Monday, 29 November 2021

Neolithic massacre

The other day I came across the article entitled: "Unraveling ancestry, kinship, and violence in a Late Neolithic mass grave". It talks about the discovery of a very strange grave, during the 2011 archaeological excavations conducted on site 3 in Koszyce, Poland. 


The grave, dated to the turn of the Late and Final Neolithic, 2875–2670 BC, is believed to belong to the Globular Amphora Culture (3400–2800 BC), which got its name from the characteristic vessels found in their graves...

The first grave contained the remains of 15 individuals of various ages and both sexes. 

Plague victims? Like the people from the grave from the same time period from Sweden? The one I talked about in my post "Burned house horizon"?


Nah. These people from Poland were brutally murdered. Bone examination showed numerous unhealed injuries on the skeletons, mostly traces of skull strikes. Each of the victims got up to four blows to the head probably with an axe...

You can read the detailed forensic analysis of the bodies in the article entitled "Evidence of interpersonal violence or a special funeral rite in the Neolithic multiple burial from Koszyce in southern Poland – a forensic analysis"...

The two smallest children's skulls were almost completely destroyed, indicating that the kids were held by their legs, and their heads were smashed against something hard, a stone or a tree...

Almost complete absence of upper limbs damage and injury character indicate that these people did not defend themselves. They were executed rather than killed in battle. But then they were buried with rich burial goods...

Placed into the grave with the bodies were many pottery vessels, flint axes and other flint artifacts, bone tools, boar tusks, amber ornaments, bone pendants and animal bones...

And close to the human grave, an animal burial was discovered, which contained skeletal remains of seven pigs...



This originally "completely threw" the archaeologists...They could not imagine the scenario that could explain such a "bizarre" burial...Except of course "a ritual"...

Apparently, according to Gimbutas: Globular Amphora culture classed social structure and the dominant position of men is demonstrated by richly equipped graves which contained astounding numbers of sacrificed human beings and animals...

...In such graves, the chief adult male occupied the central position in the stone cist and was accompanied into the afterlife by family members, servants, animals...

But of course, what we find in this grave in Koszyce is not such a ritual burial of a "dominant male" with "many sacrificed family members, servants and animals"...

Actually this burial makes me wonder if the "identification" of Globular Amphora culture burials as such, is just a loads of bollocks and none of them are in fact ritual burial of a "dominant male" with "many sacrificed family members, servants and animals"...

When genetic analysis of the remains was done, scientists identified four nuclear families in the grave, for the most part represented by mothers and their children...



Closely related kin were buried next to each other: a mother was buried cradling her child, and siblings were placed side by side...

These people were buried by someone who knew them well and who carefully placed them in the grave according to familial relationships...

For example, the oldest individual in the grave, was buried close to her two sons, whereas a 30–35-y-old woman, was buried with her teenage daughter and 5-year-old son...

Interestingly, the older males/fathers are mostly missing from the grave, suggesting that it might have been them who buried their kin. Only one father is present in the grave, and his partner and son are placed together opposite him in the grave...

In addition, there is a young boy, aged 2–2.5 years, whose parents are not in the grave, but he is placed next to other individuals to whom he is closely related through various second-degree relationships...

Finally, there is an adult female, who does not seem to be genetically related to anyone in the group. However, her position in the grave close to a young man, suggests that she may have been as close to him in life as she was in death...

This archaeological site tells a terrible story. While most men (and some women) were away from the settlement, working in a field, foraging, hunting, herding animals...A band of armed men (and most likely women) came into the settlement...

Considering that there were no signs of fighting injuries, these people could have even been welcomed by their victims who could have known them as neighbours. The villagers were then captured, held or tied, and executed, one by one...

The murderers then most likely plundered the settlement and left...Why do I think this is what probably happened here? Because the same things were still happening in Europe (Balkans) as late as the 20th century...

People from neighbouring villages killing their neighbours, men, women and children in most brutal ways, and then plundering their homes, and even moving into them...Like what happened in Serbian village of Prebilovci in Bosnia in 1941...

We don't know why this terrible crime was committed in Koszyce...Was it the hatred of "them" because they are different from us (look different, speak different language, pray to different gods)?

