ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
(One of these days I would like to go back through all these jillions of links and organise them by subject. "'I would like'? I would like a trip to Europe!" - Daffy Duck)

Anat: Autonomous Goddess Of Ugarit. Presented by Ellie Wilson at the Society of Biblical Literature's annual meeting, November 1993.

Artefacts found in Pilbara cave show Aboriginal life in northern WA dates back 50,000 years (ABC, 19 May 2017) | The extraordinary science behind an Aboriginal history discovery 65,000 years in the making (SMH, 20 July 2017). "Artefacts found in Kakadu national park show that Aboriginal people have lived in Australia for a minimum of 65,000 years, 18,000 years longer than the previous estimate."

The world's oldest observatory? How Aboriginal astronomy provides clues to ancient life (Lateline, 13 October 2016) | How astronomy paved the way for terra nullius, and helped to get rid of it too (phys.org, 14 October 2016)

Ancient Humans Liked Getting Tipsy, Too (Smithsonian.com, 10 July 2017) | What wine did Jesus drink at the Last Supper? (phys.org, 17 April 2017) | Barley dormancy mutation suggests beer motivated early farmers (phys.org, 21 November 2016) | Revealing the science of Aboriginal fermentation (phys.org, 24 October 2016)

Late last year the Brooklyn Museum's Tumblr posted about the use of "Visible-Induced Luminescence imaging to map the presence of Egyptian blue". Meanwhile, the earliest known use of Egyptian blue has been identified in a bowl from the time of King Scorpion.

Archaeologists discover earliest monumental Egyptian hieroglyphs (phys.org, 26 June 2017)

DNA from ancient Egyptian mummies reveals their ancestry (Washington Post, 30 May 2017)

The origin of the tabby coat and other cat mysteries revealed (ABC Science, 20 June 2017) | No, Those Aren't Male Lions Mating. One Is Likely a Female. (National Geographic, 18 April 2016)

The Amazon Women: Is There Any Truth Behind the Myth? (Smithsonian Magazine, April 2014) | The kingdom of women: the society where a man is never the boss (The Guardian, 1 April 2017) The Mosuo of Tibet.
 
What ancient Egypt tells us about a world without religious conflict (The Guardian, 30 October 2015) The Faith After the Pharaohs exhibition at the British Museum.


Information-age math finds code in ancient Scottish symbols (Scientific American, 31 March 2010)

How we discovered that people have been cooking plants in pots for 10,000 years (phys.org, 24 January 2017)

Scientists find advanced geometry no secret to prehistoric architects in US Southwest (phys.org, 23 January 2017)

Why we'll always be obsessed with – and afraid of – monsters (Medical Xpress, 31 October 2016)

Inscription About Ancient 'Monkey Colony' Survives [Daesh] Attacks (LiveScience, 9 December 2016)

Women Are the Backbone of the Standing Rock Movement (Time, 29 November 2017)

This is your brain on God: Spiritual experiences activate brain reward circuits (Medical Xpress, 29 November 2016)

Pristine pressed flower among 'jaw-dropping' bronze age finds (The Guardian, 30 September 2016)

“Gay” Caveman Wasn’t Gay… (En|Gender, 7 April 2011) "... she was trans." Or third gender. Or...

Unearthing the origins of East Africa's lost civilization (CNN, 19 October 2015). Kilwa in Tanzania, part of the Azania trading society.

Gender and the Generic in Divine Acclamations (a series of Tweets from Edward Butler, 28 November 2015).

Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae
ikhet_sekhmet: (Default)
OK, but is the Mesopotamian goddess Išḫara (apparently the name given to Ishtar on her marriage) the same as the Hittite goddess Išḫara? Why, yes:

Išḫara "was the main goddess of Ebla during the third millennium" (Kura was its main god), where she was the personal goddess of some kings. Her worship was more widespread than that of Ishtar; she had temples in the city of Ebla and throughout the kingdom. After the "first destruction" of the kingdom, however, she was replaced as main goddess and royal goddess by Ishtar, who was assimilated with Šauwuška.
 
