Sunday, 15 December 2019

Fire goddess


Tapati is a Hindu goddess, a  daughter of the sun god Surya. Her name means the "warming", "the hot one", "burning one".  The name comes from PIE root "tp-" meaning warmth, shine. 

Herodotus tells us that Scythians respected one goddess more than any other and called her the queen of gods: Tabiti. This is most likely Tapati...

Herodotus also tells us that Tabiti is actually Hestia, the Greek goddess of the hearth, actually of the hearth fire. Which fits in with the meaning of the Tapati's (Tabiti's) name: warm one, burning one, bright one...

The hearth fire was believed to be directly linked to the sun fire. This can be seen from the Yule log ritual preserved in the Balkans. In it the Yule log (Serbian: Badnjak) was specifically kept burning through "the longest night" so that the fire of the sun doesn't get extinguished...You can read more about this in my post "Badnjak".

Remember originally only Sky god (Sun + Thunder) knew how to make fire. Sun, created Thunder (Lighting) which created fire. By the way this link sun-thunder-fire has been scientifically proven recently. You can read more about it in my post "Sun thunder fire".

This "sacred fire" kindled by Sky God, once found in nature, was brought to the hearth and had to be perpetually kept burning... This ancient memory was preserved in the rituals of eternal flame. Which is what Hestia was. The eternal flame which had to be kept burning...

The tradition of keeping the house hearth fire burning at all times was still one of the main duties of the mistress of the house in Serbian villages in the early 20th century.

Just like in Ancient Greece, accidental or negligent extinction of a domestic hearth-fire represented a failure of domestic and religious care for the family.

Hestia's name means "hearth, altar". And in Serbian houses the hearth was the original altar around which the most important religious ceremonies were performed, officiated by the mistress of the house, the high priestess of the domestic cult, the keeper of the sacred fire.

In Serbia when a family moved house, the new hearth fire was kindled with the flame brought from the old hearth. When a sons built his own house, he kindled the first fire in his new house with the flame brought from his parent's hearth. I wrote about house building rituals in my post "New house".

In Ancient Greece: "...with the establishment of a new colony, flame from Hestia's public hearth in the mother city would be carried to the new settlement...". Do we have the same custom in Ancient Greece with regards to family fire, like in Serbia?

Serbian expression "his hearth was extinguished" is identical to "his line has ended, his family died out"

The hearth fire is here clearly equated with the family. Hence the responsibility for the propagation of both, the hearth fire and the family lied on the mistress of the house...

While keeping the fire burning inside of the hearth, the mistress of the house has to keep fire burning inside of her womb too. As without either of these fires, the house will go dead and cold...

This link between the generative power of the hearth fire and the generative power of the womb fire can be seen in the fact that in some parts of Serbia a bread oven, like this one, is called "Baba" (Mother, Grandmother, Birth giver). 


You can read more about it in my post "Baba - Earthen bread oven".

Only the fire burning inside the woman's womb can transform man's seed into living child. Only the fire burning inside the oven can transform dough into bread. Only the fire burning inside the earth can transform Sun light into Life... Interesting, right?

O and only a female fire burning inside the crucible can transform ore, that a male smith puts into it, into metal. Is this the reason why Irish "hearth fire goddess" Brigid was also the patron of smiths?

This magic transformative power of "female fire" burning inside of the house hearth is what turned difficult to digest raw carcasses into nutritious broths and roasts allowing our ancestors to grow bigger stronger and smarter...

This magic transformative power of "female fire" burning inside of the house hearth is what turned inedible acorns full of poisonous tannins, through leaching and roasting, into nutritious gruels, broths and breads... You can read more about this in my post "Eating acorns". 

This magic transformative power of "female fire" burning inside of the house hearth is what turned inedible grains into porridge and bread...

This magic transformative power of "female fire" burning inside of the house hearth is what turned leaves, root and bark into medicines...

House hearth was the first alchemical laboratory and the house mistress was the first alchemist, preserving and enriching the accumulated knowledge of generations of women who tended the "sacred fire" and used it to make food and medicine...

Is this where the image of an old witch bent over a bubbling cauldron hanged over a house hearth making magic potions comes from? And is it possible that this image was not originally a negative one?


