Friday, 15 June 2018

Yeti

This is Tibetan plateau, a vast elevated plateau in Central Asia and East Asia, covering most of the Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai in western China, as well as part of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir, India. 


It stretches approximately 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) north to south and 2,500 kilometres (1,600 mi) east to west. With an average elevation exceeding 4,500 metres (14,800 ft), the Tibetan Plateau is sometimes called "the Roof of the World" because it stands over 3 miles (4.8 km) above sea level and is surrounded by imposing mountain ranges that harbor the world's two highest summits, Mount Everest and K2, and is the world's highest and largest plateau, with an area of 2,500,000 square kilometres (970,000 sq mi). 


The plateau is the home to Tibetan people and Sherpa people


And these people have a very interesting legend. The legend of Yeti. In the folklore of Tibetan plateau, the Yeti or Abominable Snowman is an ape-like creature, taller than an average human, that is said to inhabit the Himalayan region of Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet. The legend says that during the snow storms Yeti comes down from the mountains to the villages and steals local women. The legend of Yeti was widely publicised by the western explorers who not only believed in it but also contributed to it by stories of encounters with Yeti during their expeditions. 

This is a drawing of mountain climbers in the Himalayas spotting an Abominable Snowman or Yeti in the distance circa 1950 in Nepal


The scientific community has generally regarded the Yeti as a legend, given the lack of evidence of its existence. Recently, a genetic study was undertaken during which all the artefacts found throughout the region which were attributed to Yeti (bones, claws, hair) were analysed. The DNA from the samples was matched with Himalayan, Tibetan and Eurasian brown bears and Asian black bears DNA. Based on these results, the researchers concluded that the belief in Yetis has its roots in biological facts and is based on human encounters with bears that still live in the region today. The researchers also concluded that the existence of a large hairy ape like creature in the Himalayan-Tibetan region is indeed a myth which has no base in reality.

And this is where the story of Yeti would have ended. If it wasn't for the strange DNA of the people from Tibetan plateau. Both Tibetan and Sherpa populations are genetically most similar to each other and then to other modern East Asian and Central Asian populations. However there is something very interesting about people from the Tibetan plateau. After modern Oceanic populations, modern Tibetan populations show the highest rate of allele sharing with archaic hominins at over 6%. Modern Tibetans show genetic affinities to three archaic populations: Denisovans, Neanderthals, and an unidentified archaic population. Once scientists started looking closely at these archaic DNA sequences, they discovered something very very interesting. 

Researchers have long wondered how Tibetans live and work at altitudes above 4000 meters, where the limited supply of oxygen makes most people sick. Other high-altitude people, such as Andean highlanders, have adapted to such thin air by adding more oxygen-carrying hemoglobin to their blood. But Tibetans have adapted by having less hemoglobin in their blood; scientists think this trait helps them avoid serious problems, such as clots and strokes caused when the blood thickens with more hemoglobin-laden red blood cells.

In 2010 geneticists discovered that Tibetans have several genes that help them use smaller amounts of oxygen efficiently, allowing them to deliver enough of it to their limbs while exercising at high altitude. Most notable is a version of a gene called EPAS1, which regulates the body’s production of hemoglobin. These genes are not found in any other human population outside of Tibetan plateau. 

Since this gene was discovered the scientists wandered where it came from. And then in 2014, while looking through the genes found in Denisovans DNA, they spotted EPAS1. The mystery was solved. The "superathlete" gene, which helps Sherpas and other Tibetans breathe easily at high altitudes was inherited from Denisovans, one of the archaic human species now extinct. 

But there is the problem. It is commonly accepted that Denisovans went extinct soon after they mated with the ancestors of Europeans and Asians about 40,000 years ago. So the only time when Tibetans could have acquired EPAS1 gene is at that time. But it is also commonly accepted that the Tibetan plateau has only been inhabited by humans for around 15,000 years. Now considering that Tibetan plateau population is the only one in the world which possesses the EPAS1 gene, it is most likely that they acquired it on the Tibetan plateau. Which means that either Denisovans survived on the Tibetan plateau until 14,000 years ago (35,000 years longer then anywhere else in the world), or that modern humans arrived to Tibetan plateau much much earlier than originally thought. 

But this is not the biggest problem that this genetic discovery poses. 

Within Tibetan mythology, the origins of Tibetans are said to be rooted in the marriage of the monkey Pha Trelgen Changchup Sempa and rock ogress Ma Drag Sinmo.




