Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Cock bashing

At the end of the harvest, when only the last sheaf of wheat was left standing in the field, Sorbs / Wends (Baltic Serbs) would decorate it with colourful ribbons and would shout: "Źins jo kokot- today is the day of the cock", which means that the harvest was completed that day, and it was time for "cock bashing"...

What is "cock bashing"?...

Well...

In the past, the harvesters took a cock to the field on the last day of the harvest. There they would let him run around the field. Then they would catch him again, tie him and put him into a shallow hole in the ground. 


A beer barrel was placed about a hundred paces from the cock with its open plug hole pointed in the direction of the cock. Anyone desiring to try his hand at slaying the cock was blindfolded. The handle of a threshing flail was stuck into the barrel's plug hole. The blindfolded young man would take the handle between his legs to determine the direction of the cock's location. Then he placed the flail over his shoulder and walked towards the pit with the cock. When he thought he was standing over the pit, he would try to hit the cock with the flail. He had 3 tries. If a young man finally managed to hit and kill the cock, he was proclaimed to be the king of the harvest. Then, while still blindfolded, young maidens would circle around him, and he got to grab one to be his queen. Then the king of the harvest was lifted on the shoulders of the other young men, and was carried to the village in a festive procession...There they cooked the cock and ate it as part of the end of harvest party...

Later, this custom was practiced in a more "humane manner". The pit in which the cock lay was covered over with boards, and a pot was placed over the boards. The rest was the same. whoever hit the pot, reigned as king...


Even later, the custom became even "more humane". The cock was kept in a basket decorated with oak leaves, from which he watched blindfolded men trying to whack a pot with a flail...


The first harvester to hit the pot became the harvest king. Then the harvest king choose his harvest queen. Together, they released the cock...And the other young men then tried to catch him. To make the competition more difficult, the cock chasers were barefoot. If you ever walked on a freshly harvested field barefoot, you will know that it's a torture...The first young man to get hold of the cock became the second harvest king. The cock was then auctioned off. Then killed, roasted and eaten at the party that evening... Humanely...

Anyway, after all the cock related excitement, the men decorated their hats with ears of corn and girls made wheat wreaths which they wore on their heads. Then they all walked from the fields to the village singing all the way. Once in the village they celebrated the end of the harvest with a wild party...And roast cock...

But this was not the only Sorbian end of harvest ritual that involved cocks. The other, even better one, was called "cock plucking". Here is how it was done:

A wooden gate decorated with green oak branches was erected in a field. A cock was then tied to the crossbar by his feet, hanging upside down. 


Young men rode through the gate one after the other and tried to tear off the cock's head. 



The one who succeed was proclaimed "the first king". 


The young men who then managed to rip off the wings of the cock when passing through, were proclaimed "the 2nd and the 3rd king". The 3 winners were given large wreaths made of oak leaves. Then, the harvest kings got to pick their queens from among the village unmarried girls while blindfolded. Then the party started....With the roast cock... 

Later, it was decided that hanging up a live cock and ripping his head and wings off was not very humane...So the cock was first killed (presumably humanely) and was then hang on the gate crossbar dead...The rest was the same. 

So what the hell...

Well....

Middle of Leo, 2nd of August, is when Balkan Serbs used to celebrate the day of Perun. This was also the day that marked the end of summer and the beginning of autumn. And the end of harvest. The sacred bird of Perun, the storm god, was the fire cock. When Christianity replaced the old Slavic pagan religion, in Serbia Perun was replaced with Sveti Ilija Gromovnik (St Elijah the Thunderer, the Thundering Sun) and the cock became associated with this "Thundering" saint. 

I talked about this in my posts "The thundering sun god", "Cockerel and lion" and "Alidjun"...

Now interestingly, cock, the sacred bird of the thunder god is slaughtered, cooked and eaten on the day of St Elijah the Thunderer "so that the sun would not burn the grain". But actually as the thanksgiving to the Thunder god for "not destroying the grain during the harvest, which is the period with most thunderstorms in the Balkans". But also a prayer to the Thunder god for rain, now that the harvest was finished...

