Friday 24 April 2020

Goats and partridges

Terracotta lentoid flask, 11th century B.C. Levantine. Both sides of the flask are decorated with goats, birds, and rudimentary foliage. 

I would like to analyse this object and its decorations.

So first, what are the animals depicted on this flask? Well, they are, based on the characteristics, our old friends: 

Bezoar Ibex Goat

Chukar partridge...

Is the choice of the animals and the composition and grouping of animals random? I don't think so. Here is why:

Climate in Levant, where this flask was made, is characterised by Hot Dry summers and Mild Wet winters...

Red table-temperature. 

Green table-rain.

You can see that the wet season starts in October-November and ends in April-May.

The breeding season of the Bezoar Ibex Goats varies across their range, but is generally from October-November to January. October-November is the beginning of winter and the beginning of Cool Wet Season in Levant. Which is why goats on the vessel are flanking a flowering and leafy bush (tree). This is the beginning of the season when nature turns lush and green. 

Also the mating season of Bezoar Ibex Goats overlaps with winter (from the beginning of November to the end of January), which is the first half of the Cool Wet Season.

The breeding season of the Chukar Partridges varies across their range, but is generally from February to May...The end of the Chukar breeding season marks the end of spring and the end of the Cool Wet Season in Levant. Which is why partridges are standing among dry bushes...

Also the mating season of Chukar Partridges overlaps with spring (from the beginning of February to the end of April), which is the second half of the Cool Wet Season.

What the decorations on this (most likely water) flask represent the Cool Wet Season, water rich season, neatly divided into Winter (Bezoar Ibex Goats part) and Spring (Chukar Partridges part). 

And the important demarcation dates on the climatic year are again marked by animals which mate or have young around those dates...

Lebanon is another place where we find Ibex worship from very early times. 

Like in Crete, Ibex was worshiped as bringer of life, often associated with "tree of life", basically just growing, living, green tree kept alive by rains which are "brought" by mating ibex goats...I talked about this in my posts "Goat riding thunder god", "Saffron" and "Sanctuary rhyton".

And like in Crete, Partridge was worshiped as symbol of fertility because the period when partridges start laying eggs is also the period when first vegetables and grains, the products of fertile nature, are ready to be harvested...I talked about this in my post "Painted eggs from Knossos".

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