This very popular Tibetan creation myth holds that in the beginning the world was covered by water, which evaporated little by little, leaving room for animal life. To the flooded land of Tibet came a monkey that had withdrawn there to immerse himself in meditation and to follow a life of asceticism and chastity. He settled on Mount Gongori. One day, while he sat in meditation, a female demon came to seduce him. She threatened that if he refused to sleep with her she would visit a demon and conceive a multitude of small monsters that would destroy all living creatures. The wise monkey yielded and married her. A few months later six small monkeys were born of their union. The monkey let his six children grow up in the forest, but three years later he discovered that they had become five hundred. The fruits of the forest were no longer sufficient to feed them, and the five hundred monkeys beseeched their father to help them find food. Not knowing what to do, he went to ask help from Avalokiteśvara the god of compassion. Then Avalokiteśvara went on the mount Meru where he gathered a handful of barley, and offered it to the monkey father. Then the monkey father learned agriculture and, after a good harvest, could finally feed all his children. As they fed on the cereals, the monkeys gradually lost their hair and their tails. They also started to use bone and stone implements, then made clothes and built houses, forming a civilization from which the Tibetan people descended.

Now this is very very interesting legend. 

Remember the legend about Yeti. Yeti was a huge hairy ape like creature which came down from the mountains and stole women from the villages. Presumably to mate with them...

The Tibetan origin myth is the exact opposite of the the Yeti legend. It is a legend about the hairy mountain monkey who was seduced by a white female demon who came up to the mountain and who wanted to mate with him...

In both cases the hairy mountain monkey and female that came to (or was brought to) the mountain produced offspring which became the ancestors of the Tibetan plateau population. The population which is the mix of Denisovans (big hairy smart apes???) and modern humans. The population which has the bigger amount of Denisovans DNA than any other human population. The population which is the only human population which inherited the Denisovans high altitude gene EPAS1 which allows people to survive on the roof of the world...

And here is the question: Are these Tibetan plateau legends about mating between humans and huge, smart hairy apes from the mountains memories of the actual mixing between the modern humans who arrived to the Tibetan plateau and Denisovans who they found there?

No, that is not possible, I can hear people say. That mixing occurred at some stage between 14,000 and 40,000 years ago. No memory can survive that long...

Well...Remember my post "Dreamtime"? In it I talked about the fact that we now have proof that some Australian Aboriginal legends are actual histories which are over 45,000 years old...

So it is actually quite possible that these Tibetan plateau legends are also histories which have been preserved as legends for tens of thousands of years.

But why am I talking about the legend of Yeti in the blog about Old European Culture? Well how old are European legends???



Saturday, 9 June 2018

Neolithic Artemis

The Vinča culture, also known as Turdaș culture or Turdaș–Vinča culture, is a Neolithic archaeological culture dated to the period 5700–4500 BC. It occupied a region of Southeastern Europe (i.e. the Balkans) corresponding mainly to modern-day Serbia (with Kosovo), but also parts of Romania, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Montenegro, Republic of Macedonia, and Greece.


The culture was named for its main site, Vinča-Belo Brdo, a large tell settlement located near Vinča a suburb of Belgrade, Serbia, which was discovered by Serbian archaeologist Miloje Vasić in 1908.

Current consensus is that Vinča culture is an offshoot of the preceding Starčevo culture which belonged to the First Temperate Neolithic (FTN) archaeological horizon, consisting of the earliest archaeological cultures of Neolithic Southeastern Europe, dated to c. 6400–5100 BCE. The cultures of the FTN were the first to practice agriculture in temperate Europe, which required significant innovations in farming technology previously adapted to a mediterranean climate. People from Starčevo culture built the first agricultural temple in Blagotin, Serbia. 

Farming technology first introduced to the region during the First Temperate Neolithic was developed further by the Vinča culture, fuelling a population boom and producing some of the largest settlements in prehistoric Europe. These settlements maintained a high degree of cultural uniformity through the long-distance exchange of ritual items, but were probably not politically unified. Various styles of zoomorphic and anthropomorphic figurines are hallmarks of the culture. 



As are the Vinča symbols, which some conjecture to be the earliest form of proto-writing. 



Though not conventionally considered part of the Chalcolithic or "Copper Age", the Vinča culture provides the earliest known example of copper metallurgy. The Vinča site of Pločnik has produced the earliest example of copper tools in the world. Like this copper axe.



