Friday, 11 November 2022

Shamash playing with the solar horse

A while back, while reading "Equids as Luxury Gifts at the Centre of Interregional Economic Dynamics in the Archaic Urban Cultures of the Ancient Near East",  I came across this interesting 3rd millennium BC seal from Hurian city of Urkesh, Syria...

I found this article when I was writing my post, "Sun god from Tell Brak", about (what I believed was) the earliest depiction of the sun god in a quadriga pulled by equids, from this 3rd millennium BC cylinder seal imprint found in Tell Brak, Syria...


I based my argument on the fact that the seal depicts a snake above the charioteer, and both snake and equids are solar animals...You can read detailed explanation why in the above post.

What I didn't know then (and should have 🙂) is that apparently the sun god Shamash rode around in chariot pulled by four horses...You can read about this in "Religions of Second Millennium Anatolia"...

Why didn't anyone tell me that after reading my article? 

So the charioteer from Tell Brak could be Shamash himself...

Anyway, keep this in mind, it will come handy later...

The Urkesh seal depicts common Akkadian and Old Babylonian theme usually called a "presentation scene". In it a king carrying a sacrificial animal is lead by a minor deity towards the main seated deity...

The sacrificial animal carried by kings in these "presentation scenes" is usually a baby goat. Like on this seal showing a king bringing a sacrificial goat to the god of flowing water and flood, Enki/Ea...

Why was goat the usual sacrifice to the gods? Cause in Mesopotamia the climatic year is divided into cool/wet "rain season" (Oct/Nov - Apr/May) and hot/dry "drought season" (Apr/May - Oct/Nov).



The beginning of the rain season is marked by the beginning of the mating season of the wild goats (Oct/Nov). And the end of the rain season is marked by the end of the birthing season of the wild goats (Apr/May).

Which made the wild goat a super important animal calendar marker for rain season. And the symbol of fertility brought by rain. And the symbol of the resulting prosperity. And the symbol of royalty based on that prosperity. 

You can read about it in my post "Goat carrier"...

BTW, If you are wondering why there is a fish facing Enki/Ea, this is because Enki's flood, annual flood of Tigris and Euphrates, happens in Apr/May, the same time when giant Mesopotamian carps migrate upstream (to Abzu) for spawning...More in my posts "Carp surfer", "Goatfish"...

Oh, and on the above Sacrifice to Enki seal, the king is lead towards Enki by Isimud, Enki's two faced assistant...Why?

Did you know that Mar/Apr (Isimud) that "leads towards" Apr/May (Enki) is where  we find Mesopotamian New Year, you know the domain of Janus...Check these posts: "Adda seal", "Janus"...

Anyway, enough digression. Let's get back to the Urkesh seal with the "presentation scene". On it, the king is indeed being lead by a minor deity towards the seated main deity. 

But the king is not holding a baby goat. He is holding a baby equid...

And the king is lead towards the seated deity who is feeding a prancing equid...While holding a whip (???)...


Now these are not horses. These are Kungas, animals only bread in the area where Urkesh is located, and so highly regarded, that "they were used for drawing the chariots of kings and gods"...

Considering that the seal was made by the breeders of the kungas, it is not surprising that king is bringing a baby kunga equid as the sacrificial animal to the seated deity, probably seen as the protector of the city and its wealth built on kunga breeding...Right?

But I think that this is not just an ordinary presentation scene...Why? Bhere is something hidden on this seal in plain sight, so "out of place", that no one who discussed this seal seem to have noticed it...A buffalo...For instance check this article "Sacred space: contributions to the archaeology of belief". Nothing...

What is buffalo doing here? Well I believe that both kunga and buffalo are used here as animal calendar markers.

For those who never heard of them, animal calendar markers are ancient calendar markers derived from the annual mating or birthing or migrating or hibernating...season of the depicted animal in the area where the symbol is used...

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...

For instance in Europe:



I talked about this in my post "Zodiac". You can find posts about each Zodiac sign as a calendar marker linked to this post....

And so let's have a look at equids and buffalos as animal calendar markers.

Buffalo. Both domesticated and wild Eurasian water buffalos start their mating in Oct/Nov, at the beginning of the rain season in Mesopotamia. Characterised by bull fights for mating rights...

Hence their association in Mesopotamia with rain and water...I talked about this in my post "Buffalo licking jar"

BTW, because in India the climate is opposite to the climate in Mesopotamia, the mating of water buffalos marks the beginning of the hot/dry season, the season of drought and death. Hence buffalo as a mount of Yama, the god of death...I talked about this in my post "The bitch of the gods" and "Mahishasuramardini"...

Equids...As I explained in the post about the solar quadriga, equids mating season, characterised by mad prancing stallion fights for mating rights, starts in Apr/May...Which is why equids (horses in particular) are animal calendar marker for Apr/May...

Because horses fertility is governed by the sunlight, and it peaks on summer solstice, horse became the symbol of sunny half of the year...I talked about this in my post "Goddess on a horse"...

And because horse mating season overlaps with the sailing season in Eastern Mediterranean, horse got linked with Eastern Mediterranean Sea Gods. I talked about this in my post "Trojan horse"...

This biological link between the sunlight an horse's reproduction is why in India we find this: 

Once Lord Vishnu’s head was cut off accidentally by other gods. The head turned out to be the Sun. The gods then attached a horse head to Vishnu's body, which is how he assumed his Hayagriva form...I talked about this in my post "Hayagriva"...

This is also why Shamahs, the sun god rides in the quadige pulled by 4 horses. And why the seated god on the Urkesh seal is Shamash, or his Hurian alter ego Šimige...

Not sure? Here is another Hurian seal with seated god playing with an equid...Oh, what's this above the horses back? Sun?...Could this be the "Sun god" playing with a "Solar Horse"???

Just like "Solar Horse" depicted on this Celtic coin...60BC-20BC, Celtic Atrebates/Regni gold coin, found in 1873 in Selsey, East Wittering, England. Currently in the British Museum...

Obv: Abstract design derived from head of Apollo.

Rev: Stylised horse, left; sun (not wheel like BM guys say) above horse

The old Mesopotamian summer, the sunny half of the year, starts in Apr/May. Which is when the equids start mating

And when the equid babies are also born, cause equid gestation period is 11-12 months...

Hence the sun god, ruler of the summer, the sunny half of the year, playing with the prancing equid (mating), and getting a baby equid (birthing) as a sacrificial offering from the king...

What we just learned makes: 

This is weather chart for the area where the seal we are talking about was found

buffalo: the animal calendar marker for the [beginning of] the cool/wet half of the year, winter (Oct/Nov - Apr/May)

equid: the animal calendar marker for the [beginning of] the hot dry half of the year, summer (Apr/May - Oct/Nov)

Considering that the god sits facing the prancing equid, while behind him the buffalo is walking away, this places the god at the end of winter, beginning of summer...In Apr/May...When the baby kungas are born...

And indicates that the god is most likely Sun God Shamash...

That's it. I hope you liked it...Have as nice a day as possible...

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