Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Queen Uqnitum


Today I saw this drawing with this description: "Bulla depicting an intimate family scene of Queen Uqnitum & King Tupkish of the Hurrian kingdom of Urkesh (late 3rd millennium BC), with the princess sitting on Uqnitum's lap & the young prince touching his father's knee".

My first reaction was: how do we know the child sitting on the queen's lap was a girl? To me it actually looked like a small boy...And in this thread I would like to explain why I think the child is a boy and why this is important...

To check if my gut feeling was right, I searched for this seal impression in the literature to see what others had to say about this whole thing...

In the "Art of the First Cities: The Third Millennium B.C. from the Mediterranean to the Indus" by Joan Aruz, Ronald Wallenfel, we can read that "this is Queen Uqnitum's most important seal. She appears to be seated on the left holding a small child."

In the "City of Myth, in search of Hurrian Urkesh" by Giorgio Buccellati and Marilyn Kelly-Buccellati, people who found the seal, we also read, in the main description of the seal "...on the left, the mother-queen, seated on a level with the king, holds a small child on her lap..."

But then in the side note we find this: "This bulla shows on intimate scene in the life of Urkesh's royal family, with the king and queen seated on a level with one another, the princess perched on Uqnitum's lop, and the young prince reaching for his father's knee"...

I seriously believe that this is a misinterpretation of the scene, and probably added to fit the "ideal western family standard" of mother, daughter, father, son...

I think the small child depicted on the left of the scene as siting on the Queen Uqnitum's laps is a boy. And not just any boy. He is the same boy, who is depicted on the right of the scene reaching for his father's knee, just at younger age...

This seal does not depict "intimate scene in the life of Urkesh's royal family". This seal is an example of political propaganda...

Ten seals were found which belonged to Uqnitum. The text on one of the seals reads: "Uqnitum, wife of Tupkish". Uqnitum was probably an Akkadian wife (according to her name) of a Hurrian king. One of probably many wives (according to the authors of the The City of Myth)...

Most of these wives had children with the king. But only one of those children, one son of the king Tupkish, will end up succeeding the king at the throne and becoming the new king of Urkesh. And it seems that it was the son of Uqnitum, that became the new king...

Because the inscription on this seal reads "Uqnitum, the queen". Uqnitum could have been promoted from a "wife" to the "queen" only through her sone becoming the "crown prince", the successor to the throne...

And this is exactly what the scene on this seal depicts: "I Queen (!!!) Uqnitum gave birth to the future king of Urkesh".

How do we know that this scene represents the recognition of the Uqnitum's son as the crown prince? Well Giorgio Buccellati and Marilyn Kelly-Buccellati say that this is because "The prince is shown touching king's lap"...

In the "City of Myth" we can read that among many "King's seals" there is one which also shows "the prince touching the king's lap". This one:


And this is the interpretation of the scene depicted on this seal:



This is very interesting. Except I don't think that the ritual described in Genesis is the same ritual shown on these seals. What Abraham asked his follower to do is to place his hand on his, Abraham's, penis while swearing an oath...

Remember the article about the origin of sceptres

In it I proposed that originally, penis was the sign of power the symbol of gods and rulers...I think the ritual from the Genesis is related to this veneration of the penis as the symbol of power.

And Scott, George Ryley states the same in his "Phallic worship: a history of sex and sex rites in relation to the religions of all races from antiquity to the present day" published in 1941. 

In this book we can read that Hebrews, Arabs and Egyptians swore oaths "by placing their hand on their penis or on their master's penis" which was in the Bible euphemisised as "placing the hand under someone's thigh" or just "giving hand under someone"...

I believe that the ritual shown on the Hurrian seals is, I believe, something else. 

The prince is not touching king's thigh nor is he touching king's lap. He is in fact touching king's knee, as the authors of the "City of Myth" state themselves. Why? What does this mean?

Remember the article about the Serbian expression "From knee to knee" meaning "From generation to generation", "From father to son"? In it I talked about the fact that the word for generation and the word for knee have the same root in many languages. Why?

Because of this: The English etymological dictionary says something interesting about the etymology of the word genus: "...could come from Latin genu (knee) from a supposed ancient custom of a father acknowledging paternity of a newborn by placing it on his knee..."

So this is what the prince does on these Hurrian seals. He is touching the king's knee, as a symbol that the king "held him on his knee", that he is "the next generation", that he is "legitimate son" and therefore  that he is "the crown prince" and therefore "the future king"...

These Hurrian seal impressions could be the earliest known depictions of this custom of "father recognising the child as his own by placing it on his knee"...

Amazing, right?

Oh and yeah, almost forgot. The meaning of the message from the original seal therefore is: "Up yours! It is MY son, the one I gave birth to and held on my lap, that was placed on the king's knee and was chosen to be the future king...Yours, QUEEN!!! Uqnitum. Have a nice day" ­čÖé

PS. As someone said earlier today: what's with the noses?

2 comments:

  1. Your interpretation makes a lot of sense. But this scene reminded me to the Nativity scene in Christianity. The Nativity scene basically says: this (Jezus) is the son of God/the predicted king of Jews.

    You have the star, a sheep (but not the ox), woman with child and the king is holding a gift? in his hand.

    The star is especially mentioned in the Bibel as sign of a royal birth.

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    1. This would be not surprising at all, considering that the Jews stole (inherited) a lot of things from other other earlier Levantine and Mesopotamian people

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