Friday, 28 May 2021

Scheibenschlagen

Scheibenschlagen (Disc beating)

The "disc beating" is a fire ritual in which burning wooden discs are hurled into valleys from hill or mountain sides...The ritual is performed on the eve of the first Sunday of Lent. Here is how it's done...

Boys and men climd to the hill, mountain side above the village, town just before dusk. 

They bring with them circular "discs", as a rule made of beech wood with a hole in the middle, long sticks, torches and firewood...



Once on the summit, they light a fire until a large bonfire is brightly burning...

Men then take a disc and stick it on a tip of a long stick which is as a rule made of hazel...


Then they light the disc in a bonfire...



They then spin the sticks with the disc around to make discs burn and glow brightly. This also looks very very cool...

Then they hit a wooden ramp, specially made for disc beating, with the stick with tangential blow. This dislodges the disc and projects it forward at hight speed. The disc flies away into the darkness below spinning widely...

The launch of each disc is accompanied by a loud shout from the launcher, dedicating the disc to a girl or unmarried woman...

On the village square below, a band plays music for the assembled community, which sings the Scheibenschlagen song. 

When the last disc flies into the valley, the boys and men make their way back home with their burning torches...

In the village, they visit the girls and women to whom their discs were dedicated and enjoy savoury carnival tarts...

This custom was once widespread in and around the southern part of the Upper Rhine Plain, in the Markgräflerland, Black Forest, Breisgau, Basel area and Alsace as well as in Vorarlberg, parts of West and South Tyrol and in the Bündner Oberland and in the Chur Rhine Valley...

I love this bit: The disc beating was first recorded in 1090: On March 21, 1090, an outbuilding of the Lorsch monastery was set on fire by a flying burning disc 🙂

Now considering that this ritual was performed in at the beginning of spring, I would venture to guess that there is some kind of solar symbolism of the "launching burning sun discs into the dark" kind...Most likely related to this: rolling of burning wheels down the side of the mountain. 

I talked about this in my pots "Burning rolling wheel"...

Great short film about the custom in Switzerland can be found on this page...

Monday, 24 May 2021

Ninurta and the turtle

(Allegedly) Mesopotamian turtle amulet, 3rd-2nd millennium BC. 

There is a "weird" Sumerian text called "Ninurta and the turtle". In it, the Rain god Ninurta contemplates to overthrow the Flood god Enki. Enki figures that out, and then:

"Against Ninurta, Enki fashions a turtle from the clay of the abzu (the source of fresh water). Against him he stationed the turtle at an opening, at the gate of the abzu (source of fresh water)..."

"The turtle was able to grab Ninurta's tendon from behind...Enki...had the turtle scrape the ground with its claws, had it dig an evil pit. The hero Ninurta fell into it with the turtle. The hero did not know how to get out from ..."

Eeee what? Turtle??? Against the fierce Storm/Rain god? This doesn't make any sense...Well it does actually. If you know Mesopotamian climate and fauna...And if you realise that Ninurta, Enki and the turtle, are all calendar markers...

The climatic year in Mesopotamia is divided into two halves: summer, hot and dry half (Apr/May-Oct/Nov) and winter, cool and wet half (Oct/Nov-Apr/May)...


The winter starts in Oct/Nov, with the rain, brought by the rain god Ninurta. And it ends in Apr/May...


With the flood, brought by the flood god Enki... 

Annual Tigris water flow chart

Annual Euphrates water flow chart

Both peak in Apr/May

The flood signals the end of the rains. Enki (traps) Ninurta...Yeah, yeah...Amazing. What about the turtles?  

Behold, the (fierce 🙂) Mesopotamian softshell turtle aka Euphrates softshell turtle. It is found throughout Euphrates–Tigris river basin...

Mesopotamian softshell turtle can weigh up to 20 kg, and it has a smooth leathery shell that can reach up to 68 cm in length. It nests between April and June!!! The nest is dug by the female in a bank of a river and it can be 50 cm deep...

