Monday, 29 June 2020

Baden culture grain maiden

This is a very, very interesting ceramic vessel made by people of the Copper Metalworking and Grain Farming "Baden culture" which flourished in Central and Southeast Europe (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Serbia, Romania, Austria), c 3600–2800 BC...


The vessel body is shaped like a young female body with bare breasts. And the vessel handles are shaped like growing sheaves of grain...The first time I saw this vessel, I stared at it for good 10 mins trying to figure out what it reminded me of...

I eventually gave up and dismissed it as a case of deja vu. That was few years ago, and I almost forgot about this artefact. And then, the other day, I was finishing my post about the Abduction of Persephone. I was looking at this, the last image in the article and suddenly...


This is the Roman, Augustan period "bas relief of Ceres (Demeter) or Proserpine (Persephone) rising from the ground with sheaves of wheat and poppies"...Persephone has come back from "The Underworld". She is Demeter now, goddess of grain, bringer of wealth...

So is the neolithic Baden culture pot depicting the same mythological scene?

Now remember the European tradition about the "Sprit of grain"? Which is preserved every year in "The last sheaf" from which a "Corn dolly" is made, in order to preserve this spirit from harvest to sowing?


I talked about this in my post "Corn dolly"...Who is this "Spirit of grain"? Is this Persephone again? Well the corn dolly is made in a shape of a woman. Her skirt is made from ears of wheat, which contain seeds...The seeds from the corn dolly's skirt are the first seeds sown during next sowing...The corn dolly is killed and buried only to be reborn, sprout and grow into new wheat...

What is interesting is that according to archaeologist, the agriculture practiced by the first European farmers was based around spring sown grains...I talked about this in my post "To kill a witch"...

In which case Persephone, the spirit of grain, would have gone to "The Underworld" (grain sown) beginning of February (beginning of spring), and would have came out of "The Underworld" (grain sprouting) end of February, beginning of March...

This also means that the seeds are sown at the exact moment when the Old Hag, Winter Earth dies and the Young Maiden, Spring Earth is born...

In which case, originally, during the time of the first farmers in Continental Europe, Spirit of Grain and Spirit of Spring were one and the same...Which is exactly what the Greeks claimed...

Is this how old the legend of Persephone is? 

Possibly...

But wait, wait....What about all the references to autumn in the depiction of the Persephone's abduction from the Homeric hymn to Demeter? I mean you wrote the whole article about it "Abduction of Persephone". Was that all rubbish? (I can hear you say)

Well...As I said in that article, I believe that that version of the story with the end of autumn beginning of winter references originated in Crete...And in Crete, the climate is very similar to the climate in the Fertile Crescent, where the agriculture was invented...There the sowing was done after the first rains, at the end of autumn beginning of winter...So it is possible that the original version of the story is the one where Persephone goes to the underworld at the end of autumn beginning of winter...And then that story was brought to Crete, where because the climate was very similar to the one in Fertile Crescent  the story was preserved unchanged. The story was also brought to the Balkans, where the first farmers had to learn how to grow grain in continental European climate...And there, because of that, the story was changed to fit the new climate...

But also, as I said in my post "Abduction of Persephone", maybe her time spent underground represents winter in Europe, the infertile, dead time of the year, and not the time it takes grain to sprout after sowing...

Anyway, it is an interesting thing to think about...

Sunday, 28 June 2020

Bactrian snakes and dragons

Among many seals found in ancient 2nd millennium BC Bactria, the ones depicting snakes and dragons are the most prevalent...


To the point where Nadezhda Dubova from the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Science states in "Sarianidi Victor. Myths of ancient Bactria and Margiana on its seals and amulets" that "...nowhere in the whole system of Ancient Near Eastern art had serpents played such an important role as in Bactria...". You can see the actual seals and seal impressions in the  "Sarianidi Victor. Myths of ancient Bactria and Margiana on its seals and amulets (tables and text)"... 

What is amazing is that visual depiction of snakes and dragons in Bactrian art closely corresponds to the Slavic snake and dragon mythology...This is very interesting indeed...I will show you what I mean on couple of examples...

Bactrians depicted dragons as snakes with wings...Slavic legend says that "all snakes once had wings, and flew in the sky, but god took their wings away"...


In Slavic languages the word "zmaj" (dragon) is a masculine version of the word "zmija" (snake). Slavs believed that dragons are just old snakes...