Because it is the "Sky god" who can turn this


into this


I talked about this in my post "The power of the Thunder Giant"

The cock sacrifice (because it is obviously a ritual killing) in the Baltic Serbia, is performed a bit later, in the second part of August. This is because the grain harvest starts and finishes later in the north of Europe. 

I already talked about this shifting of the same rituals to the later and later date the further and further north we go in Europe in my post "Jani"...

But it is again "the end of harvest" ritual, in which a cock (the holy bird of Perun) is killed and eaten (sacrificed to Perun) in the grain field, with a flail (tool used in threshing). It was actually believed that the fertility of the cock would be transferred to the field...

And in both versions of the ritual (cock bashing and cock plucking) the decorations of the basket and of the gate were made of green oak leaves. Oak was the sacred tree of Perun...

So there is no doubt that the Balkan and Baltic Serbian rituals are just two versions of one and the same ancient "end of harvest" thanksgiving ritual...

Now in my post "Thanksgiving" I talked about the medieval reports that pagan Baltic Slavs used to perform "end of harvest human sacrifices"...

Also in my post about "New house" I talked about obvious replacement of the human sacrifice with a sacrifice of a cock...

"It was believed that someone from the family will soon die after they move into the new house, because every house wants to have its protective spirit, which is the spirit of the first person to die in the house.  To prevent this from happening, the man of the new house would kill a cockerel on the house doorstep (the seat of the dead) and would sprinkle all four corners of the house with its blood..."

So are these sacrifices of cocs to Perun at the end of harvest just replacement for sacrificing of people to Perun at the end of harvest?

Believe or not, there are end of harvest rituals recored among Balkan Serbs, which confirm that this is in fact the case...

Dožinjalica is a cock which is slaughtered at the end of the harvest. Among the Serbs from Croatia it was believed that "grain will yield plentifully next year only where dožinjalica is eaten". On Tobolić, at the end of the harvest, the harvesters would tie the housewife with ropes. They would then light up a fire in the field where the last sheaf of grain was cut, and would "pretend to burn her in the fire"... The would let her go only after "she promised them a dožinjalica". Similar customs were also recorded among Serbs from from Northern Dalmatia. There the harvesters would "grab the housewife, cary her to a fire burning in the field, where they would pretend to roast her over the fire..." or they would "put the sickle under her throat..." so she would "promise them better dinner". In some parts "housewife was tied to the stožer, the central column of the threshing floor..." until she promised them "a good end of harvest dinner"...It is interesting that in some other places, Serbs actually sacrificed a cock to the central threshing floor column at the end of the harvest...

Here we see obvious replacement of the human sacrifice with the sacrifice of a cock...

So interesting right?

Sorce for Balkan Serbian harvest rituals "Srpski mitoloski recnik - grupa autora". Source for Baltic Serbian harvest rituals "The lost tribes of Europe, Sorbs" "Wendish research exchange"...

Saturday, 26 September 2020

Ashkelon invasion

This is a transcript made by the archaeologist Georges Perrot, of the Luwian inscription engraved on the 3,200-year-old, 29-metre-long limestone frieze which was discovered in Turkey in the 19th c. The stone with the original inscription was later destroyed...

This inscription is the longest known hieroglyphic inscription from the Bronze Age. When the text was eventually translated, it turned out to be a story about the "Sea People" naval expedition to Ashkelon in modern-day Israel (Illustration: Sea People by Giuseppi Rava)

The inscription tells the story of King Kupantakuruntas, who became king of Mira and ‘guardian of Troy’ after his father Mashuittas’s death, and was the brains behind the capturing of Ashkelon and turning it into a major army and navy base...You can read more about it in Rediscovered Luwian Hieroglyphic Inscriptions from Western Asia Minor...

Now recent genetic study "Genetic History of the Near East (Iron & Classical Ages)" - Haber at al. 2020 has shown that at that exact time the area around Ashkelon had a large influx of "Southern European and Western Anatolian DNA"...

