Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

Coiling of the snake – Chakra – Kundalini – Shakti

Posted by Fredsvenn on September 4, 2015

Coiling of the snake – Chakra – Kundalini – Shakti
Kuṇḍalinī (“coiled one”), in yogic theory, is a primal energy, or shakti, located at the base of the spine. Different spiritual traditions teach methods of “awakening” kundalini for the purpose of reaching spiritual enlightenment.
The Yoga Upanishads describe Kundalini as lying “coiled” at the base of the spine, represented as either a goddess or sleeping serpent waiting to be awakened. In modern commentaries, Kundalini has been called an unconscious, instinctive or libidinal force, or “mother energy or intelligence of complete maturation”.
Kundalini awakening is said to result in deep meditation, enlightenment and bliss. This awakening involves the Kundalini physically moving up the central channel to reach within the Sahasrara Chakra at the top of the head.
Many systems of yoga focus on the awakening of Kundalini through meditation, pranayama breathing, the practice of asana and chanting of mantras. In physical terms, one commonly reports the Kundalini experience to be a feeling of electric current running along the spine.
Chakra (Sanskrit cakra, “wheel”) is an energy point or node in the subtle body. Various scriptural texts and teachings present a different number of chakras. There are many chakras in the subtle human body according to the tantric texts, but there are seven chakras that are considered to be the most important ones.
Chakras are part of the subtle body, not the physical body, and as such are the meeting points of the subtle (non-physical) energy channels called nadi (nerve, blood vessel, pulse). Nadi are channels in the subtle body through which the life force (prana) (non-physical) or vital energy (non-physical) moves.
Shakti (from Sanskrit shak, “to be able”, meaning “Power” or “empowerment”), also spelt as Sakthi or Shakthi, is the primordial cosmic energy and represents the dynamic forces that are thought to move through the entire universe in Hinduism.
Shakti is the concept, or personification, of divine feminine creative power, sometimes referred to as ‘The Great Divine Mother’ in Hinduism.
Not only is Shakti responsible for creation, it is also the agent of all change. Shakti is cosmic existence as well as liberation, its most significant form being the Kundalini Shakti, a mysterious psychospiritual force. Shakti exists in a state of svātantrya, dependence on no one, being interdependent with the entire universe.

In Shaktism and Shaivism, Shakti is worshipped as the Supreme Being. Shakti embodies the active feminine energy of Shiva, the destroyer, recycler and regenerator of universe and all life, and is identified as Tripura Sundari or Parvati, the Hindu goddess of love, fertility and devotion.

Parvati is the Hindu goddess of love, fertility and devotion. She is the goddess of divine strength and power. She is the gentle and nurturing aspect of Hindu goddess Shakti. She is the mother goddess in Hinduism and has many attributes and aspects.
Along with Lakshmi (goddess of wealth and prosperity) and Saraswati (goddess of knowledge and learning), she forms the trinity of Hindu goddesses.
With Śiva, Pārvatī is a central deity in Saivism sect of Hinduism. In Hindu belief, she is the recreative energy and power of Śiva, and she is the cause of bond that connects all beings and a means of their spiritual release. In Hindu temples dedicated to her and Śiva, she is symbolically represented as argha or yoni.
Parvati is the mother of Hindu deities Ganesha and Karttikeya (“son of Kṛttikā”), the Hindu god of war. He is the Commander-in-Chief of the army of the devas and the son of Shiva and Parvati.
The first elaborate account of Kartikeya’s origin occurs in the Mahabharata. In a complicated story, he is said to have been born from Agni and Svaha, after the latter impersonated the six of the seven wives of the Saptarishi (Seven Sages). The actual wives then become the Pleiades.
Kartikeya is said to have been born to destroy a buffalo demon (mahishasura). In later mythology, the buffalo demon became the adversary of Durga (“Invincible”), the principal form of the Goddess, also known as Devi and Shakti.
Durga the mahashakti, the form and formless, is the root cause of creation, preservation and annihilation. She is the intelligence in all beings and is referred to as Chamundhaye.
According to legend, Durga was created for the slaying of the buffalo demon Mahisasura by Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, and the lesser gods, who were otherwise powerless to overcome him. Embodying their collective energy (shakti), she is both derivative from the male divinities and the manifested representation of their power.
For Vaishnavas Durga is another name/form of Uma or Parvati. This is especially prevalent in the Shakta denomination within Hinduism, which worships the Goddess Devi in all her manifestations. She is Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswati in her mild form; Goddess Kali and Goddess Chandi in her wrathful form.
Durga is also called Padmanabha-Sahodari and Narayani, the sister of Lord Vishnu. For Shaivas and Shaktas Durga is the wife of Shiva.
To bring back lord Shiva in Sansar, she was reborn in human form (Sati and Parvati) to marry Shiva. Durga gave birth to his first child Kartikeya. Durga Puja, held annually in her honour, is one of the great festivals of eastern India.
Durga Shakti is the original cause of all the present or past worldly occurrences. The delusion of the supreme soul is otherwise called Shakti (power). From this power, generates all forms of knowledge of the world and it is accepted as vital cause of creation, existence and destruction.
Kālī, also known as Kālikā, is the Hindu goddess associated with empowerment, or shakti. She is the fierce aspect of the goddess Durga. The name of Kali means black one and force of time; she is therefore called the Goddess of Time, Change, Power, Creation, Preservation and Destruction.
Her earliest appearance is that of a destroyer principally of evil forces. Various Shakta Hindu cosmologies, as well as Shākta Tantric beliefs, worship her as the ultimate reality or Brahman; and recent devotional movements re-imagine Kāli as a benevolent mother goddess. She is often portrayed standing or dancing on her husband, the god Shiva, who lies prostrate beneath her.
According to David Kinsley, Kāli is first mentioned in Hinduism as a distinct goddess around 600 CE, and these texts “usually place her on the periphery of Hindu society or on the battlefield.”
She is often regarded as the Shakti of Shiva, and is closely associated with him in various Puranas. The Kalika Purana depicts her as the “Adi Shakti” (Fundamental Power) and “Para Prakriti” or beyond nature.
In Norse mythology, Hel is a being who presides over a realm of the same name, where she receives a portion of the dead. Literally “concealed place” (compare Old Norse hellir “cave, cavern”), from PIE *kel- “to cover, conceal”.
She may have been considered a goddess with potential Indo-European parallels in Bhavani, Kali, and Mahakali.
Ḫaldi (Ḫaldi, also known as Khaldi or Hayk, also known as Haik Nahapet, Hayk the Tribal Chief, the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation) was one of the three chief deities of Ararat (Urartu). The other two chief deities were Theispas of Kumenu, and Shivini or Artinis of Tushpa.
His shrine was at Ardini (likely from Armenian Artin, meaning “sun rising” or to “awake”), known as Muṣaṣir (Akkadian for Exit of the Serpent/Snake), in Assyrian.
Of all the gods of Ararat (Urartu) pantheon, the most inscriptions are dedicated to him. His wife was the goddess Arubani. He is portrayed as a man with or without a beard, standing on a lion.
Khaldi was a warrior god whom the kings of Urartu would pray to for victories in battle. The temples dedicated to Khaldi were adorned with weapons, such as swords, spears, bow and arrows, and shields hung off the walls and were sometimes known as ‘the house of weapons’.
Caelus or Coelus was a primal god of the sky in Roman myth and theology, iconography, and literature (compare caelum, the Latin word for “sky” or “the heavens”, hence English “celestial”).
The deity’s name usually appears in masculine grammatical form when he is conceived of as a male generative force, but the neuter form Caelum is also found as a divine personification.
The name of Caelus indicates that he was the Roman counterpart of the Greek god Uranus, who was of major importance in the theogonies of the Greeks.
Caelus substituted for Uranus in Latin versions of the myth of Saturn (Cronus) castrating his heavenly father, from whose severed genitals, cast upon the sea, the goddess Venus (Aphrodite) was born.

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Posted by Fredsvenn on September 3, 2015

Caelus or Coelus was a primal god of the sky in Roman myth and theology, iconography, and literature (compare caelum, the Latin word for “sky” or “the heavens”, hence English “celestial”).

The deity’s name usually appears in masculine grammatical form when he is conceived of as a male generative force, but the neuter form Caelum is also found as a divine personification.

The name of Caelus indicates that he was the Roman counterpart of the Greek god Uranus (Οὐρανός, Ouranos), who was of major importance in the theogonies of the Greeks.

Varro couples him with Terra (Earth) as pater and mater (father and mother), and says that they are “great deities” (dei magni) in the theology of the mysteries at Samothrace.

Although Caelus is not known to have had a cult at Rome, not all scholars consider him a Greek import given a Latin name; he has been associated with Summanus, the god of nocturnal thunder, as “purely Roman.”

Caelus begins to appear regularly in Augustan art and in connection with the cult of Mithras during the Imperial era.

Vitruvius includes him among celestial gods whose temple-buildings (aedes) should be built open to the sky. As a sky god, he became identified with Jupiter, as indicated by an inscription that reads Optimus Maximus Caelus Aeternus Iup<pi>ter.

Some Roman writers used Caelus or Caelum as a way to express the monotheistic god of Judaism. Juvenal identifies the Jewish god with Caelus as the highest heaven (summum caelum), saying that Jews worship the numen of Caelus; Petronius uses similar language.

Florus has a rather odd passage describing the Holy of Holies in the Temple of Jerusalem as housing a “sky” (caelum) under a golden vine, which has been taken as an uncomprehending attempt to grasp the presence of the Jewish god.

A golden vine, perhaps the one mentioned, was sent by the Hasmonean king Aristobulus to Pompeius Magnus after his defeat of Jerusalem, and was later displayed in the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus.

Ḫaldi (dḪaldi, also known as Khaldi or Hayk, Հայկ Նահապետ, Hayk the Tribal Chief, the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation) was one of the three chief deities of Ararat (Urartu). His shrine was at Ardini. The other two chief deities were Theispas of Kumenu, and Shivini of Tushpa.

Of all the gods of Ararat (Urartu) pantheon, the most inscriptions are dedicated to him.[citation needed] His wife was the goddess Arubani. He is portrayed as a man with or without a beard, standing on a lion.

Khaldi was a warrior god whom the kings of Urartu would pray to for victories in battle. The temples dedicated to Khaldi were adorned with weapons, such as swords, spears, bow and arrows, and shields hung off the walls and were sometimes known as ‘the house of weapons’.

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Birth of our civilization

Posted by Fredsvenn on September 2, 2015

The March equinox or Northward equinox is the equinox on the earth when the Sun appears to cross the celestial equator, heading northward. The March equinox is the vernal equinox in the northern hemisphere and the autumnal equinox in the southern hemisphere. The equinox can be as early as March 19 or as late as March 21.

The point where the horizon crosses the sun’s disk at the celestial equator northwards is called the first point of Aries (♈) (meaning “ram”). Aries is the first astrological sign in the Zodiac, spanning the first 30 degrees of celestial longitude (0°≤ λ <30º).

Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this sign between March 21 and April 19 each year. Under the sidereal zodiac, the sun currently transits Aries from 15 April to 15 May (approximately). However, due to the precession of the equinoxes, this point is no longer in the constellation Aries, but rather in Pisces (♓), the twelfth astrological sign in the Zodiac, originating from the Pisces constellation.

Pisces spans the 330° to 360° of the zodiac, between 332.75° and 360° of celestial longitude. Under the tropical zodiac the sun transits this area on average between February 19 and March 20, and under the sidereal zodiac, the sun transits this area between approximately March 13 and April 13.

By the year 2600 the first point of Aries will be in Aquarius (some Archeoastronomers and Astrologers believe that will be the start of the approximate 2,150 years of “the Age of Aquarius”, while others think it may have already started, and varying calculations in between).

Taurus, the second sign of the zodiac established among the ancient Mesopotamians—who knew it as the Bull of Heaven—because it was the sign through which the sun rose on the vernal equinox, was the constellation of the Northern Hemisphere’s Spring Equinox from about 3,200 BC. Due to the procession of the equinox, it now follows Aries.

The equinox was considered the Sumerian New Year, Akitu, an important event in their religion. Taurus marked the point of vernal (spring) equinox in the Chalcolithic and the Early Bronze Age, from about 4000 BC to 1700 BC, after which it moved into the neighboring constellation Aries. The Pleiades were closest to the Sun at vernal equinox around the 23rd century BC.

In Babylonian astronomy, the constellation was listed in the MUL.APIN as Gugalanna (Sumerian: GU.GAL.AN.NA, “the Great Bull of Heaven”), better known as the Bull of Heaven (Sumerian: GU.AN.NA), “The Bull of Heaven”. As this constellation marked the vernal equinox, it was also the first constellation in the Babylonian zodiac and they described it as “The Bull in Front”. The Akkadian name was Alu.

Gugalanna was the first husband of the Goddess Ereshkigal, the Goddess of the Realm of the Dead, a gloomy place devoid of light. It was to share the sorrow with her sister that Inanna later descends to the Underworld. In the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the earliest works of literature, the goddess Ishtar sends Taurus, the Bull of Heaven, to kill Gilgamesh for spurning her advances.

Some locate Gilgamesh as the neighboring constellation of Orion, facing Taurus as if in combat, while others identify him with the sun whose rising on the equinox vanquishes the constellation. The story of the death of Gugalanna has been considered to represent the sun’s obscuring of the constellation as it rose on the morning of the equinox.

In early Mesopotamian art, the Bull of Heaven was closely associated with Inanna, the Sumerian goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare. One of the oldest depictions shows the bull standing before the goddess’ standard; since it has 3 stars depicted on its back (the cuneiform sign for “star-constellation”), there is good reason to regard this as the constellation later known as Taurus.

“Between the period of the earliest female figurines circa 4500 B.C. … a span of a thousand years elapsed, during which the archaeological signs constantly increase of a cult of the tilled earth fertilised by that noblest and most powerful beast of the recently developed holy barnyard, the bull – who not only sired the milk yielding cows, but also drew the plow, which in that early period simultaneously broke and seeded the earth. Moreover by analogy, the horned moon, lord of the rhythm of the womb and of the rains and dews, was equated with the bull; so that the animal became a cosmological symbol, uniting the fields and the laws of sky and earth.”

The seven most prominent stars in this cluster are at least visual magnitude six, and so the cluster is also named the “Seven Sisters”. The name of the Pleiades comes from Ancient Greek. It probably derives from plein (‘to sail’) because of the cluster’s importance in delimiting the sailing season in the Mediterranean Sea: ‘the season of navigation began with their heliacal rising’. However, the name was later mythologised as the name of seven divine sisters, whose name was imagined to derive from that of their mother Pleione, effectively meaning ‘daughters of Pleione’. However, in reality the name of the star-cluster almost certainly came first, and Pleione was invented to explain it.

The Apkallu (Akkadian) or Abgal (Sumerian), are seven Sumerian sages, demigods who are said to have been created by the god Enki (Akkadian: Ea) to establish culture and give civilization to mankind. They served as priests of Enki and as advisors or sages to the earliest kings of Sumer before the flood. They are credited with giving mankind the Me (moral code), the crafts, and the arts. They were seen as fish-like men who emerged from the sweet water Abzu. They are commonly represented as having the lower torso of a fish, or dressed as a fish.

Apkallu reliefs also appear in Assyrian palaces as guardians against evil spirits. They are one of the more prominent supernatural creatures that appear in the art of Ashurnasirpal II of the 9th century BC. They appear in one of three forms, bird-headed, human-headed or dressed in fish-skin cloaks. In the court of Assyria, special physicians trained in the ancient lore of Eridu, far to the south, foretold the course of sickness from signs and portents on the patient’s body, and offered the appropriate incantations and magical resources as cures.

Eridu (Cuneiform: NUN.KI; modern Arabic: Tell Abu Shahrain), also transliterated as Eridug, could mean “mighty place” or “guidance place”, is considered the earliest city in southern Mesopotamia. In the Sumerian king list, Eridu is named as the city of the first kings. The king list continues: “”After the kingship descended from heaven, the kingship was in Eridug (Eridu). In Eridu, Alulim became king; he ruled for 28800 years. Alalngar ruled for 36000 years. 2 kings; they ruled for 64800 years. Then Eridu fell and the kingship was taken to Bad-tibira.”

The king list gave particularly long rules to the kings who ruled before a great flood occurred, and shows how the center of power progressively moved from the south to the north of the country. Adapa, a man of Eridu, is depicted as an early culture hero. Identified with U-an, a half-human creature from the sea (Abgallu from ab = water, gal = big, lu = man), he was considered to have brought civilization to the city during the time of King Alulim.

In a chart of antediluvian generations in Babylonian and Biblical traditions, Professor William Wolfgang Hallo associates Alulim with the composite half-man, half-fish counselor or culture hero (Apkallu) Uanna-Adapa (Oannes), and suggests an equivalence between Alulim and Enosh in the Sethite genealogy given in Genesis chapter 5. Hallo notes that Alulim’s name means “Stag”.

Oannes was the name given by the Babylonian writer Berossus in the 3rd century BC to a mythical being who taught mankind wisdom. Berossus describes Oannes as having the body of a fish but underneath the figure of a man. He is described as dwelling in the Persian Gulf, and rising out of the waters in the daytime and furnishing mankind instruction in writing, the arts and the various sciences. Oannes and the Semitic god Dagon were considered identical.

The name “Oannes” was once conjectured to be derived from that of the ancient Babylonian god Ea, but it is now known that the name is the Greek form of the Babylonian Uanna (or Uan) a name used for Adapa in texts from the Library of Ashurbanipal. The Assyrian texts attempt to connect the word to the Akkadian for a craftsman ummanu but this is merely a pun.

Jonah or Jonas is the name given in the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh/Old Testament) to a prophet of the northern kingdom of Israel in about the 8th century BC. He is the eponymous central character in the Book of Jonah, famous for being swallowed by a fish or a whale, depending on translation. The biblical story of Jonah is repeated, with a few notable differences, in the Qur’an.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus makes a reference to Jonah when he is asked for a miraculous sign by the Pharisees and teachers of the Law. Jesus says that the sign will be the sign of Jonah. Jesus implies that Jonah’s restoration after three days inside the great whale prefigures His own resurrection.

John the Baptist was an itinerant preacher and a major religious figure in Christianity, Islam, the Bahá’í Faith, and Mandaeism. He is described as having the unique practice of baptism for the forgiveness of sins. Most scholars agree that John baptized Jesus. Scholars generally believe Jesus was a follower or disciple of John and several New Testament accounts report that some of Jesus’ early followers had previously been followers of John. John the Baptist is also mentioned by the Jewish historian Josephus.

According to the New Testament, John anticipated a messianic figure greater than himself, and Jesus was the one whose coming John foretold. Christians commonly refer to John as the precursor or forerunner of Jesus, since John announces Jesus’ coming. John is also identified with the prophet Elijah.

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A newly emerging perspective by Ernest G. McClain

Posted by Fredsvenn on September 2, 2015

Gods of Sumeria symbolize Ancient Music of 22 Srutis

Speculations on Sumerian tuning, by Joe Monzo – Tonalsoft

List of Mesopotamian deities

Music and mathematics

Music theorists sometimes use mathematics to understand music, and although music has no axiomatic foundation in modern mathematics, mathematics is “the basis of sound” and sound itself “in its musical aspects… exhibits a remarkable array of number properties”, simply because nature itself “is amazingly mathematical”.

The attempt to structure and communicate new ways of composing and hearing music has led to musical applications of set theory, abstract algebra and number theory. Some composers have incorporated the golden ratio and Fibonacci numbers into their work.

Music and mathematics

Today’s physicists enjoy speculating about Theories of Everything, but they really don’t nean everything! They just mean physics and cosmology. Some 5,000 years ago, the Sumerians constructed a remarkable Theory of Everything based upon music, a base-60 number system, and symmetry concepts. These Sumerians didn’t have supercomputers but they were able to incorporate into their theory much more than physics and cosmology. Below, E.G. McClain provides some insight into ancient Sumerian thinking:

“In ancient Mesopotania,music, mathematics, art, science, religion, and poetic fantasy were fused. Around 3000 B.C., the Sumerians simultaneously developed cuneiform writing, in which they recorded their pantheon, and a base-60 number system. Their gods were assigned numbers that encoded the primary ratios of music, with the gods’ functions corresponding to their numbers in acoustical theory. Thus the Sumerians created an extensive tonal/arithmetical model for the cosmos. In this far-reaching allegory, the physical world is known by analogy, and the gods give divinity not only to natural forces but also to a ‘supernatural,’ intuitive understanding of mathematical patterns and psychological forces.”

To understand the role of musical theory in modeling the cosmos, one must realize that it involves: “the definition of intervals, the distance between pitches, by ratios of integers or counting numbers.” For the ancient Sumerians music was a tool that helped them describe the cosmos.

(McClain, Ernest G.; “Musical Theory and Ancient Cosmology,” The World and I, p. 371, February 1994. Cr. L. Ellenberger)

Music And Theories Of Everything

Musical Theory and Ancient Cosmology

A newly emerging perspective

Ernest G. McClain

In ancient Mesopotamia, music, mathematics, art, science, religion, and poetic fantasy were fused. Around 3000 B.C., the Sumerians simultaneously developed cuneiform writing, in which they recorded their pantheon, and a base-60 number system. Their gods were assigned numbers that encoded the primary ratios of music, with the gods’ functions corresponding to their numbers in acoustical theory. Thus the Sumerians created an extensive tonal/arithmetical model for the cosmos. In this far-reaching allegory, the physical world is known by analogy, and the gods give divinity not only to natural forces but also to a “supernatural,” intuitive understanding of mathematical patterns and psychological forces.

The cuneiform mathematical notation, invented by Sumer, was fully exploited by the virtuoso arithmetical calculations of Babylon, politically ascendant in the second millennium. The notation employs few symbols, which are distributed in patterns easily understood by the eye. Thus, few demands are made on memory. In Mesopotamia, mythology took concrete form; for example, important activities of the gods can be read as “events” in a multiplication table notated as a matrix of Sumerian bricks. Classical Greece abstracted all of the rational tonal concepts embedded in this Sumerian/Babylonian allegory for two thousand years, simply waiting to be demythologized. Moreover, because the religious mythologies of India, China, Babylon, Greece, Israel, and Europe use Sumerian sources and numerology, theology needs to be studied from a musicological perspective.

. . .

If science is conceived of as knowledge and philosophy as love of wisdom, then the invention of musical theory clearly is one of the greatest scientific and philosophical achievements of the ancient world. When, where, and how did it happen?

Assuming that Cro-Magnon man processed sound with the same biology we possess, humans have shared some fifty thousand years of similar auditory experiences. Musical theory as an acoustical science begins with the definition of intervals, the distance between pitches, by ratios of integers, or counting numbers, a discovery traditionally credited to Pythagoras in the sixth century B.C.

Not until the sixteenth century A.D., when Vincenzo Galilei (Galileo’s father, an accomplished musician) tried to repeat some of the experiments attributed to Pythagoras, was it learned that they were apocryphal, giving either the wrong answers or none at all. Today, as the gift of modem archaeological and linguistic studies, our awareness of cultures much older than that of Greece has been phenomenally increased; this permits us to set aside the tired inventions about Pythagoras and tell a more likely story, involving anonymous heroes in other lands.

My story is centered in Mesopotamia. It demonstrates how every element of Pythagorean tuning theory was implicit in the mathematics and mythology of that land for at least a thousand years, and perhaps two thousand, before Greek rationalists finally abstracted what we are willing to recognize as science from its long incubation within mythology.

What seems most astounding in ancient Mesopotamia is the total fusion of what we separate into subjects: music, mathematics, art, science, religion, and poetic fantasy. Such a fusion has never been equaled except by Plato, who inherited its forms. Socrates’ statement about the general principles of scientific studies in book 7 of Plato’s Republic, with the harmonical allegories that follow directly in books 8 and 9, guides my exposition here. The Mesopotamian prototypes to which they lead us fully justify Socrates’ treatment of his own tale as an “ancient Muses’ jest,” inherited from a glorious, lost civilization. Scholars who have become too unmusical to understand mankind’s share in divinity, as Plato feared might happen, still can lean on him for understanding, for all of his many writings about harmonics and music have survived. (I must suppress here, for reasons of space, the extensive harmonical allegories of the Jews, whose parallel forms infuse the Bible with related musical implication from the first page of Genesis to the last page of Revelation.)

Music was as important in ancient India, Egypt, and China as it was in Mesopotamia and Greece. All these cultures had similar mythic imagery emphasizing the same numbers, which are so important in defining musical intervals; this raises doubts about whether any people ever “invented” acoustical theory. For instance, in any culture that knows the harp as intimately as it was known in Egypt and Mesopotamia, its visible variety of string lengths and economy of materials (strings require careful and often onerous preparation) encourage builders, as a sheer survival strategy, to notice the correlation between a string’s length and its intended pitch.

Similarly, in China, where by 5000 B.C. the leg bones of large birds, equipped with tone holes appropriate for a scale, appear as paired flutes in ritual burials, the importance of suitable materials conditioned pipemakers to be alert to lengths. The basic ratios could have been discovered many times in many places, more likely by loving craftsmen and practitioners than by philosophers. Certainly, the discovery came no later than the fourth millennium B.C., before even the first Egyptian dynasty was founded or the Greeks had reached the Mediterranean shore.


In the fourth millennium B.C., the Sumerians, a non-Semitic people of uncertain origin, developed a high civilization in Mesopotamia, now the southern part of Iraq. For reasons that have been vigorously argued but remain unclear, they developed a base-60 number system. Waiting to be recognized within it–and in ways obvious to any scribal adept, although invisible to the illiterate–were the main patterns of harmonical theory that appear later in India, Babylon, and Greece. Sumerian tombs of this early period yield a harvest of harps, lyres, and pipes, and the literature surviving on clay tablets abounds in elaborate hymns.

In the cuneiform writing of the Sumerians, which was invented concurrently with the base-60 number system, the pantheon of deities is rationalized by assigning to the high gods the base-60 numbers that, as we shall see, encode the primary ratios of music. The glyph, or symbol, for heaven or star, followed by the appropriate number, functions as a “god nickname.” (See fig. 1. The numerical values of the deities are given in Budge 1992.) The numbers reveal their significance in triangular arrays of pebble counters.

Furthermore, in the mythology of their religion, the responsibilities and behavior of the gods correspond with the functions of the god numbers in base-60 acoustics. Sumerian cosmology is grounded in the metaphorical copulation of the male A and female V numerical arrays, from which the Greek “holy tetraktys” is abstracted.

For example, the head of the pantheon and father of the gods is the sky god An (the than Anu), god 60, written in cuneiform as an oversize 1 sign (see fig. 5). Because base-60 numbers enjoy potentially endless place value meanings as multiples or submultiples of 60 (like the unit, 1, in decimal arithmetic), An = 60 (written as 1) functions as the center of the whole field of rational numbers. In mathematical language, An is its geometric mean, being the mean between any number and its reciprocal.

Anu/An, therefore, is essentially a do-nothing deity, as he was later accused of being-, a reference point, perfectly suited to represent simultaneously the middle band of the sky, the center of the number field, and the middle, reference tone (the Greek mese) in a tuning system. He was fated to be deposed by more active leaders among his children, as harmonical logic focused more clearly on structure and sheer virtuosity in computation became subordinated to deeper mathematical insight.

Theology, from its birth as “rational discourse about the gods” and in many later cultures influenced by Sumer, is mathematical allegory with a deeply musical logic. Tuning theory today remains a fossil science with no change at all in its basic parameters–structured by the gods themselves in numerical guise–since it premiered in Sumer about 3300 B.C.

To glimpse this new vision requires that we lay aside our algebra, our computers, and our pride in rational superiority and represent numbers to ourselves as the ancients did: concretely. We must learn to do musical arithmetic with a handful of pebbles in a triangular matrix, as the Pythagoreans teach us, imitating the pattern of bricks in the Sumerian glyph for mountain.

