Thursday, 17 October 2019

Symbols of the seasons

If we look at the zodiac circle, we can see that each of the seasons either starts or ends with a sign representing a large animal:



Spring ends with Aries (ram). In my post "Ram and Bull" I explained that the ram symbol marks the end of the lambing season of the wild Eurasian sheep in Europe. 


Summer starts in Taurus (bull). In my post "Ram and Bull" I explained that the bull symbol marks the beginning of the calving season of the wild Eurasian cattle in Europe. 


Autumn starts in Leo (lion). In my post "Entemena vase" I postulated that this symbol marked the beginning of the mating season of the Eurasian lions in Europe. 


Winter ends in Capricorn (goat). In my post "Goat" I explained that the goat symbol marked the beginning of the mating season of the wild European Alpine ibex goat. 


So these four animals are symbols of the four seasons 


I wonder if this is the reason why the Achaemenids made their rhytons, ceremonial drinking, libation vessels, with the heads of these 4 animals?

Silver rhyton with horned ram head (Spring), Persia, Achaemenid Period, 538-331 BCE, Seattle Art Museum in Seattle, Washington.


Silver rhyton with bull head (Summer), Persia, Achaemenid Period, 600 - 400 BC, Cincinnati Art Museum


Gold rhyton with lion head (Autumn), Persia, Achaemenid Period, 500 BC, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York


Silver rhyton wih goat head (Winter), Persia, Achaemenid Period, 400 - 100 BC, Met museum, New York


Now interestingly, three out of four of these animals are large wild Eurasian herbivores. There is one more large wild Eurasian herbivore, a deer. Is it possible that it somehow fits into this picture? Well it is. August, the beginning of autumn is the time when Persian fallow deer and European red deer start their mating season. Which is why we also find Achaemenids rhytons, ceremonial drinking, libation vessels with the heads of stags...

Silver Rhyton with stag's head (Autumn), Persia, Achaemenid Period, late 400 - 300 B.C. The George Ortiz Collection


What do you think about this?

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Trojan's city

On mountain Cer in North Western Serbia, there is a ruined fortress known locally as King Trojan's city. 



According to the local legend, King Trojan had 5 daughters: Kosana, Vida, Koviljka, Soka and Dostana and he built a fortified city for each of them too. The remains of their fortresses can also still be seen today 

These are remains of Kosanin grad (Kosana's city) 



These are remains of Vidin grad (Vida's city) 



These are remains of Koviljkin grad (Koviljka's city) 



These are remains of Dostinik (Dostana's city) 



These are remains of Soko grad (Soka's city)





Usual interpretation of the name of the Soko Grad is "Falcon city", "soko" being Serbian word for falcon. This fortress was originally built by the Eastern Roman emperor Justinian I. The spa in the valley below the fortress also dates from the Roman time and has interesting legend related to the discovery of medicinal water wells. Here is the legend of the Falcon spa:


All the other fortresses were probably originally Roman fortresses too.

Interestingly a Roman emperor called Trajan Decius (3rd c. AD) was born nearby in Budalija, near Sirmium (today Sremska Mitrovica) 



So is the local legend about King Trojan a faint memory of Roman Emperor Trajan Decius which was preserved by the local population to this day?

Or is king Trojan from the legends old Serbian God Triglav (Trojan means triple and Triglav means three headed)?

By the way, none of these fortresses are being excavated or protected. They are overgrown in vegetation and silently crumbling to dust...😞

Sunday, 13 October 2019

an ki = ankh

In the Lepenski Vir collection of the National museum in Belgrade are kept artefacts from the archaeological site of the same name. The objects date from 10th to 6th millennium BC. The collection consists of bone, horn and antler objects – needles, fishhooks, spatulas, and jewellery made of bones and shells, and artefacts made of chipped stone. Among the bone artefacts we find this:


I believe that this object as a symbolic representation of a pregnant woman. Mother and child. Creation of new life.

But the more we look at this object the more it looks familiar doesn't it? It looks like ankh, an ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic symbol that was most commonly used in writing and in Egyptian art to represent the word for "life" and, by extension, as a symbol of life itself.


Early examples of the ankh sign date to the First Dynasty (c. 30th to 29th century BC). There is little agreement on what physical object the sign originally represented. Most scholars believe the sign is a knot formed of a flexible material such as cloth or reeds or rope... The below stone ankh was actually made to resemble ankh made from reeds.