Aha. "The cult of Išḫara spread from the region of Ebla as far as the Babylonia of the Akkadian period." She appears there in personal names, alongside Išḫara in a love spell, and "plays the role of Ištar" in the Epic of Gilgamesh and in Atrahasis. She had temples at Ur and Nippur, and also became part of pantheons elsewhere in Syria and in eastern Anatolia.
 
Išḫara has an important role in the Hurrian "Epic of Freeing", which describes her as "skillful in speaking, a goddess renowned for (her) wisdom. She "was the tutelary goddess of oath taking... This was the Išḫara the Hittites knew."

ETA: Here's Išḫara at Iconography of Deities and Demons in the Ancient Near East.
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Yener, K. Aslihan and Harry A. Hoffner Jr. Recent developments in Hittite archaeology and history: papers in memory of Hans G. Güterbock. Winona Lake, IN, Eisenbrauns, 2002.

 
ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
This chapter by Donald B. Redford discusses the "ever-present struggle between land and sea, fair weather and storm", which "dominat[ed] the mythology of the maritime cities of the eastern Mediterranean", in the form of stories of hero vs monster - tales describing creation and providing "an archetypal rationalization of kingship". The version of the story from northern Syria, with Baal defeating Prince Sea on the coast near Mount Saphon (modern Jebel al-ʾAqraʿ / Kel Dağı), was the most influential: Greek myth placed the battle between Zeus and Typhon in the same area, Athena and Poseidon's rivalry is based on Anat and Yam's, and Marduk's defeat of Tiamat in the Enûma Elish is also drawn from the story.

Variations of the story occur further south, in cities where the worship of the goddess, called Astarte, "seems to outshine" her male consort. ("This may hark back to the Bronze Age when the cult of Asherah, the mother of the gods, as more prominent in the Levant. In the hinterland of the south, indeed, she continued to dominate as the consort of Baʿal and Yahweh.") In Byblos, "the goddess reigned supreme". She was known as "the Mistress of Byblos" - probably Astarte. Byblos also had the tale of the battle with the sea, but he "is worsted, killed and has to be revived by a loyal partner". (The story of Adonis and the Egyptian tale of the Doomed Prince, among others, show traces of this myth.) There were further variations at Sidon and Tyre.

A second storyline involves the "sexually-avaricious Sea who turns his attention to the beautiful goddess, the Baʿal's consort". Derivations include Typhon's pursuit of Aphrodite, the abduction of the Phoenician princess Europa, and Perseus' rescue of the Ethiopian princess Andromeda. Redford drily remarks: "There can be no doubt that the prospect of the innocent, voluptuous beauty ravished by the monster had an irresistable appeal to the collective subconscious of many a community in the Aegean". There are related stories of the goddess Atagatis / Derceto turning into a fish (along with her son) after being thrown or leaping into the water.

At Gaza, Anat, Astarte, Dagon, Reshef, Arsay, and Marnas were worshipped (later as their Greek incarnations, Athena, Aphrodite, Zeus, Apollo, possibly Persephone). "A Ramesside ostracon speaks of a festival of Anat of Gaza for which a 'cover' (? for a shrine?) seems to be one of the requirements". Redford links Plutarch's story of Isis and Osiris with Gaza. As Isis returns from Byblos, bad weather on the River Phaedrus provokes her to dry it up. Next, as Isis inspects Osiris' body at a "deserted spot", a prince of Byblos, Palaestinus, sneakily observes her and is struck dead by Isis' angry look. Plutarch writes: "Some say that... he fell into the sea and is honoured because of the goddess... and that the city founded by the goddess was named after him." Gaza is described with the same Greek word for "deserted spot" in Acts 8:26, and "Palaestinus" is derived from "p3-knʿn", "the town of Canaan".

(Bit more to come from this article; but now it is time for pizza!)

(OK pizza and "Game of Thrones" now complete)

Redford compares the stories from the southern Levant, which feature the water monster, the goddess, and her child, with Egyptian versions, including Astarte and the Sea (the Astarte Papyrus), the Story of the Two Brothers, and Set's hunt for Isis and Horus. "In Egypt, however, the motif has been largely separated from a maritime venue, and is now informed by the denizens and landscape of the Nile valley. The monster now takes shape as a crocodile, or serpent; the hero as ichneumon, falcon or scorpion. Horus defeats the serpent, the creator god subdues the water-monster (crocodile)." So for example, "the great battle... when Re had transformed himself into an ichneumon 46 cubits (long) to fell Apophis in his rage." (That's over 21 m fyi.)

