Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Markhor goat in Naqada

Ceramic vase - Naqada II, Egyptian Predynastic period 3500 BC. Dim 8,5x7,6 cm. Currently in: Museo Arqueologico Nacional, Madrid, Spain...



Officially depicts a hunting scene...

Have you seen this article called "Nahal Mishmar hoard"? About the treasure throve of bronze objects found at Nahal Mishmar in Israel and dated 4000-3500 BC. 


One of the artifacts found in the treasure is this beautiful staff...

It is topped with the 4 small heads of Ibex goats 

surrounding the big central head of a Markhor goat 

Now Ibex goats are found in Levant. And there they are a symbol of the rainy season, which starts when ibex goats start to mate, in Oct/Nov...Like on this depiction of the mother goddess from Revadim...



The problem is that Markhor goats don't live in Levant. They live in Central Asia, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan...Where they are a symbol of the rainy season, interchangeable with Ibex goat. Because both of their mating seasons start in Oct/Nov, when rains arrive...

I talked about this in my post "Goat in a tree"

So while researching Nahal Mishmar hoard, I proposed that the it must have been made by someone from that part of the world, Central Asia, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan. Cause only they could have seen Markhor goats and had it associated with Ibex goats as a symbol...

It turned out Nahal Mishmar treasure is believed to be made by immigrants from Iran. Because of genetics of the people who made the treasure...And the similarities of artifacts from both areas...

Now the makers of the Nahal Mishmar treasure were expelled by the locals...Those the locals couldn't kill. I thought they went back north to Iran. But what if they went the other way...Down south...To Egypt...

Who else could have made a vase with Markhor goats and Ibexes prancing around the mountains?

By the way, Ibex goats live in Egypt. It is the subspecies known as Nubian Ibex. And Nubian Ibex mating season is from October to December...

Guess what happens in Naqada in October? Rains arrive...

So I think that Ibex was depicted on the above vase for a reason. It is another example of Ibex goat being used as a calendar marker that means: rains arrive when Ibex goats start to mate...

Just like in Levant, Mesopotamia, Arabia, Central Asia, Iran...Amazing...

So I think that  the guy with huge erection standing in the middle of mating Ibex and Bezoar goats is not a hunter. I mean he is unarmed which is usually a dead giveaway for "not a hunter". He is most likely a fertility symbol, fertility god, possibly rain god...

By the way this vase is not an exception. Markhor goats are found on other Naqada vases too. Like this one. Again no explanation how come this goat is here, in Egypt...


Ibex goats are also found all over predynastic artifacts. Here is another vase from Naqada II period. Dated to 3500BC.

It depicts Ibex goats...And Flamingos. 

Why flamingos? Because breeding season of Greater Flamingo, the subspecies found in Egypt, is "Erratic, depending on the rains, but mainly November-February"...Ha!

As a comparison, here is a vase from Susa, Iran, dated to 4000BC...

In its center is a huge Ibex. Its horns surround what looks like a furrow with a plant, most likely grain. Rains make plants grow. And they start falling when Ibexes start mating...It is also "after the first rains" that fields are ploughed and grain is sown...Important!!!

The Susa vase also depicts pile of flamingoes...Flamingoes which arrive to Iran every November from Central Asia, to spend the winter...Interesting...Right?

Guess what happens in Egypt during the Ibex and Flamingos mating? Well grain is planted...The flood has ended, the soil was fertilized, and it's time to plough and plant grain while the first rain is falling...

What is amazing is that once we understand why these animals are depicted on the ancient artifacts, we can then detect anomalies in distribution of these artifacts: pieces that are found in the areas where the animals depicted don't exist...

Or the depicted scene put together makes no sense...When compared with the local climate...Which are all indicators of the foreign influence and possible migrations which brought these influences...

Like these vases. 

Or this for instance

I talked about this in my post "An Ki = Ankh"

Monday, 5 July 2021

Kassandra

Scene from the trojan war: Cassandra clings to the Xoanon, the wooden cult image of Athene, while Ajax the Lesser is about to drag her away in front of her father Priam (standing on the left) and rape her. Roman fresco from the atrium of the Casa del Menandro, Pompeii.

Cassandra was a Trojan priestess of Apollo. According to the legend, Apollo fell in love with her, and sought to win her by giving Cassandra the gift of prophecy...