Then, like Socrates, we must show ourselves the harmonical implications of that arithmetic with a circle in the sand, for that circle is the cosmos, viewed as endlessly cyclical, like the tones of the musical scale (fig. 2).

In what follows I am presenting Mesopotamian arithmetic as Plato still practiced it in the fourth century B.C., studying his mathematical allegories for clues to earlier examples. Plato is the last great harmonical mythographer of the European world; never again did a major philosopher so thoroughly ground his thinking in music.

In retrospect, decoding Sumerian-Platonic harmonics proves astonishingly simple. Anyone, even a child, who can count to ten and sing or play the scale can make self-evident the scale constructions that once modeled the cosmos.

Because 60 is integrally divisible by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15, 20 and 30, base-60 arithmetic can correlate many subsystems, allowing fluent manipulation of fractions. This very early mastery of fractions ensured adequate arithmetical definition of pitch ratios–presumably as string-length ratios on early harps, approximate length ratios on the flutelike panpipes, or tone-hole ratios on the aulos–no matter how many tones are involved and whether pitch patterns rise or fall.

About 1800 B.C., the Babylonians became politically ascendant and reorganized the Sumerian pantheon, keeping its god numbers and related mathematical terminology. They developed base-60 computation to a level of arithmetical virtuosity not equaled in Europe until about A.D. 1600 and not understood in modern times until the middle of our own century (see Neugebauer 1957). Not until 1945, when Neugebauer and A. Sachs published the translation of cuneiform tablet YBC 7289 from the Yale collection, did the world learn that ancient Babylon (1800-1600 B.C.) possessed a base-60 formula for the square root of 2 accurate to five decimal places (1.41421+), or the formula for generating all Pythagorean triples (a triangle with sides of 3, 4, and 5 units is merely an example) a thousand years before Pythagoras explicated the first one.

The Greeks, still thinking in terms of Egyptian unit fractions (so that a descending whole tone of 8:9, for instance, was constructed by laboriously adding to the reference length 1/8 of itself), would have been astonished to learn that the Egyptians, whom they revered, had like themselves been far surpassed in computational facility by an ancient neighbor.

The paucity of surviving Sumerian mathematical texts requires scholars to make many inferences from later Babylonian survivals, and much Sumerian literature remains untranslated or inaccessible. Thus, as further linguistic evidence becomes available, the story I tell here will require revision, becoming more certain in dating, clearer in meaning, and richer in detail.

To look ahead in history and see the persistence of Sumerian/Babylonian methods, Ptolemy, in the second century A.D., in the Harmonica, recorded all of the some twenty Greek tunings known to him with sexagesimal (base-60) fractions. Between about 500 B.C. and A.D. 150, Babylonian and Greek astronomy thrived on base-60 computation. It was still used by Copernicus in the fifteenth century and endures in modern astronomy The Chinese calendar is still reckoned by 60s. Astronomy, however, as the science of precise measurement that it later became, “was practically unknown in ancient Sumer; at least as of today we have only a list of about twenty-five stars and nothing more” (Kramer 1963).


Analog clocks and watches equipped with rotating hands for hours, minutes, and seconds are living fossils of the Sumerian arithmetical mind-set (fig. 3).

a. Numbers have visible and tangible markers on the dial (representing the fixity of the recurring temporal cycle), restricting burdens on memory and permitting operations to be reduced to counting and adding.

b. Sixty can be conceived of, when we please, as a large unit (one rotation of the second or minute hand), conversely giving the small unit the implication of 1/60.

c. The large unit, alternately, can be conceived of as a higher power of 60 (correlating the simultaneous rotations of both second and minute hands), for 602 = 3,600 seconds is also one hour, conversely giving our small unit the implication of 1/3,600.

d. Twelve hours constitutes a still larger unit (one rotation of the hour hand) of 12 x 60 = 720 minutes, and 12 x 3,600 = 43,200 seconds, conversely giving the smallest unit the implication of 1/720 or 1/43,200.

e. We avoid confusion between these alternate arithmetical meanings the same way the Sumerians did, namely, by remembering the context of the questions we are trying to answer.

f. The existence of alternative ways of expressing a unit, as in the examples above, indicates and emphasizes the importance of reciprocals.

Musicians, following Plato, still project their tones into a circle that eliminates cyclic octave repetitions (Plato, in the Timaeus, insists that God makes only one model of anything). Thus today, using our modern, equal-tempered scale, we can identify any musical interval as some multiple of a standard semitone, to the envy of calendarmakers, who, having to deal with the irregularities of days, months, and years, are jealous of our perfect twelve-tone symmetry. But the nearest approximation of our twelve-tone, equal-tempered scale in small integers remains that provided by ancient base-60 arithmetic.


Sumerian numbers were impressed on small clay tablets with a stylus, at first round, later triangular, held slanted for some numbers and vertically for others (fig. 4). Numbers from 2 to 9 were built up by repetitions of the unit, made with the edge of the stylus. A 10 was imprinted with the end; a 60 was made as a large 1 by pressing the stylus more firmly into the clay. The equation 602 = 3,600 was scratched in as a circle (see van der Waerden 1963). Only a few symbols were needed, and repetition made them easy to decode, minimizing burdens on memory. The idea of a number was actually embodied in the strokes required to notate it (fig. 5).

Computation was made easy by tables of “reciprocals, multiplications, squares and square roots, cubes and cube roots, …exponential functions, coefficients giving numbers for practical computation,…and numerous metrological calculations giving areas of rectangles, circles” (Kramer 1963). Many copies of these tables have come down to us.

The standard multiplication tables pair each number with its reciprocal and give special prominence to the favored subset of “regular” numbers, whose prime factors are limited to 2, 3, and 5 (larger prime factors necessarily lead to approximations in the reciprocals). “Regular numbers” up to 60 are shown (fig. 6) with their reciprocals, transcribed, for instance, so that the reciprocal of 40/60 = 2/3 reads 1,30, meaning 90/60 = 3/2. Notice that only the most important fractions of 60 are deified (1/6, 1/5, 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, and 5/6). The tone names are nearest equivalents in modern notation. Several values require three sexagesimal “places” (indicated by commas); auxiliary tables freely employ six, seven, and even more places.

A telling clue to the psyche–of Sumerians, of Plato, and of ourselves–is affection for the symmetry of opposites. Inverse, or bilateral, symmetry conditions base-60 computation, as it conditioned Platonic dialectics. (“Some things are provocative of thought and some are not…Provocative things…impinge upon the senses together with their opposites.” Republic 524d) When facing a mirror we exhibit to ourselves, with varying degrees of perfection, this symmetry of left/right opposites across an imaginary “plane of reflection.”

The old-fashioned scale, or balance beam, epitomizes this notion (fig. 7). The balance owes its functioning to gravity, but its appeal to us, its attractiveness, is due to our ear, which in addition to being the organ of hearing is also the personal organ of balance. Our empathic human feelings for the balance beam affect the inverse, or bilateral, physical symmetry because of the experience of balancing our own bodies, an activity dependent on the ear, not the eye. All of the computations presented later will be aligned in this basic symmetry, with Anu/An = 60 (meaning 1) on the balance point. Sumerian art greatly elaborates this symmetry of opposites (fig. 8).

The deified Sumerian numbers, taken over by Babylon, are 10, 12, 15, 20, 30, 40, and 50, all fractional parts of “father” Anu/An = 60, head of the pantheon. Their fractional values and god names are indicated here with a brief description of their mythological functions.

Anu/An, 60, written as a large 1, “father of the gods” and earliest head of the pantheon, is any reference unit. He is equivalent in our notation to 60/60 = 1, where he functions, according to modern concepts, as “geometric mean in the field of rational numbers.”

Enlil, 50 (5/6), “god on the mountain” possessing fifty names, is mankind’s special guardian and was promoted to head the pantheon circa 2500 B.C. Enlil deities in base 60 what the Greeks knew as the human prime number, 5, in their base-1O harmonics. By generating major thirds of 4:5 and minor thirds of 5:6, he saved Sumerians tremendous arithmetical labor, as we shall note in due course.

Ea/Enki, 40 (2/3), “god of the sweet waters” and perhaps the busiest deity in Sumer, “organizes the earth,” including the musical scale. He deities the divine prime number, 3, in the ratio of the musical fifth 2:3, the most powerful shaping force in music after the octave. (Notice that the trio of highest gods (40, 50, 60) defines the basic musical triad of 4:5:6 (do, mi, sol, rising, and mi, do, la, falling). The ratio 4:5 defines a major third and the ratio 5:6 defines a minor third, taken either upward or downward within the matrix of the musical octave.)

Sin, 30 (1/2), the Moon, establishes the basic Sumerian octave matrix as 1:2 30:60.

Shamash, 20 (1/3), the Sun, judges the gods.

Ishtar, 15 (1/4), is the epitome of the feminine as virgin, wife, and everybody’s mistress.

Nergal, 12 (1/5), is god of the underworld.

Bel/Marduk, 10 (1/6), the biblical Baal, originally was a minor deity but eventually became head of the Babylonian pantheon in the second millennium B.C. He inherited all the powers of the other gods, including Enlil’s fifty names, in a giant step toward a “Pythagorized” monotheism built on the first ten numbers.


Here are the principal arithmetical symmetries of base-60 Sumerian harmonics, summarized in the inverse “heraldic” symmetry displayed above but expressed as modern fractions. Every tone in the scale will be found to participate in numerous god ratios, and all other ratios are their derivatives via multiplication (which is what Plato means by “marriage” in his elaborate metaphor in the Republic). All of the harmonical concepts in my analysis, however, are Greek. Plato’s formula for this particular construction can be found in the Republic, book 8; his discussion of general harmonical principles is in the Timeus.

All pitch classes generated by the prime numbers 2, 3, and 5, up to the index of 60, are represented here (fig. 9). Remember that all doubles are equivalent, so that 3, 6, 12, and 24 define the same pitch as 48, for example.

a. Tones are defined by numbers.

b. The significance of a number lies only in its ratio with other numbers.

c. Numerosity is governed by strict arithmetic economy. Because Sumerian double meanings were assumed, the numbers 30, 32, 36,… are in smallest integers for this context. This economy is obscured somewhat by writing ratios as fractions; mentally eliminate the superfluous reference 60s.

d. Every number is employed in two senses, as great and small, displayed here as reciprocal fractions.

e. The double meanings of great and small require the basic model octave to be extended across a double octave from 30/60 = 1/2 to 60/30 = 2.

f. Tones are grouped by tetrachords (that is, in groups of fours) whose fixed boundaries always show the musical proportion 6:8 = 9:12, defining the octave (6:12 = 1:2), the fifth (2:3, that is, 6:9 and 8:12), and the fourth (3:4 or 6:8 and 9:12).

Notice how the arithmetic mean 9 and the harmonic mean 8 establish perfect inverse symmetry (see fig. 10) and define the standard whole tone as 8:9. These ratios define the only fixed tones in Pythagorean tuning theory, and they are invariant. Pythagoras reputedly and plausibly brought this proportion home from Babylon in the sixth century B.C. In base 60, these “framing” numbers necessarily are multiplied by 5 into 30:40 = 45:60.

Notice that Ea/Enki, god 40, defines these frames (DA falling and G:D rising) in his double role as 40:60 and 60:40 and thus literally “organizes the earth” (as represented by the string) into do, fa, sol, do, harmonic foundations of the modern scale.

g. The Enlil = 50 tones of pitch classes b and f always belong to the opposite scale, for the god shares these tones with 36 (that is, 30:36 = 50:60 and 30 and 60, “beginning and end,” coincide); thus, Enlil is free to supervise the system by reminding us of the symmetry of opposites.

Enlil’s promotion to head the pantheon possibly symbolizes this insight. He plays a very active role, also generating several intervals that actually reduce numerosity, whereas the primal procreator, Anu/An = 60, a do-nothing deity of little account in Sumer and Babylon, remains purely passive.

Platonic dialectics, however, emphasize anew the importance of an invariant t4 seat in the mean,” thus turning Anu/An’s passiveness as geometric mean into the greatest possible Socratic virtue as “the One Itself.”

h. The falling or descending version of this scale, as notated [in Figure 9], is in our own familiar major mode. It is more commonly notated one tone lower, on the white keys of the C octave. The rising scale on the right, its symmetric opposite, is the basic scale of ancient Greece, India, and Babylon. It is more simply notated one tone higher, on the white keys in the E octave.

My choice of D as reference pitch is dictated by the necessity of showing opposites simultaneously, in the Sumerian normative arithmetical habit that Plato later required of his students in dialectic. Future philosopher-guardians in idealized cities needed to become expert in weighing the merits of contradictory claims, requiring the ability to see opposites simultaneously. Music provided the opportunity to do this, par excellence, and so childhood training began with it.


To coalesce the musical opposites shown above into one Sumerian/Platonic overview, eliminating all octave replication and laying bare the irreducible structure (“God’s only model”), we need only project these tones into the same tone circle.

From Plato’s mythology (in the Critias) come “Poseidon and his five pairs of twin sons” (see fig. 11), aligned in perfect inverse Sumerian symmetry across the central vertical plane of reflection. (Poseidon, at twelve o’clock, Greek successor to the water god Ea/Enki, is self-symmetric, being both beginning and end of the octave no matter whether we traverse it upward or downward.) These eleven tones constitute the only pitch class symmetries up to an index of 60.

But to coalesce opposite fractions so that the numbers–like the tones–show the same ratios when read in either direction, we must expand the numerical double 1:2 into 360:720 (see fig. 12). If we confine ourselves to three-digit numbers, there is, in addition to Poseidon’s ten sons, only one other pair of symmetric numbers, namely, 405 and 640 (since 405:720 = 360:640). These are notated here as C and E to indicate their very slight and melodically insignificant difference from c and e. This microtonal “comma” difference of 80:81, barely perceptible in the laboratory and then only by a good ear, was taken by the Greeks as the smallest theoretically useful unit of pitch measure and is approximately 1/9 of their standard whole tone of 8:9. The whole-tone interval between A and G (in figs. 11 and 12) invites similar subdivision, and symmetry requires a point directly opposite our reference, D. This locus is defined by the square root of 2, lying beyond the ancient concept of number, and so we must search for an approximation.

A musically acceptable candidate (its error is actually less than a comma) now appears at a-flat = 512, or, alternately, g-sharp = 512, only slightly askew our ideal value and with the “god ratio” of 4:5 with C or E.

Plato’s Poseidon and his ten sons are shown again (in fig. 12), together with the new symmetry pair C/E and the alternate a-flat/g-sharp pair (one of which is always missing in the 360:720 octave). My vertical pendulum now swings gently back and forth to either side of six o’clock as the numbers are read alternately in rising and falling scale order (that is, as great and small).

At 512, where a-flat is not quite equivalent to g-sharp, the ancients had little choice but to accept this arithmetical compromise with perfect inverse symmetry.

How did they rationalize such a complicated, inverse symmetry, one ultimately defeated because of the compromise? Remembering the quite ancient correlations of scale and calendar, let us apply imagination to their problem.

This base-60 model can be imagined as an appropriate correlate to the lunar calendar of Sumer and Babylon, as it later became the map of an idealized circular city in Plato’s Laws, calendar and musical scale being assumed to have a similar cosmogony. Notice the following correspondences:

a. The basic seven-tone scale requires the thirty digits in the 30:60 octave, and 30 is deified as Sin, the Moon, and the basic octave limit.

b. The two opposite seven-tone scales and the symmetrically divided tone circle correspond with Sumer’s two agricultural seasons, in which irrigation during the dry summer complemented the rainy winter harvest.

c. In the octave double between 360 and 720, which coalesces opposites, there are 360 units to correspond with the schematic calendar count of 12 x 30 = 360 days. (Eventually, astronomers in India and Babylon defined these units as tithis, meaning 1/360 of a mean lunar year of 354 days, hence slightly less than a solar day. Greek astronomers eventually defined the same 360 units geometrically as degrees. Neither development is relevant to ancient Sumer.)

d. Tonally acceptable but acoustically inaccurate semitones, alternately small (24:25) and large (15:16), correspond with the lunar months embodied in ritual, alternating between 29 and 30 days.

e. Between a-flat = 512 and g-sharp 512 (in the opposite sense), a gap corresponds with the excess of a solar year over 360 and the defect of a lunar year of 354 days from 360. (Five and a quarter extra solar days are about a 1/69 of 360, while the gap in the reduced comma is actually about 1/60 of an octave, a remarkable near-correspondence.)

Because any successful agricultural society must find some way to accommodate lunar, solar, ritual, and schematic cycles with the growing cycle, we need not suppose that Sumerians or anyone else ever really believed the year contained 360 days. Only a musicology dedicated to numerical precision and economy finds 720 days and nights (that is, 360 days and 360 nights) cosmogonically correct.


All of the tonal, arithmetical, and calendrical relations discussed above are coincidences. They exist among base-60 numbers whether or not anyone is aware of them, mainly because 60 is divisible by three prime numbers, 2, 3, and 5, and no others, and 60 is being used in the way we use a floating-point decimal system.

If Sumerian mythology did not offer persuasive evidence that Sumerians were conscious of tonal implications, then their establishment of a base-60 system, which included such perfect models for a lunar-oriented culture and for Pythagorean harmonics two thousand years later, would be pure serendipity, meaning that it resulted from “the gift of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for.” But the most interesting evidence for Sumerian harmonical self-consciousness is yet to be shown via Plato’s kind of triangular matrices, functioning as “mothers” in harmonical arithmetic.

In Plato’s Greece, the harmonical wisdom of Babylon and India was transformed into political theory. Men now acted out the roles once assigned to gods. Plato’s four model cities–Callipolis (in the Republic), Ancient Athens and Atlantis (both in the Critias), and Magnesia (in the Laws)–were each associated with a specific musical-mathematical model, all generated from the first ten integers. All are reducible to a study of four primes: 2, 3, 5, and 7.

In the Republic and Laws, idealized citizens–represented as number–generate only in the prime of life. For Plato, this means that 2 never really generates anything beyond the model octave 1:2, for this “virgin, female” even number–with all of its higher powers–designates the same pitch class as any reference 1. (Multiplication by 4, 8, 16,… generates only cyclic identities, different octaves of tones we already possess. They are Plato’s “nursemaids,” carrying tone children until they are old enough to “walk” as integers; hence, as he says, his “nurses” require exceptional physical strength.)

The multiplication table for the 3 x 5 male odd numbers, however, generates endless spirals of musical fifths (or fourths) and thirds; within the female octave 1:2, new pitches are generated at the same invariant ratios. The Greek meaning of symmetry is to be in the same proportion. Thus, a “continued geometric proportion” (like 1, 3, 9, 27,…or 1, 5, 25,…) constitutes “the world’s best bonds,” maximizing symmetry, which is obscured by mere appearances when these values are doubled to put them into some preferred scale order. The multiplication table for 3 x 5 graphs multiple sets of geometric tonal symmetries (Plato’s only reality) as far as imagination pleases.

Greece inherited its arithmetical habits from Egypt, including an affection for unit fractions in defining tunings (the ratio 9:8 was thought of as “eight plus one- eighth of itself,” and so on). It awoke to number theory only when it became acquainted with Mesopotamian methods. Thus, the travels of Pythagoras, whether legendary or not, played an important role. Those methods apparently were new enough in Plato’s fourth century B.C. to invite his extensive commentary, yet old enough so any novelty on Plato’s part was absolutely denied by Aristoxenus (fl. circa 330 B.C.) within fifty years.

Plato is responsible for an astonishing musical generalization of the base-60 tuning formula as 4:3 mated with the 5. His 3, 4, and 5 correspond with Sin = 30, Ea = 40, and Enlil = 50 and remind us that all tones are linked by perfect fourths, 4:3, which define possible tetrachord frames, or by perfect thirds, 4:5. The last Pythagorean who really understood Platonic “marriages” may have been Nicomachus in the second century A.D.; he promised an exposition but none survives.


In the second millennium B.C., the Babylonians reorganized the inherited Sumerian pantheon in a way that very strongly points toward its Pythagorean future. To avoid destruction by Enlil, who is disturbed by their confusion and noise, the gods reorganize under the leadership of Marduk, god 10, the biblical Baal, to whom all the other gods cede their powers.

Herein lies a beautiful reduction of Sumerian expertise with reciprocal fractions to a more philosophical overview of harmonics as being generated exclusively by the first ten integers (Socrates’ “children up to ten,” in the Republic, beyond which age he doubted citizens were really fitted for ideal communities).

To celebrate their survival after Marduk defeats the female serpent Tiamat, sent to destroy them, the gods decree him a temple; the bricks require two years (2 x 360 = 720) to fabricate. This mythologizes 720, the Sumerian unit of brick measure, and the smallest tonal index able to correlate seven-tone opposites into a twelve-tone calendrical octave. When Marduk’s tonal/arithmetical bricks are aligned in matrix order, we see that the general shape of his temple (with an index of 720) is an enlarged form of Enlil’s temple (with an index of 60); Enlil now confers his fifty names on Marduk. This temple makes Marduk’s face shine with pleasure, we are told.

Let me conclude our discussion of Marduk’s victory over the dragon, Tiamat.


It is now a normal part of a child’s musical education to learn to view the scale as a spiral of musical fifths and fourths, as they are actually tuned–for the convenience of the ear–and to be shown those tones in a tone circle. That up-and-down, alternating cycle of pitches inspires, I propose, the dragon and great serpent lore of ancient mythology (fig. 13).

Serpentine undulations are visible to any harpist in the lengths of successive strings when taken in tuning order (as they still necessarily are), and the undulations can be seen in any set of pitch pipes when similarly aligned, as in China. Because the same tone numbers function reciprocally as multiples of frequency and of wavelength, they have the same double meanings today that they enjoyed in Sumerian times. It is entirely appropriate, therefore, to represent this spiral both forward and backward, simultaneously, with intertwined serpents.

In the mythological account, Marduk slays the dragon (which is presumably the continuum of possible pitches represented by the undivided string) by first cutting it in half to establish the octave 1:2. Further cutting presumably “sections” the other pitches. No numbers larger than Marduk’s–meaning 10–play any role in geometrical sectioning of the string.

This “serpentine” double meaning–rising and falling musical fifths and fourths–lies at the very heart of our consciousness of musical structure. Sumer did not hesitate to make the double serpent the center of symmetry, as on this steatite vase of Gudea (fig. 14), priest-king of Lagash circa 2450 B.C., where they are flanked symmetrically by gryphons.

Large and unwieldy numbers can be avoided if the 4:5 and 5:6 ratios introduced by Enlil are used to define the seven-tone scale (in which case all the numbers are of two digits). Used for the twelve-tone scale, his numbers need only three digits. Thus, in Sumer, Enlil = 50, base-60 deification of the human, male prime number 5, grossly reduces our computational labors from six-digit Pythagorean numerosity (in which a twelfth tone requires 311 = 177,147) to no more than three, and without noticeably diminishing melodic usefulness (fig. 15). Only the five central tones (CGDAE) from the Great Serpent appear in figure 12, where they are indicated by solid radial lines. All other tones are owed to Enlil.

Historically, European music reintroduced this Just tuning system in the fifteenth century A.D. to secure perfect 4:5:6 triads for its new harmonies without exceeding twelve tones. The ancients probably loved it more for its arithmetical economy than for its triadic purity. Microtonalists today, equipped with a powerful new technology, are again searching for an effective employment of these ancient Sumerian god ratios.

The ultimate origins of music theory, as opposed to the Sumerian codification that I deduce here, remain lost in the far more distant past, like the origin of our sense for number. They are grounded in a common aural biological heritage, some of which we share with other animals, and are by no means dependent, as Aristotle noted, on precise numerical definition. As eminent contemporary musicologist William Thompson explained in our correspondence,

In adapting to our complex environment, our sensory ingestive systems have become…forgiving filters, enabling us to generalize….This, I’m convinced, is a product of very early adaptive behavior, a part of our survival good fortune…in that our neural system has developed myriads of networks which are overachievers when it comes to doing some simple jobs.

Socrates never believed in the possibility of perfect justice. The great aim of Plato’s Republic was to help readers become more “forgiving filters” for alternative cultural norms. There remains a certain fuzziness about a scientific definition of musical intervals, as there is about the Republic’s days and nights and months and years, and art has turned that into something for which we all can be grateful. Sumerian “overachievers”–and these “black-headed people,” as they called themselves, proved historically to be as aggressive as the great heroes they knew or invented–achieved a tremendous synthesis of cultural values. They challenge us to do as well.

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How religion spread across the world

Posted by Fredsvenn on September 1, 2015

Timeline: Myth Religion

Portasar (Armenian), also known as Gobekli Tepe (Turkish) in the Armenian Highland is the omphalo of our civilization and represent the place where our civilization was created 12000 years ago. From Portasar our civilization spread in all directions 7000 BC.

The people were Proto-Indoeuropean, and connected to haplogroups like E (Afro-Asiatic), G (NW Caucasian and Georgian), R1b (W European), J1 (Semitic), and J2 (NE Caucasian). The Urartian (Armenian) culture, also known as the Hurrians, is the nuclear of this civilization, but local variations was being created. However, all of them carried with them, the Neolithic package, our civilization.

We left what we knew as the garden of eden and spread our civilization to Mesopotamia in the south, to Canaan and further to North Africa, including Egypt, in the southwest, to Balkan and Europe in the west, to Caucasus and the Pontic stepes in the north, to China and Southeast Asia in the east, to India and South Asia and to Central Asia and Iran in the southeast.

In Greek, the word omphalos means “navel”. In Greek lore, Zeus sent two eagles across the world to meet at its center, the “navel” of the world. In the ancient world of the Mediterranean, it was a powerful religious symbol.

Portasar, meaning umbilical cord in Armenian, is a channel between the worlds. This cord serves as a portal between the two worlds that form a human. It is connected to the gods Haia, Janus and Portunus – the “door-keeper”, the god of beginnings and transitions, and thereby of gates, doors, doorways, passages and endings – the god of oportunities.

Armenia has a rich culture and history and prides itself as one of the oldest civilizations of the world, dating back to Biblical Noah and his Ark. It is the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion in AD 301. Since then, the Armenian people have identified strongly with their Christian faith.

This animated map shows how religion spread across the world

Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are five of the biggest religions in the world. Over the last few thousand years, these religious groups have shaped the course of history and had a profound influence on the trajectory of the human race. Through countless conflicts, conquests, missions abroad, and simple word of mouth, these religions spread around the globe and forever molded the huge geographic regions in their paths.

Produced by Alex Kuzoian

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Posted by Fredsvenn on September 1, 2015

Når alt kommer til alt så er vi en del av en helhet som har blitt gjort oppmerksom/bevisst på seg selv – vi observerer og har dermed mulighet til å endre – men i stedet for å hele og dyrke ser det ut til at vi vil komme til å utrydde oss selv – og dermed slukke lyset – muligvis kun for en kortere periode da det kan tenkes at andre former for liv kommer til å føre vår misjon videre.

Når det kommer til vår historie så er denne såpass sammenknyttet med vår mytologi at det er ytterst usikkert hva som egentlig har funnet sted – skriftlige kilder må derfor tas med en klype salt. Vår mytologi er myntet på vår forståelse av universet og hvordan dette fungerer noe som har ført til at vår historie og resten av universet har sklidd sammen til noe som kan bli ansett som en verdensvev – vår historie står nedtegnet i stjernene.

Hadde man kun forholdt seg til norsk uten å sammenligne norsk med andre språk ville man ha tenkt at norsk ikke hadde noen forbindelse med andre språk, men ettersom man valgte å studere språk komperativt fant man rimelig raskt ut at det var noe som kan bli ansett som indo-europeisk, og dermed også proto-indoeuropeisk – slik er det også med våre mytologier og religioner.