However it seems that the people of the Vinča culture practised only an early and limited form of metallurgy and most functional tools continued to be made from chipped stone, bone and antler. 

As I already said, the Vinča culture main site was Belo Brdo (white hill), a large tell settlement located near Vinča a suburb of Belgrade, Serbia. It was, with the surface area of 29 hectares and the population of 2500, by far the biggest Neolithic settlement in Europe. The earliest deposits at Belo Brdo date to around 5700 BCE and belong to the Early Neolithic Starčevo culture. After that Belo Brdo was occupied by people of the Vinča culture. Whether there was a break in habitation on the site is difficult to say as Starčevo layer was severely disturbed by the Vinča people. A total of thirteen building horizons from this period make up the majority of the tell's stratigraphy, as new buildings were constructed on the debris left by periodic fires. The settlement was abandoned by 4900 BCE, some five centuries before the wider collapse of the Vinča culture.

In the Early Vinča phase Belo Brdo seems to have developed into a ritual centre for the entire region, the manufacturing centre for the production of ritual objects. The raw material for these objects often had to be imported from considerable distance, indicating also that from its earliest phase the site was part of large-scale exchange networks. It is therefore thought that Belo Brdo was a key place in a wider Vinča prestige economy, and an abundance of ritual paraphernalia, especially anthropomorphic figurines, is characteristic of the site. 

Many ritual objects first appeared there and then spread to other Vinča sites. And many of these Vinča culture ritual objects are later found in many other cultures throughout Eurasia and North Africa. 

Like for instance Mother and Child ritual scene which was found throughout Vinča culture territory in the 5th millennium BCE.





Among many figurines found on Belo Brdo archaeological site, this next one caught my eye few days ago. 





We can clearly see pair of breasts which means that this was a female figurine. However the figurine does not have human face. Instead it has a bird beak. And then there are what look like two necklaces made of large oval objects of the same size. And many more oval objects of the same size attached to the figurine's chest and legs.

While I was looking at this strange object, I couldn't stop thinking that I have seen it before. It took me a while to figure out where, but I finally remembered.

In Ephesus, a principal city of Greek Asia Minor, a great temple was built in honour of Artemis, which became one of the "Seven Wonders of the Ancient World". There Artemis was worshiped mainly as a fertility goddess, and was identified with Cybele the mother goddess of eastern lands. The cult statues of the Ephesian Artemis show her standing erect with numerous large oval things on her chest. There have been many theories as to what they represent. Some say they are breasts, others that they are bulls testes which were sacrificed to her. So the true interpretation remains uncertain, we can say that each represents fertility. There is also another possibility, that these oval objects are eggs which are also symbol of fertility and more importantly of rebirth.


The statue of Artemis from Asia Minor looks strikingly similar to the above Vinča culture figurine. And the fact that the Vinča culture statue has bird face, makes the hypothesis that the oval objects are indeed eggs. And not just any eggs. Partridge eggs.

Partridge and its eggs were symbol of fertility in Europe and probably Western Asia before chickens were brought from East Asia. I wrote about the symbolic link between partridge and the female fertility (both human and earth fertility) preserved in the Balkans in my post "Partridge".

But regardless of what the oval objects represent, testicles or eggs, how crazy is the similarity between these two statues? I know how much time passed between these two statues, but still...We know that there are striking similarities between ceramic objects found in Vinča culture sites and in early layers of Troy I. Before the advent of radiocarbon dating it was thought, on the basis of typological similarities, that Vinča and other Neolithic cultures belonging to the "Dark Burnished Ware" complex were the product of migrations from Anatolia to the Balkans. This had to be reassessed in light of radiocarbon dates which showed that the Dark Burnished Ware complex in the Balkans appeared at least a millennium before Troy I. Interestingly no one proposed that Troy I could have been a result of the eastward migration from the Balkans??? And Troy was in Anatolia, Asia Minor, where we find the above intriguing Artemis with eggs statue which is so strikingly similar to the Vinča bird goddess with eggs figurine...

But maybe here we don't see direct cultural link, but the same concept represented in the same way in two cultures separated by thousands of miles and millenniums...Who knows...

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Square and Compasses

"For in God we live and move and have our being..." - Acts 17:28

When I was 9 years old, I got in trouble at school for drawing a "rude" picture on a piece of paper and passing it around the classroom. This is the "rude" picture :)



For those who have problem figuring out what the picture means: it is a stylised depiction of a couple having a sexual intercourse in a "missionary" position (a man on top). 

