multiple rooms. Although further excavations in the Delta are needed, this style is generally believed to originate there and not in Upper Egypt.

Although the Gerzean Culture is now clearly identified as being the continuation of the Amratian period, significant amounts of Mesopotamian influences worked their way into Egypt during the Gerzean. Lapis lazuli trade, in the form of beads, from its only known prehistoric source – Badakshan, in northeastern Afghanistan – also reached ancient Gerzeh.

Distinctly foreign objects and art forms entered Egypt during this period, indicating contacts with several parts of Asia. Objects such as the Gebel el-Arak knife handle, which has patently Mesopotamian relief carvings on it, have been found in Egypt, and the silver which appears in this period can only have been obtained from Asia Minor.

In addition, Egyptian objects are created which clearly mimic Mesopotamian forms, although not slavishly. Cylinder seals appear in Egypt, as well as recessed paneling architecture, the Egyptian reliefs on cosmetic palettes are clearly made in the same style as the contemporary Mesopotamian Uruk culture, and the ceremonial mace heads which turn up from the late Gerzean and early Semainean are crafted in the Mesopotamian “pear-shaped” style, instead of the Egyptian native style.

The route of this trade is difficult to determine. It is usually assumed to have been by water, and it is theorized that Uruk sailors circumnavigated Arabia, but a Mediterranean route, probably by middlemen through Byblos is more likely, as evidenced by the presence of Byblian objects in Egypt.

The fact that so many Gerzean sites are at the mouths of wadis which lead to the Red Sea may indicate some amount of trade via the Red Sea (though Byblian trade potentially could have crossed the Sinai and then taken to the Red Sea). Also, it is considered unlikely that something as complicated as recessed panel architecture could have worked its way into Egypt by proxy, and at least a small contingent of migrants is often suspected.

Posted in Africa, Egypt, The Fertile Crescent | Leave a Comment »

The Land of Punt

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 18, 2013

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“In addition to the erection and endowments of many temples listed in the Palermo Stone, the Pharaohs of the Fifth Dynasty were active in expanding the existing trade relations with neighbouring countries , as the King Sahure (2458-2446 B.C.) from this Egyptian Old Kingdom, Dynasty V (2498-2491 B.C.), who made a trade expedition to the Land of Punt . Egyptian ships also reached the shores of the land of Punt on the Somali coast to procure highly valued cargoes of myrrh, ebony and animals, among other goods. “

Text Reference: The UNESCO General History of Africa: Ancient Civilization of Africa, Vol, II, General History of Africa, G. Mokhtar, 1990, p 64-68

By the eighth millennium BC, people of a Neolithic culture had settled into a sedentary way of life there in fortified mud-brick villages, where they supplemented hunting and fishing on the Nile with grain gathering and cattle herding.

During the fifth millennium BC migrations from the drying Sahara brought neolithic people into the Nile Valley along with agriculture. The population that resulted from this cultural and genetic mixing developed social hierarchy over the next centuries become the Kingdom of Kush (with the capital at Kerma) at 1700 BC.

Anthropological and archaeological research indicate that during the predynastic period Nubia and Nagadan Upper Egypt were ethnically, and culturally nearly identical, and thus, simultaneously evolved systems of pharaonic kingship by 3300 BC.

Together with other countries lying on Red Sea, Sudan is considered the most likely location of the land known to the ancient Egyptians as Punt (or “Ta Netjeru”, meaning “God’s Land”), whose first mention dates to the 25th century BC.

The Land of Punt, also called Pwenet, or Pwene by the ancient Egyptians, was an Egyptian trading partner known for producing and exporting gold, aromatic resins, African blackwood, ebony, ivory, slaves and wild animals, known from ancient Egyptian records of trade missions to this region. Some biblical scholars have identified it with the biblical land of Put.

At times Punt is referred to as Ta netjer, the “land of the god”. Older literature (and current non-mainstream literature) maintained that the label “God’s Land”, when interpreted as “Holy Land” or “Land of the gods/ancestors”, meant that the ancient Egyptians viewed the Land of Punt as their ancestral homeland.

The exact location of Punt is still debated by historians. Most scholars today believe Punt was located to the southeast of Egypt, most likely in the coastal region of what is today northern Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Northeast Ethiopia and the Red Sea coast of Sudan. The term was not only applied to Punt, located southeast of Egypt, but also to regions of Asia east and northeast of Egypt, such as Lebanon, which was the source of wood for temples. However, some scholars point instead to a range of ancient inscriptions which locate Punt in the Arabian Peninsula. It is also possible that the territory covered both the Horn of Africa and Southern Arabia.

The Nubians are an ethnic group originally from northern Sudan, and southern Egypt. Nubians are the people of southern Egypt and northern Sudan, settling along the banks of the Nile from Aswan. They were very famous for their horsemanship, for which they rode their horses bareback and held on by their knees, making them light, mobile, and efficient, and a good cavalry choice.