Or was it pure greed and material gain that motivated the murderers? One of those "capture the animals and beautiful women and kill the rest" raid, which could explain "some women missing from the pile of dead bodies". The fit ones...

We just don't know...But it is very likely that they were murdered by their neighbours coming from the villages of the Corded Ware culture...

What we know is that when the men (and women) who were away returned to the settlement and found their loved ones butchered, they decided to give them "proper burial"...Only the one who knew the victims intimately could have arranged the bodies in the way they were arranged...

And only the one who cared about the victims would have "equipped them for the journey to the otherworld", with jewellery, tools, weapons, food and water (contained in vessels placed next to the bodies) and animals (the pigs placed in the separate grave next to the human grave)...

This burying of animals with the dead, so they can have animals in the otherworld seem to have been a common practice in Central Europe during Copper and Bronze age...I talked about this in my post "Group portrait"...

The Koszyce archaeological site shows I was probably right when in this article entitled "One for the road" I suggested that if we want to understand ancient burial rituals in Central Europe, all we have to do is look at current burial folklore practices in the same area. Not much has actually changed...

This archaeological site also shows how genetics is cool, and how it is "improving" archaeology. Not just because by determining the relationship between the buried people, we can now much better understand what happened in Koszyce 5000 years ago...

But also because of this: All males carried the same Y chromosome haplotype: I2a. So did all the other male individuals found buried in the Globular amphora culture graves. They all carried I2a genes...How is this improving archaeology? Like this: It wrecks havoc in the field...

Marija Gimbutas in "The Indo-Europeanization of Europe: the intrusion of steppe pastoralists from south Russia and the transformation of Old Europe" hails the Globular Amphora as an "exemplary Indo-European steppe male dominated warrior culture"...

She says that: "It is apparent that the emergence of the Globular Amphora culture in the north European plain (around 3400BC) is crucial to an understanding of the Indo-Europeanization of this part of Europe"...

She also says that: "The fact that the Globular Amphora culture is so homogenous suggests that if these people were indeed IE speakers, they completely succeeded in subverting the indigenous population or in converting them to their own creeds, customs, and language"....

Ah I am so sorry that she is not around any more...It turns out that Gimbutas was soooo sooo wrong about the Globular Amphora culture. They have nothing to do with steppe "Indo-Europeans". They were a forest culture of the mountainous Central Europe...

The fact that their economy was based on raising mostly pigs in its earlier phase, is a dead giveaway that they didn't come from the steppe...Pigs live in forests...Steppe people were cattle and horse herders...

Gimbutas and co must have known this...Or should have known it anyway...

But what they didn't know, cause they couldn't have known it at the time, is that all the macho warrior patriarchal males of the Globular Amphora culture carried I2a genes. The earliest I2a genes in Central Europe were found in Mesolithic Lepenski Vir culture in Serbia, and predate the arrival of the Neolithic farmers...

So the I2a people watched the arrival to the Central Europe with Neolithic farmers. And they watched the arrival to the Central Europe of the Kurgan people. And these people are still in Central Europe...

Here is even cooler result of the latest genetic data. Gimbutas also says that: There is similarity between the burial rites of the Globular Amphora people and those of the "Kurgans of the Maikop culture" in the North Pontic region.

Both used mortuary houses built of stone slabs and practiced the ritual burial of horses, cattle, and dogs, as well as human sacrifice in connection with funeral rites honoring high-ranking males...

According to Gimbutas, Maikop people were "part of the Kurgan II invasion wave"...Guess what haplogroups were found inside the "Kurgans of the Mayop culture"? G2a, I2a, R1a, J2a1b...

G2a and I2a were two dominant haplogroups of the late Neolithic, Copper Age central Europe...

Remember the article I wrote about the origin and spread of the Megalithic culture through Europe, the one entitled "Childe was right"?

In the comments someone asked me "What about Russian dolmans?" These things:

Well Russian dolmens, which were built between the end of the 4th millennium and the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC. are concentrated around, guess??? Maykop culture territory...

