Saturday, 30 October 2021

Bulls and grain bowls

Fragment of a vessel with wheat stalks and a procession of bulls in relief, Late Uruk–Jemdet Nasr, 3300–2900 BC, Southern Mesopotamia. Why bulls and grain? Currently in the Met Museum


Steatite bowl with bulls in relief (5 cm. high). Found in a house of much later (Persian) times; dated stylistically to the Jemdet-Nasr period, 3100–2900 BC, Southern Mesopotamia. Currently in the gallery of the University of North Carolina...


Sumerian limestone bull cup with wheat stalks. Late Uruk–Jemdet Nasr, 3100–2900 BC, Southern Mesopotamia. Why bulls and grain? Sold by Christies...


Why bulls and grain? For the same reason sun god Shamash/Utu was depicted as a bull with a tail made of wheat...

Because it is in Taurus (Apr/May), at the beginning of the hot half of the year, when sun god ascends to his throne, that the grain harvest begins in Mesopotamia...

But this is the old Taurus, which has nothing to do with stars...It is an ancient animal calendar marker which marks the beginning of the calving of the wild Eurasian cattle. 

I talked about this in many posts...

Like "Ram and bull" about the zodiac sings of Aries and Taurus and their link to annual lifecycles of wild sheep and cattle...

Like "Green pastures" about this plaque from Tel Asmar...


Or like "Butt chewing", about this plaque from the first dynasty of Ur...

If you look at the Mesopotamian agricultural calendar, you will notice that: 

Mesopotamian summer (Apr/May-Jul/Aug) started with grain harvest and ended with grain threshing and storage...These are Neolithic sickles from Mesopotamia

I talked about this in my posts "Sickle" and "Seven seals"...

The grain collecting season, summer, which starts in Taurus, is symbolised by a bull, because both calving (begins in Apr/May) and mating (begins in Jul/Aug) of Wild Eurasian cattle takes place during the summer, May to August...

I talked about animal symbols of the seasons in my post "Symbols of the seasons"...

Which is why on the Late Uruk–Jemdet Nasr vessels we see bulls depicted with ripe grain...

Now check Hesiod and what his agricultural calendar has to say about grain: "When the Pleiades, daughters of Atlas, are rising, begin the harvest". 

At the mid 8th century BCE in BÅ“otia, the heliacal rising of the Pleiades occurred about 47 days after spring equinox, which corresponds approximately to the first week of May...in Taurus...

I talked about this in my post "Hesiod on grain"...

Oh by the way, this is also when the Sacred marriage ceremony between Enki/Ea and Inanna/Ishtar was performed on threshing floors in Mesopotamia...I talked about it in my post "Sacred marriage on the threshing floor"...

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