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Hvor ble det av magien?

Posted by Fredsvenn on August 27, 2015

Hvor ble det av magien, vesnene vi møtte i eventyrene, sies det. Svaret er at vi sluttet å tro på dem. Eventyrene er lite annet enn vår mytologi, religionen vi hadde før kristendommen kom inn i bildet og vi begynte å tro på den i stedet.

Stedmoren er Hel, som er stygg som høsten og døden, mens Frigg/Frøyja er vakker som våren og livet. Kongen er Odin/Odr. Hel er som Ereshkigal i sumerisk mytologi storesøsteren til Frigg/Frøyja. Mens Hel utgjør helheten, som inkluderer både liv og død, vår og høst, utgjør Frigg/Frøyja den vakre våren, og kan best sammenlignes med Pandora.

Hel kom med andre ord til å dele samme skjebne som Lilith i Bibelen, som ikke ville lystre Adam, og som derfor ble skiftet ut med Eva. Hun ble delt i to mellom Hel, som kom til å herske i underverden, også kjent som Helvete, og Frigg/Frøyja, som kom til å herske over livet her på Jorda.

Det var ikke «helvete» i den forstand uttrykket forstås i dagligtale i dag – man ble ikke straffet for sine tidligere misgjerninger der. Helheimen ligger under jorden, et sted langt mot nord. For å komme dit må en passere Gjallarbroen, som går over den halvt underjordiske elva Gjoll. Helheimen består av i alt ni verdener. Hel hersker ho over de døde som ikke kommer til Åsgard.

De som dør i kamp og ikke på sotteseng, kommer til Valhall, festhallen til Odin der asene og einherjane holder sine gilder, eller til Folkvang, Frøyas bosted i Åsgard.

Til Folkvang kommer halvparten av de krigerne som valkyriene henter når krigerne har dødd i strid. Den andre halvparten kommer til Valhall for å bli einherjer. Frøya har rett til å velge selv hvem som skal komme til henne, og de er som oftest mer ærbare og mindre blodtørstige enn de som blir ført til Valhall.

Odin er den samme som Enki og er tilknyttet Merkur. Han er herre over livet på Jorda. Han ble både regnet som gudenes høvding og høvdingenes gud. Foreldrene hans er Bor og Bestla, og han er bror til Vilje og Ve. Hustruen hans er Frigg, den mektigste gudinnen i Åsgard, og med henne fikk han Balder, Hod og Hermod. Med Jord (Fjorgyn) fikk han Tor. Med Rind fikk han Våle, og med Grid fikk han Vidar.

En teori går ut på at Odin opprinnelig var en nattens gud, som senere ble forfremmet til hovedgud. Samtidig heter det seg at Tyr tidligere var hovedgud, men kom til å bli forbigått av både Odin og Tor. En annen teori går ut på at Odin er en videreføring av en gammel indo-europeisk fars- eller dødsgud, men klare sjamanistiske trekk. Han er senere også sett som krigsgud, samt guden for visdom, trolldom (seid), diktning, m.m.

Odr er i den norrøne mytologien gift med Frøya. Han er en skikkelse som det vites lite om, og han tolkes i mange sammenhenger som Odin selv, eller som hans dobbeltgjenger. Noe av bakgrunnen for usikkerheten rundt Odr er at Frøya og Frigg i noen sammenhenger tolkes som samme gudinne, eller at de har samme opphav. Frigg var gift med Odin, og Frøya med Odr. Noe som taler imot at Frøya og Frigg er samme gudinne er at Frøya er av vane-ætt (Venus/fruktbarhet), mens Frigg er en åsynje (sol/hest).

Det nordiske gudenavnet Tyr stammer kanskje opprinnelig fra det indoeuropeiske ordet *deyewos, som er relatert til den indoeuropeiske himmelguds navn *Dyews, og er det samme ordet som ordet Dyaus i Sanskrit og det greske Zevs. Zevs er det eneste gudenavnet i gresk mytologi vi vet med sikkerhet har en indoeuropeisk rot, nemlig *Dyews, også *Dyews pHter, som kan sammenliknes med Dyaus Pitar på sanskrit, og Jup(p)iter, opprinnelig Deus Pater, «Himmelfaren» eller «Gudefaren» på latin.

Tyr het Týr på norrønt, og navnet kom fra det germanske Tiwaz. Tyr er det eneste norrøne gudenavnet som representerer et opprinnelig indoeuropeisk grunnord som kan bety «gud», «dag» eller «himmel». Tyr er derfor sannsynligvis en yngre variant av indoeuropeisk himmelgud, selv om mange av hans funksjoner og betydning ble overtatt av Tor (Þórr), som tordengud, og Odin, som fryktinngytende krigsgud, i jernalderen.

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Is “Urartian” Language Armenian or North Caucasian?

Posted by Fredsvenn on August 27, 2015

Kura Araxes culture

The Kura–Araxes culture or the early trans-Caucasian culture was a civilization that existed from 3400 BC until about 2000 BC, which has traditionally been regarded as the date of its end, but it may have disappeared as early as 2600 or 2700 BC.

The earliest evidence for this culture is found on the Ararat plain; thence it spread northward in Caucasus by 3000 BC (but never reaching Colchis), and during the next millennium it proceeded westward to the Erzurum plain, southwest to Cilicia, and to the southeast into an area below the Urmia basin and Lake Van, and finally down to the borders of present-day Syria.

Altogether, the early Trans-Caucasian culture, at its greatest spread, enveloped a vast area approximately 1,000 km by 500 km, and mostly encompassed, on modern-day territories, the Southern Caucasus (except western Georgia), Northwestern Iran, the Northeastern Caucasus, and Eastern Turkey.

The name of the culture is derived from the Kura and Araxes river valleys. Its territory corresponds to parts of modern Armenia, Azerbaijan, Chechnya, Dagestan, Georgia, Ingushetia, Iran, North Ossetia, and Turkey. It may have given rise to the later Khirbet Kerak ware culture found in Syria and Canaan after the fall of the Akkadian Empire.

Their pottery was distinctive; in fact, the spread of their pottery along trade routes into surrounding cultures was much more impressive than any of their achievements domestically. It was painted black and red, using geometric designs for ornamentation. Examples have been found as far south as Syria and Israel, and as far north as Dagestan and Chechnya.

The spread of this pottery, along with archaeological evidence of invasions, suggests that the Kura-Araxes people may have spread outward from their original homes, and most certainly, had extensive trade contacts. Jaimoukha believes that its southern expanse is attributable primarily to Mitanni and the Hurrians.

Trialeti culture

The Trialeti culture, named after Trialeti region of Georgia, is attributed to the first part of the 2nd millennium BC. In the late 3rd millennium BC, settlements of the Kura-Araxes culture began to be replaced by early Trialeti culture sites.

The Trialeti culture was the second culture to appear in Georgia, after the Shulaveri-Shomu culture, a Late Neolithic/Eneolithic culture that existed on the territory of present-day Georgia, Azerbaijan and the Armenian Highlands dated to mid-6th or early-5th millennia BC.

The Trialeti culture shows close ties with the highly developed cultures of the ancient world, particularly with the Aegean, but also with cultures to the south, such as probably the Sumerians and their Akkadian conquerors.

The site at Trialeti was originally excavated in 1936–1940 in advance of a hydroelectric scheme, when forty-six barrows were uncovered. A further six barrows were uncovered in 1959–1962.

The Trialeti culture was known for its particular form of burial. The elite were interred in large, very rich burials under earth and stone mounds, which sometimes contained four-wheeled carts. Also there were many gold objects found in the graves. These gold objects were similar to those found in Iran and Iraq. They also worked tin and arsenic.

This form of burial in a tumulus or “kurgan”, along with wheeled vehicles, is the same as that of the Kurgan culture which has been associated with the speakers of Proto-Indo-European. In fact, the black burnished pottery of especially early Trialeti kurgans is similar to Kura-Araxes pottery.

In a historical context, their impressive accumulation of wealth in burial kurgans, like that of other associated and nearby cultures with similar burial practices, is particularly noteworthy. This practice was probably a result of influence from the older civilizations to the south in the Fertile Crescent.


Graeco-(Armeno)-Aryan is a hypothetical clade within the Indo-European family, ancestral to the Greek language, the Armenian language, and the Indo-Iranian languages. Graeco-Aryan unity would have become divided into Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian by the mid 3rd millennium BC.

Conceivably, Proto-Armenian would have been located between Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian, consistent with the fact that Armenian shares certain features only with Indo-Iranian (the satem change) but others only with Greek (s > h).

Graeco-Aryan has comparatively wide support among Indo-Europeanists for the Indo-European Homeland to be located in the Armenian Highland. Early and strong evidence was given by Euler’s 1979 examination on shared features in Greek and Sanskrit nominal flection.

Used in tandem with the Graeco-Armenian hypothesis, the Armenian language would also be included under the label Aryano-Greco-Armenic, splitting into proto-Greek/Phrygian and “Armeno-Aryan” (ancestor of Armenian and Indo-Iranian).


The loans from Iranian languages initially led linguists to erroneously classify Armenian as an Iranian language. The distinctness of Armenian was only recognized when Hübschmann (1875) used the comparative method to distinguish two layers of Iranian loans from the older Armenian vocabulary.

I. M. Austin (1942) concluded that there was an early contact between Armenian and Anatolian languages, based on what he considered common archaisms, such as the lack of a feminine and the absence of inherited long vowels. However, unlike shared innovations (or synapomorphies), the common retention of archaisms (or symplesiomorphy) is not necessarily considered evidence of a period of common isolated development.

Soviet linguist Igor Diakonov (1985) noted the presence in Old Armenian of what he calls a Caucasian substratum, identified by earlier scholars, consisting of loans from the Kartvelian and Northeast Caucasian languages.

Noting that the Hurro-Urartian peoples inhabited the Armenian homeland in the second millennium b.c., Diakonov identifies in Armenian a Hurro-Urartian substratum of social, cultural, and animal and plant terms such as ałaxin “slave girl” ( ← Hurr. al(l)a(e)ḫḫenne), cov “sea” ( ← Urart. ṣûǝ “(inland) sea”), ułt “camel” ( ← Hurr. uḷtu), and xnjor “apple(tree)” ( ← Hurr. ḫinzuri).

Some of the terms he gives admittedly have an Akkadian or Sumerian provenance, but he suggests they were borrowed through Hurrian or Urartian. Given that these borrowings don’t undergo sound changes characteristic of the development of Armenian from Proto-Indo-European, he dates their borrowing to a time before the written record but after the Proto-Armenian language stage.

Decem and Taihun

The Glottalic Theory holds that Proto-Indo-European had ejective stops, *pʼ *tʼ *kʼ, instead of plain voiced ones, *b *d *ɡ, of traditional Proto-Indo-European phonological reconstructions. In 1981 Hopper proposed to divide all Indo-European languages into Decem and Taihun groups, according to the pronunciation of the numeral ’10’, by analogy with the Centum-Satem isogloss, which is based on the pronunciation of the numeral ‘100’.

The Armenian, Germanic, Anatolian, and Tocharian subfamilies belong to the Taihun group because the numeral ’10’ begins with a voiceless t there. All other Indo-European languages belong to the Decem group because the numeral 10 begins with a voiced d in them. The question then can be framed as which, if either, of these groups reflects the original state of things, and which is an innovation.

The Armenian hypothesis

The Armenian hypothesis of the Proto-Indo-European Urheimat, based on the Glottalic theory, suggests that the Proto-Indo-European language was spoken during the 4th millennium BC in the Armenian Highland.

It is an Indo-Hittite model and does not include the Anatolian languages in its scenario. The phonological peculiarities proposed in the Glottalic theory would be best preserved in the Armenian language and the Germanic languages, the former assuming the role of the dialect which remained in situ, implied to be particularly archaic in spite of its late attestation.

The Proto-Greek language would be practically equivalent to Mycenaean Greek and date to the 17th century BC, closely associating Greek migration to Greece with the Indo-Aryan migration to India at about the same time (viz., Indo-European expansion at the transition to the Late Bronze Age, including the possibility of Indo-European Kassites).

The Armenian hypothesis was proposed by Russian linguists T. V. Gamkrelidze and V. V. Ivanov in 1985, presenting it first in two articles in Vestnik drevnej istorii and then in a much larger work.

Gamkrelidze and Ivanov argue that IE spread out from Armenia into the Pontic steppe, from which it expanded – as per the Kurgan hypothesis – into Western Europe. The Hittite, Indo-Iranian, Greek and Armenian branches split from the Armenian homeland.

The Armenian hypothesis argues for the latest possible date of Proto-Indo-European (sans Anatolian), roughly a millennium later than the mainstream Kurgan hypothesis. In this, it figures as an opposite to the Anatolian hypothesis, in spite of the geographical proximity of the respective suggested Urheimaten, diverging from the timeframe suggested there by as much as three millennia.

Robert Drews, commenting on the hypothesis, says that “most of the chronological and historical arguments seem fragile at best, and of those that I am able to judge, some are evidently wrong”. However, he argues that it is far more powerful as a linguistic model, providing insights into the relationship between Indo-European and the Semitic and Kartvelian languages.

He continues to say “It is certain that the inhabitants of the forested areas of Armenia very early became accomplished woodworkers, and it now appears that in the second millennium they produced spoked-wheel vehicles that served as models as far away as China. And we have long known that from the second millennium onward, Armenia was important for the breeding of horses. It is thus not surprising to find that what clues we have suggest that chariot warfare was pioneered in eastern Anatolia. Finally, our picture of what the PIE speakers did, and when, owes much to the recently proposed hypothesis that the homeland of the PIE speakers was Armenia.”

I. Grepin, reviewing Gamkrelidze and Ivanov’s book, wrote that their model of linguistic relationships is “the most complex, far reaching and fully supported of this century.”


Aratta is a land that appears in Sumerian myths surrounding Enmerkar and Lugalbanda, two early and possibly mythical kings of Uruk also mentioned on the Sumerian king list. The name is connected to the Indo-European root Ar- meaning “assemble/create” which is vastly used in names of or regarding the Sun, light, or fire, found in Ararat, Aryan, Arta etc.

Aratta is described in Sumerian literature as a fabulously wealthy place full of gold, silver, lapis lazuli and other precious materials, as well as the artisans to craft them. It is remote and difficult to reach. It is home to the goddess Inanna, who transfers her allegiance from Aratta to Uruk. It is conquered by Enmerkar of Uruk.


There are certain Bronze Age records identified with the toponym in both Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources. The earliest is from an inscription which mentions Armânum together with Ibla (Ebla) as territories conquered by Naram-Sin of Akkad in ca. 2250 BC. It has been suggested by early 20th century Armenologists that Old Persian Armina and the Greek Armenoi are continuations of an Assyrian toponym Armânum or Armanî.

Shupria (Shubria) or Arme-Shupria (Armenian: Շուպրիա; Akkadian: Armani-Subartu from the 3rd millennium BC) was a Proto-Armenian Hurrian-speaking kingdom, known from Assyrian sources beginning in the 13th century BC, located in the Armenian Highland, to the southwest of Lake Van, bordering on Ararat proper. Scholars have linked the district in the area called Arme or Armani, to the name Armenia. It was part of the Urartu confederation.

Together with Armani-Subartu (Hurri-Mitanni), Hayasa-Azzi and other populations of the region such as the Nairi fell under Urartian (Kingdom of Ararat) rule in the 9th century BC, and their descendants, according to most scholars, later contributed to the ethnogenesis of the Armenians.


Asha is the Avestan language term (corresponding to Vedic language ṛta) for a concept of cardinal importance to Zoroastrian theology and doctrine. In the moral sphere, aša/arta represents what has been called “the decisive confessional concept of Zoroastrianism.” Its Old Persian equivalent is arta-. In Middle Iranian languages the term appears as ard-.

The significance of the term is complex, with a highly nuanced range of meaning. It is commonly summarized in accord with its contextual implications of ‘truth’ and ‘right(eousness)’, ‘order’ and ‘right working’.

The word is also the proper name of the divinity Asha, the Amesha Spenta that is the hypostasis or “genius” of “Truth” or “Righteousness”. In the Younger Avesta, this figure is more commonly referred to as Asha Vahishta (Aša Vahišta, Arta Vahišta), “Best Truth”.

Avestan aša and its Vedic equivalent rta both derive from Proto-Indo-Iranian *ṛtá- “truth”, which in turn continues Proto-Indo-European *h2r-to- “properly joined, right, true”, from the root *h2ar. The word is attested in Old Persian as arta.

It is unclear whether the Avestan variation between aša and arta is merely orthographical. Benveniste suggested š was only a convenient way of writing rt and should not be considered phonetically relevant.

According to Gray, š is a misreading, representing – not /ʃ/ – but /rr/, of uncertain phonetic value but “probably” representing a voiceless r. Miller suggested that rt was restored when a scribe was aware of the morpheme boundary between the /r/ and /t/ (that is, whether the writer maintained the –ta suffix).


The opposite of Avestan aša is druj, an Avestan feminine noun defining lie. In Avestan druj- also has a secondary derivation, the adjective drəguuaṇt- (Younger Av. druuaṇt-) “partisan of deception, deceiver,” of which the superlative draojišta- and perhaps also the comparative draoj(ii)ah- are attested.

Avestan druj, like its Vedic Sanskrit cousin druh, appears to derive from the PIE root *dhreugh, also continued in Persian دروغ / d[o]rūġ “lie”, German Trug “fraud, deception”. Old Norse draugr and Middle Irish airddrach mean “spectre, spook”. The Sanskrit cognate druh means “affliction, afflicting demon”.


Inanna (Old Babylonian or Neo-Assyrian MUŠ; Sumerian: Inanna; Akkadian: Ištar) was the Sumerian goddess of love, fertility, and warfare, and goddess of the E-Anna temple at the city of Uruk, her main centre. She was the most prominent female deity in ancient Mesopotamia. As early as the Uruk period (ca. 4000–3100 BC), Inanna was associated with the city of Uruk.

Inanna’s name derives from Lady of Heaven (Sumerian: nin-an-ak). The cuneiform sign of Inanna; however, is not a ligature of the signs lady (Sumerian: nin; Cuneiform: SAL.TUG) and sky (Sumerian: an; Cuneiform: AN).

These difficulties have led some early Assyriologists to suggest that originally Inanna may have been a Proto-Euphratean goddess, possibly related to the Hurrian mother goddess Hannahannah, accepted only latterly into the Sumerian pantheon, an idea supported by her youthfulness, and that, unlike the other Sumerian divinities, at first she had no sphere of responsibilities.

The view that there was a Proto-Euphratean substrate language in Southern Iraq before Sumerian is not widely accepted by modern Assyriologists.


Inara, in Hittite–Hurrian mythology, was the goddess of the wild animals of the steppe and daughter of the Storm-god Teshub/Tarhunt. She corresponds to the “potnia theron” of Greek mythology, better known as Artemis. Inara’s mother is probably Hebat and her brother is Sarruma.

The mother goddess Hannahannah promises Inara land and a man during a consultation by Inara. Inara then disappears. Her father looks for her, joined by Hannahannah with a bee. The story resembles that of Demeter and her daughter Persephone, in Greek myth.


Ishara (išḫara) is an ancient deity of unknown origin from northern modern Syria. She first appeared in Ebla and was incorporated to the Hurrian pantheon from which she found her way to the Hittite pantheon.

Ishara is the Hittite word for “treaty, binding promise”, also personified as a goddess of the oath. In Hurrian and Semitic traditions, Išḫara is a love goddess, often identified with Ishtar.

Ishara is a pre-Hurrian and perhaps pre-Semitic deities, later incorporated into the Hurrian pantheon. From the Hurrian Pantheon, Ishara entered the Hittite pantheon and had her main shrine in Kizzuwatna, the name of an ancient Anatolian kingdom in the 2nd millennium BC.


Kizzuwatna, is the name of an ancient Anatolian kingdom in the 2nd millennium BC. It was situated in the highlands of southeastern Anatolia, near the Gulf of İskenderun in modern-day Turkey. It encircled the Taurus Mountains and the Ceyhan river. The center of the kingdom was the city of Kummanni, situated in the highlands. In a later era, the same region was known as Cilicia.

The country possessed valuable resources, such as silver mines in the Taurus Mountains. The slopes of the mountain range are still partly covered by woods. Annual winter rains made agriculture possible in the area at a very early date. The plains at the lower course of the Ceyhan river provided rich cultivated fields.

Several ethnic groups coexisted in the Kingdom of Kizzuwatna. The Hurrians inhabited this area at least since the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC. The Hittite expansion in the early Old Kingdom period (under Hattusili I and Mursili I) was likely to bring the Hittites and the Luwians to southeastern Anatolia.

The Luwian language was part of the Indo-European language group, with close ties to the Hittite language. Both the local Hittites and the Luwians were likely to contribute to the formation of independent Kizzuwatna after the weakening of the Hittite Old Kingdom.

The toponym Kizzuwatna is possibly a Luwian adaptation of Hittite *kez-udne ‘country on this side (of the mountains)’, while the name Isputahsu is definitely Hittite and not Luwian (Yakubovich 2010, pp. 273–4). Hurrian culture became more prominent in Kizzuwatna once it entered the sphere of influence of the Hurrian kingdom of Mitanni.


Kummanni was the name of the main center the Anatolian kingdom of Kizzuwatna. Its location is uncertain, but is believed to be near the classical settlement of Comana in Cappadocia. It was the major cult center of the Hurrian chief deity, Tešup. Its Hurrian name Kummeni simply translates as “The Shrine.”

The city persisted into the Early Iron Age, and appears as Kumme in Assyrian records. It was located on the edge of Assyrian influence in the far northeastern corner of Mesopotamia, separating Assyria from Urartu and the highlands of southeastern Anatolia.

Kumme was still considered a holy city in Assyrian times, both in Assyria and in Urartu. Adad-nirari II, after re-conquering the city, made sacrifices to “Adad of Kumme.” The three chief deities in the Urartian pantheon were “the god of Ardini, the god of Kumenu, and the god of Tushpa.”


Isuwa (transcribed Išuwa and sometimes rendered Ishuwa, meaning “horse-land”) was the ancient Hittite name for one of its neighboring Anatolian kingdoms to the east, in an area which later became the Luwian Neo-Hittite state of Kammanu. The Khabur Valley had a central position in the metal trade, and copper, silver and even tin were accessible from the Hurrian-dominated countries Kizzuwatna and Ishuwa situated in the Anatolian highland.

The land of Isuwa was situated in the upper Euphrates river region. The river valley was here surrounded by the Anti-Taurus Mountains. To the northeast of the river lay a vast plain stretching up to the Black Sea mountain range. The name Isuwa is not known until the literate Hittite period of the second millennium BC. Few literate sources from within Isuwa have been discovered and the primary source material comes from Hittite texts.

The plain had favourable climatic conditions due to the abundance of water from springs and rainfall. Irrigation of fields was possible without the need to build complex canals. The river valley was well suited for intensive agriculture, while livestock could be kept at the higher altitudes. The mountains possessed rich deposits of copper which were mined in antiquity.

The Isuwans left no written record of their own, and it is not clear which of the Anatolian peoples inhabited the land of Isuwa prior to the Luwians. They could have been Indo-Europeans like the Luwians, related to the Hittites to the west, Hattians, Hurrians from the south, or Urartians who lived east of Isuwa in the first millennium BC.

The area was one of the places where agriculture developed very early in the Neolithic period. Urban centres emerged in the upper Euphrates river valley around 3000 BC. The first states may have followed in the third millennium BC.


Ishvara is a concept in Hinduism, with a wide range of meanings that depend on the era and the school of Hinduism. In ancient texts of Indian philosophy, Ishvara means supreme soul, Brahman (Highest Reality), ruler, king or husband depending on the context. In medieval era texts, Ishvara means God, Supreme Being, personal god, or special Self depending on the school of Hinduism.

In Shaivism, Ishvara is synonymous with “Shiva”, as the “Supreme lord over other Gods” in the pluralistic sense, or as an Ishta-deva in pluralistic thought. In Vaishnavism, it is synonymous with Vishnu. In traditional Bhakti movements, Ishvara is one or more deities of an individual’s preference from Hinduism’s polytheistic canon of deities. In modern sectarian movements such as Arya Samaj and Brahmoism, Ishvara takes the form of a monotheistic God.

In Yoga school of Hinduism, it is any “personal deity” or “spiritual inspiration”. In Advaita Vedanta school, Ishvara is a monistic Universal Absolute that connects and is the Oneness in everyone and everything.


Mitanni (Hittite cuneiform Mi-ta-an-ni; Mittani Mi-it-ta-ni), also called Hanigalbat (Hanigalbat, Khanigalbat cuneiform Ḫa-ni-gal-bat) in Assyrian or Naharin in Egyptian texts was a Hurrian-speaking state in northern Syria and southeast Anatolia from ca. 1500 BC–1300 BC. Pharaoh Thutmose III of Egypt mention in the 33rd year of his reign (1446 BC) the people of Ermenen, and says in their land “heaven rests upon its four pillars”.

The Mitanni kingdom was referred to as the Maryannu, Nahrin or Mitanni by the Egyptians, the Hurri by the Hittites, and the Hanigalbat by the Assyrians. The different names seem to have referred to the same kingdom and were used interchangeably, according to Michael C. Astour.

Hittite annals mention a people called Hurri (Ḫu-ur-ri), located in northeastern Syria. A Hittite fragment, probably from the time of Mursili I, mentions a “King of the Hurri”. The Assyro-Akkadian version of the text renders “Hurri” as Hanigalbat. Tushratta, who styles himself “king of Mitanni” in his Akkadian Amarna letters, refers to his kingdom as Hanigalbat.

Egyptian sources call Mitanni “nhrn”, which is usually pronounced as Naharin/Naharina from the Assyro-Akkadian word for “river”, cf. Aram-Naharaim. The name Mitanni is first found in the “memoirs” of the Syrian wars (ca. 1480 BC) of the official astronomer and clockmaker Amememhet, who returned from the “foreign country called Me-ta-ni” at the time of Thutmose I.

The expedition to the Naharina announced by Thutmosis I at the beginning of his reign may have actually taken place during the long previous reign of Amenhotep I. Helck believes that this was the expedition mentioned by Amenhotep II.

As early as Akkadian times, Hurrians are known to have lived east of the river Tigris on the northern rim of Mesopotamia, and in the Khabur Valley. The group which became Mitanni gradually moved south into Mesopotamia before the 17th century BC.

Hurrians are mentioned in the private Nuzi texts, in Ugarit, and the Hittite archives in Hattushsha (Boğazköy). Cuneiform texts from Mari mention rulers of city-states in upper Mesopotamia with both Amurru (Amorite) and Hurrian names. Rulers with Hurrian names are also attested for Urshum and Hashshum, and tablets from Alalakh (layer VII, from the later part of the old-Babylonian period) mention people with Hurrian names at the mouth of the Orontes. There is no evidence for any invasion from the North-east. Generally, these onomastic sources have been taken as evidence for a Hurrian expansion to the South and the West.

A Hittite fragment, probably from the time of Mursili I, mentions a “King of the Hurrians” (LUGAL ERÍN.MEŠ Hurri). This terminology was last used for King Tushratta of Mitanni, in a letter in the Amarna archives. The normal title of the king was ‘King of the Hurri-men’ (without the determinative KUR indicating a country).

It is believed that the warring Hurrian tribes and city states became united under one dynasty after the collapse of Babylon due to the Hittite sack by Mursili I and the Kassite invasion. The Hittite conquest of Aleppo (Yamkhad), the weak middle Assyrian kings, and the internal strifes of the Hittites had created a power vacuum in upper Mesopotamia. This led to the formation of the kingdom of Mitanni. The legendary founder of the Mitannian dynasty was a king called Kirta, who was followed by a king Shuttarna. Nothing is known about these early kings.