You can read more about this in my post "The skilful one".

Saturday, 14 December 2019

Snow White

Crab apples covered in snow. 



These small wild apples, native to Europe, are truly "the last fruit of autumn" remaining on the branches until well into winter...This image made me think of "The Snow White" fairytale and possible mythological symbolism embedded in this tale...

The short version of the first edition (1812):

A beautiful woman has a magic mirror that tells her every day that she is the most beautiful woman in the world. Then she has a daughter who becomes even more beautiful than her. And so, one day the magic mirror tells her that it is her daughter who is the most beautiful woman in the world. The mother gets so jealous that she orders a hunter to take her daughter to the forest and kill her. Instead of killing the daughter, the hunter releases her. She wonders through the forest and eventually stumbles across 7 dwarfs who let her stay with them. The next day, the mother finds out from the magic mirror that her daughter is still the most beautiful woman in the world, which means that she was not killed by the hunter. So she decides to kill her daughter herself. She has two unsuccessful attempts, until finally disguised as an old woman, she manages to kill her daughter with a poisoned apple. The dwarfs put the daughter into a crystal coffin. She lies there until a prince comes by, sees her, falls in love with her, even though she is dead and takes her to his castle. On the way there she is revived when the bit of the poisonous apple is dislodged from her throat. She marries her prince, happy end.

So in the original story it is the mother and not the step mother who is jealous of the girl and who kills her with the apple...That is very interesting...

Every year, a beautiful mother, disguised as an old woman, kills her even more beautiful daughter with an apple. The dead daughter then lies dead in a "crystal coffin" until a young prince comes by and revives her. Two of them then get married. Except this is not the happy end...

The beautiful daughter becomes a beautiful woman and has even more beautiful daughter, who she kills out of jealousy, with an apple, disguised as an old woman...And so on and so forth...Endlessly, year after year...

What we have here is the story of Earth going through seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring...

Beautiful young Spring Earth becomes bountiful Summer and Autumn Earth. Still beautiful, but in no way as beautiful as the Young Spring Earth...

Because of the cyclical nature of the solar year, Autumn Earth is the mother of Spring Earth of the next solar year. As Autumn ends, and the crab apples are the last fruit left on the trees, Autumn Earth turn into Old Hag Winter Earth, who "kills" her own younger self...

Dead Earth lies in her icy coffin until Young Spring Sun arrives. He sees beautiful Spring Earth under the ice, falls in love with her and revives her. Spring Earth, marries Spring Sun...

But seasons pass, Spring Earth turns into Summer Earth and then into Autumn Earth and then into Winter Earth...And the story repeats itself...Luckily, every spring, Young Sun arrives to save the day 🙂

Why apple? The falling of crab apples, last fruits, means the end of the fertile part of the year, the end of Living Earth (spring, summer, autumn) and the beginning of the Dead Earth (winter)...Hence the apple given by The Hag, The Winter Earth, is the thing that kills Spring Earth...

Why hunter as the man who should kill the daughter? Because Sagitarius, the Hunter is the first winter month. It marks the beginning of the fur hunting season in Europe...I wrote about it in my post "Hunter".

Almost identical story in verse was published in 1833 by Aleksandr Pushkin. It is called "The Tale of the Dead Princess and the Seven Knights". It was based on stories he heard when he was a kid, the stories which can be found in several Russian folklore collections... 

That this indeed is the story about the death and rebirth of Earth which is going through the seasons can be seen from several other very similar stories preserved around Eurasia....

In the Greek story, the girl is called Myrsina (Myrtle). Myrtle was sacred to Aphrodite, the goddess of love, who was actually personification of Young Earth...



She is not killed by her mother, but by her two sisters. Three sisters are three faces of Mother Earth. In Slavic mythology they are Vesna (Spring Earth), Mokosh (Summer-Autumn Earth) and Morana (Winter Earth)...

The two older sisters are not asking the magic mirror who is the most beautiful. They are asking the sun...With the same result: the youngest one, Myrsina, Aphrodite, Spring Earth is the most beautiful...