In Slavic mythology snake is a solar animal. Snakes come to our world when the sun comes to our world from the underworld, at the beginning of the spring and they depart our world with the sun at the end of autumn...


In Slavic mythology, snakes are  directly linked to sun's heat...Slavs believed that the snakes "feed of the sun's heat" and this is why we have winter, because snakes "suck all the heat out of the sun during spring, summer and autumn"... You can read more about this in my post "Enemy of the sun"...

Bactrian seal of the sun god (see the wavy lines depicting heat coming out of his body). Sumerians depicted their sun god in the same way. Bactrian sun god is holding two snakes because the sunny part of the year is the period between the appearance and disappearance of snakes...


On this seal the sun god has heat (sun rays) only coming out of one of his shoulders while he has the snake behind the other, basically directly equating the sun's heat and snake...


I wonder if this head is just bushy haired or is this a lion's mane? Lion being another symbol of the sun's heat, as the hottest period of the year in the northern hemisphere is in Leo...

And here the sun god instead of holding two snakes in his hands, has snakes instead of hands (and a fashionable snake belt)


I believe this seal also depicts the sun god even though there are no sun rays coming out of his body. He is still holding two snakes, but now there are also two birds, flying in opposite directions...Why?

Why? Sunny part of the year, the domain of the sun god, is the time between arrival and departure of the migratory birds...Slavic word for summer and for solar year is "leto", possibly derived from "let" (flight) of migratory birds... You can read more about this in my post "Leto"...  


And here is another seal with only snakes and birds flying in opposite directions


Here we again see the sun god, holding two snakes. 


He again doesn't have sun rays coming out of his body, but is wearing bull horns, because summer, the season when the sun is most powerful, when the sun is "sitting on its throne" 🙂 starts in Taurus (Bull)  and is symbolised by a Bull...

 

By the way the reason why summer starts in Taurus is because the end of April, beginning of may is the calving season for Wild Eurasian cattle (Aurochs). You can read more about this in my post "Ram and bull"

And believe or not here is a Bactrian seal with a sun god, with bull horns, snake hands depicted above a calf...



One thing characteristic for Slavic mythology is that because snakes are solar animals which "suck sun's heat", and "dragons are just old snakes", Slavic dragons are of a fire breathing variety...Just like snakes represent sun's heat, dragons represent sun's destructive heat...


Rain swallowing, drought causing dragon is a common theme in Slavic folklore...And when a hero kills such a dragon by cutting his head(s) off (the only way to kill a dragon by the way), "rivers (of fertility) flow from each of his necks"...

These dragons in Slavic mythology lived in lakes...


Which is why people prayed to them walking around the lakes...And which is why people sacrificed to them by throwing sacrifices into the lake...Including blood sacrifices...You can read more about this in my post "Dragon who stole rain"...   

Speaking of sacrifices, the dragon from Slavic mythology likes one sacrifice more than any other: young girls...And there are many legends which talk about girls being sacrificed to "the dragon who lived in a lake"...Sounds familiar?

But, there are also South Slavic legends about people sacrificing young girls to the monster living in a lake, where the monster was not a dragon, but a bull...


In Serbia, two legends about the same lake, identify the monster as both dragon and bull...You can read more about this in my post "Water bull"... 

Why? Well, as I said, in Slavic mythology, dragon represents the destructive heat of the sun. Sun's heat is most destructive during the summer, the season symbolised by a Bull...Hence the equating of bulls and dragons in South Slavic mythology....

So to end this article, here is my favourite Bactrian seal (so far 🙂) It depicts a snake with two heads: a dragon head pointing to the left and a bull head pointing to the right...Symbolically equating dragon and bull and at the same equating both with the sun's heat, symbolised by a snake body...


How cool is this? 🙂

And now the question which is on everyone's mind, but no one dares to ask:

Why can Slavic folk mythology, collected from illiterate peasants in the 19th and 20th century in Europe, so perfectly explain Bactrian mythological symbolism from 4000 years ago?

As one of my favourite singers, Amy Winehouse so eloquently put it in her song "Me and Mr Jones": "What kind of fuckery is this?"

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Three bulls and grain


This is an Indus valley seal, depicting three bulls, sun and grain. In the Indus Valley, wheat and barley were and still are sown in November or December and harvested in April or May, during Taurus, which marks the beginning of summer, the hot part of the year dominated by sun...