You can read more about it in "A Genetic History of the Near East from an aDNA Time Course Sampling Eight Points in the Past 4,000 Years"

The important bit is that authors of the study say that "...according to ancient Egyptian texts and archaeology, the Sea Peoples conquered the Levant but failed to conquer Egypt. Therefore, we tested whether the Eurasian gene flow to Lebanon during the Iron Age had also reached ancient Egypt."

"The results of the measurement of the Steppe ancestry in both regions suggests that...either ancient Egypt did not receive the Eurasian gene flow that the Levant received during the Iron Age or that the Eurasian ancestry was replaced in Egypt later..."

Which matches the historical records from the area...

Friday, 25 September 2020

Calydonian boar

Illyrian silver stater 300-275 BC. Cow suckling her calf. Jawbone above. So what's the meaning of all of this?

Of first the cow suckling the calf. 

The calving season of the wild Eurasian cattle starts in Taurus, beginning of summer. This is also the beginning of the milking season...I wrote about the link between wild Eurasian cattle and Taurus in my article "Ram and Bull" and about bull as the symbol of summer in my article "Symbols of the seasons"...


Now we have to identify the jawbone. Officially this is a wild boar jawbone...Is it? 

Jawbone from the coin. 

Wild boar jawbone

It seems to match...

In my article about the double headed eagle axe, I talked about the symbolism of the wild boar and its link to winter. Mating season of the wild boar across Eurasia starts in November, beginning of winter...

Both cattle and wild boar were used in Eurasia as solar year calendar markers. Bull marking end of April, beginning of May, beginning of summer, and wild boar marking end of October beginning of November, beginning of winter...

In old Celtic calendar, which closely corresponds to the Anatolian and Middle Eastern Agricultural calendar, the year is divided into only two parts: Dark Nov-Apr (wet season in Anatolia and Middle East) and Light May-Oct (dry season in Anatolia and Middle East)



The Dark part starts with Boar (November) and the Light part starts with Bull (May). Is it possible that the boar jawbone represents the death (end) of the the dark part of the year and the cow and calf represent birth (start) of the light part of the year? 

A century after the above Illyrian coin was minted, we find a jawbone on the coins of the Aitolian league. This one was minted in 211 BC. 



Officially "Spear, Jawbone, Calydonian Boar, commemorates killing of the Calydonian boar". Why would this be Calydonian Boar jawbone? What is the significance of the killing of this boar? Political? Religious?

Let's have a look at the Calydonian boar myth...

Hmmm"...King Oeneus of Calydon held annual harvest sacrifices to the gods...

Harvest in Ancient Greece began in Taurus...I talked about the link between the Taurus and grain in Greek culture in my post "Hesiod on grain"...

"...One year the king forgot to include Great Artemis...in his offerings. Insulted, Artemis...loosed the biggest, most ferocious wild boar imaginable on the countryside of Calydon. It rampaged throughout the countryside, destroying vineyards and crops...People began to starve..."

If boar represents winter, then "most ferocious wild boar" "destroying vineyards and crops" and "causing people to starve" could be a sudden catastrophic climate change, sudden cooling...Like the one which happened during Bronze age collapse...1200BC

So I think that the legend about the Calydonian boar just confirm the link between the wild boar and winter...And that it can actually only be understood properly through this link...

I personally that the jawbone on the Illyrian coin is a calendar marker marking the end of the dark part of the year and the beginning of the light part of the year.

What do you think?

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Jumping goat

This is a very very interesting vessel from Shahr-i Sokhta, Iran. Late 3rd Mill. BC...

Here again we see the "Goat of rain" next to the "Tree of life". Basically just an Ibex goat eating green shoots from a green plant. Which has been revived by the first rain which arrives to this part of Iran during Ibex (Bezoar) goat mating season.  Which begins in late Oct early Nov

Yawn...Not the goat of rain again...

As much as this is really amazing, this is not why this vessel is so interesting. The five pictures on the side of the vessel show a goat stepping toward a tree, climbing it up, eating the leaves and coming down...

This series of pictures is one of earliest examples of an artist's attempting to show motion through animation. Now if you were able to spin the vessel around (fastish) this is what you would see. 


Seriously cool, right?