This was a time when I was just finding out that there is such a thing called "sex" and was finding it all very funny.

Anyway, time passed, the sex became less funny and more fun and I completely forgot about this incident...

Then recently, while I was looking for something on the internet, I came across a picture of the Masonic Square and Compasses symbol:


The Square and Compasses is the single most identifiable symbol of Freemasonry. This symbol is a mystery. No one knows where it came from or what it means.

Most Freemasons, when asked the meaning of their Square & Compasses logo, state:

"Both…are architect’s tools…to teach symbolic lessons…"

I had of course seen this symbol before and I generally accepted that the symbol is probably in some way related to the idea of the God being the Great architect of the world.

If you look at this picture you will see why:




You can see that 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. Inside of this structure was all there was, the life itself. 

Now this was very interesting. The origin of the Masons is deeply rooted in the religion of the First Temple. So they probably shared the same world view described in the above drawing. And if we look at the above picture the idea of God being the Great Architect starts making a lot of sense. Only a great architect could have built the 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. 

It seams that at least some Masons shared this view. 

Albert Pike, in his "Morals & Dogma" says: "The Compass, as the Symbol of the Heavens…and the Square, as the Symbol of the Earth...". 

Albert Pike actually goes further to say that the Compass (Heaven) represents the spiritual portion of the double nature of Humanity…and the Square (Earth) represents the material, sensual, and baser portion of the double nature of Humanity." 

J. S. Ward states in his "Interpretation of Our Masonic Symbols" that "…the compasses stand for…the spiritual side of man, while the square appertains to the material world…"

This is linked to the Euclid’s 47th problem of “Squaring The Circle,” said to be the primary goal of the Masonic craft. 



Squaring the circle, however, does not in this case refer to a mathematical problem. It is a description of the the fact that man has both physical and spiritual nature.

Now the reason why man has both physical and spiritual natures is because we are all children of the father sky and mother earth.


Sky, because we can't touch it, but because it has direct influence on life, is perceived as spiritual. The word spirit comes from breath, air...
Earth, because we can touch it, and because we and everything else that is alive, lives and grows out of earth, is seen as material. The word matter comes from mother...

In Genesis, God forms "Adam", out of "the dust of the ground" and "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life" (Genesis 2:7). This is basically a description of the creation of life by Father Sky and Mother Earth...

This reminded me of a Serbian riddle

Question: Tall (high) father, wide mother
Answer: sky and earth

This riddle contains the ancient belief in Father Sky and Mother Earth which was preserved in Serbian tradition.

Father Sky and Mother Earth are at the core of the old European belief system.

In Serbian tradition the Father Sky and Mother Earth are known as:

Father Sky:

Dajbog - giving god
Djed - grandfather, male ancestor

Mother Earth:

Dajbaba - giving goddess
Baba - grandmother, female ancestor

It is the dynamic interplay between the Sky and the Earth, the intercourse between the Father Sky and Mother Earth, which creates all life.

Which brings me back to my primary school doodle:


A father (on top) and mother (on the bottom) creating life...Compass and the Square. Heaven (Sky) father and Earth mother creating life.

In English speaking countries, the Compass and the Square symbol has a capital letter G in the space between the Compass and the Square.



Among the most widely accepted interpretations are that: [G] stands for God, and is to remind Masons that God is at the center of Freemasonry. In this context it can also stand for Great Architect of the Universe (a reference to God). 

So there is one GOD who creates all. The first thing he created was chaos. He had to. He created everything :) Then he "separated" the chaos into the sky and earth. Sky and earth then created living nature. Living nature then created all living things including man.

This is interesting. God Begets One. One begets Two. Two beget Three. Three beget all living things.

Now where did I see this before?

I know. In Taoism.

The Tao begot one (wuji, chaos).
One begot two (taiji, Heaven and Earth, Yang and Yin).
Two begot three (man heaven earth, life).
And three begot the ten thousand things (All things).

And in Fibonacci sequence. 1, 1, 2, 3... I wrote about the Fibonacci sequence and it being at the core of Taoism in the post entitled "Fibonacci".

Fibonacci sequence describes Genesis, the creation of life, the materialisation of the divine, the squaring of the circle...

