Animal Round in Sumer
In Swedish I never use the word zodiac in third millenium, as it would associate to astrology. It would make it difficult to remember that the astro-ritual was practical and not abstract believing in Mights. Instead if necessary I use the translation Animal Round
Animal RoundThuban, Kochab, Oannes, Goat-fish, Abzu, Eridu, radio, kringkasting, round radio, the first on the Earth, Inanna and Dumuzi, Ishtar and Tammuz, resurrection
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I think the Hittites named it just "a round" and everyone should know what it was about. The world "animal" fits only for the majority, as there are other figures in the round too. There is another reason why not use the word zodiac that consists of twelve signs covering the entire year. Mostly the Animal Round was based on 354 days and adding the remaining days in some way.
When I began to study the first step was to get the insight that the configurations on the night sky are man made and has existence only when we care for them. Then I made a grid using the outlines of Virgo and Pegasus, since I believe they were current when they created the configurations.
Then I searched for a pole and read that it should be Thuban in Dragon, but it did not fit well. Then I saw the Little Bear at rock 1 in Haugsbyn. The star Koschab is marked with a symbol "use this" and I found it easy to use as pole when I rotated the grid. The fix-star Antares in Scorpio defined by G. Henriksson became a scientific zero point. Later I found more evidence and details as for an example the Egyptian papyrus with Scorpio and Oxen as opposite fix-stars around 3100 BC..
Structures of known configurations make it easy to see that they must have made the well-organised Animal Round about 4000 BC. The reference 3100 BC must be a correction due to precession.
From the next three pictures we can reconstruct the earliest Animal Round before 3000 BC. They picture three, four and five or six star constellations. The one with Oannes maybe older than the others as it is an amulet found in the earlier layers when they excavated in the area of Eridu dated to 5000 BC.
They know that the Sumerians were digging for turquoise and copper in Sinai around 3400 BC. Maybe the name SIN = moon and AI = mountain are of Sumerian origin. The other two images are from some kudurru and they are found in Sumer and in the Nile Delta. They believe they are border stones used to mark out land during the inundation and growing season. Same figures were in use in the late Dendera at the Nile Bend where we see the Maid and the season is from the empty boat to the basket ... Our version is the empty boat and the urn.
Goat ... Fish ... E-KUR ... Ram.
On the round first is the Goatfish being Capricorn later. The second half-year began originally in the beginning of monsoon in India and even in Sumer it was the time of "goat and fish" and maybe the leaf hut at the time when only the goat was domesticated. Later that time of the year became the time of the Cow. The body is a fish perhaps being the lying of Fishes. Later they pictured these two together and symbolising Capricorn as late as the fifteenth century AD in Rome. Aries is easy to see in the ram.
E seems to mean eternity and KUR is temple underground and in the beginning the temple of Oannes and maybe later Enki "the first to step on earth". Later it was for the queen of underworld called Ereshkigal in Uruk, and she was the sister of Inanna. Another incarnation is Venus.
In Egypt we see her as the Blue Lady indicating to be from the underworld like the green Osiris. On our rocks we see a negative footprints at that quarter of season. That surely symbolises Ereshkigal but it is sure only in the claim marks, i.e. in four symbols of season. In other cases it has to be decided from the connection. So this is the section from Capricorn to Aries. Later the part Goatfish alone became Capricorn.
Oannes ... Gemini ... Hand/ Cancer/ Crab.
In my search the missing bit was this with Oannes with other names and believed to be the original creator from the sea. It must be one of the oldest myths and belong to the city-states near the Gulf. However we can also associate to the Fishbeing from Lepinski Vir Balkan ca 5000 BC. They have found a temple Abzu in the underground of Eridu with offers of fish believed to be to Oannes. The Fisbeing is seen in some Babylonian seals. That could be use of piety or the renaissance when they found the Sumerian literature as for in stance in time of Assurbanipal.
His stars must have been a big constellation between Orion and Aries or maybe Orion and Oxen in one image. Later in the Babylonian round it was a section with a sitting king and queens. The symbol at left is hardly seen but the "U" stands for the Twins. On the back of Oannes is the hand symbol of Cancer.