The ethnicity of the people of Mitanni is difficult to ascertain. A treatise on the training of chariot horses by Kikkuli contains a number of Indo-Aryan glosses. Kammenhuber (1968) suggested that this vocabulary was derived from the still undivided Indo-Iranian language, but Mayrhofer (1974) has shown that specifically Indo-Aryan features are present.

The names of the Mitanni aristocracy frequently are of Indo-Aryan origin, but it is specifically their deities which show Indo-Aryan roots (Mitra, Varuna, Indra, Nasatya), though some think that they are more immediately related to the Kassites, an ancient Near Eastern people who controlled Babylonia after the fall of the Old Babylonian Empire ca. 1531 BC and until ca. 1155 BC (short chronology).

The Kassite language has not been classified. What is known is that their language was not related to either the Indo-European language group, nor to Semitic or other Afro-Asiatic languages, and is most likely to have been a language isolate (a stand-alone language unrelated to any other), although some linguists have proposed a link to the Hurro-Urartian languages of Asia Minor. However, several Kassite leaders bore Indo-European names, and they might have had an Indo-European elite similar to the Mitanni, who ruled over the Hurro-Urartian-speaking Hurrians of Asia Minor.

Maryannu is an ancient word for the caste of chariot-mounted hereditary warrior nobility which existed in many of the societies of the Middle East during the Bronze Age.The term is attested in the Amarna letters written by Haapi.

Robert Drews writes that the name ‘maryannu’ although plural takes the singular ‘marya’, which in Sanskrit means young warrior, and attaches a Hurrian suffix. He suggests that at the beginning of the Late Bronze Age most would have spoken either Hurrian or Aryan but by the end of the 14th century most of the Levant maryannu had Semitic names.

The common people’s language, the Hurrian language, is neither Indo-European nor Semitic. Hurrian is related to Urartian, the language of Urartu, both belonging to the Hurro-Urartian language family. It had been held that nothing more can be deduced from current evidence. A Hurrian passage in the Amarna letters – usually composed in Akkadian, the lingua franca of the day – indicates that the royal family of Mitanni was by then speaking Hurrian as well.


Urartian, Vannic, and (in older literature) Chaldean (Khaldian, or Haldian) are conventional names for the language spoken by the inhabitants of the ancient kingdom of Urartu that was located in the region of Lake Van, with its capital near the site of the modern town of Van, in the Armenian Highland, modern-day Eastern Anatolia region of Turkey. It was probably spoken by the majority of the population around Lake Van and in the areas along the upper Zab valley.

The name Urartu comes from Assyrian sources: the Assyrian King Shalmaneser I (1263–1234 BC) recorded a campaign in which he subdued the entire territory of “Uruatri.” The name used by the local population as a toponym was Biainili (or Biaineli), which forms the root of the Armenian Վան (“Van”), hence the names “Kingdom of Van (Bianili)” or “Vannic Kingdom.”

The Shalmaneser text uses the name Urartu to refer to a geographical region, not a kingdom, and names eight “lands” contained within Urartu ( which at the time of the campaign were still disunited ) . “Urartu” is cognate with the Biblical “Ararat,” Akkadian “Urashtu,” and Armenian “Ayrarat.”

Strictly speaking, Urartu is the Assyrian term for a geographical region, while “kingdom of Urartu” or “Biainili lands” are terms used in modern historiography for the Urartian-speaking Iron Age state that arose in that region. This language appears in inscriptions.

That a distinction should be made between the geographical and the political entity was already pointed out by König (1955). The landscape corresponds to the mountainous plateau between Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, the Iranian Plateau, and the Caucasus mountains, later known as the Armenian Highlands.

The kingdom rose to power in the mid-9th century BC, but was conquered by Media in the early 6th century BC. The heirs of Urartu are the Armenians and their successive kingdoms. Though there is no written evidence of any other language being spoken in this kingdom, it is argued on linguistic evidence that Proto-Armenian came in contact with Urartian at an early date.

Boris Piotrovsky wrote that “the Urartians first appear in history in the 13th century BC as a league of tribes or countries which did not yet constitute a unitary state. In the Assyrian annals the term Uruatri (Urartu) as a name for this league was superseded during a considerable period of years by the term “land of Nairi””.

Scholars believe that Urartu is an Akkadian variation of Ararat of the Old Testament. Indeed, Mount Ararat is located in ancient Urartian territory, approximately 120 km north of its former capital. In addition to referring to the famous Biblical mountain, Ararat also appears as the name of a kingdom in Jeremiah 51:27, mentioned together with Minni and Ashkenaz.

In the early 6th century BC, the Urartian Kingdom was replaced by the Armenian Orontid dynasty. In the trilingual Behistun inscription, carved in 521 or 520 BC by the order of Darius the Great of Persia, the country referred to as Urartu in Assyrian is called Arminiya in Old Persian and Harminuia in Elamite.


Scholars such as Carl Ferdinand Friedrich Lehmann-Haupt (1910) believed that the people of Urartu called themselves Khaldini after their god Khaldi, also known as Ḫaldi, Hayk or Hayg, also known as Haik Nahapet (Hayk the Tribal Chief), the legendary patriarch and founder of the Armenian nation.

Khaldi was one of the three chief deities of Ararat (Urartu). The other two chief deities were Theispas of Kumenu, and Shivini of Tushpa. Of all the gods of Ararat (Urartu) pantheon, the most inscriptions are dedicated to him. His wife was the goddess Arubani. He is portrayed as a man with or without a beard, standing on a lion.

His shrine was at the ancient Urartian city of Ardini attested in Assyrian sources of the 9th and 8th centuries BC. The present form of the name is Artin, meaning “sun rising” or to “awake”, and it persists in Armenian names to this day. It was known as Muṣaṣir (Mu-ṣa-ṣir and variants, including Mutsatsir), meaning Exit of the Serpent/Snake in Akkadian. It was acquired by the Urartian King Ishpuini ca. 800 BC.

The mušḫuššu (formerly also read as sirrušu, sirrush) is a creature depicted on the reconstructed Ishtar Gate of the city of Babylon, dating to the 6th century BC. As depicted, it is a mythological hybrid: a scaly dragon with hind legs resembling the talons of an eagle, feline forelegs, a long neck and tail, a horned head, a snake-like tongue, and a crest.

The form mušḫuššu is the Akkadian nominative of the Sumerian MUŠ.ḪUS, lit. “reddish snake” sometimes also translated as “fierce snake”. One author, possibly following others, translates it as “splendor serpent” (MUŠ is the Sumerian term for “serpent”. The reading sir-ruššu is due to a mistransliteration in early Assyriology).

The mušḫuššu is the sacred animal of Marduk and his son Nabu during the Neo-Babylonian Empire. It was taken over by Marduk from the Akkadian god Tishpak, the tutelary deity of the city of Esnumma (Eshnunna), likely identical with the Hurrian god “Teshup”.

The constellation Hydra was known in Babylonian astronomical texts as Bashmu, “the Serpent” (MUŠ). It was depicted as a snake drawn out long with the forepaws of a lion, no hind-legs, with wings, and with a head comparable to the mušḫuššu dragon. This monstrous serpent may have inspired the Greek Hydra.


Hittite inscriptions deciphered in the 1920s by the Swiss scholar Emil Forrer testify to the existence of a mountain country, the Hayasa and/or the Azzi, lying around Lake Van. Hayasa-Azzi or Azzi-Hayasa was a Late Bronze Age confederation formed between two kingdoms of Armenian Highlands, Hayasa located South of Trabzon and Azzi, located north of the Euphrates and to the south of Hayasa. The Hayasa-Azzi confederation was in conflict with the Hittite Empire in the 14th century BC, leading up to the collapse of Hatti around 1190 BC.

Several prominent authorities agree in placing Azzi to the north of Ishuwa, the ancient Hittite name for one of its neighboring Anatolian kingdoms to the east, in an area which later became the Luwian Neo-Hittite state of Kammanu, a Luwian – Proto-Armenian speaking Neo-Hittite state in Armenian Highlands in the late 2nd millennium BC, formed from part of Kizzuwatna after the collapse of the Hittite Empire. Others see Hayasa and Azzi as identical.

The similarity of the name Hayasa to the endonym of the Armenians, Hayk or Hay and the Armenian name for Armenia, Hayastan has prompted the suggestion that the Hayasa-Azzi confereration was involved in the Armenian ethnogenesis.

The term Hayastan bears resemblance to the ancient Mesopotamian god Haya (ha-ià) and another western deity called Ebla Hayya, related to the god Ea (Enki or Enkil in Sumerian, Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian). Thus, the Great Soviet Encyclopedia of 1962 posited that the Armenians derive from a migration of Hayasa into Shupria in the 12th century BC.

The name Armenia enters English via Latin, from Ancient Greek Ἀρμενία. The Armenian endonym for the Armenian people and country is hayer and hayk’, respectively. The exact etymology of the name is unknown, and there are various speculative attempts to connect it to older toponyms or ethnonyms.


Haya is known both as a “door-keeper” and associated with the scribal arts. Haya’s functions are two-fold: he appears to have served as a door-keeper but was also associated with the scribal arts, and may have had an association with grain.

There is a divine name Haia(-)amma in a bilingual Hattic-Hittite text from Anatolia which is used as an equivalent for the Hattic grain-goddess Kait in an invocation to the Hittite grain-god Halki, although it is unclear whether this appellation can be related to Haia.

Attempts have also been made to connect the remote origins of Haia with those of the god Ea (Ebla Ḥayya), although there remain serious doubts concerning this hypothesis. How or whether both are related to a further western deity called Ḥayya is also unclear.

Haya is characterised, beyond being the spouse of the grain-goddess Nidaba/Nissaba, who is also the patroness of the scribal art, as an “agrig”-official of the god Enlil. He is designated as “the Nissaba of wealth”, as opposed to his wife, who is the “Nissaba of Wisdom”.


In some cases Haia was identified as father of the Sumerian goddess Ninlil (NIN.LÍL”lady of the open field” or “Lady of the Wind”), also called Sud, in Assyrian called Mulliltu, the consort goddess of Enlil.

In Sumerian religion, Ninlil is called the daughter of Haia (god of stores) and Nunbarsegunu (or Ninshebargunnu [a goddess of barley] or Nisaba). Another Akkadian source says she is the daughter of Anu (aka An) and Antu (Sumerian Ki). Other sources call her a daughter of Anu and Nammu.

She lived in Dilmun with her family. Raped and ravaged by her husband Enlil, who impregnated her with water, she conceived a boy, Nanna/Suen, the future moon god. As punishment Enlil was dispatched to the underworld kingdom of Ereshkigal, where Ninlil joined him.

Enlil impregnated her disguised as the gatekeeper, where upon she gave birth to their son Nergal, god of death. In a similar manner she conceived the underworld god Ninazu when Enlil impregnated her disguised as the man of the river of the nether world, a man-devouring river.

Later Enlil disguised himself as the man of the boat, impregnating her with a fourth deity Enbilulu, god of rivers and canals. All of these act as substitutes for Nanna/Suen to ascend. In some texts Ninlil is also the mother of Ninurta, the heroic god who slew Asag the demon with his mace, Sharur.

After her death, she became the goddess of the wind, like Enlil. She may be the Goddess of the South Wind referred to in the story of Adapa, as her husband Enlil was associated with northerly winter storms. As “Lady Wind” she may be associated with the figure of the Akkadian demon “Lil-itu”, thought to have been the origin of the Hebrew Lilith legend.


First attested in the 9th century BCE, Urartian ceased to be written after the fall of the Urartian state in 585 BCE, and presumably it became extinct due to the fall of Urartu. It must have been replaced by an early form of Armenian, perhaps during the period of Achaemenid Persian rule, although it is only in the fifth century CE that the first written examples of Armenian appear.

Urartian was an ergative, agglutinative language, which belongs to neither the Semitic nor the Indo-European families but to the Hurro-Urartian family (whose only other known member is Hurrian). It survives in many inscriptions found in the area of the Urartu kingdom, written in the Assyrian cuneiform script. There have been claims of a separate autochthonous script of “Urartian hieroglyphs” but these remain unsubstantiated.

Urartian was also rarely written in the “Anatolian hieroglyphs” used for the Luwian language. Evidence for this is restricted to Altıntepe.There are suggestions that besides the Luwian hieroglyphic inscriptions, Urartu also had a native hieroglyphic script. The inscription corpus is too sparse to substantiate the hypothesis.

It remains unclear whether the symbols in question form a coherent writing system, or represent just a multiplicity of uncoordinated expressions of proto-writing or ad-hoc drawings. What can be identified with a certain confidence are two symbols or “hieroglyphs” found on vessels, representing certain units of measurement. This is known because some vessels were labelled both in cuneiform and with these symbols.

Urartian cuneiform is a standardized simplification of Neo-Assyrian cuneiform. Unlike in Assyrian, each sign only expresses a single sound value. The sign “gi” has the special function of expressing a hiatus, e.g. u-gi-iš-ti for Uīšdi. A variant script with non-overlapping wedges was in use for rock inscriptions.

The oldest delivered texts originate from the reign of Sarduri I, from the late 9th century BCE, and were produced until the fall of the realm of Urartu approximately 200 years later. Approximately two hundred inscriptions written in the Urartian language, which adopted and modified the cuneiform script, have been discovered to date.

Urartian is closely related to Hurrian, a somewhat better documented language attested for an earlier, non-overlapping period, approximately from 2000 BCE to 1200 BCE (written by native speakers until about 1350 BCE). The two languages must have developed quite independently from approximately 2000 BCE onwards. The poorly attested Kassite language may have been related to Hurrian.

Although Urartian is not a direct continuation of any of the attested dialects of Hurrian, many of its features are best explained as innovative developments with respect to Hurrian as we know it from the preceding millennium. The closeness holds especially true of the so-called Old Hurrian dialect, known above all from Hurro-Hittite bilingual texts.

Hurrian was the language of the Hurrians (occasionally called “Hurrites”), and was spoken in the northern parts of Mesopotamia and Syria and the southeastern parts of Anatolia between at least last quarter of the third millennium BC and its extinction towards the end of the second millennium BC.

There have been various Hurrian-speaking states, of which the most prominent one was the kingdom of Mitanni (1450–1270 BC). Furthermore, the Kassite language was possibly related to Hurro-Urartian. There was also a strong Hurrian influence on Hittite culture in ancient times, so many Hurrian texts are preserved from Hittite political centres.

The Mitanni variety is chiefly known from the so-called “Mitanni letter” from Hurrian Tushratta to pharaoh Amenhotep III surviving in the Amarna archives. The “Old Hurrian” variety is known from some early royal inscriptions and from religious and literary texts, especially from Hittite centres.

Urartian is closer to the so-called Old Hurrian variety (mostly attested in Hittite documents) than to the Hurrian of the Mitanni letter. For example, both use -o-/-u- (rather than -i-) as the marker of transitive valency and both display the plural suffix -it-, expressing the number of the ergative subject and occupying a position before the valency marker.

Proponents of linguistic macrofamilies have suggested that Hurro-Urartian and Northeast Caucasian form an “Alarodian” family, but this is without support in mainstream linguistics. Cambridge University encyclopedia of ancient languages describes: “A genetic relation between (reconstructed) Proto-Urarto-Hurrian and (reconstructed) Northeast Caucasian has been argued for, but it is not generally accepted. If the connection could be demonstrated, it would be a rather distant one.”

Igor Diakonoff and others have suggested ties between the Hurro-Urartian languages and the Northeastern Caucasian languages. The theory of so called “Urartian” language having affinity with North Caucasian was put forward by Diakonof who in his turn based his theory on Starostin’s propositions.

Soviet propaganda deliberately hid from wide public that Sergei Anatolyevich Starostin (March 24, 1953 – September 30, 2005), a Russian historical linguist, perhaps best known for his reconstructions of hypothetical proto-languages, including his work on the controversial Altaic theory, the formulation of the Dené–Caucasian hypothesis, and the proposal of a Borean language of still earlier date, connects everything to North Caucasian languages. From Yeniseian, Altaic, Sino-Tibetan, Japanese, Na-Dene to Austric languages and claimed they altogether form a single, higher-order language family.

The Dené–Caucasian hypothesis proposes that Northwest Caucasian, Northeast Caucasian, Yeniseian, Sino-Tibetan, and Na-Dené form a single, higher-order language family. According to Starostin, the Dené–Caucasian and Austric macrofamilies, together with the Nostratic macrofamily (as envisaged by Vladislav Illich-Svitych, with some modifications), can further be linked at an earlier stage, which Starostin called the Borean (i.e. ‘Northern’) languages.

The Yeniseian languages are a language family whose languages are and were spoken in the Yenisei River region of central Siberia. The Sino-Tibetan languages are a family of more than 400 languages spoken in East Asia, Southeast Asia and parts of South Asia, including the Chinese and Tibeto-Burman languages. Na-Dene is a Native American language family. All these languages were connected to North Caucasian according to Starostin, thus to “Urartian”. His theories never enjoyed serious attention in scientific world due to the blatant absurdness.

Very few know that Starostin developed the theory, originated by Abu al-Ghazi Bahadur Khan (August 24, 1603 – 1663), a khan of the Khanate of Khiva from 1643 to 1663, in the 17th century, that Japanese is an Altaic language. Abu al-Ghazi Bahadur was of Uzbek origin of Turkic race whose historical work is “Genealogy of the Turkmen” Shajare-i Tarakime finished in 1661 and “Genealogy of the Türks” Shajare-i Türk finished in 1665.

Starostin’s theory of so called “Urartian”- North Caucasian affinity was singled out and propagated by Diakonof because he due to small salary he accepted offer accepted an offer by Azerbaijan to falsify history and to make Azerbaijanis descendants of Medians which although is not specifically mentioned in memoirs implied also falsifying Armenian history and separating Armenians from their heritage.

Diakonof’s memoirs also will be of a great interest to Persians where he tells how Azerbaijanis tried to usurp the 12th-century Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi (1141 to 1209), considered the greatest romantic epic poet in Persian literature, who brought a colloquial and realistic style to the Persian epic. His heritage is widely appreciated and shared by Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kurdistan region and Tajikistan. His formal name was Jamal ad-Dīn Abū Muḥammad Ilyās ibn-Yūsuf ibn-Zakkī.

Nezami was orphaned early and was raised by his maternal uncle Khwaja Umar who took responsibility for him and afforded him an excellent education. His mother, named Ra’isa, was of Kurdish background. His father, whose name was Yusuf is mentioned once by Nezami in his poetry.

In the same verse, Nezami mentions his grandfather’s name as Zakki. In part of the same verse, some have taken the word Mu’ayyad as a title for Zakki while others have interpreted it as the name of his great grandfather. Some sources have stated that his father might be possibly from Qom. Nezami is variously mentioned as a Persian and/or Iranian.

In Diakonof’s words he failed to make Azerbaijanis descendants of Medians because it was just so not true. But together with Starostin they falsified both Armenian and thus world heritage. Neither Diakonof, nor Starostin knew Armenian.

Works of Starostin-Diakonov’s criminal tandem was criticized by many scholars but they were never published for wider public and never made known in Soviet Union due to Diakonof being main Orientalist from Moscow. Diakonov got his PhD due to nepotism via Bobojan Gafurov (18 December 1908 – 12 July 1977), a prominent party leader and the former first secretary of the Tajik SSR.

Gafurov was a Tajik historian, academician, and the author of several books published in Russian and Tajik, including History of Tajikistan and The Tajiks. He received his PhD from the Institute of History of the USSR Academy of Sciences in Moscow in 1941 with a dissertation on “History of the Isma’ili Sect”.

Many Soviet Assyriologists headed by Anatoly Kifishin accused Dyakonof in translating Epic of Gilgamesh not from Akkadian but from German. Later Kifishin gave interview saying Diakonov harassed him trying to “kill his career.”

In this controversial work, Kifishin compared the petroglyphs of Kamenna Mohyla (literally: “stone tomb”), an archaeological site in the Molochna River (literally “Milk river”) valley, about a mile from the village of Terpinnya, Zaporizhia Oblast, Ukraine, to those of Çatalhöyük and concluded that both were related to the Sumerian cuneiform script. Shortly before his death, Igor Diakonov lashed out against Kifishin’s hypothesis (the two openly feuded since the 1960s).

In his book Diakonov is said to use works of Vladimir Kazimirovich Shileiko (February 14, 1891 — October 5, 1930), a Russian orientalist (assyriologist, hebraist) poet (acmeist) and translator, without mentioning it. Diakonov himself confessed working with Shileiko. Shileiko’s relatives insisted that only with the help of police they managed to take back Shileiko’s writings from Diakonof.

Vasily Vasilievich Struve (February 2 [O.S. January 21] 1889 in Petersburg – September 15, 1965 in Leningrad), a Soviet orientalist from the Struve family, the founder of the Soviet scientific school of researchers on Ancient Near East history, who in 1950s was the main Soviet Orientalist, also accused Diakonof of using others’ works without credits. Wikipedia says “In the late 1950s controversy between Struve and Diakonov became more personal. It should be noted that Diakonov displayed a glaring violations of scientific etiquette”.

Meanwhile Soviet propaganda never allowed wider public to know that according to the German Orientalist Andreas David Mordtmann (11. Februar 1811 in Hamburg; † 30. Dezember 1879), Vannic language was not only Aryan but specifically Armenian, and that it was only necessary to turn to an Armenian dictionary to discover the meaning of every word in the inscriptions.

Dr. Mordtmann deciphered Vannic (Araratian, Urartian) cuneiform inscriptions which in his words were written in one of early Armenian dialects. He also deciphered some Mesopotamian inscriptions using Armenian.

The Anglo-Irish clergyman Edward Hincks (19 August 1792 – 3 December 1866) M.A., D.D., best remembered as an Assyriologist and one of the decipherers of Mesopotamian cuneiform, perceived that the language of Vannic cuneiform inscriptions was inflectional and that it was Indo-European, or Aryan, as he called it. He read the names of the kings as Niriduris, Skuina, Kinuas, and Arrasnis, but very shortly corrected them into Milidduris, Ishpuinish, Minuas, and Argistis.

According to the Orientalist Rawlinson, sometimes described as the Father of Assyriology, well known, a series of inscriptions found at Van and in the vicinity. He called these inscriptions Armenian. They are written in the same alphabet that was used in Assyria, but are composed in a different language – a language, indeed, which, although it has adopted numerous words from the Assyrian, belong radically to another family. There are six kings of the Armenian line following in a line of direct descent. He named these as: 1. Alti-bari; 2. Ari-mena; 3. Isbuin; 4. Manua; 5. Artsen; 6. Ariduri.”

Edward Hincks called attention to the fact that, though Assyrian was a Semitic tongue, yet was its script totally unlike that used by any of the related languages. He suggested that the script was related to the Egyptian, and put forth the hypothesis that it was invented by an Indo-European people, who had been in contact with Egyptians and had borrowed something from their method of writing.

Of the 230-250 Urartian words identified to date, 156 have their parallels in Armenian, thus comprising 62-68 percent of the established Urartian lexicon. Of the 156 parallel words, 95, almost 61 percent, are native and, therefore, cannot have been borrowed from Urartian (if, indeed, such a separate language ever existed). A large percentage of the parallel words are such that rarely infiltrate from one language to another (for instance, pronouns, basic (ad)verbs, subsidiary words, etc.)

Now days the only book which gives thorough explanation on Vanic language is the book by Sargis Ayvazyan. The book is devoted to the issue of the language of the Van cuneiform inscriptions: Urartian, and its interrelationship with Armenian. The common word roots are thoroughly discussed and the Urartian grammatical and phonetic systems are compared to those of Armenian. An attempt is made to present the historical-comparative grammar of these languages proceeding from the assumption that Urartian has, as its base, the Armenian language.

The typical Armenian of to-day is, on the physical side, what his ancestors were in the age of the Vannic kingdom. Broad-skulled, with black hair and eyes, large and protrusive nose and somewhat retreating chin, he represents that ‘Armenoid ‘ type which extends throughout Asia Minor, embraces a section of the Jews, and is characteristic of the Hittite monuments. It is evident that the invaders who introduced the Armenian language of to-day could have been but a small caste of conquerors who have long since been absorbed by the older population of the country. Languages change readily; racial types are extraordinarily permanent.

The decipherment of Sumerian and of Vannic

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Marduk’s rise to power

Posted by Fredsvenn on August 27, 2015

Sumer: An (sky god) – Enlil (north)/ Enki south)

Assyrians – Ashur (north)/ Babylonians – Marduk (south)

The rise to power

According to Babylonian myths, Marduk was not always the head god.  At one time, all the gods were equal.  But there was fighting amongst the gods.  One in particular, Tiamat, was evil and hated the rest of the gods.  Now Tiamut was very powerful and the other gods were afraid of her.

One of the other gods developed a plan.  Ea, the water god, knew that Marduk could defeat Tiamut.  So Ea went to Marduk and asked if he would be willing to fight Tiamut. Marduk thought about it.  While he figured he could beat Tiamat, what if something went wrong?  What if she captured him or even killed him?  It had to be worth his efforts.  So Marduk came back to Ea with a deal.  He would fight Taimat if the rest of the gods would make him the head god forever.

Ea could not make that deal on his own.  He had to get the rest of the gods to agree and he knew that some of them would oppose this idea, some because they were afraid of what would happen if Tiamat won and others because they didn’t want another god to be able to boss them around.  But Ea was a very smart god.  He had a plan.

Ea called all the gods together in an assembly.  Ea provided the food, entertainment, and most of all the sweet, strong date wine so many of the gods loved.  After allowing the rest of the gods to feast and drink lots of date wine, Ea put the idea to them.  They agreed.  So Ea went back to Marduk and let him know that if Marduk defeated Tiamat he would be the head god forever.

Marduk took a bow and arrows, his thunder club, his storm net, and his trademark – a lightning dagger – and set out to defeat Tiamat.  The fighting that followed was stupendous.  The battle raged for days with Marduk killing monster and demon left and right.  Finally he got close enough to Tiamat that he was able to throw his net over her.

Trapped, Tiamat turned to destroy Marduk with a magical killing scream.  Marduk was faster and shot an arrow down her throat killing her.  He then cut her body in half and put half of it in the heavens guarded by the twinkling lights we call stars and made sure that the moon was there to watch over her.  The rest he turned into the earth. Now that Tiamat was dead, Marduk was the leader of all the gods. In the first millennium, he was often referred to as Bel, the Akkadian word for “Lord.”

One of the best-known literary texts from ancient Mesopotamia describes Marduk’s dramatic rise to power: Assyriologists refer to this composition by its ancient title Enūma eliš, Akkadian for “When on high”. It is often called “The Babylonian Epic of Creation,” which is rather a misnomer as the main focus of the story is the elevation of Marduk to the head of the pantheon, for which the creation story is only a vehicle.

In this narrative, the god Marduk battles the goddess Tiamat, the deified ocean, often seen to represent a female principle, whereas Marduk stands for the male principle. Marduk is victorious, kills Tiamat, and creates the world from her body. In gratitude the other gods then bestow 50 names upon Marduk and select him to be their head. The number 50 is significant, because it was previously associated with the god Enlil, the former head of the pantheon, who was now replaced by Marduk.

This replacement of Enlil is already foreshadowed in the prologue to the famous Code of Hammurabi, a collection of “laws,” issued by Hammurabi (r. 1792-1750 BCE), the most famous king of the first dynasty of Babylon. In the prologue, Hammurabi mentions that the gods Anu and Enlil determined for Marduk to receive the “Enlil-ship” (stewardship) of all the people, and with this elevated him into the highest echelons of the Mesopotamian pantheon.