In case of Taoism behind everything is unknowable Tao. It is unknowable because it is beyond material universe (chaos) which is all we can ever really know. 
In case of Judeo Christianity behind everything is unknowable GOD. It is unknowable because it is beyond material universe (chaos) which is all we can ever really know.
In case of Science, behind everything is unknowable "something" that kicked off the Big Bang. It is unknowable because it is beyond material universe (chaos) which is all we can ever really know.

There is basically no difference between these three definitions of the beginning of the creation of life. They are all beliefs based on logical deduction that there must have been something or someone that created our universe (chaos) from which (or in which) sky and earth were formed (created) and which in turn created life and us, humans. But we can never have a proof that this belief is true or any way to see this something or someone. 

So from our point of view the only thing that really matters are the two things that directly create, maintain and destroy life: sky and earth. It is because of this that sky and earth were recognised as Father Sky and Mother Earth and were as such deified and venerated as God Father and Mother Goddess.

Sky father was often identified with the Sun. This is why Sky gods are often interchangeable with Sun gods. For instance in Slavic religion Dabog, the Sun god is also the giver of rain hence he is actually the Sky god. Dabog is imagined as a radiant youth who rides across the sky every day from east to west in golden chariots pulled by four white horses. 

There are very strong indications, based on archaeological and historical data, that the First Temple, the Temple of Solomon, the Temple Masons are trying to rebuild, was a solar temple, built on top of an ancient solar observatory, and built by the followers of a solar cult. More precisely the cult of Helios (El). Helios who was the old sun god imagined as a radiant youth driving across the sky from east to west in golden chariot pulled by four white horses...I wrote about this in my posts "Boaz and Jachin" and "Sun god from the first temple". The solar cult of the First Temple was only replaced by the lunar cult of the Second Temple after the return from Babylon. Not all jews agreed with this religious change. Some, like the Essenes, regarded the cult of the Second Temple as a heresy and dedicated themselves to the "rebuilding of the First Temple solar cult"... Now the God of the Jews, El, Helios, Sky Father, was the God of the Early Christians...

There are also very strong indications, based on ethnographic and archaeological evidence, that Virgin Mary is the Christianised Mother Earth. The old holy places related to the Mother Earth worship were converted to holy places dedicated to Virgin Mary (or the main Female Saint of the area). The old rituals performed to appease Mother Earth were transferred to Virgin Mary (or the main Female Saint of the area). I wrote about this in many posts, such as "Shepherd's chapels from Velebit", "Babje leto - Grandmother's summer"...

What does the intercourse between the Father Sky and Mother Earth produce? Life. Living nature including us humans...
What did the intercourse between God and Mary 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, symbol of nature. Life is materialised divine, god who became matter.  

Squaring (materialising) the circle (Devine, sun, sky, God) = creating life...

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.

I wonder how many masons and non masons are aware of all this?

What do you think? Does this make sense?

PS:

Chinese creator god Fuxi 伏羲 and mother goddess Nüwa 女娲 in the process of creating life. They are holding square and compasses. Astana (Xinjiang), Tang époque (618-907). 


What an incredible coincidence... :) 

Saturday, 12 May 2018

The city of cockerels



The history of chickens (Gallus domesticus) is still a bit of a puzzle. Scholars agree that they were first domesticated by mixing two wild bird species from southeast Asia: 

red junglefowl (Gallus gallus)


gray junglefowl (G. sonneratii)



However where that domestication exactly happened and when is still unanswered question. 

The earliest possible domestic chicken remains are from the Cishan site (5400 BC) in northern China, but whether they are domesticated is controversial. Firm evidence of domesticated chickens isn't found in China until 3600 BC. 

Recent research suggests that there may have been multiple domestication events in distinct areas of South and Southeast Asia: southern China, Thailand, Burma, and India.

In India we have evidence that wild chicken have been used by people in the Indus Valley region since 5000 BC. The first archaeological evidence (chicken bones) belonging to the domesticated chickens appear at Mohenjo Daro by about 2000 BC. It is believed that it is from there that the chicken spread into Europe and Africa.

Now I believe that chicken domestication probably occurred in Mohenjo Daro a bit earlier than 2000 BC. Here is why:

Built around 2500 BC, Mohenjo Daro was one of the largest settlements of the ancient Indus Valley civilization, and one of the world's earliest major cities, contemporaneous with the civilizations of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and Minoan Crete. Mohenjo daro was abandoned in the 19th century BC as the Indus Valley Civilization declined.

