Saturday, 27 March 2021

Bull god from Arslantepe

The other day, Waššukanni (@dutpekmezi3), one of my favourite twitter accounts, and someone I would definitely recommend you to follow if you like archaeology, published a picture of this orthostat (engraved stone block) from Arslantepe, dated to 1200-700BC...


Here is the drawing of the same orthostat where the actual features are even clearer to see

The description under this artefact contains few "mistakes": 

First: the god is not holding a boomerang 🙂 in his raised right arm, he is holding a sickle. That this is not a boomerang is is kind of obvious...Why it is a sickle, not so obvious...But it will become obvious...

Second: the god is also not holding a "lightning bundle" 🙂 in his left arm, he is holding a sheaf of wheat...



The reason why I don't think this is a "lightning bundle" is because on another stone monument from the same period, Uluçinar stela, we can see what the "lightning bundle" of the Anatolian storm gods actually looks like: it's a trident...


I analysied the Uluçinar stelae in this article… What I have found during that analysis can help us understand the meaning of the scene from the Aslantepe orthostat too...

It is all to do with Anatolian climate and with the grain agriculture which was the most important activity in the Hittite kingdom...

The late April early May (Taurus, Beginning of summer) is the time of maximum precipitation and maximum thunderstorms in the land of the Hittites.


Which is why the Thunder god on the Uluçinar stelae stands on the bull...

And which is why on the Aslantepe orthostat, the first image on the left depicts the Thunder god arriving on the chariot pulled by a bull...



It is this rain that fills the wells, rivers and canals and waters the grain and makes it grow. It is also this rain that can completely destroy the grain...So if you were a Hittite grain farmer, you were at the complete mercy of the Storm god...

If it was his will, and he brought just enough rain, at just the right time, the harvest time, late July early August (Leo, End of summer) will be the time of celebration and thanksgiving...

This is what the second, central picture on the Aslantepe orthostat depicts: a merciful Storm god giving a sheaf of wheat to a grateful king...


The fact that both "gods" on the Aslantepe orthostat are carrying a sickle is basically telling us two things: that this is actually one and the same god, in two different periods of the year: beginning and end of summer...And that the Storm god is also the Grain god...

The king in response pours a water libation. The harvest time in the Hittite land was the driest part of the year. The time of drought. The time of water shortages...Which is why a water libation was a deliberately chosen as the sacrifice...

The last picture on the right depicts "a man holding a bull ready to be sacrificed"...




This is very interesting. In Serbia and in Ireland, bulls were sacrificed in August to the storm gods who were also associated with grain agriculture...As thanksgiving for bountiful harvest...

I talked about this in my posts "Bull of Crom Dubh" and "Bull of Grom Div"

Also in Serbia and in Ireland, these gods were actually both Storm and Sun, Sky gods and grain gods...And in both places their day was celebrated at the time of maximum drought, the hottest part of the year, the beginning of August...

Beginning of August, which marked the end of summer, the season symbolised by a bull...So it was fitting that on that day Serbs and Irish sacrificed a bull, a sacred animal of the sky god, symbolically killing summer...

It seems that the Hittites did that too...

By the way the reason why summer, May, Jun, Jul, is symbolised by a bull is because it starts with the calving of Aurochs, wild Eurasian cattle, and ends with the mating of Aurochs, wild Eurasian cattle...You can read more about this in my post "Ram and Bull"...


The reason why autumn is symbolised by a lion, is because Eurasian lions main mating season started in August and spanned Aug, Sep, Oct...You can read more about this in my post "Musth"...

You can read more about the symbols of the seasons in my posts "Symbols of the seasons"...

So these Aslantepe orthostats are another great example of the use of animal calendar markers in agricultural calendars...These markers, based on the timing of the main events from the reproductive cycles of the animals used as symbols, are found everywhere in Eurasia...

You can find many examples listed here…. Not all, as I am lazy and didn't update the page for a while...

2 comments:

  1. Sooo, is there any connection to these harvest bull-killings and Mithraism? I just feel that Ulansky's "precession of the equinox" is not really the basis of Mithraism. What say you?

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    Replies
    1. :) What do you think? Have a look at the animal calendar markers I covered so far, have a look at Mithra killing bull scene...I will talk about it soon, but it is kind of obvious...

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