Friday, 29 May 2020

Crocus fairy

There is a Sicilian legend about the boy who set out to sell a basket of grapes. 



On his way to the market he met an old woman who asked him if she could eat the grapes because she was very hungry. The boy did so, and after she ate most of his grapes, the old woman turned into a beautiful young girl wearing a purple cloak. She then told him to go home and plant the remaining grapes. As he did so he found gold coins beneath them in the basket. The grapes grew into purple crocus. 

This is very interesting. 

In Sicily the grape harvest runs between August and November. So the story takes place probably end of October beginning of November...

The end of grapes picking season in Sicily overlaps with the beginning of the rain season (October). 



Which is also the time when wild crocuses start blooming in Sicily. 



Which is why the last remaining grapes when planted grew into purple crocuses...

And crocus is the source of saffron, which has always been worth its weight in gold...I talked about this in my post "Saffron"...



So the legend actually describes real things that happen every year in Sicily. You finish grape harvest and start gold (saffron) harvest...

The old woman would then be the Old Hag, Winter earth (November, December, January)...But who in Eastern Mediterranean is also a beautiful young maiden, Winter earth (November, December, January)...???

:) It's complicated...It's to do with East mediterranean climate...Have a look at these posts:

"Goat riding thunder god" "Abdication of Persephone"

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Solar Ibex from Aeolis

Pottery dinos with friezes of grazing wild goats (Ibex). Ancient Greece, Aeolis, 610BC-570BC (circa). Currently in British Museum.



Why Ibexes with swastikas and suns?

Ibex mating season starts in Oct-Nov and ends in Jan, basically spanning the winter season. Which is why Ibex is the symbol of winter.



You can read more about this in my post "Symbols of seasons".

Right in the middle of the mating periods of both Alpine and Bezoar ibex is Winter Solstice, 21st of December. And the day after the winter solstice is the beginning of the Capricorn (goat) period, which last from December 22 – January 20...


You can read more about the origin of Capricorn in my post "Goat". And about the link between the goat, the sun and winter zodiac signs in my post "Zlatorog"...

In Eastern Mediterranean, winter is the rain season, the season of life. Which is why Ibex was symbol of Life in all the Eastern Mediterranean cultures...Like in Minoan Crete...



You can read more about this in my posts "Goat riding thunder god", "Sanctuary rhyton" and "Saffron"

The beginning of the Ibex mating season (October-November) was also the time when grain was planted in Eastern Mediterranean...Grain which is then used for making breads...Like this solar bread from Croatia which has the same type of swirly swastika found on the dinos next to the goat...



So 

Ibex = New Grain, New Life

But also 

Ibex = New Sun, New Solar year. 

Swastika in Slavic folklore is known as "kolovrt" (what spins the wheel, or what spins in circle) and represents never ending spinning of the solar wheel, solar year...Which starts during Ibex mating season...

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Ploughing

Another very interesting Akkadian cylinder seal from Tell Asmar, currently in the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. It depicts a very unusual ploughing scene...Which i would like to interpret...


To the right of the first figure is the symbol for grain.


So this is grain field ploughing...We find this symbol in Indus Valley civilisation artefacts too...

This is the end of the "normal" and "expected" stuff on this seal. The rest is...Well mythology...

Or is it?

The plough is pulled by, what is commonly interpreted as, a snake or a dragon. I would say dragon. Under the dragon is a lion. Above the dragon is a scorpion.


Why?

Well it's all about solar zodiac, again. On that climatic, biological (not stellar) zodiac, animals are used to mark significant reoccurring events in the solar year. Like a lifecycle event of that animal, which happens every year at the same time and which everyone knows about.

For instance lion marks the time when Eurasian lions start mating. This happens in September for Asian lions, but might have earlier happen in August for European and middle Eastern lions...

And scorpion marks the time when Eurasian scorpions "disappear" (start hibernating, hide from cold), which happens in late October early November...

You can read more about solar zodiac here.

What does this have to do with ploughing of grain fields in Mesopotamia? Well according to their agricultural calendar:

1. The first ploughing of the barley fields was done in August-September. During Leo...
2. The second ploughing+sowing was done in October-November. During Scorpio...


Neat, right? But what about the dragon pulling the plough?

Well, normally Mesopotamian seals depicting ploughing show ploughs being pulled by oxen, bulls. Bull, Taurus is


Well, the climatic year in Mesopotamia is divided into two parts: Dry season from May to October and Wet(er :)) season from November to April. Look at the rain table for Mesopotamia. Late May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Early Oct - 0.0 mm rain...


