Thursday, 10 March 2022

Bronze Age money

Very interesting. Just came across this paper "The origins of money: Calculation of similarity indexes demonstrates the earliest development of commodity money in prehistoric Central Europe" which proposes that 5,000 years ago, in Central Europe, rings, bangles and axe blades, standardized by shape and weight, were used as an early form of money... 


According to authors, huge hoards of identical bronze objects, like these bronze ribs found in bundles in Oberdingen, Germany, can only be explained if these objects were used as exchange barter tokens...Basically money...

The same goes for bronze axes, which although had practical value, were also status symbols and could have been used as a value token, which could be exchanged for other goods...Basically money...Over 250 bronze axes, found in a pot, most virtually identical in terms of weight.

Of course this can all be explained in another way...The axes are the same weight and size because that is functionally the best weight and size for an average Joe Bronze Age guy...Most axe heads made today are also very much standard in size...For the same reason...

The general rule is that there's three sizes of standard axes. Handaxe / hatchet (usually about 1.25-1.5lb). Boy's axe / house axe (usually 2-3lb). Felling axe (usually 3.5-6lb)...

Maybe the 250 axe heads were stored together in a pot by the guy who made them...Hidden "until this shit blows over"...I wrote about similar hoard found all over Balkans and date to the time of the Bronze Age collapse in this post...

Maybe torcs are all the same (actually very similar) size and weight because human necks are also very similar...And so is the amount of bling a Bronze Age Joe and Jane Blogs would feel comfortable carrying around said necks of theirs...

Maybe the bronze ribs were all standard in size because they were used for making something standard in size...I have no idea what, but that is not really the point...We can explain the existence of all these identical objects in other ways, and just as money...

The best bit is that just because axe head is standard size because it is practically the best size for an axe head, doesn't mean that it wasn't also used as money...These two things are not mutually exclusive...

In fact, the manufacture of many identical (for practical reasons) highly sought after objects would naturally turn them into money...Well valuable barter exchange tokens...Which is what money is...

Tuesday, 8 March 2022

Relief from Dur Sharrukin

The hand...Relief from Dur Sharrukin (the Assyrian capital in the time of Sargon II of Assyria), "detail of a throne???", ca 721 -705 BC...


The only throne depiction from Dur Sharrukin I found is this one. The "figure" holding a goat and poppies (???) is the same, but there is no giant hand behind...So where is the original image from?



Is the Assyrian god holding Ibex, the Goat of Rain? 

And Poppies? 

And why?

Remember this guy, a Urartian contemporary of this Assyrian dude, also holding poppies, but standing on a bull??? 

He is standing on a bull, holding ripe poppies, because poppy harvest takes place during Taurus (Bull), Apr/May...I talked about him in my post "Poppies"...

Bull is an animal calendar marker, which marks the beginning of the calving season of Wild Eurasian Cattle (Aurochs), Apr/May...I talked about this in my post "Ram and bull"... 

Goat is an animal calendar marker, which marks the beginning of the mating season of the Wild Goats (Ibex), Oct/Nov...I talked about this in my post "Iranian goat of rain"...

The goat and bull are two opposite animal calendar markers, marking two most important natural events in Mesopotamia...

The goat (Oct/Nov) marks the beginning of the rain season in Mesopotamia and the bull (Apr/May) marks the end of the rain season in Northern Iraq, where Assyrian capital is located...




Bull also marks the time when Tigris and Euphrates reach their peak water level 6 months later, in Apr/May...

I talked about this in my post "Rain and flood"...

Water flow charts

Tigris

Euphrates

The gestation period of the Ibex goats that live in Northern Mesopotamia is 150 days...So the first baby goats appear just before the water levels peak in the two Holy Rivers....

Remember this guy, Enki/Ea, the god who ejaculates Tigris and Euphrates? This happens in Taurus (peak water level) right when the baby Ibex goats are being born? 