Another important literary text offers a different perspective on Marduk. The composition, one of the most intricate literary texts from ancient Mesopotamia, is often classified as “wisdom literature,” and ill-defined and problematic category of Akkadian literature. Assyriologists refer to this poem as Ludlul bēl nēmeqi “Let me praise the Lord of Wisdom,” after its first line, or alternatively as “The Poem of the Righteous Sufferer”.

The literary composition, which consists of four tablets of 120 lines each, begins with a 40-line hymnic praise of Marduk, in which his dual nature is described in complex poetic wording: Marduk is powerful, both good and evil, just as he can help humanity, he can also destroy people. The story then launches into a first-person narrative, in which the hero tells us of his continued misfortunes. It is this element that has often been compared to the Biblical story of Job.

In the end the sufferer is saved by Marduk and ends the poem by praising the god once more. In contrast to Enūma eliš the “Poem of the Righteous Sufferer” offers insights into personal relationships with Marduk. The highly complicated structure and unusual poetic language make this poem part of an elite and learned discourse.

It is interesting to note that Marduk had to get the consent of the assembly of gods to take on Tiamat.  This is a reflection of how the people of Babylon governed themselves. The government of the gods was arranged in the same way as the government of the people. All the gods reported to Marduk just as all the nobles reported to the king. And Marduk had to listen to the assembly of gods just as the king had to listen to the assembly of people.


Marduk (Sumerian spelling in Akkadian: AMAR.UTU “solar calf”) was a late-generation god from ancient Mesopotamia and patron deity of the city of Babylon. Marduk was depicted as a human, often with his symbol the snake-dragon which he had taken over from the god Tishpak. Another symbol that stood for Marduk was the spade.

According to The Encyclopedia of Religion, the name Marduk was probably pronounced Marutuk. “Marduk” is the Babylonian form of his name. The etymology of the name Marduk is conjectured as derived from amar-Utu (“bull calf of the sun god Utu”).

The origin of Marduk’s name may reflect an earlier genealogy, or have had cultural ties to the ancient city of Sippar (whose god was Utu, the sun god), dating back to the third millennium BC. Although the spelling of Marduk’s name (see below) appears to affiliate him with the sun god Utu, there is no evidence that he was ever considered to be the sun god’s son.

When Babylon became the political center of the Euphrates valley in the time of Hammurabi (18th century BC), he slowly started to rise to the position of the head of the Babylonian pantheon, a position he fully acquired by the second half of the second millennium BC. In the city of Babylon, he resided in the temple Esagila. In the perfected system of astrology, the planet Jupiter was associated with Marduk by the Hammurabi period.

Marduk rose from an obscure deity in the third millennium BCE to become one of the most important gods and the head of the Mesopotamian pantheon in the first millennium. He was the patron god of the city of Babylon, where his temple tower, the ziggurat Etemenanki (“Temple (that is) the foundation of the heavens and the earth”) served as the model for the famous “tower of Babel.”

Marduk’s original character is obscure but he was later associated with water, vegetation, judgment, and magic. He was regarded as the son of Ea (Sumerian Enki) and Damkina and the heir of Anu. Whatever special traits Marduk may have had were overshadowed by the political development through which the Euphrates valley passed and which led to people of the time imbuing him with traits belonging to gods who in an earlier period were recognized as the heads of the pantheon.

There are particularly two gods – Ea and Enlil – whose powers and attributes pass over to Marduk. In the case of Ea, the transfer proceeded pacifically and without effacing the older god. Marduk took over the identity of Asarluhi, the son of Ea and god of magic, so that Marduk was integrated in the pantheon of Eridu where both Ea and Asarluhi originally came from. Father Ea voluntarily recognized the superiority of the son and hands over to him the control of humanity.

Asalluhi is the son of Enki/Ea and a god of incantations and magic, sometimes merged with Marduk. The etymology and meaning of his name are unclear.The syncretism with Asalluhi is mentioned in a Sumerian literary letter to the goddess Ninsinna, in which Asalluhi is described as the “king of Babylon.”

This association of Marduk and Ea, while indicating primarily the passing of the supremacy once enjoyed by Eridu to Babylon as a religious and political centre, may also reflect an early dependence of Babylon upon Eridu, not necessarily of a political character but, in view of the spread of culture in the Euphrates valley from the south to the north, the recognition of Eridu as the older centre on the part of the younger one.

While the relationship between Ea and Marduk is marked by harmony and an amicable abdication on the part of the father in favour of his son, Marduk’s absorption of the power and prerogatives of Enlil of Nippur was at the expense of the latter’s prestige.

Babylon became independent in the early 19th century BC, and was initially a small city state, overshadowed by older and more powerful Mesopotamian states such as Isin, Larsa and Assyria.

However, after Hammurabi forged an empire in the 18th century BC, turning Babylon into the dominant state in the south, the cult of Marduk eclipsed that of Enlil; although Nippur and the cult of Enlil enjoyed a period of renaissance during the over four centuries of Kassite control in Babylonia (c. 1595 BC–1157 BC), the definite and permanent triumph of Marduk over Enlil became felt within Babylonia.

The only serious rival to Marduk after ca. 1750 BC was the god Aššur (Ashur) (who had been the supreme deity in the northern Mesopotamian state of Assyria since the 25th century BC) which was the dominant power in the region between the 14th to the late 7th century BC. In the south, Marduk reigned supreme. He is normally referred to as Bel “Lord”, also bel rabim “great lord”, bêl bêlim “lord of lords”, ab-kal ilâni bêl terêti “leader of the gods”, aklu bêl terieti “the wise, lord of oracles”, muballit mîte “reviver of the dead”, etc.

When Babylon became the principal city of southern Mesopotamia during the reign of Hammurabi in the 18th century BC, the patron deity of Babylon was elevated to the level of supreme god. In order to explain how Marduk seized power, Enûma Elish was written, which tells the story of Marduk’s birth, heroic deeds and becoming the ruler of the gods. This can be viewed as a form of Mesopotamian apologetics. Also included in this document are the fifty names of Marduk.

In Enûma Elish, a civil war between the gods was growing to a climactic battle. The Anunnaki gods gathered together to find one god who could defeat the gods rising against them. Marduk, a very young god, answered the call and was promised the position of head god.

To prepare for battle, he makes a bow, fletches arrows, grabs a mace, throws lightning before him, fills his body with flame, makes a net to encircle Tiamat within it, gathers the four winds so that no part of her could escape, creates seven nasty new winds such as the whirlwind and tornado, and raises up his mightiest weapon, the rain-flood. Then he sets out for battle, mounting his storm-chariot drawn by four horses with poison in their mouths. In his lips he holds a spell and in one hand he grasps a herb to counter poison.

First, he challenges the leader of the Anunnaki gods, the dragon of the primordial sea Tiamat, to single combat and defeats her by trapping her with his net, blowing her up with his winds, and piercing her belly with an arrow. Then, he proceeds to defeat Kingu, who Tiamat put in charge of the army and wore the Tablets of Destiny on his breast, and “wrested from him the Tablets of Destiny, wrongfully his” and assumed his new position. Under his reign humans were created to bear the burdens of life so the gods could be at leisure.

After six generations of gods, in the Babylonian “Enuma Elish”, in the seventh generation, (Akkadian “shapattu” or sabath), the younger Igigi gods, the sons and daughters of Enlil and Ninlil, go on strike and refuse their duties of keeping the creation working.

Abzu, the god of fresh water, co-creator of the cosmos, threatens to destroy the world with his waters, and the Gods gather in terror. Enki promises to help and puts Abzu to sleep, confining him in irrigation canals and places him in the Kur, beneath his city of Eridu.

But the universe is still threatened, as Tiamat, angry at the imprisonment of Abzu and at the prompting of her son and vizier Kingu, decides to take back the creation herself. The gods gather again in terror and turn to Enki for help, but Enki who harnessed Abzu, Tiamat’s consort, for irrigation refuses to get involved.

The gods then seek help elsewhere, and the patriarchal Enlil, their father, God of Nippur, promises to solve the problem if they make him King of the Gods. In the Babylonian tale, Enlil’s role is taken by Marduk, Enki’s son, and in the Assyrian version it is Asshur.

After dispatching Tiamat with the “arrows of his winds” down her throat and constructing the heavens with the arch of her ribs, Enlil places her tail in the sky as the Milky Way, and her crying eyes become the source of the Tigris and Euphrates.

Samuel Noah Kramer believes that behind this myth of Enki’s confinement of Abzu lies an older one of the struggle between Enki and the Dragon Kur (the underworld).

But there is still the problem of “who will keep the cosmos working”. Enki, who might have otherwise come to their aid, is lying in a deep sleep and fails to hear their cries. His mother Nammu (creatrix also of Abzu and Tiamat) “brings the tears of the gods” before Enki and says: “Oh my son, arise from thy bed, from thy (slumber), work what is wise. Fashion servants for the Gods, may they produce their bread.”

Enki then advises that they create a servant of the gods, humankind, out of clay and blood. Against Enki’s wish the Gods decide to slay Kingu, and Enki finally consents to use Kingu’s blood to make the first human, with whom Enki always later has a close relationship, the first of the seven sages, seven wise men or “Abgallu” (Ab = water, Gal = great, Lu = Man), also known as Adapa. Enki assembles a team of divinities to help him, creating a host of “good and princely fashioners”.

He tells his mother “Oh my mother, the creature whose name thou has uttered, it exists. Bind upon it the will of the Gods; Mix the heart of clay that is over the Abyss, The good and princely fashioners will thicken the clay. Thou, do thou bring the limbs into existence; Ninmah (the Earth-mother goddess (Ninhursag, his wife and consort) will work above thee. Ninti (goddess of birth) will stand by thy fashioning; Oh my mother, decree thou its (the new born’s) fate.

Adapa, the first man fashioned, later goes and acts as the advisor to the King of Eridu, when in the Sumerian Kinglist, the “Me” of “kingship descends on Eridu”. Babylonian texts talk of the creation of Eridu by the god Marduk as the first city, “the holy city, the dwelling of their [the other gods] delight”.

The Atrahasis-Epos has it that Enlil requested from Nammu the creation of humans. And Nammu told him that with the help of Enki (her son) she can create humans in the image of gods.


His consort was the goddess Sarpanit. Her name means “the shining one”, and she is sometimes associated with the planet Venus. By a play on words her name was interpreted as zēr-bānītu, or “creatress of seed”, and is thereby associated with the goddess Aruru, who, according to Babylonian myth, created mankind.

Her marriage with Marduk was celebrated annually at New Year in Babylon. She was worshipped via the rising moon, and was often depicted as being pregnant. She is also known as Erua. She may be the same as Gamsu, Ishtar, and/or Beltis.


Nabu was originally a West Semitic god of wisdom from Ebla. His cult was introduced to Mesopotamia by the Amorites after 2000 BCE. He Nabu was assimilated into Marduk’s cult, where he became known as Marduk’s minister, Ea’s grandson and Marduk’s son with Sarpanitum, and co-regent of the Mesopotamian pantheon. He is the Assyrian and Babylonian god of wisdom and writing. His consorts were Tashmetum and Nissaba.

Due to his role as Marduk’s minister and scribe, Nabu became the god of wisdom and writing, (including all works of science, religion and magic) taking over the role from the Sumerian goddess Nisaba. He was also worshipped as a god of fertility, a god of water, and a god of vegetation. He was also the keeper of the Tablets of Destiny, which recorded the fate of mankind and allowed him to increase or diminish the length of human life. He rides on a winged dragon known as Sirrush which originally belonged to his father Marduk.

His symbols are the clay tablet and stylus. In Babylonian astrology, Nabu was identified with the planet Mercury. As the god of wisdom and writing, Nabu was identified by the Greeks with Hermes, by the Romans with Mercury, and by the Egyptians with Thoth.


Sippar (Sumerian: Zimbir) was an ancient Near Eastern city on the east bank of the Euphrates river, located at the site of modern Tell Abu Habbah in Iraq’s Babil Governorate, some 60 km north of Babylon and 30 km southwest of Baghdad. As was often the case in Mesopotamia, it was part of a pair of cities, separated by a river. Sippar was on the east side of the Euphrates, while its sister city, Sippar-Amnanum (modern Tell ed-Der), was on the west.

Despite the fact that thousands of cuneiform clay tablets have been recovered at the site, relatively little is known about the history of Sippar, which has been suggested as the location of the Biblical Sepharvaim in the Old Testament, i.e., “the two Sipparas,” or “the two booktowns”, which alludes to the two parts of the city in its dual form. The Sippara on the east bank of the Euphrates is now called Abu-Habba; that on the other bank was Akkad, the old capital of Sargon I, where he established a great library.

The chief deity of Sippar-Amnanum was Annunitum (or Anunit), the daughter of Enlil and a warlike aspect of Istar favored by the Akkadians, while Sippar was the centre of the worship of the god Adramelech or Adar-malik, a form of sun god related to Moloch. The melech element means “King” in Hebrew (representing Semitic מלך m-l-k, a Semitic root meaning “king”). Moloch worship was practiced by the Canaanites, Phoenicians, and related cultures in North Africa and the Levant.

Like many pagan gods, Adramelech is considered a demon in some Judeo-Christian traditions. So he appears in Milton’s Paradise Lost, where Adramelech is a fallen angel, vanquished by Uriel and Raphael. According to Collin de Plancy’s book on demonology, Adramelech became the President of the Senate of the demons. He is also the Chancellor of Hell and supervisor of Satan’s wardrobe.

Adramelech is generally depicted with a human torso and head, and the limbs of a mule or peacock. A poet’s description of Adramelech can be found in Robert Silverberg’s short story “Basileus”. Adramelech is described as “The enemy of God, greater in ambition, guile and mischief than Satan. A fiend more curst — a deeper hypocrite”.

They also worshipped the lunar deity Anamelech, meaning “Anu is king.” In Christian demonology, Anamelech is an Assyrian goddess later claimed by Christian sources to be a demon worshipped alongside Adramelech, the sun god. She takes the form of a quail.

Sepharvaim was according to the Old Testament in 2 Kings 17:24; 18:34; 19:13; Isa. 37:13 taken by a king of Assyria, probably Sargon II. According to (II Kings 17:31) the cult was brought by the Sepharvite colonists into Samaria: “the Sepharvites burnt their children in the fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim”.

The recent discovery of cuneiform inscriptions at Tel el-Amarna in Egypt consisting of official despatches to Pharaoh Amenophis IV and his predecessor from their agents in Palestine leads some Egyptologists to conclude that in the century before the Exodus an active literary intercourse was carried on between these nations, and that the medium of the correspondence was the Babylonian language and script.

However, it has not been conclusively proven which Egyptian Pharaoh the Amarna Letters reference or that the Judean Exodus necessarily occurred after these letters. After the deportation of the Israelite tribes, at least some of the residents of this city were brought to Samaria to repopulate it with other Gentile settlers.

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The Beaker people

Posted by Fredsvenn on August 27, 2015

Portasar – Gobekli Tepe

Ancient megalithic monuments seen in the Balearic Islands, Spain

This taula (T-shaped stone setting) is housed within a temple complex and a Late Bronze Age village on Menorca, the Balearic Islands, Spain. It dates to around 1300 BC.

The transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture in Europe is associated with demographic changes that may have shifted the human gene pool of the region as a result of an influx of Neolithic farmers from the Near East. However, the genetic composition of populations after the earliest Neolithic, when a diverse mosaic of societies that had been fully engaged in agriculture for some time appeared in central Europe, is poorly known.

At this period during the Late Neolithic (ca. 2,800–2,000 BC), regionally distinctive burial patterns associated with two different cultural groups emerge, Bell Beaker and Corded Ware, and may reflect differences in how these societies were organized.

Ancient DNA analyses of human remains from the Late Neolithic Bell Beaker site of Kromsdorf, Germany showed distinct mitochondrial haplotypes for six individuals, which were classified under the haplogroups I1, K1, T1, U2, U5, and W5, and two males were identified as belonging to the Y haplogroup R1b.

In contrast to other Late Neolithic societies in Europe emphasizing maintenance of biological relatedness in mortuary contexts, the diversity of maternal haplotypes evident at Kromsdorf suggests that burial practices of Bell Beaker communities operated outside of social norms based on shared maternal lineages. Studies indicate that modern U5-lineages may have received little, if any, contribution from the Mesolithic or Neolithic mitochondrial gene pool.


The Balkan region was the first area in Europe to experience the arrival of farming cultures in the Neolithic era. The practices of growing grain and raising livestock arrived in the Balkans from the Fertile Crescent by way of Anatolia and spread west and north into Pannonia and Central Europe.

Archaeologists have identified several early culture-complexes in the region, including the Starčevo culture (6500 to 4000 BC) the Linear pottery culture (5500 to 4500 BC), the Lengyel culture (5000-3400 BC), the Butmir culture (5100–4500 BC), the Vinča culture (5000 to 3000 BC), the Varna culture (4600-4200 BC), the Stroke-ornamented ware culture or Stroked Pottery culture, known as Danubian Ib culture by V. Gordon Childe, or Middle Danubian culture (4600-4400 BC), the Rössen Culture (4,600–4,300 BC), the Cucuteni culture (4500 to 3500 BC), the Baden culture (ca 3600-2800 BC) and the Ezero culture (3300—2700 BC).

The Rössen culture is important as it marks the transition from a broad and widely distributed tradition going back to Central Europe’s earliest Neolithic LBK towards the more diversified Middle and Late Neolithic situation characterised by the appearance of complexes like Michelsberg and Funnel Beaker Culture.

Vinča culture developed a form of proto-writing before the Sumerians and Minoans, known as the Old European script, while the bulk of the symbols had been created in the period between 4500 and 4000 BC, with the ones on the Tărtăria clay tablets even dating back to around 5300 BC. The Varna culture produced the world’s earliest known gold treasure, communicated with the Mediterranean and had sophisticated beliefs about afterlife.

Old Europe is a term coined by archaeologist Marija Gimbutas to describe what she perceived as a relatively homogeneous pre-Indo-European Neolithic culture in southeastern Europe located in the Danube River valley. Archaeologists and ethnographers working within her framework believe that the evidence points to later migrations and invasions of the peoples who spoke Indo-European languages at the beginning of the Bronze Age.

Old Europe, or Neolithic Europe, refers to the time between the Mesolithic and Bronze Age periods in Europe, roughly from 7000 BCE (the approximate time of the first farming societies in Greece) to ca. 1700 BCE (the beginning of the Bronze Age in northwest Europe). The duration of the Neolithic varies from place to place: in southeast Europe it is approximately 4000 years (i. e., 7000–3000 BCE); in North-West Europe it is just under 3000 years (ca. 4500–1700 BCE).

Haplogroup R1b

Haplogroup R* originated in North Asia just before the Last Glacial Maximum (26,500-19,000 years ago). This haplogroup has been identified in the remains of a 24,000 year-old boy from the Altai region, in south-central Siberia. This individual belonged to a tribe of mammoth hunters that may have roamed across Siberia and parts of Europe during the Paleolithic.

Autosomally this Paleolithic population appears to have contributed mostly to the ancestry of modern Europeans and South Asians, the two regions where haplogroup R also happens to be the most common nowadays (R1b in Western Europe, R1a in Eastern Europe, Central and South Asia, and R2 in South Asia).

The oldest forms of R1b (M343, P25, L389) are found dispersed at very low frequencies from Western Europe to India, a vast region where could have roamed the nomadic R1b hunter-gatherers during the Ice Age. The three main branches of R1b1 (R1b1a, R1b1b, R1b1c) all seem to have stemmed from the Middle East.

The southern branch, R1b1c (V88), is found mostly in the Levant and Africa. The northern branch, R1b1a (P297), seems to have originated around the Caucasus, eastern Anatolia or northern Mesopotamia, then to have crossed over the Caucasus, from where they would have invaded Europe and Central Asia. R1b1b (M335) has only been found in Anatolia.

It has been hypothetised that R1b people (perhaps alongside neighbouring J2 tribes) were the first to domesticate cattle in northern Mesopotamia some 10,500 years ago. R1b tribes descended from mammoth hunters, and when mammoths went extinct, they started hunting other large game such as bisons and aurochs.

With the increase of the human population in the Fertile Crescent from the beginning of the Neolithic (starting 12,000 years ago), selective hunting and culling of herds started replacing indiscriminate killing of wild animals. The increased involvement of humans in the life of aurochs, wild boars and goats led to their progressive taming.

Cattle herders probably maintained a nomadic or semi-nomadic existence, while other people in the Fertile Crescent (presumably represented by haplogroups E1b1b, G and T) settled down to cultivate the land or keep smaller domesticates.

The analysis of bovine DNA has revealed that all the taurine cattle (Bos taurus) alive today descend from a population of only 80 aurochs. The earliest evidence of cattle domestication dates from circa 8,500 BCE in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic cultures in the Taurus Mountains.

The two oldest archaeological sites showing signs of cattle domestication are the villages of Çayönü Tepesi in southeastern Turkey and Dja’de el-Mughara in northern Iraq, two sites only 250 km away from each others. This is presumably the area from which R1b lineages started expanding – or in other words the “original homeland” of R1b.

The early R1b cattle herders would have split in at least three groups. One branch (M335) remained in Anatolia, but judging from its extreme rarity today wasn’t very successful, perhaps due to the heavy competition with other Neolithic populations in Anatolia, or to the scarcity of pastures in this mountainous environment.

A second branch migrated south to the Levant, where it became the V88 branch. Some of them searched for new lands south in Africa, first in Egypt, then colonising most of northern Africa, from the Mediterranean coast to the Sahel.

The third branch (P297), crossed the Caucasus into the vast Pontic-Caspian Steppe, which provided ideal grazing grounds for cattle. They split into two factions: R1b1a1 (M73), which went east along the Caspian Sea to Central Asia, and R1b1a2 (M269), which at first remained in the North Caucasus and the Pontic Steppe between the Dnieper and the Volga.

It is not yet clear whether M73 actually migrated across the Caucasus and reached Central Asia via Kazakhstan, or if it went south through Iran and Turkmenistan. In the latter case, M73 might not be an Indo-European branch of R1b, just like V88 and M335.

R1b-M269 (the most common form in Europe) is closely associated with the diffusion of Indo-European languages, as attested by its presence in all regions of the world where Indo-European languages were spoken in ancient times from the Atlantic coast of Europe to the Indian subcontinent. The history of R1b and R1a are intricately connected to each others.

The R1b conquest of Europe happened in two phases. For nearly two millennia, starting from circa 4200 BCE, steppe people limited their conquest to the rich Chalcolithic civilisations of the Carpathians and the Balkans. These societies possessed the world’s largest towns, notably the tell settlements of the Cucuteni-Tripolye culture.

Nothing incited the R1b conquerors to move further into Western Europe at such an early stage, because most of the land north and west of the Alps was still sparsely populated woodland. The Neolithic did not reach the British Isles and Scandinavia before circa 4000 BCE. Even northern France and most of the Alpine region had been farming or herding for less than a millennium and were still quite primitive compared to Southeast Europe and the Middle East.

North-west Europe remained a tribal society of hunter-gatherers practising only limited agriculture for centuries after the conquest of the Balkans by the Indo-Europeans. Why would our R1b “conquistadors” leave the comfort of the wealthy and populous Danubian civilisations for the harsh living conditions that lie beyond Bronze Age people coveted tin, copper, and gold, of which the Balkans had plenty, but that no one had yet discovered in Western Europe.

The first forays of steppe people into the Balkans happened between 4200 BCE and 3900 BCE, when cattle herders equipped with horse-drawn wagons crossed the Dniester and Danube and apparently destroyed the towns of the Gumelnita, Varna and Karanovo VI cultures in Eastern Romania and Bulgaria.

A climatic change resulting in colder winters during this exact period probably pushed steppe herders to seek milder pastures for their stock, while failed crops would have led to famine and internal disturbance within the Danubian and Balkanic communities.

The ensuing Cernavoda culture (Copper Age, 4000-3200 BCE), Coțofeni culture (Copper to Bronze Age, 3500-2500 BCE) and Ezero culture (Bronze Age, 3300-2700 BCE), in modern Romania, seems to have had a mixed population of steppe immigrants and people from the old tell settlements. These steppe immigrants were likely a mixture of both R1a and R1b lineages, with a probably higher percentage of R1a than later Yamna-era invasions.

The steppe invaders would have forced many Danubian farmers to migrate to the Cucuteni-Trypillian towns in the eastern Carpathians, causing a population boom and a north-eastward expansion until the Dnieper valley, bringing Y-haplogroups G2a, I2a1 (probably the dominant lineage of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture), E1b1b, J and T in what is now central Ukraine.

This precocious Indo-European advance westward was fairly limited, due to the absence of Bronze weapons and organised army at the time, and was indeed only possible thanks to climatic catastrophes which reduced the defences of the towns of Old Europe. The Carphatian, Danubian, and Balkanic cultures were too densely populated and technologically advanced to allow for a massive migration.

In comparison the forest-steppe R1a people successfully penetrated into the heart of Europe with little hindrance, due to the absence of developed agrarian societies around Poland and the Baltic. The Corded Ware culture (3200-1800 BCE) was a natural western expansion of the Yamna culture, reaching as far west as Germany and as far north as Sweden and Norway.

DNA analysis from the Corded Ware culture site of Eulau confirms the presence of R1a (but not R1b) in central Germany around 2600 BCE. The Corded Ware tribes expanded from the northern fringe of the Yamna culture where R1a lineages were prevalent over R1b ones.

The expansion of R1b people into Old Europe was slower, but proved inevitable. In 2800 BCE, by the time the Corded Ware had already reached Scandinavia, the Bronze Age R1b cultures had barely moved into the Pannonian steppe. They established major settlements in the Great Hungarian Plain, the most similar habitat to their ancestral Pontic Steppes.

Around 2500 BCE, the western branch of Indo-European R1b were poised for their next major expansion into modern Germany and Western Europe. By that time, the R1b immigrants had blended to a great extent with the indigenous Mesolithic and Neolithic populations of the Danubian basin, where they had now lived for 1,700 years.

The strongly partriarchal Indo-European elite remained almost exclusively R1b on the paternal side, but absorbed a high proportion of non-Indo-European maternal lineages. Hybridised, the new Proto-Indo-European R1b people would have lost most of their remaining Proto-Europoid or Mongolid features inherited from their Caspian origins (which were still clearly visible in numerous individuals from the Yamna period).

Their light hair, eye and skin pigmentation, once interbred with the darker inhabitants of Old Europe, became more like that of modern Southern Europeans. The R1a people of the Corded Ware culture would come across far less populous societies in Northern Europe, mostly descended from the lighter Mesolithic population (haplogroup I1 and I2), and therefore retain more of their original pigmentation (although facial traits evolved considerably in Scandinavia, where the I1 inhabitants were strongly dolicocephalic and long-faced, as opposed to the brachycephalic and broad-faced steppe people).

R1b-L51 is thought to have arrived in Central Europe (Hungary, Austria, Bohemia) around 2500 BCE, approximately two millennia after the shift to the Neolithic in these regions. Agrarian towns had started to develop. Gold and copper had begun to be mined. The prospects of a conquest were now far more appealing.

The archeological and genetic evidence (distribution of R1b subclades) point at several consecutive waves towards eastern and central Germany between 2800 BCE and 2300 BCE. The Unetice culture was probably the first culture in which R1b-L11 lineages played a major role.

It is interesting to note that the Unetice period happen to correspond to the end of the Maykop (2500 BCE) and Kemi Oba (2200 BCE) cultures on the northern shores of the Black Sea, and their replacement by cultures descended from the northern steppes.

It can be envisaged that the (mostly) R1b population from the northern half of the Black Sea migrated westward due to pressure from other Indo-European people (R1a) from the north, for example that of the burgeoning Proto-Indo-Iranian branch, linked to the contemporary Poltavka and Abashevo cultures.

As communities acquired the secrets of alloying brass and arsenic, tin, zinc, or lead, achieving the first items in bronze, the long period during which stone constituted the main raw material for fashioning implements and weapons was coming to an end.

