Tuesday 23 June 2020

Trojan horse

Everyone knows what Trojan Horse is: a wooden horse  which Greeks left on the beach of Troy as a "present" to the Trojans... 

Here it is, depicted on Vase, found on Mykonos, dated to ca. 670 BC, which makes it the earliest known graphic depiction of the Trojan Horse...

"...the city was doomed when it took in that 'horse', within which were all the bravest of the Greeks waiting to bring death and destruction on the Trojans..." wrote Homer, describing the scene.

But the interpretation of what Homer was talking about as a giant wooden horse, could be a result of an misinterpretation of the term "hippos"...

Already in the 2nd century AD, Greek geographer Pausanias wrote that the idea of Greeks using a wooden horse was "not credible, even if the figure of the horse was in use to represent this legend"...

Today, Italian naval archaeologist, Francesco Tiboni says that he has found "the proof" that the famous horse was actually a type of merchant ship which had horse figureheads on their prows and which Greeks called "hippos" (horse).

Like this one, from a depiction of Phoenician ships found in the palaces of Assyrian kings from the 7th and 8th centuries BCE.

It is because of this that the Greeks called the Phoenician ships "horses", and the Phoenicians "the horse people". 

"Over the course of history, lots of academics have put forward the nautical interpretation" of the term 'hippos' Tiboni says, "But there was always something missing. As a naval archaeologist, I managed to put all the pieces together."

He says it would make far more sense to think of the Greeks' treacherous gift to the Trojans as a ship, because nautical "hippos" were commonly used to carry tributes to the enemy - such as precious metals - after defeats.

A ship's hold would also have made a better hiding place for soldiers than a wooden horse's belly. And a reference in Virgil's Aeneid to wary Trojans calling for the sinking of the Greek gift seems odd outside of a nautical context, Tiboni suggests.

"Many aspects of the events narrated by ancient authors appear to be more clear and obvious than they are now if we use 'hippos' in the sense of a ship," the researcher wrote in 2016 in the academic journal "Archaeologia Maritima Mediterranean".

Apparently, "...the fellow classicists are having a hard time accepting this...".

"...it is impossible to separate fact from fiction when you are dealing with a legend based on an almost 3,000-year-old epic poem...We will probably never find out what really happened..." archaeologist Eleni Stylianou said.

Eleni Stylianou is of course right. We will never know for sure what happened at Troy. But I personally believe that Francesco Tiboni is right...His theory makes a lot of sense...

But I am not writing this article to prove that the Trojan horse was a boat with a horse head on its prow. 

I am writing this article to answer the question: why did the Phoenician built ships with horse heads on their prows?

A horse head is a very strange thing to put on a boat...But wait until you hear why Phoenicians did it...

Apparently, these horse heads were purposeful tributes to the might of Phoenician sea god Yamm and were used on the ships to placate the god who, like the Greek god Poseidon, was associated with horses, and who had to be constantly appeased to prevent his wanton destruction of the ships at sea.

Now why would the two most important sea gods of the ancient world be associated with horses?

Read on...

In the Phoenician religion, there was a tripartite division of power between Baal (Storm god), Mot (God of death) and Yamm (Sea god). This "seems to have" (first understatement of a millennium) influenced the Greek division between Zeus (Storm god), Hades (God of death) and Poseidon (Sea god)... 

Are you kidding me? How many other tripartite divisions of power like this do we have?

It "is possible" (second understatement of a millennium) that Poseidon/Neptune was directly inspired by a Phoenician counterpart Yamm...

Eeeee WTF? Two sea gods associated with horses? How weird is this? And what is the chance that this is a coincidence? 

I mean look at Poseidon:

Poseidon was god of the sea, storms...and horses. This is reflected in his epithets: Nauklarios (Ναυκλάριος) "belonging to the ship-owners", Pelagikos (Πελάγίκος) "belonging to the sea"...and Hippeios (ἲππειος) "belonging to a horse".

Sailors prayed to Poseidon for a calm seas and safe voyage, "sometimes drowning horses as a sacrifice"...

In Greek art, Poseidon rides a chariot that was pulled by a hippocampus or by horses that could ride on the sea. 

Why is a sea god associated with horses?

Poseidon is apparently "...more often regarded as the tamer of horses, but in some myths he is their father, either by spilling his seed upon a rock or by mating with a creature who then gave birth to the first horse..."

In Arcadia, one of the most conservative parts of Ancient Greece, Poseidon was worshipped as a stallion...

Why? Why?

Well, to understand why, we need to look at the ancient sailing calendars. 

Hesiod, writing in the 8th century BC says that:

In spring's another chance to sail
When figs put forth their new leaves from the topmost twigs, 
The size of crow's feet
That's when first the sea is passable...

This happens in April

Then he proceeds to say that:

Fifty days after the solstice, 
when the season of wearisome heat is come to an end, 
is the right (best) time for men to go sailing. 

This is end of July beginning of August

Finally he says:

 But make all haste you can to return home again 
 and do not wait till the time of the new wine 
 and autumn rain and oncoming storms 
 with the fierce gales of Notus 
 who accompanies the heavy autumn rain of Zeus 
 and stirs up the sea and makes the deep dangerous.