As the new data shows that the Megalithic culture seem to have spread rapidly across Europe, most likely by the people of the same tribe, people linked to seafaring, mining...and Russian dolmens are also located on the coast. Of the area rich in ores...

And as we can read in the article entitled "Megalithic tombs in western and northern Neolithic Europe were linked to a kindred society": "males from megalith burials belong almost exclusively to YDNA haplogroup I2a"...Interesting...

So did Maykop people start building Megalithic "mortuary houses built of stone slabs" under the influence of I2a people from central or western Europe?

Did these I2a people arrive to Caucaus by land from Central Europe, more specifically Balkans, together with G2a people? After (or maybe before) the Balkan Neolithic collapse (4000 BC)?

Remember my article "Vinča warriors" in which I asked if we should look for the origin of the militaristic Copper and Bronze Age societies in Neolithic Central European cultures, like Vinča culture...Does this figurine group from Vinča settlement Stubline depict an army? Or at least and armed mob...

Or did they arrive by sea, from Mediterranean, where we find I2a and G2a people spreading together along the coast. Here is a study entitled "Ancient DNA reveals male diffusion through the Neolithic Mediterranean route" which shows that these guys were spreading together along Mediterranean coast around 3000 BC... 

By boat? By boat. Did they also bother checking the Black Sea coast too? I mean this is right around the time when Russian dolmens are beginning to be built...In the Mykop territory...

I talked about Neolithic seafarers in Mediterranean and Atlantic, who were linked to Neolithic miners in my posts "Neolithic seafarers" and "Giant's ring"...

Were they the "prospectors, missionaries" that Childe talked about who spread the Megalithic culture wherever they went looking for stones and then metal from which to make tools and weapons?

The "Kurgan" Maykop culture (3700 BC–3000 BC) guys were mad about making metal weapons and were very good at it (the most ancient bronze sword on record, was made by Maykop people), were also a male dominated society...How did they learn their craft?

You know how copper and bronze metallurgy was invented in the Balkans? Mining and metallurgy are difficult things to figure out yourself and are much easier learned from someone who already knows how to do it...

Like emigrant metallurgists from the Balkans (G2a and possibly I2a) who left during the Balkan Neolithic collapse??? Or earlier??? 

And did these I2a and G2a people, produce Mykop Kurgan culture, after mixing with other people from the Steppe and Caucasus?

So who invaded whom? Did Caucasus people get Europeanised? What influence did these G2a and I2a people have on local cultures? Just technological? Religious? Cultural? Linguistic? Genetic definitely...

So, were Globular Amphora people product of "Kurgan" Maykop "invasion"? Or if there was a population movement from east to west (I talked about this in my post "Not so mobile riders"), was this in fact more like a "going back home to visit the relatives" kind of trip?

Because, there is a big problem with Maykop guys undertaking any mass long distance invasions...

Just like Balkan Neolithic people and Cucuteni-Tripillia people, Maykop people lived sedentary lives...

They were farmers who built terraces for growing their crops...People who build terraces don't go invading countries thousands of miles away...

But Maykop guys sold loads of its metal stuff to their Yamna neighbours. The Maykop guys also taught their Yamna mates a thing or two about how to mine, smelt and cast metal. Into weapons...Some of the Mykop guys possibly even joined the Yamna gangs...For a laugh...And profit...

Well not possibly. Definitely...Did you know that apart from dominant R1b genes (southern Yamna) and R1a genes (Northern Yamna), Yamna men also carried I2a genes? And so did some of the men of pretty much all the cultures surrounding Maykop and Yamna cultures...

How did these I2a guys (from Europe) end up there? And what influence, technological, cultural, linguistic, did these I2a guys (from Europe) have on all these "Indo-European" cultures? Which then "Indo-Europienised" Europe when they wandered (back) into Europe the 4th millennium BC???

So where does this leave Gimbutas theories? And the whole Indo-European thingy? It's a mess...And fun to watch...

Sunday, 28 November 2021

Gazelle mystery

I am flicking through the great paper "Podobe zivljenja in mita" This is an Illyrian situla from Novo Mesto, Slovenia dated to 5th century BC...



And there is something really really weird abut it...

This is the drawing of the decorative frieze from the situla...A row of horned animals...Which ones?