Recently I came across a paper entitled "Akam and Puram: ‘Address’ Signs of the Indus Script". It was presented by Iravatham Mahadevan in 2010 at the International Tamil Conference. In his paper he announced the identification of a frequent "opening" sign in the Indus texts.



He based his identification on the fact that identical symbols are known from Ancient Egypt:


This does open the question about the cultural connection between these two ancient civilisations. But this is not why I am mentioning this article. 

Another thing that Iravatham Mahadevan discusses in his article is the original name of Mohenjo Daro.

Many seals with cock symbols were discovered in Mohenjo Daro. Here are just two of these seals:



Because of the repeated occurrence of cocks in the seals, it is fair to assume that cocks played an important role in the city and its culture.

Now in Sanskrit the word for "Cock, Cockerel" is कुक्कुट (kukkuTa)

Why is this important? Because of this:

Thomas Burrow, who was an Indologist at the University of Oxford, published various books and papers in the field of linguistics and Indology. In his paper "On the significance of the term arma-, armaka- in Early Sanskrit Literature", published in Journal of Indian History XLI, Pt. I (1963) : 159-166, he published the list of all the places found in Sanskrit literature which end with "arma", "armaka". As we can see in "A Sanskrit-English dictionary, etymologically and philologically arranged, with special reference to Greek, Latin, Gothic, German, Anglo-Saxon, and other cognate Indo-European languages" published by Monier-Williams, Monier, Sir, 1819-1899 we can see that the Sanskrit words "arma", "armaka" mean "ruins of a village, town":



Thomas Burrow postulated that the place names ending with "arma", "armaka" are the names of ancient cities which were destroyed either by advancing Arians or were already lying in ruins when the Arians arrived.

It is safe to assume that most of the ruined cities mention in ancient Sanskrit literature must have belonged to the Indus Valley Civilization – because at the time of writing these ancient texts, most of the Indus Valley Cities must have been in a ruined state – and also at the time of writing these texts there were no Vedic cities in such ruined state.

One of the cities mentioned in the list of ruined cities composed by Thomas Burrow is "Kukkutarmaka". And as we have seen "kukkuTa" in the Sanskrit means "Cock, Cockerel". This means that "Kukkutarmaka" mentioned in the list means "ruined city of cocks, cockerels".

Based on all this, Iravatham Mahadevan concluded that the name of Mohenjo Daro, during the Indus Valley Civilization times, was probably "Kukkut arma" i.e. "City of cocks, cockerels".

Now considering that Mohenjo Daro, Kukkut arma, was built around 2500 BC, it is most likely that the people who built The City of Cocks have by that time already domesticated chickens???

Anyway, Iravatham Mahadevan also concludes that the city name, Kukkut arma, proves that people who built Mohenjo Daro spoke Dravidian languages.  This he says is because in today Dravidian languages like Naiki (Chanda) and Gondi the word for cockerel is gogodi, phonemically *kokoṭi, *kōkōṭi, *kukōṭi, *kokVṭi and finally *kokoṭ. You can find these words in "Pleonastic Compounding: An Ancient Dravidian Word Structure" by Periannan Chandrasekharan. 

Iravatham Mahadevan then concludes that this word was then borrowed by the Arians who arrived to the Indus Valley after the cities were already abandoned and lying in ruins. They have learned the name of the city from the Dravidian speaking local population from whom they also borrowed the word for cockerel "kukkuTa" which we find in Sanskrit. 

The word traveled east with the chickens. In Slavic languages, one of the words for cockerel is "Kokot" which comes from Proto-Slavic "*kokotъ" and is identical to Dravidian and Sanskrit words for cockerel. This word comes from the languages of the R1a people who dominated the Eurasian steppe during the Bronze Age, when the chickens started spreading from India towards Europe. Considering that these people controlled the main land trade route through Eurasia, connecting China, India, Europe, they probably were the people who brought chickens into Europe from India. These R1a people are one of the direct ancestors of the Slavs, so no wonder that we find the same name for cockerel in Slavic, Sanskrit and Dravidian languages.

Chickens finally appear in Europe in the 9th century BC when the words for chicken start appearing in other European languages. 

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Morning dew



Irish riddle

Q: I wash my face in water that has never rained nor run, and dry it in a towel that was never wove on spun

A: A face washed in May dew and dried in the open air. 

This ritual performed on the May Day (1st of May, Beltane) morning was believed to bring beauty and health.