So right at the time of the Enki's flood, which ends the Ninurta's rain season, pile of turtles come out of the water and start digging holes in canal and river banks...Not something you would miss, if you lived by the rivers and canals...

The rest is just poetic freedom...

Ninshubur

A very very interesting Old Babylonian  cylinder seal, circa 1700-1600BC. 



The official description:

"A supplicant (the one who prays to god), wearing long robe, stands before a deity. The deity is standing with one foot resting on a lying animal (?), holding a staff with elaborate top part, which is  positioned directly under a crescent and circle with an inscribed cross"...

There are three lines of cuneiform text reading: "Nin-Subur (Ninshubur), wise in all things, have mercy on me"... 

That's very interesting. Ninshubur was the sukkal (vizier) of the goddess Inanna/Ishtar...You know, Inanna/Ishtar (the warrior goddess) who likes posing standing on a lion...Like on this Akkadian seal, dated 2350–2150 BC...Ninshubur is the girl on the left admiring the goddess...

Why is Inanna/Ishtar standing on a lion?...Is that important? Well very much so...You know how Inanna/Ishtar was "the morning star"? Everyone thinks that's Venus, as Venus does rise with the sun every morning...

Now standing on a lion, standing between lions, being driven by lion pulled chariots, being depicted as half lion...All mean in Leo, at the beginning of the main mating season of the Eurasian lions...


Guess who rises with the sun, pretending to be "the morning star" in Leo? Sirius...A very special star indeed...True lady of heaven...

BTW, Inanna/Ishtar was not just depicted standing on a lion...She was the lion. A chlorite bowl from the temple of Inanna at Nippur depicts a large feline battling a giant snake and a cuneiform inscription on the bowl reads "Inanna and the Serpent", indicating that the cat is supposed to represent the goddess. 

If anyone has a pic of this vessel, please post the link in the comments...

So the lion on the Ishtar gate is probably Ishtar herself...

O by the way, the snake is the symbol of sun's heat. Which grows during summer, reaches its peak in Leo, and diminishes during autumn, symbolised by lion...So lion killing snake means cooling...

It turns out, that, according to references found in various texts, Ninshubur could also have been sukkal (vizier) or wife of Nergal, the god of death...

Now guess who is the god, depicted on the original seal, standing on the right facing Ninshubur, holding a two headed lion scepter and a scimitar, standing under the sun disc? No other than Nergal...See? Same guy...

Nergal was actually commonly depicted as a human headed lion...


Why?

Cause he was "the personification of the Destructive, Burning sun". And in Mesopotamia, the sun is hottest and most destructive in Leo...


I talked about Nergal and his linke to Leo in my post "Winged superhuman hero"...

So it seems that this is one of the texts in which Ninshubur is explicitly named as the sukkal (vizier) or wife of Nergal. An intermediary to whom the mortals prayed, hoping that she would put in a god word for them to Nergal...

Oh, did you notice how both of Ninshubur's bosses, Ishtar and Nergal, are in a war business, her being the goddess of war and him being the god of war...And did you notice how they both have offices in Leo...Same building? Convenient...

Oh and you know how the note on the original seal says "The sun god and the worshiper"? Guess who else is standing "between the lions"? The Old Utu/Shamash, the Old Sun of Leo...The destructive sun that dries the rivers and canals... 


I talked about this in my posts "Canals" and "Shamash young and old"...

Sunday, 23 May 2021

Torine katun

Transhumance is the seasonal movement of people with their livestock between fixed summer and winter pastures. In mountainous regions like Montenegro, it implies movement between higher pastures in summer and lower valleys in winter. 


In many languages there are words for the higher summer pastures, and shepherds summer camps built on them, and frequently these words have been used as place names. In the Balkans these words are Katun, Stan, Bačija, Torine...I talked about them in my article "Katun"...


In this article I would like to talk about one of these transhumance shepherds summer camps, Torine, which could just be one of the most important archaeological sites in Montenegro, and possibly one of the most important archaeological sites in Europe...

The archaeological site covers a small plateau 150X50 meters which was on the lower side fortified with a stone wall. 