This ankh is made by bending one piece of reed into a loop, and then tying it to a handle created from  another piece of reed bent to form T shape. Like this:



Here is one I made today :)







So we know actually what first Ankhs looked like, I believe...But is there anything that this original Ankh represented? Anything physical?

Here is something very interesting. Ankh looks very much like the strange object seen on Mesopotamian reliefs, the so called "Rod and Ring" symbol.

The Rod and ring symbol is a symbol that is depicted on Mesopotamian stelae, cylinder seals and reliefs. It is held by a god or goddess and in most cases is being offered to a king who is standing, often making a sacrifice, or otherwise showing respect. The symbol dates from the Neo-Sumerian Empire (c. 22nd to 21st century BC) to the Neo-Assyrian Empire (c. 911 and 609 BC). 

The best known examples of the symbol are from Code of Hammurabi stela


It is commonly explained as "a coil of measuring string and a yardstick". 

This is what a coil of measuring string and a yardstick would look like separately and being held in a hand:




I talked in detail about this symbol in detail in my post "Etemenanki". In this post I explained why I believe that this symbol is the earliest incarnation of the "square and compasses" symbol. 

In my post "Square and compasses" I talked about thy symbolism of these two measuring tools. 


The ancient Hebrews saw the universe as a stone built structure with the stone flat Earth as the base and the stone Heavenly dome as the roof. Knowing this, the idea of God being the Great Architect starts making a lot of sense. Only a great architect could have built such a magnificent stone universe...

That architect would have used the Compasses to draw the top of the universe, the great stone semi circular dome of Heavens. 

He would also have used the Square to draw the bottom of the universe, the great stone flat earth. 



And this is exactly how the Compasses and Square are positioned in the Masonic symbol: the Compasses at the top, representing the Heavens, the Square at the bottom, representing the Earth. 

This is a doodle that got me into trouble when I was in primary school. Father and Mother in an act of creating life :)

Looks familiar? Well it should be. It is the above Square (Mother Earth) and Compasses (Father Sky) image again...

It seems that Hebrews inherited this world view from the Sumerians.

Sumerians believed that both sky and earth were built out of stone. And they did see the sky as Father God An and Earth as Mother Goddess Ki.


Ok but what about measuring rod and measuring line?

Well if you were a builder and you wanted to draw a straight line, you would use a measuring stick. But if you wanted to draw an arch or a circle, you would not use compasses. You would use measuring line. Like this:

You take the measuring line, tie it to the central pole and then walk around the pole. As you walk you mark a circle with the centre in the pole. This predates compasses. Also, you can't use compasses to draw large arches or circles. You have to use measuring line. 


I talked about this in my post "Boaz and Jachin". 

So the original symbol of a mason was indeed a measuring rod and measuring line.



There is actually Serbian saying "Pomoću štapa i kanapa" (Using stick and rope) meaning "in the old primitive way"...


These two tools are also the symbols of Heaven and Earth. The measuring line, used for drawing arches, is the symbol of the Sky. And the measuring rod, used for drawing straight lines, is the symbol of Earth. They represent Sky Father and Earth mother. Put together, they represent the power of Sky and Earth to create life. 

Sumerians actually believed that An (the sky) and Ki (the earth) mated together and produced basically everything there is including all life. Have a look at this drawing:


An (Sky, Father) and Ki (Earth, Mother) create life (AnKi, Ankh).

Held together in a hand, they look very much like the Ankh symbol. 



When this symbol meaning "life" reached Egypt, where An and Ki meant nothing, AnKi (SkyEarth = FatherMother = Life) became corrupted to Ankh. 

That would mean that Sumerians venerated An and Ki before the begging of the 3rd millennium, before the first Ankh appeared in Egypt...

We know they venerated An (sky) and built ziggurats for him in the 4th millennium BC. And that these ziggurats had a "mating" platform at their top... Were the ziggurats built to bring Mother Earth (Ki) closer to Father Sky (An) so that they can mate (AnKi) and produce life? I believe so. You can read more about this in my post "Etemenanki". 

The ankh was one of the few ancient Egyptian symbols that continued to be used after the Christianization of Egypt during the 4th and 5th centuries AD.

