Friday, 10 July 2020

Mold cape



It is thought to have formed part of a ceremonial dress and was worn like this... 


Nothing like this has been found anywhere else in the world...

And then we have this: Figurine from Central Mesopotamia, possibly Eshnunna, 2000-1800BC 


And finally we have these: Figurines from Mehrgarh, Pakistan, dated 3000BC...  



Hmmm...

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Ore


And this is why I will never finish my article about Enki 🙂 I was looking for a picture of Tigris and Euphrates river system when I came across the discussion about the etymology of the name Euphrates. 

Apart from a suggestion that the name comes from an "unrecorded substrate language" we also have a suggestion that the origin of the name Euphrates could be Proto-Sumerian *burudu, Sumerian urudu (copper). Which would make Euphrates "The copper river'. 

"Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans: A Reconstruction and Historical" By Thomas V. Gamkrelidze, Vjaceslav V. Ivanov

The explanation for this proposition is that Euphrates was the river by which the copper ore and metal was transported from the rich copper mines in the Maden/Elazığ region where we also find the source of Euphrates...You can read more about these copper mines in "Geochemistry: Earth's System Processes" by Dionisios Panagiotaras

Now this Sumerian word for copper is very very interesting...

"urudu, uruda, urud" (copper, metal). From "ùru" (luminous object), + "dù" (to make, apply, mould, cast)

Now the word "ùru" actually means "watchfire; light; glowing, luminous object, to watch, guard; to protect"

What we are talking about here is the watch fire, the camp fire, made to slowly burn, glow for the night....



The colour of this fire is orange-red-shiny...And so that would mean that the Sumerian word for copper literally means "something made orange-red-shiny"...

Which is basically what copper looks like...



Well if it's found as a pure natural copper...This is the first copper exploited by men. It didn't require any smelting. Just finding it, digging it, and then cold working it into metal objects...

But this type of pure natural copper is very rare...Most copper is found in different types of ores which are not orange-red-shiny. 



They have to be mined, crushed, smelted to be turned into orange-red-shiny copper, which can then be worked into metal objects...

Which means that Sumerians called copper "something we made to be "ùru" (orange-red-shiny)...

Here is the interesting bit: In Slavic languages the word for ore is "ruda" which comes from Proto Slavic word "rudъ" meaning red, which comes from PIE root "h₁rewdʰ-" meaning red (in all its hews from orange to brown) which has cognates in pretty much all IE languages meaning red...Except in Indo-Iranian languages where it means red "metal, copper" 🙂 ...

So Slavic word ruda (ore) literally means orange-red stuff...Why? Why would ore be equal to red? Well because, the first ore (stone mined to be processed by crushing and smelting) was not copper. It was ochre.

Ochre is a natural clay earth pigment which is a mixture of ferric oxide and varying amounts of clay and sand. 


The most popular variant of ochre was "red ochre" which owed it's colour to large amounts of hematite, or dehydrated iron oxide...


Here is what the red ochre looks like when it's found



Iron oxide is one of the most common minerals found on earth, and there is much evidence that yellow and red ochre pigment was used in prehistoric and ancient times by many different civilisations on different continents.


The earliest evidence of its use by "Modern Humans" in Africa dates to 307,000 years ago.

The earliest evidence of its use by Neanderthals in Europe dates to 250,000 years ago...

Red ochre was mined in mines like this 20,000 years old red ochre mine discovered in Tzines, Greece...


And red was all the rage in Palaeolithic...

Palaeolithic people used red ochre for painting their skin to protect it from the sun and from insects (there are indications that red ochre is an insect and particularly mosquito repellent) and for painting pictures in caves, like this bison from the cave of Altamira in Spain, painted with red ochre between 16,500 and 15,000 BC.



The second ore mined was cinnabar. 


Cinnabar was mined to make vermilion, the brightest of red pigments...


And red was all the rage in Neolithic...