The reason why Taurus is where it is on the zodiac circle is because it marks the beginning of the calving season of the wild Eurasian cattle... 

Nahal Mishmar hoard

In 1961, an extraordinary treasure was found in a cave in Israel. Hidden in a natural crevice and wrapped in a straw mat, the hoard contained 442 different objects: 429 of copper, six of hematite, one of stone, five of hippopotamus ivory, and one of elephant ivory



The incredibly elaborate metal objects were made with a copper containing a high percentage of arsenic (4–12%), basically arsenic bronze. Radiocarbon dating of the mat in which objects were wrapped showed that they were made between 4000 and 3500 BC...



The round knobs are usually said to be mace heads, but there is no evidence that any of them was ever used in combat...


The same goes for the so called "battle maces" or "sceptres" of "staffs"...No one really know what these were or what they were used for. Some had traces of wood in the holes, suggesting that they were stuck on poles...


But some, like this this one with a face (cute 😊) were definitely ceremonial objects. Unless these guys took "head butting" to another level 🙂


And there is no way that this amazing one topped with 4 horned animals with straight horns and 1 animal with spiral horns head was a weapon. It had to be a ceremonial object of some sort...


This is actually one of the most amazing objects I have ever seen...

10 of these cylindrical objects were also found in the hoard. The interpretations go from "crowns" to "stands for vessels with pointed bottoms". This one might have been used as a stand, but what a waste of a precious metal, when the same can be made from clay...


But some of these cylindrical objects were definitely not pointy bottom vessel stands...Like this one...Topped with birds and some strange structures with pointy horns attached to them...


So what are we to make of this. Items in the hoard were made by the people of the Ghassulian culture, a sedentary farming, metal working culture, which suddenly appeared "from somewhere up north" and settled in the area between 4500 and 3500 BC. 

They lived in villages and cultivated olives, grapes and grain...These are bedrock mortars used by Ghassulians for grinding grain...



They also built temples. Like this one known as Ein Gedi temple, literally "temple of the spring of the goat"...Located near an Ein Gedi oases bordering the Dead Sea...


You can read more about this in "Temples in the Ghassulian Culture: Terminology and social implications" by Milena Gosic

The bronze hoard was found in a cavern located on the nearly inaccessible slopes of Nahal Mishmar, a seasonal stream that flows into the Dead Sea. 12 km. from the Ein Gedi temple...


The remains of over 20 individuals were also found in the caves. Their lives ended in these caves under tragic circumstances which is indicated by the fact they had numerous injuries and that the wrappings were stained with blood...

They were members of the "foreign" "northern" Ghassulian population who were most likely attacked by the locals, their neighbours. They fled, hurriedly collecting and bringing with them their most valuable possessions, probably the temple relics...

Now what is interesting is that these Ghassulian guys seem to have been obsessed with horned animals with straight pointy horns. I believe that these were depictions of Ibex goats...

Here is another ceremonial axe, mace, staff (???) from the Nahal Mishmar hoard with two horned animals with straight pointy horns...



Which animals are these? 

I believe that these are Ibex (Bezoar) goats...


Why would these guys be so into Ibex (Bezoar) goats? 

Well, like all the farmers, Ghassulians were super dependant on rain...Especially because they lived in one of the driest places on Earth...Dead Sea...And there the rains arrive at the end of October beginning of November...


And guess what happens every year at the same time? Ibex (Bezoar) goats start mating...The beginning of the Ibex (Bezoar) goats elaborate mating rituals involving dancing and vicious fighting, was the signal that the rains are on their way...


Again, in Israel, like in Crete, Cyprus, Lebanon, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Arabia...In all the places where rains arrive in November, we find Ibex (Bezoar) as the holy animal depicted in sacred art by farmers, praying for rain. And looking at Ibex (Bezoar) to tell them when it will come...

Now I will go back to my favourite object, the goats staff...


The four Ibex (Bezoar) goats on sides are not what the makers of this object wanted the viewers to have their attention focused on. It is the weird spiral horned goat in the centre...

I checked around and found that there is one animal with spiral horns which once lived in Levant: Addax


Now if the spiral horns animal depicted on the staff is Addax, we can finish this article right here...Addax has no distinct mating season...Which one of the reasons why I don't think that it is Addax which is taking the central stage on this amazing Ghassulians staff...

