Thursday, 20 June 2013

Eridu to Eleusis.

Damn it!
It is a long way from Eridu to Eleusis.

And I'd spent way too long, much longer than I'd thought that I would need to, in 'Eridu' reading  Mesopotamian stories. But finally, finally I thought that I was about to set sail, island hopping all the way and get to Greece.

Metaphorically speaking
I am too poor to do it...yet.

The problem?
Well it starts with the Hittites.
They don't arise fully formed out of nowhere!

Marija Gimbuttas may be slightly off center about a few things, but fundamentally she did us all a favor by arguing that there was a lot going on at the time of Sumer, and before, elsewhere.

Bulgaria for a start.
Professor Vassil Nikolov uncovered an ancient settlement, close to the town of Provadia which is dated  to 4,700-4,200 B.C. The people traded in salt, they built massive walls, 3 meters high and 2 meters wide, around their villiage to defend their wealth and work; it was a settlement of some 350 people.

People and ideas from Central Europe created 'our' Wessex archaeology.

A post hole at The Sanctuary, Avebury contained quern stone from Germany
Another post hole contained a bone from a horse.
The 'Amesbury Archer' came from somewhere close to the Alps.

Culture changes with technology.
Technology provides metaphors, and new ways to understand ourselves and the world.

Culture includes technology and improves on it.
Trade spreads technology and its metaphors...

So when the people from Anatolia got off their boats and unpacked their sheep and other rich goodies on Crete, what stories did they tell?

Centuries latter, which story in particular influenced the first buildings at Eleusis?
Or is that a red herring?

Can't trusty everything Diodorus says...

 Diodorus Siculus wrote:
"The Cretans say that the honours rendered to the gods, the sacrifices and mysteries, are of Cretan origin, and other nations took them from them. Demeter passed from the Isle of Crete into Attica, then into Sicily, and thence into Egypt, carrying with her the cultivation of corn"

Which reminds me.
The "Black Demeter" of Phigalia, deserves a blog post of her own.

But, as far as I can tell, the main influence on religious stories when the first buildings at Eleusis were built (aproximatly 1500 BC) were 'Akkadian'- meaning a mixture of translated and preserved, Sumerian religious stories. By the time they were retold by Kassites, and then Amorites at the time of Hammerabi, some stories had become highly embellished (such as the Enuma Elish), many others had been stuck together to create new stories. Yet despite this, when stories are preserved in writing, they are remarkably robust.

But there are no first hand accounts of Cretan religion.
Not as far as I know, anyway!

The Cretans developed  Linear A and B.
Linear B was deciphered by Michael Ventris in 1952.

But only commercial documents have been found.

So, what of Eleusis?

Eleusis occupied a strategic location on the Bay of Eleusis near Athens.  The city was not very vulnerable to attack by sea thanks to its geography, and was accessible to major population centers, since the roads connecting Athens with the Peloponnese and central and northern Greece all passed through Eleusis. Therefore, the city held a strong position vis-a-vis Athens as well as the rest of Greece.

  Early in the second millennium B.C.E., there were one or more wars between Eleusis and Athens, with Athens prevailing, though with great difficulty. Thus, Eleusis fell into the sphere of Athenian influence. During the Mycenaean Age, roughly 1500-1100 B.C.E., the village was expanded, as evidenced by a large burial site, and it was at this time that the cult of Demeter was likely established.  A building known as Megaron B, dated to this period, was probably the original Temple of Demeter. It exists above the Kallichoron, the well above which the Homeric Hymn specifies that the temple was built. (line 272) Fortification walls probably were built during this time period, though they have never been excavated. Link...

Well, all in all, the spread of Indo-European languages, wheels, horses and related ephemera...must be a part of the whole what ever it is I'm trying to write!

But for now, I'm still hearing the sea.