The first documented use of vermilion pigment, made with ground cinnabar, dates to 8000–7000 BC, and was found at the neolithic village of Catalhoyuk, in modern-day Turkey. Which means that the people of Catalhoyuk were already mining cinnabar somewhere in the area at that time...Cinnabar was mined in Spain beginning in about 5300 BC. Archeologist Miloje Vasić believed that the vast mines of cinnabarite (mercury-sulfide) on Avala were crucial for the development of the Vinča culture, on the banks of the Danube in Serbia circa 5700 BC. In China, the first documented use of cinnabar as a pigment was by the Yangshao culture (5000–4000 BC), where it was used to paint ceramics, to cover the walls and floors of rooms, and for ritual ceremonies.

So the first ore was red-orange and the second ore was red...

No wonder the word for ore in Slavic languages comes from "rud" (red-orange) + da (give) = what gives us red-orange...

Around the same time people in the middle east started mining and processing native metallic copper. A copper pendant was found in northern Iraq that dates to 8700 BC...

So the third ore was orange-red...

Well this is interesting...

Wait, how old are these Indo-European words then? Could they really have palaeolithic or neolithic origin? 

And are they Indo-European at all? Does Indo-European and Non Indo-European even make sense if we are talking about Palaeolithic and Neolithic???


Considering that the Sumerian word for copper comes from "uru" (orange-red) + du (to make)...Should I mention again that Sumerian "urudu" was also spelled "uruda"? Very similar to rud + da, right??? Or was it originally ru + da??? 

Have a look at this. 

There is another Slavic word "krv" which comes from the PIE root "krewh₂-" which means "blood outside the body (as of a wound)"...What is the original red pigment? Well blood of course...


And our ancient ancestors must have had a word for it...I mean when not killing eachother they were killing animals for meat...Blood everywhere...


So logically, "h₁rewdʰ-" (red) and "krewh₂-" (blood) have to be related...Right? 

The common part for both of these PIE roots is "ru" (rew)...

Interestingly we have several Slavic words for red-orange-brown which are all based on "ru":

rud, rus, rujan, rumen...

Now that would provide the link between the PIE words for ore (ruda) and orange-red (rud) with Sumerian words for copper (urudu, uruda) and orange-red (uru)...

But maybe there is no other link here except the fact that both culture mined "the red ores"...Same experience produces the same linguistic links between red and ore without the need for borrowing...

But....

Did you know that the PIE word for blood "krv" is found as a root for some very interesting Semitic words, going all the way to Akkadian, related to sacrifices...I talked about this in my article "kurban"...


So this is very very interesting...Right?

Sunday, 5 July 2020

Vinča warriors

You know the story about this amazing place that was Neolithic Europe, where Matriarchal societies lived peacefully together growing grains, making art... Then Patriarchal steppe warriors came from the steppe and destroyed everything...

Well some people believed in this story for a while...

Unfortunately, one day this was found:


This is a group of 43 figurines and 11 miniature weapon models discovered in Stubline by Adam Crnobrnja [12], a Late Neolithic Vinča-culture settlement built around 4700 BCE on an elevated slope near Serbian’s capital Belgrade [3]...Here it is, in situ...

The figurines, were found together on a specially constructed platform, but positioned to form smaller groups...

The figurines have no discernible facial features except noses, or no other distinguishing features, except that few are larger than the others, a well known way of depicting the powerful members of society, leaders, commanders...


When I saw these figurines first time, my first thought was these must be agricultural implements, knowing how peaceful the Neolithic Europeans were (or so I was taught). Unfortunately, these are clubs and axes...

And so it seems that this was a depiction of an army, an armed force of a clan, or a tribe, ready to go to war. At least Adam Crnobrnja, the archaeologist who originally discovered these figurines, thought so [12]...

So then I thought, like everyone else did for a while, that this must have been a weird, one of a kind thing...And so far, this is the only such set ever found...But...
After the set discovery, other archaeologists who excavated other Vinča sites, remembered the weird little models of axes found all over Vinča world, which they had no idea what to do with [5]. Suddenly they realised that these were probably remnants of similar sets or single figurines which have been destroyed, or scattered either during the destruction of the settlement of during the dig...


