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Sumerian astronomy

Sumerian astronomy

Sumerians used a square in practical astronomy to keep track of stars. The Sumerian Animal Round is the earliest whole zodiac we know. The Babylonians were their heirs and the Neo-Sumerian period came in last millennium then they began using astrology

Sumerian astronomy, Scorpio, cardinal directions, Astronomy Square, Heaven, Earth, Underworld, Earth-eye, Gateway to Underworld, Face of Underworld, world corners, seal of Sargon, instead-ritual, other-side-symbol, two-stroked footprint,

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Seals with the asterisms Oxen and Scorpio, which are seen in the symbolism of the Old World from around 3100 BC. The amulet at right has Indus Script like some other finds

Archaeology often gives us the impression "that it all began around 3100 BC". That is naturally rubbish since the heavenly symbolism begins ca 4000 BC and in Europe we have many megaliths and remains from fourth millennium BC.

There have also been megaliths in the Old World but much of it has disappeared with heavy growth of population. Even 6000 years ago they had their prehistory. Some megaliths are surely more than 6000 years old and they are stable signs showing ideas of mankind for more see my book about Megaliths

Scorpio and the moon symbol

The asterism Scorpio is the common denominator and symbol for the Ritual Age that extended from Northern Scandinavia and the Atlantic to the Pacific. Even in America they used Scorpio as symbol but we do not know how it was tied to their culture 5000 - 6000 years ago.

We know that there are no scorpions in Scandinavia so if we find several images it is surely the asterism and on the other hand there are a couple of rock carvings in the shape of Scorpio. The eye symbol is used for the moon "already" in the cave in Canhal Mahona and it is seen in Egyptian roof paintings of the celestial world.


Four Corners of the world or the world in quarters on amulets found in Sumer with some Indus Script

First step to bring order in chaos was to decide reference directions, i.e. cardinal directions. Stable references are the foundation of our science and practical constructions so it was a great intellectual step when they decided east and west at equinoxes and sunrise and south and north at solstices. It is as near as we can come to "eternal ideas".

Another shape of the same matter is the square. There are some rock carvings in Sahara on the theme. In Alta Northern Norway there is a small square and a bigger with the four cardinal directions and different idols in the directions.


On another plate is a golden square from Bush Barrow near Stonehenge England are the three steps to heaven or the circumpolar sphere.

British astronomers have found that the Astronomy Square could be used to decide all important dates in year. Then it also shows that they used a squared model for the year and here 5 x 5 or 9 x 9 division. It is slightly rhomboid so it is near to think of it as a ship too. We see that there are three levels like our declinations. The inner square symbolises the circumpolar area in the hood.

In Indian symbolism they use the inner 3 x 3 square. In Scandinavian rock art the base seems to be 14 x 14 so it covers the entire year in declinations.

This is the Sumer-Babylonian universe as a synthesis when we read about their world.

HO is the heavenly ocean including Watergate. H1 to 3 is three heavenly spheres and about the same as our declinations. O is the ocean of earth and T its dept. E is the eternal EKUR or ur-hill, which they made sacred by the ziggurats. M is mountains of sunrise and A the mountains of sunset. TR is the world of the dead with its seven walls and P the palace.

The three worlds Heaven, Earth/ Original Hill and Underworld may seem simple, but the simplified version could be from the Edda or from our own time if we simplify it to that degree. This rainy year we can understand that the biosphere is only very dry ocean and in Swedish we sometimes say "lufthavet" = air-ocean. The Egyptians were speaking about the ur-hill in the ur-ocean. The Sumerian Enki came from the sea and the Finns have in Kalevala the ur-ocean.

To that came the myths that told about a heaven which was a mirror of earth. That is not far from the medieval star charts. We find also many monstrous beings which always pop-up when man has an unknown sphere. In our days they are mostly on Mars, so those who are going to cultivate tomatoes there have to look out.

It is also a typical human mind that every-where in unknown places there are dangerous creatures. They should kill them they make us think. The Americans and National Geographic believe our animals are dangerous. Americans have killed millions of wolves and in the same time no wolf have killed a human!!!

Naturally all weapons the ingenious human may create should kill them! Come to think I ought to skip my membership in that assembly. Their attitude is not mine.

Still, again the saving clause my short presentation is only a simplification. In Sumer were many city-states with differences in customs and so on.


The face of Underworld or earth-eye was an important symbol in the Sumerian rituals.

This is the Gateway to Underworld made of clay tom manifest the concept. A writing symbol was a fork downwards and under it an eye. We may suggest even Egypt had a ritual including some ritual with the underworld in focus. That was in the river temple and the Egyptologists seldom tell about them

In the Edda they call it NAAGRIND and NAA is meaning going under the surface. There is also an expression Face of Underworld in the literature.