According to Socrates of Constantinople, when Christians were dismantling Alexandria's greatest temple, the Serapeum, in 391 AD, they noticed cross-like signs inscribed on the stone blocks. Pagans who were present said the sign meant "life to come", an indication that the sign Socrates referred to was the ankh; Christians claimed the sign was their own, indicating that they could easily regard the ankh as a crux ansata.

This is crux ansata:


The explanation that the Ankh symbol meant "life to come" is very interesting indeed as AnKi = FatherMother literally means "life to come"...

What does the intercourse between the Father Sky and Mother Earth produce? Life. Living nature including us humans...Life is materialised divine, (sky) god who became (earth) matter.  

What did the intercourse between God and Mary (basically symbolical replacement for Mother Earth) produce? Christ who is God who became Man. God materialised. So based on the above analogy, Christ is just a symbol. Symbol of life itself. 

If Christ is life, living nature, and we are part of life, living nature, then we are Christ. We truly live and move and have our being in Christ...

If Christ is life, living nature, god who became matter, then we are all god materialised. Just like the mystics the world over have been teaching for millennia.

This is Christ on the cross from "Plaque from the Maskell ivories", AD 420-30, Rome 


This is also crux ansata, Ankh, AnKi, life...

Interestingly in Central Europe we find a curious type of "anthropomorphic" cross, known in Serbia as "Narodni krst" (Folk cross), which looks very much like Ankh...Her is one of these Ankh crosses from Serbia:






Do they symbolises eternal life through Christ who is Life? In Christ (Life, Living nature) we are immortal...We die only to be reborn as another living thing in Christ (Life, Living nauture)...

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Etemenanki

There is a strange object that could be seen on Mesopotamian stelas, cylinder seals and reliefs. It is held by a god or goddess and in a lot of cases is being offered to a king who is standing, often making a sacrifice, or otherwise showing respect. The symbol dates from the Neo-Sumerian Empire (c. 22nd to 21st century BC) to the Neo-Assyrian Empire (c. 911 and 609 BC).

The best known examples of the symbol are from Code of Hammurabi stela


and the Burney Relief (also known as the Queen of the Night relief)




This object is commonly known as "Rod and Ring" symbol and is explained as depiction of  a measuring string and a yardstick.

The myth of Inanna's descent to the nether world describes how the goddess dresses and prepares herself: "She held the lapis-lazuli measuring rod and measuring line in her hand..."

The actual reason why gods and goddesses would hold such things as measuring rod and measuring line and why kings would be so grateful to receive such mundane objects is a mystery. 

I love solving mysteries :)

So here is my proposal what this all means:

I believe that Sumerian mysterious symbol "measuring rod and measuring line" was the precursor of the "square and compasses" and it has exactly the same meaning. 

In my post "Square and compasses" I talked about thy symbolism of these two measuring tools. 




I explained how ancient Hebrews saw the universe as a stone built structure with the stone flat Earth as the base and the stone Heavenly dome as the roof. 


Knowing this, the idea of God as the Great Mason, Great Architect who built heaven and earth starts making a lot of sense. Only the Great Mason, the Great Architect could have built such a magnificent stone universe...

That architect would have used the Compasses to draw the top of the universe, the great stone semi circular dome of Heavens. He would also have used the Square to draw the bottom of the universe, the great stone flat earth. 

And this is exactly how the Compasses and Square are positioned in the Masonic symbol: the Compasses at the top, representing the Heavens, the Square at the bottom, representing the Earth. 

Life is the product of the constant interaction of Sky and Earth. Life is the product of the Sacred Marriage of Sky Father and Earth Mother. 

This is a doodle that got me into trouble when I was in primary school. Father (top) and Mother (bottom) in an act of creating life :)
Looks familiar? Well it should be. It is the above Square (Mother Earth) and Compasses (Father Sky) image again...

Hebrew mythology owes a lot to Sumerians. 


And Sumerians saw the sky as Father God An and Earth as Mother Goddess Ki. They believed that An (Sky Father) and Ki (Earth mother) mated and produced basically everything there is including all life. 

Sumerians also believed that both sky dome and flat earth were built out of stone. Basically the world to them looked like this


Ok but what about measuring rod and measuring line?