Now I don't know if anyone have asked this question before, so I will ask it: are we dealing here with a Neolithic warrior cult?

I definitely think so...What was the purpose of these figurines? Were they cultic objects? Or toys? Them being cultic objects would mean that warriors were deified or at least worshiped as heroes by the Vinčans and would suggest maybe the beginning of the development of the warrior cult. Them being toys would be even bigger confirmation of the existence of the warrior cult in Vinča civilisation...Kids only play with superhero figurines 🙂 ...Once the heroes figurines become toys, we are definitely in a late stage of a warrior cult...

And believe of not, these miniature axes were most likely models of metal axes...

Vinča guys invented copper metallurgy at some time during the mid 6th millennium BC. And by the mid 5th millennium BC they started making copper tools and axes [2]





Here is an example of one of the early copper hammer axes:


A lot of copper ore used in the Balkans was dirty, meaning it had a lot of various additional minerals...This eventually resulted in the production of the so called "arsenic bronze", mix of copper and various impurities...

Vinča guys seem to have also invented tin bronze as early as the mid 5th millennium BC. These are tin bronze foils discovered in the Pločnik site [1]


We don't know if Vinča guys made any tin bronze axes, but I believe that they did, we just didn't find them yet...

One thing we do know is that Vinča guys did make huge number of metal axes...Were they used only for cutting trees? Or for killing people?

I think, and I am not the only one who think so, that these were weapons made for cutting people not wood [4]...

But, but...Peaceful Neolithic Europe....This is not possible? If these guys were warriors, waging wars, we should surely have some proof for this? Like fortifications, ramparts, people being killed, houses being burned...Actually we do have proof for all this... Picture 1, geophysical data for the Vinča settlement Uivar showing concentric ditches surrounding the settlement. The oldest layers were dated to 4830 - 4700 BC. Interpreted as defensive [7].


Picture 2, construction of a typical Vinča fortification palisade [7].

Picture 3. Map of the so called "Obrovac type settlements" of Vinča culture, settlements surrounded by a defensive ditch or built on a crannog [7]... 


Picture 4: The massive Stubline settlement (200 houses), where these warrior figurines were discovered was also surrounded by (most likely defensive) ditches which were expanded as the settlement grew [3]...

Picture 5: The late Neolithic Vinča culture site Pljosna stena, which was from three sides protected by cliffs, was from the fourth side protected by a stone wall [7]... A stone wall!!! The site is now under artificial lake...

That this is not some late development due to the influence of the bad Patriarchal steppe invaders in the 4th millennium BC....

Picture 5: Fortified Vinča site Oreškovica-Selište in Serbia, dated to the last centuries of the sixth millennium BC...Fortifications interpreted as defensive [6]...



"...Growing evidence indicates that many Neolithic settlements in Europe were enclosed by a complex system of ditches, ramparts, and palisades..." 

Why would peaceful people do this? "Maybe to protect themselves from animals?" some would say...Well no actually. To protect themselves from other people...

Several settlements of the Gumelniţa–Karanovo VI culture present traces of settlements being assaulted and mass finds of human remains in their cultural layers [4]....
In Pietrele in Romania, in one of the burnt down dwellings of the Gumelniţa layer, remains of 8–9 people were found, belonging to one family. One of the persons bludgeoned to death and disparate human bones (with animal bite marks) were found scattered in the cultural layer as well [4]...
Similarly, in Yunatsite in Bulgaria, numerous remains of inhabitants were found in burnt houses (47 skeletons in total preserved in various states), including ones with evidence of ‘specific cranial trauma made with picks’ [4]...
Over a hundred arrowheads found in Druţa I settlement in Northern Moldova of the Cucuteni–Tripolye culture, by all appearances testify to military actions related to an assault on the settlement...The arrowheads were concentrated on the periphery of the dwellings, at the field side of the headland from where the settlement was attacked from this side. The arrowheads are typical for the Tripolye culture [4]... 

Tripolye people were killing Tripolye people...