If you look at the horns, you will see that these are undoubtedly gazelles. 

Either Goitered gazelles...Which is found in Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran, parts of Iraq and Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, China and Mongolia...Not in Slovenia...


Or mountain gazelles...Which are found in Levant and Anatolia...Not in Slovenia...


I can't believe that no one before me saw this and wandered: how the fuck did this animal from Central Asia end up on an a ritual vessel buried in an Iron Age grave in Slovenia???

Was this situla an import? In which case were all Illyrian situlas imports? And if so from where?

Belenos?

Another puzzle from the Vače Situla, an ornamented Early Iron Age (5th c. BC) Illyrian ritual vessel (situla) found in Slovenia. 

Here we see the "dude dressed in white" being driven in a "bird chariot" with one bird pointing forward and the other backward...



Who is this "dude dressed in white"? Why is he driven in "bird chariots"? What is the symbol under the chariots? The Sun? 

Have a look at the drawings of the Vače Situla decorations. 


The same dude we see being driven in the bird chariot, is also depicted sitting on a throne holding a scepter with two bird heads facing away from each-other...

Why?

Originally I thought that maybe this is somehow related to the two headed eagle dude found in Central Asia...This guy:



I talked about him in my post "Double headed eagle"...This dude is the thunder god, personification of the rain cloud. 


I talked about this in my post "Fluffy"?

Basically he is a deified vulture which has two heads because the local vultures perform synchronized flying mating routines at the beginning of the rain season...



Which from the ground look like two headed eagles

But maybe this Illyrian bird iconography has nothing to do with vultures. The bird definitely doesn't look like a vulture. It is a raptor though. But which one...

Enters this cool dude: The short-toed snake eagle (Circaetus gallicus), a medium-sized bird of prey, found throughout the Mediterranean basin, into Russia and the Middle East, and parts of Western Asia, and in the Indian Subcontinent and also in some Indonesian islands...

This eagle, as its name says has short toes 🙂 And eats snakes. I talked about this eagle in my post "Eagle calendar marker"...

And in Europe, it is a migratory bird, arriving into Europe from Africa in Apr/May and leaving Europe for Africa in Sep/Oct...

Remember that snakes are solar animals. They are in our world when sun is in our world (hot part of the year) and they are in the underworld when sun is in the underworld (cold part of the year)


I talked about this in my posts "Enemy of the sun", "The chthonic animal" and "Bactrian snakes and dragons"...

Not just that, but mating season of European snakes take place at the beginning of summer, in Apr/May...

Which makes snake animal calendar marker for the beginning of summer...

In Slavic mythology, dragon is "an old snake"...What this means is that dragon is the animal calendar marker for the late summer, the hottest part of the year...Which is by South Slavs called "Kresovi" (fires)...

Which is why in Slavic mythology, dragon, always breathes fire. 

He is the symbol of destructive sun's heat. I talked about this in my post "Dragon who stole rain"...

This is also why in Slavic languages, the word for dragon "zmaj" is masculine form of "zmija", snake. 

And why the oldest dragons, Mesopotamian ones, have snake heads. 7 snake head, for 7 hot, dry summer months...And the body of a lion...Cause Leo, Jul/Aug, is the hottest part of the year. The time of the fire breathing dragons..


I talked about this in my post "Seven headed dragon"...

Anyway, back to the snake eating eagle...This eagle disappears from Europe when the the sun goes to the underworld, followed by snakes...And this eagle reappears in Europe when the sun returns from the underworld followed by snakes...

And the only time you can see this amazing scene of eagle fighting snake is during summer and autumn... 

Now remember my pos "Leto", about migratory birds and their significance in Slavic mythology? 




And how they are directly linked with the departure of Jarilo (pronounced Yarilo), the sun god to the land of the dead in the autumn, and his return from the land of the dead in the spring?

To the point where the word leto (summer, year) can be derived from let (flight) of the migratory birds...

Is it possible that the raptors depicted looking into opposite directions are migratory snake eagles? If only there was an Illyrian artefact, from the same area and the same time period, showing a raptor with a snake in it's beak...

Now have a look at this: a (ritual) boxing match over a helmet depicted on the Vače Situla.