I think the spiral horns animal depicted on the staff is Markhor goat


Why would this guy be depicted on the stuff? Surely not because it looks cool (not that he doesn't). Markhor is depicted on the staff because Markhor mating season also starts in November...At the beginning of the rain season...

So here we have double animal symbol pointing to the same, extremely important annual event in Levant: the beginning of the rain season...

So all the goats depicted on this staff are directly linked with the arrival of rain, heavenly water...The most important event in the agricultural calendar of the people who built the temple of Ein Gedi (the spring of the goat). "Which was apparently linked to water warship"...

Did the people who prayed in Ein Gedi temple pray to the holy goat, the goat of rain? I already asked this question half jokingly when I talked about Ibex goat in Greek mythology...

But seriously now...

There is something very very interesting about this depiction of the Markhor goat on this Ghassulian staff...Markhor goats don't and as far as I know, never did live in Levant...They live in Central Asia...

Which means that the makers of the staff could not have seen a Markhor. Nor could they have observed Markhor's mating habits and linked them to the arrival of rainy season...

So does this mean that I was wrong and that the Ghassulians did indeed depict an Addax on the staff and not a Markhor? 

Well, I still think I am right and that the mysterious animal with spiral horns depicted on this staff is indeed a Markhor goat...And that the makers of the staff could have seen it and observed its behaviour for long enough period to link it to the beginning of the rain season...

But not in Levant...

The Ghassulians did come from "somewhere up north"...

How far up north...

Maybe as far as Elam? Or even Central Asia?

I will here propose that the staff was made by someone who came to Levant from Iran or Central Asia, or the staff was made in Iran or Central Asia...

And here is why I am so confident I am right...

This is the "Statuette of a bearded man". Elamite, 3rd millennium B.C.E. Height: 11.5 cm. Forughi Collection, Tehran...


Look at the "crown" he is wearing...Looks familiar? 


How many other similar objects do we know of?

But this presents us with another very very big problem...

The Nahal Mishmar hoard was dated to between 4000 and 3500 BC...Almost a 1000 years earlier than the above Elamite statue...

If the man depicted on this statue is indeed wearing one of "crowns" found in Nahal Mishmar hoard, and we know (believe) that the Ghassulians were immigrants from "up north" then is the dating of these artefacts correct?

Or did Ghassulians leave Levant and go back north, all the way to Elam?

Hmmmmm.....

PS:

I sent my article to Alla Yaroshevich from the Israel Antiquities Authority to get her opinion...

She sent me the link to this article published in 2018:


The article gives the analysis of the genetic data obtained from the remains found in the cave, which contained the Nahal Mishmar hoard...And this is the conclusion:

The Chalcolithic period in the Levant witnessed major cultural transformations in virtually all areas of culture, including craft production, mortuary and ritual practices, settlement patterns, and iconographic and symbolic expression. 

The current study provides insight into a long-standing debate in the prehistory of the Levant, implying that the emergence of the Chalcolithic material culture was associated with population movement and turnover.

We find that the individuals buried in Peqi’in Cave represent a relatively genetically homogenous population. This homogeneity is evident not only in the genome-wide analyses (half of the people burried in the cave had blue eye gene, and all had pale skin gene) but also in the fact that most of the male individuals (nine out of ten) belong to the Y-chromosome haplogroup T. This finding contrasts with both earlier (Neolithic and Epipaleolithic) Levantine populations, which were dominated by haplogroup E24, and later Bronze Age individuals, all of whom belonged to haplogroup J24,26.

The presence of Iran_ChL-related ancestry in Levan chalcoithic population – but not in the earlier Levant_N – suggests a history of spread into the Levant of peoples related to Iranian agriculturalists, which must have occurred at least by the time of the Chalcolithic. The Anatolian_N component present in the Levant_ChL but not in the Levant_BA_South sample suggests that there was also a separate spread of Anatolian-related people into the region. The Levant_BA_South population may thus represent a remnant of a population that formed after an initial spread of Iran_ChL-related ancestry into the Levant that was not affected by the spread of an Anatolia_N-related population, or perhaps a reintroduction of a population without Anatolia_N-related ancestry to the region. 