You can read more about the "Goat of rain" in Iran in my post "Vessel from Tepe Hissar" and "Maltese cross seal from Elam". You can find more articles about animal solar year calendar markers here.

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Jiroft flood vase

This is the chlorite carved flask discussed in the paper entitled "Searching for mythological themes on the 'jiroft' chlorite artefacts" by Massimo Vidale of the University of Padua. The Flask dated to the 3rd millennium BC, is kept in the Bagh-e Harandi Museum, Kerman. 

In the paper we read: "The scene can be coherently read from the bottom to the top. In the foreground, we see a long-haired personage in kneeling position who grabs from the throat two massive humped bulls facing each other in a heraldic position. Below the neck of the animals runs a strip simiilar to a rope...The bulls (probably sky creatures) emanate heavy water flows, causing a major flood. At the end, the first mountain (or mountains) emerges from the flooded world, as water retires. Then another long-haired personage, accompanied by two heavenly signs (moon and star), puts in the sky an imposing rainbow, and signals that the flood is finished. Beyond the rainbow, a renovated world has finally emerged from the deadly waters."


So the paper interprets the scene from the vase as "a representation of a destructive flood, ending when a divinity lifts a rainbow in the sky at which point the first mountain emerges from the flood waters". And it then goes on to compare these images with Old Babylonian and later cuneiform versions of flood myths. 

I would have to strongly disagree with this interpretation. 

I don't think that the scene depicts a destructive flood and certainly not "The Flood". Instead it depicts the annual flood, the snowmelt flood, which was the main source of water, and life, for the people of the Jiroft culture. 

The rivers in the mountain areas of Iran, including the Halil river, around which the Jiroft culture was based, are fed by rainfall during the winter, but mostly by snowmelt during spring and summer. The snowmelt starts in late Feb early Mar, and peaks in late Apr, early May. 

Pic: the flow of Iranian rivers, which have a spike between Mar and Aug with peak in late Apr early May...


Pic: Halil River

So the flood peaks in late April early May, in Taurus. As I explained in my article about Khafajeh vase, another very interesting Jiroft artefact, on which bulls are linked with water, there is a direct link between the old wild cattle and the annual flood season in the Jiroft area. Here is the bulls and "rivers" part of the scene from the Khafajeh vase:

These are not just any bulls. These are Zebu bulls. Zebu's mating season coincides with the snowmelt flow season which peaks in Taurus 🙂. This is why, on Khafajeh vase, the "human looking being" who stands on zebus is holding flowing water, the rivers among lush vegetation...This is also why water, actually rivers, "emanate" from the bulls heads on this Jiroft vase. 

So the Jiroft rivers flood during the spring and summer. 

But the rain and snow that feed them fall during the winter and spring...

The climatic year in the Halil River (Jiroft) area is divided into dry season (Apr/May to Oct/Nov) and wet season (Nov/Dec-Mar/Apr). The wettest month is Feb, while the driest month is Jul which is also the hottest month...

The only time when you can see a rainbow is during the rain season. Which is winer and spring.  The rainbow dude has moon pointing upward with a star. The moon points up during the winter. 

Which is the rain and snow season in Zagros mountains. Hence the only time you can see a rainbow.

So the rainbow dude represents winter (and spring) and the zebu dude represents (spring and) summer. The water reach seasons... 

By the way, remember this rainbow girl from Sassanian Iran? 

People now think that this girl "is just a dancer". But once people thought that she was Goddess of water and fertility Anahita. By the way I still think she is the water and fertility goddess...Mostly because she is holding a rainbow from which vegetation grows...Basically she symbolises the same thing as the rainbow dude from the Jiroft flood vase. Rain creating life...

So it seems that the rainbow god/goddess was the ting in Iran from at least Jiroft culture, until the Sassanian culture...

Oh and it is not "the first mountain emerges from the flooded world as the waters of The Flood recede"...It's just the Zagros mountains, the source of water and life for Jiroft people...The rainbow is over the mountains because Jiroft guys lived in valleys surrounded by high mountains...

Friday, 11 September 2020

Khafajeh vase


I have seen this picture of the so called "Khafajeh vase" so many times before. Amazing object. It was dated to the mid 3rd millennium BC, and it is called so because it was allegedly found in Khafajeh, in Diyala region of Iraq in an unsupervised dig...