Now have a look at this: Belt buckle (Illyrian or Etruscan or...) from Magdalenska gora. From this amazing paper "Podobe zivljenja in mita"... It depicts the same (ritual) boxing match over a helmet depicted on the Vače Situla. But, in the top left corner, there is a bird of pray with a snake in its beak...

So I think I am right about the identity of the raptor from the Vače Situla...

So who is this dude dressed in white, on an Illyrian situla, being driven in the chariot with two birds pointing in two opposite directions and holding a scepter with with two birds pointing in two opposite directions (departure and return of migratory birds)??? I wonder...

No suggestions? 

Well Belenus (Belinus and Bellenus), a sun god from "Celtic" mythology, whose name can be derived from "bel", Slavic word for white, making him the equivalent of the Slavic Belbog (White god)???

"The historically favoured interpretation of the name is a "bright/shining one," from a Proto-Indo-European root *bhel (to shine)"

Belenus was associate with horses...Just like Svetovid, Slavic sun god who was also associated with horses. White horses, which were kept in his temples...I talked about this in my post "Horseman"...

The reason why solar deities are linked to horses is because mating of wild horses begins in Apr/May...At the beginning of summer. And it peaks during summer solstice...Which is why horse was used as animal calendar marker for the beginning of summer and for summer solstice...I talked about this in my posts "Unicorn" and "Trojan horse"...

This is also why horses usually pull sun chariots...

So is the guy in white, driven in a horse pulled chariot, Belenus (Belbog) = White god, Sun...

Saturday, 20 November 2021

Singers of Apollo

Ancient Greek coin minted in Clazomenai in the early 4th c. BC, depicting the head of Apollo and his sacred bird, swan...

In 4th c. AD, Himerius in his Orations talks about the hymn to Apollo written by the 6th c. BC Greek poet Alcaeus. Here is the interesting bit:

"When Apollo was born, Zeus equipped him with golden headband and lyre and gave him also a chariot of swans to drive, and sent him to Delphi...to declare justice and right for the Greeks..."

"...but when Apollo mounted the chariot he directed the swans to fly to the land of the Hyperboreans..."


Why?

Well there is something very peculiar about Apollo's swans that might give us a (non mythological) answer to this question...

In Hymn to Delos, Callimachus says that swans circled the island of Delos seven times while Apollo was being born...Now these were not just any swans. These were singing swans...

These "birds of Apollo" were considered to be "the most musical among the birds", and were also called "singers of Apollo". The Roman author, Aelian said that "when the singers would sing hymns to Apollo, the swans would join the chant in unison"...

This is strange, considering that all the swans in Europe are mute...

All except one species: "the whooper swans"..."noisy birds...whose call is like a loud honk of a car"...


The whooper swans live and breed in far North of Eurasia (yellow). They winter in Southern and Western Europe (Blue, Green)...



They usually migrate to their winter territories around October and arrive back in their breeding territory in April.

So the singing whooper swans, were, at the time when all these hymns to Apollo were written, only found in Greece between October and April...

And in April, they would gather into flocks, fly overhead singing, and then depart towards "Hyperborea"...Taking with them Apollo in his new swan chariot...

I think this is kind of neat...

There's more...

Alcaeus, in his hymn to Apollo also says that "when the Delphians learned that Apollo went to Hyperborea, they [prayed and] called on the god to come back..."

"...Apollo, however, delivered law among the men of that region for a full year; but when he thought it was time...he ordered his swans to fly back again from the Hyperboreans...and it was summer and indeed the very middle of summer when Apollo came back from the Hyperboreans..."

This of course can happen in mythology...In reality, Apollo's swan chariot could only come back to Greece in October, during whooper swans winter southward migration...

This part of Alcaeus's hymn is very interesting, cause it actually confirms that it was indeed in October that Apollo "ordered his swans to fly back again from the Hyperboreans":

"When Apollo returned from Hyperborea, Kephisos (Cephisus) [a river of Phokis and Boiotia] rises in flood surging with waves...for...even the water could sense the presence of [the] god..."