The two sisters take Myrsina to the forest themselves, pretending that they are "reburying their mother". They bring with them funeral bread, sweet boiled grain called "Kollyva" and fruit and nuts. All these are in Greece usually prepared for funeral feasts. But in Serbia they are also prepared for Christmas (Winter Solstice) which is as much a celebration of the birth of the new sun as it is a mass for the dead. Dead ancestors and the dead nature...

Myrsina is left alone in the forrest to be eaten by wolves...Wolves are the symbol of winter. In Serbia Winter starts with St Mrata and ends with St Sava, the Wolf saints...

She was told how to escape by trees :) They instruct her to get the funeral bread and roll it down the mountain. Where the bread stops she will find her shelter... Do we need any more fertility symbols?

Myrsina does not stay with 7 dwarfs or seven knights, she stays with 12 months...The full solar year. And she doesn't get killed by an apple. She gets killed by a ring, the full circle, full cycle. In Slavic mythology this is "kolo", wheel, Solar Wheel, Solar Year...

She is placed in a golden casket where she lies dead and beautiful. Enters young prince, who falls in love with the dead girl, takes her ring off and voila! The girl is alive again, they get married etc etc...

Interestingly in Slavic mythology, Spring Sun who revives Spring Earth is called "Jarilo" (pronounced Yarilo). His name means both young, and raging...Jarilo sounds suspiciously similar to Ares (the god of rage), the lover of Aphrodite...

The same story just with a different names was recorded in Albania. Except the girl doesn't end up with 12 months but with 40 thieves...The story is called "The jealous sisters". 

In Armenian version of the story, the girl is called Nourie Hadig, which means "a tiny bit of pomegranate". 



Pomegranate was another plant sacred to Aphrodite, directly linked to her role as Goddess of Fertility, which is the main attribute of the Spring Earth...

The mother (it's the mother again) doesn't ask the mirror or the sun who is the most beautiful woman in the world. She asks the new moon, the symbol of the passing of time...

The evil mother actually orders the father to kill the girl, which he disobeys and lets the girl go. She eventually ends up in a house "with a sleeping prince" 🙂 whom she ends up taking care of for 7 years...

After 7 yeas the prince wakes up, and marries the girl. But then she gets tricked by her Gipsy servant to put on the poisonous ring made by her mother, which kills her. Eventually the ring is removed and the girl gets back to life and so on and so forth... 

Finally there is a story from Italy, where the mother is an innkeeper called Bella Venezia. The daughter escapes and is adopted by 12 robbers who live in a cave which is opened and closed using a secret password 🙂...The mother hires an old witch to kill her daughter, and she does it with a pin...

This part is really interesting. The robbers bury the dead girl in a hollow tree. Clearly a hint and the girl's true identity as the Spring Earth...The rest is the same. Prince finds her while hunting, the pin is removed, she gets back to life, they get married... 

And so the wheel turns, the seasons change...The Spring Earth Vesna (Aphrodite) is lying asleep in her icy coffin waiting for lover Spring Sun Jarilo (Apollo-Ares) to wake her up... In the meantime, make yourself some candy apples. Here is a good recipe 



Saturday, 7 December 2019

Taurides

This is a very interesting vessel from Kizil-Koba settlement, fragment and reconstruction. Kizil-Koba Culture was an archaeological culture that existed in the mountain and foothill regions of the Crimea in the ninth to sixth centuries B.C.

The material similarity between Kizil-Koba culture and Koban culture of the northern Caucasus has led to the supposition that the two were genetically linked and that the Kizil-Koba culture originated in the Caucasus. Kizil-Koba pottery. Probable cheese curd strainer bottom right



The Kizil-Koba culture has been also linked with the Tauri tribes of transhumance shepherds which at the time lived in the mountains of southern Crimea. Map showing Kizil-Koba settlements (circle) and Taurian cemeteries (square).

Kizil-Koba settlements, consisting of pit-houses or aboveground wattle-and-daub houses with numerous grain pits around, had no fortifications. The excavations unearthed bronze decorations, arrowheads, parts of horse harness similar with the artifacts found in Taurian cists.



The Taurian cists were about one meter in diameter, made from four massive stone walls stuck into the ground and a massive cover stone. They were encircled by pebble pavement surrounded by square stone fence


Some necropoleis consisted of a few grave constructions, the other contained tens of cists sometimes located in parallel lines.