Which is why Enki is depicted sitting on his throne, and either being the source of two grate river or holding a jar which is the source of the two great rivers...

Guess what is the present being brought to Enki? A baby goat...

The goat carrier was always the king...Carrying a goat was a symbol of royalty...Which is why we find inscriptions like this: "The year in which Ammisaduqa, the king, had made the image of him carrying a kid against his chest"...I talked about this in my post "Goat carrier"...

Guess what else happens during the inundation of Tigris and Euphrates, right after the first baby goats are born? Poppy harvest...

Interesting...I would love to find out where the original image is actually from. If anyone knows please let me know.


Thursday, 3 March 2022

Coin from Byzantion

THRACE, Byzantion C. 340-320 BC. Heifer standing on dolphin; trident head below raised foreleg...

Why? Well it's all about climate which determines the sailing season in Eastern Mediterranean, and lifecycles of wild Eurasian cattle and dolphins...

So why Poseidon's trident? Remember this: Ever wondered why Phoenician, Greek and Roman sea gods were associated with horses? 

Because the sailing season in the Eastern Mediterranean coincides with the mating season of horses. I talked about this in my post "Trojan horse"...

The natural breeding season of horses, characterised by vicious stallion fights, typically begins around mid-April and finishes around mid September...

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



So. No horses on this coin??? Well, the beginning of the mating season of the wild horses overlaps with the beginning of the calving season of the wild Eurasian cattle. A very important time of the year. Which is why it is marked with Taurus (Apr/May)...I talked about this in my post "Ram and bull"...

Summer (May,Jun,Jul), which starts with calving of the wild Eurasian cattle (Apr/May), ends with mating of the wild Eurasian cattle (Jul/Aug), characterised by vicious bull fights...

BTW, Aurcochs, Wild Eurasian Cattle are extinct, so I used pics of domestic cattle as illustrations...

Which is why bull, cattle, is the symbol of summer...You can read more about this in my post "Symbols of the seasons"...

What about dolphins? "Shallow waters of the north Black Sea coast are known as important breeding, calving and feeding grounds for Black Sea dolphins during warm season"...

"Female fertility peaks in June, male fertility peaks in July"..."Gestation last 12 months"...Which means that it is June-July when most dolphin babies are born too...Not something you would easily miss, if you are a sailor or a fisherman...



There is one other thing that happens to dolphins during the summer. In 2017 a study of Black Sea dolphins was being conducted in Ukraine...And some very very weird things were observed...

115 cases of dolphin strandings were registered, starting from late March and peaking in May (48), June (40) and July (43). The number of reported cases significantly decreased since the early August...Wow...

Why all these dolphins were getting stranded, no one really knows...But this data helps us to understand coins like these, depicting white tailed eagle feasting on a dolphin, also from the Black Sea region, this one minted in Istros...I talked about it in my post "Eagle eating dolphin"…



This data also shows that the main dolphin stranding season coincides with the main dolphin mating and calving season, which coincides with with summer, main calving and mating season of wild Eurasian cattle, which coincides with the main sailing season in Byzantion...

And all this was "encrypted" on this Byzantion coin... 🙂 

To read more about ancient animal and plant calendar markers, start here…then check the rest of the blog posts related to animal calendar markers I still didn't add to this page, and finally check my twitter threads I still didn't convert to blog post...I am 9 months behind now...

Ancile

This is a silver denarius from the time of Augustus. On the reverse you can see the sacred shield (ancile) that is said to have fallen from heaven, during the reign of Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome...



Apparently the ancient sources gave many different potential etymologies for the word "ancile". Like being derived from Greek ankylos (ἀγκύλος) meaning crooked...Crooked what? Basically etymology was and still is unknown... 

Now I am beginning to believe that god has a very good sense of humour and is basically taking the piss...This is Coat of Arms of Serbia. Stemmatographia by Hristofor Zhefarovich (1741)...