Well if you were a builder and you wanted to draw a straight line, you would use a measuring stick. But if you wanted to draw an arch or a circle, you would not use compasses. You would use measuring line. Like this:

You take the measuring line, tie it to the central pole and then walk around the pole. As you walk you mark a circle with the centre in the pole. This predates compasses. Also, you can't use compasses to draw large arches or circles. You have to use measuring line. 


I talked about this in my post "Boaz and Jachin". 

So the original symbol of a mason was indeed a measuring rod and measuring line.


There is actually Serbian saying "Pomoću štapa i kanapa" (Using stick and rope) meaning "in the old primitive way"...

Here is what the measuring rod and line would have looked like separate and being held together:



These two objects represent Heaven (Sky) and Earth. Sky Father and Earth mother. They represent the power of Sky and Earth to create and destroy life. 

The absolute power. 

And the reason why gods were giving these tools to the kings is to remind them of their duty to build ziggurats...

I believe that building ziggurats was one of the main duties of kings in Mesopotamia. 

Why?

This is Ziggurat of An from Uruk. 





Built during 4th millennium BC it was 21 meters tall. Sometime at the end of the 4th millennium BC, the massive White Temple was built atop of the ziggurat. The Stone Temple was built of limestone and bitumen on a podium of rammed earth and plastered with lime mortar. The podium itself was built over a woven reed mat called "giparu", a word which originally referred a reed mat used ritually as a nuptial bed but took on the meaning as the source of abundance which radiated upward into the structure...

Sumerians believed that the rain was Sky God's semen and that when it fell down it fertilised the Mother Earth, who then gave birth to food. 

No holly loving, no munching...

And to Sumerians living during the second half of the the 3rd millennium, it must have seemed like Sky God have completely lost interest in Mother Earth. 

The third millennium BC was time of catastrophic weather events which caused chaos across early Bronze Age civilisations. Droughts and floods devastated many areas around the world. The worst of those weather events was the so called "4.2 kiloyear event". 

The 4.2-kiloyear BP aridification event was one of the most severe climatic events of the Holocene epoch. It defines the beginning of the current Meghalayan age in the Holocene epoch. Starting in about 2200 BC, it probably lasted the entire 22nd century BC. It has been hypothesised to have caused the collapse of the Old Kingdom in Egypt as well as the Akkadian Empire in Mesopotamia, and the Liangzhu culture in the lower Yangtze River area. The drought may also have initiated the collapse of the Indus Valley Civilisation, with some of its population moving southeastward to follow the movement of their desired habitat, as well as the migration of Indo-European speaking people into India. The below map shows global distribution of the 4.2 kiloyear event. The hatched areas were affected by wet conditions or flooding, and the dotted areas by drought or dust storms.




In Mesopotamia this weather event had horrendous effects. By 2100 BC, draught, soil erosion and salt buildup have devastated agriculture. One Sumerian wrote that the "earth turned white."

The Sky God seemed to have lost interest in Mother Earth and his people. The result was hunger, abandonment of cities and eventual civilisation collapse and fall under the foreign rule. 

Archaeological evidence documents widespread abandonment of the agricultural plains of northern Mesopotamia and dramatic influxes of refugees into southern Mesopotamia, around 2170 BC. A 180-km-long wall, the "Repeller of the Amorites," was built across central Mesopotamia to stem nomadic incursions to the south. Around 2150 BC, the Gutian people, who originally inhabited the Zagros Mountains, defeated the demoralised Akkadian army, took Akkad, and destroyed it around 2115 BC....

Lament for the Destruction of Ur, ancient Sumerian composition bewailing the collapse of the 3rd Dynasty of Ur (c. 2112 – c. 2004 BC) in southern Mesopotamia. The lament, primarily composed of 11 "songs" or stanzas of unequal length, begins by enumerating some of the prominent cities and temples of Sumer and the deities who had deserted them. In the second “song,” the people of Ur and of other cities of Sumer are urged to set up a bitter lament. The third “song” relates that the goddess Ningal hears the pleas of the people of Ur, but she is not able to dissuade the gods Anu and Enlil from their decision to destroy the city, and the remaining “songs” relate the devastating results of Ur’s defeat in battle. 

At some stage, probably during this period, the white temple at the top of the ziggurat of An in Uruk was ritually destroyed and covered with alternating layers of clay and stone, then excavated and filled with mortar sometime later.

Is it because the god to whom it was dedicated abandoned his people and people in return abandoned their god?