Cists were used for multiple burials. It seems that when cist got full, the bones were removed and only skulls kept. One cist in Mal-Muz cemetery contained 68 skulls.  

Kizil-Koba Household pits contained a few dozen artefacts of ill- baked clay including anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figurines,  like these two, probably of cultic nature 


The local population mixed with Greeks who set up colonies along the Crimean coast. Example of this mixing can be seen in the settlement and necropolis of Panskoye, village near Greek Chersonesos 



Herodotus says that "...Tauri...live by plundering and war...they sacrifice their captives...to the Virgin goddess...The Tauri themselves say that this deity to whom they sacrifice is Agamemnon's daughter Iphigenia...."

And this is very very interesting. The Greeks called the Tauric goddess Artemis Tauropolos and also linked it with Iphigeneia, daughter of Agamemnon... 

According to Euripides, the cult of the bloodthirsty Artemis Tauropolos was brought to Greece by Orestes and Iphigenia, who brought a wooden statue of Artemis to Sparta where she was from then on worshiped as Artemis Orthia


The whole story about how Iphigenia finds herself among the Tauri and how and why she gets the Artemis statue from Tauri to Spartans is very strange....

Apparently King Agamemnon accidentally kills a deer in a grove sacred to Artemis and is forced to sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia to the goddess to repay his debt. But goddess changes her mind at the last moment and replaces Iphigenia with a deer which is then killed...

Artemis then transports Iphigenia to Tauris where she becomes the priestess in Taurid Artemis temple, directing human sacrifices...

When her brother Orestes is captured by Taurides and was brought to the temple to be sacrificed to Artemis by Iphigenia, two of them instead steel the statue and run away to Greece. And as I said, according to Euripides, they bring the statue to Sparta...

In Sparta the wooden statue of Artemis becomes the centre of a major cult. During the excavation of the temple, numerous female offering statues were discovered. Possibly symbolic replacement for actual female sacrificial victims??? Or the depictions of the Goddess?


But the Tauride goddess still demanded blood. As described by Plutarch Xenophon Pausanias and Plato, the temple of Artemis was the place where once a year young men were ritually whipped until they bled and the blood sprayed the statue of the goddess


Here is the best bit: During the Roman period, according to Cicero, the ritual became a blood spectacle, sometimes to the death, with spectators from all over the empire 🙂 An amphitheatre had to be built in the 3rd century CE to accommodate the tourists

Bloody Romans 🙂 


Sources:

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Katun

Orlovačko jezero, Zelengora, Bosnia. Highland pastures like these were in the past used by shepherds to graze their flocks during summer months. 



During the summer shepherds lived in camps called "katun" in shacks which had stone base, wooden log cabin or double and wattle walls and roofs either constructed from wooden panels or thatch. 

This is another "katun" shepherd summer camp from Bosnia. This one is next to the Prokoško Lake under Vranica Mountain. Apparently these and many other katun huts are now rented to hikers...



Flocks were moved to the highland pastures around Djudjevdan (St George's day, beginning of May, beginning of summer) and were moved down from the highlands around Mitrovdan (St Demetrios day, beginning of November, beginning of winter). These two dates separated the Solar year into two parts: White part (summer) between Djurdjevdan and Mitrovdan and Black part (Winter) between Mitrovdan and Djurdjevdan. This is the same year division also found in Gaelic calendar...

You can read about this calendar in my post "Two crosses"

This is a great recent picture of one of the "katun" shepherd summer huts from Montenegro. Incredible place... 


 

Another, now abandoned "katun" shepherd summer hut from Montenegro. Kuči mountains, Montenegro. 


In Serbia these shepherds huts are called bačija. 

This is one of the bačija  shepherd huts from Rudno on mountain Golija in Serbia. 


Here is another one from mountain Kopaonik, Serbia


And another one from Pester highlands in Serbia


Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Three finger salute

This is Roman grave monument of Servius Ennius Fuscus, soldier of the VIII Cohort Voluntariorum, originally from Cemenelum (modern Cimiez, Nice), who died aged 38 after 19 years' service; he is shown in military gear with his wife Fulvia Vitalis at his side. 1st century AD, Split


It looks pretty normal and ordinary at the first glance, but...