Some sources say that she promised Apollo her favors, some say that she promised nothing. Regardless, after receiving the gift, she refused the god, which as you can imagine pissed him off...A lot...

The enraged Apollo could not revoke a divine power, so he added to it the curse that though she would see the future, nobody would believe her prophecies...

Her cursed gift from Apollo became an endless pain and frustration to her. She was seen as a liar and a madwoman by her family and by the Trojan people...

Cassandra foresaw the destruction of Troy, she warned the Trojans about the Greeks hiding inside the Trojan Horse, Agamemnon's death, her own demise at the hands of Aegisthus and Clytemnestra, her mother Hecuba's fate...Everything...However, her warnings were all disregarded...

So far, a classic Greek tragedy...But here is the interesting bit (for me):

In some versions of the myth, it wasn't Apollo who gave her the prophetic powers directly. She was asleep in the Apollo's temple, where the snakes licked (or whispered in) her ears so that she could hear the future...

You know snakes, the only true solar animals, working on behalf of the sun god and following him everywhere. 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 posts "Enemy of the sun", "The chthonic animal", "Bactrian snakes and dragons", "Dragon who stole rain"... 

And this is even better. In some versions of the myth, Apollo curses her by spitting into her mouth...

Well well well...

This is really interesting. Why? Because this is the third case of "spitting into someone's mouth" was used to either transmit sacred knowledge, ability to see (know) things others don't, or to revoke this knowledge or to mess it up...And that snakes are somehow involved...

The other two examples of this story can be found in my post "Glaucos"...

Oh, and wasn't Delphi, the most famous prophetic centre of the old world, originally the place where a giant snake (symbol of sun's heat) / dragon (symbol of extreme sun's heat) lived, until it was killed and replaced by....Sun god Apollo...

It is believed that snakes are linked to prophecy because they can travel between our world and the underworld, the world of the dead...And it is the dead that posses the knowledge of the future...But as I already said, snakes follow sun to the underworld...Hence Apollo and the snake at the centre of Delphi...

Glaucos

This is a white-ground kylix (drinking-cup), made in Attica in the mid 5th c. BC by The Sotades Painter (Potter)...Currently in the British Museum...

The scene depicts Glaucos, a young son of the king Minos of Crete, on the right, and Polyeidos, a famous seer from Corinth, on the left. They are inside what looks like a beehive shaped tumulus tomb. Or a wine-cellar???

As Glaucos watches, Polyeidos raises himself on his knees, uplifting in his right hand a spear, with which he thrusts downwards at one of two snakes which lie at the bottom of the scene below the centre of the tumulus (wine-cellar)...

The snake on the left appears to be moving towards its companion, which lies extended with its body in two loops as if dead...

The reason why I think this is a wine-cellar is this. This is a visual depiction of part of the legend which talks about the resurrection of Glaucos by Polyidus. Legend which goes like this:

One day, while playing with a ball Glaucus wondered into a wine-cellar, fell into a jar of honey and died. After a long search, Polyidus (whose name means the one who sees many things) finally discovered Glaucus's body...

Minos demanded that Polyidus brings Glaucus back to life, as the Delphic Oracle had promised. But when Polyidus objected to that, Minos shut Polyidus in the wine-cellar with the dead boy until he brings him back to life...

After a while a snake crawled into the cellar, and Polyidus killed it with the spear. Another snake came looking for the first, and after seeing it dead, it left and brought back a herb which brought the first snake back to life. Polyidus used the same herb to resurrect Glaucus..

King Minos then refused to let Polyidus leave Crete until he taught Glaucus the art of divination. Polyidus did so, but then, at the last second before leaving, he asked Glaucus to spit in his mouth. Glaucus did so and forgot everything he had been taught...

Interesting. Snakes which poses secret knowledge. Taking of the ability to see (know) things through taking someone's spit...Looks very familiar indeed. 

Just like this:

"Nemušti jezik" from Serbian and Bulgarian folk tales is a language that a man can use to communicate with all living creatures in the world. You can't learn this language. You can only get the knowledge of this language if a Snake king spits (or blows) into your mouth...


Are there other stories that have snakes, spit and sacred knowledge, ability to see (know) all in one?