These genetic results have striking correlates to material culture changes in the archaeological record. The archaeological finds at Peqi’in Cave share distinctive characteristics with other Chalcolithic sites, both to the north and south, including secondary burial in ossuaries with iconographic and geometric designs. It has been suggested that some Late Chalcolithic burial customs, artifacts and motifs may have had their origin in earlier Neolithic traditions in Anatolia and northern Mesopotamia. Some of the artistic expressions have been related to finds and ideas and to later religious concepts such as the gods Inanna and Dumuzi from these more northern regions. The knowledge and resources required to produce metallurgical artifacts in the Levant have also been hypothesized to come from the north.

Our finding of genetic discontinuity between the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age periods also resonates with aspects of the archeological record marked by dramatic changes in settlement patterns, large-scale abandonment of sites, many fewer items with symbolic meaning, and shifts in burial practices, including the disappearance of secondary burial in ossuaries. This supports the view that profound cultural upheaval, leading to the extinction of populations, was associated with the collapse of the Chalcolithic culture in this region.

This paper, which I didn't know about when I proposed that the people who made the objects from Nahal Mishmar hoard came from Iran, basically confirms my hypothesis...

Genetics confirms symbolic analysis...

How cool is this?

Friday, 26 June 2020

Bastet

Bastet was the ancient Egyptian goddess of cats, home, family, sexuality, fertility and pregnancy...She is associated with Mafdet, the first feline deity in Egyptian history which was believed to protect against bites of snakes and scorpions. And with Mau, the divine cat, whom Ra sent her to fight and kill his archenemy Apep, the serpent of chaos...🙂

Most commonly Apep is shown being killed by a cat


Sometimes Apep is shown being killed by a lion headed goddess


I talked about this "mythical struggle" and it's actual meaning derived from the Egyptian climate in my post "Apep"...In short: Snake represents the sun's heat and it's effect on earth (drought). It is in Leo that the sun's heat, reaches it's maximum, and the cooling of the earth begins...It is also in Leo that the Nile river reaches its highest level and the flooding reaches its maximum extent...This is all symbolically represented as slaughtering of the great snake which choked the "river on which Ra's barge sailed"...

Originally Bastet was seen as (another) ferocious lioness goddess, (another) protector of the Pharaoh and (another) goddess associated with the "Eye of Ra"...


I talked about these lioness goddesses and their actual meaning derived from the Egyptian climate in my post "Holy Cow"... 

One of the most popular & elaborate festivals in ancient Egypt, was dedicated to Bastet. 

Herodotus says that "...of the many solemn festivals held in Egypt, the most important and most popular one was that celebrated in Bubastis in honor of this goddess [Bastet]. Each year on the day of her festival, the town was said to have attracted some 700,000 visitors, both men and women (but not children), who arrived in numerous crowded ships. The women engaged in music, song, and dance on their way to the place. Great sacrifices were made and prodigious amounts of wine were drunk—more than was the case throughout the year..."

This accords well with Egyptian sources that prescribe that lioness goddesses are to be appeased with the "feasts of drunkenness".

Why? So that lioness (wild nature) turns into a cat (tamed nature)...I talked about this in my post "Holy Cow"... 

This festival, held in Bubastis, the main cult centre of the goddess, were celebrated in April and May. Why then? Let me see If we can dig something out...

Harvest time in the Nile River Valley occurred between April and June, depending on the weather...So the festival coincided with harvest...The time of lots of grain and lots of mice...

What is the best way to protect the harvested grain from mice? Well get some cats around...Domesticated cats descended from African wild cat which is also found in Egypt...



Well, knowing cats, they were probably never "domesticated"...They probably just turned up one day, chasing mice which were after grain...And decided to stay... 

To Egyptians whose life depended on grain, these cats must have looked like God Sent...Hence being deified and worshipped...And mummified after death...


Thousands of mummified cats were fund in Bastet's temples...

In ancient Egypt, the flail, an agricultural tool used for threshing, the process of separating grains from their husks, with the shepherd crook, was a symbol associated with the pharaoh. 


It is hypothesised that these two symbols represent pharaoh's ability to provide food for his people...So a mice infestation would destroy not just grain but also the authority of the Pharaoh based on his ability to provide grain for his people...Hence cat killing mice, protects not just grain, but also the Pharoh...

But why "Goddess of sexuality, fertility and pregnancy"? 

Sexuality? Have you ever seen (and heard) cats at it? 

Fertility? Pergnancy? 