During the first century AD, Split was part of the Roman province of Illyricum, which comprised of Dalmatia and Pannonia, as is the mention by Velleius Pareculus of Gaius Vibius Postumus as the military commander of Dalmatia under Germanicus in 9 AD





Now what is interesting about this roman funerary stela from Split is the hand gesture performed by Servius and possibly his wife too (not clear from the image).


Here is the detail



Does it look familiar?

Here it is on the painting "The Takovo Uprising", painted in 1888 by renowned Serbian painter Paja Jovanović. Three finger salute by Serbs starting the uprising against the Turks...




Here is the detail



The reason Serbs on this painting are using this salute is because it symbolised trinity. Here is the same salute on old christian images. Pic from "The Evil Eye", by Frederick Thomas Elworthy, [1895]


Officially the three finger gesture was first used by Saint Meletius, Archbishop of Antioch, in 381 during the Second Ecumenical Council...



But what if this hand gesture was used even earlier, but was just first time documented in the 4th century AD? 

We know that the same gesture called Mano Pantea was used by Pagans in the Balkans at the same time...


This was in fact the main symbol of Sabazios (Ancient Greek: Σαβάζιος, romanized: Sabázios, modern pronunciation Savázios) the sky father god of the Phrygians and Thracians...

Back to the Roman funerary monument from Split. It is possible that Servius and his wife are pagan worshipers of Sabazios and are using the three finger sign to show their devotion to this god...

But here is something interesting. Servius is also holding a scroll. This is a fourth century painting of St. Paul. Paul's dress, the scroll in his hands, and the container with more scrolls at his feet, all identify Paul as a philosopher, a teacher. 


Was Servius a teacher too?

And if he was a teacher, what was he teaching in Illyricum in the first century AD? Maybe Christianity. There are Slavic legends which say that St Paul converted Slavs in Illyricum in the 1st century AD...Was Servius one of the converts? 

More about these legends in my post "St Paul among the Slavs"

That indeed there could have been Christian converts in the 1st century AD Illyricum is indicated by the finds from Židovar archaeological site in Northern Serbia. A beautifully silver box decorated with a cross, was found in the layers dated to the period 2nd century BC - 1st century AD. 



That this was indeed the find from the 1st century AD, is the fact that the box contained two bronze rings with fish, Good Shepard and palm branch, all early Christian symbols. 



You can read more about this in my post "Church on the Threshing floor

And so, back to our Servius from Split. 

The only thing that would definitely rule out that Servius was a possible Christian convert would be if his monument dated to very early first century AD. But it seems that it dates to the period between 70AD and 130AD which means that he could have well been a Christian convert and that this is why his gravestone looks the way it does...

It could just be nothing...But it could be an early Christian monument...Who knows...

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Pelasgos

Pausanias was a Greek traveler and geographer of the second-century AD, who lived in the time of Roman emperors Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius. He wrote "Description of Greece" in ten books, each dedicated to some portion of Greece




One of the books was about Arcadia (Greek: Ἀρκαδία), a region in the central Peloponnese, the old and mysterious place where Pelasgians, the followers of Pelasgus, started human civilisation.


Pausanius tells us that it was Pelasgus who "invented huts that humans should not shiver, or be soaked by rain, or oppressed by heat. He also invented coats of sheep-skins, such as poor folk still wear in Euboea and Phocis." 



I talked about the history of these sheep skin coats in my post "Gown"

Pausanius also tells us that Pelasgus "introduced as food the nuts of trees, not those of all trees but only the acorns of the edible oak." He notes that still in his own time, the Arcadians were fond of acorns.  

This is one of the Arcadian coins with the depiction of an acorn:

You can read more about depictions of acorn eating in ancient texts in my post "Acorns in ancient texts".

This is very interesting because acorns were the first starch food eaten by people, before they switched to grains...

When people lived in the "Garden of Eden" which is in the Old Testament described like this



I wrote about this in my post "Garden of Eden"

In my article about Garden of Eden, I proposed that the name "Eden" comes from PIE root for eating, which would make "Garden of Eden" "Garden of edible tree fruits" like acorns, nuts, apples, pears, cherries... 