The emergence and development of bronze metallurgy is accompanied by numerous substantial changes in economic and social life, in the spiritual life, and in the arts. The ensemble of these modifications – archeologically identifiable especially midway in the Bronze Age, yet already prefigured early on in the transition period from the Eneolithic to the Bronze Age – indicates a civilization far more sophisticated than we had imagined.

For a long time the Bronze Age was formerly divided into four periods, but the archeological facts have imposed in the last decades the use of a three-part system: Early, Middle and Late Bronze. In absolute chronology this historical period covers most of the period between 3000-2000 BC.

The first stage of the Early Bronze Age is a genuine cultural mosaic, juxtaposing transitory civilizations with those typical of the Bronze Age. For the first, the most typical is the Baden – Coţofeni cultural bloc, which perpetuated in many aspects a transitory lifestyle, but evolved in parallel to the pre-Schneckenberg and Schneckenberg civilisations, which were more active in taking over the products of the Aegean-Anatolian Early Bronze.

One can no longer speak of Eneolithic or neo-Eneolithic cultures, as defined by this historical period, for the changes occurring in the social structure are radical. The rise in status of the chieftains, indicated by the erection of tumulus funeral monuments, the different type of metallurgy, the different type of economy based on greater mobility as evinced by the impressive number of settlements belonging to the Coţofeni culture.

During the second stage, in the center of Transylvania there develops a cultural group bearing the name of the locality of Copăceni (Cluj County), which favored the locations afforded by the elevated sites in the eastern, and probably western, arch of the Western Carpathians and the upper basin of the Someş rivers.

Their main pursuits were agriculture, animal breeding and ore extraction. They had surface dwellings, medium sized (3x4m) with a rectangular layout, and pottery displays mainly high-necked pots with a short bottom portion often decorated with barbotine.

Frequently the pots’ rims are thickened and decorated with rope impressions. The dead are buried in tumuli such as those at Cheile Aiudului, Cheile Turzii or Cheile Turului. The Copăceni group evolved in parallel to the Şoimuş and Jigodin groups, the former in the south-west, and the latter in south-east Transylvania.

Finally, the third stage is the least known, and is characterized by the use of ceramics with brush decorations and textile impressions. Non-ferrous metallurgy in Early Bronze Age, given the substantial fall in production as compared to the Eneolithic, should be regarded as undergoing some sort of realignment, or repositioning, rather than indicating an acute decline.

The causes of this phenomenon are many and diverse (exhaustion of the usual mineral sources, major technological changes, disturbing ethnic reshuffling, etc.). Significantly, the first bronze items (brass alloyed with arsenic and later tin) now emerged.

The archeological sites of this period have uncovered more varied jewelry (hair rings, bracelets, necklaces, pendants made in copper, bronze or gold), poniards, flat axes as well as ‘raised margin’ axes. Yet the most important achievement of the age is the single-edged axe. Apparently the majority of these products were manufactured in local workshops.

The proof is the numerous moulds for casting axes discovered at Leliceni (Harghita County) part of the Jigodin group. Hard to ignore is the often evoked ritual hole at Fântânele, part of the Copăceni group, where were found fragments of moulds for casting metal items (little chisels, poniards, massive axes), testifying that the level of the Baniabic/Vâlcele (Cluj County) type of axe had certainly been attained.

Colin Renfrew’s competing Anatolian hypothesis suggests that the Indo-European languages were spread across Europe by the first farmers from Anatolia. In the hypothesis’ original formulation, the languages of Old Europe belonged to the Indo-European family but played no special role in its transmission.

According to Renfrew’s most recent revision of the theory however Old Europe was a “secondary urheimat” where the Greek, Armenian, and Balto-Slavic language families diverged around 5000 BCE.

It is generally proposed that a proto-Thracian people developed from a mixture of indigenous peoples and Indo-Europeans from the time of Proto-Indo-European expansion in the Early Bronze Age when the latter, around 1500 BC, mixed with indigenous peoples. We speak of proto-Thracians from which during the Iron Age (about 1000 BC) Dacians and Thracians begin developing.

Haplogroup J2

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 argues 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).

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.

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). 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.


The Ubaid period (ca. 6500 to 3800 BCE) is a prehistoric period of Mesopotamia. The name derives from Tell al-Ubaid where the earliest large excavation of Ubaid period material was conducted initially by Henry Hall and later by Leonard Woolley.

Ubaid culture originated in the south, but still has clear connections to earlier cultures in the region of middle Iraq. The appearance of the Ubaid folk has sometimes been linked to the so-called Sumerian problem, related to the origins of Sumerian civilisation.

Whatever the ethnic origins of this group this culture saw for the first time a clear tripartite social division between intensive subsistence peasant farmers, with crops and animals coming from the north, tent-dwelling nomadic pastoralists dependent upon their herds, and hunter-fisher folk of the Arabian littoral, living in reed huts.

Ubaid 1, sometimes called Eridu (5300–4700 BCE), a phase limited to the extreme south of Iraq, on what was then the shores of the Persian Gulf. This phase, showing clear connection to the Samarra culture to the north, saw the establishment of the first permanent settlement south of the 5 inch rainfall isohyet. These people pioneered the growing of grains in the extreme conditions of aridity, thanks to the high water tables of Southern Iraq.

The Ubaid period as a whole, based upon the analysis of grave goods, was one of increasingly polarised social stratification and decreasing egalitarianism. Bogucki describes this as a phase of “Trans-egalitarian” competitive households, in which some fall behind as a result of downward social mobility.

Morton Fried and Elman Service have hypothesised that Ubaid culture saw the rise of an elite class of hereditary chieftains, perhaps heads of kin groups linked in some way to the administration of the temple shrines and their granaries, responsible for mediating intra-group conflict and maintaining social order.

It would seem that various collective methods, perhaps instances of what Thorkild Jacobsen called primitive democracy, in which disputes were previously resolved through a council of one’s peers, were no longer sufficient for the needs of the local community.

Stein and Özbal describe the Near East oikumene that resulted from Ubaid expansion, contrasting it to the colonial expansionism of the later Uruk period. “A contextual analysis comparing different regions shows that the Ubaid expansion took place largely through the peaceful spread of an ideology, leading to the formation of numerous new indigenous identities that appropriated and transformed superficial elements of Ubaid material culture into locally distinct expressions”.

In South Mesopotamia the period is the earliest known period on the alluvial plain although it is likely earlier periods exist obscured under the alluvium. In the south it has a very long duration between about 6500 and 3800 BCE when it is replaced by the Uruk period.

Ubaid 3/4, sometimes called Ubaid I and Ubaid II — In the period from 4500–4000 BCE saw a period of intense and rapid urbanisation with the Ubaid culture spread into northern Mesopotamia and was adopted by the Halaf culture. Ubaid artifacts spread also all along the Arabian littoral, showing the growth of a trading system that stretched from the Mediterranean coast through to Oman.

The archaeological record shows that Arabian Bifacial/Ubaid period came to an abrupt end in eastern Arabia and the Oman peninsula at 3800 BCE, just after the phase of lake lowering and onset of dune reactivation.

At this time, increased aridity led to an end in semi-desert nomadism, and there is no evidence of human presence in the area for approximately 1000 years, the so-called “Dark Millennium”. This might be due to the 5.9 kiloyear event at the end of the Older Peron, the name for a period identified in 1961 as an episode of a global sea-level (i.e. eustatic) high-stand during the Holocene Epoch.

In North Mesopotamia the period runs only between about 5300 and 4300 BCE. It is preceded by the Halaf period and the Halaf-Ubaid Transitional period and succeeded by the Late Chalcolithic period.


The Leyla-Tepe culture is a culture of archaeological interest from the Chalcolithic era. Its population was distributed on the southern slopes of the Central Caucasus (modern Azerbaijan, Agdam District), from 4350 until 4000 B.C.

The Leyla-Tepe culture includes a settlement in the lower layer of the settlements Poilu I, Poilu II, Boyuk-Kesik I and Boyuk-Kesik II. They apparently buried their dead in ceramic vessels. Similar amphora burials in the South Caucasus are found in the Western Georgian Jar-Burial Culture.

The culture has also been linked to the north Ubaid period monuments, in particular, with the settlements in the Eastern Anatolia Region (Arslan-tepe, Coruchu-tepe, Tepechik, etc.). The settlement is of a typical Western-Asian variety, with the dwellings packed closely together and made of mud bricks with smoke outlets.

It has been suggested that the Leyla-Tepe were the founders of the Maykop culture (ca. 3700 BC—3000 BC), a major Bronze Age archaeological culture in the Western Caucasus region of Southern Russia. An expedition to Syria by the Russian Academy of Sciences revealed the similarity of the Maykop and Leyla-Tepe artifacts with those found recently while excavating the ancient city of Tel Khazneh I, from the 4th millennium BC.

Gamkrelidze and Ivanov, whose views are highly controversial, suggest that the Maykop culture (or its ancestor) may have been a way-station for Indo-Europeans migrating from the South Caucasus and/or eastern Anatolia to a secondary Urheimat on the steppe. This would essentially place the Anatolian stock in Anatolia from the beginning, and in this respect only, agrees with Colin Renfrew’s Anatolian hypothesis.

Shulaveri culture

Shulaveri culture, thought to be one of the earliest known Neolithic cultures, predates the Kura-Araxes culture and surrounding areas, which is assigned to the period of ca. 4000 – 2200 BC, and had close relation with the middle Bronze Age culture called Trialeti culture (ca. 3000 – 1500 BC). Sioni culture of Eastern Georgia possibly represents a transition from the Shulaveri to the Kura-Arax cultural complex.

The Shulaveri-Shomu and other Neolithic/Chalcolithic cultures of the Southern Caucasus use local obsidian for tools, raise animals such as cattle and pigs, and grow crops, including grapes. Many of the characteristic traits of the Shulaverian material culture (circular mudbrick architecture, pottery decorated by plastic design, anthropomorphic female figurines, obsidian industry with an emphasis on production of long prismatic blades) are believed to have their origin in the Near Eastern Neolithic (Hassuna, Halaf).

Yamna culture

In 2015 researchers reported that, based on the DNA analysis of 98 ancient skeletons from Europe and Russia, there had been a massive migration of Yamna culture (“Pit [Grave] Culture”, dated to the 3600–2300 BC) from the North Pontic steppe into Europe about 4,500 years ago. The name also appears in English as Pit Grave Culture or Ochre Grave Culture.

The Yamna culture, a late copper age/early Bronze Age culture of the Southern Bug/Dniester/Ural region (the Pontic steppe), is identified with the late Proto-Indo-Europeans (PIE) in the Kurgan hypothesis of Marija Gimbutas.

It is a candidate for the Urheimat (homeland) of the Proto-Indo-European language, along with the preceding Sredny Stog culture, now that archaeological evidence of the culture and its migrations has been closely tied to the evidence from linguistics and genetics.

Pavel Dolukhanov argues that the emergence of the Pit-Grave culture represents a social development of various local Bronze Age cultures, representing “an expression of social stratification and the emergence of chiefdom-type nomadic social structures”, which in turn intensified inter-group contacts between essentially heterogeneous social groups.

It originated in the middle Volga based Khvalynsk culture, an Eneolithic (copper age) culture of the first half of the 5th millennium BC, discovered at Khvalynsk on the Volga in Saratov Oblast, Russia, and the middle Dnieper based Sredny Stog culture. In its western range, it is succeeded by the Catacomb culture; in the east, by the Poltavka culture and the Srubna culture.

The Khvalynsk culture, stretching from Saratov in the north to the North Caucasus in the south, from the Sea of Azov in the west to the Ural River in the east, was preceded by the Early Eneolithic or Samara culture, from which it came, and succeeded by the Late Eneolithic, or Early Yamna culture, to which it descended. Some regard Khvalynsk I as Early Eneolithic, contemporary with the Samara culture. Not enough Samara culture dates and sites exist to settle the question.

DNA from the remains of nine individuals associated with the Yamna culture from the border between Samara Oblast and Orenburg Oblast has been analyzed. The remains have been dated to 3339-2700 BCE.

Y-chromosome sequencing revealed that one of the individuals belonged to haplogroup R1b1-P25 (the subclade could not be determined), one individual belonged to haplogroup R1b1a2a-L23 (and to neither the Z2103 nor the L51 subclades), and five individuals belonged to R1b1a2a2-Z2103. The individuals belonged to mtDNA haplogroups U4a1, W6, H13a1a1a, T2c1a2, U5a1a1, H2b, W3a1a and H6a1b.

A 2015 genome wide study of 94 ancient skeletons from Europe and Russia concluded that Yamnaya autosomal characteristics are very close to the Corded Ware culture people with an estimated a 73% ancestral contribution from the Yamnaya DNA in the DNA of Corded Ware skeletons from Germany.

The same study estimated a 40–54% ancestral contribution of the Yamnaya in the DNA of modern Central & Northern Europeans, and a 20–32% contribution in modern Southern Europeans, excluding Sardinians (7.1% or less) and to a lesser extent Sicilians (11.6% or less).

The Catacomb culture, covering several related archaeological cultures, was first to introduce corded pottery decorations into the steppes and showed a profuse use of the polished battle axe, providing a link to the West. Parallels with the Afanasevo culture, including provoked cranial deformations, provide a link to the East. It was preceded by the Yamna culture and succeeded by the western Corded Ware culture. The Catacomb culture in the Pontic steppe was succeeded by the Srubna culture from c. the 17th century BCE.

The Corded Ware Culture

The Bell Beaker period marks a period of unprecedented cultural contact in Atlantic and Western Europe on a scale not seen previously, nor again seen in succeeding periods.

It can be seen initially as the western equivalent of the contemporary Corded Ware Culture, alternatively characterized as the Battle Axe culture or Single Grave culture (2900–2450/2350 BC), though from c. 2400 BC Bell Beaker expanded eastwards over parts of Central and Eastern Europe where Corded Ware previously thrived.

The Lengyel culture (5000-3400 BC) is a wide interaction sphere or cultural horizon rather than an archaeological culture in the narrow sense. Its distribution overlaps with the Tisza culture and with Stroke-Ornamented Pottery (STK) as far north as Osłonki, central Poland.

It was associated with the cover-term Old Europe by Marija Gimbutas, though may have been undergone “kurganization” by the Proto-Indo-Europeans and become integrated into the successor Globular Amphora culture (ca. 3400–2800 BC).

The Lengyel culture was preceded by the Linear Pottery culture (5500–4500 BC), a major archaeological horizon of the European Neolithic. In its northern extent it overlapped the somewhat later but otherwise approximately contemporaneous Funnelbeaker culture (ca 4300 BC–ca 2800 BC), an archaeological culture in north-central Europe. Also closely related are the Stroke-ornamented ware (4600-4400 BC) and Rössen cultures (4,600–4,300 BC), adjacent to the north and west, respectively.

The Funnelbeaker culture developed as a technological merger of local neolithic and Mesolithic techno-complexes between the lower Elbe and middle Vistula rivers, introducing farming and husbandry as a major source of food to the pottery-using hunter-gatherers north of this line.

Preceded by Lengyel-influenced Stroke-ornamented ware culture (STK) groups/Late Lengyel and Baden-Boleráz in the southeast, Rössen groups in the southwest and the Ertebølle-Ellerbek groups in the north, the Funnelbeaker techno-complex is divided into a northern group including modern northern eastalbingian Germany and southern Scandinavia (TRB-N, roughly the area that previously belonged to the Ertebølle-Ellerbek complex), a western group between Zuiderzee and lower Elbe, an eastern group centered on the Vistula catchment, roughly ranging from Oder to Bug, and south-central groups (TRB-MES, Altmark) around the middle and upper Elbe and Saale. Especially in the southern and eastern groups, local sequences of variants emerged.

In the context of the Kurgan hypothesis, the culture is seen as non-Indo-European, representing the culture of what Marija Gimbutas termed Old Europe, the peoples of which were later to be governed by the Indo-European-language-speaking peoples from the Yamna culture intruding in the east. The political relation between the aboriginal and intrusive cultures resulted in quick and smooth cultural morphosis into Corded Ware culture.

Heterodoxically, Dutch publications mention mixed burials and propose a quick and smooth internal change to Corded Ware within two generations occurring about 2900 BC in Dutch and Danish TRB territory, probably precluded by economic, cultural and religious changes in East Germany, and call the migrationist view of steppe intrusions introducing Indo-European languages obsolete (at least in this part of the world).

It has been suggested that the Funnelbeaker culture was the origin of the gene allowing adults of Northern European descent to digest lactose. It was claimed that in the area formerly inhabited by this culture, prevalence of the gene is virtually universal.

A paper published in 2007 by Burger et al. indicated that the genetic variant that causes lactose persistence in most Europeans (-13,910*T) was rare or absent in early farmers from central Europe. A study published by Yuval Itan and colleagues in 2010 clearly shows this.

A study published in 2009, also by Itan et al., suggests that the Linear Pottery culture (also known as Linearbandkeramik or LBK), which preceded the TRB culture by some 1,500 years, was the culture in which this trait started to co-evolve with the culture of dairying.

The Globular Amphora Culture occupied much of the same area as the earlier Funnelbeaker culture. Somewhat to the south and west, it was bordered by the Baden culture. To the northeast was the Narva culture. It is thought to be of Indo-European origin and preceded the central area occupied by the Corded Ware culture, which succeeded it.

The inclusion of animals in the grave is seen as an intrusive cultural element by Marija Gimbutas. The supporters of the Kurgan hypothesis point to these distinctive burial practices and state this may represent one of the earliest migrations of Indo-Europeans into Central Europe. In this context and given its area of occupation, this culture has been claimed as the underlying culture of a Germanic-Baltic-Slavic continuum.

In the late 4th millennium BC, the Globular Amphora culture (KAK) replaced most of the eastern and subsequently also the southern TRB groups, reducing the TRB area to modern northern Germany and southern Scandinavia. The younger TRB in these areas was superseded by the Single Grave culture (EGK) at about 2800 BC. The north-central European megaliths were built primarily during the TRB era.

The Corded Ware Culture was an enormous European archaeological horizon that begins in the late Neolithic (Stone Age), flourishes through the Copper Age and culminates in the early Bronze Age.

Other terms are corded pottery and corded ceramic, the latter being a calque in translations. It receives its name Corded Ware from the ornamentation of its characteristic pottery, Single Grave from its burial custom, and Battle Axe from its characteristic grave offering to males, a stone battle axe.

Thus in parts of Central and Eastern Europe, as far to the east as Poland, there is a sequence from Corded Ware to Bell Beaker, but this is not the case in Iberia, France or the British Isles, where Corded Ware is unknown.

The Corded Ware culture, reflected primarily by its burials, which consisted of inhumation under tumulus with various artifacts (notably battle-axes), is the major north and central European cultural grouping of the Copper Age, stretching from the Netherlands and Switzerland in the west, across southern Scandinavia and Central Europe as far east as the upper Volga (Fatyanovo–Balanovo culture) and middle Dnieper (Middle Dnieper culture).

Corded Ware coincides considerably with the earlier north-central European Funnelbeaker culture (TRB), with which it shares a similar physical type and several cultural characteristics, suggesting that the Corded Ware originated with the TRB at least in some regions. In other regions the Corded Ware appears to herald a new culture and physical type.

Concerning the origin of the Corded Ware culture, there is broadly a division between archaeologists who see an influence from pastoral societies of the steppes north of the Black Sea and those who think that Corded Ware springs from central Europe.

In places a continuity between Funnelbeaker and Corded Ware can be demonstrated, whereas in other areas Corded Ware heralds a new culture and physical type. On most of the immense, continental expanse that it covered, the culture was clearly intrusive, and therefore represents one of the most impressive and revolutionary cultural changes attested by archeology. The degree to which cultural change generally represents immigration is a matter of debate, and such debate has figured strongly in discussions of Corded Ware.

In summary, Corded Ware does not represent a single monolithic entity, but rather a diffusion of technological and cultural innovations of different, contemporaneous peoples, living in close proximity to each other and leaving different archaeological remains.

Because of their possession of both the horse and wheeled vehicles, apparent warlike propensities, wide area of distribution and rapid intrusive expansion at the assumed time of the dispersal of Indo-European languages, the Corded Ware culture was originally suggested as the Urheimat of the Proto-Indo-Europeans.

Today, a Corded Ware origin of these characteristics has lost currency in favour of an origin in the Black Sea-Caspian region, although this has been criticized. Corded Ware is however still generally considered ancestral to the Celts, Germanic peoples, Balts and Slavs. According to J. P. Mallory the origins and dispersal of Corded Ware culture is one of the pivotal unresolved issues of the Indo-European Urheimat problem.

The contemporary Beaker culture overlapped with the western extremity of this culture, west of the Elbe, and may have contributed to the pan-European spread of that culture. Although a similar social organization and settlement pattern to the Beaker were adopted, the Corded Ware group lacked the new refinements made possible through trade and communication by sea and rivers.

Kurgan hypothesis

The “Kurgan hypothesis” of Proto-Indo-European (PIE) origins assumes gradual expansion of the “Kurgan culture”, around 5000 BC, until it encompassed the entire pontic steppe. Kurgan IV was identified with the Yamna culture of around 3000 BC.

The role of the invasion of the pastoral tribes coming from the north-Pontic (supposedly Indo-European kinship) in bringing to an end the Eneolithic culture of sedentary farmers represents one of the hotly debated issues among specialists in the prehistory of south-eastern Europe. The archeological data available present the Eneolithic as a period of stability, in which the sedentary populations created some of the most spectacular civilizations within the European area.

According to Gimbutas’ version of the Kurgan hypothesis, Old Europe was invaded and destroyed by horse-riding pastoral nomads from the Pontic-Caspian steppe (the “Kurgan culture”) who brought with them violence, patriarchy, and Indo-European languages.

More recent proponents of the Kurgan hypothesis agree that the cultures of Old Europe spoke pre-Indo-European languages but include a less dramatic transition, with a prolonged migration of Proto-Indo-European speakers after Old Europe’s collapse because of other factors.

What once might have seemed exclusively a migration of nomadic tribes, now may be understood as a socio-economic transformation of the local population—its adaptation to the new environment, to the evolution of society (the increasing role of the animal breeders and shepherds, the development of metallurgy, extended mobility, the increasingly military role of the elites, changes in the belief systems, etc.).

Cucuteni-Trypillian culture

The Cucuteni-Trypillian culture (ca. 4800 to 3000 BC), known as Cucuteni in Romanian and Trypilska in Ukrainian, is a Neolithic–Eneolithic archaeological culture in Eastern Europe. It extends from the Carpathian Mountains to the Dniester and Dnieper regions, centered on modern-day Moldova and covering substantial parts of western Ukraine and northeastern Romania, encompassing an area of some 350,000 km2 (140,000 sq mi), with a diameter of some 500 km (300 mi; roughly from Kyiv in the northeast to Brasov in the southwest).

The majority of Cucuteni-Trypillian settlements consisted of high-density, small settlements (spaced 3 to 4 kilometers apart), concentrated mainly in the Siret, Prut, and Dniester river valleys. During the Middle Trypillia phase (ca. 4000 to 3500 BC) populations belonging to the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture built the largest settlements in Neolithic Europe, some of which contained as many as 1,600 structures.

The roots of Cucuteni-Trypillian culture can be found in the Starčevo-Körös-Criș (5500-4500 BC ) and Vinča cultures (5700–4500 BC), with additional influence from the Bug-Dniester culture (6500-5000 BC).

During the early period of its existence (in the 5th millennium BC), the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture was also influenced by the Linear Pottery culture (5500–4500 BC) from the north, and by the Boian-Giulesti culture (4300–3500 BC) from the south.

Through colonization and acculturation from these other cultures, the formative Pre-Cucuteni/Trypillia A culture was established. Over the course of the fifth millennium, the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture expanded from its ‘homeland’ in the Prut-Siret region along the eastern foothills of the Carpathian Mountains into the basins and plains of the Dnieper and Southern Bug rivers of central Ukraine. Settlements also developed in the southeastern stretches of the Carpathian Mountains, with the materials known locally as the Ariuşd culture.

Characteristics of the Cucuteni-Trypillian pottery included a monochromic spiral design, painted with black paint on a yellow and red base. Large pear-shaped pottery for the storage of grain, dining plates, and other goods, was also prevalent. Additionally, ceramic statues of female “Goddess” figures, as well as figurines of animals and models of houses dating to this period have also been discovered.

Earlier societies of hunter gatherer tribes had no social stratification, and later societies of the Bronze Age had noticeable social stratification, which saw the creation of occupational specialization, the state, and social classes of individuals who were of the elite ruling or religious classes, full-time warriors, and wealthy merchants, contrasted with those individuals on the other end of the economic spectrum who were poor, enslaved, and hungry.

In between these two economic models (the hunter gatherer tribes and Bronze Age civilizations) we find the later Neolithic and Eneolithic societies such as the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture, where the first indications of social stratification began to be found.

However, it would be a mistake to overemphasize the impact of social stratification in the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture since it was still very much an egalitarian society. And of course, social stratification was just one of the many aspects of what is regarded as a fully established civilized society, which began to appear in the Bronze Age.

During the late period the Cucuteni-Trypillian territory expanded to include the Volyn region in northwest Ukraine, the Sluch and Horyn Rivers in northern Ukraine, and along both banks of the Dnieper river near Kiev.

Members of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture who lived along the coastal regions near the Black Sea came into contact with other cultures. Animal husbandry increased in importance, as hunting diminished; horses also became more important.

The community transformed into a patriarchal structure. Outlying communities were established on the Don and Volga rivers in present-day Russia. Dwellings were constructed differently from previous periods, and a new rope-like design replaced the older spiral-patterned designs on the pottery.

Different forms of ritual burial were developed where the deceased were interred in the ground with elaborate burial rituals. An increasingly larger number of Bronze Age artifacts originating from other lands were found as the end of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture drew near.

There is a debate among scholars regarding how the end of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture took place. Some scholars have used the abundance of the clay female fetish statues to base the theory that this culture was matriarchal in nature. Indeed, it was partially the archeological evidence from Cucuteni-Trypillian culture that inspired Marija Gimbutas, Joseph Campbell, and some latter 20th century feminists to set forth the popular theory of an Old European culture of peaceful, matriarchal, Goddess-centered Neolithic European societies that were wiped out by patriarchal, Sky Father-worshipping, warlike, Bronze-Age Proto-Indo-European tribes that swept out of The Steppes east of the Black Sea. This theory has been mostly discredited in recent years, but there are still some people who adhere to it, at least to some degree.

According to some proponents of the Kurgan Hypothesis of the origin of Proto-Indo-European, for example the archaeologist Marija Gimbutas in her book “Notes on the chronology and expansion of the Pit-Grave Culture” (1961, later expanded by her and others), the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture came to a violent end in connection with the territorial expansion of the Kurgan Culture.

Arguing from archaeological and linguistic evidence, Gimbutas concluded that the people of the Kurgan culture (a term grouping the Pit Grave culture and its predecessors) of the Pontic steppe, being most likely speakers of the Proto-Indo-European language, effectively destroyed the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture in a series of invasions undertaken during their expansion to the west.

Based on this archaeological evidence Gimbutas saw distinct cultural differences between the patriarchal, warlike Kurgan culture and the more peaceful matriarchal Cucuteni-Trypillian culture, which she argued was a significant component of the “Old European cultures” which finally met extinction in a process visible in the progressing appearance of fortified settlements, hillforts, and the graves of warrior-chieftains, as well as in the religious transformation from the matriarchy to patriarchy, in a correlated east-west movement.

In this, “the process of Indo-Europeanization was a cultural, not a physical, transformation and must be understood as a military victory in terms of successfully imposing a new administrative system, language, and religion upon the indigenous groups.