In the northern Sahara (Egypt) African wild cat breeding season runs from January to March. Gestation lasts for 56-68 days, meaning that kittens are usually born between March and May...Right on time for the grain harvest and the invasion of mice...Which is why Bastet was often depicted as cat with kittens...


And right on time for the festival of the cat goddess...

Oh and by the way, they kill and eat snakes too...Hence cat (lion) killing snake...



Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Trojan horse

Everyone knows what Trojan Horse is: a wooden horse  which Greeks left on the beach of Troy as a "present" to the Trojans... 

Here it is, depicted on Vase, found on Mykonos, dated to ca. 670 BC, which makes it the earliest known graphic depiction of the Trojan Horse...


"...the city was doomed when it took in that 'horse', within which were all the bravest of the Greeks waiting to bring death and destruction on the Trojans..." wrote Homer, describing the scene.

But the interpretation of what Homer was talking about as a giant wooden horse, could be a result of an misinterpretation of the term "hippos"...

Already in the 2nd century AD, Greek geographer Pausanias wrote that the idea of Greeks using a wooden horse was "not credible, even if the figure of the horse was in use to represent this legend"...

Today, Italian naval archaeologist, Francesco Tiboni says that he has found "the proof" that the famous horse was actually a type of merchant ship which had horse figureheads on their prows and which Greeks called "hippos" (horse).

Like this one, from a depiction of Phoenician ships found in the palaces of Assyrian kings from the 7th and 8th centuries BCE.


It is because of this that the Greeks called the Phoenician ships "horses", and the Phoenicians "the horse people". 

"Over the course of history, lots of academics have put forward the nautical interpretation" of the term 'hippos' Tiboni says, "But there was always something missing. As a naval archaeologist, I managed to put all the pieces together."

He says it would make far more sense to think of the Greeks' treacherous gift to the Trojans as a ship, because nautical "hippos" were commonly used to carry tributes to the enemy - such as precious metals - after defeats.

A ship's hold would also have made a better hiding place for soldiers than a wooden horse's belly. And a reference in Virgil's Aeneid to wary Trojans calling for the sinking of the Greek gift seems odd outside of a nautical context, Tiboni suggests.

"Many aspects of the events narrated by ancient authors appear to be more clear and obvious than they are now if we use 'hippos' in the sense of a ship," the researcher wrote in 2016 in the academic journal "Archaeologia Maritima Mediterranean".

Apparently, "...the fellow classicists are having a hard time accepting this...".

"...it is impossible to separate fact from fiction when you are dealing with a legend based on an almost 3,000-year-old epic poem...We will probably never find out what really happened..." archaeologist Eleni Stylianou said.

Eleni Stylianou is of course right. We will never know for sure what happened at Troy. But I personally believe that Francesco Tiboni is right...His theory makes a lot of sense...

But I am not writing this article to prove that the Trojan horse was a boat with a horse head on its prow. 

I am writing this article to answer the question: why did the Phoenician built ships with horse heads on their prows?

A horse head is a very strange thing to put on a boat...But wait until you hear why Phoenicians did it...

Apparently, these horse heads were purposeful tributes to the might of Phoenician sea god Yamm and were used on the ships to placate the god who, like the Greek god Poseidon, was associated with horses, and who had to be constantly appeased to prevent his wanton destruction of the ships at sea.

Now why would the two most important sea gods of the ancient world be associated with horses?

Read on...

In the Phoenician religion, there was a tripartite division of power between Baal (Storm god), Mot (God of death) and Yamm (Sea god). This "seems to have" (first understatement of a millennium) influenced the Greek division between Zeus (Storm god), Hades (God of death) and Poseidon (Sea god)... 

Are you kidding me? How many other tripartite divisions of power like this do we have?

It "is possible" (second understatement of a millennium) that Poseidon/Neptune was directly inspired by a Phoenician counterpart Yamm...

Eeeee WTF? Two sea gods associated with horses? How weird is this? And what is the chance that this is a coincidence? 

I mean look at Poseidon:

Poseidon was god of the sea, storms...and horses. This is reflected in his epithets: Nauklarios (Ναυκλάριος) "belonging to the ship-owners", Pelagikos (Πελάγίκος) "belonging to the sea"...and Hippeios (ἲππειος) "belonging to a horse".