In my article "Eat to break fast" about Eid ul-Fitr, Muslim holiday feast that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, I talked about the fact that the Arabic word Eid (festivity) could come from PIE root for eating...

The time when people lived in the Garden of Eden was to the Greeks known as the "Golden Age", which Ovid describes in Metamorphoses 1. 88 like this:

"The Golden Age (Aetas Aurea) was that first age [of mankind] which unconstrained, with heart and soul, obedient to no law, gave honour to good faith and righteousness. No punishment they knew, no fear; they read no penalties engraved on plates of bronze; no suppliant throng with dread beheld their judge; no judges had they then, but lived secure. No pine had yet, on its high mountain felled, descended to the sea to find strange lands afar; men knew no shores except their own. No battlements their cities yet embraced, no trumpets straight, no horns of sinuous brass, no sword, no helmet then--no need of arms; the world untroubled lived in leisured ease. Tellus (Earth) [Gaia] willingly, untouched, not wounded yet by hoe or plough, gave all her bounteous store; men were content with nature's food unforced, and gathered strawberries on the mountainside and cherries and the clutching bramble's fruit, and acorns fallen from Jove's [Zeus'] spreading tree. Springtime it was, always, for ever spring; the gentle zephyrs with their breathing balm caressed the flowers that sprang without a seed; anon the earth untilled brought forth her fruits, the unhallowed fields lay gold with heavy grain, and streams of milk and springs of nectar flowed and yellow honey dripped from boughs of green..."

And interestingly, the tradition arose in Greece that the site of the original Golden Age had been Arcadia, an impoverished rural area of Greece where the herdsmen still lived on acorns...


For those with dirty minds, you would fit right into Ancient Greece. The word for acorn in Ancient Greek was βάλανος (Balanos). The same word also meant glans penis (dick head)... 

Now here is something that has been bugging me for a while. The main thing Pelasgos did was to introduce acorn into human diet. Is it possible that Pelasgians just means acorn eaters??? I will try to explain why

Slavs living in the Balkans have been eating acorns until the mid 20th c. Most only during "hungry years", but some mountain populations regularly, to supplement their poor diet.

To ensure the supply of edible acorns, sweat oak forests were planted and maintained on village boundaries. Edible acorns were called "sladun" (sweat) "medun" (honney) "granica" (food)

These "sacred" oak forests were called "gaj" (cultivated forest), "zabran" (forbidden forest), "lug" (light forest) and for us particularly interesting "zabel, zabela" (???) name used in Serbia and Macedonia

In the book "Leskovački zbornik" (History of Leskovac) we find that certain forests in the area are caled zabel.

In another book called "Uzroci nestajanja šuma u Srbiji u XIX veku" (The reason for disapearence of forests in Serbia in the 19th century) we find that oak forests are called zabel, zabran in the south of Serbia. 

Another book "Скопље и његова околина" (Skoplje and its surrounding) we find that zabel is "родовскa својнa" (clan property), basically a clan, village forests which is not allowed to be cut, because it is used for the collection of acorns for human and animal consumption.

The book "Istorija seljackog društva. Deo III" (The history of the agricultural society part 3) talks about the evolution of the clan oak forests to village oak forests (zabel, zabran), and how they are used by the villagers.

In the book "Narodna književnost Srba na Kosovu", (Folk literature of the Serbs in Kosovo) we find that zabel is also called zabe and that it is a general word for a clan forest. 

In the magazine "Brastvo, broj 7" (Brotherhood) we find that zabran is called zabel and zabeo.

In "Antropogeografski i etnografski spisi" we find that the names for communal forests are branjevina, braničište, branište, zabran, zabel. 

In the book "Задужбине Косова" (Legats of Kosovo), we find that in Metohija, part of Old Serbia, the common name for protected oak forests among the Serbs was zabel and among Ghog Alabanians Gogaj. 


These were ancient oak forests left to grow between village lands or specifically planted on the boundaries of the village lands and which were forbidden to be cut. These oak forests were not just source of acorns, but also a natural habitat for wild boar, deer, rabit...important sources of meet. Every autumn villagers would go into the village oak forest and collect acorn, which was used both as animal feed and for human consumption. Each familly would collect over 1000 kilos of acorn every year which is a very significan amount of food. 