Now I don't know if we are talking about the same Kephisos, but "The oldest tradition in the region now called Argolis is that once three rivers Inakhos, Kephisos and Asterion, judged who should rule the land, Poseidon or Hera..."

"They decided that it belonged to Hera, and so Poseidon made their waters disappear. For this reason neither of these rivers provides any water except after rain. In summer their streams are dry..."

So in reality Cephisus could not have flooded during "mid summer"...Here is the climate in Peloponnesus. See, dry summer...

So when does Cephisus "rises in flood surging with waves"? Well, in this article entitled "An inventory of flood events in Athens, Greece, during the last 130 years. Seasonality and spatial distribution" there is this chart showing "Monthly distribution of flood events in Athens basin (1880–2010)" of the Kifisos river...Guess when it's most likely for Kifisos river to flood...Oct/Nov of course...

I couldn't find any other similarly named river...But even if Cephisus and Kifisos are not the same river, they are rivers from the same locality and the same climate and will have the same water flow...

So the only time when river Cephisus could "rise in flood surging with waves" to welcome Apollo arriving back from Hyperborea in his chariot pulled by singing swans, was exactly when whooper swans come to Greece, in October...

Strangely, in Greek mythology, Apollo spends winter in Hyperborea and summers in Greece, the opposite from happens in nature...He must have used some other means of transport in order to achieve that...

PS: In order for Apollo to hitch the ride to Hyperborea on a swan chariot, he had to be born before the whooper swan departure in April...And not on the seventh day of the month Thargelion, which corresponds to May/Jun...Just saying...So maybe I should look into his birth more closely to see if there is anything else that can help us pinpoint the actual date of his birth...

Sagittarius from Isfahan

In this article I would like to talk about a beautiful manuscript entitled "The Free Man's Companion to the Subtleties of Poems" written by Jajarmi around 1341AD in Isfahan, Iran. Its illustrations hide some ancient animal calendar markers. And ancient gods...

But first this...

This is the symbol of Isfahan. Two of these images decorate the entrance into Isfahan's Grand Bazaar, one of the greatest and most luxurious covered markets in Iran, built in 1620AD...

And they apparently depict Sagittarius...How do we know this is Sagittarius? Well, because inside of the "The Free Man's Companion to the Subtleties of Poems" there is an illustrated poem about the moon visiting the houses of 12 zodiac signs...And this is Sagittarius...

Here are all 12 illustrations. I want to thank @handarziha for alerting me to this beautiful book. BTW @handarziha, I found missing pisces illustration 🙂 and have added it to the start of the first panel where it should be...




The zodiac used is the European zodiac, with constellations: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces...

Why European zodiac? Firstly because all the animal signs mark significant lifecycle events of the depicted animal, in Europe...I talked about it in my post "Zodiac" and linked posts about each sign. Here is the gist:

This totally improbable "coincidence" made me wonder if this is indeed a coincidence...Which led to the discovery of the ancient animal calendar markers, which are found in all Eurasian and North African cultures since Neolithic...And have nothing to do with stars...

Also, the oldest depiction of this type of zodiac circle was found in Croatia, in the Nakovana cave. 



Not surprising at all, if you know what this "circle of little animals" (that's what zodiac means) actually represents...I talked about it in my post "Nakovana"...

More about animal calendar markers found in ancient cultures, start here…then check the rest of the blog posts I still didn't add to this page, and finally check my twitter threads on @serbiaireland I still didn't convert to blog post...I am 7 months behind now...

Anyway, lets get back to the Isfahan zodiac, and start by saying that it is important to know that the manuscript was written in Isfahan. Cause the animal calendar markers found in it describe Isfahan climate, hydrology and ecology...

Isfahan is located at the foothills of the Zagros mountains on a fertile soil along the Zayandehrud River...This is Khaju Bridge over Zayandehrud river in Isfahan, built around 1650, under the reign of Abbas II, the seventh Safavid king (shah) of Iran...

The climatic year in Isfahan is divided into hot dry half (Jun-Oct) and cool wet half (Nov-May)...This means that Zayandehrud River is, a seasonal river, which  depends mostly on winter and spring rainfall and the spring snowmelt...