The plateau is located in the Radman gorge 


The archaeological site was discovered by chance, when local villagers tried to widen the road that passed by the plateau, and in process bulldozing away half of the site


Luckily, while pushing through the site, the bulldozers unearthed several skeletons, and the locals thought they better call the police. 


Who called the archaeologists. The archaeologist who came to examine the site was Predrag Lutovac from Polimlje museum.


Archaeologists determined that the skeletons belonged to the people buried on the site during medieval time. 

Then they started opening exploratory trenches and what they discovered was pretty astonishing. One and a half meters of soil contained occupational layers from the end of the 5th millennium BC to medieval time...



The fact that the cultural layers were very thin and very rich in mobile artifacts, indicates that it was a seasonal shepherds summer settlement, Torine... 

According to Predrag Lutovac, the earliest layer located at the depth of only one meter and twenty centimeters, is Vinča cultural layer, from the Vinča-Pločnik phase, dated to the second half of the 5th millennium BC...This is where archaeologists discovered this figurine of a nude woman with a realistically represented torso and a pentagonal head characteristic of the Vinča culture. 




Trnje near the village of Bijedići which contained few dozen houses...
Beran-krš near Berane, which consisted of about twenty houses. 

Both settlements are believed to have existed from Late Neolithic through Copper Age and into Early Bronze Age period, from 4,500 to 3,000 BC.

Now the above figurine from Torine is similar in shape to the late Vinča culture figurines found in Kosovo, at Fatos and Predionica sites. But while the Vinča culture figurines found in Kosovo are dressed and or have painted decorations, the figurine from Torine is naked and has no decorations at all much like later Bubanj-Hum culture figurines...


This earliest Neolithic Vinča layer is followed by a mixed layer of late Neolithic Vinča culture mixed with the early Copper and Bronze Age Bubanj-Hum culture from Serbia and Mediterranean Copper and Bronze Age cultures, like Nakovana culture

These three cultures seem to have peacefully coexisted and merged into a new South Balkan Bronze Age cultural group, that covered huge area of Eastern and Southern Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Croatia and Albania... 


This culture must have had a stronghold in northern Montenegro, because the area is full of Early and Middle Bronze Age fortifications: Tumbarice in Donja Ržanica, Gradac in Budimlja, Pećina grad in Radmanska klisura near Petnjica, gradina Bihor, Samograd in the village of Brzava near Bijelo Polje, Gradac above Godočelj near Petnjica, Gradac in Crnčia near Bijelo Polje, Jerinin grad in Plav, Gradina above the village of Šabotići, Gradina in Korita and Gradina above the village of Muslić.

It is in this Bronze Age layer of the Torine site, at the depth of half a meter, that archaeologists had unearthed a base of a Bronze Age house dated to mid 2nd millennium BC. 

Inside of this Bronze Age house, archaeologists discovered a large number of fully intact ceramic dishes, bone tools, pickaxes made of deer’s antlers, needles, bradawls, studs...All located around a central fireplace. 


A wolf’s teeth necklace was also discovered, showing that here already we have the some form of the wolf cult, not surprising considering that wolves are shepherds main worry in the mountains. After the weather.


Extremely interesting discovery at Torine was a mold for making bronze daggers of the type discovered in Momišići and other Copper and Early Bronze Age tumulus graves, located in the lowlands of the souther Montenegro. 


According to Lutovac this is another proof that Torine was a seasonal summer camp used by people who spent winters in Momišići....


Soooo why is Torine so important? You mean apart from the fact that this is a site used pretty much continuously as a summer camp by transhumance shepherds for 5000 years? Transhumance shepherds which were descended from Vinča people...

Torine site shows that when Vinča culture collapsed at the end of the 5th millennium BC, Vinčans didn't disappear into thin air. We know that some of them contributed to the development of Late Neolithic early Copper Age cultures in the Danube catchment area to the north of the old Vinča territory....

But it seems that at least some of them moved into the highlands to the south of the old Vinča territory and continued living there...And they mixed...And they got influenced and they influenced the seafaring cultures of the Eastern Adriatic coast...