Sunday, 4 July 2021

Kataibates

Zeus, the god of lightning, had a nickname "Kataibates" (he who descends). This basically equated Zeus with Thunder/Lightning...

Remember this article about what came first: Thunder/Lightning or Thunder God? Thunder gods of course...

The piece of ground hit by lightning cannot be walked on, is consecrated to Zeus and is marked by a monument or an altar. These altars were then used to make offerings to Zeus in exchange for protection from lightning...

Same altars dedicated to Zeus Kataibates were also built in front of houses, and there too offerings were made in order to protect the house from lightning. This custom seems to have been fairly common in Greece. 

You can read more about this in "Greek Popular Religion" by Martin P. Nilsson...

Interestingly, Zeus's thunderbolt was imagined to be a stone or a stone axe. Like this one. 


Which is interesting considering that Zeus didn't wield an axe...Well that't not exactly true. Late Roman god Jupiter Dolichenus, whose mystery cult was widespread in the Roman Empire from the early-2nd to mid-3rd centuries AD, wielded an axe. And rode on a bull... Here is an altar from Vindolanda dedicated to Jupiter Dolichenus...


It is believed that he came from the east...And in the east, in Anatolia, we find Hittite thunder god(s) wielding an axe...


And even further east we find Adad, Mesopotamian storm god, who also loved axes...


How far East and how far back in time should we go?

Stone axes or adzes, originally shaped and polished in Neolithic times, sometimes turn up in later archaeological sites or graves from the Bronze Age down to the medieval period...

Because they were apparently thought to have some kind of magical power to protect buildings and people, especially from lightning and violent storms...

We know something about these beliefs thanks to a string of testimonia in technical treatises on stones, beginning with a third-century BCE Greek author named Sotacus and ending with a twelfth-century bishop of Rennes. And thanks to European folklore...

It is important to understand that there is no evidence that the Greeks or Romans realized that these axe-heads were manufactured by previous stone-age cultures. They were believed to be “natural” stones which, like amber, jet or coral, had special protective powers...

Sotacus, the Hellenistic author of a lost treatise on stones maintained (according to Pliny’s abridged account) that "cerauniae are similar to axes" except they are not axes but magic thunderstones...

Latin lapidary (natural history) attributed to Damigeron-Evax, devotes an entire chapter (12) to the "lapis ceraunius" (thunderstone), which is found in places where lightning has struck...

Timotheos of Gaza, a 5th c. CE author tells us that "you will have an amulet against a thunderblast (keraunon), if you inscribe a thunderstone (lithon keraunion) with the letters αφια αφρυξ and keep it in your house"

In his Etymologies Isidore, the early 7th c. CE bishop of Seville, also notes that "ceraunia" (thunderstones), were found in places struck by lightening and could avert lightening...

In the 12th c. AD, Marbodaeus, the bishop of Rennes, preserves a similar account in his own Liber lapidum.

And in the 11th century the Byzantine emperor sent to the Holy Roman emperor a "heaven axe" as a present...

Ethnographers and folklorists have also established the existence of similar long-standing and widespread beliefs throughout Europe.

For instance, in modern Greece, astropelékia ("lightening axes") are sought out at places where "lightning has fallen" and are kept in houses to ward off lightning and fire...

Perun, Slavic thunder god, also wielded an axe...According to Slavic folk beliefs, prehistoric stone axes found in the ground were remains of these weapons...

Thor wielded a hammer...And we know that in Scandinavia thunderstones were frequently worshiped as family totems which kept off spells and witchcraft...

Both Slavs and Scandinavians wore axe (hammer) amulets...

Thor's hammer amulet

Perun's axe amulet

I always thought that Thor's hammer looked like a stylized axe

That Thor's "hammer" was originally an axe, can be seen from this next artifact. A museum in Utrecht has a relic called "the hammer of St. Martin of Tours". 

The "hammer" was made in the 13th or 14th c. from a Bronze Age stone axe dated to 1,000 - 700 BC...

What does this have to do with Thunder gods? Well, St Martin is another "saint" who is nothing more than the thunder god in disguise. I talked about this in my post The "The axe of Martin"...

Another indication that Thor's hammer was originally an axe, can be seen from the etymology of the the Thor's axe name: Mjǫllnir. The etymology of the hammer's name is disputed among historical linguists.