They also made these...


So it seems that we have pretty good indication that Neolithic people did fight each other, killed each other, and possibly even waged wars against each other [11]...

But even among the blood thirsty Neolithic Europeans, Vinča guys were "special"....

If Vinča guys had all the technological knowhow to make weapons and fortifications and had armies, they were one step away from forming a militaristic society. All they needed was a myth, something that would make them believe in their superiority...Which wasn't that difficult to emerge because, well, they were superior...They invented copper and bronze metallurgy, made first copper and possibly bronze weapons, invented first symbolic script...So it was quite possible that they actually believed that they were superior... 

So did Vinča culture eventually become a militaristic society? And did Vinča culture in any way contribute to the development of the first copper and bronze age warrior cultures in Eurasia?

I would say yes to both...

Vinča was the first culture built around industrial-military complex....They didn't just have metal weapons...They knew how to find metal ores, mine them, smelt them and cast them into more metal weapons...They made weapons for themselves and for sale, exchange, profit...They also knew how to build fortifications...And they also knew how to wage wars...And they seem to already have had a developed warrior cult...

The question is, did they just hang around Balkans killing each other, or...

What do you think?

Sources:
1. "Tainted ores and the rise of tin bronzes in Eurasia, c. 6500 years ago" by Miljana Radivojević, Thilo Rehren, Julka Kuzmanovic-Cvetkovic, Marija Jovanović 2. "Prehistoric copper tools from the territory of Serbia" by D. Antonovic




...

Friday, 3 July 2020

Anahita?

This dish with "the dancer" (as some people like to call it) is in the Cleveland museum of art: Official description: Dish: The Goddess Anahita, Iran, Sasanian, 5th-6th Century AD...


Anahita was the Zoroastrian goddess of water and fertility, whose epithet was "Arədvī" thought to mean "moist"...

Which is why she is depicted like this:


As a goddess of water, she is depicted holding a bow, with wavy water line going through it and with vajra (symbol for lightning???) in the middle of it, most likely a symbolic depiction of a rain-bow...

As a fertility goddess she is depicted on this plate with plants (tree of life???) growing out of this bow, rainbow, rain, water...

Now remember that climate in Western Iran and Iraq, the centre of the Sasanian empire, consists of two seasons: dry season (May-Oct) and wet season (Nov-Apr). Here is average precipitation for Tehran and Bagdad...


Rainbows only appears in the sky in Sassanian lands during the rain season. And it is this rain which falls during the rain season which makes the otherwise dry desert lands of Mesopotamia fertile...

Now have a look at this:

Iran, Sasanian period, 6th-7th century AD silver and gilt plate. 

This plate depicts the same tree of life except it grows from between two prancing ibex goats and not from the body of Anahita, the moist one, the goddess of water...


Why? 

The rain season, the fertile season, the season ruled by the goddess of water and fertility "the moist one", starts when Ibexes goats start prancing about, at the beginning of their mating season, end of October - beginning of November...


We find this link between Ibex (Bezoar) goats and rain in all the lands between Eastern Mediterranean and Pakistan, where the rain season arrives at the time when Ibex goats are mating....I talked about this in several of my blog posts...

So was there originally a link between Anahita and Ibex goats?

Leopard and Tigar

Beautiful Roman mosaic of Dionysus sitting on the back of a leopard, from Felix Romuliana-Gamzigrad site, imperial residence of emperor Galerius buil in 3rd century AD, and named after emperor’s mother Romula. Site is located in eastern Serbia...


Dionysus is often depicted wearing leopard skin or riding on a leopard...The question I would like to try to answer here is why?

The oldest festival dedicated to Dionysus was Rural Dionysia. It was held during the winter month of Poseideon (modern December or January)...

The main part of the festival was the procession. The god’s entourage during the procession consisted of the male satyrs and the female maenads. I love this depiction of reveling dancers (satyrs???) lead by the piper dressed in leopard skin (Dionysus???)...