Redford concludes by reminding us that it's impossible to draw a simple "family tree" of these stories, due to "the very general nature of the basic plot, and the mutual awareness and ease of contact enjoyed by eastern Mediterranean communities."
__
Redford, Donald B.. "The Sea and the Goddess". in Sarah Israelit-Groll (ed). Studies in Egyptology: presented to Miriam Lichtheim. Magness Press, Hebrew University, 1990.
 
ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
Alexander Pruss' chapter "The Use of Nude Female Figurines" discusses terracotta figures from Mesopotamia, Syria, and Palestine, including those weird-looking ones with all the holes in the head for attaching hair and earrings, and the later, more naturalistic ones which sort of wave their boobs at you. These and similar objects have long been interpreted as "fertility figurines". Pruss argues that "any link to childbirth and motherhood is completely lacking with these figurines". None are pregnant; none hold a child; the hands are not pressing milk from the breasts, but supporting them, presenting them.

"Generally, there is no reason to believe that the ancient inhabitants of Mesopotamia and Syria could not separate the fields of eroticism and human procreation," writes Pruss. In fact, in the ANE, fertility was more closely linked with male deities, such as Dumuzi. By contrast, the patroness of sexual desire, Inanna/Ishtar, was childless ("except for some ephemeral traditions").

That said, questions remain about who used these sexually aggressive little figures, and exactly what for (household rituals? votive offerings?).

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Pruss, Alexander. "The Use of Nude Female Figurines". in S. Parpola and R. M. Whiting (eds). Sex and gender in the ancient Near East: proceedings of the 47th Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, Helsinki, July 2-6, 2001. Helsinki : Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project, 2002. pp 537-545.
ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
Over in Tumblr, my strange little hobby is trying to identify gods and demons in photos from Egypt. When the name is visible in hieroglyphs, of course, it's a pushover. At other times, I can only make an educated guess from other clues, because the iconography of many deities overlaps: Isis and Hathor; Amun and Khnum; Re and Ra-Horakhty; and the many lioness goddesses can look identical. I'm far less well up on the gods of the Levant, Phoenicia and Syria and Canaan and all that, but the problem of telling them apart seems to be even more pronounced, even for the experts. As Richard D. Barnett writes, "we have lost the keys for interpreting many of the bewildering variety of divine types".

So Barnett only "ventured to identify" one particular form of Phoenician goddess of the Iron Age with Anat (aka 'Anath): "a young girl, dressed in a long Egyptian woman's garment who wears either the great Egyptian triple version of the 'atef crown, called hm hm ('terrible'), or the 'atef crown on horns between two uraeus snakes". She also "wears an Isis-girdle, holds a shield and harpe and sometimes has a long dagger (or daggers) stuck in her girdle at her waist." Barnett describes this goddess as "partially transvestite": not only is she armed, but the hm hm crown is more usually seen on male gods, such as Osiris, Harpocrates, and Ba'al. This is a good match for the Anat of the Ba'al cycle, ready to avenge her brother's death, and representations of Anat from New Kingdom Egypt show her brandishing shield and weapons, as Barnett points out. (I'd add that it matches Papyrus Chester Beatty VII, in which Anat is described as "a woman acting as a warrior, clad as men and girt as women".) However, 'Ashtart (aka Astarte) was similarly depicted in Egypt: "it is clear that she and 'Anath often coalesced".

Barnett's goal is to trace the history of representations of Anat. The Iron Age in Phoenicia, 1200-500 BCE, roughly corresponds with the middle of the New Kingdom in Egypt through to the middle of the Late Period. Barnett writes that "the identification of Isis-Hathor with the Lady of Byblos goes back to the Middle Kingdom" and "the concept of 'Anath and 'Ashtart as war-goddesses is an invention of the Egyptian New Kingdom, and was not known in Phoenicia till the Iron Age." (There may be indications of it as early as the Hyksos period, however.) I guess this is a pretty good indication of the cultural exchange going on between Egypt and the Levant - iconography and gods being traded along with everything else. (Ugarit, however, predates the Iron Age, and 'Anat is pretty bloody warlike in the literature found there!)

