Friday, 31 January 2014



Discussions about Proto-Indo-European slips too easily away from horizons and into genetics.

I wish that it wouldn't..

Horizons are
An archaeological horizon is a widely disseminated level of common art and artefacts at an archaeological site or, more usually, over a larger geographic area. It is a distinctive level in that site's or area's archaeological sequence Pool, Christopher A. (2007).
Consider Coca Cola.
There is a Coca Cola horizon.
A place where Coca Cola is not an 'indigenous' invention or creation, but is 'fashionable'.

Like a hologram, the cola can when placed under the right kind of metaphorical light glows alive with trade routes and ideas, and ritual.

When does a can of coke stop being a can of coke, is it defined by form or function?

Artefacts and ideas are modified and mutated by human ingenuity. As you can see, the use of an artefact evolves,and memes are transmitted at the speed of light.

So let's say that themes in myth are like the form of a coke can, names may change but themes (such as the colour scheme of a can of Syoknya) are robust. Themes that reoccur in myth indicate trade routes. They also represent shared ideas and shared ritual. And they will be used in new ways to fit the needs of the people who have access to them.

Egyptian and Mesopotamian myth...primarily influenced each other; themes such as the river to the Otherworld beyond the gates of the sun, and the eternal life under the earth represented by Osiris in Egypt, and Meslamtea / Nergal in Mesopotamia.

Themes regarded as fundamentally Proto-Indo-European are to be found in Mesopotamian myth. The 'Divine twins' Gilgamesh and Enkidu slaying the Bull of Heaven, going back further, Enki's battle with sinuous, dragon/ river, the Kur.

There is a growing consensus that Proto-Indo-European myth can be teased out of 'Indo-European myths', from Homer and Hesiod, from Greek myth and Persian, Norse and especially from the Rig Veda...

I have no idea what I think about this...if 'Assyria' is one big hole in the map of understanding, Europe is an even bigger gap...good to see it being closed, I guess.

Anyway the most famous attempts at unravelling PIE mythology are by Dumizel, Bruce Lincoln (The Indo-European Cattle Raiding Myth) and Adrian Bailey (Caves of the Sun).

In The Indo-European Cattle Raiding Myth: we begin with the three headed monster Trito: Avestan Thrita, Sanskrit Tri-to, Norse Thridi, Albanian trete and Latin Tertius.

And the hero Son of Trito....
In the beginning gods did not mate with humans (to create a hero). Haoma  acted as a conduit between man and god. Haoma was pure power.

Avestan texts seem to say that a hero was born from a father who has prepared Haoma, according to ritual

When Trito prepared Haoma, he offered some to the gods first before drinking the Haoma himself.

Divine radiance.
Once within his body, the Haoma descends to his genitals and is distilled into semen. A son born from this has the power of the radiant cloud...and grows in strength daily.

 in the legend surrounding the conception of Zoroaster. In the story, his father Pouroshaspa took a piece of the Haoma plant and mixed it with milk. He gave his wife Dugdhova one half of the mixture and he consumed the other. They then conceived Zoroaster who was instilled with the spirit of the plant...

Often Trito is said to be a great serpent marked out as an original, primal inhabitant of the land. Often the serpent has taken something, women or cattle or stolen the rain from the people who are not primal, not original inhabitants.

Sometimes Trito appears human (still with the three heads)  and tries to usurp the king of the land by stealing his wife, or cows.

Trito the third man, the interloper is taking cattle or taking women, or both. He is trying to take the throne..and destroy the kingdom.

So, Son of Trito kills  the monster, often with the help of a god: Indra or in the Avestan story, Vayu.

The warrior Son of Trito, then offerers the sacrifice of Haoma  to the warrior-god, creating a sacred bond.

Now before a battle the hero pours out Haoma to give strength to the god, so that he may give aid in battle.

First man is Manu and...
Second man is Yama
They have cattle.
Third man turns up

By the time of the Enuma Elish, cows or women were not a priority in Mesopotamia. It was order that mattered and it mattered primarily to Tiamat (Terthys- the salt water) who sent her husband to settle the noisy children.

Tiamat was killed by Marduk, a hero empowered by the gods..

So, who influenced who?

  •  Philological and linguistic evidence indicate that the Rigveda was composed in the north-western region of the Indian subcontinent, roughly between 1700–1100 BC[6] (the early Vedic period). There are strong linguistic and cultural similarities with the early Iranian Avesta, deriving from the Proto-Indo-Iranian times, often associated with the early Andronovo and Sintashta-Petrovka cultures of c. 2200 – 1600 BC.
  • The Enûma Eliš exists in various copies from Babylon and Assyria. The version from Ashurbanipal's library dates to the 7th century BCE. The composition of the text probably dates to the Bronze Age, to the time of Hammurabi or perhaps the early Kassite era (roughly 18th to 16th centuries BCE), although some scholars favour a later date of c. 1100 BCE.

Cattle are a priority in Hesiod's Theogeny when:
"Kallirhoe (Callirhoe), daughter of Okeanos (Oceanus) lying in the embraces of powerful-minded Khrysaor (Chrysaor) through Aphrodite the golden bore him a son, most powerful of all men mortal, Geryones, whom Herakles in his great strength killed over his dragfoot cattle in water-washed Erytheia [the Sunset Isle]."Hesiod, Theogony 979 ff. (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) 

In the Greco-Roman tradition, the hero no longer pours the libation for the god because the hero does not need the god's help; god and man are a unity personified by the Greek meaning of the title hero ( the hero is fathered by the god directly and now contains the god within himself) the original Haoma/ Sauma ritual has gone missing.

Man and god as hero seems to be a particularly Egyptian idea that filters down through Naram-Sin, and the Phoenician rites of Melqrt (who becomes the 'Burning man' who becomes Heracles) and onwards ever onwards to the Green Hill Far Away.

Bruce Lincoln interprets the myth as expressing the common concerns of people moving into new lands, and whose wealth is women and cattle.

Especially cattle...