To that we can add this golden plate from a Stonehenge grave. The groves show the three steps to Underworld.

From the very beginning the gateway / portal was an important place and symbol for the border between worlds in space-time. It was symbol for the beginning of season as well as the real portal to some area.

Mightiest samples are the Egyptian portals to the sacred areas. In Sumer the tax collectors sat in the gateway. Later was the gateway in the city wall a place for tax collection and for the bailiff to check visitors. Many symbols are concepts of the organisation of society.


Humanised zodiac

This should be the seal of Sargon I of Akkad around 2300 BC

Sargon was the first known to establish a Mesopotamian empire and it reached the Mediterranean too. Sumerian kings had tried before but with no success for a longer time.

With Sargon the gods became humanlike and in this seal they forget the star-symbols. Usually the Sumerians marked the names of gods with a star. The only heavenly sign is that Inanna has wings. Under the following period the gods had headgears with horn or fourfold of horns. The fourfold meant that their world was in all cardinal direction or that they owned the land in all directions.

It is the same principle as in Egypt where four bull-horned were symbols of the world corners. The bullhorns were the tamed Oxen and the asterism. The wild bull was Taurus or the asterism Kaitos. In Sumer hero Gilgamesh and his mate Enkidu tamed Taurus. It was a very popular theme on seals and in myths. Generally in both cultures they have a wild and a tame animal of used species in their symbolism and myth.

The seal runs from the messenger of Utu/ Shamash the sun and beginning of season and they are all asterisms. He has face in both directions showing continuity and that he need to keep the earlier year in mind. Follows "the first on earth" Enki with the "heavenly waters" on his shoulders and perhaps a thunderbird. Follows Dumuzi stepping down to Underworld with the seed and Inanna with thunder and rain-symbols on her shoulders.

There is also a twig, symbolising what should be in the rising crops ... on Dal they set up a rowan twig after the day they let out the cattle in spring. Archer is guarding the field and last is the heavenly dog at end of season. In the symbolism are often two dog animals at the half years. I am not sure if there is a Hel-dog seen in for instance Hittitian and Etrurian symbolism too.

We see fragments of this symbolism in Scandinavian rock carvings.


A normal foot DU/GUB read walk or stand.

The symbols in the left column are god names. The double pillars might be used as tools to fence the stars at spring equinoxes. The high boot has a hand-symbol on top and we see the same symbols at Haugsbyn rock 4.

Then we got the question what a boot symbolised? In the Hittitian king's seal he stands on a boot, perhaps meaning the upper class. It is perhaps meaning an assembly at the end of season. We know this as collegium of seven in Rome and the feast of Aegir in the Edda.

This seal shows a detail of that above but gives other information about their thoughts.

The two-hill-symbol or port to Underworld was a sacred symbol for the marriage with the earth. It was also used for the ritual king and his instead-ritual in spring. I call the figure "daddy Longleg" and its simplification is seen in the Indus Symbolism. Should we see the long step in space or towards the underground or as step in time?

Together with other facts stored in my back of head this seal gave the idea to the square in Haugsbyn. The Stonehenge square confirms it too.

I thought what if the fences are only two sides of the square? Then I connected it also with(symbol) an angle-symbol with the bend marked.

The lower figure or tool being much alike the "stairways to the stars" we saw in Indus. In the myth it is surely the growing from earth towards heaven. Other myths tell about the limit of striving. I am not sure if I have placed the tools right, but suggest they used them to find the fix-stars.

This carving I found late in my investigations it is from Åmöy Norway.

The structure seems to be quite near the Sumerian seal. On the ship to the right is a Sumerian HAND symbol here Crab/Cancer. The other half the year has the other-side-symbol two-stroked footprint or THEN-symbols.

This article is only about the astronomy before 2000 BC. I do not think that the zodiac we know was ready before last millennium BC. For instance on the Kassite boundary stone there are "houses" like in astrology and the signs are not all the same since they have Triangle instead of Aries /spring equinox) and Turtle instead of Crab. There is a pair of crowns surely meaning the same asterism as the Babylonian "sitting and laying" idols.

The first step of the use of houses = shrines could be in the temple hymns telling about their houses / shrines. Many of the names we know as celestial idols Ekur, Enki, Enlil, Ninlil, Ninhursag, Nanna, Utu, Ninazu, Inanna, Dumuzi, Ningirsu, Nanshe, Cara the Cow, Nergal, Nisaba to mention the most known. We know them as celestial objects but not always their place on the heavenly round.