I talked about them in my post about Nakovana cave in Croatia and the Neolithic seafarers...

These are the guys who sailed and traded all along the northern coast of the Mediterranean sea. All the way to Iberia...And beyond? To the Atlantic coast...Ireland???

All of which resulted in the development of some very very interesting Late Neolithic, Early Copper Age links between Montenegro and Ireland...

In my series of articles about Montenegrine tumuli, I showed that archaeological finds from both Montenegro (just south of Pelješac peninsula where Nakovana cave is located) and Ireland, point at a strange link between Copper age Montenegro and Ireland, and indicate that the copper age could have been brought to Ireland by people who arrived there from Montenegro...


And guess what: the Irish legends, which were first time written down during early medieval time, say that the first farmers, miners and metalworkers arrived to Ireland by sea from the Balkans, via Sicily and Iberia...

This voyage, according to the Irish Annals, took place during the 3rd millennium BC...Of course every historian and archaeologist in the world dismissed these legends as "pseudo history"...No one was able for such maritime voyage at that time...Hmmm.....




But, some of these cultural similarities between Ireland and the Balkans predate the Copper Age, and fall right into the Late Neolithic period between disappearance of Vinča culture and the appearance of the Yamna people in the Balkans...And they have a very strange "Vinča" undertone...Which I couldn't explain, because of the time gap of a 1000 years between the disappearance of Vinča culture and the appearance of Vinča like artifacts in Ireland...Until now...


This is Newgrange, a prehistoric monument in County Meath, Ireland, located about one kilometre north of the River Boyne. It was built about 3200 BC. 

This is Newgrange entrance before excavation and renovation. You can clearly see the carved stone standing in front of the entrance. 


This is what Newgrange entrance looks like now. The carved stone is still standing in front of the entrance into the tumulus. 


Why is this stone placed in front of the entrance and what does this stone represent?

I believe that this stone is a huge votive bread. It is placed in front of the entrance of the tumulus, because this entrance represents vulva and vaginal opening of the mother earth. As I said I believe that Newgrange was designed to represent pregnant mother earth in a shape of a pregnant woman's belly together with reproductive organs. And as pregnant women give birth to babies through the vaginal opening, to continue with the symbolism, this votive bread was placed in front of the entrance (which is in this case viewed as exit) to symbolise mother earth giving birth to bread. And to give mother earth a hint how much bread we want her to give birth to. A lot.

Why do I think that this stone represents votive bread. Well have a look at these two pictures:

Entrance stone, with carved diamond and spiral ornaments, Newgrange, Ireland, 4th millennium BC:


Ritual clay votive bread with carved diamond and spiral ornaments, Potporanj - Kremenjak, Serbia, Vinča culture, 5th millennium BC, currently in Vršac museum. Quite a few of these ritual clay breads were found in Vinča sites, and they all have these types of decorations: 



From my post "Newgrange" and "Can you see me

Also this

Here are some examples of the so called "carved stone balls" from Scotland, dated to the beginning of the 4th millennium BC:




At least 1000 years earlier, in Serbia, people from Vinča culture made very very very similar objects from burned clay which they wore as amulets.

This one is from Vinča Beli Breg settlement near Belgrade




And then we have this: Knowth tumulus complex, in the Boyne Valley, also dated to the beginning of the 4th millennium BC...


And this one of the two miniature carved stone ball bead found under the Mound 1 at Knowth...


They were published in 1986 (Eogan 1986, fig. 21) but their significance has not been appreciated until 2011 when professor Alison Sheridan, during her visit to Dublin, saw them and realized that they were miniature versions of a very distinctive type of artefact well known from Neolithic Scotland – the carved stone ball...And a copy of Vinča objects...

I wrote about these objects in my post "Clay balls - stone balls"...

As I said I couldn't explain the almost 1000 years between the Balkan objects and Irish objects mentioned above...But now that we know about the Montenegrin settlements which span period 4500-3000BC and link between Vinča culture and the Late Neolithic and Copper Age cultures of the Mediterranean....