It is a cross with 4 fire-steels, of the type used since Roman times...These are used to strike a piece of flint to produce a spark when kindling fire...

In Serbian, and many other Slavic languages, these fire-steels are called "ocila", which basically just means "steels", plural of "ocil" meaning steel... 

The word is cognate with Medieval Venetian azzal (steel) and Medieval Greek ἀτσάλιν (iron)...Both apparently from Late Latin acies (steel) which originally meant sharp and which comes from Indo-European root h₂eḱ - ( sharp )...

Now look at the ancile shield again. What do you see in the centre of the shield? Four arches. Four crooked irons? 4 fire-steels?

Or maybe not...Romans would have surely known this...Or Maybe not...Numa Pompilus, to whom many of Rome's most important religious and political institutions are attributed to, including ancile, was Sabine not Roman...

Now I am not saying that ancile and ocila has anything to do with each other...Just that God has a wicked sense of humour...

Why? Cause I don't think that Slavic "ocila" is linguistically linked to "ancile"...But it is possible that the Serbian cross with 4 ocila might point at what "ankylos" (ἀγκύλος), "crooked" thing could have given the name to "ancile": crooked steel...fire-steel...Maybe...

Wednesday, 2 March 2022

Scarlet ware goat

Beautiful Scarlet-Ware Vase from Tell Agrab, beginning of the 3rd millennium BC. The vase depicts Ibex goat among vegetation, with birds and fish. 


Interestingly, the goat is not only surrounded with plants. Plants actually grow out of its back...What does all this mean?

The climatic year in the Tell Agrab area, like in the rest of Iraq, is divided into two halves: hot dry, half (May-Oct) and cool, wet half (Nov-Apr)...

The beginning of the rain season (Oct/Nov), which brings revival of nature and makes everything green and lush again, coincides with the beginning of the mating season of local Bezoar Ibex goats...

Hence the importance of the "Goat of Rain" in the local cultures, illustrated by the fact ibex goat was the most depicted animal on the local artefacts...

I talked about this in my posts "Flamingos from Susa", "Goat carrier"...and many others...

Which is why on this vase we see small green plants actually growing out of the Ibex back...This is not the only such symbolic depiction of this link between ibexes and vegetation from the area. Here is another one from my post "Iranian goat of rain"...

Something interesting. What are these small plants growing out of the back of the Goat of Rain? Any random generic plants? 

I don't think so. I think it's grass and young grain and reeds. 

Because of the climate in the region, the grass growing season is the rain season, symbolised by the goat of rain...I talked about this in my post "Green pastures"...Which is why winter (Oct/Nov-Apr/May) was the grass grazing season... 

Now once the rain season ends, in Apr/May, the grass quickly withers and dies under the scorching summer sun...But luckily, this exactly when the grains and reeds harvest season starts...

Which is why the two plants depicted on either side of the goat are reed and grain...

I think that the plant in front of the ibex is actually reed that grows in flood plains of lower Mesopotamia...

Reeds were an important crop in Mesopotamia, as important as grain. Reeds were used as building material for building irrigation canal dams, houses and boats, and for making baskets, mats and furniture...

I talked about this in my post "Canals"...And it turned out the best time to cut reeds for building purposes was in August, during the hottest and driest time, in Leo...Hence Shamash with a serrated reed cutting knife...Between lions...in an empty river, canal bed...

What I didn't know until today is that the reeds were also used as animal fodder. From everything I managed to find about the common reed lifecycle, it seems that in the climatic zones like Mesopotamia, "...the above-ground biomass increases from February until it reached its maximum during August and then decreased again. Moreover, the nutrient content (g/m2) increased from the early growing season (Feb) and reached its peak during Apr–Aug and then decreased..."

Which means that the best time to harvest reeds for animal fodder is between Apr and Aug...Exactly the same time when grain is harvested... 