Accordingly these proponents of the Kurgan Hypothesis hold that this violent clash took place during the Third Wave of Kurgan expansion between 3000-2800 BC, permanently ending the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture.

In 1989 Irish-American archaeologist J.P. Mallory in his book “In Search of the Indo-Europeans” summarizing the three existing theories concerning the end of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture, mentions that archaeological findings in the region indicate Kurgan (i.e. Yamna culture) settlements in the eastern part of the Cucuteni-Trypillian area, co-existing for some time with those of the Cucuteni-Trypillian.

Artifacts from both cultures found within each of their respective archaeological settlement sites attest to an open trade in goods for a period, though he points out that the archaeological evidence clearly points to what he termed “a dark age,” its population seeking refuge in every direction except east. He cites evidence of the refugees having used caves, islands and hilltops (abandoning in the process 600-700 settlements) to argue for the possibility of a gradual transformation rather than a violent onslaught bringing about cultural extinction.

The obvious issue with that theory is the limited common historical life-time between the Cucuteni-Trypillian (4800-3000 BC) and the Yamna culture (3600-2300BC); given that the earliest archaeological findings of the Yamna culture (3600-3200 BC) are located in the Volga-Don basin, not in the Dniester and Dnieper area where the cultures came in touch, while the Yamna culture came to its full extension in the Pontic steppe at the earliest around 3000 BC, the time the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture ended thus indicating an extremely short survival after coming in contact with the Yamna culture.

Another contradicting indication is that the kurgans that replaced the traditional horizontal graves in the area now contain human remains of a fairly diversified skeletal type approximately ten centimeters taller on average than the previous population.

In the 1990s and 2000s, another theory regarding the end of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture emerged based on climatic change that took place at the end of their culture’s existence that is known as the Blytt-Sernander Sub-Boreal phase.

Beginning around 3200 BC the earth’s climate became colder and drier than it had ever been since the end of the last Ice age, resulting in the worst drought in the history of Europe since the beginning of agriculture.

The Cucuteni-Trypillian culture relied primarily on farming, which would have collapsed under these climatic conditions in a scenario similar to the Dust Bowl of the American Midwest in the 1930s.

According to The American Geographical Union, “The transition to today’s arid climate was not gradual, but occurred in two specific episodes. The first, which was less severe, occurred between 6,700 and 5,500 years ago. The second, which was brutal, lasted from 4,000 to 3,600 years ago. Summer temperatures increased sharply, and precipitation decreased, according to carbon-14 dating.

According to that theory, the neighboring Yamna culture people were pastoralists, and were able to maintain their survival much more effectively in drought conditions. This has led some scholars to come to the conclusion that the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture ended not violently, but as a matter of survival, converting their economy from agriculture to pastoralism, and becoming integrated into the Yamna culture.

However, the Blytt–Sernander approach as a way to identify stages of technology in Europe with specific climate periods is an oversimplification not generally accepted. A conflict with that theoretical possibility is that during the warm Atlantic period, Denmark was occupied by Mesolithic cultures, rather than Neolithic, notwithstanding the climatic evidence.

Moreover, the technology stages varied widely globally. To this must be added that the first period of the climate transformation ended some 500 years before the end of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture and the second approximately 1,400 years after.

A 2010 study analyzed mtDNA recovered from Cucuteni-Trypillian human osteological remains found in the Verteba Cave (on the bank of the Seret River, Ternopil Oblast, Ukraine). It revealed that seven of the individuals whose remains where analysed belonged to the pre-HV branch of the R haplogroup, two to haplogroup HV, two to haplogroup H, one to haplogroup J, and one to T4 haplogroup, the latter also being the oldest sample of the set.

The authors conclude that the population living around Verteba Cave was fairly heterogenous, but that the wide chronological age of the specimens might indicate that the heterogeneity might have been due to natural population flow during this timeframe. The authors also link the pre-HV and HV/V haplogroups with European Paleolithic populations, and consider the T and J haplogroups as hallmarks of Neolithic demic intrusions from the South-East (the North-Pontic region) rather than from the West (i.e. the Linear Pottery culture).

Sredny Stog

The Sredny Stog culture is a pre-kurgan archaeological culture, named after the Russian term for the Dnieper river islet of Seredny Stih, Ukraine, where it was first located, dating from the 5th millennium BC. It was situated across the Dnieper river on both its shores, with sporadic settlements to the west and east.

One of the best known sites associated with this culture is Dereivka, located on the right bank of the Omelnik, a tributary of the Dnieper, and is the most impressive site within the Sredny Stog culture complex, being about 2,000 square meters in area.

The Sredny Stog culture seems to have had contact with the agricultural Cucuteni-Trypillian culture (ca. 4800 to 3000 BC) in the west and was a contemporary of the Khvalynsk culture.

In its three largest cemeteries, Alexandria (39 individuals), Igren (17) and Dereivka (14), evidence of inhumation in flat graves (ground level pits) has been found. This parallels the practise of the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture, and is in contrast with the later Yamna culture, which practiced tumuli burials, according to the Kurgan hypothesis.

In Sredny Stog culture, the deceased were laid to rest on their backs with the legs flexed. The use of ochre in the burial was practiced, as with the kurgan cultures. For this and other reasons, Yuri Rassamakin suggests that the Sredny Stog culture should be considered as an areal term, with at least four distinct cultural elements co-existing inside the same geographical area.

The expert Dmytro Telegin has divided the chronology of Sredny Stog into two distinct phases. Phase II (ca. 4000–3500 BC) used corded ware pottery which may have originated there, and stone battle-axes of the type later associated with expanding Indo-European cultures to the West. Most notably, it has perhaps the earliest evidence of horse domestication (in phase II), with finds suggestive of cheek-pieces (psalia).

In the context of the modified Kurgan hypothesis of Marija Gimbutas, this pre-kurgan archaeological culture could represent the Urheimat (homeland) of the Proto-Indo-European language. The culture ended at around 3500 BC, when Yamna culture expanded westward replacing Sredny Stog, and coming into direct contact with the Cucuteni-Trypillian culture in the western Ukraine.

Cernavoda culture

The Cernavodă culture (ca. 4000-3200 BC), named after the Romanian town of Cernavodă, was a late Copper Age archaeological culture. It was along the lower Eastern Bug River and Danube and along the coast of the Black Sea and somewhat inland, generally in present-day Romania and Bulgaria. It is characterized by defensive hilltop settlements. The pottery shares traits with that found further east on the southern Russian steppes; burials similarly bear a resemblance to those further east.

It is a successor to and occupies much the same area as the earlier neolithic Karanovo culture, for which a destruction horizon seems to be evident. It is part of the “Balkan-Danubian complex” that stretches up the entire length of the river and into northern Germany via the Elbe and the Baden culture; its northeastern portion is thought to be ancestral to the Usatovo culture.

Baden culture

The Baden culture (ca 3600-2800 BC) was an eneolithic culture found in central Europe and known from Moravia, Hungary, Serbia, Slovakia, Western Romania and Eastern Austria named after Baden near Vienna by the Austrian prehistorian Oswald Menghin. It is also known as the Ossarn group or Pecel culture.

It has been interpreted as part of a much larger archaeological complex encompassing cultures at the mouth of the Danube (Ezero-Cernavoda III) and the Troad. It developed out of the late Lengyel culture, an archaeological culture of the European Neolithic, centered on the Middle Danube in the western Carpathian Basin.

Němejcová-Pavuková proposes a polygenetic origin, including southeastern elements transmitted by the Ezero culture (3300-2700 BC), a Bronze Age archaeological culture occupying most of present-day Bulgaria, and Cernavoda III/Coțofeni, also known as Usatove culture, a Chalcolithic to Early Bronze Age archaeological culture that existed for over 700 years in south-eastern Central Europe facing the Black Sea between the mouths of the Bug River and the Danube in present-day Romania, Moldova, and southern Ukraine. Ecsedy parallelises Baden with Early Helladic II in Thessaly, Parzinger with Sitagroi IV.

Baden was approximately contemporaneous with the late Funnelbeaker culture, the Globular Amphora culture and the early Corded Ware culture. The settlements were often located on hilltops and were normally undefended.

In the Kurgan hypothesis espoused by Marija Gimbutas, the Baden culture is seen as being Indo-Europeanized. For proponents of the older theory that seeks the Indo-European homeland in central Europe in the area occupied by the preceding Funnelbeaker culture, it is similarly considered Indo-European.

The linguistic identity and ethnic self-identification of the people associated with this culture is impossible to ascertain. It may be tempting to put the Italic and Celtic stocks together here at some point, at least in that great European mixing bowl, the plains of Hungary, but this is a speculation lacking any archaeological foundation.


The Ezero culture (3300—2700 BC), was a Bronze Age archaeological culture occupying most of present-day Bulgaria. It follows the copper age cultures of the area (Karanovo VI culture, Gumelniţa culture, Kodzadjemen culture and Varna culture), after a settlement hiatus in Northern Bulgaria. It bears some relationship to the earlier Cernavodă III culture to the north. Some settlements were fortified.

The Ezero culture is interpreted as part of a larger Balkan-Danubian early Bronze Age complex, a horizon reaching from Troy Id-IIc into Central Europe, encompassing the Baden of the Carpathian Basin and the Coţofeni culture of Romania. According to Parzinger, there are also typological connections to Poliochne IIa-b and Sitagroi IV.

Within the context of the Kurgan hypothesis the Ezero culture would represent a fusion of native “Old European culture” and intrusive “Kurgan culture” elements. It could also represent an Anatolian-influenced culture, either coming from Anatolia (in Renfrew’s hypothesis), or heading to Asia Minor.


The Coţofeni culture (3500 and 2500 BC), also known as Usatove culture, is a Chalcolithic to Early Bronze Age archaeological culture that existed in south-eastern Central Europe facing the Black Sea between the mouths of the Bug River and the Danube in present-day Romania, Moldova, and southern Ukraine.

Unfortunately most of the Coţofeni culture chronology is based on just three samples collected at three different Coţofeni sites. Based on these radiocarbon dates, this culture can be placed between roughly 3500 and 2500 BCE.

Cultural synchronisms have been established based on mutual trade relations (visible as imported items) as well as stratigraphic observations. There is an evident synchronicity between: Coţofeni I – Cernavoda III – Baden A – Spherical Amphorae; Coţofeni II – Baden B-C Kostolac; Coţofeni III – Kostolac-Vučedol A-B.

During the evolution of the Coţofeni culture, there were clearly relationships with other neighbouring cultures. The influence between the Coţofeni and their neighbours the Baden, Kostolac, Vučedol, Globular Amphora culture as well as the Ochre Burial populations was reciprocal.

The areas bordering these cultures show cultural traits that have mixed aspects, for example Coţofeni-Baden and Coţofeni-Kostolac finds. These finds of mixed aspects suggest a cohabitation between related populations. It also supports the idea of well established trade between cultures.


Following the Baden culture, another wave of possible Indo-European speakers came to the banks of the Danube. One of the major places they occupied is present-day Vučedol (“Wolf’s Valley”), located six kilometers downstream from the town of Vukovar, Croatia.

The Vučedol culture (3000 and 2200 BC) was contemporary with the Sumer period in Mesopotamia, the Early Dynastic period in Egypt and the earliest settlements of Troy (Troy I and II). Some authors regard it as an Indo-European culture.

It is estimated that the site had once been home to about 3,000 inhabitants, making it one of the largest and most important European centers of its time. According to Bogdan Brukner, proto-Illyrians descended from this wave of Indo-European settlers.

The early stages of the culture occupied locations not far from mountain ranges, where copper deposits were located, because of their main invention: making tools from arsenical copper in series reusing double, two-part moulds.

The Vučedol culture developed from two older eneolithic cultures: the Baden culture, mainly in the Pannonian plain, and the Kostolac culture in northern Serbia and western Romania, so the primary region of Vučedol development is eastern Croatia and the Syrmia region.

The Vučedol culture is the final eneolithic culture of the region, displaying characteristically common use of the war axe in its “Banniabik” form. Cult objects suggest the practice of new cults very different from the Neolithic Magna Mater conception: cult of the Deer, womb-shaped solar motives, figures of women in clothes without sexual or fertility decoration, symbols of double axe. In pottery, new forms and a new and rich decoration are characterized by the spectacular find, the Vučedol dove.

The Vučedol culture exploited native copper ores on a massive scale. The settlement sites destroyed earlier eneolithic settlements, and new Vučedol settlements also developed in regions where none previously existed. The rise of a dominant hunter-warrior class is a preview of the changes that will be characteristic for the east and middle European early Bronze Age.

Compared to earlier and contemporary cultures the Vučedol culture exploited a diversity in food sources: the Vučedol people were hunters, fishermen and agrarians, with some strong indications that they cultivated certain domesticated animals. Thus the culture was more resilient to times of want.

The community chief was the shaman-smith, possessing the arcane knowledge of avoiding poisonous arsenic gas which is connected to the technology of coppersmithing as well as understanding the year cycle.

Still, the whole life of shaman-smith could not pass without biological consequences: slow loss of body movement coordination, and at the same time, stronger sexual potency. “That is why”, according to Aleksandar Durman, “all eneolithic, or later gods of metallurgy are identified with fertility, and also why all gods in almost all early cultures – limp”.

It was a society of deep social changes and stratification that led to the birth of tribal and military aristocracy. Also, Vučedol people had enough time to express their spiritual view of the world.

In modern times, Vučedol ceramics have become famous worldwide. A very characteristic bi-conical shape and typical ornaments evolved, in many cases with typical “handles” which were almost non-functional, but were key to understanding ornaments that had symbolic meanings, representing ideas such as “horizon”, “mountains”, “sky”, “underworld”, “sun”, “constellation of Orion”, “Venus”, et cetera.

One of the most famous pieces of Vučedol is the ritual vessel made between 2800 and 2500 BC, called by the speculative attribution of M. Seper, who found it in 1938, the “Vučedol Dove” (vučedolska golubica).

The latest interpretation, however, is that the vessel is in the shape of the male partridge, a symbol of fertility, whose limping defensive behavior against attack by predators on a partridge nest on the ground linked it to the limping shaman-smith, according to the recent interpretation by Aleksandar Durman of Zagreb. The figure is a remarkable example of artistic creation and religious symbolism associated with a cult of the Great Mother.

The “Vučedol Dove” is a 19,5 cm high ritual vessel made from baked clay. Three symbols of double axes and a necklace were incised on its neck with lines covering its wings and chest, and an unusual crest on the back of the head. If the shape of the crest and carefully delineated wings and chest, prove the figure to be the domesticated dove, then it was being raised in Europe 4500 years ago, much earlier than we commonly think. The “Vučedol Dove” is the oldest dove figure found in Europe so far.

Among the most famous pieces is a vessel bearing inscribed images corresponding to what has been alleged to be the oldest Indo-European calendar, based on an Orion cycle, shown by precise sequence of constellations on a vessel found in an Eneolithic mound in the very center of the modern town of Vinkovci.

The climatic conditions in that latitude bring about four yearly seasons. The simple explanation of the Vučedol Calendar is that each of the four lateral bands on the vessel represent the four seasons, starting with spring on the top. Each band is divided into twelve boxes, making up 12 “weeks” for each season.

Each of the little boxes contains an ideogram of celestial objects that lie at a certain point on the horizon right after twilight. The place of reference on the horizon is the point at which (in those days) the Orion’s Belt disappeared from view at the end of winter, which meant the beginning of a new year.

The pictographs in the boxes represent: Orion, the Sun, Cassiopeia, Cygnus, Gemini, Pegasus, and the Pleiades. If the box is empty, it means there was nothing visible at the reference point during the corresponding time.

Some researchers of the Vučedol culture have claimed that there was establisheed trade connection between territorial position of the Vučedol culture and Mycenean civilisation on the south so that some cultural elements found in B2 phase in the Vučedol culture owes their existence to first period for the middle Bronze Age of Helladic culture of mainland Greece.

The excavated settlement of Vučedol provides a base for the cultural stratigraphy of the whole culture. No final conclusions about the Vučedol culture population can be made that they were linguistic Indo-Europeans, or to what extent they mixed with native European population, especially in regions of the eastern Adriatic coast, Dalmatia and Herzegovina with some parts of Bosnia as well.

Beaker culture

The Bell-Beaker culture, sometimes shortened to Beaker culture, Beaker people, or Beaker folk (ca. 2800 – 1800 BC), is the term for a widely scattered archaeological culture of prehistoric western Europe starting in the late Neolithic or Chalcolithic and running into the early Bronze Age. The term was coined by John Abercromby, based on the culture’s distinctive pottery drinking vessels.

The Bell Beaker culture is understood not only as a particular pottery type, but as a complete and complex cultural phenomenon involving metalwork in copper, gold and later bronze, archery, specific types of ornamentation and shared ideological, cultural and religious ideas.

It is important to note that underlying the Bell beaker superstratum existed a wide diversity in local burial styles (including incidences of cremation rather than inhumation), housing styles, economic profile and local coarse ceramic wares which continued to persist.

There are two main international Bell Beaker styles: the “All Over Ornamented” (AOO), patterned all over with impressions, of which a sub-set is the “All Over Corded” (AOC), patterned with cord-impressions, and the “Maritime” type, decorated with bands filled with impressions made with a comb or cord. Later, characteristic regional styles developed.

It has been suggested that the beakers were designed for the consumption of alcohol, and that the introduction of the substance to Europe may have fuelled the beakers’ spread. Beer and mead content have been identified from certain examples.

However, not all Beakers were drinking cups. Some were used as reduction pots to smelt copper ores, others have some organic residues associated with food, and still others were employed as funerary urns. They were used as status display amongst disparate elites.

There have been numerous proposals by archaeologists as to the origins of the Bell Beaker culture, and debates continued on for decades. Recent analyses have made significant inroads to understanding the Beaker phenomenon, mostly by analysing each of its components separately.

They have concluded that the Bell Beaker phenomenon was a synthesis of elements, representing “an idea and style uniting different regions with different cultural traditions and background.”

Radiocarbon dating seems to support that the earliest “Maritime” Bell Beaker design style is encountered in Iberia, specifically in the vibrant copper-using communities of the Tagus, the longest river on the Iberian Peninsula, estuary in Portugal around 2800-2700 BC and spread from there to many parts of western Europe.

An overview of all available sources from southern Germany concluded that Bell Beaker was a new and independent culture in that area, contemporary with the Corded Ware culture. The burial ritual which typified Bell Beaker sites was intrusive into Western Europe.

Individual burials, often under tumuli burials, with the inclusion of weapons contrast markedly to the preceding Neolithic traditions of often collective, weaponless burials in Atlantic/Western Europe. Such an arrangement is rather derivative of Corded Ware traditions, although instead of battle-axes, Bell Beaker individuals used copper daggers.

Overall, all these elements (Iberian-derived maritime ceramic styles, AOC and AOO ceramic styles, and ‘eastern’ burial ritual symbolism) appear to have first fused in the Lower Rhine region.

Bell Beaker people took advantage of transport by sea and rivers, creating a cultural spread extending from Ireland to the Carpathian Basin and south along the Atlantic coast and along the Rhone valley to Portugal, North Africa and Sicily, even penetrating northern and central Italy.

Its remains have been found in what is now Portugal, Spain, France (excluding the central massif), Great Britain and Ireland, the Low Countries, and Germany between the Elbe and Rhine, with an extension along the upper Danube into the Vienna basin (Austria), Hungary and the Czech Republic, with Mediterranean outposts on Sardinia and Sicily; there is less certain evidence for direct penetration in the east.

Beaker-type vessels remained in use longest in the British Isles; late beakers in other areas are classified as early Bronze Age (Barbed Wire Beakers in the Netherlands, Giant Beakers (Riesenbecher)).

The new international trade routes opened by the Beaker people became firmly established and the culture was succeeded by a number of Bronze Age cultures, among them the Únětice culture in Central Europe, the Elp culture and Hilversum culture in the Netherlands, the Atlantic Bronze Age in the British Isles and the Atlantic coast of Europe, and by the Nordic Bronze Age, a culture of Scandinavia and northernmost Germany-Poland.

The initial moves from the Tagus estuary were maritim. A southern move led to the Mediterranean where enclaves were established in south-western Spain and southern France around the Golfe du Lion and into the Po valley in Italy probably via ancient western Alpine trade routes used to distribute Jadeite axes.

A northern move incorporated the southern coast of Armorica, the name given in ancient times to the part of Gaul between the Seine and Loire rivers that includes the Brittany peninsula, extending inland to an indeterminate point and down the Atlantic coast.

The enclave established in southern Brittany was linked closely to the riverine and landward route via the Loire and across the Gatinais valley to the Seine valley and thence to the lower Rhine. This was a long-established route reflected in early stone axe distributions and it was via this network that Maritime Bell Beakers first reached the Lower Rhine in about 2600 BC.

Another pulse had brought Bell Beaker to Csepel Island in Hungary by about 2500 BC. In the Carpathian Basin the Bell Beaker culture came in contact with communities such as the Vučedol culture (3000-2200 BC), centered in Syrmia and eastern Slavonia on the right bank of the Danube river, but possibly spreading throughout the Pannonian plain and western Balkans and southward.

The Vučedol culture was contemporary with the Sumer period in Mesopotamia, the Early Dynastic period in Egypt and the earliest settlements of Troy (Troy I and II). Some authors regard it as an Indo-European culture. It had evolved partly from the Yamna culture, and therefore shared the same type of metallurgy practised by Bell Beaker metal-workers.

Marija Gimbutas characterized the Bell Beaker culture complex as an amalgam of Vučedol and Yamna culture traditions formed after the incursion of the Yamna people into the milieu of the Vučedol culture, which evolved in the course of the three or four hundred years after the 30th century BC.

But in contrast to the early Bell Beaker preference for the dagger and bow, the favourite weapon in the Carpathian Basin during the first half of the 3rd millennium was the shaft-hole axe. Here Bell Beaker people assimilated local pottery forms such as the polypod cup. These “common ware” types of pottery then spread in association with the classic bell beaker.

From the Carpathian Basin Bell Beaker spread down the Rhine and eastwards into what is now Germany and Poland. By this time the Rhine was on the western edge of the vast Corded Ware zone.

The Corded Ware Culture shared a number of features with the Bell Beaker Culture, derived from their common ancestor the Yamna culture. These features include pottery decorated with cord impressions, single burial and the shaft-hole axe.

A review in 2014 revealed that single burial, communal burial and reuse of Neolithic burial sites are found throughout the Bell Beaker zone. This overturns a previous conviction that single burial was unknown in the early or southern Bell Beaker zone, and so must have been adopted from Corded Ware in the contact zone of the Lower Rhine, and transmitted westwards along the exchange networks from the Rhine to the Loire, and northwards across the Channel to Britain.

The earliest copper production in Ireland, identified at Ross Island in the period 2400-2200 BC, was associated with early Beaker pottery. Here the local sulpharsenide ores were smelted to produce the first copper axes used in Britain and Ireland. The same technologies were used in the Tagus region and in the west and south of France.

The evidence is sufficient to support the suggestion that the initial spread of Maritime Bell Beakers along the Atlantic and into the Mediterranean, using sea routes that had long been in operation, was directly associated with the quest for copper and other rare raw materials.

The origin of the Beaker people

Bell Beaker has been suggested as a candidate for an early Indo-European culture; more specifically, an ancestral proto-Celtic. However, it has most recently been suggested that the Beaker culture was associated with a European branch of Indo-European dialects, termed “North-west Indo-European”, ancestral to not only Celtic but equally Italic, Germanic and Balto-Slavic. However, it is doubtful that the Bell Beaker culture (2800-1900 BCE) in Western Europe was already Indo-European because its attributes are in perfect continuity with the native Megalithic cultures.

The Beaker phenomenon started during the Late Neolithic and Early Chalcolithic in Portugal and propagated to the north-east towards Germany. During the same period Bronze Age steppe cultures spread from Germany in the opposite direction towards Iberia, France and Britain, progressively bringing R1b lineages into the Bell Beaker territory.

It is more likely that the beakers and horses found across Western Europe during that period were the result of trade with neighbouring Indo-European cultures, including the first wave of R1b into Central Europe. It is equally possible that the Beaker people were R1b merchants or explorers who travelled across Western Europe and brought back tales of riches poorly defended by Stone Age people waiting to be to be conquered. This would have prompted a full-scale Indo-European (R1b) invasion from about 2500 BCE in Germany, reaching the Atlantic (north of the Pyrenees at least) around 2200 BCE.

Ancient DNA tests conducted by Lee et al. (2012), Haak et al. (2015) and Allentoft et al. (2015) have all confirmed the presence of R1b-L51 (and deeper subclades such as P312 and U152) in Germany from the Bell Beaker period onwards, but none in earlier cultures.

German Bell Beaker R1b samples only had about 50% of Yamna autosomal DNA and often possessed Neolithic non-Steppe mtDNA, which confirms that R1b invaders took local wives as they advanced westward.

DNA samples from the Unetice culture (2300-1600 BCE) in Germany, which emerged less than two centuries after the apperance of the first R1b individuals in the late Bell Beaker Germany, had a slightly higher percentage of Yamna ancestry (60~65%) and of Yamna-related mtDNA lineages, which indicates a migration of both steppe men and women.

That would explain why archeological artefacts from the Unetice culture are clearly Yamna-related (i.e. Indo-European), as they abruptly introduced new technologies and a radically different lifestyle, while the Bell Beaker culture was in direct continuity with previous Neolithic or Chalcolithic cultures.

R1b men may simply have conquered the Bell Beaker people and overthrown the local rulers without obliterating the old culture due to their limited numbers.

Taking the analogy of the Germanic migrations in the Late Antiquity, the R1b invasion of the Bell Beaker period was more alike to that of the Goths, Burgunds and Vandals, who all migrated in small numbers, created new kingdoms within the Roman empire, but adopted Latin language and Roman culture.

In contrast, the Corded Ware and Unetice culture involved large-scale migrations of steppe people, who imposed their Indo-European language and culture and conquered people, just like the Anglo-Saxons or the Bavarians did in the 5th century.

The cultures that succeeded to Unetice in Central Europe, chronologically the Tumulus culture (1600-1200 BCE), Urnfield culture (1300-1200 BCE) and Hallstatt culture (1200-750 BCE) cultures remained typically Indo-European.

The Hallstatt culture, centered around the Alps, is considered the first classical Celtic culture in Europe. It quickly expanded to France, Britain, Iberia, northern Italy and the Danube valley, probably spreading for the first time Celtic languages, although not bronze technology nor R1b lineages, which had both already spread over much of western Europe during the Bell Beaker period.

The Bronze Age did not appear in Iberia until 1800 BCE, and was mostly confined to the cultures of El Argar and Los Millares in south-east Spain, with sporadic sites showing up in Castile by 1700 BCE and in Extremadura and southern Portugal by 1500 BCE.

These Early Bronze Age sites typically did not have more than some bronze daggers or axes and cannot be considered proper Bronze Age societies, but rather Copper Age societies with occasional bronze artefacts (perhaps imported).

These cultures might have been founded by small groups of R1b adventurers looking for easy conquests in parts of Europe that did not yet have bronze weapons. They would have become a small ruling elite, would have had children with local women, and within a few generations their Indo-European language would have been lost, absorbed by the indigenous languages.

Iberia did not become a fully-fledged Bronze Age society until the 13th century BCE, when the Urnfield culture (1300-1200 BCE) expanded from Germany to Catalonia via southern France, then the ensuing Hallstatt culture (1200-750 BCE) spread throughout most of the peninsula (especially the western half). This period belongs to the wider Atlantic Bronze Age (1300-700 BCE), when Iberia was connected to the rest of Western Europe through a complex trade network.