In Serbia in the past the dew bathing was done on the so called "herb Friday", the last Friday before St George's day. Older women lead younger women and girls out of their villages and towns and into wild, uncultivated meadows and fields, their voices collectively ringing out in song. They went there to wash themselves in morning dew. This they did by literally rolling about in the morning dew, as well as dabbing some dew on their faces. This was considered to be an extremely important magical ritual, one that brought beaty and health. It also helped ensure that women of child-bearing age will conceive without difficulty and have safe, uncomplicated births. 

As I already wrote in my post "Beltany stone circle" there is an indication that originally Beltane was celebrated on the 6th of May, the mid point between the spring equinox and the summer solstice, the true beginning of summer. This is the day when people in Serbia still celebrate St George's day. Many customs and rituals which are in Ireland associated with Beltane, like this one, are in Serbia associated with St George's day. 


Saturday, 28 April 2018

To get white

In my post about Russian steam baths called "banya" I postulated that this type of steam bath is the origin of the Finnish and Scandinavian saunas.

Now here is something else interesting about these Slavic steam baths: their name.

In Slavic languages, the word "banya" or "banja" as a noun can mean a steam bath, mineral water spa, bathroom, bathtub, and as a verb "banjati se" it means washing of ones body in general.

The etymology of the word banja is very interesting.

"Banja" (act of bathing, bathing place)
From Proto-Slavic "*banja" (bath)
From Vulgar Latin "*bānea", "*banniu" (bath)
From Latin "balneum", "balineum" (bath, bathing place)
From Ancient Greek "βαλανεῖον", "balanion" meaning "bath, bathing room"

The Wiktionary has this to say about the etymology of the Ancient Greek root "βαλανεῖον", "balanion" meaning "bath, bathing room":

"Etymology uncertain. Attempts have been made to connect with βάλανος (balanos, “acorn”), but are semantically unconvincing. Probably Pre-Greek."

So the root for Slavic word "banja" is Vulgar Latin "bānea" which has root in Latin "balneum" which has root in Old Greek "balaneîon" which has no etymology in Greek. Which "Pre-Greek" language does this word, which was first attested in 5th BC Attic dialect of Ancient Greek, come from?

Let me see if I can solve this mystery.


When I was a kid, I was constantly dirty. Me and my brother spent every moment we could out in the fields, forests, swamps, building sites, farmyards, caves... and were usually covered from head to toe in dirt. Which means that every evening we had to wash ourselves from head to toe too. And this is how my mother explained to us what washing is and when and how to wash:

"When do we wash? We wash when we get dirty. How do we know that we are dirty? We know that we are dirty when our skin is not white any more, when it gets dark from mud, or blood or some other kind of dirt. Why do we wash? We wash to remove dirt from our bodies, from our skin and hair. And when do we stop washing? When all the dirt is removed. And how do we know that all the dirt is removed? We know that all the dirt is removed when our skin is white..."

Indoeuropean languages are languages of Indoeruopean people. And Indoeuropean people are white people (R1a, R1b, I1, I2). And for white people, washing is equivalent to "getting white". Clean = White. 

In Serbian "bel", "beli" means white. The word comes from Proto-Slavic "bělъ" meaning "white". From Proto-Indo-European root noun "*bʰēlHs" or "*bʰel-" ‎(“white surface or stain”). Cognates include Lithuanian bãlas, báltas ‎(“white”), Latvian bãls ‎("pale") and balts ‎("white"), Albanian bal, balo (dog or goat with a white spot on the forehead), Old Armenian բալ ‎(bal, “fog”), Sanskrit भाल ‎(bhāla, “splendour”).

These Latvian cognates are very interesting.

The word "balts" meaning "white" comes from an unattested verb "*balt" ‎(“to become white”) of which "balts" originally was the past participle form. Now in South Slavic languages "belit, beliti, belet, beleti" means "to make white, to become white, to fade". So the "unattested" root verb exists in Slavic languages, showing that the Latvian words are most probably borrowing from Slavic languages.

The word "bals" meaning "pale" was originally a parallel form to an older adjective "*bals" which disappeared but left related terms like the verbs "balot, balēt" to bleach, to fade,"balināt" to whiten, to blanch. In South Slavic languages "bel se, beli se" means it's white, it shines (because it's white), "belet, beleti" means to whiten, to fade. So again I believe that these words are borrowings from Slavic languages.

These Latvian words show that white and pale originally meant one and the same thing.