Now a jump to Oannes in the Sumerian myths. This is an example how difficult it is seeing the truth behind what we see is. The tales about Oannes were originally Sumerian and written perhaps before 3000 BC. Then the Babylonians stored it during second millennium BC and later in the library of Ashurbanipal.
The Babylonian historian Berossos wrote his version about 200 BC and included it in his history about Babylon. The Greek historians Alexander Polyhistor, Abydenos, Apollodors and others wrote their version. Now I have it in second hand from Peter Nilson in Swedish.
"His body was like a fish, but under the fish-head was another head and his feet were humanlike. His talk was like a human with humanlike language. He spoke to the people but did not eat in that season. At sunset he disappeared to the ocean for the night.
Then he gave them the art of writing, science and all arts. Also he taught them to build houses ... establish temples and create laws ... he told them about geometry. He learned them to sow the different crops on earth and how to gather different fruits. In short, he taught good customs, manners and civilisation. His teaching had all, so later times have nothing to add".
Several incarnations later followed him others of whom we know Annedotos and Odacon. They had nothing to add and repeated only the messages. To me it sounds like a very clever strategy by the nobility of a growing city. I only try to see some historic truth in it. Polyhistor tells that Oannes appeared at the Gulf, probably in Eridu with harbour then. Naturally it was a "He" and he was an animal with talent and common sense.
Enki overtook Oannes. His synonym was "the first on earth" and with a story much like that of Oannes. The Inanna myth tells that she went to Enki in Abzu, Eridu. They drink some beer underground. She lured Enki to give her the laws of agriculture and civilisation.
The past cultures often had a story about how they got power. They tell the Sumerians and the Hittites came from somewhere ... and then question marks. They told Sargon of Akkad to be a child found in a basket. It is the same story as about Moses and the Dane Skjold. I think when the nobility take power they have to explain it somehow, because in an equal world no one should take power. Still, swallowing it is easier if some foreign Might was behind.
Many scientists have tried to find some sense and the place from where the Sumerians came. One solution may be that traders from other sea-countries founded enclaves on the Sumerian coast. Since we know for sure that they have been in the Nile Delta and in Sinai ca 3400 BC, we can made the assumption that they probably also knew about Balkan and Malta. I do not dare to say more.
With culture languages change rapidly and maybe some cultures try to make their own words … for the Norwegians the word for transmitting radio was not good enough so they created the word kringkasting understood only by themselves … the Danes say round radio meaning they are casting the radio around if you want to misunderstand.
We know that evolution from other places. Together with local people at Eridu they started the city culture thanks to agriculture that could feed many people in a place. They had a temple with connection to the sea in the cellar. They have found remains of fish probably offered to Oannes by the priests dressed like fish. That period is the fourth millennium.
Some are interested in families and clans. I am interested in historical sequences with some truth. I am also interested in how things developed and why they invented words and things. From that we can learn about cause and effect in different matters. Perhaps also get some chronology that can be a help in dating the rock carvings and other remains.
Lion ... Maiden ... Archer ... Scorpio ... Mada ... Dog ... Tab.
Here is the season we read from right to left and compare with the Animal round starting at Leo the lion body. The wings are Virgo and the upper body of Archer/ Bearwatcher. Note he wears mask since when going to the Otherworld underground or in battle they used masks that indicated the different world. Only gods could go to the Underworld and in Sumer his name was Erra, warrior of gods.
Erra is instead of Libra on the round and next follow the small symbol under the trout of the dog head and it reads "MADA" that is Serpent. I think the word RAMADAN is made from this and the prefix RA means border/ limit. From Scorpio there are both body and TAB and the last bit is the Dog or maybe Fox. That is Sagittarius and Anubis in Egypt and that is end of season where the heavenly Watergate announces the inundation and monsoon.
In later Sumerian myths there is some fragment telling about the fox Kiel that taught storing to people. Maybe they saw how it took food into the dent or when it buried food for later use. There is also some fragment about the Scorpioman as we see on the harp from Ur. The Egyptians use the jackal as symbol since it can eat carcass and make afterlife or a new life. That is what storing is about. They hoped that mankind could get a new life and in fact some Ancient Egyptians are known and living in the entire world of today so to speak.
The mother goddess Ninhgursag learnt from nature, as she was the archetype of invention. He, the Man has learned much from predators especially as for instance the wolf. Women learned more practical things from everything on earth. The Mother of Invention is an important icon in the early myths.