There is no etymology for "zabel". One possibility is that it comes from the fact that the sacred oaks were in Serbia marked with crosses. Like this one


These marks, and the trees on which they are made are called "zapis"

These kind of marks are also called "beleg", because of the lighter colour of the scar tissue, so it is possible that the zabel comes from za + bel = for + white, marked trees, but this is unlikely...

Ancient Greek word Balanos which means both acorn and oak comes from PIE root *gʷelh₂ (acorn) which in Greek became bel, bal. Is it possible that somehow in the Balkan mountains this word was used to build zabel = za + bel, bal = for oaks, for acorn???

Pelasgos is said to mean "Ancient", but wiktionary says that it is "likely of Pre-Greek origin" and of unknown meaning. As cognates we find Akkadian Pilistu, Palastu and Hebrew Pəlíštim (Philestines, Palestinians) 

Based on the latest genetic studies we know that Philestines came to Middle East from Europe. Based on ethnographic studies we know that in the middle east we have a sharp division on people who eat acorns: Palestinians and people who don't: Jews...

Now if we look at Pelasgos, Pilistu, Palastu, Pəlíštim, we can see that all of these names for acorns eaters start with "pel, pal". Is it possible that these names come from (pal) bal, (bel) bel + jes(t) = acorn + eat? 

"ἐσθίω" is the Ancient Greek for I eat...

"Coincidentally" in South Slavic languages where "zabel" = "za" + "bel" = "for" + "acorns" means "cultivated oak forest" we find that "jesti" means "to eat". So beljest = bel + jest = acorn + he eats = acorns eater = Belest

And interestingly, Pelasgoi was also spelled Pelastoi...Was it Pel+jest+toj (pronounced pelyestoy) = acorn+eat+they = acorn eaters?

This is very possible, as the so-called Harris Papyrus, a biography of Ramses III written under his son and successor Ramses IV, tells us that the pharaoh defeated the "Peleset" – as the Egyptians called the Philistines and other Sea Peoples early in his reign (around 1190 B.C.E.) and brought them back as captives to his lands...

Another interesting thing: in Macedonia where we find "zabel" cultivated oak forests, lowland people use "acorn eaters" as a derogatory term for hillbillies who eat acorns because their land is poor and they can't grow enough grain.

So If Pelesti (Belesti) really comes from pel, bel (acorn) + jest (eat), could Pelasgoi, Pelastois once have been used as an insulting term for the "acorn eaters" by the grain eaters?

Now have a look at this: 

Hebrew: balut - acorn
Iraq: bellut - oak, khubez bellut - acorn bread; 
Zagros mountains, Iran: Beli - acorn
Kurdish = bellot - acorn
Aramaic: bəllūṭā, ballūṭā - oak, acorn

So In all these languages root "bel" means acorn and oak...

So how does this fit with the official etymology of the Ancient Greek "βάλανος" (oak, acorn) which says that this word comes from Proto-Hellenic "*gʷə́lanos", ultimately from Proto-Indo-European "*gʷelh₂-" (“acorn”)...

Isn't it more likely that it is related to all the above Semitic words? And if so did Greeks borrow this word from the Semites?

Well I think the borrowing actually happened the other way round. Look at this:

Aramaic word bəllūṭā, ballūṭā, “oak; acorn” possibly relates to Akkadian 𒋾 (balāṭu, “to live...life-bringing trees or seeds”) and 𒄑𒁁𒀖 (be-lit, baluṭ, “a strong tree...bearing edible produce”) 

But this is not the main Semitic root meaning oak, acorn. The main Semitic root meaning oak, acorn is Akkadian 𒀠𒆷𒀭 (ʾallānu, alyānu) from Sumerian 𒄑𒀠𒆷𒈝 (allanum, “oak; acorn, acorn-shaped”)...

So how and when did "bel" (oak, acorn) come into Semitic languages??? Did it happen during the Bronze Age collapse when Pelestoi (Philestines) came to Middle East from Europe? But how do we then explain the Akkadian words with the root "bel"???

I think this is a very interesting subject which needs further investigation, don't you think?