Over 70% of Zayandehrud river runoff comes from the snow melting on the mountains surrounding its basin, particularly the Zagros range, which starts in February (yes in Aquarius) and finishes in May. 

Snow cover on the Iranian mountains...

The rest of the water flowing down Zayandehrud river comes from rain, which starts falling in Oct/Nov and stops falling in Apr/May, with maxium rainfal in Mar/Apr...

The combination of the snowmelt and rainfall results in sudden increase of the Zayandehrud river water level starting in Mar/Apr...In Aries...The also the rainiest time of the year in Isfahan...

Monthly flow chart for the Zayandehrud River, from the paper "An overview of the hydrology of the Zayandeh Rud Basin

And here we come to the first animal calendar marker hidden on the first page of the Isfahan Zodiac...Aries ram, depicted as a wild sheep, mouflon, with blue (water like) horns, lying in water...Describing exactly what is happening in Isfahan in Mar/Apr...In Aries...

I don't know Persian, so can't tell what the text this pic illustrates actually says. I would be funni if it says: and when the moon comes to the house of Aries, the rain will pour out of the sky and the river will start rising...Anyone who can read the text?

Anyway cool wet half of the year then abruptly ends in May, when the hot dry half of the year starts...In Taurus...Which is depicted as a zebu bull...Interesting, considering that zebu cattle is predominant cattle breed in India, not Iran...Were they once more common in Iran too?

We can skip through Gemini, Cancer. Nothing really interesting there. But Leo...Leo is depicted as a really cool mean looking lioness...

You know how Leo marks the beginning of the mating season of the Eurasian lions?


And you know how there is this girl, Inanna/Ishtar, who loves standing on lions? 

Why does she do this?

Well...standing on a lion means "In Leo"...

And you know how everyone thinks that Inanna/Ishtar "The queen of heaven", "The morning star" is Venus...Well, when this "mythology" was developed, Sirius rose before the sun, in Leo (Jul/Aug), pretending to be "the morning star"...I talked about this in my post "Ninshubur"...

In "A hymn to Inana as Ninegala" we can read "Inana, great light, lioness of heaven..." Why? 

Well, this, combined with Inanna's obsession with standing on lions only makes sense if she is Sirius, rising with the sun in Leo...

Anyway, you know how some archaeologists say that Inanna's earliest depiction was as a lioness? Does this Elamite figurine made in Iran depict Inanna as lioness...

And is the the choice of using lioness instead of lion as Leo in the Isfahan zodiac just a random artistic freedom?

Anyway, we pass Leo and we arrive to Virgo to find out that she is gone shopping and instead of here we see a man harvesting grain...

Now if I have ever seen a blatantly obvious calendar marker based on annual lifecycle of plants this is one...

Grains are always sown and always harvested at the same time of the year...And Virgo illustration says: In Aug/Sep we harvest grain...So what grain is harvested in Aug/Sep?

The grain depicted on the Virgo illustration looks like wheat...So I first looked at wheat, which is today the main grain crop in Iran. But wheat grown in Iran is mostly winter wheat, which is planted in Oct/Nov and harvested in May/Jun...

Then I found in this book "The Middle East (Routledge Revivals): A Physical, Social and Regional Geography" that in high mountain valleys, like in Zagros mountains, people grow spring wheats, which are sown in Mar/Apr and harvested in Jul/Aug...

Hmmm...To early for Virgo...And from what I could find, the wheats grown in Isfahan region is all winter wheat...

But there is another grain crop grown in Isfahan, along the Zayandehrud river...Rice...And in Iran, rice is planted in Apr/May and harvested in Aug/Sep...Virgo...

As I said, I don't know Persian, so I don't know what the text illustrated by this image actually says. But it would be cool if it said: In Virgo we harvest rice...Anyone who can read the text?

So we'll skip pass Libra and will look at Scorpio (Oct/Nov)...

The sign that marks the time of the year when scorpions go to hibernation, because the temperature gets too low...This has been used as an animal calendar marker since Neolithic...

For instance in Göbekli Tepe...I wrote about it in my post "Pillar 43"...

And in Mesopotamia...I wrote about it in my post "Queen Puabi's cylinder seal"...

