Wednesday, 12 June 2013

A thousand gods.

For anyone trying to follow the lineages of stories, and other cultural artifacts it is fascinating that words such as water (one of the first Hittite words translated) are still within English.

Other words, such as bitumen are imports.
Bitu is Standard Babylonian for house, and bitumen was used as building material
The phrase larking about comes from Norse...

Anyway, following the changes in Indo-European language, it appears that the original speakers of Indo European were probably the people of the Sredny Stog culture of eastern Ukraine. Waves of migration took people to the east, north of the Caspian sea (Tocharian, Indo-Iranian), to the south, west of the Black Sea (Anatolian, Greek, Armenian, Albanian) and to the west, south of the Baltic Sea (Italo-Celtic, Germanic).

But in trying to track down the origins and uses of the Persephone myth, the Hittites were at least one route of the transmission of religion, to Greece.

The Indo-European people known as the Hittites assimilated the gods from any culture they came into contact with...and became the people of a thousand gods.

Many themes in their stories of gods and goddesses and especially of the underworld are recognisably Mesopotamian..

The Hittites took their name from, and assimilated the Hurrians.
Whose culture was a mix of Mesopotamian and North-east Caucasian.

It is tempting to look for mythic elements that could have spread out from mid-Europe via trade, and contact, and also north and perhaps into Britain,  preserved in Hittite writing.

It may also be totally wrong.

Nevertheless, the use of sacred stones

For instance the Hittite huwasi stone, placed in an open area surrounded by trees and other plants.

The stones were treated as gods; offerings of food and water were made, the stones were anointed and washed.

At any cult center, the deities who couldn't be given a temple were worshiped at huwasi stones.

Some stones especially at sites of passage graves- the long, standing stone within Bryn Celli Dhu for instance- could have been huwasi stones.

DNA (mitochondrial) tests on Greek citizens indicate that around 2000 BC Indo-European people migrated from the mainland of Turkey, island hopped over shining seas in boats laden with useful things.

Some settled on Crete.
Influenced by the culture existing in the islands to its south

The culture of Crete became Minoan, named by Arthur Evans after king Minos.

Sometime around 1600 BC
The culture of  southern Greece became 'Minoan' .

Cretan culture spread to  southern, mainland Greece.
To Mycenae.

So Minoan culture in Greece is known as Mycenaean.

After perhaps only 100 years, Greek Mycenaean culture shifted to Crete...or rather the writing changed from Linear A

Which is still un-deciphered
So no one knows if it is an Indo-European language or not.

Linear A.

To Linear B
The earliest form of Greek.
-and it can be read.

Linear B.

Linear A and B share some symbols, but the language is not the same.

Greece received many stories from the Hittites, via Hesiod.

Perseus is the legendary founder of Mycenae, in Greece.
His name causes me problems- as it is so close to Persephone.

Herodotus thought that the name referred to a Persian origin.

Robert Graves linked the perse part of the name to death.

Pausanias confuses things further by bringing mushrooms into the equation.

Pausanius (2, 16, 3) wrote that Perseus named Mycenae after the pommel (mykes) of his sword, which fell there, or after the Perseia spring, discovered under the root of a mushroom (mykes).

Like Sargon (a name that means 'The True King') before him, the baby Perseus had been placed in a 'basket' (a wooden chest) and floated down the river, unlike Sargon, his mother floated with him.

They were caught in the net...
By a fisherman- whose name, Dictys means net.
On an island of white stone ruled by Polydectes,  whose name is a euphemism for death, he who welcomes many.

The island is Serifos...

The oldest building at Eleusis is dated to the Myceanian period of 1600 BC.
The Homeric hymns are dated to, lets be generous and say 900 BC
Hesiod wrote his prize winning poem in...lets say 750 BC

And you can see my problem.

The Eleusinian mysteries are considerably older than the Homeric hymns (the oldest buildings on the site date to 1600 BC). But then, so many things called 'Homeric' in the Iliad and Odyssey, and in the hymns, are tropes taken from older stories.

The story of Odysseus and Circe, and Ereskigal and Nergal, for instance.
More than a few coincidences...

Let's leave it at Tethys, the deep ocean and Tiamat- the salt sea..

Keep digging!