The next great ziggurat to be built, the greatest ziggurat of them all, was dedicated to Marduk (Basically the same old Sky Father An under a different name). Its name was Etemenanki and this ziggurat was very interesting indeed.  

This is Etemenanki a ziggurat built in the ancient city of Babylon. Originally 91 meters in height, it now exists only in ruins.


A number of scholars have suggested that this ziggurat had one purpose: to hold a shrine where the scene of the sacred marriage, the central rite of the great new year festival was performed every year. Herodotus describes the furnishing of the shrine on top of the ziggurat at Babylon and says it contained a great golden couch on which a woman spent the night alone. Well not alone. Having sex with Marduk, Sky. Or possibly a priest pretending to be Marduk. Which is ok, because the woman was pretending to be Ki, Earth. The holly marriage, the marriage between Sky (Heaven) and Earth, between Sky Father and Earth Mother had to be consummated, or there would be no food, no life...

It is unclear when the temple of Sky-Earth was built, but it is accepted that it might have already existed in the 2nd millennium BC. 

Was it built even earlier? 

I would say that it was built probably at the end of the 3rd millennium BC, right during the great drought (c. 22nd to 21st century BC) and right about the time when we see the first depictions of the "measuring rod and measuring line" being given to the kings by gods. 

Believe or not, archaeologists are still debating the reason why Sumerians built ziggurats. To me it is pretty clear that the purpose of ziggurats was to bring the earth closer to the sky in order to help Father sky to consummate his marriage with Mother Earth. 

They were dedicated to Sky Gods in a way that people hoped Sky Gods would visit the ziggurat tops, take the offerings left there and do their duty (spill their semen on the Mother Earth).

That this was the purpose of the ziggurats can be seen from the name of the daddy of all ziggurats: Etemen An Ki (Sumerian É.TEMEN.AN.KI 𒂍𒀭𒆠 "temple of the foundation (support) of heaven and earth")  

I left the best bit for the end:

Historians believe that building of Etemen An Ki possibly inspired the biblical story of the building of the Tower of Babel. 

In Hebrew and Christian tradition, the Tower of Babel was built by legendary king Nimrod, the "mighty hunter before god" who ruled over the cities of Babel, Erech, Akkad, and perhaps Calneh, in Shinar.

Since Accad (Babylonian Akkad) was destroyed and lost with the destruction of its Empire in the period 2200–2154 BCE (during the 4.2 kiloyear event), the stories mentioning Nimrod seem to recall the period just before the collapse of the Akkadian empire. The association with Erech (Babylonian Uruk), a city that lost its prime importance around 2,000 BCE as a result of above mention catastrophic weather event and subsequent struggles between Isin, Larsa and Elam, also attests the early provenance of the stories of Nimrod. 

So was the Tower of Babel built before the 4.2 kiloyear event (2200-2100 BC) or during or after?

I believe during...

Jewish and Christian legends say that Nimrod built the tower of Babel to show that he is as great as God (The Great Mason, Great Architect). This apparently pissed god off a lot...

But I believe that Etemen An Ki was built so high "as to touch the sky" in a desperate attempt to "bring Mother Earth as close to Father Sky as possible" so that he might decide to lay with her again and pour his semen (rain) on the parched Mother Earth. 

Interestingly it is the building of the Tower of Babel which is said to have been the first project done by Masons whose symbol is Square and Compasses...Or should we say Measuring rod and Measuring line...And Nimrod is regarded as the first Mason...

Nimrod figures in some very early versions of the history of Freemasonry, where he was said to have been one of the fraternity's founders. According to the Encyclopedia of Freemasonry: "The legend of the Craft in the Old Constitutions refers to Nimrod as one of the founders of Masonry"...

Lets have a look at Hammurabi stela again:



The description of the scene is: Hammurabi (standing), depicted as receiving his royal insignia from Shamash (or possibly Marduk)...

What Hammurabi is receiving from Marduk is measuring rod and measuring line. This is very interesting. So by 19th century BC, the symbols of the Great Mason, Great Architect became "royal insignia"! 

What the Sky God is saying to the king is: here are the Mason tools. Use them to build a temple to me. The high place where I will mate with Earth Goddess. Build it and you will rule, in my name...The symbol basically represented covenant with Sky God...

This is all very interesting. Don't you think?