Now the dry part of the year, summer-autumn, starts in Taurus, which is where it is in the Solar zodiac because it marks the beginning of the calving season of the Eurasian wild cattle. You can read more about this here.  The end of summer, when bulls are used for ploughing, is the time of droughts,  the time of the fire breathing, drought causing dragons (you can read more about the link between dragons and drought here)...And interestingly, there are indications that dragons and bulls were interchangeable symbols. You can read more about the links between dragons and bulls here. The reason for this could be the fact that wild Eurasian cattle start mating at the end of summer. This mating is characterised by vicious raging bull fights...Raging bull=Raging heat=Fire breathing dragon...??? Is this why bull was replaced by a dragon as the animal pulling the plough? To indicate that the first ploughing was to be done at the of maximum droughts, symbolised by raging bull/dragon? Which accidentally :) happens in Leo...

Now here is something very interesting. Star Sirius is positioned right above the plough. Why?


In the second part of the 3rd millennium BC, the time when this seal was made, Sirius was rising in Iraq in in the morning before the sunrise, in Leo, at the time of the first ploughing. And it was setting in Iraq in the morning before the sunrise in Scorpio, at the time of the second ploughing and sowing...

Now I used Stellarium computer simulation program for these calculations...If they are correct, and I don't doubt they are, this explains why Sirius is positioned right above the plough...And this is truly amazing...

So, the picture is kind of a grain ploughing solar calendar.

And it reads:

Plough the fields first time when lions start mating...And Sirius is rising before the sun...
Plough the field second time and sow the fields when scorpions disappear...And Sirius is setting before the sun...

Well maybe, or maybe this is all just mythology...Gods, monsters...

Just to add some more detail. In Mesopotamia people used two types of ploughs.

The ploughing plough :) used in Leo for breaking the soil.


The Sowing plough, used in Scorpio for furrowing, sowing and covering


And just to see that I am not just inventing stuff here, here is another seal, showing sowing plough used in Scorpio...


Is that Sirius again above the plough?

I wonder what birds are flying all around...


I think this is a common crane.


The common crane lives in Northern Eurasia, but winters in Southern Asia and North Africa, Including Mesopotamia.


According to "Cranes of the World: Eurasian Crane (Grus grus)" by Paul A. Johnsgard, Cranes gather  in huge numbers in Eastern Turkey in late September early October, from where they fly down to the marshlands of Mesopotamia...Right in time for sowing...

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Priapus

This is Priapus, Ancient Greek god of the male reproductive power and fertility and the fertility of nature in general. Allegedly he originated in Hellespont from where his cult moved to the Balkans and then throughout Greek and later Roman world...


Priapus was a peasant god, god of shepherds, farmers and beekeepers...For Classical Greek city dwellers he was apparently "a bit of a joke"...What else could be expected from the city people who lost touch with nature...

The Olimpians definitely couldn't stick him. They refused to allow him to live on Mount Olympus and threw him down to Earth...Which is where the archaic god of fertility should be living anyway...

It is interesting that such an obviously single role god doesn't have a name that denotes his function: fertility...The official etymology says: "Latin Priapus, from Ancient Greek Πρίαπος (Príapos), the origin of his name is unknown. The name may have originated from the Hellespont, the birthplace of his cult“

I want here to thank Aleksandar Miladinović who alerted me the fact that maybe the name of Priapus actually does denote his function. Just not in Greek. Or Latin...

Have a look at this:

Sanskrit: प्रिय (priya) – love, kindness, favour, pleasure, beloved, dear, liked, favourite, wanted, lover, husband
Serbian (Pan-Slavic): prija - what is nice, good, beneficial, pleasant
Avestan: 𐬟𐬭𐬌𐬌𐬀‎ (friia) - dear, beloved, friend, well-wisher
Germanic: *frijōną - to love, to free

From PIE "preyH-" (to love, to please)

Sanskrit: याभ (yAbha) – to have a sexual intercourse
Serbian (Pan-Slavic): jeb (yeb) - to have a sexual intercourse
Ancient Greek: οἴφω (oíphō) - to have a sexual intercourse

From PIE "h₃yebʰ-" (to penetrate, to enter, to copulate)

Sanskrit: priya+yAbha=prijaba=priap - enjoy+sexual intercourse=love=procreation=fertility
Serbian: prija+jeb=prijeb=priap - enjoy+sexual intercourse=love=procreation=fertility

I presume this is quite suiteble name for a god of fertility with a giant erection...

Considering that Ancient Greek doesn't have a word for love based on the PIE root "priHós" the name Πρίαπος (Príapos) could not be of Greek origin...