And I think that the plant behind Ibex goat is grain...That this is indeed symbol for grain, can be seen from the fact that the same symbol was put on grain granaries in Kurdistan until 20th century. Aliabad women standing beside a grain bin, Iranian Kurdistan...From "Home is where we keep our food: The origins of agriculture and Late Pre-Pottery Neolithic food storage". Very important image, as it confirms that this design pattern, found on pottery and figurines since the Earliest Neolithic all over Eurasia, means "grain"... 

I talked about this in my post "Scarlet-ware harvest vase"...

Today I came across this interesting book, "Mesopotamian Civilization: The Material Foundations" By Daniel T. Potts. And in it I came across this passage

"...Microwear studies of Ubaid clay sickles from Tell Oueilli have suggested that these common tools could have been used for cutting reeds. And a new study of their distribution in Southern Mesopotamia suggests that this may indeed have been their primary function, rather them having been used for harvesting cereal...[My comment: Although they could have been used for both]...Virtually identical clay sickles were used during Late Uruk period as well..."

Here is one of these clay sickles from the site of Chogha Mish in Iran, ca. 3400–3100 BC, currently kept in the Oriental Institute in Chicago...


From my article about the development of sickles...

I am not sure what bird is depicted standing on the Ibex's back. It is most likely one of many bird species that used to spend winters in the Mesopotamian marshes, while they still existed...Could it be a common crane? See the bushy tail?

The common crane lives in Northern Eurasia, but winters in Southern Asia and North Africa, Including Mesopotamia.

According to "Cranes of the World: Eurasian Crane (Grus grus)" by Paul A. Johnsgard, Cranes gather  in huge numbers in Eastern Turkey in Sep/Oct, from where they fly down to the marshlands of Mesopotamia...Right in time for the beginning of the mating season of the Ibex goats, and the beginning of the rain season, Oct/Nov...

Oh, and right at the time for grain sowing...Hence cranes depicted flying over the sowing seen on this seal. 

You can read more about this and other similar seals in my post "Ploughing"...

And cranes fly back north from the Mesopotamian marshes in Apr/May, right at the end of the rain season symbolised by the goat of rain...

Hence the bird depicted standing on the goat...I think... 

One other thing...The fishes...Is the reason why fishes are depicted swimming towards "The Mountain Goat" the same reason they are depicted swimming towards Enki? 

I explained why they swim towards Enki in my post "Goatfish"...

So the scene depicts winter, cool, wet half of the year. The half of the year when Ibex goats mate, migratory birds arrive and everything is green again...The half of the year which ends in grain and reed harvest and fishes swimming towards mountain goats...

The vase images are from this great publication by the University of Chicago: "OIP 63 Pottery from the Diyala Region"...

To read more about ancient animal and plant calendar markers, start here…then check the rest of the blog posts related to animal calendar markers I still didn't add to this page, and finally check my twitter threads I still didn't convert to blog post...I am 9 months behind now...

Goatfish

In this article, I would like to talk about goatfish, the sacred (mythical) animal of Enki/Ea, the Mesopotamian god of fresh water...Mythical animal 🙂 Of course not. Anyway, let's begin...Lots to talk about...

First who was Enki? Enki was the Sumerian god of sweet water. Actually, he was the source of fresh water, which was seen as his semen, which he emptied into Tigris and Euphrates...

More importantly, he was the god of the annual flood of Tigris and Euphrates...The flood that made land fertile and agriculture possible in Mesopotamia.

When king Ur-Namma built a temple for Enki, he called Enki in his dedicatory inscription: "Enki the flood of heaven and earth"...

I talked about this link between Enki and The Flood, and him being effectively the god of the flood, in my posts "Rain and flood" and "Enki's little boat"...

Enki was mentioned in the earliest extant cuneiform inscriptions throughout the region and was prominent from the third millennium down to Hellenistic times...

On cylinder seals, Enki is most often depicted with two streams of water flowing out of his body: one representing Tigris, the other Euphrates. This portrays Enki as the source of Tigris and Euphrates...