This happens in September

So according to Hesiod, the sailing season in Ancient Greece was between April and September...

Interestingly, in the Ancient Greece, another marker used for the beginning and the end of the sailing season was the heliacal rising and setting of Pleiades, whose ancient Greek name "Πλειαδες" comes from πλεω, which means “to sail”)...

Now because of the precession, heliacal rising of the Pleiades is not a fixed event on the solar year. 

Have a look at this table:

Approximate time of the heliacal rising of the Pleiades (according to Stellarium computer program)

2500BC - 20th of April
2000BC - 24th of April
1500BC - 28th of April
1000BC - 1st of May
  800BC - 3rd of May 

So when Hesiod was writing, around 800BC, the heliacal rising of the Pleiades was already too late to mark the beginning of the sailing season which started every year "when figs put forth their new leaves from the topmost twigs, the size of crow's feet", in April...

Which is why I think he didn't use heliacal rising of the pleiades to mark the beginning of the sailing season in his "Works and days". Instead he used something that happens every year at the same time in the same climatic zone: the emergence of the new leaves on fig trees...He used an reoccurring annual event form the lifecycle of the fig tree as a calendar marker, to mark the beginning of the sailing season in the Eastern Mediterranean...

Interesting, very interesting...

If we look at the above table of the dates of the heliacal rising of Pleiades, we can see that they were rising during the second part of April during the period 2500BC - 1000BC, which is the period between the emergence of the first Phoenician cities and the peak of Phoenician dominance of the Eastern Mediterranean seas... 

So did Phoenicians link the heliacal rising and setting of the Pleiades with the beginning and the end of the sailing season in the Eastern Mediterranean?

I believe so...

And Phoenicians did something else as well: They linked their sea god with a horse and built ships with horse head prows...

And finally, here is why:

This means that natural breeding season of horses coincides exactly with the sailing season in the Eastern Mediterranean...

How do we know that the natural breeding season of horses has started? Because stallions start fighting each other for the right to mate...

This means that the horse is a perfect animal to use as a calendar marker that specifies when to sail and when not to sail...

In the words of immortal Phoenician poet (whose name and work everyone forgot unfortunately):

"When the stallion fighting you see, it means it's ok to take to the sea"

This also means that the horse is the perfect symbol for a patron god of sailing: the sea gods Yamm and Poseidon...Gods of the sailing season...Who arrived on chariots pulled by horses and brought with them good sailing weather...

It is even possible, that Phoenicians originally saw the horse as the one who brings the good sailing weather? Or maybe Phoenicians never equated Yamm with the horse, but instead just saw horse as Yamm's herald and hence his sacred animal...And the reason why Mountain Greeks from Arcadia worshiped Poseidon as a stallion is because by the time this Phoenician cult reached them, it was already mangled beyond recognition, and the god's herald and symbol became the god himself???

By the way, the dancing ponies also herald the beginning of summer...Which explains few other things about Yamm and Poseidon...But I will leave this for another article...

Does all of the above make a bit more sense now?

Now if you think that this is just a fluke, please have a look at all these other animal and plant calendar markers which I have mapped so far...


  1. Love your posts. Wonderful stuff.

  2. ovo isto pise neki nas covjek https://www.cogniarchae.com/2021/02/23/trojan-horse-the-truth-behind-the-myth/

  3. Odlično!
    ono što mi zapalo u oko je isto tako da je PL u Plejadama sinhrono sa PL u plovidbi, kod slavenskih jezika, i da to nije preuzeto iz grčkog jer imamo i PLivanje, PLutanje, PLavljenje ...

  4. Nordijski bog mora je div Aegir. Brodovi su nazivani Aegirovim konjima.
    Posejdon je prikazivan sa ribama, delfinima, konjima koji su vukli njegovu kociju.
    Sumerski bog vode Ea-Enki, prikazan je na jednoj glinenoj plocici okruzen ribama, dok na ramenu ima orla.

    Ako bi boga voda izjednacili sa Vodolijom, oko sazvezdja Vodolija nasla bi se i sazvezdja Orao, Zdrebe, Delfin, Konj-Pegaz.

    Delfin- Delfi prorociste
    Postoji skluptura na kojoj Apolon pozira oslonjen rukom na drvo, na kojim se nalazi guster. Neobican prikaz.
    Medjutim, ako pogledamo sazvezdja u blizini Labuda, koji su po mitu vukli Apolonove kocije vidimo sledece:
    Sazvezdje Orao,Liru,Strelu,Delfin,Zmaj, tu je i Zmijonosa a sve ih povezuje Mlecni put kao drvo zivota, na kome se nalazi i sazvezdje Guster. Svi akteri mita o Apolonu su tu.
    Smatram da je i konj-Pegaz "skinut" sa neba kao veza sa bogom vode-mora Posejdonom-Vodolijom.

    Nilski konj-recni konj kao bozanstvo Taweret, nalazi se na zodijaku iz Dendere na mestu Zmaja. Vikinski brodovi su imali i glavu zmaja.


  5. Why the horse is not in the zodiac? Such an important animal...

  6. I think the horse is linked to ships also because the ship is mode of transportation just like the ship is a mode of transportation.