This is someone with "pale" skin, often seen in Northern Europe.


For all intents and purposes you can call this skin white. And in Latvian "baltā rase"‎ means white (= Caucasian) race. In South Slavic languages this would be "bela, belata rasa".

Latvians have also preserved the original meaning of the word "bel" (white) that we are interested in in this article, which is "bel" (white) = clean.

"uzvilkt sestdienā baltu veļu"‎ ― to wear white linen (clean clothes) on Saturday

Now as I already said, when I was a kid and when I got dirty, I was sent to wash myself. After finishing the washing, I would come out of the bath to the comments from my mother that I was now "beautiful".

This link between being clean, being white and being beautiful is very strong in Serbian (and in general Slavic) culture.

In Serbian folk poetry, beauty is always associated with white skin. Someone beautiful has "belo lice" (white face) and "belo grlo" (white neck). 



And now let's have a look at the Ancient Greek word "βαλανεῖον", "balanion" meaning "bath, bathing room" which is supposed to be the root of the Slavic word "banja" meaning "bath, bathing".  

The Wiktionary says that the word "βαλανεῖον" has "uncertain etymology" and that the word is "probably Pre-Greek".

Now in my post about Slavic wash houses called "banja" I talked about the fact that the early Greek records mock the Slavs as "the people who wash in banjas every day".

An early description of the banya comes from the East Slavic Primary Chronicle of 1113. According to the Chronicle, or as it was called by its authors, The Tale of Bygone Years, the Apostle Andrew visited the territories that were later to become Russia and Ukraine during his visit to the Greek colonies on the Black Sea. The belief was held that Andrew crossed through East Slavic lands from the mouth of the Dnieper River, past the hills on which Kiev would later be founded, and went as far north as the ancient city of Novgorod. He had this to say about the Slavic bathing customs:

"Wondrous to relate," said he, "I saw the land of the Slavs, and while I was among them, I noticed their wooden bathhouses. They warm them to extreme heat, then undress, and after anointing themselves with tallow, they take young reeds and lash their bodies. They actually lash themselves so violently that they barely escape alive. Then they drench themselves with cold water, and thus are revived. They think nothing of doing this every day, and actually inflict such voluntary torture on themselves. They make of the act not a mere washing but a veritable torment."

And what happens when the people who belong to the white Indoeuropean race, like Slavs, wash themselves? They get white. And in Slavic Indoeuropean languages the word for white is "bel". So the process of washing is the process of getting white. So is it possible that the wash house, bath, bathing room was originally seen as the place where you "get clean, get white"? And is it possible then that the word used for such place would have word for white in it? Like "bel" meaning white and "bele(a)n" meaning "made white". I believe so. 

So the Ancient Greek βαλανεῖον meaning "bath, bathing room, place of bathing" can be broken into: 

βαλαν + εῖον 

βαλαν (bele(a)n) - Pre-Greek, PIE, Slavic verb meaning "made white, whitening". Modern Serbian beljen.
εῖον (eîon) - Ancient-Greek ending meaning "the place of"

Together they give the meaning "the place of whitening, the place of cleaning, the place of washing, bathing"...

So how did this word enter Ancien Greek? 

What do you think about this?

O and by the way. Today's Greek word for bath, bathroom is "λουτρό" (loutro). The word comes from Ancient Greek "λουτρόν" (loutrón) meaning "bath, bathing-place, water used for bathing". 

This Ancient-Greek word is said to come from Proto-Indo-European "*lówh₃trom" meaning "that which is used for washing", which in turn comes from Proto-Indo-European "*lewh₃-" meaning "to wash, bathe"... 

Now here is something interesting. Apparently this PIE root has descendants in:

Albanian: laj
Ancient Greek: λούω (loúō), λουτρόν (loutrón)
Italic: *lawaō
Latin: lavō, lābrum (possibly)
Celtic: *lowatrom 
Germanic: *lauþrą, *laugō
Old Armenian: լոգանամ (loganam), լուանամ (luanam)

All meaning "to wash, to bath"

There are no cognates in Slavic languages. 

However in Slavic languages we find the word "lev" meaning "pouring". Which is what we do when we wash. The verb "levati" means "to pour" and the word "levanica" means "libation". And guess what? The Ancient-Greek word λουτρόν (loutrón) which means "bath, bathing-place, water used for bathing" also means "(poetic) libation to the dead"...

Eeee....