Considering that only Slavic and Sanskrit have both words required to create Priapus's name, it is one either Slavic or Indian culture where we should look for the origin of Priapus...

We know about Siva lingam worship...


It could be tempting to propose that the name came to Greece from India after the Alexander's campaigns there. But I don't know of any Indian deity whose name sounds like Priap...And the dates don't match...

The first extant mention of Priapus is in the eponymous comedy Priapus, written in the 4th century BC by Xenarchus. He was already taking the piss out of Priapus at the beginning of the 4th century BC...

Greeks in Lampsacus in Asia Minor, where the cult of Priapus is said to have originated, already minted Gold staters with the ivy-wreathed head of Dionysus/Priapus between 360–340BC.


Alexander was not born until 356BC and he died during the Indian campaign in 323BC. So I don't think we should look at India as the place from where Priapus came to Greece wielding his giant dick...

So what's left?

A giant coincidence?

One last thing. Did I mention that the PIE root "h₃yebʰ-" which apparently "originally meant "to enter, penetrate" with a semantic narrowing to "copulate" can in Slavic languages be broken into "je" + "bo" = her + pierce, stab, penetrate = copulate....

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Poppies

I came across this interesting artefact recently.



The artefact turns out to be from Urartu and is forehead part of the horse head gear. It is currently kept in Karlsruhe, Badisches Landesmuseum.




It was dated to c. 800BC

Urartu is a geographical region commonly used as the exonym for the Iron Age kingdom also known by the modern rendition of its endonym, the Kingdom of Van, centered around Lake Van in the historic Armenian Highlands (present-day eastern Anatolia).



The symbols depicted on this artefacts are very interesting indeed.

The "god", I presume it's a god, is riding on a bull. He is standing in the middle of (wearing) a flying winged disc, usually symbol for the sun and he has what looks like sun disc on his crown. And the whole metal thingy is shaped like a sun with rays pointing upward...

But he couldn't be a sun god.

Because there is only one god in Urartian pantheon which rides on a bull: Theispas the thunder god. He is basically the same god as the Hurian Teshub and Luwian Tarhunz...

And all these gods "ride on a bull" and cary a trident (symbol of lightning)...

And so does the guy on the above artefact. He rides on a bull and holds a trident in each hand...

Or does he?

Here is the close up of one of the "tridents":



To me this looks very very vey much like this: opium poppies...



But why would a storm god cary opium poppies?

Have a look at this:

The planting of poppies throughout the poppy growing regions of the Balkans, Asia Minor and Middle East takes place in the autumn, from September to December, depending on the locality...

If the plant survives the winter, it requires ample rain in between March and May.

The rainfall pattern in the Anatolian (Armenian) plateau

Here is the average precipitation in eastern Anatolian plateau, lake Van region, the land of Urartians and Hurians. The rain peaks in April.


In the rest of the Anatolian plateau, the land of the Hittites, the rain peaks in May.


Taurus Taurus (20 April – 21 May) covers the maximum rain, maximum thunderstorm season in both of these areas.

Which is why, I believe, Urartian Theispas, Hurrian Teshub, Luwian Tarhunz...All ride on a bull...



And cary tridents



Hmmm...Trident's you say...Why tridents? 

But Taurus doesn't only bring rain to Anatolian (Armenian) plateau. It also brings summer. 

As you can see in the above precipitation tables, the May-June is when the rains stop and the hot weather starts. Exactly what opium poppies need to flower and ripen:



I already wrote in my posts "Ram and bull" and "Symbols of the seasons", about the bull being the symbol of the summer.




The summer starts at the beginning of May, during wild Eurasian cattle calving season and ends at the beginning of August, during wild Eurasian cattle mating season...

Bull is the true symbol of summer...

And summer is the main opium poppy harvesting season:

In Turkey, opium poppy harvest season starts in May...
In Afghanistan, the opium poppy harvest season starts in late April early May...
In Iraq, the opium poppy harvest season starts in late April early May...
In Iran, the opium poppy harvest season starts in later April early May...



In the Balkans, the opium poppy harvest season starts in May...

These are stills from an amazing Macedonian documentary from 1955 called Rhythm And Sound. Showing poppy harvesting. 






You can find video here: part 1part 2

Basically opium poppies are harvested during the summer, symbolised by the bull. The bull, or more precisely the guy on the bull, the pusher, brings the poppies...