It's also possible that 'Anath is represented in a different way - wearing Isis/Hathor's sun-and-horns headdress, flanking a god who could be Ba'al or Reshep, with a goat standing on its hindlegs on his other side. She embraces him (the god, not the goat). Apparently Anat and Hathor were identified with one another in second millennium BCE Syria. Barnett thinks it's more likely this goddess is 'Astarte. But he cautions that "Their roles and representations are in fact still at present very hard to distinguish. The distinction between the representation of the two sister goddesses is something of a mystery, which we are not yet in a position to unravel." Has it been unravelled a bit since 1978? Further investigation is indicated.

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Barnett, Richard D. The Earliest Representation of 'Anath. Eretz-Israel 14 1978, pp 28-31.
ikhet_sekhmet: (ankh-mi-re)
  • Falsone, Gioacchino. "Anath or Astarte? A Phoenician Bronze Statuette of the Smiting Goddess". in Religio Phoenicia: acta colloquii Namurcensis habiti diebus 14 et 15 mensis Decembris anni 1984. Namur, Société des études classiques, 1986.

    This article discusses the rare bronze figurines of goddesses in the "smiting god" pose - left foot forward, both arms bent 90°, right one raised, weapons held in both hands (usually lost). The particular statue being discussed also wears the Isis/Hathor horned sundisc, which other Syro-Palestinian goddesses wear (possibly including Anat) but "in a peaceful attitude".

    "Athtart (Ashtart/Astarte) is less often mentioned and more obscure [than Anat], but may have had some similar functions. Some scholars have stressed her war attitude and her roles in hunting and chariotry. Later she becomes more sensual and less warlike. In the Iron Age, in fact, Anath seems to disappear or, at any rate, loses her importance, while Astarte assumes her functions and becomes the chief female deity of the Phoenician pantheon." (p 74)

  • te Velde, Herman. Seth, God of Confusion: a study of his role in Egyptian mythology and religion. 2nd ed. Leiden, E.J. Brill, 1977.
  • Gardiner, Alan H. Hieratic papyri in the British Museum. Third series, Chester Beatty gift. London, British Museum, 1935.
  • Dawson, Warren (1936). Observations on Ch. Beatty Papyri VII, VIII and XII. Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 22, 1936, pp 106–108.


  • In the Contendings of Horus and Set, the goddess Neith suggests that Set be married off to Anat and Astarte, while Horus gets the throne. "However," remarks te Velde, "the gods do not entertain this proposal."

    However, Set is linked sexually with Anat in Papyrus Chester Beatty VII, which possibly tells the story of Set raping (?) Anat while she was bathing, and how "the poison" ("the same Egyptian word was often used for 'seed', 'semen', and both senses are here intended together", remarks Gardiner) went up to his own forehead, making him sick. Anat begs Re to save Set. Re addresses her as "'Anat the divine, she the victorious, a woman acting as a warrior, clad as men and girt as women", and says ("cryptically"): "[Is it not?] a childish punishment (for?) the seed-poison put upon the wife of the god above [ie, Re] that he should copulate with her(?) in fire and open her(?) with a chisel?" In the end Isis arrives in the form of "a Nubian woman" and heals Set (and thus the patient, afflicted by scorpion poison).

    te Velde notes that Set has sex with 'Anat "who 'is dressed like man'", and quotes W.R. Dawson in a footnote: "The method by which Seth took his pleasure of 'Anat is interesting, as it further illustrates his already well-known homosexual tendencies." (p 37) However, both authors seem to be assuming that Anat was bathing fully clothed. ETA: Dawson's point is that Anat was on her hands and knees; otherwise, she would have drowned. But he also concedes that it wasn't anal sex, since "defloration resulted". tl;dr Egyptologists are weird.

    Gardiner: "That 'Anat became the consort of Seth is also implied by the obelisk of Tanis", on which Anat is called "the great cow(?) of Seth". (p 62)

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