The other most common depiction of Enki is holding a jar from which two streams pour out. This portrays Enki as the god of water who controls the source of Tigris and Euphrates...

Or both

The late 3rd millennium BC text "Debate between Bird and Fish" tells us that it was Enki who: "laid out side by side the Tigris and the Euphrates, and caused them to bring water from the mountains"...

Did you notice that Tigris and Euphrates were made by Enki "to bring water from the mountains"? 

Do you remember Abzu, Enki's home, the source of the water flowing down Tigris and Euphrates?

And how I argued in my post "Shamash young and old" that Abzu was not "the underground sea of fresh water, the aquifer", but that instead, Abzu was the name for the mountains from which the two great rivers emerged?

Now have a look at this: This is part of the Stele of the Vultures, a monument from the Early Dynastic III period (2600–2350 BC) in Mesopotamia celebrating a victory of the city-state of Lagash over its neighbour Umma. 

On another fragment we see a large male figure holding a mace in his right hand and an anzu or lion-headed eagle in his left hand. The hammer and the anzu identify the figure as the storm god Ningirsu. Below the anzu is a large net filled with the bodies of naked men...

In the "The God Enki in  Sumerian Royal Ideology and  Mythology" by Peeter Espak we can read this interesting bit about this monument:

The text on the Stele of the Vultures has a long list of curses intended to frighten the rulers of Umma if they ever decided to overrule the terms of defeat and start another dispute. One of the gods invoked in the curses is Enki who is titled “the king of Abzu”:

"When I (Umma) transgress the border, the great battle-net of Enki, the king of Abzu, according to the oath taken (or: curse given) upon (Umma) from the sky let cover!" 

So the net we see on the above image must be "the net of Enki"...

The text continues with the king Eanatum releasing carp-fish said to be sent or going to Abzu. 

"(To) the carp-fish released/sent to Abzu Eannatum swore"...

Very interesting indeed...

Peeter Espak concludes that "It looks like Eanatum uses carp-fish to intermediate the oath taken or superimposed on the state of Umma to Enki situated in his Abzu. The carp-fish are therefore carriers of the message and informers of Enki"...

This is very interesting, as most of the seals which depict Enki as the source of Tigris and Euphrates, also depict fish...

The fish are either depicted swimming within the two rivers flowing out of Enki...

Or fish are depicted somewhere near the streams...

But regardless where the fish are, they are always facing Enki. They are always swimming towards Enki...Towards Abzu...

Now, the goatfish was to Sumerians known as Carp-goat...This is super important...As the fish which Eanatum sent to Enki, to Abzu, was also carp-fish...

What does all this mean? Why is this important? Because carp was directly linked with the annual flood of Tigris and Euphrates, the most important annual event in Mesopotamia...

In "The God Enki in Sumerian Royal Ideology and Mythology" we can read that the poem written by the king Ur-Namma, he says that "Enki treats me favourably, flood...for me he gives". Now the word Ur-Namma used for flood was actually "a-eštub" which literally means "carp(-filled) water"...

In "A study of Sumerian faunal conception..." we can read that an Ur III text calls Enki "the (wielder of) the a-eštub (carp flood)”...

Now remember all these depictions of Enki with Tigris and Euphrates pouring out of him, full of fish swimming towards Enki? That fish is carp. And not just any carp. A mother of all carps...Barbus esocinus (L. esocinus)...

Barbus esocinus (L. esucinus) is a large fish that can reach a weight of 140 kg (300 lbs) and can be over 2 metres long. It is one of the largest freshwater fishes in the world....It is distributed in most parts of the Tigris and Euphrates and their main tributaries.

Common names for this fish are: “soong, bach, anzeh, anzah, narbach, and anzeh-bach, balzard” in Iran, “bizz, farkh-el-biz” in Iraq, “Yerli Turna, Kurşun, Cero” in Turkey. 