And in Iran...I wrote about it in my post "Khafajeh vase"...

Once we pass Scorpio, we get to Sagittarius (Nov/Dec)...So we are back where we started...At first sight, a very strange symbol for Sagittarius indeed: An archer killing a dragon...

But if we know that this illustration is made in Isfahan, and we know the Isfahan climate, then this depiction of Sagittarius suddenly makes a lot of sense...

Look at the Isfahan climate chart for again. The year is divided into hot, dry season (May-Oct), and cool, wet season (Nov-Apr). The hot, dry season, the time of droughts, symbolised all over Eurasia by fire breathing dragons, ends in Sagittarius (Nov/Dec). Archer kills dragon...

Isfahan market gate depiction of Sagitarius makes the meaning of this symbol even clearer. There, the body of the Sagitarius is the body of a lion...

Remember that the earliest depictions of dragons found in Mesopotamia had bodies of lions and heads of snakes...I talked about it in my post "Seven headed dragon"...

Snake is the symbol of sun's heat...The only true solar animal. Snakes are in our world when sun is in our world (day and hot part of the year) and in the underworld when sun is in the underworld (night and cold part of the year). 

Sun god with snakes from Bactria. I talked about it in my post "Nude winged hero dominating snakes"...

Lion is the symbol of the hottest part of the year in northern hemisphere, Jul/Aug...The time of the year ruled by Nergal, the destructive sun, who was depicted as a lion, winged lion, lion dragon...I talked about this in my post "Winged superhuman hero"...

Lion is also the symbol of autumn (Aug/Sep/Oct), cause the mating season of Eurasian lions spans autumn...I talked about this in my post "Lion killing bull under palm tree" about this seals telling people when to harvest date: when lion (autumn) kills (ends) bull (summer)...

Lion is also the symbol of the whole hot dry half of the year, Apr/May - Oct/Nov...In my post "Sacred hunt" I talk about ritual lion hunts performed by Assyrian kings. In which they imitated the rain god Ninurta, The Archer who used rainbow as his bow, in the act of ending (killing) the hot dry half of the year, symbolised by a lion...In the act of saving the world, protecting the order from chaos...


And in Isfahan, the (God of) rain arrives in Nov/Dec, in Sagittarius...At the end (tail) of the lion dragon...And kills it... 

As I said, I don't speak Persian, so I don't know what the text illustrated by this image actually says. Anyone who can read the text?

What follows is Capricorn, depicted as a Ibex goat...In European zodiac it marks the mating season of Apline Ibex goats which spans Dec/Jan...However Iranian Bezoar Ibex goats start mating in Oct/Nov, announcing the arrival of the first rains...

This is the old Iranian Goat of Rain...The most depicted animal in Iran...And at one time most sacred...I talked about it this post "Goat petroglyphs from Iran"...

Scorpion, ibex and archer calendar markers once marked the same time of the year, Oct/Nov, the beginning of the cool wet half of the year in Mesopotamia and Iran...

But that didn't really fit the climate and animal behaviour in Europe, hence the change in their positions on zodiac circle...They are all still next to one another...

And so...We finally arrive to Aquarius...Have a look at the depiction of Aquarius? What is this triangular brick thingy?

Now have a look at this. "When Utu/Shamash steps up into heaven, fresh waters shall run out of the ground for you..." from "Enki and Ninhursanga"...The sun god Utu/Shamash climbing the mountains to free Enki/Ea, god of fresh water...I talked about it in my post "Shamash young and old"...

What does it mean? Well, when sun's elevation gets high enough, the snow on the mountains will start melting, and the rivers and wells will start filling up again..And in Isfahan that is in...Jan/Feb...In Aquarius...

Again, I don't speak Persian, so I have no idea what the text illustrated by this image says...But it would be cool if it said: it's getting warmer (see, the guy has no top on him), the water levels in our wells and rivers are rising...

And here we come to the end of the analysis of the poem about moon visiting zodiac houses, from the beautiful manuscript entitled "The Free Man's Companion to the Subtleties of Poems"...

Thanks again to @handarziha for making me do something completely different from what I have planned to be doing for last 2 days...Hope it was worth it...🙂