Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Tanit and The Lord of the City.

This is a new version of an older post:

Tanit was the Queen of Heaven in Carthage, and her consort was Baal-Hamon.
Tanit was known as 'Face of Baal'.

Baal-Hamon: Baal means Lord. Baalu translates as 'Oh my lord' in Standard Babylonian, but the Hammon part is harder to translate.

It has been suggested that it comes from a root syllable and means hot..

Another possibility is that Hammon is very close to Amun- from Egyptian- where Amun before becoming linked to the sun as Amun-Ra, created via breath.

Baal Hammon- Lord of the breath of life?

The image said to represent the Goddess Tanit is represented by the triangle, and upright arms figure, standing just above the rectangle in this drawing of a Carthagean burial marker- once set up over the cremated remains of children and small animals.

The other icons above the Tanit figure remind me of those found on kudurru (Mesopotamian boundary stones) that likewise present the deities as symbols.

If this stone follows similar rules, the rectangle below Tanit indicates her temple.

But the image that really puzzles me is the downwards pointing arrow.

The Omega is at the top of the arrows, the omega is used in Mesopotamian iconography to represent the life-giving Goddess, it portrays the birthing hut, and the goddesses of birth -the womb goddesses.

In Egypt the icon of the omega becomes the characteristic shape of Hathor's hair.

The Arrow symbol above the rectangle on the Mesopotamian kudurru represents Marduk, but it isn't an arrow.

It is a 'pick axe' or at least some kind of digging tool.

The digging tool (marru) and the horned snake-dragon on Mesopotamian kudurru (boundary stones) stand for Marduk. The marru represents the act of creation: of building and defending the city. It was also the tool the gods handed to the people:

In the Enuma Elish, Marduk represents kingship, you could call Marduk King of the town, or the Lord of many (which reminds me of one of many euphemistic names the Greeks had for Death).

So what is a symbol for life and the womb doing above the pick axe?
The arrow-omega could carry an almost Soviet style message of 'hard-work and fertility'?

Or it could represent Melqart/Nergal.

The stone was placed above cremations, after all...

Nergal is a complex character as the Tel Amena version of his myth shows. He is both Nergal and Erra, a plague god who rules 'The Seven', and a god of war. He is both Mars and that aspect of the sun that causes rot and decay.

His symbol is similar to the omega.

Double-headed lion symbol of Nergal.

The worship of a god of war, plague, rot and the underworld, promises protection from those terrible things.

But in Carthage, though offerings may have been offered to him originally, he becomes linked to kingship. The MLK 'word' that becomes molk and that is so close to the word Melqart, becomes a verb.

Molk comes to mean, to sacrifice.

Melqart's forunner is Nergal whose name translates as Lord of the Great City,  has dominion over war and disease, and so he can also be a god of healing.

His symbol of the double lion seems to become the twisting snakes of the Caduceus.

The double headed snake of the Caduceus comes to mind, as the symbol for Mercury.
A god who could cross between life and the realm of the dead.

This image of Iris -a messenger of the gods- shows her holding almost the exact same symbol as on the Carthaginian stela. The Greek name for this device is kerukeion, meaning "herald's staff. Hermes (Mercury).

Above the figure we recognize as Tanit is another version made of a triangle, moon and dot.

Above that composite symbol is something like an orange cut into two! It could be the sun or Venus.

On Mesopotamian boundary stones the sun usually has wriggly lines coming out between the 'petals' whilst the star of Venus is usually drawn without the wriggly lines.

Returning to the icon for Tanit, the Tanit figure starts with a triangle.
It is possible that the triangle represents a stone...

Hesiod records echoes of Hittite and Mesopotamian myth when he writes of the 'Theogeny of the Gods' describing Cronos being tricked into swallowing a stone instead of his own child.

Did this record an established habit of placing a stone in a temple to stand for the god?

In Cyprus, coins issued by Caracalla (198-217 AD) depict the Temple of Aphrodite at Palea Paphos.

They show a conical stone, which represented the goddess Aphrodite, at Palea Paphos.
If you go to Paphos and visit the museum you can see the stone that was once the Goddess herself.

It is said that the Kaaba at Mecca used to contain fragments of black, meteoric stone...

Cybele too was once represented by a black stone...originally, probably at Pessinus or at Pergamum or on Mount Ida.What is certain is that in 204 BCE  the Cybele stone was taken to Rome.

So the triangle of Tanit, lets say, represents the sacred stone.
In the second representation of her on the stone from Carthage, above the triangle comes the a moon shaped crescent surmounted by a dot.

The moon was once a symbol of the god responsible for the birth of the sun and Venus, for order and time (Nanna) . The crescent moon symbol placed over the triangle puts these powers for time and measurement under the control of Tanit...making her Stella Maris.

well perhaps...