Saturday, 13 June 2020

A goat in a tree


This is one of the two identical Sumerian figures excavated in Ur, in southern Iraq, dated to c. 2600–2400 BC...This amazing work of art, depicts a horned animal with wings (???) standing on his hind legs and nibbling leaves from a flowering tree. What is the meaning of all this?

First what horned animal is this? Originally people thought this was a ram... But today most people agree that this is a Markhor goat. 



Why was Markhor goat chosen to be depicted here? Surely not because it looks cool (not that he doesn't). Markhor is depicted here because Markhor mating season starts in November...

Which is important because? 

Because in Iraq the climatic year id divided into dry and wet part. And the wet part of the year starts in November...Right at the time when the Markhor goats start mating...Precipitation table Iraq.


So again, like in Eastern Mediterranean, Middle East, Arabia, Central Asia...Wherever rains arrive in Oct-Nov, we find goat worship...The Goat of rain...This rain is what allows life to flourish in these desert lands...Hence the Goat of rain nibbling on the Tree of Life...

But why wings? If they are indeed wings.... Maybe they are just stylised clumps of hair. Except that Markhor doesn't have any clumps of hair on his back, only around his neck...But ok let's allow for artistic freedom and say that these are not wings...

But if they were 🙂...

Well, at the exact time when the Goat of rain starts prancing around, certain types of Eurasian vultures start their mating rituals which involve synchronised flying...



I talked about this in my post "Double headed eagle". 

Looked from the ground this flying pair looks like this:


Which is where the symbol of the double headed eagle most likely comes from, why rain gods are associated with eagles and why this Goat of rain has vulture's wings...

Also adding wings on things makes them more "heavenly"...

But whether this goat has wings or not is not important...

In most of the lands where rains arrive in October-November, the Goat of rain is depicted as an Ibex goat...The same is true of Iraq...This relief on the side of a cosmetic vessel from Nippur shows exactly the same flowering Tree of life except the Goat of rain is Ibex...


Now here is something interesting...The range of the Markhor goat, has historically been Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and northern India...Which means that people in Mesopotamia could not have been able to observe them and associate them with rain...

Which opens the question: why and how do we find depictions of Markhor in Mesopotamia, which match exactly the depictions of Ibex, from the earliest times. Like on this Hassuna redware bowl, circa 5500 BC


This is a mystery...

(Dramatic pause) 😉

There is one place where we find lots of Markhor goats though...I mean the animal is the national animal of the place...And the mating season of the Markhor (Nov-Dec) announces the beginning of the maximum precipitation period (Dec)...This place is Balochistan, just next to Indus Valley...


And guess what we find In Balochistan? We find this: Mehrgarh Neolithic site (dated c. 7000 BCE to c. 2500/2000 BCE) built by farmers...To whom rain was very very important...And so they probably also worshiped the Goat of rain...In the shape of Markhor??? 


So any link between Early Sumerians and Mehrgarhans? The appearance  of the worship of Markhor goats in Mesopotamia where Markhors don't live certainly suggests that...

Well I would say we are possibly looking at common root of both Mesopotamian and Indus Valley civilisations...

No comments:

Post a comment