So here are some questions:

1. Is the guy on the Urartian artefact the thunder god? I presume he is a god and not a stoned acrobat...
2. Is he carrying poppies to announce the beginning of the opium harvest season? Sort of: The pusher's here!!! The Thunder dude!!! It's party time!!!
3. Did the trident, the symbol of thunder gods, develop from poppies? 

What do you think?

Great source of information about the cultivation of poppies in the Balkans, Asia Minor and Middle East is this article entitled "Some Observations on the Cultivation of Opium Poppy (Papaver somniferum L.) for Its Latex" by A. D. Krikorian and Myron C. Ledbetter

What is very interesting as well is that apparently, opium poppies were "...most likely first cultivated for human use in Asia Minor or in the Balkans..." according to "Troubling Fields: The Opium Poppy in Egypt" by Joseph J. Hobbs

So the link between the poppies harvest, which starts right after the Thunder gods bring thunderstorms in Taurus, during the calving of the wild cattle, was very strong in the area from the beginning...

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Gourd pottery

This is an example of a "Dark Faced Burnished Ware", the earliest form of pottery developed in the western world...This bowl is from Shir, in Syria and was dated to c. 7000 BC. 


Interestingly, this almost spherical vessel looks very much like a clay version of one of these:


And each one of these vessels is made of one these: a bottle gourd.


And gourd is what pre pottery, pre metal, pre glass people used for making vessels and utensils for handling cold liquids...Well people continued to use gourd for the same purpose even after pottery, metal and glass were invented. My grandparents had loads of things like these...


Now back to the original Dark faced burnished ware vessel. How was it made? Did people use a gourd vessel as a mould? Basically plastering the clay on the outside of the gourd vessel and then firing it all together? Gourd would combust leaving just a ceramic crust (pot)?

The oldest pots ever made were made in Asia, about 20,000 years ago. They look like someone plastered an inside of a basket and then fired the whole thing together. Basket burned away, leaving basket shaped and patterned vessel. I wrote about it in my post "Basket pottery":  


Interestingly, the vessels made in Syria before the "Dark faced burnished ware", in 9th millennium BC, are known as "White ware". They are crumbly form of proto-pottery made from white plaster kind of mixture and then just air or sun dried. Don't they look like plastered baskets?


So we know that Pre Pottery Neolithic Syrians knew how to make plaster, and that they possibly used some kind of basket mould for making their White ware vessels...So it is possible that eventually someone made a "plaster" that when accidentally burned turned hard and black...

What was the first product of this newly discovered technology was something like this. Selection of pots and bowls from Tell Sabi Abyad (ca. 6600-6200 B.C.), among the earliest pottery currently known from Syria...Again very sack, basket like, right? 


What I find absolutely amazing, is that before people of Neolithic Syria discovered how to make proper clay pots, in the 8th millennium BC, they were making things like this: A bowl made from stone, calcite alabaster...From Met museum


This whole thing is a great example of two things: 
1. How people "invent" by trying to imitate nature
2. How skill and technology are so very different.

Which brings me to the question: what should we use for judging cultural development? Aesthetics or technology? Because they don't always match...Just look at the last two pictures...

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Alexander romance

Alexander Romance is a fictional account of the life of Alexander the Great, originally written in Greek, in the early 4th c. It was widely copied and translated. This is one of the pics from the Armenian illuminated manuscript of 14th century of 5th century translation. 


I would here like to talk about the part which talks about Alexander's conception and birth. The story goes like this:

The last Egyptian Pharaoh (and evil wizard) Nectanebo, is thrown out of Egypt by a Barbarian army lead by Egyptian gods themselves (sure sign it's time to pack and leave). He disguises himself as a fortuneteller and flies to Macedonia...

It just so happens that King Philip is out fighting some war or something and his gorgeous wife Olympia is all alone and lonely lonesome...And apparently Nectanebo likes the ladies...So he devises a cunning plan how to get into Olympia's bed...

He uses horoscope to convince Olympia, who had no children, and who was afraid Philip was about to replace her with another wife, that Amun Ra (Sun god) will come to her and make her pregnant with a son who will "avenge all the wrongs which will come to you from Philip"...

Then he told Olympia, who was intrigued to say the least, that she would have a dream, in which Amun will show himself to her and will tell her something like "I'm coming baby!"...And then he did some magic mumbo jumbo and Olympia did dream of Amun. And was much impressed...

And Olympia said: "You have spoken wisely, Prophet. I shall give you access to my room; and if I experience the mating and conceive, I shall greatly honour you as an infallible seer, and I shall receive you as though you were father of the child." Nectanebo was much pleased... 🙂

And he said: "Go inside and sit in your room. You shall see a serpent (Dragon) come slithering to you. Do not extinguish the light of the lamps, go and recline on your couch and cover your face. Once again you shall see the god whom you saw come to you in your dreams"...