Here are proposed etymologies. You tell me which one is most plausible:

1. Old Norse Mjǫllnir developed from Proto-Norse *melluniaR and one proposed derivation connects this form to Old Church Slavonic mlunuji and Russian molnija meaning 'lightning' (either borrowed from a Slavic source or both stemming from a common source) and subsequently yielding the meaning 'lightning-maker'. 

2. Another proposal connects Mjǫllnir to Old Norse mjǫll meaning 'new snow' and modern Icelandic mjalli meaning 'the color white', rendering Mjǫllnir as 'shining lightning weapon'. 

3. Finally, another proposal connects Old Norse Mjǫllnir to Old Norse mala meaning 'to grind' and Gothic malwjan 'to grind', yielding Mjǫllnir as meaning 'the grinder'.

Considering the amount of mixing between Slavs and Norse and mutual cultural influences...

Also, The word "mo(ld)nya" (lightning) exists in all Slavic languages. It's cognates, apart from Norse Mjǫllnir are: Latvian "milna" (hammer of the thunderer 🙂), Old Prussian "mealde" (lightning), Middle Welsh "mellt, myllt" (lightning)...So...

Archaeological evidence confirms, that this belief in the link between Thunder Gods and stone axes, and the belief in their protective power was already widespread all over early Roman Empire.

For instance, in a survey of pre-historic axe-heads found in Roman sites in Britain, of the forty known examples, twenty nine were found in or closely associated with buildings...Some in temples...

You can read more about this in "Inscribed Greek Thunderstones as House- and Body-Amulets in Roman Imperial Times". 

The generally accepted belief was that a thunderstone fallen from the sky will in future protect against thunderstorms and lightning strikes. It's power will be greatly increased if inscribed with a magic spell...Like this roman example with Greek inscription...


Or like this Roman stone axe amulet worn as a protection against evil...Lightning too...




So...

Are European folk beliefs related to the thunderstones Roman in origin?

Are Roman beliefs related to thunderstones Greek in origin?

Are Greek beliefs related to thunderstones Hittite in origin?

Are Hittite beliefs in thunder gods armed with an axe Mesopotamian in origin?

Where and when does the link between the stone axe and thunder god originate?

I would suggest that this link between a stone, more specifically flint axe, and thunder gods, already existed in the 4th millennium BC Europe...Enter exploding flint axes dudes from Southern Baltic... 


Friday, 2 July 2021

Lords of divination

In Serbian the expression "On vedri i oblači" means "he rules", "he has absolute control, absolute power". Literally this expression means "he makes the sky clear and cloudy"...


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

This expression was obviously originally applied to the sky god, The God, The Lord of the early agricultural societies and the peasants, particularly the wheat farmers, whose lives depend on the climate being just right...

The sky god, the sky father, was over time split into Sun god (Svetovid) and Storm god (Perun)...

But the fact that these were just two faces of the old Sky god was preserved in Serbian folklore in Dabog (Giving God, The Sky Father)...

You know that you are dealing with someone powerful when his name is "Giving god"...This means that he can also not give if you piss him off..

Dabog was seen as both the sun god, and as the rain god...

Serbs also preserved the notion of the Sun and Thunder god being one and the same in their "thundering saint" Elijah the Thunderer...

He is seen as the burning sun of the late summer and as the cooling rainstorm of the early autumn...

Elijah the Thunderer is celebrated at the end of summer and start of autumn, on the old day of Perun's victory over Veles...But Elijah is both Veles, The Dragon (Drought) who steals Perun's "heavenly cows" (clouds), and Perun, The Dragon Killer...

I talked about this in my post "Dragon that stole rain"...

The other day I thought that I guess you could say that there is only one God in the sky, and that is The Sun...It is The Sun that both takes away the heavenly cows (causes drought) and mercifully returns them...If you pray enough...

I think that the Ancient Sumerians had the same view of heaven and who's the boss up there...

This is "dingir" symbol, which means "god" and is placed in front of every god's name to indicate that we are dealing with a deity...Originally though, it was an ideogram for the Sumerian word an ("sky" or "heaven")...People say it looks like a star. To me it looks like The Sun.


It is An, The Sky Father and Ki, The Earth Mother, who gave, and continue to give birth to everything...Including all the "gods" and all life. 