These pictures are from Dendera temple at the Nile Bend
The Dendera signs are simplified and maybe of later origin than those on the kuddurus. The lower figure maybe originally was used as symbol of beginning of inundation and the second half of the year. The upper figure became Sagittarius in the zodiac, but as we see it is composed of seven symbols.
The body is Leo and the wings are the flying Maid with the other incarnation the new moon. She was in pair with Neith/Archer maybe a hunter ... and inspiration to the Greek Artemis? The cone as headgear symbolises the "corn to be" and the tail is maybe Scorpio. There is maybe a jackal head at her neck for Anubis.
Different from the Sumerian sign is that the forelegs stand in an empty boat and we have to think the space-time river behind that. The empty boat we often see in Scandinavian rock carvings at the beginning of the season. The hind legs stand in a basket and that is the harvest symbol.
This is the early Animal Round and they also mention Seven Sages better known from early Indian myth. We see that the round is not symmetric so it can be much older than the standardised zodiac. For later astronomy seeAstronomy
Keeping chronology especially about the early myths and history is difficult. The early archaeologist made some (non)system of chronology we should not speak about. It is made for freaks, I suppose. Much depends on the few facts. They have not analysed the way the Sumerians taught at the time. That means their ideas and concepts were different compared with ours.
The other cause is that what we now know they wrote successively in step with the excavations. Conclusions were not always right in the beginning with few facts. Most confusing is that at least four ancient languages are involved in translating the found tablets.
They are Sumerian, Akkadian, Babylonian and Semitic and to that come that the scientists are from different backgrounds. Sources for misunderstanding are many and one never know if a name is in Babylonian or Sumerian as the most common mix. Mesopotamia was many individual city-states with a main god as Inanna in Uruk, Enki in Eridu, Nanna in Ur, Enlil in Lagash and so on. But they have many gods or icons in common.
However they had their own mix and the city god took most of the functions. Most important for ordinary people were the myths of Inanna and Dumuzi as they got food on the table when following them. The myth altered a little and in places the female got a son lover as Ishtar and Tammuz, but still they were icons for agriculture. However, some with good imagination saw the deities almost as existing fixers of their problems, I think. Some interpreters try to find "families" in The Greek way and that would not be appropriate in a world with independent city-states.
I think that generally the people followed their nobility that in the beginning during Ritual Age was the priesthood. We know very little about rural Sumerians and cannot compare them with Scandinavian people under the same circumstances. However, we see from the pictures on our rocks that the Sumerian myths reached us. So a demagogic guess: A qualified guess is that they were the same in rural Sumerian.
Sumerians refer to many things in their very past history. Perhaps the oldest and truest icon is "The faithful herd of heaven" they might have followed an unknown fix-star for tens of thousand's year before they created "the round". Yet, I think that there has been many other helping them. The nearest influence is Egypt and the Nile as the physical nature of the great river land is much the same. Even the Indus culture has surely influenced a lot and there are finds of Indus Script in some tokens and amulets.
In exact meaning they were all gatherers and many of them were also hunters during the entire history. Everyone had to follow "the ban" of nature and using a calendar made it easier to plan their life. Hunting, gathering, herding was perhaps only a little riskier than digging the soil ... once you have a white calendar it urges for events to be filled in and plans to be done.
The farmers got bound to the local resources and needed to define their territory and perhaps defend it. They were depending on the local soil, the climate and its variations and all other Mights. The Sumerian climate is very dry with average rain 200 millimetres a year. That is why they were almost "rainmakers" and the Rain goddess Inanna was the main deity. They needed relatively much space to get all their foods for a varying diet.
Inundation and canal systems became the mean and resources for the growing population. Surely the temple with the farming fields became the engine of the urban society everywhere. They knew the methods and stored it in their writing and they also knew what rituals should be carried out to get the harvest.
To that came raw material for housing, clothes and tools. They had to know how to calculate their need for at least three months of winter or inundation. Maybe they had no real work to do, but for instance in Egypt they had a month of feast during that boring time. There were surely much planning and work around this and other feasts.
Shell inlay on rear end of the sounding box from the tomb of Puabi Ur.