The Nubian people in Sudan inhabit the region between Wadi Halfa in the north and Aldaba in the south. The main Nubian groups from north to south are the Halfaweyen, Sikut, Mahas, and Danagla. They speak different dialects of the Nubian language. Their Nubian language is an Eastern Sudanic language, part of the Nilo-Saharan phylum.

Land of Punt

Kingdom of Kush

Posted in Africa, Egypt | Leave a Comment »

Nabta Playa

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 18, 2013

Utgravningene fra Nabta Playa, en region preget av en rekke arkeologiske områder, som ligger omkring 100km vest for Abu Simbel, viser at neolittiske innbyggere i regionen var migranter fra Afrika sør for Sahara. Dette komplekset var trolig grunnlaget for strukturen av både det neolittiske samfunnet ved Nabta og Det gamle kongedømmet i Egypt. Det er en rekke indisier som peker mot at denne kulturen trolig var forløperen for egypterne, basert på kulturelle likheter og sosiale kompleksitet som er tenkt å være reflektert i Egypts gamle kongedømme.

Fra en begynnelse på omkring 10.000 f.vt. begynte denne regionen av den nubiske ørken å få mer nedbør, som etter hvert fylt opp en innsjø. Tidlige mennesker kan ha blitt tiltrukket til regionen som en kilde til vann beite for storfe. Arkeologiske funn indikerer beboelse i regionen som daterer seg til omkring 10.000 og 8000 f.vt. Disse folkene hadde kveg og brukte keramikk pyntet med kompliserte malte mønstre laget ved hjelp av kammer.

Omkring 7000 f.vt. oppsto store og organiserte bosettinger, som var avhengig av dype vannbrønner, i regionen. Hytter blir funnet konstruert i rette rekker. Mange store peiser blir også bygget. Ernæringen inkluderte frukt, erter, hirse, durra og rør. Geiter og sauer blir importert fra Sørvest Asia. Det var på denne tiden at det neolittiske jordbruket ble introdusert fra Levanten til Egypt.

Omkring 6000 f.vt. er det tegn på en forhistorisk religion eller kult, med en rekke ofrede storfe begravet i stein-tekkede kamre med kanter av leire. Det har blitt foreslått at kvegkulten i Nabta Playa markerer en tidlig evolusjon av det gamle Egypts Hathor kult. Hathor ble dyrket som en nattevakt i ørkenregionene. Det er mange aspekter av polititisk og seremoniell liv i de predynastiske og gamle kongedømmet som reflekterer en sterk impact fra Saharas kvegpastoralister, men på tross av dette kan man ikke direkte assosiere gå direkte fra disse megalittene til pyramidene i Egypt. Arkeologiske funn avslører at disse forhistoriske folkeslagene førte livsgrunnlaget tilsynelatende på et høyere nivå i organisasjonen enn sine samtidige som bodde nærmere Nildalen, som lå mellom denne kulturen og de vellutviklede kultursentrene i Sørvest Asia.

Omkring 5000 f.vt. hadde disse folkene skapt en av verdens tidligste kjente arkeoastronomiske enheter, omtrent på samme tid som Stroke-Ornamented Ware kulturens, en etterfølger av Linear Pottery kulturen, som representerer en hovedimpuls viss ikke begynnelsen på jordbruk til Sentral og Øst Europa, en hovedarkeologisk horisont fra den europeiske neolittiske perioden i Sentral og Øst Europa, i perioden mellom 5500-4500 f.vt. Goseck sirkelen i Tyskland fra 4900 f.vt., en av mer enn 250 nøye utgravde ring-grøfter i Tyskland, Østerrike og Kroatia identifisert fra lufta, men hvor av arkeologene kun har undersøkt nesten 10 prosent av.

Nabta Playa opplevde med andre ord mer eller mindre de samme impulsene som de som var herskende i Europa, og som hadde sin begynnelse fra Anatolia. Forskning tyder på at enheten i Nabta Playa kan ha vært en forhistorisk kallender som nøyaktig markerte sommersolverv, men Goseck sirkelen beregnet vintersolverv.

Det er først med Naqada II og III periodene at eventuelle bevis for innfall av folk fra Sørvest-Asia kan sees. Før da hadde egyptiske jordbrukere egne neolittiske kulturer med deres egne tradisjon. Selv om tidligere koblinger kan påvises å ha eksistert mellom Badarian og den vestlige ørkenen, og med Merimde og Fayyum, er det ingen klar linje som fører tilbake til Palestina og Syria.