The vase was made in the so called "Intercultural style" with stylistic elements from Mesopotamia, Iran, Central Asia and Indus valley. And it is believed that it was not made in Iraq, but in Iran by the people of the Jiroft culture...

As I said, an amazing object. But just how amazing this object really is, I only realised the other day, when for the first time I saw the whole design that adorns it unrolled into a continuous stip...


It is shown on the page 331 of the "Art of the First Cities: The Third Millennium B.C. from the Mediterranean to the Indus Valley" By Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.) 

The design is divided into four "scenes" (and not three as it is stated in the description in the book):


The official interpretation is: "heroes, masters of animals subduing the nature". I would beg to disagree...And to understand why I am so sure that this has nothing to do with any imaginary "masters of animals" we need to look at climate and animal behaviour in Jiroft area...

Jiroft culture was centred around the Halil River catchment area. Pic: Key physical, archaeological and phytogeographical features in the Jiroft valley. KSN (Konar Sandal North) and KSS (Konar Sandal South) sites. Inset: Map of Iran with location of the Jiroft valley...


The climatic year in the Halil River (Jiroft) area is divided into dry season (Apr/May to Oct/Nov) and wet season (Nov/Dec-Mar/Apr). The wettest month is Feb, while the driest month is Jul which is also the hottest month...

The precipitation falls as rain in the valley and as snow in the mountains which surround it. And it is the snow which fell on the mountains that affected the life of the Jiroft people more than the rain that fell on the valley...Pic: snow cover of the Iranian mountains per month



The rivers in the mountain areas of Iran, including the Halil river, are fed mostly by snowmelt, which starts in late Feb early Mar, and peaks in late Apr, early May. Pic: the flow of Iranian rivers, which have a spike between Mar and Aug with peak in late Apr early May...



The snowmelt brought with it sediments from the mountains and created rich alluvial plains ideal for agriculture. It also fed the river until the end of June, allowing for intensive irrigation for months after the last spring rains, extending growing season significantly...

The snowmelt in the surrounding high mountains also fed the a shallow groundwater table in the alluvial plains which created many artesian wells and springs. Agriculture and civilisation flourishes where freshwater is readily available...



And if the rain and snow ever stopped falling, the river would stop flowing and that would mean the end of the life in the Jiroft valley...And  this is exactly what happened at the end of the 3rd millennium BC...

Everything indicates that the Halil river valley was abandoned due to desertification during the "4.2 kiloyear event



The end 🙂 

Well the end of the bit about the climate. Now the animals. We have: zebu cattle, eurasian lions, scorpions, vultures, bears and snakes...What is the meaning of this menagerie? Let's see...

Zebu

I couldn't find much info about natural mating season of Zebu cattle. Except two notes from "Zebu cattle of India and Pakistan": 

Dhani cattle (Mating has slight peak May to August)

Kankrej cattle (Mating tendency March to August)

I would suggest, based on the behaviour of other wild cattle (aurochs, buffalos) which both have single mating season, and Indus valley depictions, that wild zebu also had single mating season which spanned the summer (May-Jul) or which peaked in May...I talked about this in my post "Kharif and Rabi season"... 


Eurasian lion

As for Eurasian lions, their main mating season was and still is August to October. I talked about this in my post "Entemena vase"


Syrian Brown bear

It is distributed throughout Northern Armenia, Azerbaijan, Abkhazia in Georgia, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Turkey and Turkmenistan. They mate between May and July with cubs born in the winter den around January or early February. 

Asiatic black bear

It is found in the forests of Eastern Asia from Iran to Taiwan and Japan, particularly in hilly and mountainous terrain. They mate in June and July with cubs born in winter den in January and February.

Both Syrian brown bears and Asian black bears prepare their dens for hibernation in mid-October, and will sleep from November until March when they will emerge out of their dens with their cubs...

Guess what happens in Iran at the exact time when the bear cubs emerge from their dens? Date palm pollination, which in the Northern Hemisphere takes place in Mar/Apr...Which is what is shown on the "bear part of the "Khafajeh vase": bear cubs next to blooming date tree...