Nectanebo tells Olympia about great sex she will have with Amun. She is all excited. So is he...


Anyway, he makes a Serpent (Dragon) from clay, magically breaths life into it, and the Serpent slithers into Olimpia's room, and it all happens as "prophesied": Olympia reclines covers her eyes, Serpent changes into Amun, and "mates" with Olympia...


Olympia is so pleased with what happens that she orders her servants to put Nectanebo into a room next to hers and to give him keys of her room. And from then on Amun spent every night between Olympia's legs...Until her belly started growing big...

Slightly freaked out Olympia asked "Prophet, what shall I do if Philip comes and finds me pregnant?" And he said: "Be not afraid, my lady, for the god Ammon is helping you in this matter; he will come to him in a dream, and inform him of what was destined to happen"...

And so Nectanebo makes a falcon, breaths life into it, and sends it to Philip, who, in his dream, seas a handsome god shag his wife and then proclaims that "he has just made her pregnant with a son who will avenge the death of his father..." Ouch...

And then, also in the same dream, Philip seals Olympia's womb with papyrus and then stamps the papyrus with his golden seal ring which had on it rays of sun, lion's head and lances...Philip, completely freaked out, asks his dream magic guy what the hell is going on. And he says:

Blah blah ...you will be raising a son of god, rejoice...He will be great, he will kick the crap out of everyone in the world...

But Philip was not convinced at all. As a matter of fact he hurried home, to kick the crap out of the bastard who just made him a bastard son...

Nectanebo, who was hiding in the palace heard Philip saying to Olympia: "You were not made pregnant by the gods, but, in fact, were smitten by someone else whom I shall send forth from this life with pitiless tortures if he falls into my hands". And he was concerned...

So during the feast celebrating the king's return (and the fact that his wife's was pregnant), Nectanebo transformed himself into the form of a serpent much bigger than the first. He passed through the palace breathing so fiercely that even the foundations quivered...

And those who saw him fled away, startled and shaken by fear. Olympia recognizing her bridegroom was stunned and raised her right hand from her lap and extended it. And he circled the room, and then came to Olympias' knees, and flicked out his double-forked tongue and kissed her.


Wow! Neat trick...Philip had been terribly frightened. When he regained his composure, he said: "My lady, as sure proof, I saw the god come to help you in your peril. But, as to who the god was, I did not know, for he showed us the form of Ammon"...

And Olympia said, "As he revealed himself to me at the time of mating with me, he is Ammon" And when the king heard this, he considered himself blessed for "I am destined" he said, "to be the father of a child of a god."

Few days later, Philip was in the garden. A bird came and laid an egg on his lap and flew away. The egg rolled from his lap to the ground and broke open. From it a little serpent came forth and circled it many times. Then it tried to go back into the egg but on the way in it died

An omen teller interpreted the dream like this: "You will have a son who, having traversed the whole world, shall subdue everyone by his strength and shall be subdued by no one; and while returning to his country, he shall die, having lived but for a short time..."

Sooooo...Another son of god? The authors of the Alexander romance thought not. Not a holy bastard. Just bastard...But to me the interesting bit is the Serpent (Dragon) bit of this story. Why was Serpent seen by everyone as the sure sign Amun Ra (Sun god) was in the house???

In Slavic mythology, Serpent (Dragon) is seen as the symbol of the sun. In folk poetry it is called "Sun's ray's brother". And he loves the ladies...As a matter of fact, Serbian Dragons seem to live for the ladies...Every one of them has a lady lover, usually a princess (queen)

They prefer earthly women to supernatural women, like Vilas (fairies). In a folk song recorded in Bosnia in the 19th century, two dragons, are fighting over the same girl. A Vila (Mountain Fairy, who calls them "her brothers") tells them that they should go check out the other Vilas instead of chasing mortal girls. only to be told to to piss off, as "no Mountain Fairy can come anywhere near to a mortal girl"...

Interestingly, in Serbian folklore, sons born out of the affairs  between Dragons and earthly women are always great heroes...Just like Alexander...Also Dragons can take both serpentine and human  shape...Just like Nectanebo...

The seal ring with which Philip "seals the deal with Amun" 🙂 is also very interesting. The sun is hottest in the middle of Leo. This is the time of the Dragon, who represents the destructive power of the late summer sun, which dries the skies and the land and creates drought...I talked more about Dragons in Serbian folklore in my post "Dragon who stole rain"