It is hard to say when exactly DF27 entered Iberia. Considering its overwhelming presence in the peninsula and in south-west France, it is likely that DF27 arrived early, during the 1800 to 1300 BCE period, and perhaps even earlier, if R1b adventurers penetrated the Bell Beaker culture as they appear to have done all over Western Europe from 2300 BCE to 1800 BCE.

The Atlantic Bronze Age could correspond to the period when DF27 radiated more evenly around Iberia and ended up, following Atlantic trade routes, all the way to the British Isles, the Netherlands and western Norway (where M153 and SRY2728 make up about 1% of the population).

Historical craniometric studies found that the Beaker people appeared to be of a different physical type than those earlier populations in the same geographic areas. They were described as tall, heavy boned and brachycephalic.

The early studies on the Beakers which were based on the analysis of their skeletal remains were craniometric. This apparent evidence of migration was in line with archaeological discoveries linking Beaker culture to new farming techniques, mortuary practices, copper-working skills, and other cultural innovations.

However, such evidence from skeletal remains was brushed aside as a new movement developed in archaeology from the 1960s, which stressed cultural continuity. Anti-migrationist authors either paid little attention to skeletal evidence or argued that differences could be explained by environmental and cultural influences.

Margaret Cox and Simon Mays sum up the position: “Although it can hardly be said that craniometric data provide an unequivocal answer to the problem of the Beaker folk, the balance of the evidence would at present seem to favour a migration hypothesis.”

Non-metrical research concerning the Beaker people in Britain also cautiously pointed in the direction of immigration. Subsequent studies, such as one concerning the Carpathian Basin, and a non-metrical analysis of skeletons in central-southern Germany, have also identified marked typological differences with the pre-Beaker inhabitants.

Jocelyne Desideri examined the teeth in skeletons from Bell Beaker sites in Northern Spain, Southern France, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Hungary. Examining dental characteristics that have been independently shown to correlate with genetic relatedness, she found that only in Northern Spain and the Czech Republic were there demonstrable links between immediately previous populations and Bell Beaker populations. Elsewhere there was a discontinuity.

Early papers publishing results on European-wide Y-DNA marker frequencies, such as those of Semino (2000) and Rosser (2000), correlated haplogroup R1b-M269 with the earliest episodes of European colonization by Anatomically Modern Humans (AMH).

The peak frequencies of M269 in Iberia (especially the Basque region) and the Atlantic façade were postulated to represent signatures of re-colonization of the European West following the Last Glacial Maximum.

However, even prior to recent criticisms and refinements, the idea that Iberian R1b carrying males repopulated most of western Europe was not consistent with findings which revealed that Italian M269 lineages are not derivative of Iberian ones.

More recently, data and calculations from Myres et al. (2011), Cruciani et al. (2011) Arredi et al. (2007), and Balaresque et al. (2010) suggest a Late Neolithic entry of M269 into Europe.

These hypotheses appear to be corroborated by more direct evidence from ancient DNA. R1b was detected in two male skeletons from a German Bell Beaker site dated to 2600-2500 BC at Kromsdorf, one of which tested positive for M269 but negative for its U106 subclade (note that the P312 subclade was not tested for), while for the other skeleton the M269 test was unclear.

A later Bell Beaker male skeleton from Quedlinburg, Germany dated to 2296-2206 BC tested positive for R1b M269 P312 subclade. Ancient Y-DNA results for the remains of Beaker people from Iberia have yet to be obtained.

From a mitochondrial DNA perspective, haplogroup H, which has high (≈40%) throughout Europe, has received similar attention. Early studies by Richards et al (2000) purported that it arose 28–23,000 years ago (kya), spreading into Europe ≈20 kya, before then re-expanding from an Iberian glacial refuge ≈15 kya, calculations subsequently corroborated by Pereira et al. (2005).

However, a larger study by Roostalu et al. (2007), incorporating more data from the Near East, suggested that whilst Hg H did begin to expand c. 20 kya, this was limited to the Near East, Caucasus and Southeastern Europe. Rather its subsequent spread further west occurred later, in the post-glacial period from a postulated South Caucasian refugium.

This hypothesis has been supported by a recent ancient DNA analysis study, which links the expansion of mtDNA Hg H in Western Europe with the Bell Beaker phenomenon.

While such studies are insightful, even if the dates postulated by authors are correct, they do not necessarily imply that the spread of a particular genetic marker represents a distinct population, ‘tribe’ or language group. As such, genetic studies have often drawn criticisms not only from archaeologists and cultural anthropologists, but also from fellow population geneticists.

The Balearic Islands

The Balearic Islands are an archipelago of Spain in the western Mediterranean Sea, near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula. The four largest islands are Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera. There are many minor islands and islets in close proximity to the larger islands, including Cabrera, Dragonera and S’Espalmador.

The official name of the Balearic Islands in Catalan is Illes Balears, while in Spanish they are known as the Islas Baleares. The term “Balearic” derives from Greek Gymnesiae and Balliareis (in Latin Baleares). Of the various theories on the origins of the two ancient Greek and Latin names for the islands—Gymnasiae and Baleares—classical sources provide two.

According to the Lycophron’s Alexandra verses, the islands were called Gymnesiae (gymnos, meaning naked in Greek) because its inhabitants were often nude, probably because of the year-round benevolent climate.

The Greek and Roman writers generally derive the name of the people from their skill as slingers (baleareis, from ballo: ancient Greek meaning “to launch”), although Strabo regards the name as of Phoenician origin. He observed it was the Phoenician equivalent for lightly armoured soldiers the Greeks would have called gymnetas.

The root bal does point to a Phoenician origin; perhaps the islands were sacred to the god Baal and the resemblance to the Greek root ballo is accidental. Indeed, it was usual Greek practice to assimilate local names into their own language. But the common Greek name of the islands is not Baleareis, but Gymnesiai. The former was the name used by the natives, as well as by the Carthaginians and Romans, while the latter probably derives from the light equipment of the Balearic troops gymnetae.

Beaker people

Little is recorded on the earliest inhabitants of the islands, though many legends exist. Radiocarbon dating currently indicates that the use of the Beaker pottery on the Balearic Islands, between circa 2475 BC and 1300 BC.

There has been some evidence of all-corded pottery in Mallorca, generally considered the most ancient Bell Beaker pottery, possibly indicating an even earlier Beaker settlement about 2700 BC. However, in several regions this type of pottery persisted long enough to permit other possibilities.

Suárez Otero (1997) postulated this corded Beakers entered the Mediterranean by routes both through the Atlantic coast and through eastern France. Bell Beaker pottery has been found in Mallorca and Formentera but has not been observed in Menorca or Ibiza.

Collective burials in dolmen structures in Ibiza could be contrasted against the individual burials in Mallorca. In its latest phase (circa 1750-1300 cal BC) the local Beaker context became associated with the distinctive ornamented Boquique pottery demonstrating clear maritime links with the (megalithic) coastal regions of Catalonia, also assessed to be directly related to the late Cogotas complex.

In most of the areas of the mainland Boquique pottery falls into the latter stages of the Bell Beaker Complex as well. Along with other evidence during the earlier Beaker period in the Balearics, circa 2400-2000 BC, as shown by the local presence of elephant ivory objects together with significant Beaker pottery and other finds, this maritime interaction can be shown to have a long tradition. The abundance of different cultural elements that persisted towards the end of the Bronze Age, show a clear continuity of different regional and intrusive traditions.

The presence of perforated Beaker pottery traditionally considered to be used for making cheese, at Son Ferrandell-Oleza and at Coval Simó confirms the introduction of production and conservation of dairy. Also, the presence of spindles at sites like Son Ferrandell-Oleza or Es Velar d’Aprop points to knowledge of making thread and textiles from wool. However, more details on the strategies for tending and slaughtering the domestic animals involved are forthcoming.

Being traditionally associated to the introduction of metallurgy, the first traces of copper working on the Baleares was here indeed also clearly associated to the Bell Beakers.

The islands had a very mixed population, of whose habits several strange stories are told. In ancient times, the islanders constructed talayots, and were famous for their skill with the sling. The Phoenicians took possession of the islands in very early times.

As slingers, they served as mercenaries, first under the Carthaginians, and afterwards under the Romans. They went into battle ungirt, with only a small buckler, and a javelin burnt at the end, and in some cases tipped with a small iron point; but their effective weapons were their slings, of which each man carried three, wound round his head (Strabo p. 168; Eustath), or, as seen in other sources, one round the head, one round the body, and one in the hand (Diodorus).

The three slings were of different lengths, for stones of different sizes; the largest they hurled with as much force as if it were flung from a catapult; and they seldom missed their mark. To this exercise they were trained from infancy, in order to earn their livelihood as mercenary soldiers. It is said that the mothers allowed their children to eat bread only when they had struck it off a post with the sling.


A naveta (in Minorcan Catalan, naveta, or naueta, a diminutive form of nau, means nave) is a megalithic chamber tomb unique to the Balearic island of Minorca. It dates to the early Bronze Age. It has two vertical and two corbelled walls giving it the form of an upturned boat which is where the name comes from.

The largest example is the Naveta d’Es Tudons (Es Tudons, lit. the woodpigeons, is the name of the place) which is around 4m high, 14m long and 6.4m wide and located in the Western part of the island, on the Ciutadella de Menorca-Mahón road, approximately 3 miles out from Ciutadella, and 200 m south of the road.

Navetas are chronologically pre-Talaiotic (i.e. prior to the Talaiotic age) constructions. They were described in the early 19th century but not excavated until the 20th, notably during the 1960s and 1970s. They were first given their name by the rather imaginative Dr Juan Ramis (1818) from their resemblance to upturned boats. Similar but not necessarily related are the “nuraghes” of Sardinia, the “torri” of Corsica and the “sesi” of Pantelleria.

Pre-Talaiotic constructions are dated using an uncalibrated radiocarbon chronology from 1640 to 1400 BC. The navetas used for communal burial rituals are dated to the late second millennium and early first millennium BC. According to Phil Lee, the author of The Rough Guide to Menorca, folkloric memories of the navetas’ original purpose may have survived into modern times, for the Menorcans were loath to go near these odd-looking and solitary monuments until well into the 19th century.


A taula (meaning ‘table’ in Catalan) is a T-shaped stone monument found on the Balearic island of Minorca. Taulas can be up to 3.7 metres high and consist of a vertical pillar (a monolith or several smaller stones on top of each other) with a horizontal stone lying on it. A U-shaped wall often encloses the structure. They were built by the Talaiotic Culture between 1000 BC and 300 BC.

Their exact cultural meaning remains unknown, but they probably had religious and/or astronomical purposes. Most of the taulas face south, which seems to suggest some astronomical meaning. Archeologist Michael Hoskin has suggested the taulas may have been part of an ancient healing cult. They are frequently found near talayots. Examples include those at Torre Trencada, Talatí de Dalt, Torrellissá Nou, Trepucó, and the site at Torralba d’en Salord.


The talaiots, or talayots, are Bronze Age megaliths on the islands of Minorca and Majorca forming part of the Talaiotic Culture or Talaiotic Period. They date back to the late second millennium and early first millennium BC.

There are at least 274 of them, in, near, or related to Talaiotic settlements and Talaiotic navetes. While some of the talaiots certainly had a defensive purpose, the use of others is not clearly understood. Some believe them to have served the purpose of lookout or signalling towers, as on Minorca, where they form a network. These monuments pre-date the taulas, which are usually found nearby.

Talayots on Minorca were much less prone to weathering as were the ones found on Majorca. Despite this, very few grave goods have been found in Minorcan talayots, leading historians to believe that the island had a poorer economy than its larger neighbor.

The Talaiotic Culture

The Talaiotic Culture or Talaiotic Period is the name used to describe the society that existed on the Gymnesian Islands (the easternmost Balearic Islands) during the Iron Age, between 1000 BC and 300 BC. Its name is derived from the talaiots, which are the most abundant and emblematic structures from the prehistoric period of the Balearic Islands.

Its origins date from the end of the second millennium BC, when the inaccurately named Pre-Talaiotic Culture underwent a crisis and evolved into the Talaiotic Culture.

Up until the end of the 20th century it was theorized that the Talaiotic Culture arose out of interaction between new peoples from the eastern Mediterranean and local island culture, in the form of an aggressive invasion, or perhaps as a peaceful assimilation. This because the Talaiotic Culture arose at the same time that the crisis caused by the Sea Peoples, which had revolutionized societies in this part of the Mediterranean until the 13th century BC, was occurring.

In addition the talaiots were similar in many respects to the nuraghes of Sardinia, which lends credence to the theory that the Talaiotic people were of Sardinian origin.

These theories were based mainly on architectonic remains that exist in abundance on Majorca and Menorca. The Talaiotic people were considered a warlike race due to the abundance of talaiots or defensive towers and the existence of walled towns.

However, archaeological excavations conducted at the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st centuries have established that the talaiots were built much later – at the beginning of the first millennium BC, which means that they were not built during the time of the Sea Peoples and the Sardinian nuraghes.

In addition, there is more and more proof that what was considered a sudden transition from a Pre-Talaiotic Culture during the Bronze Age to the Talaiotic Culture was actually a slow evolution lasting several centuries, and actually caused by a localized crisis on the Balearic Islands.

However, external influences on the Talaiotic Culture cannot be completely discounted, since the existence of bronze alloys on the island (which requires tin, not available on the Balearic Islands) indicates that frequent contacts with the outside world existed.

The first evidence indicating the development of this culture appeared at the end of the 2nd millennium BC, when island society was threatened by population increases, inefficient food production, and limited living space.

Agricultural techniques that the first inhabitants had brought with them a millennium before the Copper Age consisted of planting in newly-broken ground by burning forests and plowing the newly cleared ground. This technique resulted in a rapid deterioration of fertile land, and may be the main cause for the almost completely meat-based diet of the islanders towards the end of the Bronze Age.

The first great monuments on Majorca from this period are the Layered Tumuli (Túmulos Escalonados), which had a funerary purpose. The date of their construction dates from the end of the second millennium BC to the beginnings of the first millennium BC, and many of the Tumuli are associated with hypogea from the Bronze Age.

In sum, the society of this era is called “Proto-Talaiotic,” since many features of the subsequent Talaiotic society begin to appear at this time. These features include the clustering of the population into towns. It has been confirmed that in some of these Talaiotic towns naviform structures were dismantled in order to use the building material to build ordinary dwellings.

The very factors that gave rise to the Talaiotic Period spelled its doom. Construction of talaiots ceased, and many of them were destroyed or converted for different uses. The nearby Punic center of Ebusus, present-day Ibiza, increased its commercial influence to include the Gymnesian Islands; this economic extension in effect transformed itself into an actual Punic colonization of the Gymnesian Islands.

The Mediterranean subsequently became dominated by the Roman and Carthaginian Empires. The Punic Wars would erupt between these two powers, and the islands of Mallorca and Menorca would be forcibly dragged into what is called the Post-Talaiotic Period (also known as the Balearic Culture or Post-Talaiotic Culture).


Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea (after Sicily and before Cyprus) and an autonomous region of Italy, which goes by the official name of Regione Autonoma della Sardegna / Regione Autònoma de Sardigna (Autonomous Region of Sardinia).

The nearest land masses are (clockwise from north) the island of Corsica, the Italian Peninsula, Sicily, Tunisia, the Balearic Islands, and Provence. The Tyrrhenian Sea portion of the Mediterranean Sea is directly to the east of Sardinia between the Sardinian east coast and the west coast of the Italian mainland peninsula. The Strait of Bonifacio is directly north of Sardinia and separates Sardinia from the French island of Corsica.

The name Sardinia is from the pre-Roman noun *sard-, romanised as sardus (feminine sarda); that the name had a religious connotation is suggested from its use also as the adjective for the ancient Sardinian mythological hero-god Sardus Pater “Sardinian Father” (in modern times misunderstood as being “Father Sardus”), as well as being the stem of the adjective “sardonic”. Sardinia was called Ichnusa (the Latinised form of the Greek Hyknousa), Sandàlion (in Greek meaning sandal), Sardinia and Sardó by the Romans and the ancient Greeks.

Sardinia is one of the most geologically ancient bodies of land in Europe. Sardinia has been in contact with extra-insular communities in Corsica, Tuscany, Liguria and Provence since the Stone Age. The island was populated in various waves of emigration from prehistory until recent times. As time passed, the different Sardinian populations appear to has become united in customs, yet remained politically divided into various small, tribal groupings, at times banding together, and at others waging war against each other.

The first people to settle in Sardinia during the Upper Paleolithic and the Mesolithic came from the Iberian and the Italian peninsula; some populations, particularly from the ancient region of Etruria (present-day Tuscany), managed to move to northern Sardinia via Corsica; however, there is some evidence in Oliena’s Corbeddu Cave of a previous Paleolithic colonization of the island. In the mid-Neolithic period, the Ozieri culture, probably of Aegean origin, flourished on the island.

Ozieri culture

In the Stone Age the island was inhabited by people who had arrived there in the Palaeolithic and Neolithic ages from several parts of Europe and the Mediterranean area. The most ancient settlements have been discovered both in central Sardinia and Anglona; later several cultures developed in the island, such as the Ozieri culture or San Michele culture (3200−2700 BC), a prehistoric pre-Nuragic culture that lived in Sardinia.

The archaeological excavation held there in 1914 and 1949 found fine worked vases with geometrical motifs carved in the clay and colored with red ochre. The oldest ones were still rather crude, while the more recent examples were more refined and slender.

Such ceramics were a novelty for prehistoric Sardinia, since up to that point they had been considered typical of the Cyclades and Crete. The development of the Ozieri culture, therefore, probably stemmed from contacts with other eastern Mediterranean civilizations, in particular from the Neolithic Greece area.

The economy was based on agriculture, animal husbandry, fishing and trading with the mainland. During this period copper objects and weapons also appeared in the island. Religion included the adoration of the Neolithic Mother goddess and of a Bull god, perhaps connected to fertility. Female statuettes similar to those of the Ozieri culture have been found in Malta.

Remains from this period include at least 332 menhir, 100 Dolmen and more than 2,400 hypogeum tombs called Domus de Janas, (Sardinian: “House of the Fairies” or of the “Witches”), a type of pre-Nuragic chamber tombs found in Sardinia, the 3rd millennium BC statue menhirs representing warriors or female figures, and the stepped pyramid of Monte d’Accoddi, near Sassari, which has some similarities with the monumental complex of Los Millares (Andalusia) and the later Talaiots in the Balearic Islands.

According to some scholars, the similarity between this structure and Mesopotamian ones is due to cultural influxs coming from the Eastern Mediterranean. The altar of Monte d’Accoddi fell out of use starting from c. 2000 BC, when the Beaker culture, which at the time was widespread in almost all Western Europe, appeared in the island.

Beaker people

During the early Bronze Age the so-called Beaker culture, coming from Continental Europe, appeared in Sardinia ca 2100-1800 BC. These new people predominantly settled on the west coast, where the majority of the sites attributed to them had been found.

From the late third millennium BC on, comb-impressed Beaker ware, as well as other Beaker material in Monte Claro, a Chalcolithic culture that spread throughout the island of Sardinia around the second half of the 3rd millennium BC (2400-2100 BC), contexts, has been found (mostly in burials, suchs as domus de janas), demonstrating continuing relationships with the western Mediterranean.

Archaeologists divide the Monte Claro culture into four facies: Sassari, Nuoro, Campidano Oristanese. Within each facies there are recognizable peculiarities that concern not only the material culture (ceramics, metallurgy and so on) but also the religious sphere and the settlement patterns.

Characteristics of southern Sardinia are a variety of tombs types, including “oven-tombs”, while in northern Sardinia appeared for the first time large megalithic defensive walls, one of which is that of Monte Baranta near Olmedo. Its spread appears to have occurred through a slow expansion, which started from the South to the North of the island.

Elsewhere, Beaker material has been found stratigraphically above Monte Claro and at the end of the Chalcolithic period in association with the related Bronze Age Bonnanaro culture (1800-1600 BC), a protohistoric culture that flourished in Sardinia considered to be the first stage of the Nuragic civilization, for which C-14 dates calibrate to ca. 2250 BC.

The Bonnanaro culture had been described by scholars as the Sardinian regionalization of the pan-European Bell Beaker culture, with some influences from the Polada culture (22nd to 16th centuries BC), the name for a culture of the ancient Bronze Age which spread primarily in the territory of modern-day Lombardy, Veneto and Trentino of northern Italy, characterized by settlements on pile-dwellings.

There is virtually no evidence in Sardinia of external contacts in the early second millennia, apart from late Beakers and close parallels between Bonnannaro pottery and that of the North Italian Polada culture. Polada culture influences, regarding ceramics in particular, are especially strong in the early Bonnanaro phase (or Bonnanaro A1).

Bonnanaro finds have been unearthed in over 70 sites, scattered throughout Sardinian territory, with a higher concentration in the mining regions of Nurra and Sulcis-Iglesiente and in the Campidano. Ceramics were smooth and linear without decorations and characterized by handles. Metal objects increased and the first swords of arsenical bronze appeared.

The Bonnanaro culture brought new religious ideas and funerary rites and a new mode of burial, the so-called “giants’ grave”, a derivative of the Allée couverte or a gallery grave, a form of megalithic tomb where there is no size difference between the burial chamber itself and the entrance passage.

A Gallery grave has two parallel walls of stone slabs were erected to form a corridor and covered with a line of capstones. The rectangular tomb was covered with a barrow or a cairn. Most were built during the fourth millennium BC, though some were still being built in the Bronze Age.

They are distributed across Europe and they are usually subdivided by period, region and also into more generic types of chambered long barrows, chambered round barrows, chambered long cairns and chambered round cairns. Examples are known in Catalonia, France, the Low Countries, Germany, The British Isles, Scandinavia, Sardinia and southern Italy.

Giants’ tomb (Italian: Tomba dei giganti, Sardinian: Tumba de sos zigantes) is the name given by local people and archaeologists to a type of Sardinian megalithic gallery grave built during the Bronze Age by the Nuragic civilization. They can be found throughout Sardinia, with 800 being discovered there.

A stone cairn lies over the burial chambers, with some examples having a cup-shaped entrance similar to the court cairn tombs of Ireland. There are also structures similar to the block-type giants tombs on the island of Malta and in the United Kingdom.

It is still uncertain whether the first “protonuraghi” or “pseudonuraghi”, megalithic edifices which are considered the precursors of the future Nuraghi, were built at this time, or in the successive Sub-Bonnanaro culture (or Bonnanaro B) of the middle bronze age (1600-1330 BC).

The Proto-Nuraghi are horizontal buildings characterized by a long corridor with rooms and cells, and represent an attempt to fortify the more traditional huts in a period where tribal clashes, due to the introduction of the first sophisticated weapons, were becoming increasingly common.

There are some commonalities between the Polada culture and the previous Bell Beaker Culture including the usage of the bow and a certain mastery in metallurgy. According to Barfield the appearance of Polada facies is connected to the movement of populations from from southern Germany and from Switzerland.

Most of the sites attributable to this culture were discovered around the Lake Garda, between eastern Lombardy, Trentino and western Veneto and around the Lago di Viverone and the Lake Maggiore in Piedmont. Its influences are also found in the cultures of the Early Bronze Age of Liguria, Romagna, Corsica and Sardinia (Bonnanaro culture).

If the pottery is still coarse, other human activities grow and develop: lithic industry, in bone and horn, wood and metals. The Bronze tools and weapons show similarities with those of the Unetice Culture (2300–1600 BC) and other groups in the north of Alps including the Singen and Straubing groups.

The Únětice culture is considered to be part of a wider pan-European cultural phenomenon, arising gradually between the second half of the third and at the beginning of second millennium.

The role of the Únětice Culture in the formation of Bronze Age Europe cannot be overrated. The rise and the existence of this original, expansive and dynamic populations mark one of the most interesting moments in European prehistory. The influence of this culture covered much larger areas mainly due to intensive exchange. Únětice pottery and bronzes are thus found in Britain, Ireland, Scandinavia, Italy as well as the Balkans.

Starting from the late Copper Age, the island was settled by people who came probably by sea from Spain, southern France (early Beaker phase) and Central Europe (late Beaker phase) in various small waves.

Like elsewhere in Europe and in the Mediterranean area, the Bell Beaker culture in Sardinia is characterized by the typical ceramics decorated with overlaid horizontal bands and associated finds: brassards, V-pierced buttons etc.; for the first time gold items appeared on the island (collier of the Tomb of Bingia ‘e Monti, Gonnostramatza).

The different styles and decorations of the ceramics which succeed through the time allow to split the Beaker culture in Sardinia into three chronological phases: A1 (2100-2000 BC), A2 (2000-1900 BC), B (1900-1800 BC). In these various phases is observable the succession of two components of different geographical origin: the first “Franco-Iberian” and the second “Central European”.

It appears likely that Sardinia was the intermediary that brought Beaker materials to Sicily. It spread mainly in the north-west and south-west of the island. In the northwest and in the Palermo kept almost intact its cultural and social characteristics, while in the south-west there was a strong integration with local cultures. The only known single bell-shaped glass in eastern Sicily was found in Syracuse.

The nuraghe

The nuraghe (plural Italian nuraghi, Sardinian Logudorese nuraghes / Sardinian Campidanese nuraxis) is the main type of ancient megalithic edifice found in Sardinia, developed during the Nuragic Age between 1900 and 730 BCE. They consist of tower-fortresses, built starting from about 1800 BC. More than 7000 nuraghi have been found, though archeologists believe that originally there were not less than 10,000.

Today it has come to be the symbol of Sardinia and its distinctive culture, the Nuragic civilization, a civilization of Sardinia, lasting from the Bronze Age (18th century BC) to the 2nd century AD. The name derives from its most characteristic monuments, the nuraghes.

Dating to the middle of the 2nd millennium BC, the nuraghe are megalithic towers with a truncated cone shape, which are widespread in the whole of Sardinia, about one nuraghe every three square kilometers.

There has long been controversy among scholars. Theories about their utilization have included social, military, religious, astronomical role, as furnaces or sepulture places, but the modern agreement is that they were defensible home sites that included barns and silos.

In ancient times, Greek historians and geographers tried to solve the mystery of the nuraghe and their builders. They described the presence of fabulous edifices, called daidaleia, from the name of Daedalus, who, after building his labyrinth in Crete, would have moved to Sicily and then to Sardinia.

Around 1500 BC, archaeological studies have proved the increasing size of the settlements built around these structures, which were often located at the summit of hills. Perhaps for protection reasons, new towers were added to the original ones, connected by walls provided with slits.

The most famous among the numerous existing nuraghe, which have been included in the UNESCO Heritage List, are the Su Nuraxi at Barumini, Santu Antine at Torralba, Nuraghe Losa at Abbasanta, Palmavera (Alghero), Genna Maria at Villanovaforru, Santa Cristina at Paulilatino and Arrubiu at Orroli.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary the etymology is “uncertain and disputed”: “The word is perhaps related to the Sardinian place names Nurra, Nurri, Nurru, and to Sardinian nurra ‘heap of stones, cavity in earth’ (although these senses are difficult to reconcile).

A connection with the Semitic base of Arabic nūr ‘light, fire, etc.’ is now generally rejected.” The Latin word murus (‘wall’) may be related to it, as the old Italian word mora (‘tombal rock mound’), as used by Dante in his Comedy. However, the derivation: murus–*muraghe–nuraghe is debated.

An etymological theory suggests a paleo-Basque origin by the term *nur (stone) with the common -ak plural ending; the Paleo-Sardinian suffix -ake it’s also found in some indoeuropean languages such as latin and greek. Another possible explanation is that the word Nuraghe came from the name of the mythological hero Norax, in this case the root *nur would be an adaptation of the indoeuropean root *nor.

It has been suggested that some of the current Sardinian villages trace their origin directly from Nuragic ones, including perhaps those containing the root Nur- in their name (like Nurachi, Nuraminis, Nurri, Nurallao, Noragugume).

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