Sailors prayed to Poseidon for a calm seas and safe voyage, "sometimes drowning horses as a sacrifice"...

In Greek art, Poseidon rides a chariot that was pulled by a hippocampus or by horses that could ride on the sea. 


Why is a sea god associated with horses?

Poseidon is apparently "...more often regarded as the tamer of horses, but in some myths he is their father, either by spilling his seed upon a rock or by mating with a creature who then gave birth to the first horse..."

In Arcadia, one of the most conservative parts of Ancient Greece, Poseidon was worshipped as a stallion...

Why? Why?

Well, to understand why, we need to look at the ancient sailing calendars. 

Hesiod, writing in the 8th century BC says that:

In spring's another chance to sail
When figs put forth their new leaves from the topmost twigs, 
The size of crow's feet
That's when first the sea is passable...


This happens in April

Then he proceeds to say that:

Fifty days after the solstice, 
when the season of wearisome heat is come to an end, 
is the right (best) time for men to go sailing. 

This is end of July beginning of August

Finally he says:

 But make all haste you can to return home again 
 and do not wait till the time of the new wine 
 and autumn rain and oncoming storms 
 with the fierce gales of Notus 
 who accompanies the heavy autumn rain of Zeus 
 and stirs up the sea and makes the deep dangerous.


This happens in September

So according to Hesiod, the sailing season in Ancient Greece was between April and September...

Interestingly, in the Ancient Greece, another marker used for the beginning and the end of the sailing season was the heliacal rising and setting of Pleiades, whose ancient Greek name "Πλειαδες" comes from πλεω, which means “to sail”)...

Now because of the precession, heliacal rising of the Pleiades is not a fixed event on the solar year. 

Have a look at this table:

Approximate time of the heliacal rising of the Pleiades (according to Stellarium computer program)

2500BC - 20th of April
2000BC - 24th of April
1500BC - 28th of April
1000BC - 1st of May
  800BC - 3rd of May 

So when Hesiod was writing, around 800BC, the heliacal rising of the Pleiades was already too late to mark the beginning of the sailing season which started every year "when figs put forth their new leaves from the topmost twigs, the size of crow's feet", in April...

Which is why I think he didn't use heliacal rising of the pleiades to mark the beginning of the sailing season in his "Works and days". Instead he used something that happens every year at the same time in the same climatic zone: the emergence of the new leaves on fig trees...He used an reoccurring annual event form the lifecycle of the fig tree as a calendar marker, to mark the beginning of the sailing season in the Eastern Mediterranean...

Interesting, very interesting...

If we look at the above table of the dates of the heliacal rising of Pleiades, we can see that they were rising during the second part of April during the period 2500BC - 1000BC, which is the period between the emergence of the first Phoenician cities and the peak of Phoenician dominance of the Eastern Mediterranean seas... 

So did Phoenicians link the heliacal rising and setting of the Pleiades with the beginning and the end of the sailing season in the Eastern Mediterranean?

I believe so...

And Phoenicians did something else as well: They linked their sea god with a horse and built ships with horse head prows...

And finally, here is why:


This means that natural breeding season of horses coincides exactly with the sailing season in the Eastern Mediterranean...

How do we know that the natural breeding season of horses has started? Because stallions start fighting each other for the right to mate...


This means that the horse is a perfect animal to use as a calendar marker that specifies when to sail and when not to sail...

In the words of immortal Phoenician poet (whose name and work everyone forgot unfortunately):

"When the stallion fighting you see, it means it's ok to take to the sea"

This also means that the horse is the perfect symbol for a patron god of sailing: the sea gods Yamm and Poseidon...Gods of the sailing season...Who arrived on chariots pulled by horses and brought with them good sailing weather...

It is even possible, that Phoenicians originally saw the horse as the one who brings the good sailing weather? Or maybe Phoenicians never equated Yamm with the horse, but instead just saw horse as Yamm's herald and hence his sacred animal...And the reason why Mountain Greeks from Arcadia worshiped Poseidon as a stallion is because by the time this Phoenician cult reached them, it was already mangled beyond recognition, and the god's herald and symbol became the god himself???

By the way, the dancing ponies also herald the beginning of summer...Which explains few other things about Yamm and Poseidon...But I will leave this for another article...

Does all of the above make a bit more sense now?

Now if you think that this is just a fluke, please have a look at all these other animal and plant calendar markers which I have mapped so far...