So why leopard? Well maybe this has something to do with the actual leopards. This is a mating pair of West Asian leopards (Anatolian leopard, Amur leopard and Persian leopard), which can still be found in Eastern Turkey, Caucasus, Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asia...


The general belief of the local population is that Leopards mated during "midwinter" the time of Rural Dionysia. Is this why Dionysos was associated with leopards?

Recent studies have shown that the actual mating starts in January, soon after the Rural Dionysia, and peaks at the beginning of February...

Now interestingly, Dionysus was also very often depicted riding on tigers. 

Like on this late second century BC Hellenistic Greek mosaic depicting Dionysos as a winged daimon riding on a tiger, from the House of Dionysos at Delos... 


Or riding on chariots being pulled by tigers. Like on this Roman Mosaic depicting the Triumph of Bacchus, third century, Sousse Museum, Sousse, Tunisia


So why tiger? Well for the same reason...Indian tigers don't have fixed mating season, but most mating is done from November to April...Amur (Siberian) tigers mating season is in the middle of that period, December to January...Right at the time of Rural Dionysian...

Basically, tiger and leopards are as calendar markers symbolically opposed to lions. Tiger and leopard are used as markers for the period between the beginning of November and the end of April and lions are used as markers for the period between the beginning of May and the end of October...

This is particularly important for understanding ancient images from Indus Valley civilisation and Central Asian civilisations...But more about this soon...

Thursday, 2 July 2020

Mistress of the house

Early Neolithic figurines from Macedonia depicting anthropomorphised house and bread oven...They are symbolically equating Woman, Mistress of the house, with the house and the bread oven...






This symbolism is still found in Balkan Slavic folklore where both the house and bread oven are exclusive domains of the Mistress of the house, the oldest woman in the house...

In Serbia we have two very interesting proverbs equating the woman with the house (home):

"Ne stoji kuća na zemlji nego na ženi" - The house doesn't stand on the ground but on the woman

"Gde nije žene tu nije ni kuće" - where there is no woman, there is no house

Original primitive shelters were made by leaning single supporting beam against a tree and then creating a roof by piling twigs, branches and fallen leaves against it. You can see that the most important part of this construction is the main roof supporting beam...


This shelter eventually became house roof, when horizontal walls were added to create more space in the shelter. But the roof is still the most important part of the house, because it turns enclosure into a shelter...This is artist depiction of a neolithic house...


In Slavic houses this horizontal beam that supports the roof sides, is called "Baba" (Grandmother,)...Basically without this beam there is not house...The vertical beam which supports it, which was originally a tree trunk in primitive shelters, is called "Djed" (Grandfather)...



You can read more about this symbolic link between the house and the woman (mistress) of the house in  my post "Baba, the main beam that supports the house"... 

The symbolic link between the woman and the bread oven is also preserved in Balkan Slavic folklore. This is the traditional earthen bread oven from Serbia. The design hasn't changed since Neolithic and it is in Serbia called "Baba" (Grandmother). More in my post "Baba, earthen bread oven"...


The woman of the house is also by Balkan Slavs seen as the mistress of the fire hearth. 


She is "Hestia" and "Vesta" and "The Witch which stirs the cauldron"...You can read more about this in my post "Fire goddess"...

Among Balkan Slavs, the arrival of a daughter in law (new woman in the house) to her husband's house (her new house), was accompanied by special rituals in which her husband's mother (the woman of the house) gave her access to the house and the hearth...

You can read more about this in my post "Bride and the hearth"

But this is the best thing: 

This is a Neolithic talisman (?) in a shape of a woman giving birth, Cerje - Govrlevo, Makedonija, 7th millennium BC...


In the same culture we find these house altars


They equate woman, the birth giver, with the house, the family...

You can read more about this in my post "Birth giver"

Interestingly, until recently, in Makedonija, there was a ritual in which bride and groom entered the groom's house for the first time between the legs of the mother in law who stood on two chairs...This equated the Mother (Baba means grandmother, mother, birth giver) with the House and the Family...


8000 years of cultural continuity preserved by illiterate Balkan (Slavic) peasants?