Nabta Playa and Its Role in Northeastern African Prehistory

Nabta Playa – Early Evidence of Cattle Domestication

Nabta Playa

Goseck circle

Posted in Egypt, Megalithic, The Fertile Crescent | Leave a Comment »

Tell el-Dab’a (Minoans with Hyksos)

Posted by Fredsvenn on October 17, 2013

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Currently thought to be the site of the Hyksos capital Avaris, Tell el-Dab’a was occupied from the Middle Kingdom through to the New Kingdom and is one of a number of town-sites in the north-eastern area of the Delta. The settlement site which covers an area of two square kilometres has been undergoing excavations since 1966 and has proven to be a very complex site with several occupation levels dating from the First to the Second Intermediate Periods.

Hyksos

Tell el-Dab’a (Minoans with Hyksos)

Posted in Eastern Mediterrean, Egypt, Mediterrean | Leave a Comment »

Urartu / Armenia

Posted by Fredsvenn on July 5, 2013

Nefertiti

Nefertiti, original pronunciation approximately Nafteta (“the beauty has come”). Nefertiti’s parentage is not known with certainty, but one often cited theory is that she was the daughter of Ay, later to be pharaoh. Scenes in the tombs of the nobles in Amarna mention the queen’s sister who is named Mutbenret (previously read as Mutnodjemet).

Ay was the penultimate Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt’s 18th dynasty. He held the throne of Egypt for a brief four-year period (probably 1323–1319 BC or 1327–1323 BC, depending on which chronology is followed), although he was a close advisor to two and perhaps three of the pharaohs who ruled before him and was said to be the power behind the throne during Tutankhamun’s reign.

Ay is usually believed to be a native Egyptian from Akhmim. During his short reign, he built a rock cut chapel in Akhmim and dedicated it to the local deity there: Min. He may have been the son of Yuya, who served as a member of the priesthood of Min at Akhmin as well as superintendent of herds in this city, and wife Tjuyu. If so, Ay could have been of partial non-Egyptian, perhaps Syrian blood since the name Yuya was uncommon in Egypt and is suggestive of a foreign background.

Yuya was an influential nobleman at the royal court of Amenhotep III who was given the rare privilege of having a tomb built for his use in the royal Valley of the Kings presumably because he was the father of Tiye, Amenhotep’s chief Queen. There are also noted similarities in the physical likenesses of monuments attributed to Ay and those of the mummy of Yuya, and both held similar names and titles.

Tiye (c. 1398 BC – 1338 BC, also spelled Taia, Tiy and Tiyi) was the daughter of Yuya and Tjuyu (also spelled Thuyu). She became the Great Royal Wife of the Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep III. She is the mother of Akhenaten and grandmother of Tutankhamun. Her mummy was identified as The Elder Lady found in the Tomb of Amenhotep II (KV35) in 2010.

Tiye’s father, Yuya, was a wealthy landowner from the Upper Egyptian town of Akhmin, where he served as a priest and superintendent of oxen. Tiye’s mother, Thuya, was involved in many religious cults, as her different titles attested (Singer of Hathor, Chief of the Entertainers of both Amun and Min…), which suggests that she was a member of the royal family.

It is suggested that Tiye’s father, Yuya, was of Asiatic descent due to the features of his mummy and the many different spellings of his name, which might imply it was a non-Egyptian name in origin. Some suggest that the queen’s strong political and unconventional religious views might have been due not just to a strong character, but to foreign descent.

Another theory that gained some support identified Nefertiti with the Mitanni princess Tadukhipa, in the Hurrian language Tadu-Hepa. She was the daughter of Tushratta, king of Mitanni (reigned ca. 1382 BC–1342 BC) and his queen, Juni and niece of Artashumara. Tadukhipa’s aunt Gilukhipa (sister of Tushratta) had married Pharaoh Amenhotep III in his 10th regnal year. Tadukhipa was to marry Amenhotep III more than two decades later.

Some scholars tentatively identify Tadukhipa with Kiya, a queen of Akhenaten. It has been suggested that the story of Kiya may be the source for the New Kingdom story called the Tale of Two Brothers. This fable tells the story of how the pharaoh fell in love with a beautiful foreign woman after smelling her hair. If Tadukhipa was later known as Kiya, then she would have lived at Amarna where she had her own sunshade and was depicted with the pharaoh and at least one daughter.

Others such as Petrie, Drioton and Vandier have suggested that Tadukhipa was given a new name after becoming the consort of Akhenaten and is to be identified the famous queen Nefertiti. This theory suggests that Nefertiti’s name “the beautiful one has come” refers to Nefertiti’s foreign origin as Tadukhipa. Seele, Meyer and others have pointed out that Tey, wife of Ay, held the title of nurse to Nefertiti, and that this argues against this identification. A mature princess arriving in Egypt would not need a nurse.

Posted in Armenia, Egypt | Leave a Comment »

 
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