The English called it Tigris salmon, Euphrates salmon. Why?

Cause just like salmon, this Mesopotamian carp is synchronous spawner migrating to the upper reaches of the rivers to spawn. Their spawning beds are at the springheads of the rivers where banks are covered with gravel...

Based on collected observation data, B. esocinus spawned over a relatively short period of time, from mid-April through late June with a peak concentrated in April/May when the water temperature exceeded 19–24° C...

Which is the ideal time to catch these mighty fish which spends the rest of the year in deep waters of the lower Tigris and Euphrates system...

So the migration of B. esocinus is not an event you would miss, if you lived by the river...

Guess what happens at the exact same time when, millions of giant carps all start swimming upstream, towards the shallow waters of the source of Tigris and Euphrates? 

The peak of the annual flood. Enki's flood...It peaks in Apr/May...

Tigris flow

Euphrates flow


The carp flood, "a-eštub", "carp filled water"...This is why all the fish depicted on the seals showing Tigris and Euphrates pouring out of Enki, Abzu, are facing Enki, Abzu. 

Because these seals depict the peak of the flood. When giant carp swim towards Enki who is (in) Abzu...

Do we need better proof that Abzu is not "the underground sea of fresh water, the aquifer"? 

These fishes are not swimming "towards Abzu, an imaginary underground sea of the fresh water". 

They are swimming Abzu, the mountains from which the two great rivers emerge...

So now we know what the fish part is in the goatfish. What about the goat part?... 

Climatic year in Mesopotamia is divided into hot/dry and cool/wet halves.


The first rains (and snow) of the cool/wet season arrive to Mesopotamia when Ibex and Markhor mountain goats start to mate, Oct/Nov...

Ibex

Markhor

The beginning of the Wild Goat mating season signals the beginning of the cool, wet season, Winter. And it is the rain and snow which fall during Winter (Nov-May) that are the source of all the fresh water that flows down Tigris and Euphrates...And of Enki's flood...

This is such an important event in these arid lands that wild goats were basically deified. I talked about this in my post "Goat carrier" and many others...


The gestation period of the wild goats that live in Northern Mesopotamia is 150 days...So the first baby goats appear just before the water levels peak in the two Holy Rivers....Which is why we see baby goats being brought to Enki as offerings on so many seals...

Mesopotamian hydrological report states: "Tigris and Euphrates have two flood periods: an irregular, rain-fed rise of minor proportions lasting from November to the end of March (this is basically a slight increase in water levels) and the main snowmelt flood of April and May"...

Which means that the flood starts when Ibex goats start to mate and peaks when eštub carp start to mate...Hence goatfish as the symbol of Enki, the god (source) of fresh water and the annual flood of Tigris and Euphrates....

So not a mythical animal after all. Just a complex animal calendar marker, marking the time of the year ruled by Enki...Which is why Enki is often depicted standing on a goat fish...His "mythical animal" 🙂 I told you. There are no such things as mythical animals...

Oh, by the way, did you notice that sometimes, the "goatfish" also has bull horns, and not goat horns? Like this one...Why?

For the same reason Enki is depicted standing on a bull on this seal...

The annual flood, carp flood, peaks during the calving season of the wild Eurasian cattle...Apr/May. Time of the year which has been marked by the bull, calf, cow and calf symbol all over Eurasia and North Africa since Neolithic...Taurus...

I talked about this in my posts "Green pastures" and "Rain and flood"...

Hence bull-goat-fish 🙂 subspecies of the goat-fish mythical animal of Enki...

I think that this is quite significant article which explains so many "mysterious things"...Very little mystery left, I am afraid. Just Climatology, Biology and Hydrology...

What do you think?

To read more about ancient animal and plant calendar markers, start here…then check the rest of the blog posts related to animal calendar markers I still didn't add to this page, and finally check my twitter threads I still didn't convert to blog post...I am 9 months behind now...