Father (sky) + Mother (earth) = Life...It is their union, their interplay, their intercourse, that creates that life...Interestingly, when you put the names of the Sumerian father sky and mother earth together you get AnKi...

Strangely similar to ankh...

I talked about this in my posts "Etemenanki", "Square and compasses" and "An Ki - Ankh"...

Anyway eventually The Sky god, The Sky Father, was split into Sun god and Storm god... In Akkad, Sun god Shamash and Storm god Adad...And interestingly, Shamash and Adad became in combination the gods of oracles and of divination in general...

Of course, because if you are a farmer, it is the will of these two, that determines whether you eat or starve, live or die...Which is why you turn to the sky in your prayers...

And so the main duty of diviners was to figure out what Shamash and Adad were up to. Basically what is Sky God, Sky Father up to...

In the annals and votive inscriptions of the kings, when oracles are referred to, Shamash and Adad are always named as the gods addressed as "lords of divination".

And it was the main duty of the priests to figure out what were Shamash and Adad pleased with and what were they pissed off with...What The Sky God, The Sky Father wanted...In return for "Giving" life and not "Taking" life...

And to put that into religious laws and make everyone obey these laws...And make everyone practice what pleases the Sun god and Storm god (Sky God or just God who are in...) and abstain from what might piss "The Lord" off...

Cause "On vedri i oblači" (he makes the sky clear and cloudy) and you don't mess with someone so powerful...

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Two headed dragon

"Two headed dragon" 🙂 golden cup, 1000 BC, Iran.

This is just one of many amazing golden vessels discovered at Marlik, an elite burial ground located in the Gilan province of North Western Iran (https://iranicaonline.org/articles/marlik)


The "dragon" is actually two headed leopard with eagle wings and twisted eagle legs with huge talons. The legs are twisted in a spiral and the body is done in such a way as to resemble a female body..

The "dragon" has human hands with which it holds two Goitered gazelles. 

WTF?

Well, first leopard...


I talked about leopard as a symbol for winter, more precisely the symbol for the end of winter (Jan/Feb) in several articles. 

Asia: "Vessel from Tepe Hissar", "Ibex and leopard"


Europe: "Leopard and tiger", "Thyrsus", "Furious maenad", "Maenads and hare"...



In short, the leopard mating season in Eurasia coincides with the end of winter, beginning of spring...Two heads = mating...

What about the wings? The wings could be here just emphasize that we are dealing with heavenly things...Like on this artifact from Iran which I analyzed in my post "Goat bull man"...

But considering that the two headed leopard creature has eagle legs and talons, I believe that this is composite "leopard-vulture" calendar marker...For winter...

So why vulture?

Vultures are another symbol for the beginning of winter because their mating season in the area of Western Iran - Central Asia - Mesopotamia starts at the beginning of wither...

I talked about this in my article about this amazing "Double headed eagle axe" from Bactria, on which we can see double headed eagle separating autumn (lion) and winter (boar)...

What about goitered gazelle?

Goitered gazelles mating season starts in early winter (Oct/Nov)...At the same time as Ibex (Bezoar) goat. Our "Goat of Rain"... This is why both of these animals are the symbol of winter, more precisely the beginning of winter...

On some artifacts the gazelles are depicted together with Ibex (Bezoar) goats


I talked about this in my post "Pissing gazelles", "Diadem of queen Puabi"...

In Central Asia (Bactria) and Iran, the Goitered gazelle is even more prominent symbol of green winter than Ibex (Bezoar) goat. Most likely because it was the dominate horned animal which mates in winter in the Caspian steppe...

Because Goitered gazelle mating season coincides with the beginning of the rain season in Bactria, on some seals we find the clouds in a shape of "gods" with gazelle heads...

I talked about this in my post "Fluffy"...

So what does the image on the Marlik cup mean? Two headed dragon? Nah...The end of winter, beginning of spring...

Is this bird a migratory bird??? "Most of the waterfowl and shorebirds depart Caspian sea for northerly climes, beginning in late February"

Oh, and why is the "dragon" made to look like a woman? Because the rain season in Iran is a "feminine" yin (cool, dark, wet) part of the year...Which is why Iranians have a rain, water goddess.

I talked about her in my posts "Anahita" and "Jiroft flood vase"