Vulture

As for vultures, the vultures which live in Iraq, Iran and North India start their mating season at the end of autumn, beginning of winter (late Oct early Nov). I talked about this in my post "Double headed eagle

Scorpion

As for scorpions, they disappear from the outside nature (and probably appear inside human dwellings) at the end of autumn, beginning of winter, when the weather gets too cold and damp. I talked about it in my post "Scorpion man"...


Finally snakes.

 

They are the symbol of sun's heat. The only true solar animals, they are in our world when the sun is in it too (day, and hot, dry part of the year), and in the underworld when the sun is there too (night, and wet, cold part of the year). I talked about this in my post "Bactrian snakes and dragons"...

Why am I yapping about animals and their mating and birthing seasons? Because these significant lifecycle events, which occur every year at the same time, were used by our ancestors, before solar and lunar calendars were developed, as solar year calendar markers...I am adding articles related to this theme to this list

And this is exactly what each animal is on the "Khafajeh vase": a calendar marker...

So let's have a look at the "Khafajeh vase" imagery again, with all the knowledge about the natural world in which the Jiroft people who made this amazing vase lived...

1. The bear cubs scene

Bear cubs are born at the end of Jan beginning of Feb, beginning of spring. They emerge from their dens in Mar, middle of spring, at the beginning of the date palms pollination and the beginning of the snowmelt. So I would say that the bear cubs "scene" symbolises the spring...

2. Zebus

Zebu's mating season coincides with the snowmelt flow season which peaks in Taurus 🙂. This is why the "human looking being" who stands on zebus is holding flowing water, the rivers among lush vegetation. So I would say that the zebus symbolise summer...

The snowmelt surge starts diminishing towards the end of June, around summer solstice. Which I would say is the border between the zebu scene and the lion scene. The maximum water flaw beginning of summer, Taurus. The minimum water flow end of summer, Leo...

3. Lions

Lion mating season coincides with the driest part of the year in the Halil river catchment area. Not only that this is the period with the least precipitation, but also the snow melt flow has stopped, so river is at its lowest level...And Leo is also the hottest part of the year.

This is why the "human looking being" who stands on lions is holding snakes...And lions are depicted standing in arid landscape with no vegetation...So I would say that the lions symbolise autumn...

4. Carnage...

Lion (autumn) has killed the zebu (summer) and is now eating the carcass of a long dead animal. Lion is joined by scorpion and eagle...

Eagle is the dual zodiac sign for scorpio. On the zodiac circle, and in general as solar year animal markers, they both symbolise the beginning of winter. And the arrival of rain and snow...So I would say that the scorpion and eagle symbolise winter...

So here we have, spelled out, in animal solar year markers, the climate in the Halil river basin, where Jiroft culture once thrived. Until the sun god got angry and dried the skies and rivers and wells for ever. Well for few hundred years, during the 4.2 kiloyear event...

The same sun god depicted standing on zebus (young sun of spring and early summer, which causes the snow to melt and rivers to fill - holding water) and standing on loins (the old sun of late summer and autumn, which causes the land and rivers and wells to dry - holding snakes)

Yes I believe that this "human looking being" is not a hero or a master of the animals, but the sun god, from the time before the "bull horn hats" became fashionable among gods...

That's it...

Well except for the sun and the moon. The sun is shown next to both the young and the old sun. As the identification mark. The moon pointing up, which I postulated to mean winter, wet season, is only shown next to the young sun, the one which causes water to flow...

Which makes me wonder if this is moon, which points upward during winter, or vessel which collect precipitation which falls during winter wet season, river bed...Or both...Still thinking...

To conclude. This is an extremely complex set of interconnected animal and plant calendar markers, which perfectly describe the climate in Jiroft valley. There is no way this is an accident or coincidence...

Which is why "Khafajeh vase" is so important: it proves that Jiroft culture, like Indus Valley culture, Elamites, Akkadians, Sumerians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Hittites, Minoans, Mycenaeans, BMAC...also used animal solar year markers...The same ones in the same way...