It shows that the animals were family and serving the upper world in the palaces. On the other end Enkidu lifts two calves, Imdugud, bird of power take two goats, two unicorns are eating on the trees, a lion slaughter a horse and the Bull-head pictures the power of rulership
Mostly the calendars and programmes are only for the season. In Scandinavia that means mostly seven or nine moons up to the local climates and traditions. Let us only conclude that agriculture was the base of the cities. In a little fertile space they could grow crops to many people in a little space in a city. They learned to surround them with walls against the enemy usually called "people from the mountains". They kept an eye on the rich cities and if they were too weak it was time for a raid to get easy food and other things.
There are also tales telling about quarrelling cities making borders between the towns. Maybe that is what we see in Scandinavian rock carvings when they show a man with long arms shoving the border. Another sample is a dotted line with men and ritual axes on each side of the line. However some cities fought each other, but we do not know how common that situation was.
In history we can define some structural evolution from communities in near ban with nature to the cities with their bonds to nature gradually fading out. The rituals in cities and temples became abstract mysticism and it is only natural that the practical astronomy ended in astrology. We have to remember that they wove the ideas of astronomy, agriculture and human life together in the early myths.
Believing in resurrection of man was easy as people saw it in nature and the stars told the story … in our days urban people hardly know the natural vegetative circle of life. Seeing what was myth and what was life was difficult once the system was created. It became a machine.
In the city with people living near each other the problems were to keep tolerance, law and order in families and the entire society. At the same ties the pantheon divided in families with their internal quarrels and intrigues. The myths and rituals became politics to keep the ruling family on the top. That is what we see in Bronze Age.
The same evolution I have seen in my lifetime. Much of the rural population has moved into towns and alienation. The peasants had their own self-respect build on their skill in managing their own life. When they became zombies by listening to machines and been indoctrinated to only think "Company, company, company ..." the entire day. Then home to look at dummies on TV getting squared eyes. Total intelligence in our world has surely gone down more when the computers do all the practical "thinking".
I am not too impressed by the programmes leading your every step. Changing the programme in my computer to a personal style is almost impossible. They call it progress and evolution ... pah.
Women got the worst lot and lost the rest of their self-respect. They were half the household in the countryside, but they became robots in front of machines. In cities they got a small domain in the kitchen, but as a second job after the company. Some told that they should actually be at home with children. That was because there was a surplus of women in the labour market.
In the past only nobility had the wealth to keep a woman at home. Yet some Mights tried to make women believe in the thesis that they have to stay at home. Then she got a bad conscience about being a poor mother if leaving her children to nurseries. And she got time to think as we got fast-food and all machines in the home.
Work was easily done, but what to think then, with a man sleeping when she was watching TV. Mostly the choice is the new myths about Dynasty, Falcon Crest, Dallas or TV-series about family struggles made in every country with self-respect. It is the new myth about crucifying mankind.
It is only natural if some of our scientists look at ancient history with the same eyes as the surrounding world today. Then they measure it without an outlook. Others in the New Age fashion believe they can find answers to their own doubts about modern society. I am not to judge, but we all seek explanations to questions important to ourselves. History is a good mirror with no critic about us. We chose the answers and what we believe in. As ever if we go outside our own world, it is a question of word power and eagerness if we want others to listen to us. Most people listen only to their own thoughts ... in reality.
There is no point in trying to grasp the entire Mesopotamian World since it is so complex. At first there were the Sumerian cities Eridu, Ur, Uruk, Lagash, Umma, Nippur and Kish in third millennium BC. They had ritual astronomy in common but often with different deities and style. Akkad was the first city to conquer not only these cities but also the entire Fertile Crescent to the Mediterranean.
After that followed two millennia with Babylonian, Hittitian and Assyrian rule. The ritual astronomy was still the same but with different names and different style. Generally I have only sought what I need for my Scandinavian studies. However on Internet everything grows.
For those interested in the exact Mesopotamian year I recommend this site about
The Akitu Festival at Ur by Lishtarhttp://www.gatewaystobabylon.com/religion/akitu.htm http://www.gatewaystobabylon.com/religion/sumerianakitu.htm
For original myths in English see the real gold mineBabylonia and Ancient Near Eastern Texts - Britannica Keyed http://www.piney.com/BabIndex.html